This year I’m directing, producing, prop making and animating on a short stop-motion film.

My team consists of 6 animation students, 2 film students (a cinematographer and an editor) and 3 costume students. At the moment, we are focused on visual development and set building. This means, along with learning teamwork and time management through directing and producing, I’m getting to explore the most effective methods of visual communication.

I developed the concept for the set, working to find the best design to suit our story, characters, and technical needs. This includes things like making sure the set will provide interesting compositions from different angles, having removable walls to film through, and ensuring the quantity of prop making is achievable.

From this I made a CAD model of the set in SketchUp, working to 1/8 scale. Having a digital model of the set makes set building and prop making easier as you can refer to it for measurements and view what you are trying to create in a 3D space. The digital painting of the set makes sourcing materials and working within the colour script much easier as you can see how each element will interact with those around it.

Having completed concept work I started working in 1/8 scale to construct miniature props – a bedroom with tiny paintings and soft furnishings, and a garden scene with an arbor, climbing vines and tiny flowers. We did this as a team in the stop motion room provided by animation, and used the model making facilities in the workshop for wood cutting, sanding, laser cutting, metal work and spray painting. The prop model I’ve included here is one of the first I made – an arbour for the garden made from balsa wood, stained, and covered in mulberry paper laser cut leaves.