IF I WERE A SHIP
I knew from the start that I wanted to use different styles of animation and video to give a unique life to the video. It was obvious I was going to use stop motion, but I found myself exploring some live action elements and some 2d drawn animation as well. I am very organic in my work flow and the materials I use to create. If I find something lying around the studio or my house that could lend a cool texture or visual element I try to incorporate it. If a good idea pops into my head that wasn’t planned, I see if its something I can work in. The materials I used ranged from bubble wrap and card board mailing tubes to paint markers and pipe cleaners. Everything for the most part was pieced together with found objects that my team and I turned into something else. I used the bubble wrap to create the feeling of being under water and the mailing tubes to experiment with a process called strata stencil. And when it came to camera work, I had to get really creative. The “Hey Ocean” title at the beginning of the video was built on a rotating set that I was able to move to create what would have otherwise been a complex stop motion camera move.
The song “If I Were a Ship” has a very whimsical and tropical feel to it which definitely inspired the visuals of the piece. The marimbas, shakers, and the occasional ocean sound effects were big cues and made me want to explore a quirky underwater world. In designing this world it was important not to restrict myself to conventional oceanic imagery. A grave yard of boom boxes fill the ocean floor. An oddly shaped “pentapus” swims about squirting ink. I found it funny to create a new squid-like species. Pipe cleaner sea horses dance around and flee a sinking cassette tape. These were all visuals that came together through collaboration and conversation with my team. But I didn’t want to limit myself to just underwater life. I also had some more abstract ideas. Shadow puppets were something I had been wanting to experiment with for a long time. A lot of that section in the video was just experimenting with transitioning shadow shapes and figuring out how to manipulate the puppets in post in a fun way. Making the shadow puppet hand turn into a tree was challenging but so worth it in the end. It’s kind of a startling and unexpected effect. I also really wanted to incorporate the band in some way. Shooting them was out of the question as they were on tour. I was inspired by the big eyed children paintings of the 70’s and thought it would be cool to create the band into characters using this style. Using photographed elements, scanned textures, and a lot of animation tricks I was able to bring the band right into the video.
The team that worked on this piece consisted of only 4 people; Holly Thorstad, Mike P. Nelson, Emily Fritze and myself. The overall vision was realized by using the strengths of each of us. Holly focused on the band character design and all 2d animation. Mike was also involved with character design but also played a big role in compositing and creating some of the underwater worlds. Emily Fritze focused on designing and drawing the black light zoetrope animation helping create the swirling psychedelic break toward the end of the video. After many long days, nights and weekends, we realized that the project took up our entire 2013 Summer. But it was so worth it.
VideoSTATIC - Steven Gottlieb - JAN 2014
Director/Animator/Visual Effects Supervisor: Katie Maren Nelson
Animators: Holly Thorstad, Emily Fritze, Mike P. Nelson
Compositing: Mike P. Nelson
Shadow Puppeteers: Allison Krogstad, Ben Pawlik
Special Thanks: Sean Covel, Jenna Baum, Nettwerk Music
Music: Hey Ocean!