E3.6: Document a process

Make an animation documenting the different tasks involved in a daily action. Such as baking a cake, cleaning a room, folding the washing etc.
Try to work impressionistically to capture the energy of this process and it’s particular qualities (in other words it need not function as an instruction manual).
Make use of sound, if you want to, but not voice over for this exercise.
Use any animation technique or combination of techniques you choose.
Upload your short film onto your learning log.

A nostalgic male voice over and atmospheric music drive this narrative about time and death. High contrast, soft focused and textured black and white still images are sequenced as action footage. There are occasional dissolves and zooms, but mostly cut with movement between black and white shapes in opposing parts of the image. Throughout these images shake very slightly to give the feeling of movement.

Tip: Ken Burns and keyframing
Stories can be told using just still images, for example, in Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jetee. The use of still imagery is particularly prevalent in the documentary form. It is almost a cliché now to have slow zooms and pans of historical photographs accompanied with a narrated voice over. This is partly due to the ease with which such panning and zooming has become with the use of digital editing. American documentary film-maker Ken Burns is synonymous with this approach to documentary film-making. So much so that Apple have named their ‘ease in ease out’ tool after the film-maker “The Ken Burns Effect” (this effect is found in iPhoto, iMovie and Final Cut Pro X but it is also possibly in many professional and home software applications under a different name).

What the “Ken Burns Effect” does is zoom or pan in an ‘ease in, ease out’ way. That is to say, the movement starts smoothly and slowly comes to rest. This smoothing and altering of the pace of an overall movement is normally achieved by manipulating a ‘Bezier Curve’. The Ken Burns Effect does this Bezier work for you. You set the first ‘key frame’ (where you want the movement/zoom to start) and the final ‘key frame’ (where you want the movement/zoom to end). The software then interpolates the inbetween frames.

Stan Brakhage