Behind the scenes of ‘Dark Room’

I shot the music video for Dark Room with the beautiful and sensual Elsz and a collective of dancers and performers at a theatre space at UNSW. There were costumes selected specifically to glow under our UV light, and plenty of body glitter!

Behind the Scenes of ‘Sick’

Here are some special ‘behind the scenes’ images from the making of my first two films. I have compiled some drawings together to show the breakdown of some sequences into individual stills.

I made the second film Sick for my final subject, Media Arts and Production (or MAP) Project. I wanted to try a different visual style while at the same time still having a very hand-made aesthetic.

I turned my bedroom into a makeshift studio once again. With a scanner, my laptop, textas and hundreds of pages of bleedproof paper, I had everything I needed to get started. When I got sick of sitting on my bed and scribbling, I packed up and went to my favourite local spot, Cafe Ella, and scribbled there instead.

I used a mixture of frame-by-frame animation and After Effects manipulation of my drawn images. The latter method probably shaved off months of potential animation time from my schedule. Even so, several scenes were cut out to ensure I actually had a film to submit by the due date.

An example of the frame-by-frame technique is the magical tree that Marie sees in her dream when she is hypnotised. I drew this in fractured stages on one piece of paper, scanning it every few seconds. Almost all of the limb and eye movements were achieved by plotting a track for the movement of the image in After Effects. I also used the program to create the 3D space from 2D layers – a complicated process when you have so many individual elements to manage.

Some tips for hand drawn/ After Effects animating:

1. Always over-estimate the amount of time you’ll have to wait while sequences render. Perhaps buy a notebook because you’ll have a lot of time to contemplate the meaning of life while you’re waiting.

2.  Watch your sequences back very carefully before you decide they’re finished. You can miss little mistakes on a computer that will be blindingly obvious on a big screen.

3. Try not to get too attached to everything you’ve drawn. Yes it’s beautiful and it took you hours, but if the film is better without it, let it go.

Behind the Scenes of ‘El Visitante’

I shot El Visitante for a subject called Creative Techniques for Shorts at UTS. At the time I was living in a share house in Redfern, in a room severely lacking in walkable floor space. I did however have a balcony, and this became my makeshift studio for several months. I would spend hours on my bed playing with plasticine and wire or collecting cardboard boxes and fashioning them into three-walled sets.

I used very little professional equipment for this film and instead made do with what I could find or buy cheaply.  For example, instead of using wire armatures as the skeletons of the characters, I bought WWE wrestler dolls from K-Mart. Their movement was certainly more rigid and the lady character ended up looking quite masculine but they were a good compromise!

For some design elements in Jack’s bedroom like the curtains and bedspread, I used scraps of fabric leftover from my mum’s patchwork quilting collection. Other materials I bought from two dollars shops, including the tiny mirror balls in the dance scene and the fake flowers for the florist.

I was unsure when we started shooting of the correct movement to photo ratio that would result in a smooth motion look so we did an experiment and it seemed to work out great straight away.

Some points to watch out for with claymation:

1. If you have a cat, be aware that their hair does really get into everything; not just your clothes and your food, but they’ll also stick to your plasticine characters as well. Also note that if you don’t take measures to prevent this, you’ll be too tired to care and remove them later during the shoot.

2. Be aware of the temperature – terrace houses in Sydney can get very hot and your plasticine creations may start to melt when you’re not around.

3. If you can, try and construct your sets above waist height so you can sit in a chair  or stand to work and avoid the inevitable back pain that comes from crouching over sets on the ground.