Every year g has an artist create work for the season of Advent and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work with the staff and thoughtfully engage in how to visually communicate what this season means for me.
Advent is the four weeks prior to Christmas and is a time to reflect and enter into waiting. This practice has been very meaningful for me personally and I truly enjoyed this process. After meeting with the Worship Arts Director, I created a few rough sketches and offered a few ideas but we were both drawn to the idea of moving stills and felt that it visually represented the idea of knowing that more is coming but having to wait for that future moment.
As I began filling out the idea I decided I wanted to create a longer animation to connect each week together and lead into artwork that would be used for Christmas. From that I would choose specific moments to represent each week of advent. I would be able to use a single frame for the printed illustration and would either create multiple versions of a single frame or the surrounding frames to create the looping moving still.
At this point I also chose to work by hand rather than digitally to create the animation. There were several reasons for this but the biggest reason was that I wanted this to be a contemplative process for myself and also deliberately change my tools and setting to help promote that idea. Once I had the animation essentially finished I pulled the four moments that would represent the four weekly themes Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace.
For these moving illustrations I was only having to photograph 3-5 drawings and then used Photoshop to adjust levels and create some of the color effects and used HitFilm Express to create the final video files. However, for the longer animation I needed a different approach. So I did what any animator would do, I lived out that dream of being a 2D Animator. I installed OnionCam2 on my iPad, used a chair, some extra lights, books and a piece of glass to create a capture station ...
I knew I would be doing some type of capture from the beginning so I was sure to use my Peg Bar and Animation paper so that switching drawings and setting up registration would be easy. While I knew I wanted to try and incorporate the moving images I already had I shot all of the drawings on 2's at 12 frames per second with a few instances where I knew I wanted to stagger and repeat the drawings, but to help later in editing I decided to make four smaller files that start at one week/theme and end on the next. This was the straight capture of the drawings.
From this point I used HitFilm Express to edit the longer animation, make necessary color corrections and blend the various pieces together. This longer animation connects the artwork from the four Advent weeks in addition to introducing the artwork for Christmas, the moment we have been actively waiting for during the Advent season.
Working by hand, improvising the capture setup and engaging with this subject matter all worked together to revitalize and generate a true joy within me. The process of mentally and physically connecting with the marks being made on paper was so refreshing. It caused me to take a step back and look at a bigger picture, something that I had not done in a while and was needing to. I also love learning and trying new things so finally getting into traditional (2D) animation has sparked a creative interest and I hope to continue creating/experimenting with it in the near future.