Some iStopMotion News from Nowhere

“As a digital artist I am always on the lookout for new image tech,” says John Harrison, a recent graduate of Dundee University in Scotland. “When iStopMotion first appeared I was intrigued by the possibilities of hooking up my iPhone with an iPad controller and working with time-lapse and stop motion animation.”

And so began John’s journey toward a Masters Degree in Animation and Visualisation. He elected to work with animation, and after completing the required two semesters of research he moved on to a semester of practicing the technique. John wanted to experiment while building on the narrative structures he explored earlier in the course, which led him to the idea behind his final project “News from Nowhere” – a stop motion animation commenting on our celebration of conflict and slow uptake of renewable energies.

“The idea simply came from me wanting to create worthwhile observation, albeit abstract!” John says.

He only had about three months to research and finalize his project, including scripting, storyboarding and production. It was no easy task.

“I have a strong interest in the application and creation of stop motion, and I knew early on I wanted this to be a major part of my work, but producing stop motion is not a small task,” says John. “So, after designing the main parts of my film, I broke down the stop motion to its main component – the character model.”

The main character of John’s film was to be grungy and trapped in a world of television and newsfeeds. He was animated on a green screen background because at that point, there was no official background. John was still in the process of designing the room the character was based in!

Producing the stop motion itself was surprisingly straightforward and quick. After setting up his iPhone and iStopMotion, John produced the animation in less than a week.

“I couldn’t have lived without the instant playback and delete frame features,” John says. “They allowed me to review my animation and delete and add frames in order to retime or add subtleties which otherwise would have been a much more complicated process.”

After the stop motion animation was complete, John composited and set it in Adobe After Effects to bring all the elements together. Check out the process here!

“Other parts of my animation include cut-out animation, Rotoscope, silhouette, 2D and CGI,” John says. “Each part of the short tells a story. I chose what I thought was the best technique to best communicate the part. In the end the whole work is about reflection – just taking time to think and hopefully make ourselves a brighter future.”

John’s future is in animation and research into animation technique, and he says he will definitely work with iStopMotion again.

“Its secret is in its simplicity,” he says. “Although folks – like me! – will want added features, I hope the strong emphasis on easily accessible user interface continues, as therein lies iStopMotion’s success!”

John’s film was recently featured at the university’s Masters Show. Be sure to look at all of the other great animations from the other graduates! You can also find more of John’s work on his Instagram.