E3.1: Shadow Wall: Animation Light Study

Some of the most beautiful sights in my own life are simple but mesmerising plays of light filtered through shadows that dance on flat surfaces or water and change from moment to moment – one of the nearest (frequent) experiences my life gets to spirituality.

‘Shadow Wall’ is an experimental timelapse animation of light dancing on the wall of our front room. Exploring the effects of speeding up and slowing down and introducing animated mirror and kaleidoscope edges in Adobe Premiere and After Effects and colour grading.

All moving image involves different types of time:

  • ‘narrative time’ – the amount of time that is spanned within the story or piece
  • ‘discourse’ or ‘viewing time’ – the amount of time it takes to experience a story through reading or watching it unfold
  • ‘production time’ – the time it took to produce the piece.

When included in the frame of an animation, natural light highlights the difference between production time and viewing time. This is most often seen through the flicker in time-lapse video. Unlike time-lapse video, animation is not constrained by strictly set intervals of time between shots. The duration between each shot can be manipulated so that time can be seen to slow down or speed up. Using basic principles of animation, shadows can be made to hesitate or race, reflections made to boil or linger.


Observe the passing of natural light in a room. Think about how you might photograph aspects of this light. Setup a camera and take repeated time-lapse-like photographs of shadows and reflections of this light over the course of a day (the earlier you wake, and the longer you stick at it, the more interesting the colours).
You can approach this exercise in several ways; recording subtle shifts in colour, tone and shape or by interfering with the light, manipulating reflections and casting shadows. The purpose of the exercise is to employ the animation principles you have learned such as ‘ease in ease out’, looping, eye trace and anticipation to manipulate the time conveyed by the natural light in the room.

Sound-track optional.

Shadow Wall


Anne Harild, Taking Time (2014)

Jane Cheadle, Swimmer (2012)