Thursday, 25 February 2010


And finally....
My 4th animation.

The inspiration for this animation comes from a drain I found in Edinburgh last year while we were doing an urban project. Beneath the metal spars there were beautiful plants growing.
Nature is ever making it's way back above the concrete and slabs we build on the earth.

So this is what I wanted to show.
To get the plants to appear to be growing was one of the more difficult aspects of this film.
I solved the problem by small increments of drawing all over the plants.
If I did it again I would do even less drawing before taking the photgraph.

The lack of a decent sized tripod meant that I couldn't easily take the photos from above therefore it's all done on the wall. This of course meant that I had to use something to stick the cobbles/slabs onto the drawing. Masking tape to the rescue and a lot more work.

I think the construction sounds for this work really well. I found a way of layering them by saving as a movie with one lot of sounds, then importing that movie into another project. In this way I could then add another layer of sound where I wanted.
In this movie there are three layers in the construction part. Many of these sounds were recorded in the technician's room including the heavy metal and skil saw. My car engine was another and various things being knocked together including bricks for the latter part.

Taking this experiment further would be an interesting project and I think I would have more plants growing, possibly have the camera pan the area and therefore more construction. I would also like to have the slabs/cobbles fall into a heap which was visible and the plants growing through more slowly. Another idea was to have rubbish blowing past and down the drain and then a seed, bringing the whole concept back to the beginning. Life in a never ending cycle.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Down, down, down the sink....and then?

Once more to the fray....
Drains again.... this time a real one.
The idea behind this was the amount of waste we drain away. What do we let slide down the plughole?
So... I cooked some risotto rice to make a stodgy mush to use, grated some veg, found some hair, milk, juice, and various other articles including some old fag butts from my sis.
Then, after having my assistant Sponge to help clean the sink, I started making a gross mess. It was great fun. Sponge also came to the rescue when 'the mess' tried to escape.

After making the mess, I realised that I had to find a way of getting it out of the sink without it going down the drain. Pan was very accommodating with mess transference to the bin. Then a final clean and all gone.

Appropriate lighting is the one thing that I think would contribute a lot to all the movies, but none of my lamps had enough strength. If I carried this experiment further I would maybe have film of gunky sinks and the water swirling away before the sink being cleaned and having 'the mess' return. The letters would also appear and disappear more slowly but the rice works.
One of the things I learnt was how much effort it takes to keep control over the movement, especially making sure there were things happening everywhere.

water, water, everywhere but no clean stuff to drink.

This next movie is ‘Water Droplet’ and the idea behind it came again from my sketchbook and its theme which is of course drains. (I wonder how long I can run with this theme... hmmm!)

I also decided on it because I previously worked with a performance collective and we used installation and street theatre to inform people about the water situation in many countries. There is a serious lack of clean water in the world which is not necessary. Many thousands of people have nothing but dirty water to drink which is full of diseases and so much water is wasted in the western world that I wanted to highlight the fact.

During this animation I discovered the necessity of having a helping hand given that both of mine were on camera. Many thanks to my sister, Mhairi... and I also discovered that when making something on camera it's a good idea to have a practice run. My water droplet is not really like a droplet at all.. ah time. My thought was to use the metal wire to cover the green and hopefully make it look more like a drop but then I realised that the chances of me being able to squash it afterwards were slim.... back to the experiments.

Originally I had a scarf, coloured like the sea, laid on the surface but it made it difficult to move the wire and pliers so that idea went. During the filming there was a slight mishap when the camera view moved and that whole section had to be redone. A lesson learned.... check and double check.

I realised that setting up the camera properly is so important and I discovered that blue tac helps to prevent it moving. In planning this, after the storyboard was completed I only had the picures from Water Aid to print off and my assistant to feed coffee and chocolate. (One happy assistant).

There are few sounds in this but I think they fit well. I particularly like the fiddle being plucked when the information is there to be read, slightly annoying but makes you pay attention.

The time I spent previously researching the subject and now returning to the same theme has made me want to continue finding different ways to get the message across to people. I think the idea works but I would like to add to it using different lighting, more colour and without doubt a better model of a water droplet.
I've also found it awkward to get the sounds to fit exactly where I want but maybe a little perseverance is needed and more time.

Monday, 8 February 2010


Ok, jumped straight in and did my presentation in front of the class before I had time to worry about it.
Would have spoken more succinctly if I'd spent more time planning but feels good to have finished something.

The inspiration behind all the animations is from one of my sketchbooks which began life as some photos of drains. There are many different types of drains and I love the way some are made, in that the older ones have a more rounded, smooth casting whereas the newer ones are not as finely formed.

The first film is called 'Labyrinth' and the idea came from the formation of the holes on a round drain cover.(it looked like a labyrinth to me anyway)
The concept behind came afterwards really, which is modern life eating away at the older ways of living. Labyrinths are also about journeys.

I wasn't very confident at the beginning of the class but the more I learn the more I find it enjoyable. At the beginning I seemed to come across one block after another and progress was very slow but since making mistakes I've found that planning is really important.
One of the main things to remember is to put all the photos, sounds and saved movies in the same folder. One other thing.... name all the sound recordings otherwise confusion reigns.

The lack of computer memory was a hinderance but since using my own external hard drive things are running more smoothly.
I decided to use a whiteboard to draw the labyrinth so that it was easy to rub out out as Pacman eats. Firstly, I made a stencil of the labyrinth which made the construction easier. The whiteboard took a fair amount of bluetack to insure it stayed put.
Another thing I learnt was..... make sure there is room to get at the subject otherwise leaning round the camera to change the drawing makes pulled muscles happen.

Since making the first animation I can see how improvements could be made. I would draw in smaller increments so that the labyrinth was formed more smoothly and work out a better lighting system. Colour would enhance the whole movie as well. On the positive side, it works which I'm very happy about and I like the sounds I've put to it.
'Gaudete' by the 'Medieval Babes' has the right esoterical feel that goes with the building of a labyrinth and the eating sounds are silly enough. One of the eating sounds is actually of a paper bag being scrunched but it has the right effect.
If this project was carried on I would film a better beginning that led up to the labyrinth growing and definately in colour.
One thing I learned was to have a bit of fun with it and enjoy the learning.


I feel like I'm getting somewhere.
This last week has been spent finishing off the films I have photos for and adding sounds.
The process involved splitting the photos up into three small movies then joining them within a new movie maker project.
The movies are definately easier to deal with than the seperate photos.

Adding the sound clips.... that was another matter, another steep learning curve .
First off, deciding which sound was appropriate for each movement then getting halfway through and discovering I needed different noises.
Kitchens are a great place for making sounds!

I discovered that I could change the volume within the software.... brilliant.
Also, that I could layer the sound by saving a movie with sound added then importing it to a new project and adding more sound.
This is becoming more fun, probably because things are working.

Monday, 1 February 2010

software bleah!

and moving on to trying to get photos onto software..... happening slowly because of memory or rather lack of memory.
I think this computer has alzheimers.

a wee movie made and half the sound added - yeah, a little progress.
After spending a fun weekend recording sounds with my phone I can't put them on the movie because they're in the wrong format - another hold up.
ach well seem to be learning more than I bargained for..... no bad thing.

So.... amr files to wav or mp3 that is the mission if I choose to accept it, actually I don't have a choice, it has to be done.
After some research the solution ended up as downloading an amr to wav converter program and the rest was easy.
I have now decided to record sounds on my mp3 player because then the files are already saved as wav files.