A stop-motion sci-fi adventure ten years in the making
FABRICATED is a stop-motion film completed in 2016 after ten years of work. I designed, built and animated the creatures as well as the strange worlds they inhabit.
The film itself is a story of decay and rebirth. Set in a time after organic life has passed from the scene, mechanical creatures form themselves from the materials and the machine aesthetic left behind. In an anonymous assembly line, a creature named Oto is constructed from steel and bone and sent off. Making his way through an old world that is dying and a new world struggling to be born, Oto begins to sense that he may have a part to play in the evolution of his imperfect kind.
Over the ten years of shooting, the film moved with me through 8 different apartments in the cities of Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and Oakland.
Engineering jobs and Chicago scrapyards provided me with piles of obscure and beautiful mechanical detritus, which I then re-engineered and sculpted into new forms and uses. The creatures were fashioned in a similar process. Found elements influenced the design and were then incorporated into, or discarded from, the finished construction.
I soon learned that world-building is no simple endeavor and that much real estate must be covered to make the world convincing. Rebuilding the set for each new camera angle and reusing elements allowed me to stretch my resources, but also led to some very lengthy build times.
A typical animation session would begin at 10pm and continue until the sun started to peek through the windows the following morning, ruining the light. I averaged about 2 hours per second of finished footage. As tedious and difficult as the process was, there was nothing more satisfying than finishing a shot and watching a static scene and stiff creatures come magically to life.
I would often watch a 6-second shot looping for 30 minutes after completing it at 5am, mesmerized by the spectacle I had just created.
This is a short collection of behind-the-scenes video and experimental animation sequences:
The dinosaur creature, Rex, was the first to be built and it was his design that embodies many of the wider themes of the film. The genesis was a shard of bone and teeth I found on the Florida coast. One day I looked at it from just the right angle, and a tyrannosaur looked back at me:
After photography was complete, I collaborated with a talented team of sound artists, composer, mixer and colorist to fill out the world with a full sound design, surround sound mix and beautiful picture.
At 19 minutes running time, the finished film is a bit long for a short, but all the test audiences i've shown it to have asked to watch it again immediately.