Because I enjoyed my first real stop motion project so much last year (see https://www.hollymazurproductions.com/single-post/2018/05/24/Little-Red-and-the-Big-Wolf-An-Experiment-With-Stop-Motion), I decided to give it a go again this year as another submission to the Gotta Minute Film Festival, a silent 1-minute short film festival. And, as I'm prone to doing with projects, my excitement let me to a complex bunch of ideas. Thus beginning my little journey back into the world of stop motion animation...
Part 1: Creating the peices
First step was to create the "sets". I created the forest set by taping a bunch of cardboard together in a hill-like fashion. Really precise artistry.
Then, I painted it to look like a snowy forest set. So long lumpy tape, hello rolling hills.
I then added some spruce tree branch cuttings for the trees, because nothing looks as real as real tree parts!
The rest of the sets were mainly made of cardboard and tape as well. I spent a long, long time creating little boxes and books and chairs and things for the inside scenes.
Funnily enough, the actual character of the story was the last piece I made. I couldn't decide what I wanted her to look like or how to execute building a character that made sense in this world I created. The last stop motion video I made had a boxy character with no defined legs, which kind of just scooted along. This year, I wanted to step it up and build some legs!
Like the tape and cardboard, this too was an operation with a hodge-podge of bits and pieces. At the base of the body structure, I used some wires, in order to give the character some ability to bend. From there I wrapped the wires in some trusty duct-tape. The head was a ball of tape with the outer portion wrapped in cast material to give a smooth(ish) surface to paint he face.
I then wrapped the duct-taped body in pro-wrap (that sports injury wrap material that sticks to itself). It ended up being the perfect material for allowing just the right amount to give for movement, while still being paintable.
And finally, the hair was a fun endeavour of unwinding the strands of some plain white string and painting them a brown colour. I then taped the edges together and cut them at the top to give me a straight line of "hair" to work with. The hair was then glued with a bunch of white glue onto the head.
From there it was a matter of adding clothing and arranging the hair into a bun, and the character was born!
Part 2: Filming
I like to leave the camera rolling while I move the pieces, then edit out my hands in the footage later. I feel like this gives me a bit more control and options in editing. Plus, it's easier to recover from your character falling over mid-shoot. I spend about a full day filming the scenes of this short.
Unlike last year, I also tried to add a variety of different camera angles to each scene. This was actually a huge help in being able to edit around mistakes or mismatched movements later on.
My favourite part about the actual filming of these scenes is the lighting. It becomes a really creative process to figure out how to light a scene when your subject and room is 10X smaller than what you're used to. Sometimes it's easier to light than in real life, for example I needed some light on the character's face in the scene above, so I taped up a piece of paper to bounce back the light. It worked beautifully, and, in real life, a white sheet that big would have taken forever to set up!
I had a lot of fun lighting this scene too. In addition to the overhead lights, I used a fake battery powered candle taped into a hole in the wall (of the set) to act as the flickering fire light. I also used some mini led lights inside the living room lamp. They ended up being pretty subtle in the shot, but it was a fun little addition.
Step 3: Finishing Touches
Then came for the editing. It was straight forward enough. I actually had too much footage to work with, so I ended up cutting some of the shots I had. But, better to have too much than to little when it comes to editing!
Here's what I ended up with:
In addition to getting into the Gotta Minute Festival, I also received a few fun surprises along the way.
The week of the festival, I was reading the paper, and came across this fun surprise:
The still from my film was used as the main promotional photo for several news articles about the Gotta Minute Festival! It was so cool to see that the character I made was image that the festival wanted to use to promote themselves!
In addition, I was also the recipient of two awards within the festival for Best Animation and "Spirit of Edmonton" Award.
It was really humbling to see such high praise for this film!