Dispatches The Animation

Long time collaborator and friend John F. Ross had a show idea and was producing a large amount of new oil paintings for it. I decided to board the crazy train and make an animation out of all of his new work. What ensued was about 2 months of unbelievably hard, after hours work.

The Brief

It was no doubt over some after work beers that I mentioned in passing to John, "Hey, wouldn't it be cool if I made a short animation of all the new work you're doing for this art show?" Silence, a bit of a stare down, and I had inadvertently agreed for another overly ambitious, hair brained scheme with little to no time to pull it off.

Well. Time to get to work.

Step 1: Photograph The Work

One of the many unique problems this project presented was that the work was not going to be ready far enough in advance of the show for me to be able to pull off such an ambitious animation. So, for the sake of giving me enough time with the material as possible, I photographed all of the work about 4 weeks out, despite a lot of it not being fully ready for the show.

This resulted in lots of close ups, and as I continued to work on the animation, lots of additional photoshoots of the oil paintings as they were updated. It was a super organic process, but also really stressful to update the content of the animation continuously throughout production.

Step 2: Come Up With A Story

Another challenge with this piece; coming up with some sort of narrative. While the finished product is quite abstract, I wanted to at least have some form of beginning, middle and end. I spent a long time conceptualizing the flow of the animation with simple thumbnails.

What made this a little easier however, was that I was able to cut up all of John's work in photoshop to create entirely new scenes. This really helped me map out a story of sorts, using an element from a painting here, or a background from a painting there.

Step 3: Hit The Grindstone

After photography, and making a skeleton for a story, I started bringing everything in to photoshop and cutting it up in preparation for backgrounds. This is a huge task, since when dealing with these paintings I would have to go in and paint in areas where I needed to separate elements. I did this for almost 34 different images that John had created.

Chop Up and Additional Painting in Photoshop

It was great having a lot of creative control on this project. John basically just let me photograph everything, and then put it together. Taking elements from multiple paintings and using them elsewhere allowed me to create a, albeit somewhat abstract, story.

Storyboard Made From Multiple Paintings

Step 4: Put It All Together

It was a tough process to say the least. All the while trying not to let paying gigs fall through the cracks! Clients were always first though, and this just made for some long, but very enjoyable days.

Next was just putting it all together for a really unique addition to an art gallery show.

The deer alone was a task, comprised of 129 layers. Rigging and animating animals is always a challenge. It required some intense study of deer movement from Muybridge photos and Disney References.

The deer is actually the only element that was created by John specifically for this animation. Everything else in the entire piece was pulled from his artwork without any movement in mind.

Animated Animation

After all that setup all I had to do was keep on trucking. I spent countless hours and late nights bringing the project to light, and I think I hit render after finishing sound design with only a few hours before the doors to the gallery opened.

Thats It!

The final product was a total hit at the art show. People were truly amazed to see a short film that was incorporating all the work that was hung on the walls, some of it with the paint still drying!

Until the next hair brained scheme.

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