Genera workshop – Lighting and Animation

Friday the 31st of July marked exactly 10 weeks until Leeds Light Night 2015. It also marked the beginning of the first of a series of workshops to be held in the coming months at Inkwell Arts, as part of the Genera Project.

Keeping in theme with the run up to Light Night, this initial workshop was all about lighting and was delivered by practitioner Carl Allport. Carl is a former Fine Art lecturer and current tutor at the Bradford Film school and has a wealth of knowledge and experience in the field of lighting in film, photography and animation.

The workshop began with Carl explaining the various frequencies and colours of the different types of lighting and how these different lights interact with objects. A key point that was made was how objects either reflect or absorb different frequencies of light, which in turn effects the type of light filters or ‘gels’ which are used. For example the skin of people with darker complexions absorb light differently to the skin of those with lighter complexions, so appear more favourably under green light because of how their skins absorb the light. The participants of the workshop where able to see these differences themselves by manipulating the lighting on various objects and then documenting the changes on camera.

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The workshop also demonstrated how the proximity and angle of the light can be used to create different meaning and aid the narrative. For example soft lighting can create a romantic feel where as hard lighting can appear menacing. The workshop culminated with participants watching and discussing how the use of lighting has changed and evolved in film, from the early days of cinema to the present day.

Session two, which took place the following week, focused on stop motion animation. The group were encouraged to go into the garden to collect flowers and leaves, use paper cut outs or hand drawn images to photograph frame by frame.

Carl introduced the technology to the group, and reassured them that the workshop was purely experimental; the success of the workshop would be measured through the level of exploration, not on the complexity of their animations. The group was shown some examples of other artists’ animation works, which seemed to encourage and inspire everyone to see the possibilities available to them. The workshop also introduced examples of drawings from the book Art Forms in Nature by Earnst Haeckel to seek inspiration.

The group was happy to explore the possibilities using many different materials including some of the Gott Bequest prints and botanical drawings.  Paper cut outs were used to great effect when placed over an LED lightbox to create short charming animations.  Some members of the group chose to combine their personal interests with the technology used in the workshop, and included drawings from their own work in their animations. Comments received by the group were positive; expressing how these techniques were far removed from their usual style of working, but being introduced to this technology had opened up new opportunities for them to experiment with in their artwork.

Feedback from the workshop included comments such as

“I came not knowing what to expect; I thought at first I might be out of my depth! But I found it friendly, easy to learn and fun.”

“It was different to what I first thought, but in a very good way”

Experimenting with new software enabled the group to become familiar with the difficulties of animation, such as ensuring accurate stop-speeds, avoiding awkward snapshots of their hands, keeping the lighting consistent, discovering how to erase their accidental shots and of course, celebrating their successes!

The workshop came to a close with all members of the group gathering to share and celebrate their efforts. This was a very rewarding end to a challenging and exciting session.

Everyone who attended the workshop said they will definitely be attending Light Night this year!

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