Jeu de Paume
2014 – Stop motion animation, 3 minutes
Camera Motion

Jeu de Paume uses a combination of new and traditional techniques of animation. Marked by its premiere on March 4th, 2014 at the Whitney Biennial, Jeu de Paume is first stop motion animation to employ hand-held camera movements performed by a human.

To produce the camera motion, I performed the camera movements with a shoulder rig in an empty room while imagining that I was responding to the movement of a tennis player. The idea was to choreograph a dance between the player and a cinematographer, similar to the push-and-pull dance that I found so interesting between the camera of Charles Atlas and Merce Cunningham's dancers.

As I was performing the cinematography, the rotation and position coordinates of the camera were recorded every 24th of a second. I developed software to import and export this data into a virtual set, where the movement could be scaled to the 1:13 size of my puppets and positioned in space.

In order to re-perform this camera movement in my physical model of the court in incremental steps for stop-motion animation, I built a robot that moves the camera. The robot is able to move the camera in increments as small as 1/1000th of an inch, or rotate in 1/100th of a degree.

For each frame of animation, I manipulated the puppet with my hands into the next position, I crawled out of the set, exposed the photograph, and finally the camera would move into the next position. Once I had completed the shot (usually hundreds of frames), the robot camera program was rewound, and the sequence was repeated without the puppet. This clean version of the footage was used to hide the armature that held the puppet in the air, or allowed the puppet to appear to balance on one foot.

The Set

The set is built from slate, wood, paint and other materials. I made puppets are made with silicon and are airbrushed with pigmented silicon and flocking. They have a steel ball-joint armatures and cloth clothes.

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