Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Cornucopia of Happenings

As you could imagine, the title of this entry exists purely for the ability to use the work Cornucopia. because everybody should, every once in a while. It's that awesome.

Despite being exhausted to the point of delirium, I'm chipping away at caravan as the semester ever-so-rapidly nears a close. As of yesterday, I re-edited the film's leica reel purely on timing and how it felt visually, finally scrapping my old scratch soundtrack in preparation for editing final sound. I managed to shave 6 seconds off of the film as a result, and I feel like the whole thing flows much more smoothly. Today, I'm meeting with Larry, hopefully producing the film's score as a result - step one (and I feel, as someone who is very creatively prone towards musical influences, the most important aspect) of getting the final sound down for Caravan.

This week's immediate to-do list:
  • Edit Leica Reel for tightest timing possible. (DONE)
  • Tie-down shots where Mia is getting yanked around so that they read as clearly as possible. (DONE)
  • 1st Angry Ethan shot: tie down last few frames to force pose. (DONE)
  • 2nd Angry Ethan shot: tie down last few frames to force pose. (DONE)
  • Rough animate the girls dancing about the campfire (shoot reference on Wednesday!) (DONE)
I also entered Caravan's progress reel to compete for this year's Stratton Foundation scholarship, as they routinely, generously and quite enthusiastically, support CCS and its students. Here's hoping! :) Entry for the application required students to write two statement paragraphs, one for the artist, and one for the film itself. I thought I'd share those here.


Caravan tells the tale of eight year old Mia Talbert's discovery of a band of eclectic Gypsy Travelers in the woods near her home. The Travelers' warm companionship and colorful lifestyle draw her back to their campsite from one season to the next, while, each night, she tepidly returns home to her rural, derelict farmhouse. When Mia's young Gypsy friend, Kelsey Kavenaugh, follows her home one day, the truth about her home life is revealed to a frightening degree of clarity, and Kelsey flees back to the campground for help. Mia, the victim of an abusive father, he addled with alcoholism that has consumed their family for generations, is spirited away by the Gypsies, and with them, she finds peace. This film, at is core, strives to show that one in no way has to be of means to make a tremendous impact on the life of a child in need. They simply have to take the step needed to do the right thing. Caravan is the senior thesis film project of Entertainment Arts major Mel Miller, currently in production, and scheduled for completion as of September 2010. The film strives to artfully combine hand-drawn and digital film making techniques, as a fully traditionally animated film, digitally colored in Adobe Photoshop, its special effects and final composite compiled in Adobe After Effects.

Mel Miller on the Creation of Caravan

Caravan is a short film rich in personal symbolism and experience for myself, as well as a reflection back on aspects of my family’s history, both positive and negative alike. Its creation has greatly become a form of art therapy for me. It has allowed me to reflect back on my own family’s generations-long struggle with alcoholism as a disease, giving me the opportunity to approach my and my mother’s childhood memories both objectively and on a very personal level, excising many long-buried understandings and misconceptions about that history, and coming to better understand my own roll in such a complex family disease. The film also, very ironically and unexpectedly, has allowed me to better and more positively face the homelessness both I and my parents have faced during months of its production, grasping all too clearly, much like the Gypsy Traveler characters within Caravan, the tremendous importance of the warmth, closeness and network of support provided by family; in times of prosperity of course, but all the more so when the material things in life fail us completely. This film has been a guide, a mentor, and a constant companion for the past year, and I look forward to continuing to grow through its creation in the coming months.

Thank you, Stratton Foundation, for your consideration.


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