Frame by frame the story of a creature's everyday life unfolds deep underground within the sewers he calls home. During the night a brightly glowing butterfly appears and starts to fly around his room, leading the creature on an exciting journey towards a new life.
An entire story told in just under five minutes--a brand new creation made of clay and put together in the basement of senior, Arthur Behnke’s home. There is a crisp cleanness to his movie that looks almost easy, but is it really that simple? According to Arthur it isn’t. “My claymations run at 15 frames per second (professionals do 24 frames). That means every second, 15 still pictures are shown in sequence to give the illusion of movement. So, one minute of animation takes 900 pictures,” he says. If you do the math, that’s 4000 individual pictures for a five minute video. And that’s just the filming.
He also must build sets, write stories, create and sculpt the characters being used, and in the end, edit the videos to bring it all together. All of that takes a considerable amount of time, but it doesn’t stop him from getting his work done. Some of his claymations have taken a year while some have only taken a month depending on the time he puts in. “One of my older ones is unfinished,” he started then quickly backtracked. “Well, I finished it, but I ended it with a cliffhanger which would have been about halfway through the original story. Starting a movie and finishing one is always exciting, but in the middle it can get tedious.”
After spending what could go from hours to days writing a story, the brunt of the work begins. In his room at home, his fingers move meticulously to avoid any mistake attempting to create the perfect character--the body, the facial features, and even the dynamic emotions. These clay figures come to life in Arthur's creations.
Visibly proud of his work, Arthur went on to explain more about his claymations, “I do the animation by myself but I’ve had a variety of voice actors. Some being my family and some being professionals from the community.” He even had one of his most recent scripts written by his best friend, Devon Pressley, a former North Scott High School student. Arthur has also helped in producing live action skits, but he hasn’t done as much as he would like: “I haven’t done much live-action, but I think I do prefer it. I do claymation because it is the best option to me right now. My last claymation was in space with only one human character, and spaceships, explosions, lasers, and monsters. I couldn’t do that sort of thing in live-action with a budget of zero.”
With zero budget it’s clear that Arthur's work must be difficult, but which is harder--his short work with live action of his claymations? “For myself, definitely claymation. It takes so long. People can think I’m crazy for putting that time into it, but everyone has a hobby. They spend hours each day playing video games or at sports practice. For an actor, claymation is much easier. I can record their lines whenever they are available and edit them together, and they can read the script (no memorizing),” he says.
It’s clear that Arthur's hobby is more than what it seems. Tremendous amounts of work goes into his amazing creations that have to be seen to believe. So check out his latest claymation to the right.
Subscribe to his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/ArthurAndDevon for much more.