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.
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.
The second day shooting went a little better, I felt more comfortable with Dragon software, and since the lighting was already set up I could begin animating sooner. I needed to put in more in-betweens than the day before, so I re-shot some sequences and gave different camera angles. Hopefully it will work when I start cutting it together today. Yesterday I had to repair the puppets, repaint Prospero’s hooves and smooth out Ariel’s neck and wrists where the plasticine had cracked. I’ve also changed her costume ready to go back in the rostrum room on Monday morning.
Another day working on the puppets, padding out their bodies, affixing the heads and a bit of painting and working out Ariel’s second costume. So close to the end of the puppet making stage, tomorrow is the last day for finishing touches, before the animating finally begins!