Post #20 - Feathers and Teeth!

Heyoooooo! Erin here. The Broom Kids are all super excited about our newest project and we wanted to share it with you all. It’s a huge departure for us in terms of scope and content and just about everything and we can’t wait!

For the next few months, we are going to be working on a production of Feathers and Teeth, put on by the Washington Ensemble Theater wooooooo!

Feathers and Teeth is a dark comedy/horror written by Charise Castro Smith and was first produced in 2015. This will be its Seattle premiere! The whole team has read the script, and all of us were very excited at the potential for animation to really drive home the story. We were also all deeply creeped out. Hang on to your hats, people. It’s about to be Halloween in springtime.

We’ve had several meetings with the WET production team and are diving right in this week, getting started on storyboards for our contributions to the show. Without giving away too much, we will be using projected animation and effects to help tell this story, which is an exciting new medium for us! It’s not something that’s done very often with stage productions so we’re hoping that it will really make the show stand out.

The WET team is very inspired by the look and feel of films by Tim Burton (who isn’t?) so that’s going to be a huge artistic influence for how the animated scenes and effects will look. At our first meeting for the project, the team watched Coraline to get us into that sorta creepy mindset. That movie is so pretty and creepy and just generally awesome. Brb watching it again.


Below are a couple of other main references we’re going to be working with.

This sequence in Harry Potter is so beautiful, but also very simple with powerful silhouettes. Also Harry Potter rules. I’m in Gryffindor. That’s unrelated.

This short film has a very cool paper cut out style that we’re going to be referencing. This film is real flippin disturbing y’all, you’ve been warned.

These are some other reference images the art team has found. We’ve all got the spooks.

Because our work is going to be projected, we have to think a little bit differently about how we can best visually communicate the story. High contrast and strong shapes are going to be our friend, so that the animation stands out nicely when it’s projected onto the set. Oh yeah PS, our animation is going to be directly projected onto the set! How cool is that! We’re still early in production, but it looks like we’re going to have 6 or 7 projectors at our disposal, which is awesome and gives us a lot of flexibility. Maybe we want to project creepy shadows moving on the floor, or even project right onto the actors faces! So many possibilities. Also, in theater, visual clarity can be severely impacted by the audience’s location in the theater, which is not something we normally have to think about in a traditional pipeline. We want to make sure everyone in the audience gets a clear view of what we’re trying to convey.

Along with references, we’re also looking at how best to actually animate all this stuff! After some consideration, we think that a mainly 2D pipeline will work best in terms of efficiency, and will also support the aesthetic we’re going for better. So, this will be an After Effects-heavy production! Luckily there are tons of great plugins and tools out there for 2D animation in After Effects, so we’re doing our homework and finding what’s going to work best for us.

The team is pumped to get started on this project and to learn more about theater production, projection mapping, 2D animation and effects, and all things creepy! Tickets and more info can be found here. We hope you’ll follow along with our progress, and see a show in spring!