Week Two – Supervisor Meeting

I had my first supervisor meeting today with Richard Hetherington. I chose Richard as my supervisor as not only does he teach the Motion Graphics and Animation modules, he also knows my style of animation and where I like to take my ideas. We began by discussing the administrative details of the project and what would be required from me. It was pointed out to me that the bulk of the Literature Review would be researched and written by the week 12 deadline. Thankfully this fits in quite well with my initial plans to report on the various aspects of stop motion. I then explained as best I could where I was at in terms of ideas and research. Fortunately, and to my relief, Richard gave me the green light and showed a genuine interest in what I was proposing.

I described my initial ideas regarding using my old reel-to-reel tape recorder as the star of my short animation. Richard gave me some fantastic areas of research, namely Anthropomorphism whereby human characteristics are applied to animals or non-living things. This process is used to great effect in animation and was popularised by Walt Disney, who could make animals and even trees and plants walk, talk, dance and sing. An example we discussed was the Luxo Jr. animation by John Lasseter.

Richard also pointed me towards Pixilation, the process of using live actors in stop motion animations. Actors are shot frame-by-frame in the same way as non-living objects are typically used in these films. When used correctly the results can be stunning. Radiohead’s There There video is a great example of this technique. Richard suggested I look into the work of Norman McLaren, a Scottish animator known for his work with the National Film Board of Canada. McLaren was an avid user of the pixilation technique, winning an Oscar for his 1952 film, Neighbours.

At the end of the meeting we had a quick look at the Animation World Network and the Imagine Animation sites, the latter of which has a great ‘show and tell section’ which will come in handy if and when I need feedback on my animation.

For the next meeting we both agreed that I would have a fair idea of my deliverables for my learning contract. I showed Richard that I had a brief idea of what I wanted to achieve by week 12. He recommended that I use the university library to find books on stop motion. He also loaned me a previous student’s honours project DVD which explored stop motion animation.

I feel this meeting went as well as I had hoped. Richard seemed pleased with my choice of topic and now I am enthusiastic and excited about getting under way with the tasks ahead.

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    • Richard Hetherington
    • September 23rd, 2010

    You have an interesting and ambitious idea, and as an animator it will be a great challenge. I would encourage you to pursue this idea as you are clearly motivated. The first phase of this project will allow you to explore the chosen area of work and practice. This will then be of benefit as the project progresses. One instant comment to make is – think about an initial ‘proof of concept’ approach. By that I mean, when you are uncertain as to how well a technique or method you are thinking about using will work, explore that method using the bare-minimum of resource, which is just enough for you to establish if that approach is going to be a viable one. In that way, you avoid over-commiting your resources and effort. These proof of concept studies should be included in your final report as they show the development of your process and learning.
    I’ve had a quick scan of the blog and I think its very good. There’s a lot of detail here and if this continues it will provide a rich journal. You are even keeping a budget! – which I haven’t come across in any project, but I must concede this has to be useful.
    Another way you need to manage your project over the long-term is with a gantt chart (the ad above reminded me) – I’ll explain in today’s meeting.
    As stated, I think the start of this blog is very good – it’s rare to see such a comprehensive account with depth and detail as the first few entries. I hope you see it as valuable.
    Another thing to do: make sure you identify the module learning outcomes and ensure your project will meet all of these (again we can discuss in your meeting).
    Very good start.

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