The making of You Were In My Dream

You Were In My Dream comprises of several different components. It's an interactive stop-motion animation shown on screens inside a physical structure with a dense, immersive soundtrack.

You Were In My DreamView our making of gallery where you can see images of the various stages and processes. You can read more detailed information about each of the stages below.

Animation | Structure | Programming | Soundtrack

Creating the animation

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We began by coming up with a concept and a script. This was followed by detailed flowcharts and storyboards. Because the animation is interactive, the continuity was a lot to keep track of and we spent a long time refining the scenarios before we began animating.

We decided to use paper cutouts for the animation rather than the puppets we've used before because it suited the nature of the project better. Initial tests showed us that trying to put a video feed onto a three-dimensional head would be tricky. We decided to build a three dimensional forest backdrop out of real foliage to give the animation more depth.

We came up with a colour scheme and a sensibility before we built the sets and characters. Designing things this way made it easier to make decisions as we went.

We made the set using as many natural objects as possible - real tree branches, dried plants, feathers - as well as miniature fake plants and things from craft shops.

The sets are 1.2m wide and can pan across on a custom-made animation bench that Duncan built for us. We made the forest quite deep so that it feels like a giant space for the character to exist in. There are two - one for the scenes on the ground, one for the scenes in the trees.

The foreground imagery was all cut from paper with a tiny pair of scissors and placed over the set on a piece of clear perspex.

The animation shoot took 6 months working 4 days a week on average. There are 15 minutes of animation running at 12 fps (roughly 10,800 frames!) We used a digital SLR and captured the frames using Dragon Stop Motion Pro onto a Mac.

We edited a the animation as we went then did a final edit at the end. We tried to avoid doing any postproduction, and decided to keep things such as the slight flicker from the camera's changing aperture rather than try to digitally correct them.

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Building the structure

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At the same time we began initial designs for the structure that would house the interactive. Tin and Ed, graphic designers, came on board to help us with the shape and Duncan engineered the construction.

There were many things to consider. First, the audio visual equipment that we wanted to include: a computer, 2 monitors, 2 sets of speakers, 2 amps, lights, fans, webcam, a keyboard and mouse and metres of cable. All of these things needed to be accessible in case of malfunction and the heavier items needed to be removable for touring.

We also had to make it strong and robust as well as light enough to be lifted and maneuvered. We wanted to make it a simple shape, but something elegant and attractive.

Duncan spent many long hours over many months engineering and building, changing things, re-building, accommodating every new consideration. As a result we have a very professionally built structure that, whilst still fairly fragile, is solid enough for people to enjoy it for years to come.

We had other friends do bits and pieces - Gus Kemp and Haima Marriott helped us with wiring things up inside. Anna Varrendorff upholstered the stool. Simon MacEwan sculpted a beautiful hair piece for the head hole to allow us to remove part of the hole in the very unlikely event that someone's head would get stuck.

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Programming

You Were In My Dream

For the most part the interactive is a choose-your-own-adventure story that was programmed fairly simply using Flash.

The difficult parts were making sure the video could run at high enough quality and that the live feed from the camera lined up perfectly with the stop-motion character.

To incorporate the live video into the animation we had to position a shape frame by frame over the face of the paper character for the live video to line up to. A long and arduous process, meaning we really had to animate the whole thing twice!

Tarwin managed to make the whole thing run beautifully though and we haven't really had any problems for the whole time it has been showing!

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Creating the soundtrack

You Were In My Dream

The sound design was based around trying to heighten the utopian environment. We used so many things from nature in the set and even the paper has a very tactile look to it and we wanted to make sure the sound reflected this. James created the soundtrack using things from nature - branches, leaves, grass and combine them with woody, natural sounding percussion instruments. For instance, the monkey body noises are all made with bongo skins. At one point we had a message from James that he had spent the afternoon growling into the hollow end of a conga!

We wanted to use the soundtrack to heighten the intensity of each scene so that when you become a wolf and shake the rabbit around it would sound quite gruesome and scary. We were hoping this would do a little to counter the cuteness of the work and ground it in the real world. James did an amazing job with this and when we watch it back now, it really feels like he has brought our world to life.

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