Middle Tennessee State University

Tiny Circus spent the week at Middle Tennessee University, creating an animation with a group of about 15 college students. The group decided to make an animation that doesn’t fit neatly into the History or Trap categories. We centered in on the topic of fear, and the first day we recorded interviews asking people about their childhood and adult fears. After we listened to the hours of raw audio gathered, we discussed what we heard – themes and words that stood out – and created a short audio piece to be our film’s soundtrack, and guide the conversation of our visual story.

Figuring out what visual story to tell alongside the audio piece, and coalescing around the finer points of how each of us imagined it took many hours of discussion and hard collaboration sitting around a table – about 18 hours if you really want to know.

On Day 4, the animating began. Childhood object selection, shadow tracing, then shadow cutting, followed by animating the shadow movement required patience and precision, and at 11 pm when we finished the first half of the film, we decided to remake (i.e. simplify) our ideas for the second part. Throughout the epic day of animation, there was an exciting collective energy. We were working together, making something. 

Day 5 we brought the sound and images together. Editing as a group with the Final Cut file projected on a screen, we talked through various ways of arranging the images and how many moments of looking felt necessary. Sometimes it was hard to find words for why we liked one arrangement more than another, but striving for those words feels like a necessary challenge. 

Fear debuted at the MTSU Student Film Festival. 

[A special thanks to David Kamp, our documentarian for the week, who took many of the photos above. Keep an eye out for a short documentary of our week that David is creating.]

A Sidewalk Show at Artspace in Raleigh, North Carolina

On Friday night, Tiny Circus presented a sidewalk show outside of Artspace, projecting our animations out of the airstream for all walking by to see. It was a lively night in downtown Raleigh, with many people passing by on their way to the First Friday music and art exhibitions at Artspace. We were thrilled to present our two new animations from the local Brentwood Boys and Girls Club. We witnessed some parents having to pry their children away from the sidewalk.  
We talk a lot about communicating with our audience as we create a film so it's always interesting to watch the people watching the animations for the first time. How are they reacting? Which parts of the film are people responding to in particular? After spending so much time with each story, creating the animation, it's pleasurable and sometimes surprising to watch the films alongside those with fresh eyes.

The Brentwood Boys and Girls Club

Tiny Circus lifted off from New Orleans last week, rolling to Raleigh, North Carolina for a week of animation-making with the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club through Artspace, an art center in Raleigh.

In one week we created two animations. An enthusiastic group of second and third graders in the club decided to tell the story of The History of Vampires. Biting off a topic that has been a dark and thrilling fascination for storytellers for ages, this is not an animation for the faint of heart (or tomatoes).

With the fourth and fifth grade group, an animation about bullying was created that developed out of two days of serious and thoughtful conversations. It was striking to be around a table with fifteen fourth and fifth graders and a handful of adults, with differences of age, race, religion, and a whole lot else – all of us drawing from personal experiences and observations with bullying. We reflected on questions about what bullying is, why a person may bully, and the many ways we all respond to the act. All the while, the conversation was driving towards creating an animation: how do we visualize this? How do we craft this story?

Once we decided to use fruits as our characters, a discussion about how the fruits could reflect certain feelings and actions to our audience became important. And there was even room for laughter with the enticing possibility of eating our animated objects. (Note to animators: complete shooting before eating, or the project may involve extra trips to the grocery store.)

We distilled our story to The History of A Bully and we know it can’t tell a complete story of a complicated behavior and it’s devastating impact. Our small film is what we collaboratively jostled out of a big matter. We hope that the animation that emerged from the conversation in the art room of the Brentwood Boys and Girls Club will resonate with those outside of it, sparking more fruitful conversation and action.