September was a major moon month.
As the fall crept in over some intense full moons, it really felt like there was a shift in the universe.
Toronto also got to experience the sensory voyage that was In/Future down at Ontario Place.
Amazing exhibits showcased works exploring time and space.
It couldn't have come at a better moment.
The inspiration for this month was vibrant.
Everything fell hand-in-hand for September's plan.
When I first began doing this animation challenge, Eli messaged me to collaborate. In early summer, we met for coffee in the east end and brainstormed a couple ideas...
Eli: Back in the spring, I stumbled on a timelapse of the moon's phases on Wikipedia, and started thinking about what might be on the far side as I scribbled out a rough storyboard. There's a hint of the old silent film A Trip To The Moon in here, too.
I was right away excited and a plan was made to work together in September. His partner, Sean, expressed interest as well. I was very much looking forward to having two extra bodies in my studio, helping.
A few months passed and I presented a new storyboard detailing the shots we wanted to achieve.
We set aside a couple of Saturdays, divided tasks and got to work. Many a pastries were had.
I was particularly excited about making the silhouettes. They were exacto'd out of black card stock. The bottoms were folded and have small popsicle sticks hot glued on the fold to help them stand still. They didn't really read well on a black background, so we ended up painting them grey-ish white.
Eli: In the studio, we decided it wouldn't be THE moon, just A moon. Chantale painted a bunch more of them for the rocket to explore, and I kept her swirly, atmospheric look when it was time to make the main moon.
The set was one part melamine (ground) and one part foam core (space). The ground was covered in sand and rocks. The space background was painted with white speckles and a few sparkly gems. I love working with foam... It's light and very versatile. We were able to paint the "moons" (foam balls) using acrylic paints. These were then placed on skewers, which were poked through the foam core background to help with depth of perception.
As you can see, Phoebe was a big part of the process.
And a huge distraction!
Eli: I got to build a rocket! It's part of a paper towel roll, with a paper nose cone fitted around a styrofoam ball. Chantale gave it an amazing paint job, while Sean created a great lighting setup with just desk lamps and construction paper.
The rocket was the most fun!
Eli's fantastic rocket design made it easy for me to install a skewer in it as well. I then cut some slits for retractable wings. The launch pad was made from painted balsa wood and the fire/smoke were cotton balls!
Not only was I grateful to have a few helping hands on deck, but Sean's lighting skills really made this animation. Sean set up my fluorescent lights with diffusion paper, some gels and coloured construction paper. I learned so much and followed his direction entirely here as lighting isn't really my domain.
Challenges with this animation included stabilizing the foam core background and keeping it even when poking the skewers through. It really came in hand to have an extra pair of hands to take the shots during take off (thanks Eli).
Something I learned and did for the first time was edit certain frames. Since the moon had many holes poked through it, I wanted to achieve a seamless look, so in post, I smoothed out the holes to make it look like magic. I'm pretty proud of that!
Eli: I assembled the music and sound in Logic, using its built-in synths for the rocket engine and the theremin-style lead. The cricket ambiance is by kangaroovindaloo on Freesound.org, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Eli is a fantastic sound designer. We were definitely on the same wavelength from the get go.
If you have a chance, head on over to Forgery League.
Forgery League is the home of Eli's audio drama and production work, including the fairy-tale medical show comedyAlba Salix, Royal Physician.
Sean is an incredible lighting director, photographer, author, podcast host, etc... He can pretty much tackle anything. To learn more about him, please head on over to seanhoward.ca.
These guys are both immensely talented. I am so glad we got to work together.
Here's us and here's the video!
I think it's fair to say we giggled the entire time. When things started to come together, it was very exciting. Stop-motion satisfies your inner-kid.
Not only did we have a "blast", we learned a lot from each other.
Thank you Eli and Sean for your expertise and for dedicating some of your time to this.
Thank you for also believing in my abilities as an animator. Great work all around.
This animation was shot at 12fps using iStopMotion & a Canon T3i rebel (50mm lens) and took a total of 12 hours.