Thomas Nicol, filmmaker

Thomas Nicol | ART/BTS

Champaign-based filmmaker Thomas Nicol shares his passion for stories, stop-motion animation, and the Champaign film community.


Works-in-progress photos courtesy of Thomas Nicol.

Pens to Lens behind-the-scenes photos courtesy of Anna Zorn (http://zornvideo.com/).


Follow Thomas and see more of his work here:

Twitter: @QuantumCatAnim

Website: http://quantumcatanimation.com/

>>> AS A KID, I WAS HOME SCHOOLED.
AND MY MOM MADE FEEDER A BIG PART OF OUR EDUCATION.
STORIES WERE PART OF MY PERSONALITY.
I VERY MUCH—IT WAS ALL ABOUT STORIES.
AND I WAS IN PLAYS. I TRIED TO WRITE PLAYS, ADAPTATIONS OF STORIES THAT I READ.
I THINK THE FIRST SCRIPT I TRIED TO ADAPT WAS AN ADAPTATION OF GHOST CAT.
WHEN I WAS ABOUT TEN, I DISCOVERED YOU COULD TAKE A VIDEO CAMERA AND YOU COULD RECORD THESE PLAYS.
YOU COULD PLAY THEM OVER AND OVER, AND YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO DO IT EVERY TIME.
THE STORIES I REALLY LIKED ARE THE ONES SET IN KIND OF ADJACENT REALITY.
SO THAT’S THE KIND OF STORIES I REALLY LIKE TELLING.
THE REALLY UNIQUE THING ABOUT THE CHAMPAIGN FILM COMMUNITY IS HOW EXCITED EVERYBODY IS TO WORK WITH EACH OTHER.
FILM IS AN EXTREMELY COLLABORATIVE ART, AND SO HAVING A GROUP OF PEOPLE WHO ARE WILLING TO COME TOGETHER AND WORK ON ONE PROJECT IS A HUGE BOON TO GETTING STUFF DONE.
BACK IN THE DAY, YOU HAVE MOVIES PLAYING BACK ON FILM, 24 FRAMES PER SECOND.
STOP MOTION IS INSTEAD OF HAVING A MOVING SUBJECT THAT ARE YOU RECORDING 24 FRAMES A SECOND, YOU TAKE THOSE FRAMES INDIVIDUALLY.
SO YOU POSE THE CHARACTER. YOU TAKE A PICTURE OF IT.
POSE YOU HIM AGAIN. REPEAT UNTIL YOUR EYES BLEED, AND THEN WHEN YOU PLAY THEM BACK AT 24 FRAMES PER SECOND, THEN IT LOOKS LIKE IT WAS RECORDED WITH A MOVING SUBJECT.
THAT SORT OF CREATION IS A LOT OF FUN.
NOT ONLY HAVE I MADE MOVIES FOR MOST OF MY LIFE, BUT MY ACTUAL TRAINING IS IN ENGINEERING.
SO THAT SORT OF PROBLEM SOLVING IS JUST RIGHT FOR MY BRAIN.
IT IS WHAT MY BRAIN LIKES DOING.
FLUFFYSTEIN WAS MY PENS LENS SHORT LAST YEAR.
IT WAS WRITTEN BY THREE LOCAL SIXTH GRADE GIRLS.
AND IT IS THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVER.
IT IS ABOUT A LITTLE GIRL NAMED MAISEY WHO HER BEST FRIEND IS NAMED MR. FLUFFY EARS. HE IS A STUFFED RABBIT, AND THEN HE IS KIDNAPPED BY HER EVIL GENIUS LITTLE BROTHER AND BROUGHT TO LIFE IN A FRANKENSTEIN-LIKE EXPERIMENT.
THE FAVORITE PUPPET THAT I WORKED WITH IS MR. FLUFFY EARS FROM FLUFFYSTEIN.
EVERY TIME I ANIMATE THAT PUPPET, I FIND SOME EXCUSE FOR HIM TO WHIP HIS HEAD AROUND, AND THE WHOLE FIGURING OUT HOW THE EARS WILL MOVE AND FLOW. THERE IS A WHOLE LOT OF PHYSICS BEHIND THAT.
AND IT IS JUST FUN TO BE ABLE TO BRING EVERYTHING I HAVE STUDIED TOGETHER TO, YOU KNOW, GET REALLY FUN STUFF DOWN.
MY NAME IS THOMAS NICOL.
I AM A DIRECTOR, AN ANIMATOR, AND I LIVE IN CHAMPAIGN.