Butterfly System

Film-making collective TortoiseButler’s entry into the 2011 London Science Fiction Festival 48 Hour Film Challenge.

The premis: given a title, line of dialogue and prop, go forth and brainstorm, write, script, storyboard, shot-plan, setup, shoot, edit, sound-design and… well, /everything/ a film up to 5 minutes long, within 48 hours.

As usual we were incredibly ambitious and tried to cover a huge amount of complex plot and world-building, but in this case while the outcome was stunningly beautiful, only one person has been able to ‘read’ the story from it that we were trying to convey.

My contributions included scouting the location (equipped with wellies, boilersuit and head-torch, I got to climb around in and UNDER the Kew Bridge Steam Museum), brainstorming, helping conceive the plot, and then props, costumes, sfx-makeup (detailed tattoos you mostly can’t see), set design, and learned to do digital SFX overnight.

Science in Motion animation

As part of my Science Communication MSc, we were challenged to produce a ‘cultural product’ which explores some of the concepts from the first term’s lectures on the history of science and society and science and the media.

Our trio elected to use stop-motion to portray a ‘day in the life’ of a scientist who is crafting a scientific paper. Many ideas related to the creation of science are depicted; how many can you spot?

Created by Nils Hanwahr, Morag Hickman and David Robertson at Imperial College London.

Music credit: Overture by The Who.

Stop Motion References

This post is a bit of a grab-bag/info dump – I’m rather a stop-motion nerd, and quite a few people have asked me for references for stop-motions etc., so here’s a list of things I use as inspiration or when explaining to people the kind of things that are possible by combining still frames into a video, however those stills were created. It’s by no means comprehensive, but it’s a nice start.

Just moving things about (with/without actors):
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Her Morning Elegance (Again!)

and Behind the Scenes:

The Deep (I love, love, love this, especially the calliper jellyfish
and pincer cleaner-wrasse!):

Western Spaghetti by PES (this guy… just blows my mind):

Game Over by PES (I should probably stop here, just check out their channel):

Post it lovers _ Eyecow smokers (post-it notes and, later, actors):

Food about You (Sciencey elements, nicely surreal approach to
something mundane):

OK Go’s End Love (actors in scene):

Creative, Inc. (Lighthearted manifestation of concepts, very do-able):

Photos of actors as elements in stop-motion:
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Pig and Wolf (interesting combination of two kinds of motion):

The Pen Story (Similar piece, though with less of a story):

Olympus PEN advert (HUGE images in a scene, same guy as pig and wolf):

and making of (loads of useful info):
http://www.olympus.eu/PENgiant/

Des pop et des up:

Animated static papercraft
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A map comes to life

Soulgraphix (brilliant, hugely complex series of paper-craft):

How to spend 3 ½ months on 25 seconds of stop-motion

Animation similar-element papercraft:
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Dot by Ardman Animations (microscopic!):
http://www.stopmotionpro.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=195:nokia-and-qdotq&catid=20:news&Itemid=43

paper horse stop motion animation test

Rex the dog – bubbilicious

Other techniques:
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Knit natural gas commercial (illustrates the usefulness of shooting things in reverse! This was done by unravelling and snipping off the threads for each frame.)

(blue-screen to make things float above a background):

Duckie and Chickie afloat

My first novel!

This is a 20-page narrative, written for my twin nieces, about the escapades of a pair of farmyard reprobates – Duckie and Chickie. It has been variously described as “disgustingly adorable” and “a scientists’ approach to Getting Along”, but you can’t listen to everything the critics say.

I started it with the strong idea in mind of two characters who have differing abilities, but work together to get in and out of mischief.

Apparently I have to write another one for next Christmas… and until they’re 18. It’s a lot of work, but I do want to find out what was shining on that island…

Brushpen, watercolour, digital jiggery-pokery and InDesign, printed in hardcover through Blurb.

Duckie and Chickie Afloat – pdf for web

Google pannier

Well, the gorgeous pannier in the shop looked like being over £120, so I decided to make do and modify… I took a Google Science Fair 2011 tote, and with a few tweaks turned it into a lightweight almost-free pannier bag.

The main changes have been to insert a bamboo strut to brace the top and U-shaped bamboo strip to shape the side, then darting the bottom to ensure there are no excess corners to flop about and get caught in the spokes. A pair of clipped straps for holding everything in, a shoulder strap for hauling it about, and thermoplastic clips to attach it to the bike, and I’m pretty pleased with it! Time for a test run…

Tree box

After mentioning part of a plot kicking around my head involving a tree in a closet, Alia requested a little cupboard with a tree in it for her birthday. I found this little key cupboard in TKMaxx, and have finally got around to assembling it.
Perhaps 4 hours, lots of scratches and some happy later, here is a cupboard with a tree in it, for hanging earrings and other jewellery on.

Lime Green Lunch

I was feeling the need for a new lunch sack.  The design is perfect for making drybags, but in this case the ripstop nylon, although eye-catching, is distressingly permeable.

That’s a gallery, inserted…

Micron sketch

Sometimes it’s just really nice to have new pens…

Home Hacks – Averting the Coatpocalypse

The household of four active, outdoorsy and outgoing people (with guests) accumulates a truly mind-boggling array of coats, jackets, hats, shoes, boots, brollies and other highly useful detritus. The coats especially thrive in the oddly-shaped cupboard under the stairs, forming thick mounds over the rack of coathooks, like very well-insulated stromatolites. I assume they feel at ease in the dark and chill.

However, it’s ruddy infuriating trying to find a coat when they get three or four thick, co-mingling with their brethren from other hooks until extracting your jacket is like finding one particular onioney layer in a sock full of onions. Ahem.

The solution! A stray pull-up bar, to the rescue! It’s much sturdier than your standard curtain rail, so in conjunction with a large number of coathangers it can support the weight of a whole bunch of coats. It’s also so much more user-friendly: you can differentiate coats at a glance, and even extract them without climbing into the cupboard and engaging Coat-thulu in hand-to-hand combat!

Now if only we could devise a way to head off Shoemageddon…