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Hothouse 10: Kathleen Weldon’s Rollercoaster

Hothouse 10: Kathleen Weldon’s Rollercoaster

Hothouse 10: Kathleen Weldon’s Rollercoaster

This post is written by Hothouse 10 filmmaker Kathleen Weldon. It’s part of the “I can see the finish line” posts by this year’s Hothouse gang.



Building my rollercoaster

The first hurdle was explaining to the mentoring team why I wanted to build a rollercoaster instead of just drawing it, given that I ultimately wanted it to look like a drawing. Which was an important exercise because it made me have to justify it to myself. After a few failed attempts to explain using words, learning that  ‘3d’ and ‘3d’ are not the same thing, and much self-doubt as to whether or not there was a good reason for doing things in the way I had proposed, Chris, Maral and Jon wisely asked that I whip up a sample of what I had in mind. Finally, through the use of visual aids, I was able to convey my idea and was given the nod to start working on it (also helpful was Steph’s recommended viewing of Max Fleischer’s ‘Somewhere in Dreamland’, which confirmed to me that there was a benefit to making a 3d set that you ultimately want to look [sort of] 2d…).

The rollercoaster in hand-drawn sketch form.
The rollercoaster in hand-drawn sketch form.
The 'coaster begins to emerge.
The ‘coaster begins to emerge.

Of course making all the tiny scaffolding took a lot longer than I had anticipated, and for a couple of weeks I got to enjoy feeling like a retiree spending his afternoons immersed in a model train set. A small tendon-exposing x-acto knife mishap, while making a small-scale tinker-toy windmill ,was well worth the three stitches (now my thumb tells me when the cold is coming). I tried hard to create the shape of the ride according to the timing of the audio track, but that was tricky and ultimately Eloi and Randall, with their tools and tricks and ingenuity, got my coaster in line and my car on the rails.

Real-life "3d" rollercoaster built and assembled.
Real-life “3d” rollercoaster built and assembled.

One of the things I love about animation is the combination of art and craft and creative problem solving, and it was so fun to spend my days immersed in it, amongst a bunch of people who felt the same way. Trying something new meant that a lot of issues popped up, but every problem that I encountered was solved by someone within about 30 seconds, whether by a member of the team or a fellow Hothouser. I loved being in a place where I could rely on such knowledgeable, clever and talented people to take over when I was out of my depths (or when they could just do it better). We put the scene together and worked to make sure it integrated with the regular, drawn animation as tightly as possible. To my delight, the final effect was pretty darned close to what I had imagined.

Film it on greenscreen, adjust it in post, and magic!
Film it on green-screen, adjust it in post, and magic!
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