“[My project is] A study of walk cycles… depicting character personality through movement- with a narrative about a man who keeps forgetting that he needs to mail a letter.”
This is the one line synopsis that begins my stop-motion thesis proposal which I presented to an RIT faculty committee for approval in the spring of 2011. At the time, my project was called Mail Interest and included over 15 secondary characters with unique walk cycles for my main character to pass by and interact with (a notion the proposal committee quickly dissuaded me of).
Since that time, I have taken a year of medical leave from my studies and have spent a little time adjusting my script and story to make the project more feasible for a student thesis as well as strengthening my core goal of challenging myself to show multiple walk cycles at different speeds that evoke different emotions or personality types. Now, my leave is over and the first week of the fall quarter is drawing to close. Back into the fray I go, hopefully better able to take on my academic responsibilities and with the guidance I need to emerge successful at the end.
In the year and a half since I first started to conceptualize the idea for the thesis, the core aspect of my narrative has not changed. The story follows Randy, an often distracted teenage boy, who realizes that he has forgotten to mail a very important letter, and that he must now race to get to the mailbox before the approaching mail truck can get there. Along the way the runs into various obstacles, both environmental and due to his own nature that slows him down and gets in the way of his progress.
I chose this sort of racing narrative structure along with a distractable character, because I felt it would give me some good opportunities to play with the pacing of the piece as well as many chances to show my character moving along at various speeds and also dodging obstacles in different ways. Having taken the advice of both the proposal committee and my own thesis advisors, I have greatly reduced the number of human and animal obstacles my character runs into in the current version of the script, both allowing and challenging myself to find ways to express many of the same movements, through a single puppet. This blog will follow my progress as I race to complete my project in a manner I feel is satisfactory before the due date for my thesis screening arrives.
My hope with this blog is to share my process of developing the story as well as my experiments with puppet fabrication and set design with other creative minds out there who might possible gain something from my mistakes and successes, and may even have some advice or feedback that could help me. I am working on this project remotely, three time zones and hundreds of miles from my classmates and teachers back at RIT. Hopefully this page can also serve as a lifeline for me to other artistic people out there, who can not only appreciate the work that goes into my project, but also take a look with a critical eye, and not only tell me what they like about my work, but also what I can possibly improve upon.
The desire to keep a story fresh for when viewers see it the first time, keeps a lot of film and animation blogs from really sharing all the details of a scene or a story to preserve the mystery. This is a viewpoint I completely understand and respect. A film can lose some of that sense of escapism if the audience already knows what’s going to happen, or starts to think about a story of a construction method mentioned in a blog post when a new scene appears in front of them. For this project however, I feel that it can be both a learning opportunity for me and for any readers who might stumble across my page who are also interested in this particular animation technique.
This is a blog, and I tend to be a pretty talkative person in general so I’ll likely throw in information about my life in general here as well since the things that go on outside of my studio space do affect my work within it. One of the major obstacles I am facing with this project is that while my health has improved, I am still by no means back to my normal self. Despite two years of testing and time off from school and work, I remain categorized as someone with an “undetermined inflammatory auto-immune disorder” and am still on file as a disabled student. A label I still struggle to accept and move past. From time to time the weight of not having a diagnosis as well as the physical symptoms of whatever I have can get to me, so please bear with my occasional forays into frustration as I try to take on my final academic project with careful determination.