#1. The Plan (Abridged)
This is the beginning of the blog where I will be documenting the progress of my stop-motion research project.
For the first post, I thought it might be valuable to include the central document of my original grant application. Here is an abridged version of my ‘Artist Plan’ which I submitted to the Minnesota State Arts Board as part of my Artist Initiative project proposal on August 3rd, 2017.
My primary outcome under the Artist Initiative grant program will be to expand my practice into stop motion animation. Specifically, I will pursue knowledge and experience in ball-and-socket and wire armature-based puppet fabrication and animation.
It’s important to me that my animation practice involve tactile processes. With the firm grasp on animation principles I have acquired through my digital [2D animation] practice, I believe now is an ideal time to begin learning stop motion techniques.
So far, my growth in animation has been limited to the resources I can afford out of pocket. Without financial assistance, I cannot afford the initial costs of pursuing stop motion animation. Some of these initial costs include research materials, fabrication supplies, machinery, tools and software.
Furthermore, my limited finances keep me from working with and learning from experienced creators. I will learn more effectively if I can pay others for their time and assistance. Artists I will seek consultation from include:
2 Minnesota-based animators with stop motion experience
1 Machinist for consultation on developing armature
With an Artist Initiative grant, I will be able to overcome all these barriers and realize my goal of learning stop motion puppet fabrication and basic stop motion animation processes. The steps I will take in 2018 to reach this primary outcome are:
Collect and study research materials on the subject of puppet fabrication and animation
Design characters for puppet fabrication:
3 ball-and-socket armatures
5 wire armatures
Consult puppet-makers and machinists on how to achieve intended functionality
Secure equipment and work space
Source necessary components and building materials
Build puppet armatures*
Purchase Dragonframe software for animation capture
Explore versatility and integrity of armatures through animation experiments
Create animated GIFs to demonstrate armature versatility and limitations
(*The armature is the source of motion, and motion is the source of character. Focusing on armature construction will keep the project outcomes reachable. I can concentrate on applying exterior materials (clay, latex, etc.) after the grant period.)
Once I have successfully completed these actions, I will host a demonstration and workshop focused on the skills I learned during the grant period. This event(s) will be intended for local artists interested in learning about stop motion animation. It will offer a chance for participants to learn about the phases of puppet fabrication and using them in animation. Participants will also be able to create their own short animated GIFs after a demonstration.
If possible, I would also like to host a stop motion based workshop exclusively for youth.
I will partner with local organizations to promote the event(s), locate participants and secure space.
Impact on the state and creative community:
Eclipsed by computer generated imagery, stop motion animation was close to becoming obsolete in the late ‘90s. Now the craft is gaining traction again across the international animation market. Still, stop motion puppet animation is all but nonexistent in Minnesota today. Localizing the craft through projects like this one will open up opportunities for artists and creative youth to explore its potential. Given that Minnesota harbors a thriving puppetry scene and animation community, I believe public interest will be strong.
After the grant period, I will move toward making stop motion short films as my primary means of animation. These will be shared online and submitted at local screenings and festivals nationwide. I will also seek to train other artists in the art of stop motion when possible.
Beyond that, I hope that I can find ways to contribute to the stop motion field through innovation and advancement of existing techniques, and applications in various media arts fields.
For the moment, I am confident in my ability to achieve the outcomes of this project within the grant period. Furthermore, I am eager to share my findings with the community and uncover the hidden demand for stop motion animation in Minnesota.