announcement

Summer Classes for Advanced Teens, College Students, and Adult Artists

In August, a weekend intensive will be offered for those who want to learn semi-professional level stop-motion animation. This two-day workshop will cover the basic workflow of stop-motion animation using Dragonframe Stopmotion (software used in production of Paranorman and Coraline) and a Canon DSLR. We will make sample animations using various materials in both down-shooting (2D) and side-shooting (3D) setups. Our studio focuses on non-traditional stop-motion animation, that is, anything but model or puppet-based animation, therefore model-making will not be covered.

This workshop is perfect for those who are interested in expanding their repertoire in digital art. Stop-motion animation is a great way to add the handmade quality to digital animation and live action video, giving the work a richer and more personal feel.

To complete the production process, a follow up one-day workshop on postproduction  is offered on September 6.

Topics to be covered:

  • Setting up the animation station
  • Basics of Dragonframe Stopmotion
  • Working with DSLR
  • Common materials used in stopmotion animation
  • Basic workflow
  • Basic timing
  • Basic movement
  • Audio track
  • Working with X-sheet
  • Compositing with green screen
  • Animating in layers
  • Rotoscoping
  • Lighting

Topics not covered:

  • Details of model-making
  • Lip-synching
  • Advanced timing and movement
  • Postproduction (covered in a separate workshop)

Dates: August 23 and 24

Time: 9am to 4pm

Tuition: $240

Registration is limited to five. Deposit of $50 is required at the time of registration.

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announcement

OK Go Project

In July, we are offering two mini camps for students between age 12 and 21. They are intended for those who want to learn semi-professional level techniques, using Dragonframe Stop-motion, Final Cut Pro, and a Canon DSLR. In session 2, we will take on the amazing music video of OK Go, Here It Goes Again. We will recreate a part of the video, faithfully reproducing frame by frame in a technique called rotoscoping.

This is not for the faint of heart. We will be spending hours just to make a few seconds of footage. We will analyze every second of the original clip, make sets, plan the shoot, set up lighting and rigs. The good news is that we won’t spend any time editing sounds!

This is an on-going project we will be working on for the next year or two, with different groups of students. Each group decides on the material, technique, and style of the animation. Some may want to do it in clay, while others may want to interpret it with pipe cleaners. With each new group, the clip will become longer and richer with all different interpretations.

Students will learn the workflow of stop-motion animation, basics of filmmaking, become familiar with Dragonframe Stopmotion and Final Cut Pro X, and will have an HD animation clip to prove it.

The class is limited to four, so register early.

Dates: Monday, July 14 through Thursday, July 17

Time: 9:30am to 3:30pm

Tuition: $280 (a deposit of $50 is required at the time of registration)

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announcement

LOTR Rotoscope Project

In July, we are offering two mini camps, for students age between 12 and 21. They are intended for those who want to learn semi-professional level techniques, using Dragonframe Stop-motion, Final Cut Pro, and a Canon DSLR. In the session 1, we will recreate a scene from The Lord of the Rings with Lego, faithfully reproducing frame by frame in a technique called rotoscoping. We will have a few scenes to choose from, one of which is the beginning of this scene where Frodo is attacked by Shelob, the giant spider.

This is not for the faint of heart. It will require patience, attention to details, and cooperation. We will be spending hours just to make a few seconds of footage. We will analyze every second of the original clip, make sets, plan the shoot, set up lighting and rigs. The good news is that we won’t spend any time editing sounds!

Students will learn the workflow of stop-motion animation, basics of filmmaking, become familiar with Dragonframe Stopmotion and Final Cut Pro X, and will have an HD Lego animation clip to prove it.

The class is limited to four, so register early.

Dates: Monday, July 7 through Thursday, July 10

Time: 9:30am to 3:30pm

Tuition: $280 (a deposit of $50 is required at the time of registration)

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drawing, paper shapes and cut-outs

Wormhole Travel—A Small Film by Ihor Shuhan

Ihor Shuhan, an 8th grader at Mountain Laurel School, spent 2 days in our studio to create this captivating animation. He used pencil, charcoal, and marker on paper, and cut out most of the shapes to use in pixilation.

Ihor positioning his cut-out figure. Note the tiny paper pieces he spread to use as distant stars.

This was a part of his Artistic Presentation, a graduation requirement at Mountain Laurel Waldorf School in New Paltz, New York. When he first came in, I suggested that he think about what he wants to express, make a storyboard, and plan the scene sequences. He reluctantly obliged and made a storyboard, which helped me follow his process. But the following day, he was left on his own for a few hours, and made the rest of his clips without a storyboard. Frankly, it was as good, if not better, than the part he made with the storyboard!

He only had a vague idea of what he was going to do, and made up each scene as he progressed. This is utterly different from how I work, and it was eye-opening to witness his work process. This is not the first time, however, that a student taught me something new. Luckily for me, it happens all the time.

This mutual learning is the joy and challenge of working with kids and youths in art. How do adults provide guidance in ways that encourage development of their natural creativity rather than confining it? For me, it is a constant cycle of observation and adjustment. Each youth and child is different. What works for one does not suit another, and even for the same child it is different each time. Fortunately,  there is a universal sign that we all share in communication—a smile. And not just on the kids, but on myself as well. Things are good when we are all smiling. It’s even better when we break out in laughter, which, I’m happy to say, happens quite often in our studio.

With Ihor, I was happy I was able to offer him tried and true, albeit humble, tricks I learned from my student days, like using a bridge to prevent smudging charcoal lines, or using a brush to keep paper surface clear of eraser dust. It was also, after all, good to use storyboard the first day, because it helped us communicate better. Other than that, there was not much to teach. The only thing I did was to offer the space and equipment he could use to let his own creativity expand. But then again, maybe that is the most ideal way of teaching.

clay, Lego, music video, pixilation

Our First Music Video!

We have our first music video, Sugar. It was commissioned by the groovy pop/rock band, Spiral Up Kids. It is composed of animation clips made by 7 artists—Damon Wolf, Gideon Schwartz, Dante Hutchison, Hayes Terzia, Suika Sono-Knowles, Diggy Lessard, and Harrison O’Clair, ages 10 to 12 (at the time of production).

Some of the clips were made during an after-school program at Woodstock Day School two years ago, but many scenes, like the Lego band and most of the claymation, were conceived and created by Damon and Gideon, the creators behind our most popular video, Star Wars: the Brick Wars. We had an intensive marathon of two full days to make the clips, tuition for which was covered by the commission. It was Damon and Gideon’s first paid job as artists!

This project caught an eye of an independent record label based in Seattle. I cannot disclose their name yet, but we may get more commission for music videos. It will be an exciting way to provide scholarships, or for young artists to get paid for their creation. Stay tuned.

news, pixilation

Pixilation

Here is the first installment of our pixilation clips. This was a very productive week and we have many more clips to add sound to, and will be posting them as we finish them.

This one is by Ethan Siegel. It’s a great example of how you can use the simplest of objects to make a clip full of expression and humor. How can popsicle sticks, toothpicks and a couple of glass stones be so cute?

Goldfish Pixilation by ZEPHyR and Lion. LOVE the cheerio bubbles. The blinking of light before the explosion is a nice touch, too.