The Miniature Gardener by Beatrix Hatcher is a short animation I created for the final project of second year using a technique of replacement animation. I created each scene digitally using the animation tools on Photoshop before then copying each frame and pasting it into a template that gave it a base of folded out paper to stand up on.
After printing each of the frames (12 frames for each second of the animation), I then painstakingly cut them out and folded each piece so they were able to stand up on their base. The extra flap of paper also allowed for the pieces to be positioned in the exact same place so they could be easily swapped out between photographs. I knew this project was ambitious and admittedly it did take over my life (and gave me at least one nervous breakdown per week). There were challenges that I’d never had to deal with before such as trying to keep the lighting consistent between frames and learning how to properly focus a camera! It also forced me to explore the strengths and weaknesses of my primary material, paper. I was able to use it to obscure and reveal elements of the narrative, to create shadows and depth and even recycle pieces between scenes. Yet at times it frustrated me – I would cut out ambitiously tall shapes, standing them up only to find that gravity had other ideas. There’s only so much wire, tape and string can do!
I also found myself constricted to working on ground level, a problem I eventually overcame in post production through re-editing scenes on Photoshop and animating the more tricky parts such as the clouds digitally. Most shatteringly of all – on more than one occasion, someone would walk past the table where I was working even slightly too briskly and everything would go flying! And yet, I can honestly say I that through the stress of it all I enjoyed coming into the studio each morning and picking up where I had left off the evening before. I am glad I took the risk of doing something that is completely new to me – there is an enormous sense of satisfaction in working hands on and seeing everything come together so literally in front of you.
Check out more of Beatrix: