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!
I just recently completed a little commercial of sorts for Marc Spess’s AnimateClay.com website. It was a song parody featuring Jack Skellington from Tim Burton’s “Nightmare Before Christmas.” It was my first experiment with replacement mouths and shooting on green screen. It was very exciting for me!
Most of my animation can be viewed on my YouTube channel: https://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!