If you’re not sure what a zoetrope is, here’s some info:
“The zoetrope consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. On the inner surface of the cylinder is a band with images from a set of sequenced pictures. As the cylinder spins, the user looks through the slits at the pictures across. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together, and the user sees a rapid succession of images, producing the illusion of motion.”
Basically it’s a form of animation before film. The cinetrope uses a strobe light or a camera that takes a very quick succession of pictures instead of solid video as a substitute for the slats in the barrel.
I love how he plays with shadows and camera angles to make the puppet’s face appear to change expression, even though the head is completely solid and there are no replacement heads. This is such a great film— visually, technically, and conceptually.
Let’s take a look at how awesome the Corpse Bride puppets are. Did you know they have tiny gears in their heads to make facial expressions? The animators twisted screwdrivers in their ears or the back of their heads to adjust parts of the face. That’s crazy! I got to see a demonstration of it in class last semester, it’s really cool.
This whole section of the “making of” is fascinating, you should check it out if you haven’t already.
It all started in 2009 when I took my Mom’s Experimental Animation class at LA Mission College. I wasn’t completely sure of what I wanted to do in life, other than gaining some skills which I was severely lacking. The course was one semester long, and since I was only 16 at the time it only cost one dollar for three units. This was my first class outside of home school and I had absolutely no social skills, which was actually beneficial at the time because throughout the whole semester I was able to just focus on learning how to animate and on raising my new best friend, Scrump. I had just lost some very special family members and had given up on pursuing a possible career in Martial Arts, so things were looking pretty grim at the time. I put all of my wandering thoughts into making a stop motion music video for Octopus’s Garden by The Beatles, listening to it on repeat all day every day and having each assignment share the same theme so that at the end of the semester I could compile the short clips into a magical whirlwind of awesome. This was a mistake.
After an entire semester of limiting myself to this one theme I began to lose interest in the project and I quickly got very sick of that song. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it and The Beatles to this day but dear god I began to snap. It invaded my dreams, thoughtful moments, eventually creeping its way into every day life, constantly playing in my head over and over even without the help of my iPod. I knew every word, every beat, the harmonies the various melodies the tiny little insignificant background noises that you don’t pick up on unless you’ve listened to it fifty-billion times. I didn’t need to play the song anymore because it was deeply ingrained into my brain. It still haunts me to this day… any mention of an Octopus or a Garden or Shade or Storms or— I’m getting off track. I apologize. I think you see my point.
So I got to the point where if I ever began thinking about the film, let alone finding objects to make a set or setting up a shot, I became extremely irate (to put it simply). My emotions were already a bit on edge and my best friend was waking me up every three hours to pee. I found myself two weeks before the final assignment was due. I had about two-three hours to use the shooting equipment, which would have been plenty for the remainder of my music video (which was now only going to be about 30seconds of the song, filled with loops and slowed down footage). My lack of experience and equipment was adding to my state of not-wanting-to-do-anything-ever. I believe that is the scientific term for it.
One day I was at Taco Bell, blissfully eating a veggie tostada, when my spork broke. I then remembered this hilarious picture I had seen on the internet, back when I was “collecting” icons. I had an entire forum post full of tiled icons I had saved up from people’s signatures, profiles, and my favorite site: The Iconator. It was like a light bulb went off in my brain which was slowly spiraling into madness. The story was playing out before my eyes; Batspork, the Poker, Disneyland— it was beautiful. I found sound clips from Adam West in Family Guy, Zorak from the Brak Show, Chewbacca, Goofy. It was all coming together, and just because of Taco Bell’s unnaturally hard tortillas and this picture:
With one week to build everything, two hours to shoot, and another week to edit sound clips and battle with Adobe Premiere, BATSPORK was born. I didn’t have Dragon, only iStopmotion. I had yet to find any sound clips so I just had to make it up as I shot. I was an amateur, and my mind was slowly disintegrating, but I did it. This is the proudest 48 seconds of my life, and I will never regret scrapping that other film at the last second (it wouldn’t be the last time).
This leads me to a very valuable lesson:
If you have the chance, don’t finish something just because you’ve already “worked so hard towards it” or you don’t think you have “enough time to start over” or because “people are expecting this one.” If you think it’s crap, if you’re sick of it, AND if you’re NOT getting paid to do it, take that chance. Make something you’re proud of. Work long nights just to get it done. NEVER settle when it comes to your art.
I still think Batspork is the best film I’ve ever made, and it probably always will be. As I grow older and learn more about animation at college, I lose the excuse of being young. The quality or recent films automatically goes down as I age. Still, I’ll keep doing what I love, and if I ever realize I’m making something I hate again, I will scrap it and make something I’m proud of.