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Sinead Animation

Stop Motion/ Model Maker Freelancer

– Why am I blogging?

I first decided to make a blog for my third year project. I hadn’t kept a blog since my first year at UCA Farnham, so I treated this as more of an informal yet organised way to keep track of my workload rather than a formal upload.

After Gradating I decided to keep my blog as I really enjoyed blogging about animation. Now I blog about my job(s) – freelancing is full of them!

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Featured post

Fuzzy Patches and Ball Bounces

I am trying to get myself back in the studio as my contract with UCA draws to a close for the year. But the question I keep asking myself is what to animate?

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what to animate…now that’s the question 🤔

I’ve not animated in what seems like forever and I really wanted to test out my new lights that I purchased earlier this month. In the end I decided to animate something without there being a purpose or an end goal. I found I was struggling to come up with an idea and that in itself was what was putting me off animating.  Like when you get writers block, you can either choose to grumble and rack your brain until you come up with some half-decent idea, or you can work through it, not caring much at the time about the work you’re doing and eventually the fuzzy patches turn into something not great but not so bad, and that spurs you on until eventually, a super awesome idea pops up cause your brain was working on it all along whilst you were moving things with your hands and not worrying about what to come up with!

It felt so good just to animate without worrying about a narrative or character for once. I’ve decided I might just play around with basic animation principles once a week for the fun of it whilst I have a day free. It’s all learning and improving either way. And I guess relearning the principles this time in stop motion will be my fuzzy patch to overcome!

Foam and Latex Stop Motion Workshop

I have to say that Jennifer Kidd‘s Obby Workshop in London this weekend was the best creative workshop I have attended. ever.

Now, I’m not going to write a step by step guide on what happened in the workshop this weekend. That would be really unfair to Jennifer, I learnt a lot from her and it was an EPIC value for money! So if this blog post interests you, then you should certainly take a look into her Foam and Latex workshop on Obby and a couple of her other courses too, she does several animation related courses. I’ll leave the link at the bottom of the page as well as a link to receive £10 off your first course. I’m already looking into booking her ‘replacement faces’ workshop in the near future, hopefully with Richard and Jessie too!

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I thought Jennifer relayed the process of advanced model making really well in her workshop, especially as some of the attendance had never made characters before and were just curious about stop motion or wanted to pick up a new hobby. Even though she was teaching different skill levels, Jennifer did not make it so simple that us experienced model makers got bored or felt unchallenged…we certainly were, especially on day 2 of the course!

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This weekend I used several materials that I’ve struggled to use in the past: 2 part milliput and 2 part epoxy resin. I think when I have tried to use these materials before I have either not used the consistency correctly or not had the patience to mix them well enough before use and that has left the material tacky and eventually caused a puppet design to fail. Jennifer gave a useful tip of mixing talc powder in with the milliput to make keep the material soft and not sticky but still durable when modelling.  I know that I am a visual learner and this is why I struggle when watching online videos as I need that guidance of someone to say, that looks right or work this harder before applying etc.

When it came to padding the characters with foam and latex on the second day I did struggle a little. To begin with I was trying to make a little ‘mini-me’. I thought it would be fun to make a model based on myself. I tried to ‘stuff’ the character with small bits of foam but this cause a lot of issues, so I had to use larger pieces to make it work. Once I wrapped the character in outer layers, the bulkiness of the character slimmed down but not by much.

So suddenly my character went from a planned size 12 model to a size 16-18!
I’ll admit though, I have been wanting to make a larger, heavyset character to animate, so I have no problem with this progress. To be honest I’m actually happier that I made this ‘heavier’ character under supervision of this Foam and Latex workshop, as I ended the class with a super lightweight and standing character that gave off the impression of anything but!

One final thing I have to mention is the hands! The Hands! During my second year I tried to make latex hands for my short film Munchies. I had tried the dip-dry process but it didn’t work too well so I made a plasticine set instead. Yes I’ll admit since Tone Death I can make a set of hands pretty well, however I used materials to bind the wires together so it looked as if Christopher wore gloves rather than attempt to make a skin like texture. The technique Jennifer taught us to make these detachable hands was brilliant and I shall treasure it and most certainly be using it for ALL of my character designs in the future!

So thank you for such an amazing class Jennifer!

I will be seeing you very soon for more workshops!

 

Find out more about Obby:

Get £10 off your first Obby Class by  clicking here!

Jennifer Kidd’s Model Making Class Link

 

Further Social Media you might want to Follow:

https://www.control-art-delete.com

https://www.instagram.com/ctrl_art_dlt/

https://www.instagram.com/jenniferkiddstudio/

https://www.instagram.com/broken_animation/

 

Week 20 at UCA Canterbury: Thinking Inside the Box

One of my students today made me smile: He said rather than thinking outside the box, we should be thinking inside the box. What’s hidden inside this character and how to we unlock its soul through movement. And that, was a brilliant way to sum up how to create a character from an inanimate object…I wish I thought of it first!

Today I took groups 9 to 11. And once again I was very impressed by what the students created in our time in the studio. Students where very curious and asked a lot of questions which was lovely to hear, especially as at least half of them today were super keen to animate in stop motion and just itching to move those boxes across the screen.

So another week on and still new scenes have been animated for my final task: ‘The Emotional Boxes’. In this task, the students are given half an hour to animate a scene where their boxes must all interact together and create a narrative through body language.  This weeks new scenes consisted of:
– A Circus, where two small monkey characters harassed an elephant.
– A Car race to the finish line with speed skidding.
– An obstacle course of miscellaneous found objects, that when the box managed its hard climb the ‘obstacle course’ turned into a dragon liked creature and the box road it off screen.  (Mental! and Brilliant!)

For the final part of the day I helped a student to understand the stop motion studio a bit better as she wanted to animate a 10 second piece with a man in an office with a cat ready to knock stuff onto the floor. I explained how to use dragon frame in more detail such as the focus button and the camera settings. I then described how to use the lights in the studio to create a fixed stable light that would light her set evenly without casting too much shadow. In the end, in the hour or so that we were in the studio she had managed to animate 8 simple seconds worth which I think is rather fantastic for a first attempt.

Kinda sad that next week will be my final session at UCA. I know I’ve said that a lot, especially as my contract keeps being extended but this time I mean it. As it will be the final week of term before students hand in their work and it gets graded for end of year marks. So my contract won’t be extended further….at least for this schooling year anyway!

What a Weekend!

I’m finally home after a fantastic model making weekend hosted by Jennifer Kidd at RCA London. What made it all the better was attending the workshop with my two stop motion besties from Farnham Jessie and Richard  stay tuned for a blog post later on

Isle Of Dogs: The ScreenPlay…Woof

You’re all probably sick of me posting about Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs by now, and to that I say ‘Sorry, not sorry.’ It’s just so cool at the moment, people are INTERESTED in seeing how puppets are made, what goes on behind the scenes of a stop motion set. And this news, hearing people talking about animation like this, wanting to see the sets and the puppets on display in an exhibition, pushing the release date of the film forward so it came out a week earlier, this positive energy towards a stop motion film, it thrills me!

So you’re probably thinking something along the lines of:

Sinéad you’ve already posted about the exhibition and the film what more could you possibly post about? 

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Well today I’m going to talk about the script and how it compares to the movie. I bought a hardback copy of the screenplay which was exclusively sold at the exhibition when I went up to London a couple of weeks back. I decided to watch the film first and then read the screen play as I didn’t want to read any spoilers. Knowing I would end up seeing the film more than once anyway – due to the gorgeousness of the puppets and I hoped a thrilling narrative – I didn’t see the harm in waiting to enjoy the screenplay during a day off from work.

What I thought was rather lovely about the screen play is that before the script actually begins there is a short interview between the creators of the story: Roman Coppola, Jason Schwwartzman, Kunichi Nomura and Wes Anderson.

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Having this interview was a nice way for the reader to get into the mindset of the film, why it was created and the atmosphere in which the film blossomed. It seems a lot of the initial forming of the narrative was actually created over several phone calls rather than face to face discussions. This book also revealed that to begin with Isle of Dogs was a project that was just about dogs abandoned in a wasteland, not set in Japan at all. It was only decided to be set in Japan after Wes Anderson emailed Kunichi Nomura saying that he wanted to make an animation set in Japan. And suddenly the two ideas rolled into one. This decision however, provided an environment which helped to create an animation with roots embedded deeply into Japanese sci-fi genre. It is because of this that the film is meant to look as if it has been set in the future but as if it was made a couple of decades before. Originally the team had planned to set the story in 2007, with aspects to make you think the movie supposedly had been made in 1962 – similar to films such as Blade Runner. This thought process can be seen in the Little Pilot’s flight suit and style of aircraft.

I also loved that they had included some concept design sketches of characters and scene development concept art too, giving the reader another way to look into the history of making this film.

I have to admit that I was a little disappointed in the screen play when I started reading. After seeing the film first time round and noticing that some scenes were Japanese audio with minimal english subtitles or clipped english dubbing, I had hoped that there would be more explanation to some of the scenes in the screenplay. However this was not really the case. Although it did have character movements, body language and emotional cues, there where points where I had hoped that the screenplay would reveal a small nugget of insight into what a character was saying. For the majority of the film, the audience does not need to know the word for word goings on, they get the idea from the flow of the film, but there is the odd occasion here it would be nice to know a little more detail.

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Now don’t get me wrong I don’t regret buying the screenplay at all, I love it. A screenplay is like seeing the film all over again but better as your imagination brings forth the parts you loved from the depths of your mind no matter how long it has been since you last saw the movie on screen and makes it a new as if you watched it yesterday.

Reading the screenplay also made the second viewing of Isle Of Dogs slightly easier too. Part of this was because I understood the narrative and dialogue better, which meant I could focus more on the physical demonstration in front of me. I could recline in my seat and enjoy watching the sets, the fuzzing of wool as dust, the puppets, the movement of fur as an animator slowly adjusts the placement of a paw on garbage.

And I thought I would include an image of my favourite scene from the film with Oracle the all knowing Pug as she delivers a ‘vision’ about the weather:

 

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So yeah, sorry if I’ve bored anyone with yet another Isle of Dogs post. But clearly I’m as obsessed as a dog with a bone! I promise my next post isn’t going to be Wes Anderson related…or dog related for that matter…I hope!

Lights. Camera. Action!

I was so excited when I came home from Hoobynoo today because I got a rather large and heavy parcel delivered to my door today. I bought studio lights AND it came with a portable bag so I can take them on the go if I need to animate on location!

I wanted to get some fancy studio lights since I moved home and became a freelance animator working in the back garden. However, the cost of actually setting up a studio, after the camera, the software, the light proofing curtains, the animation stage, the desk, the tripod…Suddenly I’d eaten into all of my savings and I hadn’t even looked at getting some good quality lights.

Last week, I had a very productive, but boring day of filing, sorting through my expenses, taxes, bills, and stuff for the end of the tax year. My invoice for my first solo freelance project ‘A New Home’ had come through and I thought, nows the time whilst I’ve got a healthy profit to make an investment.

So now I’ve gone and upgraded my studio lighting for these bright stars:

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I’m really pleased with this purchase as the light brightness is adjustable, the barn doors are easily movable and the tripods are sturdy and tall. All in all waaaaaaay better than the temporary job I had been using for shooting animation (slightly ashamed to admit that I had been using 3 desk lamps as I had really eaten into my savings) they did the job but not half as well as I’d have liked.

So you can bet I’m over the moon excited to be able to use these on my next job and feel like I’m animating in a proper studio now!

Week 19 at UCA Canterbury: Moving Boxes Moving Boxes Moving All the Way!

A new term, a new bunch of students for my stop motion workshop!

Once again I am super pleased with how the first year Animation and Illustration students took to the movement workshop and how creative they were in “thinking outside the box” when it came for the final task of “emotional boxes” 📦

Over the Easter Holiday break I adapted my lesson plan a little so that when the students first got into the stop motion studio they themselves had to think and decide how to make a box move slow rather than me explain and then they follow instruction. By having multiple students animate at once they could see and compare how their own boxes movement differed in pace to the others. I think this change in tactics for the lesson plan worked well as it meant that students could learn on the go and through kinetic learning, hopefully remember what they learnt today easier than trying to recall what I had said.

We had another week of completely different character motivational pieces when it came to the Emotional Boxes task: from skiing, to racing to dog walking to a bloody smash up. Just when you think all possible ideas have been explored along come another barrel full of randomness it’s so refreshing to see!

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During my lunch I also worked with a second year and her amazing dog puppet which she finished over Easter. And wow! What a character she has made. It is is brilliantly textured where she has mixed materials such as white cotton socks, tanned tights and black felt. She has really explored the medium and aesthetic in materials which she has chosen to use for her puppet. I am so proud of the work she managed to produce in under just under hour.  It was stunning to watch and give advice for such a clean character motivational piece. From animating a box a few weeks ago to making an energetic bouncy dog come to life. I am sure this student is going to go far!

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Animation Trunk!

I got an Animation Trunk!

But what does that mean exactly?

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Basically my lovely in-laws are looking at decluttering their house and they were looking at dumping their well worn trunk – or as my dad liked to call it as we took it out the car… a pirate treasure chest. And that is exactly what this is to me…

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A place to store all my animation treasures!

And I LOVE it! I have wanted a ‘creative’ trunk for a long long time but when I’ve found one its either been so expensive or I can’t get it delivered at a responsible price which is rather annoying, especially when the trunk hasn’t been kept well either. So to be given one from people very close to my heart who encourage me to keep to my creative roots I am ecstatic! Admittedly not all my animation stuff fits in it. I still have to have my shelves in the studio to hold the majority of my stuff. The desk has my stage and cables ready for the next shoot, but it is now decluttered and tidy – yay!

 

But my stop motion equipment is now neatly tidied away and is some what semi-portable, even if I did have to sit on it to make sure the lid shut!

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Thank you Max and Val!

Pink Confession

Yes I’ve gone pink!

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But here’s the truth behind the bright and quirky exterior. I’ve not been myself these past couple of weeks. I’ve regressed into my former self from 11 months back when I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t bring myself to smile or attempt to fake being happy.
Being pink is my way to break out of this spell…

Why did I regress back? Well whilst taking my lunchtime break at Hoobynoo, I decided to walk around the industrial park like I do sometimes to get some fresh air and stretch my legs. As I was coming back to the office I walked by a security car. The car’s boot was wedged open, I didn’t think anything of this until I had past the front of the vehicle when suddenly a large Alsatian was barking wildly, trying to squeeze his head through the gap. (Even as I recall this, my heart is beating a little too fast, my stomach hurts, and my breath is coming a bit too quickly for my liking. Yet I have to remind myself that I am safe, home and fine.) At the time however, I had a major panic attack, I felt as if as the world was crashing around me, I was back in that living room and the dog was lunging at me.  I somehow managed to walk the short distance back into the staff carpark where I found a friend and hugged him for dear life. I couldn’t speak, could barely breath, I just felt like I was suffocating.

Since, I’ve regressed into my former self, back to scared Sinead immediately after the dog attack. My sleep – or lack of – has dropped to a couple of hours a night. I get anxious and have become somewhat clingy around people, I’ve found when I am on my own I start to not feel safe and left to my own thoughts I start to worry. This is what I have disliked the most, I’ve never been an anxious person, a stressful person yes, but not anxious. If I have things to do like work or a list of tasks or a particularly busy day to fill up my time, then I am fine and am practically my normal self again – such as on Friday when I spent the day in London with friends seeing the Wes Anderson Animation Exhibition. It’s just when I have this ‘free time’ that I’m not me anymore.

Working at Hoobynoo has been good for me, they’ve been extremely understanding with my situation, I am so grateful to both David and Chiara. They really helped to ground me after that moment in the carpark. I find it very difficult to explain to people what I am feeling without caving in, my throat drying and my eyes watering. I’ve only opened up about it to a few very close friends, the rest I write down and don’t look back over – I suppose that’s why I’m doing so well with this blog post. It doesn’t feel real, I’m not explaining myself to a person just my laptop. If you’ve made it this far congrats. You now know a fraction of whats going on inside my head…

Personally I thought I was over it, I hadn’t written anything down in over 4 months. I can be around dogs, smaller ones are easier admittedly, I can cope with barking if I can identify where it’s origin is coming from. I still plan to get a French with Joseph when we live together… I thought I was fine. Clearly I’m not…

Sooooo yeah, long story told sort of short, that’s why I became pink.
I wanted to look in a mirror and not see the old me reflected back pale and worried, which is all I saw after my last panic attack. Since Sunday when I have looked in the mirror, I smile cause I’m a ludicrous pink colour, I can’t help it! I laugh and it makes me look a bit less pasty,  It’s just so Fucking Pink! So if dying my hair bizarre and rainbow colours is one step to my recovery then great. A rainbow I shall be.

I know not a lot of people read my blog, but this post wasn’t for you. It was for me, as a way to unlock some of the fear I’ve been bottling in for too long; to admit that I am not coping, and that’s okay. If I seem lost or shadowed please talk to me, talk about the most mundane things just to pull me out of the tunnel. I may not look it, but I’ll be grateful for the distraction.

 

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