Offspring - A Tale of Dragonflight
A dragon teaches her child how to fly, but in doing so, realizes that her training will come at a price.
Audiences enjoy a great story.
For a story to become truly memorable, an audience member must be able to connect to, and identify with, the character or characters in that story. OFFSPRING will be a 6 minute puppet-animated film that explores the need for leaving your childhood home, and embarking on your own life's journey. This is something that almost all of us have experienced, or will be experiencing, at some point in our lives.
Audiences are attracted to characters and situations that they can relate to. A story becomes personal when those characters reveal weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and face conflicts that everyone, at one time or another in our lives, have experienced, and in doing so, create empathy and convey universal truths about the human condition.
OFFSPRING was inspired primarily by the work of Norman McClaren, who was known for his innovative films in combining visual images and sound. McClaren worked for many years as an animator for the National Film Board of Canada, and created such films as the war commentary, Neighbors, as well as the haunting Pas De Deux. OFFSPRING is my homage to McClaren's pioneering work of combining animation, sound, and/or music to convey a story.
OFFSPRING will be created using stop-motion puppet animation, and its final running time is tentatively set between 5 to 7 minutes. It will be filled with majestic flying dragons, rocky vistas, towering cliffs, a compelling musical score, and a story centered on a mother's love for her child, and how difficult it can be to say goodbye.
For those of you who are stop-motion animators, you realize the artistic and historical importance of keeping stop-motion animation alive in a world of digital technology. If you are an educator who teaches stop-motion as well as computer animation, you understand how important it is for your students to realize that computer animation and some of its principles were born from the technique of stop-motion and its traditions. If you are simply a fan of animation and respect the art form, you may remember with fondness stop-motion as part of your childhood, when you saw such classics as the Rankin-Bass stop-motion productions (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Little Drummer Boy, The Year Without Santa Claus, as well as the live-action/stop-motion fantasy films of Ray Harryhausen; Jason and the Argonauts, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and Mysterious Island, among others).
Stop-motion animation is a motion-picture process where an animator moves an object slightly, shoots a frame of film, moves the object again, shoots another frame of film, and continues with this process until the animation sequence is finished. When these individual frames are projected at 30 frames per second, an illusion takes place where the viewer sees motion.
Ever make a flipbook when you were a kid? If you did, then you'll remember that you made drawings on each page of the flip book, in different positions on each page. Then when you flipped all of the pages in real time with your fingers, the squiggly lines had motion and danced about on the pages!
Because stop-motion requires a kind of hit or miss single-frame positioning of the object or puppet on the part of the animator, there tends to a somewhat rough and organic feel or look to the animation when it's played back. This is unlike computer animation, where the computer mathematically calculates in-between positions of a digital character between key poses, and hence, makes it look too perfect. Dragons have been around for centuries, and they need a hands-on organic touch, which is why stop-motion animation was chosen to bring the dragons to life for OFFSPRING.
The film will take place within a Monument Valley-type setting, with an original music score to complement the visuals.
I will be using Kickstarter funds to hire the necessary talent and procure equipment and materials to make this film a reality. Cameras, lighting equipment, building supplies to make miniature sets, materials for creating the stop-motion puppets, hiring a composer to orchestrate, perform and record the original music, and studio rental space, will be the principle amenities needed to achieve this goal.
Animation, regardless of the technique, is an extremely labor-intensive process. To ensure that OFFSPRING is completed on time and on budget, the production will adhere to a very tight schedule of approximately six months for pre-production, production, and post-production.
A tentative release date of September, 2018 is the goal of finishing the production, with a preference of completing it ahead of schedule.
WHAT HAS BEEN CREATED THUS FAR
Ultimately, it is the story and performances, and not necessarily technique, that will win an audience over. But because puppet animation deals with actual three-dimensional objects that exit in the real world, lit by real lights, with the animator stepping in between frames to pose the puppet one frame at a time, a hands-on craftsmanship is established, creating an old-world charm that will compliment the fantasy aspect of OFFSPRING.
WHAT IN THE WORLD IS AN ARMATURE ANYWAY?
Most fine art sculpture uses an internal support called an armature, which can be made from wire, wood, or metal. Stop-motion puppets have a skeletal support called an "armature". It can be made of wire or machined from aluminum and/or steel, using hinge and/or ball and socket joints. Machined armatures can be quite complex structurally, allowing the animator to pose the puppet a fraction of an inch during single-frame animation.
STORYBOARDS, THE BLUEPRINT FOR A MOVIE
Storyboards are sketches that outline a movie shot-for-shot. The sketches can be very detailed, or simple chicken scratches. The point of storyboards is for a filmmaker to lay out the film's shots in a linear fashion, which can save a lot of time once the final shooting begins. Animation is a time-lapse process, laborious and time-consuming. A simple 5 to 6 second shot can take hours, even days, to complete. Pre-planning with storyboards can save valuable time on the set if the correct camera angles and continuity are prepared in advance.
PRODUCTION ART GETS PEOPLE EXCITED!
Because movies are primarily visual, people get excited when they see artwork of scenes from the script. Below are a few production composites using pre-existing public domain artwork, of how some of the shots will appear in the movie. While the following images are actually artwork, the final dragons will be stop-motion puppets. Puppets will give the dragons a much more realistic appearance.
THE PRODUCTION CREW
Thomas R. Smith, Lead animator and co-producer
A veteran stop-motion animator, sculptor, and illustrator, Tom is an Emmy-award winning animator on the TV series, ROBOT CHICKEN. A few other of Tom's credits include:
Stoopid Buddy Stoodios --Stop Motion Animator for THE SIMPSONS, CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, and SUPERMANSION television series
Screen Novelties LLC Stop-Motion Animator and Puppet Maker for SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS and CHOWDER tv shows
Starburns Industries Stop-Motion Animator for FRANKENHOLE Television series
Shadow Animation Stop-Motion Animator for TITAN MAXIMUM television series
Rhythm & Hues, Los Angeles, CA CGI Animator on DR. DOLITTLE 2 feature film
Will Vinton Studios, Portland OR Stop-Motion Animator for THE PJ’s television show
Walt Disney Feature Animation, Burbank, CA CGI Assistant Animator on DINOSAUR feature film
TOM BRIERTON, Producer/director/writer and assistant animator
Tom has been practicing stop-motion animation for nearly thirty-five years. The writer/director of OFFSPRING, Tom has been machining stop-motion armatures for twenty-six years, and has sold them throughout the world. OFFSPRING has been a personal project of Tom's since 1983. He hopes that Kickstarter will allow him to raise the funds to fulfill his dream of making OFFSPRING a reality.
FRANK L STEMPER, Composer
Frank Stemper will be composing the music score for OFFSPRING.
Frank's music has been performed by orchestras, ensembles, and soloists in 23 countries and two-thirds of the United States — in Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Budapest’s Pannonhalma, Vienna’s Klaviersalon Englemier, Chicago’s Symphony Center, Bucharest’s Anteil Roman, San Francisco’s Cowell Theater, Milwaukee’s Performing Arts Center, etc., and has been heard on the national radio networks throughout Europe. His work as a composer has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Illinois Arts Council, the New York Council on the Arts, the California Arts Council, Meet the Composer and MTC—Global Connections, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, the governments of Mexico, Romania, Spain, Austria, and The Netherlands, and he has received 33 commissions from various new music foundations and societies throughout the world.
Among the many awards and prizes for his music are the 1981 George Ladd Prix de Paris, four artist fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, 26 consecutive ASCAPlus awards, etc., as well as nominations for both the Grammy and Pulitzer Prizes. Recordings of Stemper’s music are available on Albany Records, Prestige, Centaur, Advanced, Reception, Opus One, Soundcloud, and I-Tunes. BLUE13, a recording of Stemper’s complete music for piano performed by the Korean pianist Junghwa Lee, received a Gold Medal and was voted the No. 4 in Global Music’s “Top 10 Albums of 2015.” Through his multiple artist and teaching residencies in Mexico, Romania, Spain, The Netherlands, and France, as well as more than 50 Guest Composer appearances at international festivals, his music has maintained a presence on the world new music scene.
From 1983 to 2014 he was Professor and Composer In Residence at Southern Illinois University, and he is now a freelance composer living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about OFFSPRING, and I hope that you will consider making a pledge for the production.
Risks and challenges
Risks and challenges
All projects have unforeseen obstacles and hurdles that can reveal themselves through the course of a production, and are often unforeseeable. However, making realistic goals and working them into a production schedule pipeline can greatly assist in an overall vision's goal, and help to create workarounds should problems arise.
Animation, regardless of the technique, is an extremely labor-intensive process. To ensure that OFFSPRING is completed on time and on budget, the tentative shooting schedule will be a completion date of September, 2018, with the goal of completing it ahead of schedule.
If you have any questions about OFFSPRING, please don't hesitate to contact me. Thanks very much for your interest in the project!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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