My friend Daryl came over on Saturday, and as usual we got creative. After a short brainstorming session, we settled on a claymation short about a gardener planting some seeds. We quickly bashed out a storyboard and broke down the scenes into simple actions. Since we were working at 8 fps, each second of video would require 8 different pictures (oh the maths!). So, we acted out the scenes and estimated how many shots each action should require. With that finished...
... we got started on the modelling. We had decided to use real dirt and plant material for the environment, and we needed to use the clay for props and characters. With seven colors available, it was fun mixing to get what we wanted. (Quick, how do you make purple? Yes, red and purple. I mean blue.... and how about skin color? Correct again, red and yellow and white).
We were a bit behind schedule by the time we got everything modelled, but we set up the camera on a Joby Gorillapod (product placement: Joby, please give me money) and got everything into position. I decided to shoot at a relatively wide aperature (f/4.5) so we didn't get too much in focus, seeing as the background needed to be somewhat amorphous and "passing as a real outdoorsy place"
Claymation always has its frustrations, and this was no different. Farmer Joe generally refused to sit upright and as the shoot progressed, his face got dirtier and dirtier, not to mention more hole-y around the crotch and legs (courtesy the aformentioned toothpicks et al.). But ultimately we got almost all the shots we needed (if you're very astute you can work out from the storyboard how the short was supposed to end) before the sun and Daryl both departed.
Then it was up to me to assemble everything together. I collected all the jpegs, ditched the unnecessaries (the bloopers, if you will), used some clone tool in photoshop to remove a few wires, and imported them as an image sequence into After Effects. I made compositions for each of the three shots, cut together the pieces, and exported in eye-popping 3D. I mean HD. One of those.
And for those that made it this far, here is the link to the final product: http://vimeo.com/22502558
Hope you enjoy it. Also, get out there in the real world to do some gardening!