DVC16 "Dessert Island" by Keith Heyward at DVinfo.net

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Old May 7th, 2009, 10:55 AM   #1
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DVC16 "Dessert Island" by Keith Heyward

The food stop-motion thing was originally an idea that me and my girlfriend came up with a couple of months ago. She has a beet obsession and we made a few super short stop-motion pieces about beets taking over the kitchen or just dancing around or rising up against a whiskey bottle and throwing it off the counter.

I've been wanting to participate in this contest for a while, and when the food category came up we decided we needed to do it! At first we wanted to shoot food in the fridge in x-rated positions each time the person opened up the fridge door in the middle of the night. But we figured it would be too difficult to build a fridge mini-set to shoot out of. Then we threw around the cake idea for about 2 weeks and just didn't do anything about it. And then about 2 weeks before the deadline we were just like- ARE WE DOING THIS OR NOT?

So after 1.5 weeks of sleepless nights (and much sleep-deprived induced bickering at 5am when both of us had work the next day and were trying to move blackberries 1/2 cm at a time with fishing wire) we finished the shooting and my girlfriend cleaned the images in Photoshop and After Effects and cut this in about 2 days. It took about 2500 still frames in total. We used the Canon XHA1 to shoot the stills and video.

Then we reread the guidelines and saw the "stop-motion only in limited quantites" rule!!! Ahhh! It was a blow to us- but thank you so much for letting us stay in the running. I had read over the rules a while ago and figured we'd have more video in the story anyway. But then once we started shooting the stop motion we just kept thinking up more and more crazy shots and sequences to do with the food that we sort of went overboard and made it a mostly animation piece.

Oh and I forgot to say- the music is from a great DJ duo, Javelin. They were kind enough to let us use the song which was very fitting for a food theme. The actress is Kat Cummings, a friend of ours (who has never acted before!) who spent an entire night shooting with us for all the video portions. We kept trying to cut out shots of hers because it was taking so long and we didn't want to keep her up so late on a work day- but she was a real trouper and refused to let us cut anything out.

Last edited by Keith Heyward; May 7th, 2009 at 11:28 AM. Reason: additions
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Old May 7th, 2009, 11:14 AM   #2
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Keith:

With the stop motion and animation rule aside, as I said when I ran across your film on YouTube, this is a definite winner. I had actually forgotten about the rule when I was watching it, and wondered why we hadn't seen more of this.

I have no doubt that you spent an amazing amount of time on this film, and it has a cute premise with amazingly complex stop motion techniques employed. From my standpoint, and with my acquisition of a Canon 5d, this film remided me of a whole other way of employing that rig.

Thanks for gracing us with this neat little film !
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Old May 7th, 2009, 11:46 AM   #3
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After reading that you did it all with A1, it got me thinking that maybe shooting video of the set ups would make for a faster workflow than using a still camera. I really have no idea.

Definitely a very fun piece. I also liked the outfit your actress was wearing had a very witchy feel to it. Kind of the stereotypical look. Maybe Mary Poppins.

And how can you go wrong with a singing oven?!?!

Guess it's up to the judges to deploy a ruling on the stop animation.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 03:08 PM   #4
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Pretty cute film! Thinking about all the time it must have taken to achieve that boggles my mind and inspires me to keep making movies exactly as I always have. ;) Itís quite the accomplishment, though, and Iím really impressed.

Tell your actress she did a great job. I liked her--cute, honest, and fun. It would be great seeing her in another film.

Glad you joined in on this round, Keith, and I hope youíll be back for lots more! :)
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Old May 7th, 2009, 05:53 PM   #5
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The typing sound effect not matching up with what's being typed on screen is about the only thing I can criticize here. I take it you've done this before? Not just the "few super short pieces", I mean. The timing was incredible, ease ins and outs, anticipation, stuff I haven't seen a lot of in short animation pieces. Did you plan and shoot it all that way, or did you adjust the frames after the fact to make the motion seem more natural?

My favorite moment is when the oven gets going, and the little extra touch of its jaw wagging back and forth just before it finishes the song cements him as my favorite character.

I used to be obsessed with stop motion animation, but I never took it seriously enough to get anything done. I envy you.
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Old May 7th, 2009, 11:10 PM   #6
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Haha! The typing noise is so bad! It got to be that 11th hour when I was just like, you know what? It's 6am and I don't care you can see the fishing wire and the audio is still the crappy dummy audio.
We planned a lot of the animated stuff up front, but definitely not all of it. The one thing we did plan out at the beginning was the timing of the song. We counted out the different parts of the song and figured out how many frames/beat or /chorus etc. That way we knew how much distance we had to travel between each frame to complete a motion for a particular measure of music. For the singing Keith videotaped himself singing along to the song and then compressed it to 15 frames/sec so we had a image reference for the oven.
I think if I were to do anything different it would be to shorten the top of the piece. Are the shots too long before the music starts up? I wanted it to feel like you were anticipating something dramatic...but I think the lighting is not ominous enough for you to feel anything.
Thanks for all your comments everyone. It's really great to be able to talk to so many other filmmakers and critique work.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 08:47 AM   #7
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This was definitely my kids favorite! I was trying to watch them all and comment on them last night, but Caroline wanted to watch this one over and over and then I had to get them to sleep and fell asleep myself! Very catchy tune, and I loved the package floating over to the door at the end! I'm with Lorinda on this one. Stop motion is for someone with far more patience than me!
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Old May 8th, 2009, 08:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julia Liu View Post
The one thing we did plan out at the beginning was the timing of the song. We counted out the different parts of the song and figured out how many frames/beat or /chorus etc. That way we knew how much distance we had to travel between each frame to complete a motion for a particular measure of music.
Julia
And it worked perfectly. It was perfectly timed out and I was wondering how you timed it so well. It's very fun to watch.

I only noticed the fishing wire at the very end with the present by the door. And I only noticed it after the 4th or 5th time watching it. And then only after I downloaded the file off of vimeo put it on thumb a drive, plugged it into my WD HD media player and watched it on my TV.

As far as I'm concerned this piece is a "winner, winner, chicken dinner".

I've also had that song stuck in my head for days now. Very catchy.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 01:22 PM   #9
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Fantastic! I can't even begin to figure out how you calculate how many frames goes into any given shot. Are you using the "photo" part of your camera, or are you recording video and pulling frames?

The singing oven is definitely my favorite.

I think this piece works best as a MUSIC VIDEO. I think you should contact Javelin again and show them this vid. I think they should use it as their official vid. Remember what happened with the OK-Go guys?
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Old May 8th, 2009, 01:52 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Julia Liu View Post
It got to be that 11th hour when I was just like, you know what? It's 6am and I don't care you can see the fishing wire and the audio is still the crappy dummy audio.
Say no more, I know exactly how that feels.

To have done something so professionally in the last two weeks of the contest is mind blowing. The opening looks fine to me. I don't really see where you could make it shorter, honestly. It might feel a little rushed if you cut out much of the setup. The lighting is a little office-y to seem foreboding, but I definitely didn't feel like the big song and dance number was coming, so you surprised me anyway.

Thanks for the details!
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Old May 8th, 2009, 02:24 PM   #11
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We used the photo part of the camera. If you just shoot video and then take frames out, you loose some of that jerky effect between frames (which some people dont like- but I think is kinda a nice old-school feeling). And we decided to use a video camera instead of a nice still cam cuz we wanted to be able to match the shots easily when it went back and forth between video and animation. (tho the last shot of the present hanging by the door is pretty crappy matching)
We calculated the frame rate by deciding what FPS we wanted: 15 is pretty standard for animation tho 12 is often used too. Then we timed how many beats/sec in the song. (You can do this by looking at the wave form in the audio track and putting markers at the highest points which is usually where the beat hits.) Then you do some algebra and figure out how many frames/beat. I think it turned out to be 11 or 12.
If anybody is interested in stop motion in the future, here's what I learned while doing this project:
If you want something to stay still for 1 second, don't just shoot one frame and say- oh I'll just copy it 15 times. We did that for some of the shots and you can really tell the difference.( ex: the above shot of the ingredients disappearing and appearing in the cake bowl) Also, like all video- 1 hour of pre-prod saves you 4 hours in post. There were some nights where we just super frustrated and tired and stopped counting out the frames. (Ex: the ingredients dancing on the stove top) and thought- oh we'll take extra frames now and then count them out in post and work it out then...which turned out to be a big headache and never looked as good as the other stuff we actually kept a count for. Also- i can't tell you how many times Keith was like- yer shadow is in the shot- but I was so tired of holding something up with fishing wire that I was like- just take it and i'll clean it up in PSD. Totally regret it!
Javelin has seen the piece and they like it. I don't know if they will use it for their official video. One of the dudes was actually my old roommate and lived in my apartment (where the film is shot) so he was like- "WOW! This took me back to 101 America street hardcore!"
I think that if they are interested, i'd like to keep working on this piece and make it into a full blown music video. I want to have the screensaver on the witch/secretary's computer be a pretty desert island in the middle of a beautiful ocean and then zoom into a guy singing (maybe Javelin?) on the island. He'll have a little ukelele and a straw hat maybe? And then during the animation we can not only cut away to the witch driving up to the house but also the desert island guy. (Tho that takes away from the oven singing maybe...so i dont know)
Oh and the last piece of advice I'd say is to use a computer program like Frame Thief (think its a free download?) or Dragon (200 dollars) to hook the camera up to. We totally shot it blind so that it was a really awesome surprise to look at the results at the end of the night when we uploaded the pics to the computer- but it makes continuity harder etc.
Thanks for the comments everyone!!!
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Old May 9th, 2009, 06:18 PM   #12
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Nice work

I say this is very nice work... Yes to the music video and please keep working on this... This also reminded me of the group DEVO or The Talking Heads... also I'm not sure anyone can top the work placed into this... WOW
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Old May 9th, 2009, 10:31 PM   #13
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Out of curiosity, how much time would you estimate it actually took to make this?
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Old May 9th, 2009, 10:44 PM   #14
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Don't change it. It's the perfect music video the way it is. Once you start adding more elements to it, you'll muddle up the existing storyline.

The great thing about music videos is that you don't have to always justify why certain things are. They just are. While this tradeoff can affect your story in a narrative piece, it's a wonderful freedom in a music video piece. Think about the wide range of awesome, nonsensical music videos you've seen in your time.

I think by adding the whole 'secretary in a desert island' bit, you'd take away from the main point of the storyline -- the magical ingredients.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 03:06 AM   #15
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Maybe this says it all: For Mother's day my Mom wanted to see my latest film. I decided to take a few others to give a flavor of what we do here. Yours will be first.

While I think the rules may work against this presently, I think, like Pixar would, they need to be changed to make this kind of innovative film making mainstream and accepted here.

WOW. wow. ...wow. Words cannot express.

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