Things for others

A little aside from programming now. Last year for new years eve Kate and I had a party at our apartment, and for our invitation we made a short stop motion animation using a chalkboard. It was pretty low quality, but good fun to make, and our first creative project together. The video was a bit of a hit (amongst our friends anyway), and recently we were invited by some very good friends of ours to produce another stop motion video, this time as an invitation to their wedding reception.

What was interesting was that they gave us total creative control. “We trust you – just make something great” was the sum total of the instructions, along with a suggestion of a musical track. We decided as this was a wedding it needed something a bit more high quality and involved than our animated chalkboard – we decided on making the invite using cut out letters and scenes from around their house in a way that would capture the essence (for people that know them) of their lives together.

We spent one afternoon in their house planning the animation, and then last Saturday we took over their house for the day, shot the whole thing in about 6 hours, and then spent most of Sunday editing.

It was all shot on a Lumix GF1 (my favourite digital camera), with the standard 20mm lens and a Pentax 50mm lens with a Voigtlander adapter for very low depth-of-field effects. Instead of a standard stop-motion process of shooting still frames, we shot it all on video for speed (just stepping in and out of frame to move the objects), and then used AfterEffects to time-shift the frames to turn it in to stop-motion. The process had a few similarities with a photography project that I worked on in Tokyo a few years ago with Manabu Iguchi in that all the lighting and effects were done in-camera.

The total control thing, while great (and unusual) from a creative perspective, made things a bit difficult. We were constantly asking ourselves “what if they don’t like it? What happens if they don’t like it but don’t feel like they can tell us?”

Lucky for us, they did like it. Loved it in fact. I’ve realised that something even more satisfying than producing things you have designed for yourself is producing something especially designed for someone else. You can watch the animation here (sorry iPad users, only a flash version for the moment).