I moved to Pittsburgh in 2010 to pursue a Master’s degree in Film & Digital Technology and spent that year experimenting and creating a wide variety of films. However, there was one type of film that I never had the opportunity to make until this past weekend: a stop-motion animation.
I had always known how tedious the process can be when creating films utilizing stop motion. I watched behind the scenes of some of my favorite stop motion films and always admired the perseverance and attention to detail made by the animators. After creating my first stop motion animation, I can honestly say that it is even more time consuming than originally thought.
Upon meeting with my group, I could tell that Nitish and Dorothy were just as excited as myself to begin this process. None of us had ever made a stop motion film nor knew how to use DragonFrame, but we were excited for the challenge. We had the idea to use components from our Arduino and create a simple 15-30 second animation. We wanted the components to come to life and walk around like people. We soldered tiny shoes on the selected components after a strict and lengthy audition process. We also staged a classroom like setting in the shop. We decided that our story would be a classroom scene where each component represented a different child and the Arduino would act as the teacher. We had a vision of creating a simple love story of an LED falling in love with a capacitor. The LED would be excited and light up, but only when not seen by his crush. When the capacitor would turn around, he would simply just stare without any emitting any light.
Once finalizing our story, we set out to shoot the scene frame by frame. Upon constructing a suitable background for our story, the long and arduous process began. Dorothy was in charge of taking each photo, while Nitish and I slowly and methodically moved each and every piece less than a centimeter at a time. With our “giant” hands, we continually knocked over the pieces and had to reset them to match as well as possible to the previous shot. We each developed our own methods of moving the pieces and most of our actors were very easy to work with. However, one of the components (and I will take the high road to not mention his/her name) kept falling over on almost every single take. If we were to shoot a sequel, we would not hire this component again.Once the shoot was complete, we then went to the editing room and began to assemble the film. We each took separate parts to make time go faster and because each of us had different specialties. We put the frames together in Premiere, edited certain segments in Photoshop, added sound, color corrected the images, and then finally had our own thirty-second stop motion animation. While this was certainly a difficult task and we definitely made it harder on ourselves by working with miniatures – – it was an absolute blast to create this final piece.