Lance Kenneth Blakney
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behind the scenes: keeper

Some of you may remember this gem:

It was actually an assignment that I did during my final years of university. It was my first legitimate venture into the world of stop motion animation, so I wanted to play around with a few different techniques that I had researched to make something that was visually stunning and could  convey a simple story. 

For those of you who don't know, a stop motion film is made up of frames, and each frame is a photograph - about 24 photographs per second, so you do the math. Each photograph is taken one after the other, each with a change of position of the character or the camera, to give the illusion of motion. I am great at explaining things...

I've been meaning to post some behind the scenes stuff from this project for a while, Even in the year or so that has gone by since making it, I still get comments and questions on it. So here is a peek behind the curtain:

Yes that is literally a curtain that I am using as a backdrop. I made this set in the corner of my bedroom. All it consisted of was 3 movable sections of trees (branches), a diffused desk lamp for lighting, and of course the character "keeper".  But the first step, before taking the thousand-and-some photos, was story boarding and character design:

Although my drawing skills aren't the best... you get the general idea. So then I had a TON of pictures to sort through. Awesome. I used Adobe Lightroom to import and organize my photos, as well as to color grade them. Below you can see some before and after editing of the individual frames. The light I was using gave a warm feel to the photo,s but I wanted the forest to feel dark and cold, just like my soul. And it also fit better with my vision for the film.

Then the last steps were to throw the edited frames into a timeline in FCPX, toss in some sound effects here and there, and then BAM! You've got yourself a stop motion film. Well maybe it was a bit more complicated than that, but I won't bore you with the details. Here's a screenshot of my timeline at the end of the whole thing so you can figure it out yourself:

A couple extra fun facts:

*The glass orbs were designed by my friend Brad Pyne, a graphic designer from Toronto. 

*The opening shot where the camera was panning through the trees was actually not a pan. The camera was static and I was slowly moving three different parallel sections of trees bit by bit with each picture, similar to Disney's old trick, to achieve the parallax effect.

*This was my favorite school project I've done at UNB.

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