Sunday, December 04, 2005

Stop-Motion Magic

Hoping to get "The Irish Ballad" completed in time for next year's festival circuit I've been doing some research into the world of stop motion's costs and production details.

Through a series of very fortunate events, connections and cosmic allignments, I was lucky enough to get a tour of a stop-motion studio in Toronto known as "the Orphanage". They are currently producing Brad Peyton's soon-to-be seen series, "What It's Like being Alone". It will be on the CBC next year.

I have never been as inspired or as excited about animation as I was when I walked through their building.

We started the hour-long tour in storage rooms filled with sets and characters. There were fa├žades as far as the eye could see, and shelf after shelf of minature props.

The workshops were busy with artists crafting all sorts of buildings and fine tuning characters. In one section, two guys were putting the finishing touches on a large forced-perspective sculpture of the Great Wall of China that we were told was built for one 10-second gag.

From the workshop we went to the stages where the filming was taking place. In order to produce the amount of animation need for the series, 10 stages are working simultaneously. This means that multiple versions of each character and set are needed. We wandered around from set to set, each one seperated from the other with huge black drapes. Tacked on the walls were hundreds of storyboard panels and page after page of shot lists.

Every stage had a different facet of the process to show us -- and each one was surprising and enlightening. If it wasn't the huge infinity wall with projected clouds -- it was the green-screen and wires that amazed us. We saw how cigars were lit, water was faked, and buckets of blood ran down walls. It was terrific.

We got a quick peek at the filming process and the computers used to composite the shots, then got a brief tour of editing.

The whole visit was incredibly inspiring. I can't wait to get "The Irish Ballad" into production -- and hopefully with these folks.


Blogger Ariel said...

Very inspirational "post" Mark.. I too love stop motion. When i did a test over at cuppa coffee.. i got the same feeling(rewarding) Hope you're doing well. .. From: an ex Nelvana pat

6:14 PM  

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