Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Working in Animation

Ever since I heard Brett Morgen of "Chicago 10" speak about using innovative technologies in storytelling, I've been curious how to integrate mixed media in my work. Liberia??? Check? is the first project where I'm working with animation and I'm learning a lot in the process.

I decided after not being able to pull enough young Liberians in Park Hill together for a mock debate about the elections, that I would set up my piece as sort of a "delegates" meeting where representatives from places like Colombia, Palestine, Jamaica and finally, Liberia, are given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the election. My good friend and colleague, Sol Guy agreed to do the voice over for "MC Unite" who is presiding over the meeting. When he calls up PJ - our Liberian delegate - we segue into the footage I have of him in Park Hill asking people on the streets their points of view. It was fun to work on this with Sol because also shot a segment in Liberia so we talked about how interesting it is that Liberia is so fascinated with the U.S. He traveled with the artist, MIA, for his new MTV Canada 4Real.com - check it out to learn more about Liberia.

Lovisa Inserra is my new animator and she is fantastic! We decided to first develop the storyboards for the piece that she will then animate once we get feedback from the Open Call community. Pulling the stills she created into my sequence, I came to realize that when you decide to work in animation, you must also sort of become a sound designer. The background noises of the courtroom, the VO, the music, the clanking of the gavel, all help to enhance the credibility of the scene. So, I had to add about 6 audio channels.

The other interesting thing about working in animation -and probably in fiction in general which I don't get a lot of exposure to - is the ability to "set up" scenes to relay information critical to your story. After going through my interviews and footage with PJ, I realize that in order to best contextualize the relationship between Liberia and the U.S. (in a few seconds!), that I will need him to read from a script. I'll cover the VO with images from the WGBH Sandbox and my own broll I shot in Monrovia, but because I didn't think of this prior to shooting, I will definitely need to make another trip out to Staten Island and will need to indicate it in my rough cut.

I'll end this with posting a few of the stills from the opening. I opted to go for a very colorful, youth feel in order to attract a younger audience.