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.   hunkin







I had just got a new computer for video editing with Adobes production suite when I was asked to do some drawn animation for Mount Edgcumbe, a small museum in Cornwall. I needed an excuse to get familiar with my new computer, so I accepted the commission. Previously, the only drawn animation Id done was by cutting separate cardboard limbs for characters, sticking them together loosely with blue tac, and moving them between frames. This time I decided to use software - After Effects. It was a program I had used occasionally and felt could be useful to get to know better. 

Its always a slow business getting a new computer system to run well and this was no exception, but I did appreciate how many of the irritating things about my old Matrox system (2001) had been sorted, without the need for an enormous card and splitter box. 

As I got familiar with After Effects, I was amazed the masks only obscure the layer immediately below an effect impossible to do with cardboard and blue tac. The puppet pins were also amazingly clever, but often too clever I preferred a more jerky effect. Generally it all tried to be too smooth for my taste, and I kept having to make more jerky. However, after many jerky scenes, the bats looked great gliding around smoothly.

 In the middle of the process I got a small Wacom Cintiq. This is much better than trying to draw with a mouse, but its still not like using a pen its just too slippery. It made me draw so fast the lines lacked the precision Im used to. Id never realised before how the roughness of paper creates the friction that keeps a real pen under control. The Cintiq was brilliant though for separating scanned drawings into Photoshop layers, and for adjusting the lines.   

Everything took longer than Id thought, mainly because the video was to be viewed on three screens, to match the long thin proportions of the sawmill. This looked great, but I could only see the effect by rendering the three screens separately and transferring each one to its flash card player, a tedious business. 

On cold dark winter days it was very snug sitting at the computer, but whenever the weather improved, I found it very hard to stay indoors. I kept thinking of things I wanted to do in the shed. Near the end, I asked Ben to do the sounds. This was great. Id run out of steam and his input added enormously to the finished effect. 

Im pleased with the finished effect, but realised I dont have the patience sitting at a computer to ever be a natural animator.  




This animation was commissioned by Andy Plant, to show through the eyepiece of a telescope sculpture he was making for Liverpool. He suggested I try using a program called 'I Can Animate'. This is a very simple stop motion program that takes frames from a webcam or DV cam and assembles them into a movie. It is surprisingly sophisticated, doing 'onion skinning', so you see both the camera view and the previous frame superimposed. I enjoyed using it. The only problem I found was that the final film was a bit soft focus and I don't think it was the camera.

I've used a combination of 2D and 3D in all the animation I've done for my simulator rides. I like the effect and its relatively quick and simple. much though I love Ardman animation, just the thought of the amount of effort that goes into their films makes me feel tired. 

I really prefer animation that has a rough edge and is a bit wobbly. In this film the sets are 3D and Horrocks is 2D. The bits of card are stuck to bits of brass, which are soldered to tinned copper wire. I drilled tiny holes in the plywood floor to stick the wire in to make him stand up. I spent a week making the sets and trying things out, but it took less than 2 days to film.  



A short animation I made at San Fransisco's Exploratorium Tinkering Studio using the stop motion setup they have for visitors to make their own animations




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