URCAD 2016 Videos

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The Screening Room

Emma Ayala | DeVenna Dixon | Simon Lee | A.J. Loayza
Caitlyn McCaulley | Ben Shaffer | Tory Van Dine | Rachel Wolven

Emma Ayala
Mentor: Corrie Parks

Headspace, a neurotic self-portrait, is animated with a variety of traditional media and processes. After struggling to execute a narrative short, I shifted my focus and sought to communicate the cause of my failure and frustration: my lethargy and waning lucidity. For me, working in an experimental, non-narrative way was more intuitive than working from a scripted storyboard. With only motifs and a vague visual concept, I began crafting sequences immediately, intending to compose them later. I incorporated progressive drawing with charcoal, cut paper, and found media and blended processes in the short sequences. Later, when I composed the sequences I addressed the challenges of unifying disparate images and creating engaging structure. With Adobe Premiere, I used color-keying and blend modes to layer animated textures over sequences to make them more visually cohesive. And while the overall narrative is cyclic, I used sound and pacing to build to an engaging and explosive climax. Besides the exploration of combining media and processes, the project’s relevance additionally comes from its subject matter and conception. Numerous peers of mine are hindered by mental blocks and illnesses, and this piece demonstrates a procedure that one could use to overcome internal obstacles.

Real Negus: Exploring Perceptions of Blackness
DeVenna Dixon
Mentor: Dr. Maleda Belilgne

The word “Negus” means different things to different people, similar to the meaning of the term “Blackness.” There is no concrete definition of “Blackness,” but people still attempt to limit its meaning. My film asks the question, “What does it mean to be Black in America?” I conducted my research by speaking to familiar people, as well as subjects I have no affiliation with (from the UMBC and Baltimore Inner Harbor area), before and after the 2015 Baltimore uprising. Subjects were chosen randomly from a variety of ethnic backgrounds and races. I observed that I was most able to obtain responses from minority subjects, and all of the answers were individual and unique. The interviews were recorded, edited and compiled into one black-and-white video, with a soundtrack included. The purpose of this research is to shed light on the reality of the Black American experience. Moreover, the ultimate goal was to gather individual feelings, to prove that stereotypes should not be used, and that everyone has a different understanding of what it means to be Black.

Simon Lee
Mentor: Corrie Parks

What if people could SEE what is going into their heads; what they are learning and experiencing? When do these mental tasks grow to be too much? Sponge is a live-action, stop motionanimation showing how stressful these experiences and bits of knowledge become as they are forced into our brains. The scene consists of a figure, represented only by hands, conducting surgery and continually forcing different objects (meant to represent knowledge and experiences) into a head, eventually causing the head to overload. To express this process, a model of a head was created using clay, model foam, and paper, allowing the head to hold unique facial expressions and emotions. The small surgical setting utilized claustrophobia and stress, similar to what one feels when life’s experiences seem to be too much to handle. I also used Foley sound effects and sound effect clips, giving each action another layer of realism. The animation itself was captured using a mounted camera set up and a wireless remote, which took pictures of every movement. These shots were played back in rapid succession, and then compiled in Adobe Premier. The finished product is an animation that depicts the struggles of mental overload.

The Cliff
A.J. Loayza
Mentor: Corrie Parks

The Cliff is a self-portrait piece depicting a creature made of rock who tries to follow his father up a cliff, but struggles to figure out how his father made the climb. This is a short film, 1:26 minutes in length, made using cutout paper animation. I found this kind of animation was much faster to do than hand-drawn animation, and consequently chose to do more than a minute of it. All the animation was captured in DragonFrame and edited together Adobe Premiere. The sound effects were original and were edited and synced in Adobe Audition. The music, “Bumbly March” by Kevin Macleod, was picked for the combination of its tuba and drums creating an impression of a slow march, contemplation, and a sense of achievement at the end. The music was chosen after the story was animated since it connected to the story so well. In my original storyboard, the main character was to run into several obstacles to prove that he is a slow learner, but to my peers, it only proved that he was an excellent problem solver. Therefore, it was decided to give a rock creature one formidable obstacle, getting up a cliff.

Torn: An Animation
Caitlyn McCaulley
Mentor: Corrie Parks

Torn is an abstract animated short film, 1:09 minutes in length, which combines hand-drawn and paper-cutout styles of animation. The purpose of the project is to explore my interests in both art and science. The film starts with the notion that one must choose between the two fields. However, the character finds herself happy only she accepts both. This film adds to the body of animated work utilizing abstraction and stream-of-consciousness approaches to express conflict and resolution. For this project, I used an overall story arch with checkpoint goals for the hand- drawn animation. I carefully followed the plan and met the checkpoint goals. I created the cutout animation using Dragonframe. It took many hours to hand draw each frame. The frames were then each transcribed into Photoshop. In order to convey my internal struggle of art vs. science through the body language of my animated character, I acted out each specific motion. My abstract visuals were made by individually crafting each frame with several cutouts and watercolor paintings. In the end, the animation shows that I am only whole when I engage both parts of my mind.

Ben Shaffer
Mentor: Corrie Parks

Roadblock is a two-minute cutout animated short about a man who is walking along a path guided by a bird, until a rock monster blocks the way and prevents him from going any further. The piece symbolizes the creative struggle an artist goes through when creating a work of art. Everything from the characters to the environment are designed with simplified shapes made up of only sharp angles. At least three cutout puppets were used for both the man and the rock monster. For the close up shots, much larger puppets were used in order to have more control when animating the faces. All the animation was done under a DSLR camera using the stop motion technique. While most of the shots were completely captured on camera, some elements had to be animated separately on a green or blue sheet of paper and then composited in AfterEffects. It was extremely important to make sure that both the traditional parts of the animation and the digital elements blended together nicely to create an enhanced image. The result is an engaging short animation that draws the viewer in with increasing levels of detail.

Sandwich Algorithm
Tory Van Dine
Mentor: Corrie Parks

Sandwich Algorithm is a 55-second hand-drawn short film about a sheep attempting to fix a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The sheep struggles to perform his task since he does not have fingers. He eventually settles on a roundabout solution that is successful, but excessive. My inspiration for this story was my own tendency to overthink problems, causing me to come up with needlessly complicated solutions. I composed a jazzy piano track and sound effects for the project. In recording my own studio sound work instead of using stock, I had the freedom to supplement the onscreen action exactly as I wanted. The music is a peaceful yet mischievous backing, while the sound effects, having been made to match the sheep’s interactions, help punctuate and add believability to the animation. The strongest element of this animation lies in the characterization of the sheep. His facial expressions in reaction to roadblocks he encounters make him amiable and engaging. I took special care to make the sheep effectively convey what he’s thinking through his expressions, and make him as likable as I could, since the effect of the animation and message depends on these aspects.

Light Inhibits Light
Rachel Wolven
Mentor: Steven Silberg

With light pollution an ever-increasing problem, fewer people are aware of the night sky and the wonders it holds. Through a comparative study of the visibility of deep space objects and the Milky Way as affected by light pollution within the Northeastern United States and New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, Light Inhibits Light aims to bring attention to the sky in order to show what is missing from the skies above our cities. To protect this natural resource, awareness must first be raised in order for people to want to make changes and work to fight the over-abundance of light pollution. Presented as a time-lapse photography film, light pollution measurements and GPS coordinates are displayed with each night-scene, to contrast the light polluted skies with the non-light polluted skies. The materials show how far removed these dark sky sites are from us, as well as how bad the light pollution is. Attention of the general public must be brought to the issue of light pollution before this ever-fading resource is too far gone from our lives.