Creator Q&A: Miranda Jacoby
1. What is your name, what do you do, and which film did you make?
Hey there, I’m Miranda Jacoby. During weekdays I’m a Production Coordinator for a creative firm, by weekends I’m a Freelance Artist. I made “Draculily”. 2. What experience do you have creating art and animation?
I drew a lot as a kid, watched a gosh-dang-ton of cartoons, took an interest in digital art as a teenager, learned a lot of animation tools in college, and now I’m here.
I love shape language, wordplay, stories that have their own internal logic, biological subjects, a sense of silliness, and birds. Funnily enough, a longtime friend of mine who attended the Things Took a Turn premiere was surprised that my short didn’t have a bird in it.
3. What inspired you to pick the story you chose?
Back in January I doodled a character I couldn’t quite decide on arm poses for so kept drawing arms until she had six. This “unexpected spider-like vampire” became Draculily. Once the Things Took a Turn prompt came around, I knew I had to animate her.
4. What was your process for making your film?
For this film I wanted to work with a voice actor, so I had to tie down the script pretty early on. Big thanks to Claudine Guild for volunteering her time and voice to Draculily. It was very cool getting to listen to and give feedback on recording sessions.
I knew I wouldn’t have time to manage additional animators other than myself on this project, so I had to be careful about scope. Some things that got cut from early drafts were Hunter and Dracuthulhu having speaking lines, and Draculily getting to eat a delicious bug.
So, after I pared down the project, I created a storyboard, recorded some scratch voiceover, and figured out timing in a rough animatic. I used this to create a production spreadsheet to get a better sense how much work I was committing to. Next, I finalized the character and prop designs. Color was a big consideration: Since the characters don’t have outlines, their color values needed to be distinct from the colors used in backgrounds. Around this time I was cutting in Claudine’s takes into the animatic.
And then production hit full swing. Backgrounds! Coffins! Characters moving! Animation always takes the longest, and this project has lip-synch.
At the end I did sound effects and created a small bit of music. The very last piece of the short were the illustrations in the credits.
5. How long did it take to make?
Nights and weekends over a period of 4 months.
6. How experienced were you with narrative and story-based projects before making your altered fairytale? I created "Prince, Princess & Dragon" for last year’s Things Took a Turn, and have made a variety of animated shorts before that, so I’d say reasonably experienced. 7. What was the easiest part? Deciding Draculily has 6 arms. 8. What was the hardest part? Animating Draculily’s 6 arms. 9. What was your favorite part? The satisfaction of seeing the short slowly but surely come together. My favorite bit is scene 008, particularly the gestures Draculily does when she says “Cousin Dracuthulhu is moving in tonight.” 10. Do you have words of wisdom for anyone who might want to create an animated short of their own? Production spreadsheets are your friend. (And absolutely critical if you’re working on a project with more than one person!) It can be as simple as a list of shots and what happens in each of them. This will get you to really think about all the assets you’ll need to make, and how much time that will take.
Set clear goals and give yourself more time than you think you’ll need to finish. Life happens, there are always factors beyond your control. Even so, it’s exciting to make something, no matter how small.
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