ShortsStop Motion

Carlo Vogele Explains How To Reanimate Fish

Carlo Vogele who has breathed life into Ikea lighting fixtures and socks and pants has moved on to animating fish. That’s the trailer above for his new short Una furtiva Lagrima, which picked up an award at Annecy last week.

Carlo most recently animated on Pixar’s Brave, but the lo-fi stop motion process he uses for his personal films is decidedly grittier. His how-to guide on animating fish corpses is a must-read:

After purchase of the bass at the fishmarket, I’d stick it in the freezer until I was ready for a full night of animating (stop-motion 101: if you want consistent lighting, daylight is not your friend ;-D). I would take the stinky bastard out a few hours ahead of shooting, while setting up the lights and camera. The fish would thaw from stonehard to kind of rigid in 3 hours, and for a while, its head, fins and mouth would have the right rigidity in order to hold a pose for a while.

So I’d animate as fast as I could, until the fish thawed completely and its jaw went slack… that is when invisible thread was useful : I’d lift the slack jaw with a string which I’d attach to an overhead structure off-screen. Later I could easily mask the thread out of the frames, if it showed too much.

Gross Trivia : somehow the inner stuff of the fish started bloating after a week, and that pressure tended to push its tongue out of its mouth… I had no choice but to ram it back down its throat with my fingers, and was instantly rewarded with a sound that it is too obscene for words. It was easy to forget that this was actually a slowly decaying dead body I was animating. Some orange pus oozing from underneath its gill cover during the shooting was a nice reminder of that.