Monday, January 27, 2014

New Smyrna Beach and the Atlantic Center for the Arts

Tiny Circus arrived in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, at the Atlantic Center for the Arts Community Artist program just in time for the annual IMAGES art festival.  The Circus set up our tent right in the thick of things and posted a storyboard for a CRAB TRAP animation outside the main entrance.  Several local high school students joined the circus over the two-day festival and together we collaborated with festival-goers to create the characters for the film as well as animate several scenes.  Final animation and soundtrack will continue this week with the help of the high school students!  Look for the film on our YouTube channel soon.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Looking for a Ghost at CBU

Tiny Circus spent the final week of Fall Tour 2013 in Memphis, TN, hunting a ghost that resides in the basement of a building at Christian Brothers University. Sadly, the ghost was nowhere to be found, but stories abounded about experiences with the ghost on campus. Our newest Circus members, a group of students and instructors at CBU, worked with us over the week to collect and compare those stories. While some of our interview subjects expressed disbelief in the reality of the ghost, they struggled with the idea that their friends reported to have direct experiences with it. We decided that the most interesting thing about the Kenrick Hall Ghost lay in this intersection of belief and non-belief--what do you believe when your friends' stories tell you one thing and your own head tells you another?

The first half of the week was dedicated to recording and sorting through audio. We discovered that many of the stories we recorded contained overlapping content--footsteps, inanimate objects moving on their own, a piano playing itself in the middle of the night, a face in the window. We used these repeat occurrences to craft a single ghost story narrative, sandwiched by our interviewees' thoughts on the potential existence of ghosts and other spooky details. A ghost story sandwich.

For the intro and outro scenes, we constructed a lifelike set out of foamcore and printed images of Kenrick Hall, the building that the ghost is rumored to haunt (and the building in which our classroom was located). Our CBU collaborators brought some serious Photoshop skills to the table, as well as a pretty cool jib arm for shooting. 

We shot the rest of the animation at night, setting up in some of the eeriest rooms in Kenrick and using ourselves as subjects. Our crew stuck it out for some late nights of shooting and editing in order to finish by the end of the week, and even recorded an original soundtrack at the last minute to accompany the animation. We had candy and coffee available at all hours.

"Ghost Story" screened on a chilly Friday night, in front of a crowd of students, instructors and friends of TC. The ghost was not in attendance, as far as we could see...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Tiny Circus Big Top

NOW PRESENTING: Tiny Circus Big Top!

Tiny Circus is exploring new topics and themes that might not be appropriate for younger audiences. While we are interested in creating animations with more mature content, we acknowledge that our viewership and our pool of fellow collaborators is comprised of both children and adults. We recognize that our past animations are uniformly kid-friendly and that parents often let their kids view Tiny Circus videos on their own. Over the past few months, we have been trying to figure out how to post our new work without alienating any of our audience members or fellow collaborators. The solution we’ve reached is to post our less kid-friendly content under a new name: Tiny Circus Big Top.

Tiny Circus Big Top was created as a result of discussions among full-time collaborators, TC alum, and friends of TC, many of whom are teachers and parents with children. Here’s a quick rundown of those discussions:

  • We considered posting the new videos under the same Tiny Circus YouTube account as all of our other videos, but we imagined that kids viewing videos on their own could possibly come across content that their parents would rather them not see.

  • We also considered posting our new work under a new moniker that would be kept completely separate from the Tiny Circus web presence, but we realized that we still wanted to share our new animations with the current TC community.

  • The most logical choice in our minds, after months of discussion, was to create Tiny Circus Big Top. TC Big Top has its own YouTube channel, Vimeo channel, a new e-mail address, and a new Facebook page. Big Top viewers will be encouraged to check out Tiny Circus animations, but Tiny Circus YouTube viewers will not be linked directly to Big Top animations (this allows us to better manage the probability that kids or viewers who do not want to view animations with adult themes would come across such videos unintentionally).

Our goal as a collaborative organization is to create animations that are fun, hilarious, fascinating, and interesting to our group of animators. Since that group of animators so often changes form, so does the content of the animations that are created. Providing this new space for adult-themed animations is meant to allow us to expand our current body of work and grow as an organization. TC Big Top will be a place for animations with content that we imagine some parents might not want their children to see; it allows us to leave that decision up to parents. After all, some parents might see the TC Big Top animations as an educational opportunity or a way to spark conversation with their young ones. Either way, we are making the process of creating TC Big Top as transparent as possible, and the conversations about what this means for TC are by no means over.

All that said, it is our “pleasure” to share these new animations with you, TC family and friends.

Check out our first Big Top animation here: Big Top - Pornucopia

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Art Educators of Iowa Fall Conference

Tiny Circus was in Cedar Rapids with the Art Educators of Iowa this past weekend. AEI's fall conference took place in the lovely Hotel at Kirkwood Center. We converted a conference room into our animating studio for the weekend, making use of the huge magnetic whiteboards, the rolly desks and desk chairs, and the gigantic flat screen monitor (used to show animators shots from Dragonframe in real time).

As the "animation troupe in residence" at the (coincidentally) circus-themed conference, we spent three long days in our animating studio. Teachers attending the conference jumped in both to observe the process and to get hands-on by making characters and animating. Some conference attendees spent a few minutes with us; others spent hours and returned day after day.

The storyboard for the visuals involves shots of clay, paper cut-outs, and dry erase marker drawings as well as time lapse and stop motion sequences. The fanciful and imaginative visuals will be paired with an audio document crafted from interviews with art educators at the conference. Exploring questions related to the importance of art education, what actually happens in the art classroom, and what larger lessons art educators hope to give their students through art education, the audio document takes a closer look at what art class really does for students at any grade level.

The weekend with AEI was packed full of animating and interviewing, but we also had the opportunity  to give a lecture to the entire crowd, do a screening the last night of the event, and make some new friends from all over the state!

After packing up and saying goodbye to our converted conference room turned animating studio, we returned to our Grinnell home base to edit the animation and prepare to head south for the winter. Stay tuned for the animation.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Circus at Citizen Jane

Two weeks later, Tiny Circus is still feeling the buzz from this year's Citizen Jane Film Festival in Columbia, MO. Having been too busy animating during our last several years at Citizen Jane to actually experience much of the festival, we were grateful this year for the opportunity to kick back and enjoy some great films. We also got to know some awesome filmmakers as we interviewed them for next year's film festival bumpers. We asked them about the first films they ever made, and what kind of film they'd make now if they had unlimited time and budget.

We spent our weekend discussing what it means to be a woman in a male-dominated industry, and strategizing about alternative structures to the current model.

Katie and Sally spoke on a panel about collaboration. We collected lots of Citizen Jane gear. 

And we danced. And ate 2 a.m. biscuits, and explored a cave. Ken, our cave tour guide, came to see The History of War, The History of Curiosity, Ghost Trap, Age, and Creativity as they were screened in the Animated Shorts! program. 

This short film made by Stephens College student volunteers at the fest really captures the magic of the weekend. Thank you, Citizen Jane! We can't wait until next time. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Cornell College Joins the Circus

Tiny Circus has begun its latest project in residence at Cornell College. Located in hilly Mt. Vernon, Iowa, Cornell College has a long and proud history of community and art.

While at Cornell College, the Circus is providing students with hands-on experience brainstorming, producing, and editing stop-motion animations a collaborative environment.

The Circus moves fast, but so do the students and faculty of Cornell. The production studio is up and running, and the creative team has already done a quick introductory animation with one of Tiny Circus' recurring characters, Billy Circus.

The animation station set up and ready to go.

This month, the Circus crew plans to shoot a series of short animations on the topic of the Seven Deadly Sins. Deciding to limit set-making and animating to only the medium of paper, the group has found a variety of captivating ways to construct and shoot some scenes about sin.

The Circus will conclude the month with an appearance at Mount Vernon's Lincoln Highway Arts Festival . Thanks to the hard work of students at Mount Vernon, you can be sure to stay tuned for some of the most sinful stop-motion you've ever seen.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tiny Circus Returns from the Super Fantastic RAGBRAI Tour

After an exciting eight day long tour with the Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), the Tiny Circus has returned to Grinnell. Each day involved setting up our animation tent in overnight towns along the route to allow the riders and locals to participate in our animation, as well as participate in interviews about their RAGBRAI experience and the community it has to offer. 

Animating tent getting prepared for the day.

Day three of RAGBRAI was our big animating day in Des Moines. Instead of our usual animating station we set up a sky jack in front of the capitol building to animate people! The sky jack allowed us to shoot photos of everyone from above.

Two Circus-ers shooting and directing on the sky jack. 

Participants on the ground and in position for animating.
 In each town people of all ages and backgrounds showed up to our tent to help make paper characters for the animation project. Once they were done making their character, they had the opportunity to take it to the animating table and learn how to do stop-motion animations.

Participants at the making table.

Jenny and Katie demonstrating how our process works at the animating table. 

We received a lot of super fantastic help from participants in each town and we thank everyone who came by.  Now that we're home we'll be going through all of the animations and interviews we collected along the way to begin the editing process.  Please check back soon to see the finished Super Fantastic RAGBRAI animation!