The stop-motion short, Man Drawing a Reclining Woman, brings to life the characters represented in Albrecht Durer’s 16th century woodcut. A draughtsman persuades a woman to be the subject of his artistic studies. She soon discovers the specialized tools and methods he utilizes to render the human figure on paper.
- Running Time: 4:10
- Format: NTSC, 1.77:1, Black & White
- Audio: Digital AC-3, Stereo
- Genres: Animation, Stop Motion, Experimental
- Location: Atlanta, GA, U.S.A.
- Producer, Writer, Director: Grant Goans
- Completed: January, 2006
- Festivals: Atlanta Film Festival (Atlanta GA USA) 2006, Northwest Animation Festival (Portland OR USA) 2011
The idea for “Man Drawing a Reclining Woman” emerged between 2003 and 2004. During that time I was testing stop-motion armatures made of wood and also testing the use of a digital still camera to film an animation. I had been working with 3D animation software but some of the animation ideas that I wanted to pursue seemed better suited to the medium of stop motion. Having been inspired by the work of the Brothers Quay and Jan
Svankmajer, I decided to explore the possibilities of stop-motion animation. One resource I discovered was www.stopmotionanimation.com that provides resources for stop motion techniques.
A couple of ideas that I had for projects were ambitious and would take much time to develop in terms of technical issues and story development. I soon decided to opt for some basic character tests that, upon completion, revealed that my armatures would be adequate for basic animation. I still wanted to try and construct some kind of animation test that was a little more than a test but not a complete feature. I was familiar with a Durer woodcut depicting an artist using a grid-based tool to draw a person. Since the woodcut was very limited in terms of characters and environments it seemed to be a good choice for a short test of my armatures and digital camera.
I anticipated that the film would be silent and that the characters faces would only need masks since they would not be speaking. Any soundtrack would be something as simple as a music track and instead of a voice track title cards could be used for dialogue similar to early silent films. I proceeded to construct the armatures for the characters out of basswood, small metal bolts, and wooden beads. The character masks and clothing are made of craft foam and the set is constructed out of matte board. Acrylic paint was used for shading and texturing.
Filming took place November 2004 through January 2005. Instead of a script, I had a short list of visual ideas including the central scene where the artist would draw the woman. The challenge was in constructing a narrative that would introduce the characters, set up the scene, carry out the action represented in the Durer woodcut, and finally reach a conclusion.
I began to animate the scenes that I had worked out visually to begin capturing a narrative flow. The initial scenes that were shot included the introduction and exchanges between the artist and the woman. I started animating several key scenes including the artist presenting his table, and the main scene composed in an arrangement similar to the Durer woodcut. Most of the remaining scenes emerged serendipitously as I worked with the puppets and explored various ideas on the set.
Several conclusions for the film were considered with the final choice being an attempt to compare and contrast symbols found in the Durer work combined with an overall visual commentary about objectification of nature in art.
After animating frame by frame with a Canon PowerShot S30 digital still camera, I imported the photos into the computer and used Adobe Premier to assemble edits. When gaps in the narrative surfaced I would return to the puppets and sets to film extra scenes to further reinforce the overall structure of the story. Photoshop was used to apply grain and lighting effects to the frames of the film.
By February 2005 I had a first cut of the work finished and then took a break to work on other projects for almost a year. From time to time I would explore ideas for a music and audio track that would be needed to complete the project.
Between December 2005 and January 2006 I returned to the project and had by that time had switched to Sony Vegas for final editing and Sony Acid music loops for music. The audio track would remain minimal with a few Foley effects. I completed the project with a final cut of my short animation in late January 2006.
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With a running time of approximately 4 minutes, my original idea of a stop motion test for an armature had become a short animated film with sound. I intend to submit the film to the 2006 Atlanta Film Festival and
-Grant Goans, February 2006