Stop Motion # 3: Behind the Scenes

In my last post, I shared my final film assignment for The Animation Program 2021. In today’s post, I’ll talk more about the making of Voice of Art.

Film making begins with a process called storyboarding. My initial storyboard was scribbled on scraps of paper. As it progressed, I transferred it to a storyboard template and roughed out camera angles, motion & action, timing & pacing.

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Professional storyboards have all the details necessary to script out a film. It’s the vehicle that captures the director’s vision of the movie. In my case, it captured the critical scenes and allowed me to visualize the entire film before building out the characters and sets.

It also allowed me to test and iterate on timing and pacing with the music. A very helpful tool was making an animatic based on the storyboard and audio tracks. It was gratifying and motivating, to see this rough cut early in the production process.

Talking about the production process. Remember how I thought paper cut-out animation was the easier way to go? It is easier in that I didn’t have to draw and color all the pieces. However, my set designs got away from me.

Turns out that I liked scenes with lots of moving pieces. Each one of those pieces were flimsy bits of paper that any gust of wind could blow away. I also tended to forget which piece went where for each of the 1/24th of a second of motion.

Luckily, I followed a tip from a professional: use pizza boxes to layout your scenes. It was a good idea for animation and sound advice for dinner too!

Scene sets laid out in pizza boxes

Pre-production planning, prep and filming was labor intensive work. I can get very absorbed when doing projects like this. I zone out and lose track of what’s happening around me.

One day I was working on the sets when I heard shuffling noises outside my window.

That must be my neighbor Ron, I thought. Ron who lives in the condo upstairs often came home for lunch. After ten minutes of shuffling, I glanced up and out the window. What is he doing out there? I didn’t see him, so I went back to work.

Shuffle. Shuffle. Shuffle.

A little while later, I got a text message from Ron. “There’s a bear outside your window.”

All that shuffling had been a bear!

Early on in the process, our teacher had asked us to share BTS photos. I didn’t know what that was and Google unhelpfully told me that it was the name of a Korean pop group.

In our context, BTS stands for Behind The Scenes and the photos offer insight on the process of making animation. After making my final film, I had enough photos to make a short BTS film. Enjoy!


    1. If he’s ever looking to employ an inexperienced but enthusiastic, eagar to learn but prone to mistakes, older-and-then-some adult … I’m available 😉


  1. It’s really interesting to see more of the techniques involved and the work that went into the film. I knew it must be considerable but it seems even more so now I see the details! As for that bear, I love what you did with the animation in the BTS film – great fun! But the photos of the real thing are amazing!!

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    1. Looking back now on what was involved, I wonder if I’ll do it again. Because we were learning, everything we did in the workshop was manual. But there is animation software that relieves some of the work. I am playing with that now.

      I have to thank Ron for the photos of the bear. My only complaint is that he didn’t get in front of the bear to get a forward shot!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. You’ve already seen some … in the hand drawn banners & graphics used in recent posts 🙂 Some future work is in concept now … there are different technique that I’d like to try out.
          So, more to come.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. A bear! Amazing! How did you make that last shot? Is it via an app?
    I was thinking that all those teeny bits of paper required a lot of precision and work. But they really looked fantastic! It really worked well. Well, I thought so anyhow. You have the makings of a film director somewhere there, Sandy!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. The shots are two photos taken of the same bear. I made the picture with Canva using a ‘frame’ that looks like the screen on a phone. The background is just a blow-up of one of the photos.

          Liked by 1 person

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