Pictures from both from “Acme Novelty Date Book” both volumes are in the library. Chris Ware’s sketchbooks. A diverse blend of unflattering self parodies, foul mouthed mice, grumbling, personal resolutions, procrastination drawings (the best kind!) and sketches of people on public transport. Made me laugh out loud in the library a few times!
I chose the scene in The Tempest where Ariel transforms into a harpy as the starting point for my animation. I based the method of transformation as a hikinuki, the art of the instant costume change, characteristic of Japanese Kabuki theatre. I researched Kabuki, the acting and stage conventions, the stories and the many significant parallels it has with and Shakespeare.
I created a stop-motion puppet animation as an attempt to emulate a theatrical atmosphere in miniature. I felt that this would be appropriate in response to a collaboration with the Royal Shakespeare Company. The two characters in the animation are based on Ariel and Prospero, they wear Kabuki inspired costumes and handmade wigs.
The animation also explores a relationship between Ariel and Prospero. My version of Prospero plays multiple roles, that of musician and as a koken stagehand, but also as the magician as he miraculously reveals Ariel’s other form. Ariel plays the part of the onnagata the female-role specialist and dancer. The costume changes in Kabuki are symbolic of complete transfiguration and the dramatic colour contrast from one kimono to another can represent an actor’s change from one form to another. I hoped to maintain the integrity of this method of spectacle in the animation.
Now it’s done I’d like to sing a few people’s praises of all the people who were really helpful. Even though it was a micro short so many people offered me advice that was indispensable:
Shelley Page for setting a brief that I could really get excited about, and for recommending I look at Barry Purves’ Screenplay right at the beginning as well as the other great short animations she showed us!
Steve was a huge help at every stage, from the first storyboard to the last few days when he said “it’s finished, move on to the next project.”
Birgitta for her encouragement of the idea at the beginning and for setting the essay that made me take the time to properly research Kabuki and Bunraku.
Laura Stevens for the music she composed especially for this film. She was a dream to collaborate with!
Carlos (my mentor) encouraged me to take a risk and try out stop-motion. I was still wondering if I should animate it in Flash, but after he said that I had the confidence to go with the puppets.
Darryl’s advice was so brilliant, and he made time to talk to me about stop-motion. He was so passionate on the subject and gave me so much valuable information each time we spoke.
Amber for giving advice and encouragement and inspiration on everything from technical details to making the Arial puppet more beautiful.
My sister who watched and critiqued every version of my animation that I sent to her in New York, and my parents who listened to me go on about Kabuki for three months.
Ioli who engaged with my idea from the pre-production stage and gave me some great advice on the choreography and on the puppets themselves.
Maki Utsunomiya who gave me all the beautiful Japanese fabrics that I made the costumes out of.
Mahra for the wire and mesh.
Steve in the film and video department was so accommodating and put up with me and my puppets day after day.
Bea Hendry at the RSC for her reminder to focus on the characters not get to wrapped up in the set-design.
The Bard, for all his verse and prose.
And finally the stranger in the lift of Covent Garden tube station who I overheard talking about an exhibition on Kabuki that subsequently inspired my film. Thank you!
Some more drawings, costume/character designs and storyboards from my sketchbooks. Feels strange to bring this project to an end! It seems as though I’ve been in their world for a long while.
Ana, Steve and I were interviewed by Imogen Eveson for the UAL website. Her piece also includes some stills from Brook’s animation. For the full article follow the link:
A couple more behind the scenes photos in the rostrum room and some drawings from my sketch book for this project. It’s quite nice to have a record of the project, and to look back at the early sketches and see how much it developed in what has seemed like a short time. I’ve really learnt so much from this project, there are still some finishing touches to do, so it’s not complete yet, but I’ve enjoyed this brief so much.
Some screen grabs of the liquify effect in AE by putting on an adjustment layer, changing the tool options and setting key positions. I made Ariel whisper (with the warp tool) and I tried out some blinks on Prospero (with the pucker tool) but I felt that it wasn’t actually necessary in the end. Especially since Ariel isn’t capable of blinking. But I will keep in the lip manipulation even though it’s barely visible. It’s such a good tool I’m planning how to apply it in my future puppet animations.