Claymation: Reflection

As I get to the point where I believe that I am finished I feel as though I should make one final reflection on this project.

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I say that I believe that I am finished, because I feel that you are never really done with a work you create. There always changes that could be made, but there is a time that you need to decide that you are satisfied. I think that I am the closest I will get to being satisfied with my video. So I’m going to call it done, or as done as it will ever get.

The final changes that I decided to make was to add a vignette and to tweak the sound. I thought that the vignette would add a sort of fairy tale or story book feel to the video. From the addition of my narration it seemed as the natural next step for me to continue with a fairy tale or story book feel. Since this is my personal story that I was making into a short childlike narrative the fairy tale like theme would fit. The vignette also fit with the piano music which both seemed to mimic a silent movie. The sound also needed to be played with some before the final version. I think I finally got to a final version that I like.

Programs and equipment I used:

  • Figures: Fimo, Christmas Ornament hangers, Aluminum Foil
  • Film Production: iStopMotion, Hi-Q MP3 Rec Android App, Canon Rebel Eos XS, Green Screen, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe After Effects

My biggest issues:

As I stated before I really needed a second pair of hands at least. I struggled a lot with getting everything completed by myself. I had to contort a lot in order to make my laptop take photographs while I moved my figures. I also struggled with my figures falling apart and being in constant need of repair. I was sure to use Fimo so that the clay needed to be baked to harden and would remain soft through out the process. The problem came from the wire skeletons that I created. The wire provided the stability I needed in order for my figures to stand for enough time for me to take a photograph. Yet the wire tore holes into the clay regularly. It simply meant that I had to focus on the tears and ensuring that they weren’t visible. My next major problem was the fact that I had never used a green screen prior to this experience. I had to order one online and I had to hope for the best. They shippers had sent it folded up tightly and no matter how much I steamed and ironed it stayed wrinkled. The screen also had a texture that seemed to pose some issues, mostly that it would leave the texture in the clay. It also added shadows that I couldn’t easily remove using After Effects. Speaking of shadows, I struggled with lighting. I needed to do the whole process in my flat, since the studio at the University was checked out for the entirety of the time available. I think  I did very well considering the limitations of working in a flat. The only problem I had was the lighting I have used professional lighting for photography, but this was something completely new to me.

What I would change for next time:

  1. Timing: This project had a deadline and even though I really liked the result, I wish I would’ve had more time. I found that with each new scene my technique improved. If I would’ve had more time I believe the result could be even better.
  2. Lights: Buy more and better lights. The lights in my flat served their purpose, but it would’ve been better if I had lights that I could control more.
  3. Recruit help: I really could’ve used and extra pair of hands to ensure that everything was going the way I wanted. Plus I would have to do a few less things all at one time.
  4. Use a studio: This would’ve solved many of my problems. If the timing had been right for me to use the University’s studio, I would have had access to lighting, DragonFrame, a Green Screen and a better camera.

Even with all of my problems and changes I would like to make, I still really like what I created. I began with wanting to create a narrative about my life. I took my life and decided to have some fun with it. I initially unsure of how to accomplish this and took inspiration from the amazing Tim Burton. Once I had the story and the inspiration things seemed to flow naturally. I created a storyboard and although I made a few changes, I stayed true to it for the most part. I really think the narration and the use of my voice adds a personal touch, that adds to the feel that it is made by me. The whole thing feels like it is my story and I think I accomplished exactly what I wanted to. I ended up with an animation that I really like and am proud of.

Unfortunately Vimeo won’t let my upload another video until Thursday, so you will have to wait to see the final product. I will be uploading it as soon as I possibly can.


Claymation: Music

My initial thought was to use Daughter’s song “Youth,” but once I decided to have a voice over I quickly knew that I needed to rethink the idea. The feeling of the song fit to my animation, so I was determined to find something similar. I tried to find an instrumental version of “Youth.” I was only able to find several covers, many of which I really liked. I had to abandon the idea of this particular song and find something else. I went on SoundCloud, where one can easily get music that individuals had created for free. I found the song Found Out About You (Piano) by Alison Doyle. It was a piano instrumental and it had somewhat of the eerie feel that I wanted so I think that it is the perfect solution.

Claymation: More Backgrounds

I believe that I am getting close with moving the clay and getting it to do what I need. I decided to turn to the backgrounds again. I once again started with drawings and brought them into illustrator and then photoshop for colour. I had a lot of fun with these ones, because I got to draw a castle and a scene outside.

The castle was based on Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany. I had been there on  a family vacation and it was the castle that Walt Disney based his Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom on. I wanted to pick the most beautiful and extravagant castle, but I wanted to tie it into my heritage. I knew that I wanted a German castle and Neuschwanstein was the perfect one. Of course I made a few changes to the look of it, because I’m not the best at drawing architecture.


I believe the result gets the feeling of a perfect castle across. I decided that I wanted to make it a white castle with blue accents, because in my figures I used a lot of reds, pinks and blacks. I thought that this colour palette was the perfect contrast. From this I needed to create a zoomed in frame for the door I created to fit on to.


 This is where I ran into so problems. I tried to place the background into my video and it refuses to be scene. Thus far the After Effects has been relatively smooth sailing, but this image has thrown a wrench into my plans. I had also drawn and coloured both images with green grass, which is the natural decision. In the beginning I had decided to make the grass purple and gray, so I needed to fix the colour of the outside scene that I had done before. 


I think this fits better to the animation that I have done thus far. I’m also going to add a filter and some effects to the entire animation once I get the timing of everything right. That will add to the sad feel in the center of the animation. 

Claymation: Issues


I haven’t posted anything in a while, because I’ve been too busy working. And I have realized one thing. CLAYMATION IS REALLY DIFFICULT. Of course I knew this going into this project, but for some reason, I decided to give it a go. I have the set up, the characters, some backgrounds, a green screen and a stop-motion program, yet I’m struggling a lot. I think the trick is that I’m doing it alone.

I always thought that time was going to be the issue considering I have seen films and videos of other students in which their claymations have taken them years. I even watched a Tim Burton master class ( hoping that I would learn something. The animations of the students were not the best I’ve ever seen and it had taken them all at least a year. The whole time I watched I couldn’t help but think, hey they aren’t that great… Or so I thought. Until I started doing it. Then I started to believe they were wonderful.

My biggest advice for if you are going to do a claymation is not what you think. It’s not: don’t do it in your apartment. It’s not: don’t do it in a short period of time. It’s if you want to create a claymation recruit another pair of hands. I am having a lot of issues, but the main one is that I don’t have enough hands to move things, hit a button and the 10 other things I need to do at once.

I had a few serious issues while trying to make my figures move. The first was making my character walk. Making a character walk is difficult on its own. I tried my best to follow the model to the right, but it is difficult. One must constantly bend the wires and reform the clay to ensure that the clay covers everything. This was where I ran into trouble. My figures often broke or the clay revealed the wire. 20131230_153210 Plus the green screen I purchased had a texture, which wasn’t visible from far away. Yet when I got too close or the figures pressed up against the screen, the texture was easily visible. I was constantly having to fix rips and tears in the figures.

Claymation: Changes

After the process of creating an animatic I made several changes from what my original storyboard was. My initial thoughts were to have my main character grow up through three stages of life. Then I thought that the main character should knock on the door three times. I thought the threes were a good consistent number to use through out my animation. Since the door knocking seemed to take up a great deal of time, so I decided not to include the middle life stage.


This was the awkward teenage stage that everyone has. I thought it was less vital, but then after creating the animatic it seemed as though the door knocking seemed to be the wrong focus. I then decided to create the teenage character and reduce the length of the door knocking scene. I tried to stick with the reds, pinks and blacks to unify the characters, so that it was clear that it was one person. Plus I knew that my teenage-self needed to being wearing a lot of eyeliner, lipstick and have bright coloured highlights. I didn’t always look like that, but I think it was a good representation of my “rebellious” stage.

IMG_3374Next came the door scene. I initially was unsure if I should create actual props for my animation. I decided that I would try. I created a door, sign, letter and envelope so that the characters could completely interact with them. I created the door out of cardboard and drew the wood grain on a piece of paper to show make it seem like a large castle door. The real props brought with them some struggles in lighting. I’m pretty sure I used every single light in my flat. I think that the use of real props enhanced the real feel of animation.

The last final change was that I initially had the main character walk down the hill in the rain. I thought if I did something quirkier it would increase interest in the video. I decided it would be funny for the character to roll down the hill. After getting some much needed input I thought that the character falling towards the camera would add to the humour I’m attempting to evoke.


I was saving the rolling till the end, because I was nervous to ruin the figure I had created. I thought that the best thing to do was to create a small version of my figure and make that do the rolling scenes. My figure was much smaller and without wires, so that the body was more bendable. It was obviously less detailed and less attractive. The decision proved useful and the rolling was much easier.