I haven’t talked much yet about my artistic process for this project and some people have been asking how I do it. Well I can’t give away too many of my style secrets but here are my basic steps in what has turned out to be a rather complex and time consuming process! (Although I am happy with the result).
I use the Archives to search for images around the same historical period that I might be able to use to illustrate the stories. Sometimes I get lucky and find photos of the actual characters or actual places which is very exciting (!) but if I can’t find the right historical images then I collage a number of photographs together to create my own artist’s impression. I take the original archival images into Photoshop to firstly create the painterly effects and colourise the photos. I then put the images into a composting and animating software called After Effects where I add lighting and movement to the scenes. These files then get transferred into Final Cut Pro where I put the voice over and soundscapes over the top. It’s certainly not a fast process but it’s very satisfying to see the stories come alive! In the final stages of my project I’ll hopefully manage to learn a new piece of software which will enable me to present the animations in one half of the screen and on the other half of the screen users will be able to click on the original documents, photos, facts and oral history recordings that went into making the films. Boy am I busy!
One of the technical challenges in creating the scenes is that many of the original photos are in a square format but the animations I’m making are in a widescreen (landscape) format so I have to do some creative thinking around how to recompose and extend the original photos into new scenes. Below is an example of what I mean.
The original photograph below had to be extended so I added more landscape around the people.
NTAS series 259 Glass Plate View no. 160E by Paul Foelsche.
One ethical problem I’m struggling with is using actual faces of deceased people to represent my characters. I’m trying to get around this by changing the original photos so that the people become imagined characters but I have to confess I still have a level of discomfort around this but I’m not sure what else I could do. I made a character pictured below. Sometimes I wish I had a cultural adviser or a producer to help with dilemmas!