Ross School - Senior Project 2007-08

Student: Tucker Costello

Mentor: Kerry Sharkey-Miller

Product                            

Title: The Corner Pet Shop- Kate's Arrival

Description: The Corner Pet Shop- Kate's Arrival is the first episode of a children's television program which I produced for my senior project. The show is animated using stop-motion, a technique which involves taking consecutive pictures in order to make something appear to be moving fluidly. The plot of the show revolves around thirteen animals who live in a pet shop together. In this episode the newest animal in the pet shop, Kate the snake,  is kindly welcomed into the shop by Parker the hedgehog. Unfortunately for Kate, not all the other animals are quite so welcoming. In the end however, all is well, as Kate helps to save one of her fellow animals and the residents finally see her true and loving nature. I was able to make this story come to life by creating these animals out of clay and using the superior voice acting skills of my fellow classmates I gave each one a voice. It is my hope that I can continue to create projects like this one and learn even more about animation in the process.     

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The Corner Pet Shop – Kate’s Arrival

Abstract

For my senior project I created a 9 minute 32 second stop-motion animated film. I decided to do animation because it had been in my background for a long time and I wanted to see if i could create a full animation. My grandmother was an animator and she had taught me preliminary rules and parts of animating. Before I came to Ross for ninth grade I took a summer class in animation and during my eleventh grade year I took another animation class. When it came time for me to decide what I wanted to do for my senior project, creating an original stop-motion animation was clear.   

After I chose animation I needed to decide on a demographic. I knew that age group that it would cater to would ultimately shape the way I created the animation. After going back and forth between an animation for children and and animation geared more towards adults, I quickly realized that I wanted to do a children's animation. Deciding on this then allowed me to figure out what kind of animation I wanted to do. I came to the realization that I wanted to create a clay animation. My favorite animations that became inspiration for my project were done with clay and it is a really versatile medium as well as something I love to work with. I also figured out that I wanted to do a children's show that would not only appeal to the children but to adults as well and I also wanted to create a show where the viewers would be entertained and educated at the same time.

My next step in my project was to create the characters for my story. At first my character creation came easily. My first few characters had come to me over time before I began my project.  Then, when I had my first few characters I realized that I needed more, and it became more difficult for me to come up with them. Slowly, I began to come up with new ideas for my show and the characters I had put down on paper began to take new shapes during my multiple constructions of them. Once I had some solid characters I realized that it was a good time to being writing my script. This process was a hard one for me because I had to figure out what kind of film I really wanted to do. My idea to create the first episode of a children's television show was not the hardest part however, the hardest part was figuring out how to write a show for children and how to incorporate everything I wanted to incorporate. Luckily I had some help in this process and was finally able to finish a script that I was proud of and something I knew would be both entertaining and educational for children and adults alike.

My story revolved around one of the characters, a snake named Kate, who is new to a pet shop, and the way's in which the other pets act towards her. One of the other pets, a hedgehog named Parker, is one of the pets who is kind to Kate and helps her with her transition into a new place, even if it means meeting some opposition along the way. With this solid storyline, I knew that I then needed to begin recording the voices of the pets. For the voices of my characters I wanted to use the talents of my fellow classmates and it really surprised me how easily it was to get my friend to agree to help me with this. Once I had assembled a voice cast I was able to begin recording them. This process went  fairly smoothly for me and I was quickly able to place the recordings I had done into the software that I used to animate. This then allowed me to sync the voices with my animated characters.

While I had done many test animations, matching my characters with their own voices posed a large challenge for my project. It took me a long time to really get it right. When I finally did figure out how to voice sync well, I was able to finish off the entire animation process. This however took much longer than I have ever expected it to especially when I had to put all of my animation work into Final Cut (the program I used to edit my movie) and rework the scenes so that the story I had animated was as cohesive as it's script. Luckily for me it all worked out extremely well and I had my show done just in time for the gallery opening as well as the senior project film night.

I was extremely happy with the feedback I got on my movie. There is much that I would like to go back and rework, and there are a lot of things I would do differently if I was able to do a second episode. I was able to speak with many people about my future with the project and I am exited to see what I do next and where it will take me in the future. This project taught me so much and I am very proud of what I got out of it both as an animator and a student.

Works Consulted

Animation Greats!. National Film Board of Canada, 1997.

Katz, Steven D. Film Directing Shot by Shot. Studio City: Michael Wiese Productions, 1991.

Kerner-Bobley, Nickole. “Characters.” Email to Tucker Costello. 16 Nov. 2007.

Kerner-Bobley, Nickole. “Outside Mentor Beginning Thoughts.” Email to Tucker Costello. 15 Nov. 2007.

Kerner-Bobley, Nickole. “Script.” Email to Tucker Costello. 26 Nov. 2007.

Laybourne, Kit. The Animation Book. New York: Three Rivers Press, 1998.

Lord, Peter, and Brian Sibley. Creating 3-D Animation: The Aardman Book of Filmmaking. New York: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1998.

Taylor, Richard. The Encyclopedia of Animation Techniques. Philadelphia: Running Press Book Publications, 1996.

Vineyard, Jeremy. Setting Up Your Shots: Great Camera Moves Every Great Filmmaker Should Know. Studio City: Michael Wiese Productions, 2000.

The World's Greatest Animation. DVD. Image Entertainment, 1994.

Community Member (Details)

Nickole Kerner-Bobley is a consultant for Classic Media, a film and television rights and production company in Manhattan. Most recently she produced Pat The Bunny Playdates, a made for DVD project combining puppets and live action releasing to retail stores in March 2008 for ages 6 to 36 months. Prior to her consultant gig she served as the Director of Creative Affairs and Production overseeing projects in many mediums: 2D animation, 3D animation, live-action documentary and theater. Her credits include serving as Executive in Charge of Production on Cartoon Network and Teletoon's Gerald McBoing Boing, Associate Producer on Casper's Scare School, a 3D animated Halloween film for Cartoon Network and Lassie's Pet Vet, a live action documentary airing on local PBS stations. From conception (working with the writers) to completion, Nickole collaborates with a number of artists on various projects, helping keeping on budget and schedule.