Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Interview: Animator Kathryn Bray talks about her claymation, 'Your Treasure Your Heart'

'Your Treasure Your Heart' a Claymation by Kathryn Bray
Opens 2pm, 27th August – 7th September

Explain the concept behind your claymation and exhibition 'Your Treasure Your Heart', and tell us what people can expect to see at the show?
'Your Treasure Your Heart' tries to visually explain a proverb (a wise saying or teaching) that Jesus told a long time ago; 'For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.' Billy and Benny are two critters with very similar lives but very different approaches to it. The story

The exhibition will be showing the film, and also the process of making it. Hopefully you'll get a little bit of an idea what its like living in a clay world. It's pretty cute.

What is claymation, and what do you enjoy about creating an animation in this style?
Claymation uses the same principles as stop motion, which is uses the same principles as film. When individual images or frames run past our eyes fast enough, we believe we are watching continuous motion rather than a collection of static images. The only difference then is film captures action that is already happening, in stop motion the animator has to make the action happen between frames. It takes a little longer.

There's a lot I enjoy about claymation! I like the beginning, sketching character concepts, exploring their expressions and personalities. Then I love getting clay under my nails while modelling the characters and testing out their facials. I love it when I can give what was previously a block of plasticine on a shelf a personality, and look like its confused, day dreaming or sulking.

I actually enjoy the process of setting up the shot, taking the shot, adjusting the characters by 2mm, taking another shot. It's as if your sense of time has slowed down to match that of the claymation, like it's normal to take 12 minutes to scratch your nose instead of the usual 2.5 seconds.

Taking the first photo is probably the scariest bit about the whole thing - cos once you start, that's it! You keep shooting till its done. If something stuffs up, well that's too bad isn't it! Just hope you can fix it in the editing stage, or, have a distraction tactic ready for when you play it to people. Or embrace the style of 'Rustic Chic', or 'Glam Glitch' as in this case.

Where did you get inspiration from for the character design of your animation?
The script was quite cute and targeted towards children, so I tried to make characters and props to match that style, lots of rounded edges, simple and stylised, bright colours. I got ideas from the claymation 'Pingu' for the set which has a white backdrop, and very minimalist set, which works beautifully as your imagination doesn't need a lot to make up something quite wonderful!

The design also had to be governed by function. As I had next to no experience in claymation, I had to have characters and props which were easy to keep track of - this is no Mary and Max! So no more clothes, limbs, or phalanges than absolutely necessary!

Have you produced animations previously? What methods/style have you created these with?
I've produced one claymation before using the method of 'I have one weekend to pump out a two minute clip so I'll push this ball of clay around and see what happens'.

The other animations I've done have all been using either Flash or After Effects. My very first and one of my most favourite animations used Flash for a uni project. It was a music video using Queen's 'Flash Gordon', and about a starfish who was saving the world from intergalactic terror and mass destruction. The next semester I accidentally wiped everything off my computer. That was 10 years ago but it still hurts on the inside.

What's on the horizon for future animations?
Fun times! I'm currently in cohorts with the wonderful creative power-duo Phil and Meredith Walker-Harding (also known as the Cardboard Collective), and at the moment we're all about paper, in particular shadow puppets. Which is like stop-motion, but faster.

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