In the Still of Night - story and how it started


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I was teaching FINE 328D and FINE 328H Computer Animation along with Josée and Pascale in Fall 2000 and Winter 2001. I hadn't really done any real animations during the teaching, just short crummy ones to illustrate techniques, and sometimes examples of what the students shouldn't be doing :p. I got an idea to make an animation that looks like a painting at some point.

After talking with Art, I submitted a proposal for an independent study. I was accepted into the graduate independent study course FINE 695 Studio Art with Art Green as my supervisor. There is nothing more fun than taking an independent study with Art as your supervisor!

The experiments


My original idea was to make a moving painting by projecting an animation over a blank canvas. I thought that if I used fairly dull colours, I can get it to look like a stained acrylic painting. I wanted to do something that was in the style of War dance.


I started off experimenting with different kinds of varnishes over white paint and projecting stuff over it to see what the effect is. One day, I projected a digital image of Sleeping ferret over a blank canvas. Then, just for fun, I project the digital image over Sleeping ferret itself. The painting turned into this funny saturated version of itself. Art calls this MSG for paintings.

The natural thing to try next, of course, is to invert the digital image and project it over the original painting. It didn't cancel out and turn into uniform gray, but the overall image did turn pretty gray, and some of the lines would disappear. We tried different effects too, it was pretty neat.

The project changed afterwards. We felt this MSG stuff would be more fun to explore. The result seems to be something that is more than just a painting or projected animation, which is the point of combining mediums.

The story

Then I had to decide on a story. I love moons, and one of my more succesful paintings from the term before was of a ferret jumping at the moon. I always thought Exuberance or Solar Dance would make very good animated paintings, and finally decide to take the moon jumping ferret idea a bit further. ferrets are very obsessive little creatures, and I can really see one becoming fascinated with the moon, doing all they can to reach it.

images/exuberance_sm.gif     images/solardance_sm.gif

I also wanted to keep things very simple, practising less is more, which was what we kept saying in the animation courses. silhouette style ferrets seem appropriate. the projector projects wide enough that I can cover at least the area of two paintings, and I want to make the paintings a more typical painting size, i.e. rectangular and no weird shapes. I'm not sure when I figured out some of the details, like using the projector to simulate the gallery lights as well and so on. I guess right from the start, I intend to make the setting as similar to a traditional gallery as I possibly could, part of the focus of the project is to befuddle people!

the painting on the left (titled Watching ferret) is of a ferret standing under the moon, watching it. every now and then he stands up and stares, sometimes he makes a leap at it. the moon waxes and wanes as the night goes on. will he ever catch it?


the painting on the right (Sleeping ferret) shows a ferret sleeping on a pet bed in the corner of the room, under the window. this is partially in response to people making jokes about the wild ferret, they are domesticated! the other ferret just sneaked outside.



Last updated: Monday, 12 August 2002 @ 00:13:38 EST