The project began with a struggle to come up with ideas, then choosing and committing to just one of them. Then proceeded directly onto the challenge of using new software, Maya 2016, which I was determined to learn as it is the industry standard in the animation world at the moment.
Maya has a complexity that allows for limitless creation and customization, and once you’ve puzzled out how it works you can create almost anything. However it adds a new level of difficulty unlike software such as Cinema4D which I used for ‘Bumble’ (2015), a previous project for MEDA. After several months of relearning each step of the animation pipeline in maya, I was finally able to create a full short animation using the new software.
Render test using Pixar’s Renderman
(another learning curve, figuring out how to use the rending software and it’s subtitles, in particular noise reduction, optimizing render time and adjusting for linear light rendering in post-production)
Whale visualisation render to test animation flow and camera movement.
Eagle visualisation render to test animation flow and camera movement.
Creating the zoetrope was quite a mission. Not being terribly crafty myself, my original idea was to get a few old bike wheels and somehow mount them to spin horizontally on a table. Eventually I employed the help of a more handyman inclined friend to aid the zoetrope construction and together created something more aesthetic and structurally sound. I hoped to make two or three zoetropes, but underestimated the amount of time that would be needed for such a venture.
Crafting the zoetrope
I printed out every second frame from a 32 frame looping animation of a simple eagle fly cycle and whale swim cycle, combining both onto one zoetrope as I hadn’t the resources to craft two. In retrospect I probably could’ve printed out every 3rd or even 4th frame, and created a slightly less smooth, but longer and more interesting animation loop. Perhaps of the two chaacters interacting or playing with a toy such as a ball, or something that related more closely to the final animations being played on the screens behind where the zoetrope was to be situated.
Installation in the gallery revealed a need for some kind of structure to make the zoetrope eye level so older, less limber, viewers could enjoy the zoetrope without struggling to get down to the right eye-level to look through the slits. Another consideration was making it stable enough not to go flying off the table when someone spins it.
However it’s situation beneath the two slick TV screens with the full maya animations created a nice juxtaposition of the old and the new. The old animation machine providing a way to understand how single frames come together to create a seemless and alive picture, whilst the final product plays above made using the animation industry standard software used in the latest animated films. The two came together to create a snapshot of the history and progress of animation.
However, in the end the zoetrope was removed from the exhibition, a disappointing end to the project.
It was nice using the same location in the gallery space as the previous Meda project. Having the same space and recurring themes of showing the process of animation, and depicting the natural movement and lives of animals, created a lovely connection to earlier works, giving a sense of a practice, slowly advancing and developing as I learn more, and create more.