Creative Mind Podcast Episode 16: Real Talk with Stop Motion Animation Fabricator Gillian Hunt

On this episode of Creative Mind, Bobby Brill talks about the world of creating puppets, characters, scene design and model making with former alum Gillian Hunt as she walks us through her career in stop motion animation.

For fabricator Gillian Hunt, stop motion animation is a true passion, and offers a unique entry point over other art forms, “One of the things that is so neat about it is that it can be one of those things that you make in your kitchen with whatever materials you have lying around or it can be a feature film where millions of dollars are out into it. It fells beautiful no matter which way you go.”

Inspiring Awe and Magic

From Ray Harryhausen to Phil Tippet (and many others in between), stop motion animators have wowed audiences with their creations of monsters, dinosaurs, and aliens playing music.

Films like Jason and the Argonauts and The Empire Strikes Back inspired young artists to grab their G.I Joes, an old 8mm film camera, or a video camera with an intervalometer if you were cool enough, and painstakingly frame by frame move their toys posable appendages ever so slightly, 24 times a second, to create a living, breathing toy on the screen. This is the heart of stop motion.

In the not distant past, big Hollywood directors like Tim Burton and Guillermo Del Toro have embraced this process along with television and advertising directors of shows such as the hilariously irreverent Robot Chicken, Crossing Swords and Celebrity Deathmatch.

Stop motion animation is a viable, go-to artistry sitting alongside CGI. For fabricator, designer and scene painter Gillian Hunt, this is where her career is blossoming. In fact, she is now up in Portland, OR working away on the long-awaited Del Toro film Pinocchio.

Sculpting, Kit Bashing, and Animating

 As a designer Gillian brings to life the director’s vision by creating everything from a miniature kitchen and food for Netflix’s The Chef Show and small props for the episodes of Robot Chicken. Whether she sculpts these set pieces by hand or breaks up existing toys, in a process known as “kit bashing”.

To clarify, the “bashing” does not mean a few whacks from a hammer but, as Gillian explains, kit bashing is when “You are going to see maybe some old Barbie cars and some different toy parts and you know, and old lamp, or whatever. You are going to take all of those different things, put them together, and create maybe a car that has nothing to do with Barbie.”

It is also part of the collecting and gathering of materials that only a true artist can see the viability in. Gillian says, “If I find a good piece of foam I am like ‘It’s such a good piece of foam! I can totally use this for something later.’”

Listen in as Gillian explains her path to working on set, her tips on what skills a designer needs to focus on, and life as a travelling freelance artist.

You can find more of Gillian Hunt’s work on her website and on Instagram.

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