When it comes to stop-motion animated films, who hasn’t enjoyed and loved Coraline, Kubo and the Two Strings, Missing Link, Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and more. This technique of animation has charmed and made its way to the hearts of millions of fans and admirers worldwide.
Stop motion is an animated filmmaking technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion or change when the series of frames are played back.
Given its popularity and how it lets animators play and experiment with their content, many aspiring artists are taking up this form and creating amazing content with their expertise. One such artist is California, USA based Bismark Fernandes.
Fernandes is a stop-motion filmmaker and designer from Goa, India. He completed his M.F.A degree in Animation from Savannah College of Art and Design and is currently working in Burbank Area in California.
With over three years of experience in designing and creating animated content for television, he is well versed with various styles of animation with stop-motion being closest to his heart. What draws him towards this handmade art form is that it is tangible with subtle imperfections that makes it unique.
Animation Xpress had a candid chat with him and following are the excerpts:
Tell us more about your work profile
I am a Stop Motion Animator and Fabricator, currently working as a model maker and set dresser at Stoopid Buddy Studios in Burbank, California. After completing my Masters at Savannah College of Art and Design, I worked at various stop motion studios and production houses in the United States where I have had the opportunity to work on commercials, spots, series and feature films.
The stop motion medium is a truly fascinating branch of the animation field. It is a combination of handcrafted skill with animation techniques, to tell a story. We use miniature sets and props where all the characters are physical movable puppets manipulated by the animator to create the sense of movement.
What difference do you see in the art education system in India and other countries?
I completed my Undergraduate at MAAER’s MIT Institute of Design, in Animation and Film Design. Here I got an introduction to the medium of animation and the fundamentals of design. This was a crucial part of my journey as I still utilise my learning as a designer which is an integral part of my process. I feel my Indian education taught me the various aspects of animation filmmaking, and I could work as a generalist taking on several roles in a production. As an animation designer in India, I was able to storyboard and animate 2D spots for television, illustrate books and posters for clients, and composite final films.
I chose to come to the US to delve deeper into stop motion medium. My masters helped me specialise in stop motion while I still practiced traditional animation and CG animation. I was able to choose my courses to modify them to help me create more work in Stop motion which helped with building my portfolio. The education out here prepares you to be more of a specialist than a generalist.
How has your experience been working in the Stop motion industry?
Working in the Stop motion Industry in the has been a great experience. I have had the opportunity to be a part of some great teams and work on some incredible projects. Every project creates a new set of challenges which gives you the opportunity to problem solve and come up with some unique solutions. We have now been incorporating 3D printing, laser cutting and various other technologies, in our workflow which expedites some of our processes while maintaining detail.
Some of my most exciting projects that I have worked on are the Amazon Prime Day 2018 ( Directed by Peter Sluszka) commercial and a Frooti commercial ( Directed by Yves Geleyn) that was produced at Hornet in New York.
What message would you like to give to the aspiring artists who wish to pursue a career in this field?
This has probably been repeated a million times but it is very important to be critical of your own work and keep working on outdoing your previous work. Also, it is very important to stay updated and keep learning new techniques and get acquainted to newer technology that is relevant to your field of study. However, it is important to learn the basics thoroughly before diving into the newer tools which will help ease your workflow and elevate your work to a whole new level. Most important of all is to keep creating more work outside of classroom projects and work assignments. These projects will help make your mark and set you apart from other artists.
I’m sure the journey to enter this industry hasn’t been easy. What challenges did you face and how did you manage with the competition?
The stop motion industry is a very small community since it is a highly specialized field in animation. I had to create various reels and portfolios designed specifically for each position that I was applying for. It showcased specific projects that would clearly portray the skills that would match the job description. Having a strong presence of LinkedIn, and networking with artists from studios helps a lot. Personal studio visits help put a face to your work and discuss your work personally where they get to know your personality. Sadly due to the pandemic a lot of studios are shut to outside crew, but this would be a great time to build a strong portfolio once we are able to get back out there.
Which is your favourite work from your portfolio?
Expend– a short film that was directed by me has been closest to my heart. It was a challenging experience and I had a great team of highly skilled artists who helped bring this film to life. This film has been across various film festivals around the world and has won a fair amount of awards and recognition.