The piece will deal with the idea of territory. How many creatures instinctively claim a certain space for themselves. Evidently humans are no different. The animation aims to highlight, through visual metaphor, the constructed nature of boarders and the activity that takes place on each side of them. Using political geographic history as a loose guideline, the piece will display such occurrences as wars, unions, trade etc. Such incidents will be displayed in a very simplified way, and the reason for this is so that the actions will be clear to the audience. This piece will not have the communicative benefit of language or words, so simplicity visual will be aimed for in the plot and in most areas of the design.
The piece will also be displayed online with the possibility of viewer interactivity in the form of scrolling, meaning the spectator has the choice of which area they will observe. The ability for the viewer to effortlessly traverse the screen should juxtapose with the characters strict physical boundaries that have enforced on themselves. Hopefully this will provoke the audience to consider the line between security and captivity, and think about what is gained by divisions.
Materials and Fabrication
The technique will be stop-motion animation, but computer software will be instrumental in compositing the shots of the various areas into one screen. As stop-motion requires a vast amount of preparation in terms of model and set construction, it is a firm priority to figure out the materials best suited for the various purposes required. I wish to shoot the film in my own room, due to the length of the animation and time it would require to shoot, I would prefer a space accessible to me at all times. This choice of ‘studio space’ is one of the reasons that I’ve chosen to make the elements rather small. Fortunately I have some experience with small scale armature construction, which should benefit me hugely. I made some basic ball and socket joints two years ago to use if such a project ever came up, so the joints of the models will require little energy.
Brass will make up the majority of the figure, and be used for the main body shapes. Brass is stronger than copper and aluminum, but generally easy to work with in terms of soldering and joining. It seems perfect for the socket sections of the ball joints, due to a combination of durability and softness. When two brass plates are tightened around a stainless steel ball, the metals softness enables a smooth groove to be formed, this makes swivels and pivots executable in a fluid and controllable manner. However, the small scale of the models requires me to learn the precise technique of small metal joining known as ‘silver soldering’. Silver soldering is also rather compulsory as alongside the brass elements, there will be some of stainless steel, and silver soldering is also one of the best techniques for joining such steel.
These models will also need a means of ‘rigging’, so that their position can be composed solely by me, without the unwanted input of gravity. Rigs can be moved incrementally in terms of width and depth with very little complications, as this can be achieved simply be pushing it around the set as requires. However, incremental height control is much more complicated, and requires a manner of engineering to make it possible. This is something I am working on and have produced various prototype ‘incremental height rigs’, one of which seems so far to be a successful basic design, with need only of a few minor tweaks.
The set will be extremely basic, designed to give the impression of an almost completely black space, this is to accentuate other elements of the film. Carbon steel would seem to be a good material for the set, due to its strength, and the fact that it is magnetic. Magnetic-ness is a required quality because the constructs of the characters, boarders, blocks etc. will be stuck to the back ‘wall’ to give the impression that they are hanging in space. However with minimal lighting on the set, how are these lines and shapes to be clearly seen? A possible solution is ultraviolet ‘black light’, if the elements are produced in with the ‘day-glow’ colour spectrum, then they should shine without the wall they are attached to, becoming visible. The black light source itself will be in the form of a UV strip light mounted on the back wall, and high enough to not appear onscreen.
Bazyli will make the sound and music for the film. During many conceptual conversations between Bazyli and I regarding the theme and concept, each of us has offered ideas and opinions for consideration. Because of his involvement and apparent passion for the piece, I trust his understanding, and would certainly allow him to take on a role of sound director. Although, the fragmented visual nature of the film does present a challenge for the sound mixing, scenes will have to be mapped out almost mathematically, so that the music will fit with the visuals but neither would be compromised.
The idea of an interactive piece is something we would like to incorporate into the sound mixing. Our idea is to have the various areas of the explore-able ‘onscreen’, installed with their own soundtrack, harmonizing with the surrounding tracks, but displaying their own unique qualities. Not only will the spectator be able to choose what they see, but also what they hear.
I aim to start shooting in mid to late January, so by that time at least a rough, rhythmic outline of the sound will be compulsory. I will need to start structuring some stop-motion elements around it.
The visual accentuation on the characters has made me decide to animate to the frame rate of 25 per second. Where possible, I would like to have the characters perform territorial dances and movements which display everything from unleashed aggression to peaceful compliance. They will be lit from the side to highlight their outline and draw attention to their form in motion. I made the choice for the characters to represent humans, or groups of them, but not resemble them. This piece will focus of an area of human mentality, and not human physicality. This has allowed me to be rather abstract in my character designs, but during the design process I would often consider how the creature might move, and sometimes make alterations to make certain kinetic mannerisms communicable.
In keeping with the simplistic style, I will keep the models bare, in that the metal they are composed of will not be covered up. The metal itself, and the fact that it has become scratched and scorched in the actual process of its fabrication, give the characters a strong aesthetic identity in my opinion. The colours in the models will be those which are natural to the metal. The elements on the back wall will be simple geometric shapes of bright colours, but each space will have its own colour in which these shapes materialize. So the creature in the space in the top right will be surrounded by a green border, and construct green shapes within it.
I aim to complete the shooting of this project around mid-April, to allow enough time for editing, compositing, and sound synchronization.