Audio & Video Design

Motion Across Media Module IV: Stop Motion 2

Do you know what you get when you cross perfectionism with having a poor understanding of how long things take? Several meltdowns while trying to edit a stop motion project!

For some reason I had it in my head that most of the work would be completed in the pre-production and production portion of this project and did not give the editing process the respect that it deserves. I come here today humbled, tired, and with a stop motion piece that I feel ok about.

Reading

Sound and continuity are the topics of this week’s reading in the book Animated Storytelling by Liz Blazer.

Chapter Six: Sound Ideas

This chapter pushed me to stop for a moment and think about sound, and for that I am grateful. Music is an important part of my life, and I have always thought that being the person who creates soundtracks for movies must be the best job in the entire world. I also suffer from misophonia, meaning that I have intense reactions to some sounds. In fact, I often find myself overwhelmed by sound, even when they’re not the specific sounds that make me cringe.

Thinking about how sound affects me, and how it could be used to stir emotion in others without having a negative affect on the storyline or viewership was an interesting exercise. Blazer states that when thinking about sound design, “restraint is key” and I couldn’t agree more. Finding the correct diegetic or non-diegetic sound effect, or piece of music, to create atmosphere without detracting from the audience’s ability to pay attention is key.

  • Diegetic: sound that comes from sources that are visible or implied
  • Non-Diegetic: sound whose source is not visible or implied

Blazer also discusses the importance of writing dialogue that feels natural and is in line with the personality of the character speaking. Often, animated stories can be told with no dialogue at all, so it’s paramount that if including dialogue, it is well-written and only used when necessary.

Chapter Seven: Design Wonderland

Chapter seven focused on the importance of continuity in the rules of the world in which your story takes place. The fun thing about animation (or any form of storytelling, really) is that you can create completely new worlds for your characters to live in. The audience will be glad to believe that up is down simply because you have said so, but if you lose the thread of the rules of your world, they are likely to lose interest.

To lessen the burden of following these rules, Blazer suggests that you only create a rule if it is necessary to furthering your storyline. As any cop (or parent) knows, it’s hard to tell the same lie over and over. The same can be said about rules within the world of your story. The more explicit rules that you create, the more your characters are bound to those rules throughout the entire length of the story.

Research

This week I was tasked to find a few examples of video that use audio effectively and videos that use animated text well.

Audio 1 – Harry Potter & Hermione Granger dancing to Nick Cave

This is one of my favorite scenes from any of the Harry Potter films – and that’s saying something. I love how the music moves from diegetic (playing on the radio) to non-diegetic (becoming high def) and back to diegetic at the end.

Audio 2 – American Psycho: Hip to be Square

Another example of diegetic music fitting nicely into the storyline – especially with such a poppy song as the backdrop to a thudding axe and gruesome murder.

Animated Text 1 – Archer Opening Credits

Just follow the bouncing ball! This type of animated has been used many times before but as I’m not a huge fan of spy movies but love anything H. Jon Benjamin does, this came to mind first.

Text 2 – Monster’s Inc. Intro

A similarly retro use of animated text, my favorite part is the doors opening to reveal the words “Walt Disney Pictures” and the hand drawn “presents” underneath.

Create

Ok… so perhaps this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for: my very own stop motion animation! Last week I discussed two storyline options, which you can see here. I decided to follow the live-action linear storyline of the piece of paper who decides to become a bird.

I chose this storyline because frankly – I thought it would be easier. I definitely intend to do the non-linear storyline at a later date, but the prep on that project felt really daunting. I look forward to attempting it now that I’ve learned some valuable lessons.

And what lessons might those be?

  • Make sure auto-focus is turned off!
  • Shoot plenty of background only scenes so that you can add to the animation if you need to or have a blank canvas for editing photos
  • GO SLOW! Don’t move ANYTHING until you know that the shots you’ve gotten are what you need.
  • Keep your hands out of the damn shot!
  • Give yourself tons and tons and tons of time for editing. Your eyes can only click through 700 images so many times. You’re going to mess up. You’re going to miss things. You’re going to need to do it over again. Plan for that!

So those are my quick tips on things I will definitely do differently in the future. I will likely also invest in a monitor and clicker so I don’t need to going back and forth around the camera every single time.

All-in-all I really enjoyed this process and the only things that I didn’t enjoy were my own fault for not giving myself enough time. Editing the string out of 250 images wasn’t my favorite experience, but I feel 100x more confident with my photoshop ability than I was two days ago!

So without further ado… here is the story of a piece of paper who decided to become a bird. Because a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single fold.

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