After discovering our family movie camera at the age of ten, some of my first films were stop motion animations. Forgotten G.I. Joe and Evel Knievel action figures were dug back out of boxes and pressed into service as character actors, often battling clay monsters on distant, papier mache planets.
Under hot movie lights I would click the shutter once, adjust the figure, click it again, make another move, and so on, in order to create motion. Exposure values were determined by the film instruction sheet ("use f11 with the lights five feet from the subject") and periodically the camera's spring crank required rewinding. Yes, all of that was tedious for a ten-year-old but it wasn't the hardest part of the process. Waiting two weeks for Kodak to return the fully processed film (about two and a half minutes of run time) always seemed like the greatest challenge.
I fell in love with the stop motion process way back then and, though the tools are largely digital now instead of mechanical, my fondness for the process has never waned. So it was with great enthusiasm that my friend Michelle Blades (of Bird in the Attic Studio) and I starting talking about creating an animation a couple years ago. Her characters are brilliant and full of life just sitting still...imagine giving one life through motion.
The idea remained just that until we met again this January, determined to make it happen. That's when the concept of celebrating spring came up. Not only did we like the idea, it came with its own built-in deadline - March 20, 2016 - the first day of spring. Given the short timeline, the film would have to be fairly simple and the major work would need done over a couple weekends. Fortunately, our mutual tastes run toward an organic feel rather than high polish. Though it wasn't said, I think we both just hoped to create - in a word - something "charming." And I think we did just that.
Thanks, Michelle, for a great first animation project. Here's to the next!
- Jim T.