Hello Curious Cats,
If you are reading this you have a) seen my recent animation b) forced to by a parent - thanks Mom! or c) intrigued by how I spend my days because I am a fascinating individual. While I am hoping it is situation C, I actually would rather it be situation A, though no worries if it's option B. What I am trying to say is - check out the final product of what I am about to discuss below and then continue reading...please?
I always like animating things that I am mulling over. For those who know me, I am not a shy person. I like talking to people, I like having people to talk to. As I have gotten older, I realize some people do not wish to talk to me as much as I may want to talk to them. For awhile this was hard to comprehend (okay to be honest sometimes it STILL is hard to comprehend - I'm freaking awesome). It was a hard lesson to learn, but I also realized it was really okay. That's life. We will be liked, loved, and understood by some and not by others. Simple as that. But with all simple lessons, it doesn't make it an easy or nice one to accept.
And that is why I wanted to present the lessons in a children's storybook style. I took inspiration from the more "real" Go The F*** Sleep, based off of Goodnight Moon. I also tried to soften the blow with the angelic/motherly voice of a friend who is both an actor and opera singer. I have known Victoria Esposito since freshmen year of high school and she will forever be my go-to in majestic voice vibes.
In order to really nail down the children's book aesthetic and the romantic, nostalgic feel of perceived comfort I decided to source images from vintage greeting cards. The difficult part was finding images to match or make sense with the script. In my opinion story comes first and all technique/style should support the narrative - not the other way around. I took three trips to a vintage store in Brooklyn. The first time, just getting anything that might work, the second to hone in on images I needed, and the third to find floral patterns that would complete the corners and decorate bare space. Overall I think I chopped up 25 greeting cards ranging from 1950 to 1980. Some were murdered for no reason as some images were not necessary in the end. But don't worry I am a hoarder and have kept them because you never know right?
I then appropriated these images with additions I created (there were no cards that had a tiny boom box, mouth-wash, joint, or Kiss/Smooch poster). I tried to remain a bit true to their aesthetic, but the helpful thing about using multiple eras of cards and styles makes my additions less jarring.
One of things I am most happy with in regards to the aesthetic is the painting of the pages. At first I had only sponged the corners of the page, but with the suggestion of Maris, I continued to bleed the vignette with watercolor. A simple choice, but I cannot tell you how much it affected the overall result.
I won't even get into deciding on how I wrote out the words - that took an afternoon all alone.
(Scroll through the images below for more of an in-depth look)
Every time I attempt another animation I try to do one thing that I have never done before. For this animation, it was 50% "holy crap I don't know if that is going to work" instead of 30-40%. That's because this animation required me to "record" it in one take. Meaning no ability to stop the animating process once it began until the story was finished. This required a lot of prep. More so than other animations as time was of the essence. And preparation for F*&)#ing up. Not only did I have to create a book, but I had to make sure the moving parts and replacement pieces were all ready to go when the time came. The critical thing was that these pieces not be permanent, so if I did need to reanimate all over again, I did not royally screw myself over by making any lasting changes.
For example, I could have drawn the "Not allowed circles" (seriously what are those called?) directly on the hearts in the Not Everyone Wants to Be Your Lover section and made my life easier. However, it would have ruined the whole page if reanimation was needed. Instead I had to cut these tiny symbols out and use glue dots to lightly but effectively place them on the hearts. Thank goodness that "far away" you can't see these tiny details, even with an Exacto knife it's a difficult task (my eye sight is not improving because I work on this scale)
In order to make sure all of these little pieces did not get lost amongst the animating process, I glue-dotted all the replacement parts down to individual pieces of paper that would correspond with the page in the book. That way I remained organized and a bit more sane. So as you can see even just putting things down on paper, is a process!
The only "semi-permanent" thing I did was paint the easel during the animation in Not Everyone Will Understand You section. This is because I had originally painted over the easel in the first place (yes that beautiful sunset and the dog bone/tennis balls were my creations). I would only have to repaint the image with some white to redo. The more you know...well the more you know the more you probably think I am insane.
The animation process, once the lighting and frame was set up, took 3 and a half hours. Which was weird for me, because when it was over...well it was over. I normally am like "Okay that section is done, now onto the next one." When I closed the book I just stared at it - a little delusional and sore - making sure everything was done. And it was (well except for editing and that is so beyond important - bless Maris, she really makes it).
CONCLUSION - don't worry.
I am going to be honest, this post was a lot longer than I expected it to be and I only went into the basis. I didn't even get into how I magically turned the page! But I guess that is pretty representative of this animation. I didn't expect it to be too involved and yet it became so. But maybe that is a part of my love/hate for the craft. I get an idea in my head and then the execution becomes harder than anticipated, but I am already too far invested in it to go back. I see it in my head and it has to come out - I have to turn the pages!
Thanks for reading the rambling, until next time one of us (or both) decide to willingly go insane.