If you don't enjoy this you're dead inside. Seriously.
From ten years in the making, from Timothy Hittle, the third installment in the 'Jay Clay' series, probably the single most influential stop motion I've ever seen. They and John Kricfalusi's work are what got me into animation, almost alone.


The grass is made from carefully sliced glassy magazine paper that just happened to be the right shade of green, works quite nicely, once you get it to stand upright. A few more bits of greenery, fixing on the hands and it's pretty much done, finished pics coming soon.

Making the companion for the Birdbox, working at this small of a scale is a real challenge, lots of fine tools needed, and i seem to have misplaced my helping hands - would really be useful around about now. Anyway, here's the bird so far, minus tail and wings.

And... last post of the day just to let you know I'm painting a small bust I made in sculpey that I had lying about. Use up the last dregs of the model paints I think. So hopefully with these few builds on the go, I should have lots to update int he coming weeks.

A few snaps of the next little piece that I'm working on:

So I thought I'd give another type of armature a go, this one doesn't involve any wire, and relies on joins made of nuts, bolts, wooden dowel, washers and eye screws, as you can see form the joint below.

The dowel splitting on several occasions, grr.

I'd say it's turned out a a reasonable technique to use if I could overcome a few problems, mostly, the wood splitting, but more importantly the loosening of the joints as they become unscrewed.

Next step: trying replacing regular washers with spring washers, and maybe nylon ones, see if that helps.
So, for my 300th blog post, it marks the end of my 2nd year of my animation degree, and the early start of summer 2011. So for a little inspiration here's an animation from someone's second year at CalArts, and it's utterly wonderful:

I have a fair few plans of what I'm going to be working on over the summer, and I'll be keeping this blog updated with my progress, so stay tuned.

Helping Beckie Smout (pre-production)
As this part of my task never really got off the ground, it's hard to evaluate it fully. Brainstorming and idea gathering session are always useful though, and it was interesting to see another person's stop-motion work. It would have been great to work with someone on a puppet based stop-motion project, but alas, it was not to be.

Helping Karina Davies (production)
This charcoal based project, based on a real person and true story was useful for seeing what it was like to work for someone, rather than as an equal team member (which was part of it as well). Trying to replicate a style as well as working towards set gaols and deadlines. The mix of pre-production and production work was an ideal setting to put many of the things I've learned through my course into practice. But most of I feel it was interesting and challenging to work on something geared towards an audience that I haven't so far within my own work.

Set/Prop Construction Techniques
Building the models and working on my painting techniques taught me many lessons that I feel will be invaluable for all my coming work. From dry-brushing to over-painting, all of these are some of the essential skills I need in order to produce high quality sets and props, and the more practice I get at these the better.

Character Research
The continuous need to keep my eyes open for new inspiration and teachings of established character artists was put into practice for this part, as I made myself sit down and look for new styles and techniques. Studying and analysing these various artists brings something new to my own work, and opens my eyes to options I may not have yet considered.
But more than that, it keeps me enthusiastic and inspired about my area and keeps me pushing in new directions with my work. Learning new techniques, like keeping a visual journal, and new mindsets for keeping myself constantly pushing my creative side, and making the most of every idea.

Planning the next Project
Thanks to all research I've completed on the direction I want to head with my next project, I feel fully prepared to start pushing along further with it. I'm still constantly gathering new media, and solidifying the idea of the piece I want to produce. All of the different aspects and lessons I've learned during this module have helped me  progress with deciding on which direction I want to head, and where I see myself in the future.

Now a few things towards an older audience. Starting with some classic comedy in the form of Monty Python. This brief sketch from one of their productions is based around a brilliant little music number about insignificance and our universe. This is the kind of 'feel' I'd like to aim towards for my piece - comedy with a serious edge, perhaps towards a younger audience.

Taking it a bit more slowly, here's part of a tribute series to some of Carl Sagan's (renowned astrophysicist) wise words. This kind of love of science and empiricism and the history and future of our species, is the kind of awe and wonder I would love to be able to help inspire in younger generations via my work, starting with next year's work.

Now here's something a bit more modern, and as much as auto-tuning is a bit overdone on the interwebs as of late, this is a brilliant way to gather many inspiring words on a unified subject. Again, to inspire and enlighten people about the beauty of a scientific viewpoint on the world.

The Animaniacs are probably what set me off on the scientific road with their awesome musical numbers extolling the virtues of the planets, the presidents and many other subjects. These fast paced but enlightening pieces are almost entirely based around the musical number, but work the animation to it nicely to provide a combined visual/audio piece. I think these definitely show that you do not need to dumb down your presentation even when dealing with the younger sets of audiences.

They Might be Giants are up here again, with a lovely little short in a different style to their usual ones. This was created by actually making the characters and sets with crafting techniques and paper/paints etc, before photographing them and then animating them. This gives them a very hand-made and unique look, while still being able to use much more modern digital techniques for smoother animation and tweening, and even some 3D rendered sequences. I love the combination of different techinques, new and old to created a really stand-out looking visual aesthetic.

Not quite educational this one, but good fun nevertheless. Stop-motion music video for Weird Al's Jurassic Park. This kind of puppet based tongue-in-cheek animation is great for pulling the younger crowd in as it's instantly funny and 'cartoony'. You can get away with great exaggerated designs and expressions as well as a vibrant palette, and it sure looks like fun to produce.
So here I am planning ahead with ideas of next year's project. I have a few ideas of the kind of direction of what I'd like to produce so here's the outline:

 - An educational short, or pilot to possible series.
 - Primarily stop-motion (puppet based) but with a possible mix of other mediums.
 - Aimed at kids to teens, 10-18, unisex.
 - Based on real science and real facts.
 - Topics showing the benefits of empiricism and logic
 - Showcasing scientific discovery and learning.

My first steps in this direction was to see what kind of things are already out there, and what appealed to me as a child. My pick of the best out there at the moment are:

Mythbusters: the science isn't perfect but for getting kids into science this is easily one of the best out there. They don't patronise or over-complicate, and it's full of 'impact' and fun experiments and comedy to keep them entertained. I wish this was about when I was a kid.

Now, coming a close second is this series of music video shorts by They might be Giants, all of which make science all rock-star for a younger audience. From the elements to dinosaurs and many others they've covered many aspects of science in a fun and engaging way.

By using these simplistic yet colourful styles of animation mixed with a brilliant sing-along song, kids are enjoying being educated and it's not even in a sneaky way. It shouldn't be about trying to sneak information into kids without them knowing, it's about making the topics engaging enough that they want to learn about it, and even better if you can get them go want to pursue it even after the animation/teaching is over!

 - Define my area of practice (AOP) 
       = Pre-production; character design & set building
 - Needed skills and developed skills 
       = Miniature painting, general painting and construction skills for sets, etc Character drawing practice, life drawing and caricaturing. 
 - Application of knowledge and skills  
       = Model making/painting, sketch journal, photo textures etc, caricaturing, character creation and research.

2) the final presentation [10mins]
 - Define AOP and Specialism
 - Outcomes?
 - Reflection and strategies
 - Experiments and innovation

 - Understanding the target audience 
       = Young teen(ish)
 - Research (demographics, age groups, behaviour e.t.c) 
       = See what's already out there.
 - Primary and secondary research (record, analyse and evaluate)
       = Films, shorts, TV etc
 - Appropriate design principals (visual rhetoric) 
       = see above

 - Finish tasks set by the L6 members 
       = Working on Karina's Project
 - Evidence of participation and responsibility      
       = Karina's Project
 - Evidence of completion of tasks professionally - Ongoing
       = Karina's Project
 - Production Schedule 
       = Karina's Project

The start of production, making sure the paper was secured down properly, the camera was aligned correctly and that all materials and planning was completed before starting. The only problem ran into was the charge of the batteries of one of the camera fading and dying halfway through one of Claire's scenes. A quick swap to Gareth's spare camera though, and we were good to continue with both cameras blazing while the battery pack for the third charged.

I always find that group projects are twice as effective at picking up on problems and mistakes within the production pipeline than solo projects. The extra pairs of eyes are always useful to go over your own work and criticise and evaluate others as you go along. It's all too easy to miss something obvious if you've been working on it for a long while. They've got your back and you've got theirs.

The A3 charcoal sheets to be used for scene production. 

One of the stills to be used for a scene with composited TV screen animation.