HOW TO MAKE THE UNIVERSE IN A FISHTANK

Andy Basore Illuminates Star Making.

Superstar artists and stop-motion-teers Andy Basore and Anthony Johnson joined PERIODS. Films to create the universe for the short RE:CREATION as well as PERIODS. Films’ upcoming feature presentation (hush now, all will be answered).

Andy and Giovanni at work on the cosmos.

ANDY: I’ve been a big fan of the PERIODS. shorts and have wanted to collaborate with Victor and Anna for a long time. Having a background in stop motion animation not improv I wasn’t sure how our creative path would cross. When Victor emailed me and asked if I could help create the universe for his next short I had to hop on boards!

Where did the idea to do the cosmos the way you did come from?
ANDY: If you want to create the cosmos CGI and digital effects are the obvious tools. What excited me about this project is when Victor expressed that he wanted a more handmade approach. I love working with my hands, taking objects and finding ways to bring them to life with animation.  For this project Victor and I both were looking at films like ‘Tree of Life’ & ‘2001’.

In the 60’s sci-fi films relied on a lot of in-camera technique such as dropping ink into a fish tank of water to create the illusion of space.  Ink in water has the same environment as gases in space and create some stunning visuals.
Had you tried anything like this in the past? I have always been a fan on in-camera effects but had never worked with ink and water.  This was truly taking me to a place I had never been before but was excited to explore.

Giovanni contemplates the existence of man in relationship to the universe.

What was your approach?
ANDY: I had great support from Giovanni Autran and Anthony Johnson on this project. Together our approach for creating the cosmos was to see how different inks in different temperatures of water would react. Using a fish tank and just one drop of ink per test allowed us to isolate reactions we found visually interesting. Inks have different densities which allow some to slowly spread out creating stunning cloud formations while others sink to the bottom. When you drop pearlescent ink into warm water it begins to separate sending metallic shavings like glitter around creating the effect of stars floating in space. Giovanni had the difficult task of trying to find the link with light with out having reflections on the fish tank corrupt the images. We compiled our favorite reactions, layering them in post to compose the final shot (which were finally created by editor Charlie Porter).

Do you mind sharing the recipe for your special sauce?
ANDY: Time is the number one ingredient for creating the Cosmos!  The more time you give the ink to expand in the water the richer the image.  Over time we noticed that the ink would start bouncing off the side and bottom of the tank pushing clouds of color back onto each other.  This is where the real magic occurred!

What’s next for you?
ANDY: Right now I’m animating recycled skateboard jewelry for a company in Portland Oregon called MapleXO.
We’re creating a tour de force of destruction and creation with colorful wooden bits and pieces exploding, morphing and sanding down into beautiful pieces of jewelry all through stop motions. By creating numerous wooden models with slight changes has allowed us to make the wood appear to move and change like claymation!

Check out more of Andy’s work at www.andrewjive.com and his brilliant short 8-Bit Holiday.

Photos by Joy Andrews