(If you feel like fast-forwarding through this wall of text, the movie's linked at the end of this blog.)
More than 1500 frames, dozens of cups of clay, several nights spent pounding on my electric piano and countless hours sifting through thousands of sound effects, and a jar of JIF peanut butter later, I have a 6 minute claymation movie happily completed and ready to show the internet. So much for those initial worries.
I'm sure that some sort of reflection or form where I fill out "What I learned this Winter Term..." will be requested of me sometime soon. So, I might as well work on this now and put it in this blog! Killing two birds with one stone, no? I figure it might also be a cool opportunity to pick at my brain throughout this whole process anyhow. Because really, who doesn't like picking brains?!
My claymation movie is titled "Apples & Bananas," which is a reference to the children's song with the lyrics: I like to eat-eat-eat apples and bananas. You know... the one from Barney! Don't try and act cool, pretending that you never watched Barney when you were little. Well, I watched lots of Barney when I was little and I have no shame in admitting it (I even had a purple Barney cake for my 1st birthday). Perhaps a combination of a steady diet of Barney songs as well as watching Gumby created this sick lovechild of a movie. Or, as someone affectionately named it, "Gumby on acid."
If you're trying to find some deep, underlying metaphor in my movie, then stop. There is none. I promise. At least nothing intentional. It's also a little gorier than I originally intended it to be, so as a disclaimer, don't watch if you can't handle clay blood. But really, I don't think it should be too much of a problem.
Well, well, well... what did I exactly learn? And what was I thinking through this whole process?
Always read the manual. Or in this case, the book that is written by veterans of the form of art you are attempting. I ordered the book Creating 3-D Animation by Peter Lord the day I started my project, which was bad timing by me. I was incredibly anxious to start working with actual clay and stop drawing sketches and jotting down thoughts, so I dove right into sculpting different models for my movie before the book arrived in the mail. Once the book did arrive, I tore through the pages only to realize that I had to redo all of my models. Maybe it's the inner male in me (wherever he may reside), but next time I'll make a conscious effort to stop and ask for directions.
I thought that Winter Term spent at home would be much more boring than it ended up being. Then again, if I weren't so engrossed in my work, I probably wouldn't be saying this. I had loads of fun shooting my film, ate very well, and got to spend quality time with my family and my best friend who arrived home from China mid-break. Lucky me, because by the time he came home I was on my last thread. In spite of the generally good time that I had, I'm probably not doing this again.
My storyboard was seldom used. Sometimes, it even bothered me. I used one to visualize some scenes in the wee stages of my movie, but once I started to work with the clay, discover the cool tricks that can be done with it, and began to add more props and decorations to my setting, my original ideas were thrown out the window. I couldn't be bound to these sketches that I concocted without understanding the medium nor knowing just how much I had to work with. My storyboard definitely helped to create a skeleton of major events and when they should occur, but I found myself constructing the environments and creating scenes that had no resemblance to anything that I drew within the first week. Whoops!
Even though the characters in my movie were simply clay models of fruits, each one of them grew a bit of personality throughout the filming process. Some were smarter than others, some became leaders for their respective fruit variety, and some grew to be really cute! Originally, I actually hated the way both the apples and bananas looked, but as time went on I liked them more and more. On a side note, I think I'm going to get my brain checked. Y'know... make sure everything's in its right place.
I probably look ridiculous when I'm filming. Whenever I was fixing up an apple or banana's face to prepare for the next frame, I would make the desired facial expression as if I was trying to get the inanimate fruit to imitate the look on my face. This means that I spent a good amount of time scrunching my eyebrows, pouting my lips, chomping at air, and flaring my nostrils. Now I have a great idea for the 2-Disc Special Edition of "Apples & Bananas"! Ah, I can see it now...
Stop motion films are too much fun. I cannot wait till the next time I get to produce another short movie. This next sentence sounds like something found in an "Apply to Oberlin!" brochure, but I swear that I am not being paid to say this: Oberlin's Winter Term has given me the time and the opportunity to pursue something that I've always wanted to do (really!). In all, I'd say that this Winter Term was quite the positive experience.
I'm not exactly sure what it feels like to have a child, but I imagine it's pretty similar to how I felt as I clicked "Play" on YouTube. By that, I mean that I felt a huge sensation of pride and relief: completely proud of my finished product and relieved that it's over. Although maybe this is a bad comparison, because I would like to believe that most responsible parents aren't satisfied with simply birthing a child. Good parents will nurture their child, give it an environment to succeed in, and heck, maybe even have another child! Am I hinting at another stint of claymation in the future? Perhaps. Or maybe I am hinting that I am ready to become a father! I guess the answer to these questions will have to wait 9 months...
Totally kidding about the whole child-rearing part. Anyways, enough rambling: Here's the movie!