Cecelia and her selfhood

About six months or so ago, Adrien Merigeau asked me to get involved with a music video project he was working on for the Villager’s song “Cecelia and her Selfhood”
Here’s what I came up: a stop-motion mini fable featuring a jackal and a dragon, which runs in parallel to the main narrative of the video.

There she is:

Myself and Lisa also provided some stop-frame photography for the project (keep a sharp eye in the full video to see if you can spot it):

Here's the final video in all it's delicious Merigeau-ness:

I've been asked a little bit about how I went about making the cut-out animation by a few people, or well I've bullied them into listening to me in any case so I thought I might as well consolidate the things I've been saying and put them where they belong.

It was actually straightforward enough, I had about three full weeks of work overall. 2 weeks of planning, designing and building and then 1 week of animation. I didn't really do 'storyboards' per se, and Adrien was very encouraging in regards trying out whatever I'd like so I kind of changed things up as I was animating too.

I shot about 70 seconds in that week, and I generally find it quicker to animate under the camera than nearly any other way. Admittedly I was slowed down a little bit by the in camera special effects, though they are actually great fun to do.

I think my favourite shot is the one with the leaf falling, I spent ages on the little flares of red as it spun through the air

The water ripples were done with layers of cut tinfoil (a disposable baking tray actually) substituting small for big and so on outwards, using little shavings of tin as it diminished (or as in the image for the water stream coming out of the jackals mouth).

The sparkles, along with the fire and smoke, were done using charcoal, chalk along with some shiny plastic crystal bead things on a layer of glass very close to the camera lens (to give it that soft out of focus flickery nature). You can see the bead work in the eyes glow as well as the embers of fire.

For some of the dragon scenes I used a transparent yoghurt pot lid, painted red with a hole cut in the middle, as a sort of vignette making thing, to give it a redness around the frame (you can see the breakdown of the layers a little in the above photo, with the yoghurt pot lid taped the camera lens hood at the top of the image).

I had background setups in a stack beside me as I was working on one scene at a time. Inevitably I moved stuff around and messed with things to get the right framing under the camera, getting the scales of the objects right, which can actually be quite tricky to predict based off of any sketches or such.

The models themselves were made of hinged joints (with wire going through a hole at the point of rotation) so that when you move the foot the leg would follow, etc, so that you quite easily get a natural enough locomotion. Things like shoulders and other little floating type joints where held in place with bluetack and shifted up, over and around the body as needed, similarly with the ears.

The dragon's wings were made of a wire frame with an elastic mesh fabric (retrieved from a cheap pair of Tesco's women's underwear I got for the project, hah) stretched across and stitched in place by Lisa
For eye blinks, I used a mixture of black card on top of the eye white, removal of the eye white and even overlay of black card on the effects glass layer (which didn't really work so well if there was strong side lighting but it was quicker and less finicky than the other options).

1/6 scale version of the jackal, about the size of my thumb.

I always find it kind of amazing the amount of things your brain can keep tabs on at once, leg arcs, head arcs, tail settles not to talk of fire or water ripples. Animating cut-outs I find is the closest there is to improvisational animation, even more so than puppet animation, as you can very quickly jury rig any changes without having to worry about it working in three dimensions, it's almost like you're doing it live!

So, after we released the video Adrien was approached by some collectors to see about buying the models and some of his original drawings.

One woman bought the dragon and the miniature jackal with the full scale jackal going to another buyer. I spent a couple of hours fixing and cleaning the characters up, removing bluetack and gluing them in position. There are still some parts, like the tail and the wings that are still fully mobile, so their not quite in-action figures now.

Adrien put this guy in the tiniest little box I ever seen. It was very cute.

 I hope they arrive to their new homes safely!

So far the videos been featured on Cartoonbrew and Motionographer as well as getting a mention by Tomm Moore in the Guardian


Some Drawings with Carthach & Lisa

Sketches & Packaging


Some roughs that I might colour up while the rendering and uploading is happening to the Wicked Shorts.
TS Sullivant, Beatrix Potter buzz at the moment. The magazine the frog is holding is called "Spawrn."



A bull we saw down the road from the house in Lisdoon
Yet another order from my shop with a surprise picture.
Update to my print catalogue coming in the next 3 weeks!