The Fall: A Claymation

Creating a clay animation was something i had been eyeing from far for a while now, but hadn’t actually done it. So when a course turned up which offered me that possibility , i was actually pretty excited about it. Though i should tell you here that I knew nothing about claymation. I didn’t know anything that had anything to with it. I didn’t know how to work with a camera, i didn’t know how to create a stop motion and i didn’t know how to work with dragonframe(the software we used for creating a stop motion). But by the end of the course i guess its safe to say that i have learnt enough in these matters so as not to be clueless anymore.

We started off by doing simple clay modelling techniques so as to get comfortable with the material we’d be using. We played around with the material and created our own characters. I toyed around with form by making armatures with wire first and experimenting what sort of movements take place.

Armature of the dinosaur made with wire.

After playing around for a bit, when i finally started adding clay onto my armature. i realized that to make my model movable i would need to make the joints as well. Finally, after a lot of trial and error i managed to make an armature which allowed movement and stability both. Then i made my model on it.

This exercise was really helpful for the final claymation as i learnt about the movements of the joints and how to stabilize it.

Next we all made models choosing a live model. This really effected the way i did my models because i realized there was a lot more observation that  i could put in. Not only in respect to features , but also about how the features move, how they fluidly melt into the other and how each small dent and curve makes a difference.

Jayesh as my live model.

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Making each section of the hair separately.

Side profile.

Side profile.

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Front profile.

After these two exercises , the process of our final claymation began.

As i started idealising for my final film, i was vague in some areas and really sure about the others. I had an idea that i wanted there to be constant movement in the film, something where your eye is always moving. So i decided to depict a man falling off a cliff. My idea changed a several times from the initial idea, though the central idea remained the same.

So initially i had planned of the man falling and as he falls lower and lower he morphs into different animals and he finally lands back on the ground he would be human again.But i realized this had a lot of issues, as it is very hard to get the original figure i started out with. Also clay is a very  fluid material to work with and it keeps changing on its own over time.   So i changed my idea to having a man falling and his background morphing behind this.

i made a lot of initial sketches to see what would work and what wouldnt. I had to accommodate to the fact that most things wouldnt look like how i imagine them in my head and that i have to make room for a few flexible changes.

So keeping that in mind, i started off by building my set. Now i had two issues. I needed to show the man falling and i also had to manage having a stable set, as if i moved the camera, it would change the set and the stop motion wouldn,t work out.

So i devised a way in which i would keep the camera still and i would keep the man at one point , but have the background moving. I managed to do this with layering. I created layers by using glass and keeping the different objects at different heights and shooting from the top. So I got ll my objects in the shot.

Secondly I knew that I really wanted to experiment with morphing and for that i required a transformation which I do not need to reverse. That is when I came up with the idea of transforming the man into a fish, and along with the man, also the background so that there is a gradual shift. Not only in the man but also in the background, and the viewer is taken from the first space to the second effortlessly.gy

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Starting the transformation from the feet and the hands.

But for this scene I needed to change the shape of the man bit by add, adding clay from on top of the man, I chose a really bright colour so that the difference is easily noticable. And in each frame that i shot, there was a gradual change in the man . I merged the yellow clay with the blue one bit by bit. i feel this was the hardest bit of the claymation as i knew if i mess up there is no way i can go back to the original one.feed_009_08_X1_0050ooo_009_10_X1_0033

Finally i managed to capture a film that i liked and even though there are many thing i could’ve done better or changed i learnt a lot in the process of making this one.

Problems that I faced along the way.

Visualising:The ideal projection of my thoughts in pure visual form, recreating the fallen man through the modes of time showing the transition of the unknown to the known ,from the man who attempted a jump into the unknown who finds himself In a surrounding that appeals to him more than the fall itself .

Layering: working with different layers to create the perception of depth was a difficult task to perform. The solution to the problem was simple , it came to me while looking out the window that such layer can be observed and incorporated in my movie with the help of glass. Also the bit where i move the background and not the main character was a suggestion made by my facilitator.

Camera stop motion: the camera needed to be stationary and initially I attempted this without the tripod but later on realized that this would be difficult to perform without one.

Software: The initial software used by me to attempt to make this movie was windows movie maker, and later on after being advised by my facilitator about using dragon frame, which allowed me to shoot it better and understand stop motion films as well .

Lighting: The set required me to have constant lighting which was achieved with strong table lamp.

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The initial set which didn’t really work out.

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The fall

Set: since the movie revolves around the fall, movement of the camera wasn’t possible because it needed to be stationary but the set had to move and that was a challenge while shooting this movie.

Morphing was difficult because once you add a particular color to the original clay piece, the piece transforms little by little and the change is irreversible .

The film.

The film focuses on revealing the true identity of a human being show casing the various metaphysical forms that a human being goes through in his life. from what we are born as to what we choose to be.The transformation is physical as well as a psychological one, the evolution of man only bound by time shows us that we are built to adapt and learn and grow as humans, evolving from our basic needs for sex ,food and shelter to become a civilization whose only true enemy is the mirror image. We have evolved to an extent where our imagination and reality shares no bounds. Displaying that in a movie is an example of what we can portray and of what we can achieve by simply understanding the basic of how this world works.

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Hope you enjoy it 🙂

The Laai Llama – Space baby llama

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This is the story of ‘Laai’ the llama. He injured his right hind leg at birth but that never stopped him from having an adventurous life. So here’s is his story.

Dave was a brilliant astronaut who was all geared up for his big flight to the moon. But two days before the launch of his spaceship an unfortunate event happened with him and he lost his leg. Dave was completely shattered and couldnt digest what had happened to him . All his life he had looked at the moon and dreamt of being there, and now when he was so close to his dream he sees it being crushed. He can never fly to the moon now. Dave plans to retreat to the countryside were he was originally from ,to continue with his life and keep himself busy. He has many animals on his farm including horses, cows, llamas etc. His llama couple gave birth to ‘Laai’ who was born with lots of complications and also lost one leg during his birth. The doctors said that he might not make it. Dave couldnt bear the thought of the baby llama dying and tried all he could to save him. Ultimately Laai survived . Dave instantly felt connected to him as he too had lost his foot in a tragic accident. soon the two became the best of friends and would spend their time together star gazing and eating ice creams.

But as much fun as laai was with Dave, he wasnt like that with the other farm animals. He would stay alone and in his own world barely socializing with anyone except Dave. Dave didnt like the way the other animals of the farm treated Laai because of his injuries as he too was a victim to sympathy . He decides that he doesnt want Laai to live a life where he is treated like an inferior and starts building a shoe for him. A speical shoe which would allow Laai to walk freely without limping. It is in this process he realizes that he himself was living a life like that and maybe thats why he left the city to be in a place he could be alone where he wouldnt have to social or be sympathized by anyone. He takes ispiration from this thought and builds a shoe for himself too and decides that he and ‘Laai’would go to the moon together.

He trains Laai ad together they help  each other fulfill whatever shortcoming were there in each other. Laai is but a baby and scared to go  places without his mother and even though he really wants to go to the moon he cannot bear the thought of leaving his mother behind. But Laais mother tells him to go live his dream and he also sees how much this means to his best friend and so he leaves for the moon with Dave carrying just his backpack which has a photograph of his mother and some memories from home.

Laai’s Creation

Laai was an interesting character to design as he has his quirks. He has a slightly tilted neck due to the disbalance of his body. He also has cute buck teeth which get pronounced as he is always sucking on ice. He loves home and specially his mother whose picture he always carries with himself. He loves to sing and is absolutely terrible at it.

I created the character Dave to bring out the best in Laai . Also Laai has the sort of personality which functions the best when he has someone to prod him and help him out. 

I looked at a lot of different kinds of llama s and sort of combined their most interesting qualties to create Laai.

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They have a very interesting body shape and specially the neck which rotates a lot. They are incredibly cute and thats is a quality i tried to capture in ‘Lai’ . I wanted to make ‘Lai’ look innocent and adorable but brave at the same  time.

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I loved the buck teeth on llamas as it guves them a very distinct feel ad also it went well with the image of a llama who loves to suck on ice.

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Then i researched different body parts of the llama like its feet .

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Split foot

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Ears experimentation

Also theirears which were varyig depending on the breed of llama.  s3

Finally i made my own llama which was a sort of mixture of all these elements

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The dynamic pose

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The various expressions

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Angry

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Sad

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Happy

Creating Isabel

Reading this poem called ‘Isabel’s Adventures’ got me fascinated about the main character in the poem ‘Isabel”. She was introduced as a small little girl who had to deal with an enormous bear. But, in the very first paragraph we are shown her true nature where she neither “screamed nor scurried”but ” quietly ate the bear up”.
I chose this character because i was intrigued by the sudden shift of images that took place in my mind as i read the poem. Imagining her as an innocent girl who was in trouble to ultimately visualizing her as this brave and self sufficient character.

For the development of this character i had to start by researching about the time period in which it was written and also what was it that inspired the creation of this character. It turns out that this character was based on Ogdens daughter ‘Isabel’. My guess is he made this bedtime poem for her to make her brave. She also seems to be mischivious.

In an article written by isabels daughter she is described as- ‘a kid with tiny bones with thin wrists. A long narrow moon-white face, green and black speckled eyes that gleames with a mocking wit and an absurdly upturned nose.’She called her an ugly duckling. This description really helped me in buildig my own character.

I researched about the type of clothing that little girls wore in the 1930s since that is the time period this poem is based on .

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When i started out creating my characetr i had a very fixed image in my mind about how she would look even though i had experimented with clothing and hairstyles i had the typical innocent looking blonde girl.

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I also tried experimenting with different hairstyles to see which one would suit best.And used different materials in some. I loved the effect of cloth stuck on paper

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I experimented with water colours and colour pencils as well

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Working through this process i got a lot of different ways of portraying the same character. I realized that I wanted to show more characteristics about the nature of the character so I set about revising my character. The final character looked completely different than what i had first imagined.finalblonde finalorange

I made two different colour schemes and realized that the colour of hair effect the personality tremendously. Earlier i was going with the blonde look but then finally i settled for the orange haired, freckled face character as it portrayed the mischievious look perfectly.

She defends herself in fights and isnt terrified of anything lke normal little girls would be.

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                                                                                                              Different Expressions

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                                                                                                                              Sketches

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You May Kiss The Bride

The idea was to explore bamboo as a material, a mode and medium of expression while creating something that could be used in a protest of any kind. It could be used in any way. As an intervention or something that ll be an outlet for their aggression or something that helps them by providing water or food, or a bigger way of conveying their meaning.

We chose to make something that the LGBT community could use in their protests. We knew we couldnt truly understand their mindset and what troubles they are going through but we had a faint idea of what any protestant feels. They are aggressive, or atleast full of energy. They want to loud and clear about what they want heard and they simply want people to treat them as they treat everyone. 

Looking at these points we decided we needed to make something that would be loud about their message and also cool them off by being an outlet of their extra energy. So , by this point we knew it had to be something big ,but since it is to be carried during a protest it had to be light so that people could carry it it easily. We were greatly inspired by the way the chinese dragon dance is conducted. The movement is fluid and its a dance, so it pulls everyones attention to itself. So our main form was to be like a chinese dragon, but we incorporated our idea of the LGBT community in the following way. Where the body of the chinese dragon comes we decided to make a spine which would be connecting two genderless faces. The spine to be symbolic, as in spine of a body, spine of a society. How it holds things up. But in this case, the rigid structure is holding apart two people that are in love. The faces are genderless because we re trying to show how love can be between any two individuals regardless of their genders or anything. Whats important is the love, nothing else really matters.

This piece is called “You May Kiss The Bride” . It mocks a lots of topics. for example how people from this community are required to take permission before kissing and also how they arent allowed to marry. It also highlights the typical thinking we have about marraige, where there is a bride and there is a groom. Why cant we just focus on the people? Why does it have be a said , structured thing?

As for the process of building it is concerned, we went crazy and explored a lot of materials. We worked with wire, mud, clay, paper mache, P.O.P, rope, cloth and ofcourse bamboo. The most challenging was to figure out how we re going to mske the faces genderless and also how we would ultimately put it up.

Before we started working on the main structure we decied to make a prototype as our final performance art peice was going to be 5ms long and none of us had experience with working with such a huge peice. So we scaled our 5 metre peice to 1 metre in the proptotype and did all the calculations accordingly. This made us see what exactly would work and what wouldnt.ImageImage

After making the prototype we now had atleast an idea of how our model would look and how it should be planned. 

We started by making the spine, for that we made the ribs in three receding sizes. We cut bamboo into thin strips , bent it and shoved the ends into holes we had drilled on bamboo pieces. Then we attached rods which would be used as handles from the centre of these peices. Every alternate rib had a rod. We attached them all together by passing thin long bamboo strips through the top part.

Then we started by working on the faces, we made the basic framework of the faces with wire, bent it according to shape and covered it with wire net. We simultaneosly made the masks for these faces. Since we wanted the features to be really distinct and we wanted the faces to be beautiful , we first made a mold with clay. Then we layered the clay with strips of paper mache and thats how we made the faces.ImageImage

Our plan was to paste these faces on to the frame we had made after covering it with cloth but then the structures got disfigured when someone was shifting them. The sad part was we couldnt see what out piece looked like even though we had done all the parts. We were so close to completing it. But im sure our structure would have worked if those pieces were still intact. 

So what we finally exhibitted was way different from what we had planned. It was just the spine that was on display, so that was like only half of our plan. We had planned to make the two heads meet to form a kiss during protest as a sort of display of love. Either way we changed our idea a bit at the end by only showing the spine,we kept it open to interpretaion and were surprised when a lot of people told us they actually enjoyed it as it was. They enjoyed the concept and also how fluid our final structure looked.

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Finally

This is how we finally displayed our performance art piece, we attached the peice to wires of different lengths to show the wave nature of our peice. A lot of people came and asked about our piece, and even though it didnt turn out how we had planned,we got a lot of positive response as people enjoyed the wave motion and the fluid look.IMG_8996Finally

Making a model

So the next day we ventured deeper into our explorations by actually making use of what we had learnt the previous day and incorporating few of those techniques. So for the first day Rhea and I worked together to make a sort of interactive model which showed the same motion as that of a ferris wheel, as well as the gear movement.

We used the technique of splitting bamboo, fixing it together, sawing it, chiseling it to make our model.

There was a lot of trial and error in the building of this model. Infact, I d say it was a trial and error process where some things by chance managed to work out. But I learnt a lot from all the errors. We had to take precise measurements for building the gear structure as for gears every movement depends on the other. If one thing doesnt work out means the other cannot. Somehow we managed to make a standing structure which worked fairly well enough

For this structure we had planned out everything and had a preconcieved idea about about how are structure would end up looking. A lot of things changed by the end though, we had to mak e those changes when we put our idea on paper to life in bamboo.Standing structure JointsIdeations