For the past two decades, Jack Quincey has been making micro movements in Rochester.
Quincey, 29, is a stop-motion animator. Self-taught, Quincey and his "rag-tag group of friends" make their films on a shoestring budget for his studio Mechanism Animations. One of Quincey's films that can be seen on his Facebook page or YouTube channel is LIGHT BULB, the story of a young boy, his imagination, and the problems it creates throughout his life.
His current project, a gory and scary zombie film with a little bit of mystery, is about a year in the works.
Quincey spoke with 507 last week about his passion and how he got his start.
How did you begin animating?
I started when I was about 10. I started seeing commercials on TV and movies and TV shows, like “Wallace and Gromit,” “Gumby,” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” I had a webcam and started playing with play-dough, and it kind of grew from that. I was using action figures and playing around with stop motion and then it just kind of grew from there.
Tell me a little about your process.
I usually start with an idea and I have tons of ideas. It’s usually me and my best friend Jordan [Boettcher]. We get together and figure out a story, and most of our movies kind of star ourselves. It is kind of silly but we just have the most fun that way ... most of our movies are about the alter egos of ourselves
We usually get together and we will either go off an idea that I have or an idea that he has, and write stories and draw pictures and I'll make characters out of clay – or we've used LEGO in the past. It starts with an idea, writing, making everything out of clay or using the materials we have, and then going forth and animating. I try to get into the animation as soon as possible just because it takes the longest. Hopefully, with most projects, it takes a year or two.
Once the animation is complete, I do the editing and add the sound effects and voices and music. It's kind of a long process but it’s really fun to look back and actually see the completed project you've made.
How many shots or frames does it take to make a short film, like your film LIGHT BULB, possible? Can you guess on how many photos or frames that took?
It was probably 21 frames per second, so that means I have to take 21 pictures to get a second. Sometimes the characters are kind of still, and I call that lazy animation on my part, but especially if they are moving or walking, that can take a lot of time between each picture. So maybe making a few seconds of animation could take three hours or four hours at a time.
How do you stay patient? I imagine moving a clay figure, or a figure, incrementally over a period of three hours could drive some people crazy.
Oh yeah, absolutely. I didn’t always used to be patient, I’ve learned a lot over the years.
Sometimes, the puppets, or whatever you are working with, it really has a mind of its own so if you want it to move one way or you want it to look one certain way, it might move or might look different on the camera so you really have to roll with it. Sometimes mistakes turn out to be happy accidents. I’ll have a cup of tea while I’m working and make sure I am in the right mindset. I make sure I go over what I need to do in my head, or I will practice, even doing a quick playthrough of it with the puppets: “OK, so this puppet needs to walk over here and that will take this many pictures.”
I will kind of try it out first and do little exercises just to make sure it will go smoothly. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes I just have to take a break and go and try it again later.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on a title that's called “Brainless” and it’s a zombie claymation movie. We are hoping it is going to be a little different than a lot of the zombie movies you see nowadays. My friend Jordan and I came up with it almost over 10 years ago.
“Brainless,” I just got done with the first scene of it, which took about a year. It’s only about three minutes so far. We will do multiple episodes of it and we will try to do a fundraiser pretty soon and hopefully throw it in some film festivals, get our movies more noticed.
It's definitely the biggest movie I’ve ever made because there is going to be a whole cast of zombies out of clay. A whole bunch of different zombies, colorful ones, kind of funny-looking zombies and of course, Jack and Jordan.
Quincey's work can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mechanismanimations/