Monday, February 7, 2011

Making the TINY Tiny Circus

We are beginning work on the Tiny Tiny Circus, a new component to the circus show. The Tiny Tiny Circus will be a complete (and tiny, of course) version of a circus. Core circus members and workshop participants will create stop-motion animations with these new props as well as animate them in real-time at our shows. The Tiny Tiny Circus might also function as a "Do It Yourself Animation Station" at large events - we'll figure all of this out during the summer session.

The beginning stages of the roller coaster are being laid out above

Sheep all made, baked, and ready to be animated

The Circus House gets a studio

We returned home to Tiny Circus House and began work on our new studio in January. Zero degree Iowa winter weather does not stop Circus members from knocking down walls of the house. Upon completion, the upper level of the studio will be used as a work space, complete with an digital projector, tons of editing space, and built-in storage cabinets for materials. The lower level has plywood walls and ceiling so animators can hang heavy lights and objects. The lower level also has a separate entry door, 11' ceilings, and wiring for a disco ball, spotlights, and speakers. It will be the ultimate animation/dance party space, perfect for the Tiny Circus!

Day one: a wall was torn out between a bedroom and the garage and the old lath and plaster were removed to create a large space.

This is the view looking east where the garage use to be. The floor was rotten and weak, so it was torn out and replaced with sturdy new floor joists.

The ceiling was sagging a bit in one spot, so we jacked it up and sistered on new stronger joists next to the old saggy ones.

An average workday: Emily models her Hello Kitty suit while Carlos relaxes in fashionable orange.

Tiny Circus heads out to Portland, OR

At the end of October, Tiny Circus packed up and made way out to Portland, Oregon were we had a month long residency with our friends at the Good Gallery. Core Circus member John (also a member at the Good Gallery) invited us out to spend November in the Pacific Northwest. There we constructed an elaborate Do-It-Yourself Animation Station for our open gallery hours in order to help explain what the Circus is all about.

Our opening was great! Throngs of great Portlanders showed up that rainy night. They played with the Do-It-Yourself station, watched animations, and hung out with the Circus.

Carlos rigging up the conveyor system on the Do It Yourself station.

While in Portland, we started the planning of the TINY Tiny Circus. This new element of the show will be designed to engage audience members directly. It will look something like an elaborate live-action animation set, a 1/20th scale circus, and be set up at each of our showings to the side of the projection screen. Circus members will animate the lion, ferris wheel, roller coaster, and the rest of the circus in real time, and the projection screen will switch back and forth from our animated shorts to the live scenes from the TINY Tiny Circus.

Above is a rough sketch of what the end product might look like.

Soon to be an annual event, Tiny Circus Taco War began in St. Johns, a Portland neighborhood. It was a great battle of smack-talking and smacking lips. Here, the boys work hard in deep concentration to eat 59 tacos (collaboratively, of course). No one was particularly happy about this by the end.

In the case of food-eating competitions the winner seldom wins.

Carlos meant business in his high contrast hunting glasses and pashmina.

Thanks so much to John, Scott, Rude, and everyone else at the Good Gallery for hosting the Circus. Also, a huge thanks to Jake for hosting the Circus for Thanksgiving dinner.

See you next year Portland! We cant wait!

Citizen Jane Film Fest in Columbia, MO

The Tiny Circus rolled into Colombia, Missouri in mid October with a full team, ready for animation action, all very excited about participating in the Citizen Jane Film Festival. It was our second trip to CJFF, so we knew to expect hard work, dancing, good people, and great fun.

In the beginning of the workshop, we spent a full three hours brainstorming. After a thoughtful conversation about the meaning of curiosity and how to portray and approach the idea, a story was created. Soon, a storyboard was in hand and 15 excited animators set off to building sets, recording sounds, and shooting the History of Curiosity.

Just because it's a hallway, doesn't mean it can't be used as a studio space! CJFF participants construct a window and a balloon box for the animation in just a few hours.

A session of maze building happened in the space provided to us. Great fun! Did we mention that the room had a built in sound system? Perfect for mid-day dance party breaks.

How do you make people fly across the sky while holding a balloon? Many long and focused hours were spent by dedicated new Circus members to help with the completion of the film.

Power nap.

Citizen Jane Film Festival celebrates women in film.

CJFF set up a great series of concerts and parties to keep the action rolling. Above is a rockabilly band performing at a bar just down the road from our workspace. Lots of great dancing happened throughout the whole weekend.

Tiny Circus Loves Citizen Jane Film Festival! --- We can't wait for next time -- we'll return for a week long workshop for CJFF 2011, catch us there September 25 - October 2.

The History of Adaptation in Hamond, LA

The first week of October, Tiny Circus packed up and headed down south to Hammond, Louisiana to collaborate with students at Southeastern Louisiana University. Working with this college-aged group allowed us to explore a new range of topics and deal with a complex subject.

We had a wide ranging and interesting discussion about potential topics before choosing Adaptation... and then another conversation led to our storyboard.

Storyboarding with our group.

After working long and hard days, we came home to Sara's awesome front porch. Bob Dylan was the music of choice.

Here, we work on the lava chase scene by constructing a conveyor belt of grass where the animals run.

Tiny Circus says thanks so much for the hard work and dedication during the late night animating sessions Southeastern Louisiana!!! The Circus will see you soon!

Promotional video for Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN

In late September, Tiny Circus visited our friends in Gatlinburg, Tennessee to make a short promotional video for Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. The work in progress starts with a trip into the city of Gatlinburg, all the way to the front door of the facility, followed by a tour of a few studios within. Tiny Circus observed and photographed a few of the classes taking place - woodturning, ceramics, and papermaking among others.

Below, Carlos and Greta discuss how to move the entire town of Gatlinburg past our camera in the middle of the table. No easy feat, but nothing is too hard for the Circus.

Jess and Greta work on constructing a tiny Gatlinburg.

Workdays were interrupted by swimming adventures at the world's best swimming hole... and in the evenings, many Tiny Circus airstream dance parties occurred. Arrowmont is a truly lovely institution with a long history. Check out their workshops and classes!

Elephant Trapped in Mt Vernon, IA

In September, The Tiny Circus took over Washington Elementary School in the gorgeous town of Mt Vernon, Iowa for a spectacular week of animation. With the help of 527 elementary students, a class of high school students and teachers, the Circus was able successfully to trap a elephant.

Below, students work collaboratively to animate wind blowing from a windmill.

All the participants worked together to create music and sound effects, construct props, and animate the elephant to create the 3 minute animation. Part of the animation utilized participants bodies. Our hosts rounded up a 40' tall scissor lift and we positioned a camera high above a playing field. Then, many kids worked under the hot sun in 40 minute periods, to act out scenes for the animation while being photographed from above.

527 kids - we needed each one to make this beautiful and complex animation. This was true collaboration - the involvement of all these participants created something much larger than the sum of its parts. ...And we trapped the heck out of that elephant!

During the week we enjoyed the warm Iowa fall days. A reporter from The Cedar Rapids Gazette came and interviewed a few students, catching some great responses. On Friday evening, Elephant Trap was premiered and we enjoyed the biggest Tiny Circus show to date!

Fine Arts Work Center - The History of Food

In mid-August, Tiny Circus traveled to Provincetown, Massachusetts for a workshop/class at the Fine Arts Work Center - with adults! Yay! We met for half days in a great studio in an old lumber yard. After some initial discussion about whether to focus on individual or group projects, we elected to create a history together - The History of Food. Find it on youtube.

The final scene of our film - eating is about to happen.

Careful animating and photographing. Later, the beach.

A toilet-paper roll with peanut eyes and clothespin feet is a main character in the film

Designing the glove-person-food thingy.

Gemma designs and articulates how this thing should walk. A great week!