Since 1982, Make Music Day has been celebrated all over the world. Free, live music makes its way throughout gardens, rooftops and hills from Nigeria to Cyprus and the international festival of music hosts performances of all kinds of music. Taking place every year on the summer solstice (21 June), this year, renowned animator Kate Isobel Scott – known for her charming stop motion animations – was commissioned to create a one-minute-long animation as a central asset for the designated day of music.
Commissioned by Spitfire Audio, the idea behind Kate’s latest animation was to create something that would inspire music being written to it. “The Spitfire community was able to download the animation and score their own music to it,” explains Kate. “It was so exciting to see versions of my animation with different music added to it and it was interesting to see how differently people interpreted the animation,” she tells It’s Nice That.
Lucky enough to direct the short with full creative freedom, Kate tackled the open brief by considering the relationship between audio and video and their mutual dependency when it comes to telling stories. “I like the idea of making something out of clay that is mundane yet recognisable to people can relate to it,” she says on the making of the animation. And who doesn’t enjoy ogling at recognisable objects in a cute miniature form?
The London overground presented itself as the perfect subject for the scaled down short. “I used to travel on it everyday and it is boring,” says Kate, “I always hoped that something fun would happen, kind of like what happens in my film, but I just used to stare at my phone, also like the people in the animation.” But once she started thoroughly researching the chosen route (from Peckham Rye to Dalston Junction), Kate became “really hyped” as for the first time, she started to take in the variety of angles and colours that filled the train journey and “it blew my mind” says the animator on the matter.
Combining different techniques together, Kate hand painted the intro, made figurines out of plasticine and sewed their clothes on a sewing machine. She made the set out of wood and assembled the construction using a laser cutter, acting as art director which became a “super fun” experience. “The largest section of the animation is a classic stop-motion shot in front of a green screen,” Kate adds, “so I was able to add in real footage in the background.” She also used handy little animator’s tricks such as sticking magnets on the bottoms of the characters’ shoes so Kate could manipulate their poses while still ensuring they could stand.
Ultimately however, the film highlights just how much time we stare at our phones while on public transport. Kate goes on to say: “Doing the same thing over and over again, such as commuting for work, can become so familiar and mundane. Sometimes, we forget to look around a bit more which results in us missing out on small amusements. So in my animation, all the characters are looking at their phones not even acknowledging this random performance happening right in front of them. So maybe this is something people should think about when watching the animation, on their phones, while on the train.”
About the Author
Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. Feel free to drop Jyni a note if you have an exciting story for the site.