Over the Bank Holiday weekend Peter and I set up camera and tripod in the dining-room at Ty Isaf, improvising an animation stand at first on the grey-painted floorboards, and afterwards… when my knees were feeling somewhat overworked from many hours on them… on the old table-top. We shot three passages of animation, each with a different maquette: the dragon, a naked man/horse figure made as a model when I was illustrating Equus, and an earlier clothed man/horse that I never used for the project. The first sequence was done in daylight, and in it the shadows strobe and creep across the floor and the sun comes in and out, effects I rather like. Our filming is a little ramshackle. My hands occasionally appear in single shots and the cable control of the shutter switch snakes in for a few frames, un-noticed by us at the time. But despite these glitches… or perhaps because of them… the sequences have raw energy, which is exactly what I wanted them to convey. Not sleek and elegant animation but a sense of the maquettes in daily use tacked to the walls of my studio or scattered on the floor around the easel.
On Bank Holiday Monday Peter and I took Marly to visit film-maker Pete Telfer at his home at Ceinws, not far from Machynlleth. While Peter went for a walk down by the river with our dog Jack, Pete’s partner Swsi and the couple’s daughter Alis… who was very nearly born in Ty Isaf, but that’s another story… Pete recorded Marly reading segments of Kathe Koja’s text for the Maquettes chapter of the monograph, to use on the soundtrack of the film. Marly did this beautifully… she’s pretty much a ‘one-take’ voiceover artist… and the cadences of her American accent entirely fit Kathe’s poetic evocations. (I’d asked Kathe to record the text for me in America, but she lacked a programme on her laptop to do so.) Pete edited the film yesterday, and by tea-time he was able to show us a finished cut. It’s perfect, and at around about five or six minutes long is exactly what I envisaged to show in the gallery. We used about 2 – 300 frames per animation sequence, which when run sequentially make concise little films that Pete has surrounded with live footage at Ty Isaf of me preparing the maquettes for their film debuts. The soundtrack of the filmed sections features the rookery just beyond our bedroom window, where all is restless energy as the adult birds care for their young. It’s a sound I associate with Ty Isaf, and one I love.
Click HERE to see the animation.
(You will have to register on Culture Colony, but the viewing of this film is free.)
My thanks to all concerned with this project. To Peter who came up with the idea and was the patient stills cameraman while I animated. To the wonderful Pete who advised us soundly, encouraged us enthusiastically and calmly fitted the film-making into his already over-crowded diary. To Kathe who wrote the evocative words and to Marly who read them beautifully, between them conjuring the perfect tone for the film. The short couldn’t have been made without the unceasing support these good friends of ours have loaned to the project.