As an Animator, primarily working with two-dimensional cut out animation, I wanted to expand my knowledge in the field and for my practices project, learn how to confidently work with 2D Stop-motion animation and move towards 3D Stop-motion animation.
I started off by drawing a black figure on a whiteboard, taking a picture, then erasing the image and drawing the black figure positioned for the next frame and repeating this process. While experimenting with movement, i noticed a difficulty in getting the proportions right in each frame. I ended up giving my character an unintentional growth spurt during the process. I then, came up with the idea of cutting out the head and the body of the character, from black cardboard, then sticking it to the whiteboard with a bit of blutak, then positioning it according to movement and drawing the arms and legs along side the cardboard body. This helped keep the body in proportion and keep it consistent.
When moving onto 3D stop-motion, I faced another difficulty and that was lighting. When working with 2D animations, light and shadows aren’t an important factor as there is no depth in the image, but when using 3D animation, you need to be weary of lighting. I only had a table lamp and a white piece of A3 sized cardboard as my studio set up and struggled a bit getting rid of shadows and illuminating my subject. I’ve researched resolutions and If I were to continue creating 3D animations, I’d build a photo soft box (which is a white cube that works as a backdrop and light diffusor) to place the object into and light from the outer left and right hand sides with LED lights. That way, the model would be well lit and there would not be any shadows which would save a lot of time in the editing/ post production stage.
Stop-motion animation is a very time consuming job, as it takes several frames to create just one second of a clip. I could only produce short clips due to time restrictions and lack of narrative. Although I portrayed actions within my clips (such as waving and kicking a ball) there was not a solid narrative to add more time onto my animations. I think If I wrote a short story and created a story board, I could then reference the two to be able to produce a longer narrative. I found it a bit hard to come up with a story spontaneously as you have to be consistently thinking about how you’re going to position the next frame and if it is anatomically correct to how a human body would move. To create a 3D animation to my standard, It would probably take over 5 weeks.
I also wanted to extend my after effects skills by creating an animation, in which I merge the 2D character and the 3D character into the one clip. I thought if I put both figures on top of a white background, It would be easy to blend the two animations together, but it was very difficult. What I struggled with trying to edit, was due to my lack of studio equipment. Since i did not have a tripod for my camera, the whiteboard 2D animation was positioned on an angle, which was then hard to warp back into portion. I had difficulty blending the backdrops together due the shadows in the 3D character clip, I tried changing the brightness and the contrast as well as masking, but I am not that confident in after effects, so I wasn’t happy with the result and scrapped the clip.
I went into this project hoping to learn a new skill to add to my digital media belt and am now confident to continue using stop-motion animation in my practice. Once I got the hang of proportions and movement, I realised that it is very similar to what I was doing before, 2D cut-out animations. What I found very beneficial was watching tutorials on movement and framing as well as researching different ways of creating stop-motion animations, such as the app I found for my iPad, which reduced a lot of editing time.Now that i’ve learnt a new skill, I can incorporate that into my cut-out animations and experiment with different dimensions and depths.