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We are very excited to announce that the December 2018 winner of our Film of the Month competition is Thinking Out of the Box, a fantastic animated short made by Ben from Bedfordshire.
Thinking Out of the Box (Engaging for 5+) is an imaginative stop motion animation that sees a little light-bulb eager to leave his box and explore the world, but before he can do that he must come up with a bright idea.
'Thinking Out of the Box' is a neat and entertaining animation that does big things with a simple idea.Film of the Month Judge on 'Thinking Out of the Box'
Ben previously won Film of the Month back in July 2018 with Animate, and with Thinking Out of the Box has become the first filmmaker to win the coveted award twice! We got in touch with Ben again to find out more about his new film and how he made it.
To be really honest, I did not think I would win as I couldn't tell if the film was any good. It was really hard to animate and was so different from my last one. Only when I added the sound did it start to look better. I entered the competition as it was a way to make myself finish the film properly and get some feedback.
It is hard to remember how I got the idea. My brother has a collection of glass bottles shaped like light bulbs and I think someone turned one upside down and said it would make a good head. I was struggling for an idea for an animation and I was told to "think out of the box" and so I thought of an idea shaped like a bulb struggling to escape from a box.
I found animating the Plasticine much easier as it was so flexible. It stays where you put it, moulds easily and so it was quicker to animate. The bulb model was made from a cheap set of garden LED lights bought in a bargain shop, two types of wire and FIMO [modelling clay] feet and hands.
It wouldn't stay still when posed, (for example the arms always fell down which is why they are stuck up with Blu Tack at one point) which was really frustrating. Also, the legs snapped off the first model when I was trying to bend them to film a walking shot. That is why the bulb is very stiff and barely moves. I had to try and create its character through other ways such as changing the facial expressions, sound effects and little gestures, like his arms swinging.
I had put another light over the scene to turn on whenever the lightbulb lit up. The idea was to make the scene brighter to show he was having an idea. Actually the opposite happened on film, because the white balance on the camera adjusted as there was more light, making the scene seem darker. Luckily this showed up the LED, which was quite dim, so I kept it in. It only looked good after I added the crackling electrical sound which was made by scrunching foil decorations.
I drew the different eyes and mouths and stuck them on with Blu Tack but every time I changed them, it moved the model. As I don't have a live-feed camera, I had to keep trying to line it up again, by taking a photo then lining that up with onion skinning. This wasted a lot of time but I really liked the effect in the end.
For the soundtrack, I composed the music by playing around on a keyboard. Originally the music was lower and slower which felt clumsy and wrong when I added it to the film. As it is meant to be a light character I sped the music up and changed some of the instruments whenever it sounded boring, which worked better. This time I kept the tune going quietly underneath the action.
For the sound effects, I recorded the box sound by tapping it on a table whilst watching the film to get the timing right. The squeaking was made by a rotating the top of a metal stool. I recorded a lot of different squeaks then added each one separately. By adding it every time the character's arms or legs moved it made the character come to life. The flapping sound were drum brushes waved really fast next to the microphone. My sister and I recorded the balloons deflating on a stereo Dictaphone. We had a lot of fun trying to get as many different sounds as possible.
I like trying new types of animation so I am working on a 2D animation using a drawing tablet. It takes longer as I have to draw each frame but at least I don't have to fight with gravity and nothing falls over. It looks a bit basic at the moment.
Ben's film will now be showcased to over 300,000 film club members online and all of our Film of the Month films are now on the Into Film YouTube channel, and he has also secured a £100 Amazon voucher to help further develop his future films. If you've been inspired by December''s winner, find out more about how you can enter our ongoing Film of the Month competition.
If you've been inspired by Thinking Out of the Box then make sure you check out these related films:
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Jim Parkyn, model maker at Aardman Animations, visits a school in Wales to run a model-making workshop and bring career aspirations to young people.
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A resource to support stop motion animation in your class or club.
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