Chicago Stop Motion Animators: Shawn Spear and Molly McCandless

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August 9, 2016 | 1-Exposing The Crew, Animators


Sleepy Steve


Stop Motion Animators


Shawn Spear and Molly McCandless

A “Stop Motion Animator” is a person who physically manipulates models, puppets, or clay to create animated films.

Hi everyone and thanks for joining us here at Exposing the Crew: A Place for Chicago-made Short Films!

This week’s ETC HIGHLIGHT is the short film, Sleepy Steve.

This animated film was created using a full-sized live action crew, including this week’s ETC Exposed crew members, Shawn Spear and Molly McCandless.

“I specifically love the style change at the end of this story as it provides context for the feelings that stop motion creates in a project.” (Justin Jackola, Director at JJack Productions).

Although the process was “technically challenging”, they used a combination of traditional stop-motion animation and pixelation to bring this project to life. Pixelation is “just like stop-motion, but human beings are used instead of, say, puppets”, said Shawn.  He continued by saying that they “…paired the animation of, for example, the mechanical arms with our pixelated human subject”.

They captured and organized each frame using software called Dragonframe that was connected to DSLRs.  This program allowed them to draw reference lines that helps them animate along a predetermined path of action.  “(Dragonframe) also has a playback option that allowed us to view progress on each take.  It is a very useful tool for stop-motion animators.”  Shawn and Molly always had their eyes on the Dragonframe monitors while animating.

Filming took five 16-20 hour days.  “It was a high stress situation” because most shots required that they “get it right” on the first take. However, when speaking about how stressful the job actually was Shawn stated “…it’s strange, thinking back on it, how much laughing we did”, and even though it was a stressful situation, they found ways to make each other laugh, and have fun doing what they love.

To see more films by Shawn Spear, please visit Shawn Spear’s Vimeo page.

Also make sure to check out the NEW ShowPup Short Film Festival!

Thank you for watching this week’s “EXPOSED” short film, and reading our blog Exposing the Crew: A Place for Chicago-made Short Films!

See you next Tuesday!