Alone? (Making of the animation)

By Róbert Frankó
It all started on a cold February night while I was walking my dog in the forest. Almost full moon and no clouds in the sky. Listening to the newly discovered song All alone from David O’Dowda, when I literally saw (at least in my head) a little light monster coming out of the woods walking to the hillside of Mustavuori and singing his lonely melody to the moon. By the time I got home the image got so clear and visible that it didn't even let me sleep, it stuck in my head the whole night and by the morning the story was done.

A couple days later we found out that the animation assignment can be anything we like, so I sticked to my idea. The rest of the group also liked the story but had concerns about the implementation even though the storyboard made all the scenes clear. The animation itself is a stop motion video about a devil looking monster roaming the Finnish land looking for it’s home.

The method of creation was light painting. For those who are not familiar with this technique the shooting is quite simple. With a DSLR camera you set the shutter time longer than a second (as long as you need), the ISO and the exposure should be the lowest possible. You also need darkness to accomplish your goals, indoor, outdoor, doesn’t matter.

When everything is set and the shutter is pressed you can start light painting the figure you want. You need a flashlight, a torch, fire or whatever that gives light and you have to draw the shape you wish. Sadly you will only see the result when you check on the camera display, so if you did something wrong, or the lines won’t match, you have to start it all over again. As it was for a stop motion video we had to shoot and draw all the movements and motion. Just like in a hand-drawn animation.

The first night was half success and half disaster. The fact how well the images turned out with the DSLR I have (Canon 1100D: the most basic DSLR ever) and how big portion of the story could be done during one night was uplifting. But -25 °C and no proper clothes can do their magic. Frozen fingers and knees, bleeding nose and such awesomeness. But the result that you see when you check out the pictures make you completely forget about all the pain and difficulties. The only thing you realize is that you need a remote shutter and a camera with a better (live) display. And that is why God created AV Kioski.

The second night went much better (more clothes and hot drinks) except for the rest of the group that was not as prepared, despite all the warnings. Anyway, the pictures have got to be taken so there were no excuses.

After seven frozen nights your body starts a riot, refuses to work properly and the knees give up, which makes you stay in bed. Although you are happy with the result, your smile is not honest anymore and the excitement starts to fade away. Specially, when Tuomo, your teacher comments on the story-line  “it might need some extra shots. Maybe just one more night... And it would be so cool to see the light from under the ice...”

This is the moment your body 100% disagrees the comment, but soon we realized we do need extra footages, so going out again is not an option. Result: 91 pictures of the moving stars in 4,5 hours, 20 frozen fingers and toes, and one tired dog. Totally worth it.

When the images were finally ready for post production, we could proceed to the post production. First editing in Adobe Lightroom, then loading the edited images to After Effects. This is where all hell got loose. After Effects is a professional software, but if you are only in the beginning of making a relationship with each other, it can be a cruel mistress. Hidden settings you are not aware of, enormous memory usage that bans you to live track the process and some awkward ways to do the easiest tasks. So it turned out that in order to succeed we had to use 3 different softwares: After Effects, iMovie and a ringtone maker application on my phone... Not the most elegant way, but...
..but when looking at the final product, does all the complications and difficulties really matter?

Róbert Frankó
Carolin Büttner
Markku Laskujärvi
Noora Tolvanen
Riikka Uhmavaara
Dylan Jones

The author is a student of TAMK Degree Programme in Media
Read more stories by and about IMPs, the international media programme students
You can see the animation here or embedded below: