Posts Tagged ‘lights’

Photo: A24.
This is Marcel the Shell. Says stop-motion storyteller Kirsten Lepore, “No one in the industry ever works with puppets that small.”

As a child, I was fascinated with shells, and I have noticed that other children are, too. My grandchildren, when they were younger, liked a picture book series that featured photos of clay-sculpted child figures and the shells the children collected at the beach.

Carlos Aguilar writes at the Los Angeles Times about a shell that has become an unlikely star.

“ ‘Marcel the Shell’ began as a series of lovingly crafted homemade shorts for YouTube by Dean Fleischer Camp and Jenny Slate. So when it came time to give the diminutive breakout star the feature film treatment — in A24’s ‘Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,’ now playing in theaters nationwide — some technical concerns needed to be addressed.

“ ‘The challenge for me was always, “How do we maintain that authenticity and the texture from the shorts?” ‘ Camp recently told the Times. …

“He enlisted independent stop-motion storyteller Kirsten Lepore as his animation director to lend her expertise to the meticulous frame-by-frame technique. Her seasoned ability for subtlety of movement in the performance of stop-motion characters was paramount in the decision.

“ ‘It’s a very mechanical process and because of the technical elements, it’s hard to get stuff that feels loose and organic. Every time you watch a stop-motion anything, you’re watching a time lapse of a sculpture being manipulated. Kirsten, more than any other young stop-motion artists I know, really embraced that in her work,’ Camp said. …

“To that end, Lepore and the animation crew first had to create a puppet of Marcel suitable to make multiple copies of.

For the short films, Camp used an actual shell, but since carapaces vary in shape and size, it would have been nearly impossible to naturally find enough similar ones.

“Instead, they did 3D scans of the actual original Marcel figure and then worked with a company called Stratasys. They were able to 3D print a large number of them in a way that the inner translucency and luster of real shells would come across. …

“The petite size of the Marcel puppets, which don’t have any internal armature as most stop-motion characters do, also required added precision when bringing it to life. ‘It’s literally 1 inch by 1 inch. It’s the smallest puppet that any of the animators had ever worked with before,’ said Lepore. …

“ ‘The work that they did is not just a feat of stop motion. It’s a feat of expressing emotion in all the little movements of Marcel’s eye and the nuanced postures they got him to make. They did that acting,’ Slate said. …

“In order to create the illusion that Marcel coexists with our reality, the film had to be shot twice with two different cinematographers.

“First, the live-action shoot in a real house was lensed by Bianca Cline, which occurred like most other productions, except that for the most part the shots were devoid of characters. Lepore had a stand-in of Marcel that she would place in the location to mark where the puppet would go once the stop-motion scenes were composited into the frame. They filmed with the stand-in present, and then again without it. Twice for every single shot.

“For the sake of light continuity, it was pivotal for the stop-motion director of photography, Eric Adkins to be present for the live-action operation in order to take copious notes on how each shot was lighted — down to the measurements of the distance between the light source and the character — to be able to re-create them on the stop-motion stages months later.

“One of the most impressive examples of Adkins’ skills, Lepore recalled, is the car ride that Marcel takes with Dean early in the film. After studying the live-action footage of that sequence and creating an equivalent of the dashboard, where Marcel stands, on a stop-motion stage, Adkins had to program his lights frame by frame to flicker in a way that would perfectly match how trees or other objects block the light from hitting Marcel as the vehicle moves.

“Lepore had a stop-motion staff of around 50 artists working on 10 stages running simultaneously.

“ ‘For every interaction that Marcel has with a live-action character or a live-action prop, there was nothing spontaneous about it,’ she noted. ‘It was all meticulously choreographed to make it look ultimately like it’s just off the cuff, as if it just happened.’ ”

More at the LA Times, here.

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Pigeon performance art in New York is ruffling a few feathers, and no wonder. The pigeons failed to sign performance agreements.

Andy Newman reports at the New York Times, “No one asked 2,000 pigeons if they wanted to have lights strapped to their legs in the name of art. Nor did anyone ask the birds how they felt about being shooed from their homes at dusk and sent flying up to illuminate the Brooklyn sky.

“But whether Duke Riley’s avian-powered performance piece ‘Fly by Night‘ constitutes pigeon abuse is a more complicated question.

“More than 5,000 people have signed a change.org petition calling for the show, which opened May 7 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, to be closed. …

“Their charges: that the birds are terrified by the flapping plastic flag Mr. Riley waves to keep them flying; that it is unnatural to make pigeons fly at night, when they normally rest; and that between their poor night vision and the distractions of the moving lights, they could become disoriented and crash into the East River. …

“Before ‘Fly by Night’ opened, [however], the nonprofit arts group that organized it, Creative Time, asked the director of the Wild Bird Fund, Rita McMahon, to inspect. The fund, based on the Upper West Side, treats more than 2,000 sick and injured pigeons a year.

“ ‘Mixing art and animals is a very risky business,’ said Ms. McMahon, who is a state-licensed wildlife rehabilitator, ‘but I was very impressed.’ The pigeons were healthy and well fed, their temporary homes beautiful and clean.

“ ‘I didn’t see any traumatized pigeons,’ she added. ‘You see them mating, courting, everything, all over the boat. I think that’s a pretty good sign.’

“ ‘Fly by Night’ runs on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until June 12, and the protesters say they will be out every night for the rest of the run.”

More here.

Photo: Byron Smith for The New York Times  
Duke Riley’s “Fly by Night” performance piece features more than 2,000 trained pigeons with LEDs attached to their legs.

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Every day, no matter what else is going on around the world, artists are thinking of new ways to express beauty.

Henry Grabar writes an Atlantic Cities “postcard” about two Belgian designers’ insight that plates lit from the inside could make something wonderful out of discards — while saving a tree from being cut down for Christmas.

The resulting “tree” of broken cups and plates glows ethereally and was selected for display in the town square of Hasselt, Belgium.

” ‘We decorated the tree with objects which would otherwise have remained invisible,’ MOOZ designers Inge Vanluyd and Stefan Vanbergen wrote in their DesignBoom submission.” Not just invisible, I would add, but thought to be useless.


Photograph: MOOZ, via DesignBoom (an independent publication dedicated to architecture and design)

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