Tuesday, November 29, 2011


My blogging report card this month is shameful. I'm standing in the corner, dunce cap on my head, red-faced and staring at the floor.

Digressed again, off-piste again, 7ism resolutions postponed again. I don't have a valid excuse except that I really have been thinking a lot and trying to see where I'm at, as they say.

But I couldn't let November end without a modest ode to falling leaves and darker days and the melancholy of approaching winter. Another rough experimental animation, started yesterday afternoon and finished at about six o'clock this morning, without a break. 

I didn't choose the music beforehand but as soon as I watched the silent video I remembered Bachianas Brasileiras, by Heitor Villa-Lobos, sung by the extraordinary soprano Bidù Sayao. I've only used a short extract from Number 5 - if you've never heard the whole thing, it's definitely worth looking up. There are many recordings of it but Sayao's interpretation is my absolute favourite. 

This is the VIMEO permalink in case you don't see the video here. 


Monday, November 14, 2011


Today, the seventh day of my first 7ism work, herewith my report and results.

Decided to start with something small and insignificant so I chose to make an improved version of my stop-motion animation NOT a celebrity, the first rough cut of which I posted here last month. Since I declared then that I was definitely going to improve it, this seemed like a good way to test the 7ism movement's effectiveness. 

My usual approach is to declare that I am going to do something, then put whatever it is on the shelf (virtual or literal) with all the other things I have declared I am going to do in the immediate future. In my vocabulary, the word immediate is elastic and infinitely stretchable. Unfortunately, reality doesn't understand my vocabulary. Hence the pile-up of broken declarations, which 7ism is going to fix. I hope. 

I began at about 2:30 pm on Tuesday, November 8th. The first requirement was to devise a more efficient arrangement to hold the camcorder. A book I have (Get Started in Animation) includes a diagram for building a simple copy-stand with camera mount. While the plan is perfectly feasible, I didn't want to spend too much time on this so I opted for improvisation, my favourite modus operandi. 

An old portable easel was given a new function which you can see in the photos below. I pushed the normally vertical canvas-supporting arm into horizontal position, adjusted the legs to the needed height and tightened all the bolts. Then (here's the clever bit) I took one of those tiny tripods available in any camera shop, put its legs together flatly and taped it down firmly to one end of the easel's horizontal bar. The camcorder could then be screwed into the reclining mini- tripod, allowing the camera lens to point straight down. I attached a cable to connect camera to power socket and a Firewire to link my Mac to the camera (I'm using iStopMotion software). 

The above photos were taken in the downstairs study where I ended up making the third and final version, but I first set up the rig in my upstairs studio. By the time I was ready to shoot, daylight was gone and I had a lot of trouble positioning lamps even when using daylight bulbs. Version Two was a big headache (literally) for many reasons but I learned a useful lesson.

When something doesn't work because I haven't prepared well enough, my usual tendency is to keep nagging away at the faulty item until I've knocked it into some kind of unsatisfactory order, even though a much more effective solution would be to start from scratch. I went through my old routine in the second version and wasted several days painstakingly re-drawing frame after frame of a whole sequence because I'd filmed it too close and some of it was out of frame. The obvious answer was to re-shoot it. But no, I had to be the masochist.

However, because this was a 7ism project and I was committed to it, I then threw out all those files I had so obsessively been re-doing, re-uploading and... well, you don't want to know every twist and turn of that winding road....decided to do a third version. That's when I moved everything downstairs.

Finally here are the two versions of NOT a celebrity my seven days produced. The animation is still not even close to perfect but I'm satisfied with this particular project and pronounce 7ism a success in enabling me to finish something I probably would have abandoned. 

All comments/criticisms etc. are welcome.

THE FINAL VERSION OF NOT a celebrity is here on Vimeo and also on YouTube

THE SECOND VERSION is here on Vimeo and also on YouTube 

Tuesday, November 08, 2011


Heh. I've just created a new art movement.

So far I'm the only member. I don't mind if I remain the only member but in case anyone wants to join, here is the manifesto. If I, the founder, should fail to stick to it, then the movement will automatically self-destruct. Dissolve like sugar in hot coffee.


I hereby announce the birth of a new art movement. I name it 7ism.

The aim of 7ism is the creation of Complete and Wonderful artworks, in any medium, within the time frame of seven days, no less and no more, in a continuous procession of seven day periods, ad infinitum.

Complete = Finished to the best of the creator's ability.
Wonderful= Full of Wonder. Unexpected.
To Wonder= Not know. Reflect upon.

The reasonable objection that Wonderful artworks cannot always be created in seven days is not relevant because this movement does not pretend to address all art and all artists but only those multi-faceted, undisciplined ones who, like myself, find it very difficult to:

a) Finish within a reasonable time what I start .
b) Choose which of my many projects and interests to prioritise.
c) Avoid the frustration and guilt of accumulating un-achieved goals.

Setting short fixed time-frames will encourage sustained attention to one goal at a time, provide the satisfaction of seeing it achieved, and the motivation for moving on immediately to the next (perhaps similar, perhaps very different) seven-day goal.

Joining the 7ism movement requires members to note the day and time they will have to complete the first task they've chosen. 

I will embark on my first 7istic slice tomorrow and will report on my progress.

If you are joining, please say so below and on your blog if you have one, and in a week report on the results of your first 7ism experience. Heh!