Early on in The Cloud Project when I was still intending to make an educational piece, I spent a fair amount of time outside at various locations doing quick watercolour studies of the sky, over the space of an hour or so at 10 minute intervals. This was to identify and record different cloud types as they occurred, so I had some first hand material to work from, instead of just using what was available online from other people. I find it’s open hard to see the clouds traveling across the sky and reshaping themselves when you just sit and watch them, but when you try to record them like this you can see how rapidly the sky changes.
I also recorded my thoughts on the experience, and my surroundings as I worked. It worked parallel to the images, giving them more depth, making them more of a defined moment in time.
From these recordings came the idea of live-animation. To create a transportable animation rig, that I could take with me to various locations and create animations of the clouds by painting them as they happened, with oil on glass or something similar. There were immediately several problems with this idea though. Firstly, given the time of year, staying outside to work for any period of time was incredibly unpleasant. I spent an hour down by the bay, on the barrage painting the sky, and it took me hours to shake the cold that had seeped in when I got home. To be outside long enough to get a decent number of frames for an animation was something that I just wasn’t willing to do. Maybe in summer when it’s not 3 degrees.
The second problem was that, having done some animation tests, I realised I wasn’t a fan of the process, so to take it outside to more inhospitable conditions wasn’t all that appealing. It was at this point that I started to move on from the idea of animation.