Motionographer® Challenge Breakdown for Between Traces

Between Traces is a ardour mission made doable by its 40+ feminine creatives contributing from all around the world. The story of high-school bullying advised in poetry-fueled animation struck a chord with the Motionographer viewers on its launch in January 2023.

We requested creator Sarah Beth Morgan, together with Animation Director Taylor Yontz and Producer Rebekah Hamilton, to interrupt down the mission.

We hear about a number of the challenges they confronted, the concepts that didn’t make it and the processes behind the scenes, all whereas gaining an perception into what it’s like going through your childhood trauma with trustworthy conversations and the facility of creativity.

Give us a quick introduction to yourselves and what led you into Movement Design.

Hello! We’re three buddies who determined to work on a brief movie collectively.

SARAH BETH MORGAN: Director on Between Traces | Cleveland, OH 

I’m a contract animation director and illustrator based mostly in Cleveland, OH. Though I’m initially from the US, I grew up in Saudi Arabia, the place I used to be capable of broaden my perspective in a brand new surroundings (which allowed a ton of free time for making artwork). As a child, I used to be all the time particularly drawn to storytelling and drawing. After learning movement media on the Savannah Faculty of Artwork and Design, I started working within the business animation trade at Scholar in 2014. From there, I moved to Portland, OR, to develop into employees at Oddfellows. Lastly, in 2018, I launched into my freelance profession and am now a director represented worldwide by Hornet.

TAYLOR YONTZ: Animation Director on Between Traces | Nashville, TN 

I’m a contract animation director + animator based mostly in Nashville, TN. I noticed the movie “Discovering Nemo” after I was 13, and it made me fall in love with storytelling woven with 3D character animation. I used to be all the time drawing, writing quick tales and comics, and I began animating in highschool. I went on to review character animation on the Savannah Faculty of Artwork and Design, graduating in 2013 and leaping into the world {of professional} animation. Since faculty, I’ve been privileged to work with many studios as a freelancer and a staffer. In 2021, after working for 4 years at IV in Nashville as an animator after which Inventive Director, I made the leap to full-time freelance.

REBEKAH HAMILTON: Producer on Between Traces | Nashville, TN 

I’m a senior producer based mostly in Nashville, TN. I studied audio engineering in faculty, however after commencement, I began educating myself tips on how to edit and animate. After main a workforce of designers and animators within the broadcasting world, I discovered myself drawn to the manufacturing facet of our trade and jumped right into a full-time job as a producer and ultimately head of manufacturing at IV in Nashville. After freelancing for a short time, I’ve put down roots with the great of us at Golden Wolf as a senior producer.

(Left) Rebekah Hamilton (Center) Taylor Yontz (Proper) Sarah Beth Morgan

How would you introduce your movie to somebody expecting the primary time?

SARAH BETH:
Gosh, there are such a lot of methods I may go together with this! However let’s simply say: Between Traces is a 3-minute animated quick movie centered round an expertise I had with bullying in 2005.

Nonetheless, anybody might be bullied – no matter race, gender, ethnicity, class or worldly location. By way of this movie, I would like others to know they aren’t alone and to see their story validated by way of concrete visuals. I wish to pierce the viewers of this movie with deep-rooted, gut-wrenching empathy. And I would like individuals who have skilled this to know they aren’t alone.

Inform us concerning the crew behind your mission.

TAYLOR:
Our workforce is made up of just about 40 extremely proficient girls in animation, design, writing, and audio/music manufacturing. Working with such a big worldwide workforce allowed us to solid a large web by way of what everybody dropped at the desk. We had cel animators, After Results compositors, 3D look improvement artists and animators, designers, a poet, a music composer, an audio engineer, and even a strings workforce that recorded a customized rating for the movie. The collected expertise completely bewilders us each time we speak about it.

REBEKAH:
I nonetheless can’t imagine how stacked the Between Traces crew is. We’re so fortunate to have them on the mission and now as buddies. Taylor, Sarah, and I all reached out to our rapid networks, and people girls reached out to different girls of their community, creating the Avengers of girls within the business animation area.

Not solely are they proficient, however they’re additionally beneficiant and genuinely form individuals, so PLEASE take time to take a look at the work of every fantastic individual on the workforce. Now there’s no excuse to not rent a various group of girls on any of your initiatives 😉

Check out the team here.

Did any of the workforce battle with (or relate to) the subject material? In that case, how did you deal with these moments?

SARAH BETH:
I began engaged on the thought for this movie after going to remedy for my very own expertise. Once in a while, I shared my bullying story with my grownup buddies and was typically stunned to listen to that lots of them had been by way of one thing related.

This was after I started to comprehend that bullying in class – particularly by way of gossip, isolation and exclusion – is extraordinarily frequent. However why doesn’t anybody speak about it? It all the time gave the impression to be buried previously. I felt drawn to create one thing that would join our collective tales, and after I started reaching out to of us within the trade for inventive help, I discovered that the script & concept really resonated with them as a consequence of their very own traumas.

Whereas it saddened me that many had skilled bullying, it was extraordinarily refreshing to have the ability to join on a deeper stage and start to heal outdated wounds.

Why had been you interested by having so many individuals (significantly girls) contributing to the piece?

SARAH BETH:
It’s all the time been a dream of mine to collaborate with a big group of girls; to create a protected, therapeutic house the place everybody feels open and comfy. To not point out, the movie’s subject material was an enormous contributing issue.

As a director within the business animation trade, I’ve discovered that I personally are likely to fall again on the identical designers and animators for help after I’m in a pinch. A lot of these individuals are usually males (who I really take pleasure in working with!). Nonetheless, this doesn’t grant me many alternatives to fulfill new proficient girls and folk exterior of my bubble that I wouldn’t usually join with.

Since Between Traces is a ardour mission and it had no explicit deadline, I used to be actually set on deliberately discovering girls (in addition to trans/nonbinary of us) to collaborate with. To provide new buddies a window of alternative – and to develop our connections to different girls within the trade.

Among the workforce connecting over Zoom in 2020.

How tough was it working with so many individuals in several areas? Are you able to give us an perception into the hurdles you confronted?

REBEKAH:

The trickier half was ensuring we honored individuals’s time. Since this was a really low-budget ardour mission, we had been delicate about ensuring everybody felt revered and regarded within the work we had been asking them to do, understanding they’d full-time jobs and private lives to juggle. We managed that by giving of us photographs and duties that actually excited them over an extended timeline. We might solely test in with them month-to-month, so we weren’t pestering them an excessive amount of. If anybody wanted to step again, we might reassign that process to a different individual. If time and assets appeared tight, we might begin trying to develop the workforce a bit extra.

The objective was to create a low-pressure surroundings whereas nonetheless transferring the mission ahead, so we pulled out all of the manufacturing tips we may consider to perform that. 

TAYLOR:

We stayed related by way of semi-regular digital hangouts and a workforce slack channel the place we talked concerning the mission and life basically. It was nice for camaraderie and allowed us to work throughout time zones and develop into long-distance buddies as effectively! Manufacturing occurred throughout peak Covid which, in fact, gave us an enormous hurdle. 

Sarah Beth and I attempted to present everybody suggestions inside just a few days of artists sending updates, and Rebekah did an amazing job of protecting us all on observe with free and really stretched-out deadlines. 

Take us by way of your course of. How lengthy did it take? What strategies did you utilize? What applications are you utilizing? 

 

SARAH BETH: 

Between Traces kicked off in 2019 with a small workforce of 1 (guess who!) that shortly grew into over 30. Earlier than bringing anybody on, I needed to create an inviting written & visible presentation to attach with potential workforce members, so I started by making a Google Slides presentation that included the poetic script (written by Nirrimi Firebrace), a tough storyboard, and a styleframe or two. I even had the unbelievable Jennifer Pague create an preliminary musical composition based mostly on a Spotify playlist I collected to current the movie’s total temper. I may go on for days concerning the course of, however I’ll let Taylor take over from right here. 


If you’re interested, check out what that presentation looked like here. 

A snippet of the unique storyboard with my notes.

TAYLOR:

As a result of this was an enormous ardour mission for everybody, we needed to guarantee that every artist set to work on photographs in a manner that motivated them and performed to their inventive strengths. The one actual rule for each shot was that it needed to find yourself wanting like the ultimate styleframe. This meant that we had animators working in so many softwares to finalize animations. We used After Results, Cinema 4D, Concord, TVPaint, Adobe Animate, Photoshop, and even Procreate.

No matter labored for the artists labored for us. 

This collaborative, wide-net method allowed us to expedite each shot’s development as a result of we may stack a number of individuals on single photographs. For instance, the under was roughed by Camille Vincent, Cleaned up by Sarah Beth, with a 3D image body by Antoinie Eugene, 3D fish by Collin Leix, and a compositing raise in After Results by Antoinie Eugene, Yahira Hernandez, Rocio Cogno, and myself. Whew!

 Are you able to clarify how the script happened? What was the method? Was it all the time the thought for it to be poetic? 

 

SARAH BETH: 

I had a very particular concept about what I needed based mostly by myself story, however I couldn’t totally articulate its last poetic type. I knew from the beginning that I needed it to be a voiceover in order that viewers may join with the emotion within the narrator’s voice. So perfecting the script grew to become extraordinarily vital.

I reached out to my author good friend, Nirrimi, and we did a inventive alternate – she helped me write my script, and I helped her with some emblem/illustration work. We went forwards and backwards just a few rounds to get the whole lot excellent. Then Jennifer Pague captured the emotion superbly in her voiceover, and it was magic! Every thing simply clicked. 

Did you face any difficulties alongside the way in which? In that case, how did you overcome them?

TAYLOR: 

As soon as Sarah reached out to me to leap into the movie course of, we solely had a workforce of 4 animators. This was made up of Rachel Reid, Collin Leix, Yino Haun, and myself. 

It was… extremely optimistic. 

The movie’s model itself introduced an enormous inventive problem to execute the movement to the excessive bar that Sarah’s nonetheless frames deserved. Enter Covid in 2020 to shake up everybody’s private {and professional} lives. 

We realized we had been going to need to beef up our workforce and get much more versatile in our method to animation as a substitute of relying closely on a tiny workforce’s in depth dedication. We ended up including over 20 animators and some extra designers to make the thought of a “last movie” even a distant chance. This allowed us to have whole teams engaged on one shot collectively utilizing no matter instruments they needed to handle the raise quite than piecing off sections of the movie to people. Having a number of minds on the execution of a shot gave us a lot room to play and bounce concepts off one another. Increasing our workforce was probably the greatest issues we did for the movie journey.

Did you’ve got another concepts you favored that you simply didn’t go together with? What had been they, and why did you flip away from them?

SARAH BETH: 

I actually struggled with the design model at first. I needed to get it JUST proper. As soon as I had the moodboard and storyboard down, I began to mess around by simply making an Instagram-style illustration. That manner if I didn’t wish to use it for my movie, I may nonetheless put it someplace. I actually loved enjoying round with the shadows and texture right here.

I made a decision to discover utilizing this underwater storyboard second to seize that “sinking” and gut-punch feeling you get when somebody emotionally hurts you. That is the underwater “anxiousness world” of the movie.

And right here’s the place that second exploration netted out, utilizing the model of the primary. There have been a number of issues I favored about this exploration. (Considered one of them NOT being the ridiculously creepy jellyfish that’s wrapping round our hero’s physique!) 

What I did like had been the high-quality strains, the bubbles, and the character design. I favored the lighting and texture, too. However her pose didn’t work for that crushing anxiousness feeling. She feels too peaceable right here like she’s floating. And because the fish round her have large, curious eyes, it feels extra cartoony. They’re detracting from the general temper of the scene, pulling the eye away from our hero.

So I saved my course of free and gave it one other go. I favored that this felt extra surreal and epic like she was plunging into the scary depths of this darkish world. I used to be tremendous proud of it, and it felt actually totally different from the kind of work I usually do. This was the primary body I completed fully, and it continued to function a roadmap for the remainder of the movie’s model.

Inform us about your audio course of and the individuals concerned.

REBEKAH:

Jen Pague guidelines. She’s our unbelievable composer and sound designer. Her capability to evoke emotion with music conjures up us, and her mission Vita and the Woolf made followers fast followers of Sarah, Taylor, and me. So Jen coming in to be the brains and coronary heart of the music and sound design was a no brainer. Audio can are usually handled as an afterthought within the business animation world, however realizing the poem and music would drive a lot of the storytelling, we concerned Jen very early on within the storyboarding course of. 

She got here up with demos we used within the animatic part to determine pacing and tone. Then, as soon as we had been farther together with a locked edit, we let her free on the entire rating. That’s her beautiful voice because the narrator as effectively, a lady of many skills! So as to add the ever-important particulars, Jen did sound design on the movie and introduced in producer Sophie Coran who organized all of the string preparations and reside periods, together with Hope Brush, an audio engineer who did the ultimate combine. 

 

What was your favourite second or most enjoyable a part of the mission? 

 

SARAH BETH:
Truthfully, creating this movie has been far more about connecting with the workforce and creating real, therapeutic friendships than making an “award-winning” movie. The collaborative course of and the workforce itself was my absolute favourite half. I attempted to arrange group Zooms as typically as doable, through which we simply goofed round. I significantly loved one second when Collin Leix by accident confirmed as much as our hangout with a cloud filter on and couldn’t determine tips on how to flip it off!

TAYLOR:
I keep in mind being blown away each single time we bought updates from animators. For a number of years we had been residing in our personal secret nook of the animation world, constructing one thing collectively and continuously being impressed by everybody round us on the workforce. It was extremely refreshing to really feel impressed and in awe throughout such a heavy time. After manufacturing, two of my favourite moments had been our first few screenings. I visited Sarah Beth in Portland in 2022, and we had the chance to check our movie on an enormous display for the primary time at an area theater. It was a completely surreal second collectively that I’ll always remember. Not lengthy after, we premiered on the Brooklyn Movie Competition in NYC and bought to fulfill up with a number of crew members in individual for the very first time and see our movie reside collectively. 

Between Traces Crew | Brooklyn Movie Fest

 

REBEKAH:

I’ll gladly be a damaged document right here and say the workforce! The friendships we’ve cast are priceless, and it felt so particular to have fun our collaboration with a number of the workforce in individual on the Brooklyn Movie Competition and at Pictoplasma in Berlin. I’m continuously floored by the positivity and eagerness to attach in our trade. The bonds with these girls transcend our jobs, and it makes me really feel so pleased with what we do and who this trade attracts. I’m gushing now. I ain’t one bit sorry.

 

What recommendation would you give to somebody going by way of bullying in school?

SARAH BETH:

I’d like to have our improbable non-profit companion, Bloom Foundation, reply this query! 

“The very first thing I might say to somebody going by way of bullying in school is: I’m so sorry that is taking place to you. Nobody deserves to be handled badly and unfairly. However I additionally imagine you may develop from this and are available out stronger. And you’ll even create one thing lovely from the expertise like Sarah Beth and her workforce did with Between Traces when you’re prepared.

I might additionally share extra about our Bloom core values: perception, perspective, function, habits, self-worth, empathy, progress to assist shift their perspective and encourage them to develop by way of this difficult time.”

Andi Lengthy, Bloom’s founder.

What’s subsequent for you and your workforce?

As regular, we’re all striving for brand new and thrilling issues. We’re protecting tabs on our buddies from the Between Traces crew and staying in contact as a lot as doable! For us three, although, we could have some “ear snacks” within the works for you..

Keep tuned!

SARAH BETH MORGAN: 

Instagram: @wonderfall
Twitter: @SarahBeefMorgan 
TikTok: @wonderfallll
Web site: sarahbethmorgan.com

TAYLOR YONTZ:

Instagram: @tay_blay
Twitter: @tay_blay 
Web site: tayloryontz.com
Linkedin: Taylor Yontz

REBEKAH HAMILTON:

Instagram: @rebekahahamilton
Twitter: @rebekah_hami
LinkedIn: Rebekah Hamilton