Unit X – Lines of enquiry

This is a follow-up post to a previous entry on Unit X. Click here to read the first entry!

After coming up with a concept for our Unit X project we started planning the execution. This is where we ran into potential problems, mostly to do with time. We wanted to animate a character that would cross over two different backgrounds, that would walk into the frame, dying and then doing a bit of graceful dancing. Turns out we had thoroughly overlooked the amount of time this would have taken to animate. Even if we rotoscoped a dancer’s original performance. We only have two animators in our team and regardless of how much the rest of us could help it would have been impossible to complete realistically. After meeting with our tutor for a tutorial we had to face the cruel reality: it was back to the drawing board. It was discouraging for me as these news came in the form of a sudden realisation, and I had been feeling pretty confident about the project all the way until then. But we pushed on.

New concept - Drafted by Anita Kwiecien
New concept – Drafted by Anita Kwiecien

We liked the idea of an unconventional presentation for our exhibition, so we kept the vertical aspect in mind when re-thinking our approach. We also decided to incorporate each individual practice into the piece, which in turn helped distribute the workload efficiently.
The idea became simpler in execution, but bigger in concept. One art piece composed by three standalone works. One with real footage (filmmaking), one with animation (self explanatory) and one with stop-motion animation (photography).
The concept remained the same. Giselle’s transition into the underworld. Leaving one frame to enter another in a quite literal sense.


From top to bottom, we would approach the different stages of Giselle’s journey into the underworld. Dying from heartbreak, falling into the underworld and finally her sorrow and despair at the realisation that she would be stuck there forever. Laying these down vertically would also create an obvious sense of geography as well as a literal downfall.

After establishing this as a plan, we started working. A group were to work on the middle

Clay models tray
Clay models tray

panel. They were to animate our character falling and create a layered background with parallax effect. Another group was to create the stop motion animation, which was accomplished at the Animation Suite. The models were all created by us, using modelling clay and watercolour paint. The picture featured to the right displays a few mushrooms, rocks, stalactites, tree roots and a tree. A puppet was also made using clay on a wireframe skeleton and cloth. The group also fabricated a dark environment inside a box where these models were arranged.

Another task was to film a shoot a dancer’s performance. We wanted something short to kick the piece off. We printed a flyer and distributed in the Benzie Building and at the 70 Oxford Street building.
An architecture student helped us achieve this rather smoothly. It took us about 40 minutes to set up a scene we were happy with. We were very impressed with Winnie, our dancer, and her professional performance. We had briefed her on what we wanted and she was very well prepared. It only took a few minutes for her to perfect the timing/performance.

Overall, we are very happy how things have gone considering the obstacles we ran into. We came up with a strong concept and unique execution. You can see a sample of how our piece is supposed to be experienced below. Watch in full screen:




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