art & design

Stop Motion Animation Using Animate It

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As part of my course we were able to try out animation. The brief for this project was to create a 30 second, stop motion animation using Animate It! This is a really simple piece of software made by Aardman Animations. You connect a webcam then it overlays an image on-top of the live video so you can move parts of the image. When you combine the images together it makes an animation.

We were given sound clips from Scrubs so you didn’t have to worry about the audio part of this project. The most important thing was designing the characters and actually creating the animation. This was the most time consuming project we had over the course of the year. It took around 5 weeks from designing the characters to creating film.

CHARACTER DESIGN

A big part of this project was spent actually designing the characters. It’s actually interesting to see how much changed between my initial sketches and the final designs. As part of my research I actually looked at character designs from the Pixar movies and it was really interesting to see how many different designs Woody and Buzz went through before they ended up on the final characters. Another little thing I learned from this project is the characters from Inside Out are based on shapes that represent their emotions.

As part of the design process I actually spent a day making a cat just to see how everything would go together and what parts would animate in the final movie. Turns out this was really important because I had to work out how much movement I would have in the eyes and ears and how I would make the mouth movements look believable. I actually spent a good amount of time watching The Aristocats that day while trying to work out mouth shapes.

DEVELOPING AN IDEA

The problem with these sorts of projects is I find it hard to take them seriously. We had to create a background for each character, this wasn’t something you would see in the final animation but it would help you design the character, how they move and the overall setting. For some reason I decided one of my cats was a David Bowie fan.

The grey cat (technically her name is Victoria) actually has the lightning bolt in the final design. It’s not in those iconic colours and it’s mostly hidden behind the eye but it’s still there.

We were animating a 30 second clip at 12 frames a second. So it worked out you needed to capture 400 frames. We had story boards to work from but it was still tricky working out what things needed to be moved between each frame.

There was also the problem that it was really time consuming. We were only able to do the animations in class. Because the PCs had the software. But that meant leaving for the day and hoping no-one touched your setup before the next time you were in. In all it meant this animation was a real headache to make.

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