Monthly Archives: June 2015

Animating in Oregon for the Summer

I completed my first year as Visiting Assistant Professor at Kansas City Art Institute and have signed on to teach for another year! As far as my personal art practice goes, one of the great things about having a nine month teaching contract is the summer break that gives me the time to focus on Seed in the Sand. After a long drive through Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California, I am back in Oregon working on the scenes in the meadow set that I did not to bring with me to Kansas City due to its size and fragility. I expect it will take me a minimum of three summers to complete the shots on this set as I have over 90 storyboard cards prepared for it.

To get the needed angle for this shot of the dance, two of the legs of the tripod rest on the set.

To get the needed angle for this shot of the dance, two of the legs of the tripod rest on the set.

Right now, I am working on elements of a song and dance piece. I don’t have the music for it yet, but have established the basic rhythm. Realizing I needed a drummer was a really important part of bringing the dance ideas into focus. The drum is made from part of a steel can covered in black Sculpey to make it look like a piece of hollowed out tree trunk. The drum skin is made from part of a damaged pair of vintage kid skin opera gloves. What sadly turned the gloves into craft material is the same thing that made them perfect for this use. Namely, water shrinkage. After stretching the skin over the drum, I dampened the ruffly edge with water to make it shrink up tight around the shell. The drum sticks each have a 3/16th inch rare earth magnet in the head. The magnet helps the drum stick to make firm contact with the steel bottom of the can just under the drum skin.

Working out how to approach this sequence was very challenging. How does one choreograph a dance with no music? I drew out so many dance moves that ended up in the trash and felt lost until deciding to create loops. Many of the elements will be shot as 40 frame loops that can be repeated and manipulated to blend well with the music when it is created. This allows for flexibility. Moves, rhythm and look are established to guide the musician but the final form the music will take is still very open.

Here is a short clip of the drummer loop setting the rhythm:

Drummer Video