Peter: It’s here! My intro film for the “Salty Toons” animation screening at Big Irv’s Gallery, which I curated and hosted this past weekend. I was so excited to create something that emulated the dark and gritty tone of the films that were screened, and to have a chance to revisit some stop-motion photography (it’s been 5 years since my last stop-mo film!). This was also the first time I used DragonFrame software and shot with a DSLR camera (courtesy of Andy London) which made everything beautiful - make sure to set your youtube player to 1080p resolution!
CLICK THE ABOVE PHOTO OR THE LINK BELOW:
And since I always enjoy looking back on the process of making a film and seeing the similarities and differences between original ideas and final result I thought I’d post some storyboards, tests and behind the scenes photos from my process. Below are the original boards, which include an alternate intro involving making popcorn on top of the salt-machine (boards #1-8). I decided to scrap this portion when I realized the story was more about the journey of the salty mixture.
(click to enlarge)
Here are some early concept sketches of the salt machine and basement set, as well as the film’s well-worn supplies list. Lots of trips to Home Depo and Utrecht:
Below is the basement set before the dead plants and dirt floor were added. While there are lots of little details included that may not completely register to the viewer in the brief moments they’re on screen, I do think they subconsciously get recognized and contribute to an overall reality. Plus the more detailed the set, the easier it is for the filmmaker to feel inspired and immersed in the environment while shooting:
The actual room where I shot everything was a mess of homemade solutions to get the desired result - you can see I put a blue t-shirt over my globe light to add some diffused ambiance, and I separated the colored lightbulbs on top of the set with cardboard beer cases to keep the colors from bleeding together and to help define them better on camera. But you’d never know that looking at the final shot:
Lastly, I went back over some of the footage and animated flames and flowing salt goop by hand (frame by frame) using Flash. After I roughed out the animation, everything was cleaned up and then composited onto the original footage using AfterEffects:
Finally, all that was left was the sound design - which can really make or break a film. I set the tone with this great version of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Trent Reznor that had a lot of distortion and electronic interference, which suited the style of the footage really well and helped set an audio direction. Having a partner who is a professional film sound designer was also pretty helpful. We sat down together and figured out ways to include subtle sound effects that complimented and integrated with the soundtrack. There’s lot of film projectors, record players, television tubes, static and even some deer rutting calls and a cash register!
And so that’s how I made a 1 minute film in 2 weeks! Looking back on it, it was a lot of work but extremely fun and gratifying. Now I can’t wait to start something new!
peter is cool