Working on Jacobs Creek Food Animations was fun, and long may they continue to be!
At Seconds That Count we have managed to carve our way as being a specialist in food animation. Food is easily animated, often, it is small and lightweight (but not always!) but it does perish under those hot studio lights, but it is quite easy to make replicas by taking moulds of real life foods. In this project we use real food throughout.
This project was through the Contented Brothers, who are awesome to work with. I'm very happy to share my expertise and skills with them, whilst they can look after the client and know the client very well already. We efficiently filmed a few of them together across a few days. The team at contented brothers took great care in preparing the set up so that there were no fingerprints on any of the glass and lots of details like that that truly make a difference to the end animation.
The concept of the animation is clean and simple, staying in is the new going out but you have to match your snacks to the right drinks! Lessons learnt by me for sure! The animations helped grow Jacob Creeks Facebook engagement to over 554,000 likes.
The pitta's were definitely the most difficult to work with, those pesky slices had gone most brittle by the end! But the Jacob's creek audience loved them with 44 likes and 1.8k views.
The pizza turned out as my favourite of the initial pieces, the sound design is great, and the cheese kept the pizza malleable! This also had great engagement with 5 comments as well as 1.3k views and 42 likes.
The popcorn piece worked really well too as popcorn is light it is quite easy to work with! We used some wire to help jump them out of the bowl, which required some clean up in post. The animation has 40 likes, with 3k views, so I'm sure there's a lot more inspired popcorn and wine consumption going on.
The nachos work well and is satisfying to the eye even if it seems a more simple idea compared to the action of the other foods, but we were dealing with much wetter foods! The colours look great! The Nachos has 34 likes and 2.3k views, which is great results for the client.
We were all feeling the stench of the french cheeses by the end of the shoot, and I'm sure some extra pizza's went along to the crew. Contented brothers look after me and made sure I was fed and watered- always appreciated!
I love animating with a stop motion technique, however I hardly ever get to be a stop motion animator director for what story I choose and also for the love of it, as I mainly work on other people's animations for them. So this time I was able to be creative and focus on some stop motion character animation performance and some cuteness! As well as test out the possibilities that will feedback into client projects. Let me talk you through some of the stop motion process' behind the scenes.
The stop motion character animation was created as part of the Zho film challenge, as it is useful to have a deadline to work towards and its nice to finish the animation with a celebratory screening. It was also screened as part of the Chorlton Arts Festival. And also screened at Manchester KINO, check out this interview after the screening about my stop motion animation director film.
I had an Armature from Armaverse that I wanted to try out and see the limits of. I picked it up whilst working on Frankenweenie and was aware that it might have its limits which was relative to the cost. (Professional armatures costs £1,000's this is under £100). I also have a very talented knitter in my family, so I wanted to explore the possibilities of creating characters this way too. I had this great knitted toys book as a starting point.
I had my set top dressed to look like a children's room and populated it with props from my niece's toy collection. Next I was awaiting my prop from Zho- part of the challenge is to incorporate a random prop into the story. I think they were very fair on me as the gave me a hat and said I could make a miniature replica model version. As you can see my prop was a hat that I decided to incorporate in a life size way.
I filmed using a cannon camera and captured using my favourite Dragonframe software. It was initially filmed over a 48 hour period as per the film challenge, but I did go back after a refine some shots. Cannon cameras are great as Nikon tend to overheat as they are required to be on for say at least 8 hours non stop and are often in a room that is full of very hot lights.
The armature was as expected, the joints could not be tight enough as the metal is too malleable and bends as you tighten. I think it would work great permanently rigged, which would reduce the need to have the joints as tight, but then there is a problem of having a suitable rigging point, which I can do for next time. Of course having a rig on the character constantly means completing clean back ground plates and creating more work in post production clean up.
Stop motion animation is achieved to its best with quality materials, everything changeable has to be as constant as possible to achieve the best motion. This is why its important to keep consistently tight joints on the puppet.
I collaborated with Eskimotion Music as well to deliver an charming and endearing final stop motion animated film.
Start Rite shoes wanted to bring their shoes to life in three shoe animation shorts. They had a new range called X-glows decided it would be fun to create something that the children would enjoy! After all they get to wear the shoes. Stop motion for children's apparel is a perfect option as they are so light they are easy to animate!
The great thing about working with Start Rite was that they wanted us to do the creative too! They knew they wanted animation, but were open to the possibilities! We suggested three different ideas and they chose their favourite. The chosen concept was that every other shoe is flat compared to the X-glows, hence the strap line take your feet to another dimension. They chose three mini animations as they understood that short content is key and multiple content is even better.
In each short the flat shoes were attempting different activities without much confidence or success, then the X-glows burst on the scene and confidently lead the way!
We worked solidly from Flux studio space to create the sets and design illustrations for the shoe characters and the set. Once the illustrations were designed we had a great team of interns neatly cutting out shoes and set dressings, sliced fingers and plasters also accompanied them. The set was created so that we could build it in studio.
Once we were ready to shoot over at Z-film Studios in South Manchester, we had to get the set built and lit. As we were filming three short animations, we were able to carry on with set design and build whilst animating simultaneously.
Whilst animating, it was necessary for the shoes to be rigged once they were in mid air motion. I have rigs made up just like bulky armatures and using Climpex. Again the filming was done with a cannon camera and using Dragonframe software. The music and audio design was key to the finished product too by Paul Draper.
The end results was charming animations showing the products in a great light, marketing to the children for the first time. The results for Startrite were awesome as they have achieved over 41,000 views on You Tube and 37,000 likes on the Facebook page to demonstrate some great customer engagement.
not only did we get no rain, but we got glorious sunshine
Animating toys and objects with Sony PSP was a great feat of a production. Two adverts shot in one day! Along with some patient child actors, and animating outdoors it wrapped with 10 minutes to spare.
For this production I collaborated with The Neighbourhood who are great snappy creatives offering a breadth of production services. The shoot was for two adverts in one day! one day! That is not something that usually happens in stop motion, and I was getting very anxious in pre production, tight timing and relying on the weather?!?! But we didn't have much choice!
What I like most about stop motion shoots, is that it usually always happens within the reliability of a dark room. I have often known live action location shooting would never have been for me, and on this production I was about to be busted out of my comfort zone by animating toys in the garden! It makes for a risky production as the rain will effect the shoot, and we were shooting in reliably rainy Manchester! It had rained in the build up to the shoot, but as you can see not only did we get no rain, but we got glorious sunshine. This was most fortunate as a time lapse just doesn't work as well on Manchester's typical flat light.
The shoot started in the garden with the skateboard action and the tent (which was actually filmed in reverse) and then we moved into the living room which was converted into the boys bedroom (are you keeping up?) and I selected some toys for animating as fortunately some by design lend themselves well to animation.
Whats the other thing you don't usually expect with stop motion animation? Usually I'm not animating actual children! It was only a short part of the animation but a child's hand comes in and pick up the PSP in pixilation style. He had to be very patient and still, which is not qualities I associate with young children, but he did it!
This was a great shoot that added so much to my repertoire, and it was blessed with some fortunate luck and timing! With 10 minutes to spare!
Animating cups, stop motion style, simple yet effective!
The video I saw of theirs was Evelyn Evelyn "Have you seen my sister Evelyn?" music video. Which is very cool and uses some merry melodies style animation as part of it, and all the action is within one shot with no cuts.
This shoot was also one of the very few that are done on location instead of in a studio. I was fine in the Starbucks, but many others of the crew were outdoors in amongst the snow. And these were experienced crew members, but strangely they didn't wear snow gear!
Animating cups is simple yet effective as each cup has subtle differences, but once animated it becomes apparent that this cannot be replicated in computer style as CGi by design has an amount of digital perfection about it. The cups are mass manufactured and each seam, each edge, each cut is ever so subtly different only noticeable once you start the replacement animation technique. All wrapped up in one day! Phew!!
The finished animation achieved great engagement results for Starbucks as the you tube video got 522 likes and 126,000 views, but it also helped their social media move up to 530,000 Facebook likes and 15,400 twitter followers.
Manchester based animator Kim Emson has been given a unique opportunity to showcase her talent by working on Skins, the controversial teen drama based in Bristol, which will be back on our screens on 27th January 2011.
Kim set up her Manchester based production company Seconds that count three years ago; the company’s specialism is Stop Motion Animation. This form of animation has been around since the late 1800’s and is widely used in children’s programmes. The challenge now for those involved in this form of animation is to show that stop motion is current and relevant amidst the growing popularity of 3D computer animation. Another challenge is the trend to outsource animation overseas to countries such as India or Japan. It is therefore a great boost when companies choose to support the homegrown talents of our UK animators.
So why did a modern, cutting edge programme like Skins, choose to use a form of animation that’s around 100yrs old over the popular computerised animation? Stephanie Oakley, Art Director for the series said “The main reason we chose stop animation over computer generated imagery was that the writer had created a character (animation student Franky) who made her own animated films from her bedroom, so it was an integral part of the storyline.”
The inspiration behind the Skins animation sequences was the 2006 film, The Science of Sleep by Micheal Gondry, which uses stop motion animation with live action filming to depict the main character who mixes dreams with reality.
For the creative team it was a visually more interesting project to have a stop motion set in the characters bedroom than just a computer. The inspiration behind the Skins animation sequences was the 2006 film, The Science of Sleep by Micheal Gondry, which uses stop motion animation with live action filming to depict the main character who mixes dreams with reality. About the Skins character, Stephanie Oakley says, “(Franky) interacts throughout the episode with her mannequin, which she takes with her at all times. The animation sequence quickly and succinctly represents the emotions of the character in the story, through her mannequin.”
Kim Emson got her break working for CBBC producing children’s programmes notably Bob the Builder and Ooglies. Of her opportunity to work on this high voltage teen show Kim says that, “I think it’s brilliant that they chose to have a character showing an interest in stop motion, instead of computer animation. It’s also great that they would champion the medium of stop motion. It’s a popular show amongst young people today and hopefully now stop motion can still be seen as ‘cool’ as it taps into a different audience.”
The chance to be involved with a show like Skins has been a great opportunity to do something that is far removed from her work on children’s programmes. “Franky has a lot of issues from her past and is using animation as a form of therapy in a way. I’ve learnt a lot about stop motion’s capacity to translate complex emotions, albeit in an abstract way,” says Kim.
The desire to attract a wider audience and show that stop motion is still a powerful creative tool is what drives STC to take on projects like this. With talented stop motion animators such as Kim, the use of this medium is not going to go away any time soon.