"The Flight of the Mockingbird"
Dedicated to 30 years of Phish!
This short video was conceived and produced as a tribute to my favourite band, Phish, and as a gift to their devoted fans.
The idea was originally sparked by some Phish 'bobbleheads' that a friend sent to me in New Zealand several years ago. I had always dreamed of doing something unique with the bobbleheads, some kind of cool art project that I could then share with my friend as a way of saying "thanks". I had come up with the idea to create a scale version of Mt. Rushmore, replacing the four presidents faces with the faces of the four members of Phish, but this would require removing the heads from the bobblehead dolls! Well, I took the plunge and decapitated four of my beloved bobbleheads, and the project quickly evolved from there.
The idea first came to me to use the 'Mt Phishmore' set-piece in a short animation while working on another short 2D animation. I thought it would be a cool way to learn stop-motion and other filmmaking techniques.
I decided to work with the short version of the song "The Divided Sky" from Phish's demo album known as 'The White Tape'. I chose this song because it was one of the first Phish songs that I can remember hearing and being really moved by... and I chose this version because, well, it was very short! Animation takes a long time, especially for one person. Also, I thought the rough aesthetic of the demo version would probably suit what would surely be a rough, amateurish animation. The first step for me was to write a short narrative, and then create a cohesive storyboard which I could use as a guide to plan each 'section' of the story.
I worked on the project in my lounge during spare time- weekends, after work, holidays- over the course of one year. A true labour of love, I set out to learn as much as possible about traditional stop motion techniques and computer compositing software.
All images were taken using a Canon 550D dslr using several lenses. Adobe Photoshop, Apple Motion, and Apple Quicktime were used to create the composited images, while Final Cut Express 4 was used to edit the final composites together. I set up for photography in our lounge and on our dining room table. At one point, our dining was completely overrun with props and sets and was turned into a miniature green-screen studio! Down the road at Stone St. Studios, thousands were labouring away on Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" trilogy, while a short drive up the hill special fx history was being made by one man with an unhealthy Phish obsession!
All of the puppets, props, and sets were built by hand with the help of my girlfriend Amy Brennan. I went through a few iterations of the puppet for the main character, the Mockingbird, finally deciding to purchase a professional stop-motion armature kit from Animation Toolkit in the UK. (http://www.animationtoolkit.co.uk/) If you have any interest in stop motion puppet making, I can not recommend this site enough!
All in all, this has been an incredible learning experience and an exciting (and often frustrating) process. I have been lucky enough to have the great support of my girlfriend Amy, as well as some amazing friends whose own unhealthy obsessions with the band Phish prevented them from ever questioning the sanity of pursuing a project like this! So now, I just need to find my next project to keep me occupied for the next year...
CLICK HERE FOR FULL GALLERY of "behind-the-scenes" photos