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Two animators cross paths. They fall in love. And then they open an animation studio. Meet Ru Kuwahata and Max Porter, the founders of Tiny Inventions. Between the two of them, Ru and Max have to perform all the work of a much larger company, but they wouldn't have it any other way. Their process combines both handmade and digital elements and involves painstakingly recreating characters, sets, and lighting in programs like CINEMA 4D and After Effects. In this Creative Spark, Ru and Max explain how they established Tiny Inventions and take us through the creative process of Between Times, their latest film.
Male Speaker 1: The physical textures of the set are important. That's one component that we really respond to. But the other thing is the light. The fact that materials react in interesting ways with real light. And that's something that's important to our process. To have all of these things that are happening for free, like lights bouncing around a set, lights bouncing of the floor and creating colors that you didn't anticipate. Female Speaker 1: So this half of the studio is where we photograph and do stop motion.
As you can see, there are lots of sets, and we had to block off all the natural light source from the other side of the room, so we have a total control over all the lighting situation. This is one of the main set. It's the bakery, and you can also see the background. So first of all we used the Cinema 4D animation as a reference and we set up the camera according to it and then it also depends on the time of the day. In the film we set the lighting.
Do you want to talk about the lighting? Male Speaker 1: Yeah so we have this handy little grid here. So that we're always matching the the light during the time of the day over the course of the 18 hours of the film. And we're using two lights. One is like a bigger soft box, and the other is a more direct sort of snoot type of light to create these really sharp geometric angles. Some of the lighting that we were inspired by were like Edward Hopper paintings. Where the lighting is very pointed and graphic.
It's really nice to see how the light interacts with the props and how it sort of pings off of surfaces and picks up the texture of the wood. That was something that Rue was sensitive to. She, she actually carved into the wood so that the light would pick it up in an interesting way. Female Speaker 1: So, once the camera is set up we usually bring the old puppet as a stand in so we can study the lighting. And use this as a reference. Male Speaker 1: In this Cinema 4D pre-vis we're pre-visualizing the set up.
We'll also plan out how the character animation, the Cinema 4D animation interacts with stop-motion props. So for example. Often characters will be getting up and leaving and their chairs will move. Right? So we'll actually animate that frame by frame stop motion. Characters are always coming into the baker, so the door is opening and closing. And all of those elements are synchronized with the Cinema 4D Character Animation, and they're planned ahead of time. The camera that we're using is the Canon 7D, and we have used this same lens for almost every shot.
It's the 17 to 55 Canon 2.8. It's a beautiful lens, and it's been sharp at just about every lens length that we've used. So the Canon 7D and the Emo Teemo box are both tethered to a animation software program called Dragonframe. And this is a program you can use to animate. You can also use it to test your shots in a cinematography room. So that's where you would check your focus and your exposure.
And one of the strongest powers for our purposes is you can actually control the motion of the camera, so using Dragonframe and Emo Teemo box. We can program sliding movements, tilting movements, and panning motions to connect to the pre-visualization that we did in Cinema 4D. We'll block in a basic camera move the tilt, the pan, the slide, and the focal shifts.
Dragonframe allows you to do a test movie, so it's a, a real rough video feedback of how your final movie's going to be. And once we're happy with the motion we'll actually set it to just shoot those really large RAW files which we bring into AfterEffects and do our final compositing with.
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