Clay Animation

Fimo™ was running a competition for a 30-second animation themed "My artistic inspiration". I put this short video together with my (then aged 9) niece. Unfortunately because she lives down the coast and I only get down there every few weeks, by the time we were done, the competition was passed. However we had a great time making the film and enjoyed the result, so no big loss.

Not So Still Life

Production Notes

The movie is in black-and-white mainly because part of the competition rules was white-Fimo™ only. We did record a sound-track, but after some trialling, I decided the work stood quite well as a silent piece.

Most of the creative work was done by my niece, with some input from myself. She storyboarded the scene, and did much of the model-creation and manipulation. I did the camera work (oldish prosumer digital camera on a tripod), and the digital post-production, which consisted of cropping+scaling all the images to 1280x720, converting to greyscale, jiggling the contrast, and hand-editing out a few artifacts. All this was done in the GIMP software, as were the title and credit plates. The images were put in a folder numbered sequentially by frame (duplicate images for the title and credit plates) and image 0001.jpg was opened into Avidemux which picked up the image sequence. I set the frame rate to 8fps and saved as x264 in a Matroska (.MKV) media container. There were 230 frames in all, of which 163 were photographed.

TidBits

The background was a sheet of white cardboard forming the floor and bent gently up at the back to also form a back wall, without any crease between.

First time I shot the piece, I forgot to turn off the camera auto-focus and the pictures were unusable above around 320x240 (the viewfinder resolution - they looked fine on the camera's display, of course). Had to go back two weeks later and re-shoot.

About 4 seconds into the film, you can see where I bumped the tripod. It wasn't bad enough to need another re-shoot.

We actually did a trial run of a few seconds as well as trialling the models with a cheap-nasty clay, switching to the much better looking and more handleable (and priced to match) Fimo™ for the final shoots.

During filming , the paintbrush was too heavy for the character model's arm to support when not also resting on the easel board, so I used a pipe-cleaner wire to hold it, hand-editing it out of the four frames where it was needed.

The brush-to-pallet-to-easel sequence was only filmed once, but repeated two times to pad out the film length to close to the requisite 30 seconds.

We baked a few key props hard as they didn't have to move and this made them more sturdy and easier to handle.

The legs of the Fimo™ tripod are reinforced with pipe-cleaners inside them.

The final clam-to-camera shot was actually not filmed - I cut-out-and-zoomed the final normal-distance shot of the clam, dimming the shot as it "approached" the camera.

 

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