After two months of pretty much solid work, my new stop motion animation is finally complete! As I detailed in my long ago prior post, this particular project was fraught with damning sabotage from Forces of the Universe that apparently are not fond of my work. Bad, evil, unsophisticated Forces!
At some point I’m hoping to blog a “how I did it” post to pass along some tips to aspiring stop motion animators, but for now I just want to share the video, as well as the final version of the photo that provided the basis for the piece.
First, the photo:
Yep, there it is, featuring at its center The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Sex, published in 1950 and obtained on loan from my good friend, artist Nicole Waszak. In the background are a pair of vintage record covers: Perry Como Sings Hits From Broadway Shows on the left, and Hymns by the Hour of Charm All Girl Orchestra on the right. The Hour of Charm cover was pretty rough, requiring hours of retouching to eliminate dozens of unsightly brown blotches marring the matronly complexions of all those “charming” girls. The photo is divided into two halves, vices and virtues, with three bathing beauties emerging from a pool in the center to worship at the base of the imposing tome.
Lots of other things going on in the photo, of course, and I’m sure you can imagine what might happen next in this visual tale of warring morals, but wouldn’t you rather see (yes, actually see!) what happened to all the characters before I snapped this photo? Where did they all come from, and how did they arrive at the places where you see them in the photo? Who wouldn’t want to see that?!?
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret… I didn’t actually create this photo. True! Back in the early days of October I was suffering through a frustrating bout of Photographer’s Block. Every morning I’d walk into my studio and stare into an empty light tent. I’d flip through my albums, and glance furtively at my bookcase full of toys.
I was totally blocked and had no idea what I wanted to create. I pleaded with my delegation of plastic presidents. They stared back, blank and unwavering, as if I were a long ago cast ballot. I was disregarded by my zoo of miniature wildlife, mocked by a denizen of devils, and completely ignored by my family of usually dependable kewpies.
Oh, I was all ready to take a photo, that’s for damn sure! My camera stood firm atop a sturdy tripod, trained on the inside of the frustratingly empty light tent where I usually assemble my three dimensional creations. All around were floodlights waiting to illuminate whatever wondrous scene that might spill from the deep, confusing puzzle of my imagination.
Well, as luck would have it, one night…
I suppose I left the camera switched ON in misguided anticipation that I might come up with a good idea and didn’t want my creative flow to be interrupted by the inconvenience of flicking the switch from OFF to ON. Or maybe I didn’t turn the camera on at all. Given what was to come, how could such a small detail raise any surprise at all? In any case, the next morning I opened the door to my studio carrying a hot cup of coffee—caffeine to prime the pump and whip those lazy synapses into shape!
There, inside the light tent, was the completed scene you see above. It was like the cobbler and his ever helpful elves! I didn’t question this miracle at all. How could I?!?! My work was done! It was THERE! And I liked it. All I had to do was snap the shutter as if I were taking a picture of a boring sunset falling into a hungry black sea.
Of course, before I could take a picture of what I had found filling the tent, I first had to replace the camera battery. It was dead. And I had to replace the SD card. It was full. And did I mention that of my three floodlights, two were burned out and one had shattered in a frightening scatter of jagged glass?
I turned to my shelf of toys, but not a one offered an explanation, and those positioned inside the light tent played their roles in conspiratorial silence. Quite baffling!
Ah, but I did have a full SD card!
I tucked the card in a pocket and bolted from the studio, crossing the patio to my house in three bounding leaps. I flew up the stairs to my office and jammed the SD card into the reader connected to my iMac.
There were 4,588 photos impossibly stored on this single card. I loaded them into the computer, and this is what I found…
Sometimes, you just get lucky.