December 26, 2022
There are times when I imagine there to be little portals, or thresholds, in nature that allow to go beyond the common way of perceiving things. Whenever I come across these particular spots during one of my walks in the forests and fields and sense an other worldly quality to the place, I sometimes consider it as if a spirit is guarding it, even in the heavily cultivated landscapes found in the Netherlands.
I used this idea to create another short animation to experiment with different materials and techniques, this time specifically trying out a camera movement in the Z depth.
Camera movement demands careful planning, so I made sure to isolate objects and time everything beforehand.
I wanted to bring a real sense of depth to the movement. That meant more than just increasing the size of the background layer over time. Depth is created when objects move over each other, concealing things, while allowing things to emerge as well. Just like the diorama’s we used to make as children, I used Blender to build a crude 3D maquette of the scene to simulate this and gain an understanding of how everything would relate. Blender has a nice feature called line art to outline objects; in that way I had a good reference to animate on top of:
I decided to animate the door on paper, to stress the other-worldly quality. I realized I could tape my pegbar to the pen display and use the Blender reference as an underlayer, shining through the paper, sequentially advancing every two frames and at the same time drawing the door over it.
The guardian spirit, the hawk eye bird scarers and the raven were all animated digitally in Krita, also following the Blender reference.
Elements such as the treeline and the sky were charcoal drawings. The treeline proved to be extremely difficult to line up well with the horizon, so I ‘cheated’ and positioned them as 3D planes in the Blender diorama. This was then rendered as a seperate pass with an alpha channel and placed over the composition.
In conclusion, this one made me realize why elaborate camera movements are typically avoided in 2D animation. Aligning up everything perfectly with the horizon and allowing things to move in front of each other is just a very tedious job, which can quickly look uncanny and not right, suspending belief. Still, I had a lot of fun making this and I hope I did some justice to my initial idea.