Our friends at The Sisters Bloom, an animation studio focused on environmentally-friendly practices, recently shared with us their latest equipment project—a sustainable downshooter!
“A downshooter is essentially a see-through table with multiple glass planes that you can place foreground, middle ground, and background elements on with the camera mounted above, pointing downward to merge those various elements into one composition. It comes from the 2-D animation world, where animators could keep the same background through an entire shot and only replace the character drawing in the foreground. Now all of that can be done digitally on the computer, but for stop-motion animation downshooters are still the bees knees!
When it comes to investing in sustainable studio equipment, sometimes the best solution is to start from scratch. Especially since downshooters are not exactly a dime a dozen in the industry!
We worked with fabricator Nathan Lenz to dream up a downshooter that was as eco-friendly as possible. He was on board immediately and shared founder Melissa’s passion for sustainability. The two got to work brainstorming the details of how to make it come together.
Our downshooter is constructed solely from reclaimed Douglas Fir barn wood with stainless steel hardware and a non-toxic, zero VOC wood glue. The black paint is from our affiliate, Natural Earth Paints, who have created non-toxic pigments that need only be mixed with water! There is no varnish on the paint, since the surface needs to stay matte in order to cut down on reflection from lighting (and for our uses can always be touched up in a jiffy by mixing a little powdered pigment and water).
It’s interesting to note that the natural earth paint was airbrushed on rather than painted with a brush! The coolest part about the pigments only needing water is that you can make it as thick or thin as you’d like. For stop-motion, it’s rare that you’ll have a project that can use oil paints since it doesn’t dry quickly or apply well to certain materials, so the natural earth paint formulation has been a great starting point for transitioning away from acrylic paint.
So while the most sustainable option would have been to get a used downshooter, they are hard to come by in this industry. Now we have our very own, made with the Earth and human health in mind.”
Check out The Sisters Bloom to see more of their eco-conscious work: