Animation – Rover Exploration

By November 1, 2015Honours Project

This animation set out mostly just to create something, focusing more on the production pipeline of stop motion animation. I wanted to test out some camera and editing techniques. As I’ve not really got a research question, I hoped by just making something I’d be one step closer to having a research question. While I’m still not entirely sure what my research question is, I do think I have a better idea of the practical exercises I want to attempt next.

As mentioned in a previous post, the character design came from a doodle which I created a Lego model from. I chose to use Lego as it was a material I had available at the time from working on a previous project in the Summer. However I wanted to try something different with the Lego and instead of using their minifigures I wanted to create something from scratch. The series of character models I made each had a unique mechanical feature. The character that I animated with was able to use a mechanical arm to dig up and store soil samples to analyse.

As for techniques, I tried out a few techniques. Something I always enjoy doing is moving the camera around a scene because it’s unlike a live action camera as you have to move the camera in small movements which you can’t easily plan out so you have to wing it and hopefully get a feel of how it will turn out. The camera in a few shots track the rover as he navigates the environment and looks at an unusual rock.

The animation presented a few challenges. In particular, the size of the set I built wasn’t always big enough for the camera angles I decided upon. The background plate I had wasn’t big enough to be static so I made the decision to move it with the camera, something which turned out all right as it appeared the sky was static and therefore far off in the distance. However due to the imperfections of moving it every frame, it was still clearly a stop motion background and that added to the charm of the animations visual style.

I am happy with this animation. While it doesn’t show particularly strong animation, I was happy with the length and process behind the making of it. I liked that it was something different that I hadn’t tried before. Overall, the animation was intended to explore stop motion in the hope that I could discover new ways of thinking that could inform my practice.

Although this animation’s tone is different to that of the films I’ve looked at in my research, this was more inspired by TV series I was looking at such as Clangers (BBC 1969) and Chorlton and the Wheelies (ITV 1976). The animation uses Lego bricks but doesn’t include the traditional minifigures.

I wanted to see if the use of stop motion would help to enhance the quality of the characters movement. The little bumping movements as he navigates the landscape feel natural and gives the character an innocent or chirpy quality.

I also encountered a technical problem with my camera where it changes contrast and brightness without explanation, even on manual settings. I’ve put this down to either a graphics problem on my laptop or the age of my camera which has been running for a good number of years but acts up from time to time. I was able to colour correct any frames affected and it isn’t too noticeable (other than the last few seconds of the animation).

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