Pet groomer by day...
Stop motion film-maker Jacob Hajda shows us how he creates his animation worlds...
Hi Jacob - why and how did you get into animation?
My name is Jacob Hajda. I'm 22 years old, and I hail from central Nebraska. I'm a professional pet groomer and a stop-motion hobbyist. I've been animating for a few years, starting when I was about 9 years old. My dad was a teacher, he and his students were morphing bits of clay into different shapes. He showed my sister and I how we could take still frames with our video camera. We shot Barbie dolls, playmobil figures, and a few sculpey characters. My uncle is a professional videographer, he greatly encouraged my interest in stop-motion. He sent me a copy of Aardman's "Creating 3D animation" and a Super 8 camera. I grew up with stop-motion films like Wallace and Gromit, Frog and Toad, and the Shakespeare's animated tales. I moved-on to other related interests when I was 12-13, but my whole life I've been building foam hand puppets and marionettes, making miniatures dollhouses, and writing comics, plays, and little stories. I love colored pencils, photography, sewing, and playing music. About two years ago, I started looking into animation again, as a creative outlet. I really love this art medium as it combines all of my many interests. It's a fun community of creative-minded people.
"Sassy's Perfect Pet", is a short about an anthropomorphic rabbit character and her mischievous pet unicorn. Most of my animation are about cute little creatures doing amusing and unexpected things. I don't really have a target audience, my art friends are as amused as my toddler nieces and nephew. I like that!
Most of my animation can be viewed on my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheStudioBuckner
What hardware do you use to make your films ?
Right now, my little hobby is pretty simple and cheap. I have a little studio set-up in the basement of my dog grooming shop. I light my sets with desk lamps and diffused heat lamps fixtures. I shoot my animation with a Nikon D90 DSLR, capturing and editing frames on my laptop with Stop Motion Pro. I edit and compile my shots with elements versions of Adobe Photoshop and Premiere.
How you use Stop Motion Pro?
I use StopMotionPro Studio Plus software to capture frames, remove rigs, lip sync, and do Chroma Key. It's a wonderfully developed tool that has been very enjoyable for me to use. I really appreciate all the tutorials and articles on your website, and the great customer service whenever I've had a question. I love that you are constantly developing and updating the software to make my job easier.
Can you tell us a little about how you make those fantastic little puppets?
I experiment with many different materials. Most of my creatures are built-up over simple wire armatures. I use wood, clay, foil, sugru, foam, fabric, rubber latex, pantyhose, and many other things. For me, It's definitely the most challenging part of the process, and a skill set I really want to develop! My sets are usually large cardboard boxes covered with fabric, paper, and paint. For "Sassy's Perfect Pet" I screwed foam core over a wooden frame. My puppets were light enough to use big sewing pins as tie-downs. I simulated water in one of my shorts with two mirrors covered in cling-wrap. Most of my materials come from the hardware store, craft store, and dollar store. I use whatever I can find/afford! I add and enhance my animation with some creative editing, but I try to create most of my effects in-shot. It's more fun and more believable in my opinion. I often ask my lovely wife, Rachel, for her advice and opinion. She sometimes helps me build sets and props, and weighs-in on my story and editing. The poor thing is such a good sport while I'm locked-in to my concentrated creativity mode!
What is next for you and your animation?
My biggest project yet is in its most beginning stages. I don't want to give away too much yet. It will have more characters, bigger sets, and a more developed story. It's a very large undertaking for me, but so exciting! My timeline says I should complete it by the end of the year. We will see!
I'm also looking forward to sharing my love of stop-motion this summer, though our local art club! I will spend the day with a group of young artists, showing them the basic principles of stop-motion, and why I think it's the ULTIMATE art form!
Thanks Jacob, I am sure we will be seeing more of your work in future! SMP team.