Cut out animation

In my 2D animation class, we are exploring all kinds of techniques, and the master studies are great. Thanks to Lottie Reiniger and Terry Gilliam, last week’s unit was for cut out animation, but we cheated a little, using After Effects to edit them together. I wonder if Lottie would have even wanted technology that took that much of the process out of her hands -literally?

The theme was “Ridiculous Mishap”, so my goal was to use my short story about The Imp from Lodila Valley, but since the project called for only 20-30 seconds, I pared it down. I’ll tell the whole tale someday. For now, here is “The Imp”:

If you are not familiar with Lottie Reiniger or *gasp* Terry Gilliam, check out the clips below:

Lottie actually created the very first animated feature length film – before Disney. The most fascinating part is that she hand cut every piece and took every photo herself. Astounding genius! I think she will be the focus of my first podcast for my Podcasting class this semester, about women in animation.

Cybele

Cybele of Lake Chitali

Cybele (si-bill-ee), named for an Anatolian goddess (also known as the Magna Mater, or “great mother”), is a genderless water creature that dwells in Lake Chitali, at the outskirts of the Land of Lo.

It is considered, like most Lodians, a hybrid of plant and animal, and cannot survive out of the water. It has three stages of transformation: pod (much like larva, attached to the parent), juvenile (free-floating), and parent (rooted).

Pods develop at the end of hundreds of tendrils protruding from the parent, and are released by the force of the next generation growing behind them. This gestation process takes seven years. The small size of a released pod increases the potential of being eaten by other water creatures, or other such demise.

Surviving free-floating Cybele (juvenile) continue to float on a 70-year long expedition to gain insight and knowledge that extends beyond any other creature in the Land of Lo. This is possible because each generation of pods absorbs the knowledge of the parent, and it continues through life only to add more. Not all water creatures in Lake Chitali are water-bound, and many bring tales of adventure from the shore. Assimilating those stories with its profound intuition, a juvenile Cybele develops vicarious experiences.

Mature Cybele end their journey after 70 years, by swallowing a large golden pearl created from the song of Ko the giant oyster, Claviger of Pearls, then sinking to the bottom. Fortified by the pearl’s energy, they take root, and sprout the tendrils that will start bearing their own pods. Once it becomes a parent, it creates thousands of offspring in the remainder of its lifetime.

Pods possess a strong incandescent light glow that changes colors according to emotions being transferred telepathically. Pink means love, green means confidence, red means fear, and so on. It is because of these translatable lights that adult Cybele are considered oracles. They are often visited by travelers on a quest to find meaning or guidance in their lives.

Seekers must swallow a pearl themselves in order to find the Cybele. To find a golden pearl, the only kind that allows the bearer access to the deep underwater realm of Lake Chitali, they must first find Nacre, the Mother of Pearls, who actually lives by a stream in Lodila Valley. She will bestow the proper “golden ticket” upon those she deems worthy, and give them precise instructions on how to find the oracle.

The seeker will follow those instructions, which includes swallowing the golden pearl, and finds the Cybele, presenting it with a question. At this time, the creature begins channeling emotion to provoke thoughts of logic and new perspective in the seeker. The Cybele then absorbs the life experience of the seeker, through a tendril that connects with the pearl in their body, and provides the “answer” they need, in exchange.

Once the pearl’s energy has been fully absorbed, and the seeker has reached revelation and epiphany, they are then released to float back to the surface, equipped with the new insight. Odis, the giant octopus, Claviger of Waves, ensures the floating seekers are returned safely to shore.

For example, a seeker may have lived an empty life of loneliness, never having experienced true contentment of genuine love from another, and may be consulting the Cybele oracle as a last hope for answers as to why this has happened to them. Upon approaching the Cybele, the large tendril will reach out to the seeker and touch its heart glow from the pearl they swallowed. The pods will then respond with pink glowing lights, and the seeker will experience pure and genuine love for the first time.

That emotion will provide a realization that they have not encountered before – perhaps a dear friend whose affections were dismissed is pointed out to them – and they will be released to float back, knowing they must embrace the love being offered, in order to feel that emotion again.

Someone who has lived a life of complacency and servitude may be provoked to feel anger, and be inspired to change their situation for the better, and so on. Anyone may seek answers, as often as they wish, as long as they have swallowed a pearl. The experience is quite intense, so most Lodians only need one to set their lives on the right course.

Characters of Lodila Valley

Lodila Valley is nestled in the center of the Land of Lo, and is home to many creatures. Here are some profiles for some of them. Each of them have developed into much more complex characters as my writing continues, but here are the basics!

Characters and short bios

Art

I am realizing that, while this blog is titled, “The Art of…”, I have yet to really share any. So, without further adieu, my first share is the Cybele. In this piece, this extraordinary creature is giving consul to a traveler from another realm. What’s a Cybele, you ask?

Cybele (si-bill-ee), named for an Anatolian goddess (also known as the Magna Mater, or “great mother”), is a genderless creature that dwells in Lake Chitali, at the outskirts of the Land of Lo. It is considered, like most Lodians, a hybrid of plant and animal, but cannot survive out of the water.

It has three stages of transformation –  pod (much like larva, attached to the parent), juvenile (free-floating), and parent (rooted). Pods develop at each end of hundreds of tendrils protruding from the parent, and are released by the force of the next generation growing behind them.

This gestation process takes seven years. The small size of a released pod risks the fry being eaten by other water creatures, or other such demise. Surviving, free-floating, Cybele (juvenile) continue to float on a 70-year long expedition to gain insight and knowledge that extends beyond any other creature in the Land of Lo. This is possible because each generation of pods absorbs the knowledge of the parent, and it continues through life only to add more.

Mature Cybele end their journey after another 70 years, by swallowing a large golden pearl from the Claviger, Ko the Oyster Guardian of the Western Shores of Lake Chitali, then sinking to the bottom. Fortified by the pearl’s energy, they take root, and sprout the tendrils that will start bearing their own pods. Once it becomes a parent, it creates thousands of offspring in the remainder of its lifetime.

Pods possess a strong incandescent light glow that changes colors according to emotions being transferred telepathically. Pink means love, green means confidence, red means fear, and so on. It is because of these translatable lights that adult Cybele are considered oracles, of sorts, and they are often visited by travelers on a quest to find meaning or guidance in life.  At this time, they begin channeling emotion to provoke thoughts of logic and new perspective in the seeker.

Seekers must find and swallow a golden pearl themselves in order to find the Cybele. The creature then absorbs the life experience of the seeker through a tendril that connects with the pearl in their body, and provides the “answer” they need, in exchange. Once the pearl’s energy has been fully absorbed, and the seeker has reached revelation and epiphany, they are then released to float back to the surface, equipped with the new insight.

For example, a seeker may have lived an empty life of loneliness, never having experienced true contentment of genuine love from another, and may be consulting the Cybele Oracle as a last hope for answers as to why this has happened to them. Upon approaching the Cybele, the large tendril will reach out to the seeker and touch its heart glow from the pearl they swallowed. The pods will then respond with pink glowing lights, and the seeker will experience pure and genuine love for the first time. That emotion will provide a realization that they have not encountered before – perhaps a dear friend whose affections were dismissed is shown to them – and they will be released to float back, knowing they must embrace the love being offered, in order to feel that emotion again.

Someone who has lived a life of complacency and servitude may be provoked to feel anger for the first time, and be inspired to change their situation for the better, and so on.  Anyone may seek answers, as often as they wish, as long as they have swallowed a pearl. The experience is quite intense, so most Lodians only need one to set their lives on the right course. 

A little back story…

Since my mother read me bedtime stories – tales of hobbits, centaurs, faeries, aliens, and witches – I have learned the rhythm of fantasy fiction. I speak the absurd, revel in the music of madness, and totally believe that we are not alone. As a child, my make-believe was dramatic and detailed. As an adult, it was conjured into reality, by way of reckless abandon and bottles labeled, “Drink Me”.

I read everything. From cereal boxes to Dante’s Inferno, I read whatever was available to me at any given moment. I did the same with music. I could predict lyrics based on the rhyme scheme, so people would wonder how I “could possibly already know the words to a brand new song?!” often. Not so with the titles of the songs, however. Therein lies my weakness.

‘What is the point?’ you ask. ‘Why does this matter?’ Well, add genetic and environmental training in visual art, some attention deficit diagnostics, and a couple/few/handful of trauma stories, and you’ve got an author and illustrator of an unfinished collection of short stories about a land where the shores are lined with pearls and creatures in the sky meditate everything into existence.

So there.

I