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Behind the Scenes of "Upon the Strand"
This page gives a behind-the-scenes peak on the animated short "Upon the Strand".
In the year 1595, British poet Edmund Spenser (1552-1599) composed a series of sonnets which he called Amoretti. This animated short is an adaptation of sonnet 75 of Amoretti translated into American Sign Language. Not only is the language of the original sonnet archaic and beautiful, but also the concrete imagery and the concepts are quite romantic. For these reasons, I chose this sonnet as the subject of an animated short I wanted to make in American Sign Language.
Historically, sign language has hardly ever been portrayed in hand-drawn animation for a very simple reason: it's too much work to do draw out an entire language. (That may soon change with computer animation.) However, I wanted to create an appealing medium to introduce people, especially young people, who were unfamiliar with Deaf culture to ASL. I found that animation is one such medium. If personification is the embodiment of a quality or the assigning of human characteristics to inanimate objects, then anthropomorphism is the assigning of human characteristics to animate creatures. Using this combination of ASL in anthropomorphic animation, I hope to help develop an interest in the natural language of the Deaf in kids and adults alike.
Artists and other contributors in six different countries and eight states in the U.S. have contributed art, music, and linguistic consultation to this project. Please see the production credits below to learn more about these amazing individuals. The artists Rex in St. Petersburg, Russia; Kristan (kaykaykit) in New Brunswick, Canada; and Kris Lewis in the United States especially have contributed a lot of work to this project. Rex alone drew almost 100 keyframes for the project.
Because the sign language in the animation had to be clear enough that native Deaf signers could easily understand it, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing individuals reviewed each of the signs, and the signs were changed, some many times, until the native signers could clearly understand them.
In addition to this animated short, you can visit my website to learn more about deafness and American Sign Language.
from Amoretti: Sonnet 75
One day I wrote her name upon the strand1
1. beach 2. prey 3. attempt 4. also 5. quoth 6. contrive
Due to the archaic language used in the sonnet, I have written a paraphrase to help viewers understand its meaning more clearly.
One day I wrote her name upon the beach
[Line 2] BUT HAPPEN WATER -DOM BEACH SMOOTH(with expression)
[Line 3] AGAIN HER NAME WRITE(with finger)
[Line 4] BUT AGAIN WATER-DOM BEACH SMOOTH(with expression)
[Line 6] THAT(towards name) MUST DISSOLVE SMOOTH(with expression)
[Line 7] MYSELF SAME DISSOLVE LACK WILL
[Line 8] SAME MY NAME DISSOLVE WILL
[Line 10] DIE DISSOLVE FINE. BUT YOU(emphasis) EXATLED LIVE ETERNAL WILL, HOW (Rh-q) THROUGH FAME
[Line 11] MY POEM YOUR BEAUTY RECORD ETERNAL WILL
[Line 12] IF-SAME YOUR NAME HEAVEN THERE(up) WRITE(up with finger) GLORY(up)
[Line 13] WHATEVER WORLD ALL DIE-DIE-DIE(2h alt.) DISSOLVE WHATEVER
[Line 14] US-TWO(inclusive) OUR LOVE CONTINUE ETERNAL WILL. AND LATER PEOPLE INSPIRE.
This is some but not all of the production art used in creating the animation. In addition to more sketches not shown here, there was also a reverse animatic made, as well as a scenery video, and scores of photographs of sign language modeling for the artists. Kaykaykit also made some animated concept art of the opening wave motion. Those files along with backgrounds by Kaykaykit and Greykitty and the videos are simply too large to include here.
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