Main Ballet Tanks

Stop Motion, 2018

'Main Ballet Tanks' is a Stop Motion Research project and film undertaken by my professor, Bernhard Schmitt. His research aims to explore the possibilities of anthropomorphic locomotion and gestures (ballet dance) to non-anthropomorphic, mechanical machinery (Military tanks).

As part of his paid work-study interns, and crew for the film, I was responsible for the modelling and painting of nine military tanks along with a few other students. I helped in creating three types of customized tanks, 'Ivanka', the young one new to the field, 'Anastasia', the graceful and rational one and 'Svetlana', the oldest and most weathered. I assembled several detailed parts of the model including the tracks, wheels, hulls, turrets, drive sprockets, hatch, guns, etc.


Having worked closely with the riggers, I also helped lay the foundation for rigs by helping with silver soldering tubes to the tank base. Following this I was involved in a detailed work process to paint the grey primer, black base coat, white highlights, several air spray coats of 'Russian green', fine muddy weathering and finally sticking the delicate number decals on the tanks. After consulting with the lighting teams, we also had to re-do several paint coats to suit the look that our director/lighting team wanted to achieve.


Among the several skills required for the modelling job was attention to detail, an eye for colour, using the air spray gun and compressor with care, assembling and painting delicate parts and improvising for missing parts with makeshift materials. 


After I ended my contribution for the pre-production stage, the rest of the crew went on to rig, light, set up the environment, animate and do post production for the film. It was an incredible learning experience being part of a professional animation workflow in Stop Motion. Apart from the many skills I learned from Prof. Bernhard in Stop Motion class and Pre-production prep stages for this project, I also had the amazing fortune of learning a thing or two about animation from Matias Liebrecht, the lead animator of Isle of Dogs and many of my favourite stop motion feature films. He greatly assisted Prof. Bernhard with the animation and animated some difficult and challenging shots. You can check out short previews of the final film on their instagram accounts below! 

© 2020 by Ayesha Fathima