Master Of Animation, Games & Interactivity
Master Of Animation, Games & Interactivity

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umEbUPLlrGc

Method:

Create a stop-motion video generating a story, using nature within nature.

Context: 

For the theme of nature, I presented to the class a handful of different artists that explore nature in different creative ways – either leveraging it as their canvas, or using parts of nature and the environment to build and construct artistic creations. This led me to the works of both Paul Johnson – a stop motion artist and graphic designer creating art from the land and Andy Goldsworthy – a sculptor and photographer creating site specific installations from natural materials, in which this led to inspiring one to get outside into the wild and discover something new, by playing with nature itself through a natural sensory experience. 

Holland and I decided to collaborate for this weeks play session, in which we both agreed it could be fun to explore stop motion in a more organic and natural setting, to create some sort of story using characters of some variety. Two key inspirations that drove our concept during the practice of play was a work by Nick Park and Aardman Animationswith the stop motion comedy mockumentary ‘Creature Comforts’ in which zoo animals are animated to a soundtrack of everyday people talking about their homes, creating a sense of place for each animal and as though they are being interviewed about their lives and different living conditions and a series of paintings from 1563 known as ‘The Four Seasons’ by Guiseppe Arcimboldo, which he uses fruit, vegetables and plants relating to the relevant season in order to form portraits of people. 

Our aim was to create our own stop-motion outcome merging these two creative concepts together, using nature and continuing the nature of evolution through play and creative concepts within a collaborative setting. This is somewhat reflective of Vygotsky’s theory of play from the book ‘Imagination and Creativity in Childhood’ in which he describes play as being the creative as of ‘any activity that gives rise to something new’ through combinatorial or creative activity, in which some elements are essentially a repetition of something that already exists, however our own creativity allows us to engage with our own ideas and imagination and re-arrange what we know exists, in order to create for form the new.
 

Response: 

  • Generate dialogue of a story using an online generator
  • Meet Holland at the botanical gardens 
  • Collect loose bits of nature such as sticks, rocks, wood, leaves 
  • Create character profiles out of these materials 
  • Animate their eyes and mouths moving using a stop motion app 
  • Go home and each record each generated piece of dialogue individually 
  • Stitch the dialogue to corresponding footage 
  • Stitch clips together in Premiere Pro 
  • Apply sound effects 

Reflection: 

This week’s response evolved quite a lot from our initial discussions and turned into an amalgamation of these in combination of our inspired references. There was an evolution throughout the concept of storytelling and how we wanted to approach this, leading from creating a singular character out of sticks physically moving through the woods, to flat characters on the ground made out of nature’s materials acting out a scene, to creating a portrait using a single outline of the head and defining the portrait clearly, to finally using observation to discover natural patterns within nature on a variety of surfaces to add elements of nature to – in order to form the outcome of a face, which we then decided to develop and experiment with. We knew being out in the natural environment, we would be struck with some challenges due to the different elements and weather and realised we wouldn’t be able to spend too long on creating something – which in effect, led to us thinking more spontaneously and learning to observe the environment more carefully, in order to find solutions to this rough idea we had of ‘creating some sort of stop motion animation in nature’.  

We scoured the environment for loose bits of nature, to create a collection we could mix and match with when it came to creating different faces. We then took turns in discovering a new patch of land to form a face from and create different outcomes using the materials. Holland was master of moving face bits to create the animation using a stop motion app on her phone. In order to be able to do this though, we had to get crafty with my camera tripod by taping together a selfie stick, in order to allow us to film directly face down onto the ground. There were times our faces were blown away by the wind, creating inconsistencies throughout the process and needing to start again, however we were very lucky the rain stayed away until after we had finished.  Collaborating through play, opened new opportunities through brainstorming and bouncing ideas off one another throughout the process and really encouraged us to change our initial ideas and work through the natural instincts, to try different things. In the early stages of discussion, there were at times a feeling of being stuck towards what it was we were actually going to do, however once we were in the same space and brainstorming together, it evolved quite rapidly and flowed quite naturally.  

After exploring the Botanic Gardens, we went home and individually recorded the diagloue I had generated through an online generator prior to meeting in the park. This was because we didn’t have a clear idea around what it was or how we were going to be animating once we met up and it allowed us to have a more spontaneous session at the gardens, rather than stressing out about having to get the animation lip-synced to the recordings in the middle of a public space in threatening whether. Rather, we were able to think about the dialogue loosely, animate and then out of our mixed recordings at home pick out the ones that worked best in terms of characterisation for each of the videos. Holland stitched the voice overs to the animated videos on her phone and I then stitched these edited works together in Premiere Pro and applied sound effects to each one, to provide a sense of place. 

Thinking about tv soapies and the drama that unfolds throughout them on a daily basis, such as Home and Away, Neighbours, Passions or Days our Lives, I decided to stitch these together within an old TV frame to create a quick little series of tales from “The Hood”. 

The final outcome is a combination of Ardman’s interview style approach from Creature Comforts, portraitures leveraging the style of Arcimboldo’s ‘Four Seasons’ and nature of drama found in tv soapies. 

About This Work

By Amber Southall
Email Amber Southall
Published On: 12/05/2021