Music videos have given Michelle a great impetus to make fantastic animation with Stop Motion Pro...
Stop Motion Pro is software I use through the entire filming process. It’s fabulous in that I can playback my animation instantly and I can make changes then and there. I often use it to put together the final layout of the film too as it’s an easy way to playback my footage in real time.
- Michelle Williamson
Michelle kindly accepted our offer of an interview about her work.
My name is Michelle Williamson and I’m an Artist/Animator based out of Perth in Western Australia. I work across a variety of art forms including Stop Motion, Painting and Photography and often combine those art forms together when creating an artwork. It was at university, while studying a fine arts degree, that I first discovered stop-motion animation. It was that combination of crafts coming together that made animation so exciting for me. I could combine all my interests in one; film, photography, painting, drawing and sculpting. In my final year I was lucky enough to do some work experience with a Perth based stop-motion animator by the name of Pierce Davison. Pierce having years of experience as a working stop-motion animator was able to help me develop my practical skills as an animator and provided me with the mentorship I needed to progress my film-making.
Where is your work shown?
‘The Presence in the Absence’ is an animated short film aimed at, but not restricted to, adult audiences. The narrative behind the film is influenced by the process of grieving, in particular the loneliness and isolation that can be experienced after having lost someone close to you. Drawing from personal experiences and experiences of close family members, the film positions the viewer into the life of an old man, grieving the loss of his beloved wife. Struggling with the melancholy and loneliness that her absence leaves behind and in an attempt to rid his life of grief and pain, he begins physically filling the empty spaces with anything and everything he can.
'Wilting Existence' is maybe my most experimental animated film yet. It was originally filmed as a silhouette light board animation, similar to my 'Scare Tactics' video. But after the completion of the animation, I wanted to take its final presentation further. This experimentation of different viewing techniques resulted in an Installation rather than a film viewable online. A mini projector sits atop a plinth projecting the moving image onto the surface of a leaf, eventually wilting over time.
What hardware do you use to make your films?
I currently work with a Canon 60D, which does the job well. I use a camera dolly, put together for use on my films by my father. Other than that I use tripods and make use of the general equipment around me. My bedroom has always been my studio space. I’ve often found myself living around large scale sets, sometimes going months in a dark, lightproof room as I’ve had to block out all the natural light sources for filming. Just recently I was lucky enough to be able to move into a studio space. This space is for the filming of my next stop motion which is a forest set, quite a bit larger than any set I’ve made before, and far too large for my bedroom.
How do you use Stop Motion Pro?
Onion skinning is the most beneficial tool to me personally, next to instant playback and the general editing tools. I would hate to go back to the days before I had this software! It certainly would have taken me a lot longer to complete my films. These tools just cut my work time down by so much, and eliminate many problems I may have had in the post production stages. There are still a few tools I am yet to explore to their full extent, and I think my next project will give me the chance to do just that.
How do you make the imagery in your work?
Each of my films has differed in the materials used. The puppet you see in ‘The Presence in the Absence’ is crafted from a wire armature, silicone head, silicone hands, foam and material. The puppet in the ‘Scare Tactics’ music video is created from wool, materials, flocking, split pins and card. I’m very open with my craft, I post plenty of progress shots which can be seen on my website and I’m open to discussing my techniques. My mentors have taught me the value in learning from others and letting others learn from you.
The film I’m currently working on is exciting in terms of its imagery. The entire 3d small scale set is crafted in wools, fabrics and textures and is far larger than any I’ve created before. Because it’s such a crafty process I intend to create a series of short films on the making of selected parts of the film. The first to be completed is the making of the puppets eyeballs:
Wow, you are very busy! What's next?
Well right now I’m working on my next short animated film ‘Leave’s Don’t Grow on Trees.’ The film which is due to be completed in March 2015 was lucky enough to be funded by the Film and Television Institute of WA. I’m so excited about this project, it’s my biggest yet and I’ve had a lot of fun crafting this magical world for my characters so far. We have both a Facebook page and an Instagram page set up for the film so anyone interested can take a look there. Beyond this film, I look forward to the new challenges that arise for me in the stop-motion animation world!