Friday, 29 April 2011

Flight Images

Aeroplane Structure

Balsa Sheet


Flight Project Conclusion

For most of the year I have been working on a project based around flight. The project outcome resulted in a trip to Glossop where myself and other students travelled to fly kites and other flying contraptions. I started my project with some research. First I went to the Museum of Science and Industry and looked around the Air and Space hall following this I took various books from the library and started to learn about aerofoils, wing structures, and building techniques. I also looked at a lot of model aircraft and paper aeroplane information on the internet and found some interesting photographs of a balsa wood wing structure. It was this image of the wing structure that would shape rest of my project as I found it to be intriguing and revelling of its process, this was useful because I could only find limited information on building a balsa wood aeroplane or glider.

The next step in my project was to build a miniature from the image of a wing structure I had sourced. I made this on a small scale from thicker watercolour paper. I then developed this idea further and added a small propeller and a counter weight to make a kinetic sculpture.

My work is mostly hands on and I love building models working with wood and metal I think this is part of the reason I ran with this project for so long and was slightly obsessed with making a balsa wood glider. I made my final aeroplane using a few materials as possible and keeping it as light as possible. For a while it was my plan to include two motors with propellers and a battery pack but after some deliberation I had to remove these to save on weight and give my glider the best chance it had to fly. I have never attempted to make any sort of aeroplane before and had to compromise learn and make a few things up as i went along this is possibly what let me down on the day of the test flight.

The materials I used for my glider were around six sheets of balsa wood, four tubes of glue and some muslin material and cellulose dope and thinners. I had originally planned to use wet strength tissue paper to cover the glider but decided on muslin as i could not find any tissue paper and whist researching found the the Wright brothers first flying machine was skinned with muslin.

Disappointingly on the day of the test flights my balsa wood glider did not fly. I think the reason for this is my lack of knowledge in the field of aeronautics. My glider was not properly balanced so the tail was dropping and dragging the glider down, however I think technically my creation had many aspects of a successful glider and i feel after starting the project with no knowledge of aeronautics at all my glider would fall somewhere in the middle between a complete failure and successful design. The only consolation upon traveling home was an definition I had once heard of what is art? "Art is something without a function." Could it be in my search to engineer a glider I had managed to create some art?             


Test Animation

This is a short animation I made at home using the iphoto feature on my imac. I started by doing a short and simple recording of me entering the room and sitting in front of the camera. After this split the video into sections and used print screen to collect a series of images of frames. Finally I added an effect to the images to make them look like a hand drawn animation and imported the image sequence into Flash. I think the test animation works quite well but it does feel a bit unnecessary to change the video in this way. I think its more ascetically pleasing however not much has changed from the original video. I also made it slightly more difficult for myself in the technique in which i created the animation as I could have used software to cut my video and a preset in Photoshop to change all my images into the hand drawn style I discussed.


Animation Techniques

Three Dimensional Animation

There are some exciting possibilities available to you when you start to think about doing animation in three dimensions. And the first place you could start is with clay or play-doh. If you don’t have any of these materials you can easily make some out of flour, salt and water. Another very simply yet very expressive technique is to use wire. You can easily shape it into figures and objects. It holds its shape well yet is easy to manipulate into simulations of motion. Wire is so effective that it is often the frame over which many modern figures are made. This technique is called using a wire armature.

Action figures and dolls make great animation subjects as long as they have movable joints and body parts so you can articulate them. But you don’t have to stick with that. Just about any three-dimensional object can be used in interesting ways. You can draw small eyes, noses, and mouths then attach them to any object and come up with an interesting anthropomorphic little project. You can even carve potatoes or apples and get some great videos. And just moving objects around can be the source of some interesting videos. Watching furniture move around a room can be a good idea or watching items move around a desk can also be interesting.

Animating yourself and the real world is also a fun way to approach the hobby. If you stand at attention and take a picture then move forward six inches, stand at attention and take another picture you can come up with a great series of pictures that show you magically sliding around without moving your feet. You can also do the same thing by jumping into the air and snapping a picture of yourself. Move forward six inches, jump, and snap another picture. With this technique you can create an animation that shows you floating around.

Some final tips

Don’t forget the camera. If you really want to make your animations special you should move the camera as you take your series of pictures. You can do this by either zooming in or out or panning from side to side. This moving of the camera is the single best way to make your animations stand out.

While the medium you use for your animation is very important and can turn a plain animation into something special to look at you should put some time and thought into the story of the animation. This is what can turn it into something truly remarkable. Surprise your viewers and keep them guessing as to what will happen next.

Just about anything in your every day world can be transformed into something extraordinary with a little bit of animation magic and a little bit of creativity. Just look around your house and you will discover lots of great ideas.

Animation Research

Stop motion is an animation method used to make objects appear to move. The object is photographed and then moved repeatedly building a series of frames finally the photographs are played in order and the object appears to move. One of the most popular forms of stop motion is clay animation or clay-mation a good example of this is Nick Park’s Wallace and Gromit. The history of stop motion animation an be dated back to a 1898 animation called The Humpty Dumpty Circus created by Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton in which a toy circus comes to life. Over the years stop motion techniques have developed and its popularity has grown.

Nick Park was born December 6th 1958 he is a contemporary English filmmaker of stop motion animation and is possibly known best for his Wallace and Gromit and Shaun the Sheep creations. Park has been nominated 6 times for and Academy Award and won four with Creature Comforts (1989), The Wrong Trousers (1993), A Close Shave (1995) and Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005).

As a child I grew up watching Wallace and Gromit amongst other animations but until recently never understood the strenuous repetition and technical excellence involved in creating such pieces. I have always found Park’s work to be delightful and charming due to quirky animations and humorous context. I think my favorite of parks creations is Creature Comforts. For this series Park interviewed and recorded members of the public and reproduced the speech in animated animals. I think Creature Comforts works particularly well because of its innocent nature and comical interviews.

Artist Research - Fiona Banner

Fiona Banner is a contemporary English artist who was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 2002. Banner’s work primarily consists of airplanes this is why I have chosen to research her practice further as I am working on a project about flight.

Fiona Banner: Peace on Earth 2007

Since 1988 Tate Britain has commissioned a leading contemporary artist to design its Christmas tree every year. In 2007 banner was chosen to decorate the 30-foot tree. At the time it was the largest tree to be installed at Tate Britain. Banner decorated the tree with 123 handmade kit models of all the world’s fighter planes that were currently in service, anywhere in the world. This collection of diminutive models forms an ‘A to Z’ of military airplanes, yet bears no markings of nationality.

Information from video Tate Shorts New Work: Fiona Banner

The piece was originally called parade. Banner first started making model aircraft at goldsmiths in London over 20 years ago. She started by compiling a list of all the fighter planes that were currently in service anywhere in the world. It took her a long time to create the list because the list changes all the time. Banner discusses the idea of the Christmas tree being somewhat warped as we celebrate nature by cutting down a virile tree and bringing it indoors to slowly watch it die in conjunction with this she stated it occurred to her that in many ways the planes belong to nature they have nicknames that are of nature for instance the Sea Harrier, Black Hawk, Raven and Eagle and also that in many ways they are incredibly delicate. Finally banner explains from a distance the tree looks very pretty but as you get closer you see it isn’t pretty at all its about this complicated violent stuff, is it a celebration or is it something much darker.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Stopmotion - Collaboration (Blu and David Ellis)

After i watch the MUTO animation by Blu i wanted to look at other pieces of his animated work and i came across this collaboration with David Ellis (artist). This is very similar to MUTO in style but in this one you can see the two artists within the animation again establishing that it is all hand rendered. I think it is important  for the audience to acknowledge the fact the work is done by hand to gain a greater appreciation to see the effort that has gone into the work. Another thing i thought worked well was the use of the environment they are in, they use the materials, windows, walls and floors in the space and involve them by drawing round, on and in them rather than ignoring them.

Stopmotion Animation on a larger scale (BLU)

This was done by painting on to a wall similar to that of graffiti. They have used a black out line with white to fill the character/object and then used white paint to cover the previous movement. I really like this piece as you can see the trail of movements behind the object, it looks authentic and not at all computer generated. I also like the different compositions of the animation for example in some shots you can see members of the public walk by as the animation is still moving. Another reason i like this is because i prefer hand rendered animation to computer generate because i believe it is more personal to the artist/animator and you can see the length of work they have gone to to create the piece.
This particular piece was created by an italian artist who uses the name BLU to cover his real identity, there isn't much information about the artist however it is mention he is a street artist (graffiti) who's work can be seen all over the world similar to that of Banksy. His work can be seen in places such as Lima, London, Peru, Berlin,  Warsaw and Madrid. Not all of his work is animated the majority of it is still graffiti.

An example of some of Blu's Graffiti work. The piece below was commissioned by the Tate Modern in London.

Stopmotion Animation - Hand Drawn

I found this style on youtube it is done on a white board with dry wipe pens. I think the use of dry wipe pens is a good way of creating stopmotion animation as it allows you to draw then rub out without leaving a mark behind it.

Stopmotion Animation - Using Models

I had a look at different styles of stopmotion animation and i completely forgot about some of the most famous and british stopmotion programmes such as Noddy, The clangers, Charlie Chalk and Postman Pat. I think these styles mostly relate to my work as they use models in the animation rather that drawings.


A flip book is simply a series of images on separate pages and when 'flipped' shows movement. It is similar to that of a zoetrope there has to be some sort of movement to allow the images to appear in motion. I like the flip book technique it is amazingly simple and yet so effective however like most types of animation very time consuming. I love the simplicity of the drawings and the fluent movements if done successfully.  


A zoetrope is a device that produces an illusion of action from a rapid succession of static pictures.
It consists of a cylinder with slits cut vertically in the sides. Beneath the slits on the inner surface of the cylinder is a band which has either individual frames from a video/film or images from a set of sequenced drawings or photographs. As the cylinder spins the user looks through the slits at the pictures on the opposite side of the cylinder's interior. The scanning of the slits keeps the pictures from simply blurring together so that the user sees a rapid succession of images producing the illusion of motion, the equivalent of a motion picture.