Robin Starbuck

BA, Salem College. MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Postgraduate certificate in film/video editing and postproduction, Tisch School of the Arts, Film Program, New York University. New York-based experimental filmmaker and animator. Work in experimental video, installation art, animation, and media design for theatre exhibited in museums, cultural centers, galleries, and festivals in the United States, Europe, and South America. Recipient of multiple awards and fellowships for artist residencies, both nationally and internationally. Her studio orientation is in experimental film, animation, and intermedia installation. Current projects include a documentary film on the Apsaalooke Tribe of Montana, experimental film projects for installations, and the ongoing production of video and animation projections for theatre and opera in New York and Europe. A full-time professor of experimental film and animation, she has been a visiting artist-in-residence at several studios and institutions, including the Media Technology Center of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta and the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago. SLC, 2014–

Course Information

Current undergraduate courses

Digital Animation: Short Narratives

Year

In this course, students will develop animation and short-storytelling skills by focusing on the process of creating animated shorts. Instruction will include story development, visualization, character development, continuity, timing, digital drawing, and compositing. All of the production steps required to complete a short animated film will be demonstrated and applied through exercises aimed at the production of a final short, full-color animated film, PSA, or music video by each student or team of students. Participants will develop and refine a personal style through exercises in story design and assignments directed at translating these into moving images. Digitally drawn images (with the option to include live action and photographs) will be assembled in sync to sound. Compositing exercises will cover a wide range of motion graphics features, including: green screen, keyframing, timeline effects, 2D and 3D space, layering, and lighting. Exercises will enable students with a working knowledge of the software Harmony by Toon Boon. Harmony is a creative, efficient software used in the film and TV animation industry.

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Experimental Film: Stop-Frame Animation

Fall

Whether dealing with abstraction or narrative sequence, experimental films reflect the unique vision of their makers. While most forms of animation serve the particular needs of commercial media, discoveries made by experimental animators have the ability to deconstruct an idea or movement and reassemble it in a new way. This course introduces the concepts and practical study of stop-frame film production as it relates to both sequential and nonsequential narration, movement, space, and time. In a series of short, independent, and collaborative projects, students will learn the techniques and materials necessary to explore a variety of hand-animation practices. The central focus of this course will be on concept development and material exploration for the completion of several short films. Students will work in a variety of frame-by-frame animation techniques in under-the-camera destructive and constructive animation, including: object animation, paper cutout animation, abstract drawing for animation, paint on glass, sand animation, and puppetry. Through technical instruction, readings, discussion, screenings, and experimentation, we will seek to refresh, extend, and redefine traditional modes of animation production. The aim of the course is to explore freely with materials in order to trailblaze fresh narrative and aesthetic possibilities. Final projects may be executed as animated films or animations for video projection.

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Secondary Currents: Experimental Video Art

Spring

This video production seminar explores, in depth, the rich world of film/video making as artistic expression. Students will participate by completing a series of assignments and through lecture, discussion, and screenings (artist interviews, documentaries, and artist work). We will explore moving-image forms and styles that blur the boundaries of narrative, documentary, and abstract filmmaking. There is, by definition, no formula for this kind of work. Rather, this course introduces the language and techniques of film production, alongside strategies for the use of film and audio design as creative expression. In this one semester course, we will direct our concerns to an exploration of our relationship to the aesthetics, politics, and language of place in its broadest context. We will look at and analyze the pioneering work of many experimental film/video artists, including Tacita Dean, Doug Aiken, Pipolotti Rist, Michael Snow, Bill Fontana, Nigel Ayers, Young Hae Chang, and others. Readings will include selections from several texts, including: MM Yvette’s Figuring the Landscape: Experimental Film and the Ecological Movement, On the Beaten Track: Tourism, Art and Place” by Lucy Lippard, “Identity and Place in Contemporary Art” by Don Krug, and others. Labs are designed to introduce the tools and techniques for each project.

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Previous courses

Animation Studio: Direct Techniques

Fall

Animation is the magic of giving life to objects and materials through motion. Whether through linear storytelling or conceptual drive, a sense of wonder is achieved with materials, movement, and transformation. Students will learn the fundamentals of making animated films in a hands-on workshop environment, where we are actively creating during every class meeting. The class will include instruction in a variety of stop-motion techniques, including cut-out animation, painting on glass, sequential drawing using pencil and paper or chalk boards, sand animation, and simple object animation. We will cover all aspects of progressive movement, especially the laying out of ideas through time and the development of convincing character and motion. The course will cover basic design techniques and considerations, including materials, execution, and color. We will also have a foundational study of the history of experimental animation through viewing the historical animated film work of artists from around the globe. During the semester, each student will complete five short animated films ranging in length from 30 seconds to one minute. Students are required to provide their own external hard drives and additional art materials. Labs will be used for technical training in Animate Pro®, iStop Motion® and digital editing software.

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Collaboration in Audio and Moving-Image Technologies

Fall

This team-taught course introduces artistic strategies, narrative structures, and compositional methodologies for the creation of sound and image installations, networked media, and live performance projects. Presentations, reading, and discussion cover the aesthetic theories, technology, and histories that drive these congruent media. Through intensive collaborative workshops, students will experiment with the relationships and potential dialogue between the audience and the artwork and apply their observations by designing and building their own projects. Classes will be organized around hands-on activities, lecture, and technical training. Students use basic building blocks of digital filmmaking, sound and music technologies, and installation art. In addition, the course will cover key genres of sound and installation art that include noise art, sound poetry, serialism, minimalism, site specificity, temporality, process, etc. A major component of the course will be the ongoing analysis and critique of student work. Students should be prepared to give and receive constructive criticism on their work and the work of professional artists presented.

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Concepts in Media Self-Portraiture

Spring

With the advent of newer modes of expression—video, the Internet, and performance art—the definitions and parameters of self-portraiture have departed dramatically from traditional forms. What is consistent, however, is that self-portraits remain a means of self-exploration and self-expression. Through video production and performance, this course examines the richness of modern and contemporary self-portraiture and its compelling relationship to the personal construction of identity. Self-portraits in film, installation, and performance art will be produced within contexts such as distortion, reflection, psychoanalysis, gender, persona, race, gesture, and style. Students will be encouraged to explore their own self-concepts and identities through autobiographical narratives, a look into the uncanny overlaps of virtual and lived realities, and the invention of persona. Through the process of media-making, we will explore individually and collectively the humorous, intellectual, sardonic, freakish, complex, shy, imaginative, spiritual, neurotic, and paranoid. Presentations, readings, and discussion cover the aesthetic theories, media technology, and histories that drive the production of contemporary self-portraiture. Artists under consideration will include Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Frieda Kahlo, Karen Finley, Shana Moulton, Marta dell’Angello, Keren Cytter, Joseph Beuys, and many others.

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Experimental Animation: Hybrid Imaging

Spring

In this course, students will develop fluency in the knowledge of creative possibilities embedded in the marriage between hand animation and digital processes. Working exclusively in Adobe’s Photoshop® and After Effects® software, we will explore the production of animated films by integrating found photographic material, 2D puppetry, rotoscoping, and other digital markmaking with live media and sound. Students will produce a series of short animated works ranging in length from one to three minutes. Final projects will include animation for cinema, performance animation, and/or animation for installations. The goal this semester is to discover new ways to use the digital animation medium for idea-based applications. We will work on concept development, visual planning, and production pathways. Frequent discussions about your work and about the work of renowned artists will broaden the understanding and appreciation of experimental work and will expand each participant’s creative boundaries. Prior knowledge of digital production and editing software is not required.

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First-Year Studies: Animated Documentary

This introductory course provides students with an opportunity to create short animated films that emerge from a rethinking of the traditional documentary format. The focus is on learning animation techniques and approaches that embrace documentary film as an art practice. Through class workshops and the screening of both short documentary films and animated documentary films, students will develop familiarity with a variety of traditional and digital technologies to produce works that explore ideas in animation and in animation coupled with live footage. Practice in this course is integrated with theory so that production is held within the context of critical thinking about the possibilities for documentary storytelling. In the first semester, we will undertake a series of short individual and group exercises in response to the work of other animators and our own research. The second semester will focus on individual projects that integrate the core principles of animation and fully explored documentary concepts in work of the student’s own design. Conference projects may be executed as short animated films or Web-based animations. With the recent explosion of interest in documentary film production, this course offers first-year students the chance to discover their own unique style for the telling of real stories with animated images. Technical instruction includes workshops in story development, rotoscope drawing, cutout animation, miniature puppetry, lighting, cameras, and the software AfterEffects, Toon Boom Animate Pro, iStopMotion, and Final Cut Pro. No drawing or other art studio experience is required.

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Media Sketchbooks

Year

This production course is for adventurers, artists, and budding filmmakers interested in exploring the medium of film for artistic expression and social inquiry. The images and experiences developed through experimental film and video are as varied as the artists that make them. There is, by definition, no formula for this kind of work. Like paintings or poems, each film reflects the artist as much as the content driving the work. This course is designed to introduce the language of experimental film and strategies for the use of video/film and audio design as an expressive tool. We will investigate the idea of radical content and experimental form by establishing the normative models and procedures of cinema and video and then exploring ways to challenge these conventions. Through a series of video and 8mm film assignments, the class will consider moving image forms and style that blur the boundaries among narrative, documentary, and abstract filmmaking. Projects will be furthered by screenings, readings, seminar discussions, and field trips. Topics will include, but are not limited to, issues of identity, place, the performative body, border crossings, cultural equivocation and mannerisms, blemished topographies, ritual, and transformation. Labs are designed to help students develop proficiency with film equipment, including portable and studio production and editing systems.

 

 

 

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