Our first stop motion animation — Left & Right

For our first class in Animation, we learned about the 12 (although really 11) principles of animation.

  1. Squash and stretch
  2. Anticipation
  3. Staging
  4. Straight ahead and Pose to Pose
  5. Follow through and overlap
  6. Slow ins and outs
  7. Arcs
  8. Secondary action
  9. Timing
  10. Solid drawing
  11. Appeal

For our assignment, we had to try our hands at applying the principles of animation in our own 30 second stop-motion animation.

We decided to create a story about a library book, anxious to be read.


Left & Right – Stop Motion Animation Short Film from Christina Elizabeth Hall on Vimeo.

Notes of our process

Stop motion is hard! But at the same time, it’s very forgiving (as long as you think through your shots).

After breaking into groups, Pan, Chris and I each thought of three ideas for 30 second stories. We ultimately ended up going with a story about a book who just wants to get read. We storyboarded our concept, to make sure that we knew what kind of shots we wanted.

animation_storyboard1

Once we had our shots in mind, we began to shoot. We scoped a spot in Bobst Library that would work, and we began to gather books to shoot our scene. Our location was actually filled with political philosophy books, so we decided to add a bit of political flair to our story. With so much focus in this upcoming election on our differences, we decided that our main character should be a book that embraced our differences–hence the title “Left and Right.”

chris_at_shoot
Chris working the camera
animating_book
Animating our book

Actually shooting our shots was not necessarily difficult. They just took precision. Because Dragonframe was slow to shoot, we had to make sure that our movements were slow and precise. We had a lot of trouble with our camera hooking up to Dragonframe, and I’m not sure if it was Dragonframe’s fault or the equipment we were using. I would ideally probably like to use a newer and longer USB cable if I were to shoot again. We used a Canon Mark II to shoot our shots, and I was really happy with the quality of shots that came from this camera.

The most difficult part of the short to film was when the book fell from the shelf. Since Dragonframe could not take shots as fast as gravity pulled the book to the floor, we decided to film a different angle in which we zoomed in on the book falling. That way, we could hold onto the book out of frame and shoot it “falling”.

Once we had all of our shots, Chris edited the clips together. It was difficult to find a piece of music that would unite the happy/sad/happy arc of the story, but we found a song that ended up having good timing with the scenes, and it worked out. In the future, I might choose a song first and film something around it, but it’s rather hard to find a song that goes through those moods in 30 seconds.

Conclusion

I was very happy with our first assignment. I think we did a good job of applying the principles of animation. We extended some scenes of the book waiting to be selected in editing to create some anticipation, and we tried to use slow ins and outs when the book fell from the shelf. We also made sure that the humans in the scenes moved in arcs to create a more natural motion in animation.

The most challenging principles to achieve in a 30 second short were timing and secondary action. I thought our short was a little quick, but there was a lot to pack in in a short amount of time. I guess I’m also not 100% sure what secondary action is, so I hope to focus on what this is so that I can apply it in future projects.