For one of our first second year projects, we were given a chance to have a go at experimenting with types of animation that we previously had not tried before, and concentrate on physically creating an animation that moves to a specific piece of music, using the computer only to compile and put together the final outcome. This project was the perfect opportunity to push ourselves toward techniques that previously seemed daunting, and tackle using dope sheets to help us understand timing to the extent that our animation would move with the chords in the music.
To save worrying about what piece of music to animate to, we were given a choice of about 5 songs that fitted well to our experimental brief. I decided to go with one called ‘Rendition’ because it had a good rhythm and was upbeat. For a while I couldn’t decide on what technique to use, because the brief is so open and has pretty much no limits. I wanted to do something that was cheerful and full of colour, preferably consisting of lots of pretty patterns! Initially I was tempted to give cut-out animation a go because I really love the unique outcome that you can achieve with that style. But I was unsure of how I would go about doing it and I had to consider how I would plan my time carefully seeing as we had the 11 second project alongside this one and I work a lot during the week in a little bead shop. It was in fact there that I decided what to do for my experimental animation. All the beads in the shop consist of really vibrant colours and bold patterns, so I thought they would be perfect to make a stop-motion bead animation!
To start planning everything for my bead animation, I first spent a long time mapping out the sound clip to some dope sheets so that I could get the timing right when I actually came round to starting the animation. This admittedly took me a long time because unfortunately the song that I chose consists of so many beats and rhythm changes (something I didn’t realise when I first chose it!) After all the sounds and beats were planned out, I then started to sketch out what I wanted to appear within the animation. At first I wanted to try and create actual characters that moved, for example I really wanted to animate a woman dancing, but after a few tests I realised that beads are a pain because you have very little control over which way they roll! So I decided to just have patterns and shapes appear and ‘dance’ to the rhythm of the music.
After I had drawn out all the designs and patterns I wanted to appear in the animation, I matched them up to the sounds on my dope sheets and then chose which beads would match the patterns the best- my boss very kindly lent me the beads, which saved me a hell of a lot of money! After everything was planned down to the very last frame, I was ready to animate my beads. It took me about two full days to animate in the studio, and I came across many problems through the duration. I used a line tester in the studio which seemed to like making things difficult by changing saturation from blue to green every so often, despite taking care to use dark curtains to block out any change in the lighting, which made the final clip look a little bit messy and unfinished. By the time the animating was complete, I wanted to throw the beads out of the window! It was quite fun at first seeing all my patterns come to life, but it did get pretty tedious after a while. My dope sheets were a god send because there were a couple of times when I messed up the frames and lost where I had got up to, and also for some reason all my images got jumbled up on my memory stick so I had to go through it all and number them in the right order.
After I had all my images, I then decided to try and use premiere to put together my animation because the export quality is pretty good compared to flash, but then realised the programme is rather hard to get to grips with! I admit I had many fits of rage as it didn't seem to like my images very much (it kept making each frame last about 6 seconds for some reason.) After many failed attempts and a lot of help, my bead animation finally all came together. I had quite a few problems with exporting the tiff files and for some reason part of the animation wouldn't render for a while, but eventually it did seem to work.
I'm pretty happy with the results, because I like the patterns and colour combinations, and I think it fits the music quite well. But some bits of the animation look really jerky and unnatural, whereas I wanted it all to look flowing and almost 'fluid.' Some bits look too sudden and rushed, so if I were to do it again, I would space out the movements a bit more to make it look a bit less manic.