Interview with Animator Mike Healey
Creator of "Odd Socks"
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We loved "Odd Socks" because its a great example of a well made stopmotion/cutout production. Mike's sense of play and imaginative creation of a new world are out of sight.
I first became interested in animation when I was in high school. I enjoyed filmmaking but felt that live action often placed restrictions on my imagination. I began to realize that there is nothing that can't be done with animation and a little creativity.
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I started animating on my own in high school, but it wasn't until I began studying animation at NYU that I really started to love it. I was encouraged to experiment with combining different styles of animation and live action to try to bring some of the visuals I had in my head to life.
I discovered that music videos were a great means through which I could combine my love of music and filmmaking, so I began directing videos for independent bands in New York City. My first animated music video (for Ryan Star's "We Might Fall") was screened on the Independent Film Channel in 2005. Since then, I have co-founded kneeon!, an animation and live action production company, with my animation partner Kelly Goeller and we have produced numerous music videos and short films.
I love animation because it is a great means through which to tell the story I want without having to worry so much about logistical and monetary issues. With animation, there are endless possibilities.
I am influenced by a wide range of people and objects. The list includes (but is not limited to): Norman McLaren, Michel Gondry, Nick Park, Sesame Street, illustrated childrens' books, NY Post headlines and childhood toys.
The inspiration behind the music video came from the music itself. I heard Grand Pocket Orchestra play while I was abroad in Dublin for a music video production program through NYU. The band had a very unique sound and evoked a childish sense of creativity in me. I approached them about doing a music video for them and told them my idea.
I really wanted to combine animation and live action but wanted to stay away from making the project look digital. I watched a lot of British and Irish children's television show openings (Bosco, Mr. Benn, The Clangers, Bagpuss, etc.) and decided that I wanted to combine stop motion cut-outs with live action video printed onto each frame. This was the best way I could achieve the look of live action but also keep the authentic, hand-made look of stop motion.
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I shot the band against a white cyc and edited the video together in Final Cut Pro
. Once I was picture locked, I exported every other frame out of After Effects and erased the backgrounds in Photoshop so that I could put as many frames as possible on each page to be printed. I printed every frame out on large paper and along with the band and their friends, proceeded to cut out over 3600 separate images. Kelly and I built the sets with very simple bright colored papers and recycled cardboard.
I then photographed every frame with a Canon 40D, and after each photograph, I had to swap out the cutout for the next frame and make sure it lined up. I did not have any computer software to use for the stop motion shoot, so I had to toggle back and forth between frames in the camera to make sure the animation looked right. I then assembled and color corrected all of the frames in Adobe After Effects
Due to deadlines, I had only 4 days to animate and assemble the entire video with no crew. The biggest challenge was just trying to get everything shot on the $200 budget that I was given. Shooting was extremely tedious and at one point I had to find a new camera to use because the person who I borrowed it from needed it back. So the band helped me find another Canon 40D and within a few hours and I was able to animate again.
All in all, I had a little under a month to come up with the concept, shoot the live action video, photoshop, print, and cut out every frame, build sets, light them, and animate the entire video. I went on 4 hours of sleep for the whole month and while I probably slept for a week straight afterwards, it was all worth it. I was very happy with how it all turned out.
Watch "Odd Socks"
View Mike's Portfolio