STOP-MOTION, ONLY TOUGHER
A team of animators recently came together to produce a feature unlike
many of today’s slick CG studio releases. In a shuttered elementary
school east of Vancouver, the stop-motion film Edison and Leo
is wrapping production and heading for post. The $10M project is one of
the first Canadian films of its kind and centers around a greedy father
who accidentally shocks his son, turning him into an electric boy.
Shooting stop-motion wasn’t the only challenge — readying a school to
act as facility for the better part of a year was no small task either.
Jean-Luc Dinsdale, VFX supervisor/technical director for the project,
recalls some of the hurdles: “Most of the stages are in the gymnasium
and there is a big cafeteria that we’ve taken over. Being an old
school, it’s starting to fall apart. All of our stages have been
susceptible to the gym floor, which, being designed for basketball, is
a very springy.”
Reliable air conditioning, steady power and non-stop use of intense
studio lights have all caused problems. And even communication —
through walkie talkies — presented the unexpected.
“The Canon 5Ds that we are using are great cameras, but they are susceptible to radio interference.”
When things were going well, the production had 12 stages going, each
capturing up to five seconds of animation per day. 4K images, shot in
the RAW format, were captured to an Apple Xsan. Images were converted
to TIF files and cropped to 2K. And HD proxies were then created for
editing in Avid Adrenaline. Working in HD, says Dinsdale, “is great. We
really get to see a lot of detail in what we are shooting every day.”
They estimated that 20 percent of the imagery would need fixing, but
the harsh reality, he says, turns out to be more like 70. Still,
Dinsdale says the team is undeterred by these unexpected obstacles and
doesn’t second guess its decision to shoot stop-motion. “This movie is
more about showing off the skills of the stop-motion animators rather
than the latest in CG and stuff.”
Look for Edison and Leo this fall.