Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Visual and Performing Arts
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
“Fox Fire” is an independent animated short. Its plot is centered on a young boy, a mysterious girl, and their adventures at a Japanese summer festival. The purpose of this project was to create a short and fun animation to stir the imagination of its viewers while incorporating elements of Japanese culture and experimenting with unique aesthetic choices.
During the initial brainstorming stages of this capstone, I decided that I wanted to somehow incorporate pieces of Japanese culture and mythology into the project. Not only is the folklore fascinating, I often enjoy expressing my Japanese heritage through artwork. The choice of animation as the medium was a result of my respect and admiration for the craft as well as my interest in illustrating “conceptual art”.
The project began with the creation of various preliminary and conceptual works, such as a written story, storyboard, character design, background paintings, and concept paintings. These elements help to establish a solid foundation on which to build the final animation. Thanks to these initial steps, the story is clear, the look of each character is consistent, and the color choices are worked out. As an Illustration major, I viewed these steps as particularly crucial in the creation of a successful final project. The look that “Fox Fire” ended up taking was heavily influenced by animated movies that I have always admired. For instance, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland inspired the black expanse that my young boy character gets sucked into. I used a variety of mediums to complete this initial process, including charcoal, acrylic paints, digital painting, and even cardboard. The final animation was created using Adobe Flash, a widely used animation software. Most of the frames were hand-drawn directly into Flash using a Wacom tablet, while others utilized the software’s “tweening” function. While “tweening” - a function that automatically generates frames for simple movements – is useful, it creates an unnaturally smooth “computer generated” aesthetic. Therefore, I tried to minimize its use. The “ink drawn” look of the characters was at first just a happy accident created by Flash’s ability to create interesting line-weight and eventually evolved into an intentional aesthetic choice.
Throughout the process of creating the animation, various fluctuation in style and character designs occurred, mostly as a result of time constraints or the worry of something looking clichéd. The project was certainly a balancing act of creating “economical” animation while still struggling to retain high-quality drawings and fluid motion. I believe that this is something all independent animators struggle with due to the heavy workload that accompanies even very short animations. However, I believe the end product of “Fox Fire” is well-made, enjoyable to watch, and something that I can take pride in. Though my major revolves around creating beautiful still images, the venture into moving art was an interesting departure and I hope to experiment with it again in the future.
Watanabe, Emily, "Fox Fire" (2011). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 230.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.