International Motion Art Awards: Rosemary Travale

By David Schonauer   Friday June 5, 2015

Be careful what you wish for.

That’s one lesson learned by the protagonist in Rosemay Travale's  International Motion Art Awards-winning film The Champ. The short stop-motion film, made as a fourth-year thesis project for the B.A. Animation program at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, tells the story of a young boy who receives a visit from one of his heroes, a pro wrestler named Brent. Body slams ensue.

“As a longtime fan of both professional wrestling and stop-motion animation, it only made sense that this is what I would spend my final project of school working on,” says Travale. Indeed, she based the character of Brent on one of her own heroes, legendary Canadian pro wrestler Brett “The Hitman” Hart.

“I love pro wrestling for a lot of reasons,” she says. “There’s the showmanship of it all, that whole larger-than-life live theater sort of thing, and the weird drama that’s presented in a storyline that spans years! I think that stop motion and pro wrestling actually have a lot of commonalities, so it was easy for me to make that leap in subject matter. With wrestling, you have these athletes/actors who are trying to put on this great convincing show, trying to sell to the crowd that every punch hits and hurts like hell. When you’re animating with puppets, it’s a lot of the same thing. You’re moving around these three-dimensional characters, trying to create the illusion that they can run and jump and emote and put on a show for your audience.”

Travale spent the summer of 2013 interning at Cuppa Coffee  studios in Toronto, where she learned how to create that kind of illusion. “I learned how the puppet armatures are made, how to light shots and use the software,” she says. It was there that she conceived the idea for her thesis project. “I knew I wanted to try something really action-oriented and to make it a comedy,” she says. “That’s what appeals to me about animation and what I wanted to get into.”

Travale cites Jim Henson’s work as an influence. “I wanted all my characters to evoke that friendly felt Muppet look. The stuff that the Henson studios produced when I was a kid definitely helped shape my humor and artistic sensibilities.”

 The film was shot in the Sheridan College stop-motion studio, which, Travale notes, has enough room for three students.

“I spent a lot of time there, living and breathing stop motion from making the puppets and sets to animating and shooting it all,” she says.

You can see how the project came together in a behind-the-scenes film Travale produced to go along with her film.

After graduating last year, Travale moved to California, where she created stop-motion work for JibJab Bros Studios. She is now based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where she does design and 3D layout work for DHX Media Ltd. In her spare time she’s working on another stop-motion film.


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