Ridgewood stop-motion animator wins Tribeca #6SecFilms competition


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Photo: Behind-the-Scenes
Photo: Behind-the-Scenes

This behind-the-scenes shot shows the creation of the winning Vine, with fake snow on a glass layer over Becker’s original video.

KATRINA MEDOFF

Vine, a mobile app that allows users to create and share six-second looping videos, didn’t exist until January 2013 — but now, thanks to the app, Ridgewood resident Lawrence Becker, 32, is creating stop-motion videos full time.

And now, the stop-motion animator has been recognized by the TriBeCa Film Festival as one of the winners of the second annual #6SecFilms competition.

“I heard about [the contest] the year before, when they had the same contest, but I was late to it — I heard about it when it was already over,” Becker said. “This year, I jumped on it.”

More than 530 submissions were narrowed down by TriBeCa Film Festival programmers, who presented a short list to the jury. The jury then chose winners from each category.

Becker won a meeting with GrapeStory, which is an agency that connects Viners to companies, but “[t]he best prize is being able to call myself a TriBeCa Film Fest winner from now on,” he said.

Becker’s film, “The Vortex Finds a Host,” won the “genre” category of the competition.

“I submitted a bunch [of films] to ‘animation’ — that’s what I primarily do,” Becker said. But, luckily,

“I also submitted to ‘genre,’ because many of my films have a fantasy/sci-fi quality to them.”

Becker’s winning Vine depicts a giant, living snowman-turned-vortex of snow filtering into his mouth.

“With all the snow we had this winter, I started going out and playing in the snow, just kind of experimenting with snow animation, and it just slowly started turning into a film,” Becker said.

To create the film, Becker took footage of himself out in the snow at McCarren Park in Williamsburg.

“I take footage out in the snow and make a fool out of myself in public because I’m acting with things that aren’t there,” he said.

He then put that video on a flat screen monitor and laid it down horizontally under multiple layers of glass on which he animated “snow” made of Styrofoam and baking powder.

Becker explained that the multiple layers of glass created a 3-D effect: “It’s how Walt Disney used to do his animating,” with a character on one layer and the background on other layers, he said.

“The Vortex Finds a Host” is just part of a short film, which will end up being around a minute and a half to two minutes long when completed.

Another of Becker’s snow animations, which made it into the list of runners-up, is the beginning of the longer film. “You see a snowball burst like a planet blowing up,” Becker described.

Becker started creating Vines a year ago, in April 2013, and has turned it into a career.

He now creates animations for companies such as ESPN, Bud Light, Tillamook Cheese, Sony’s “Astronauts Wanted,” the Food Network and Coca-Cola Co.

“They all keep rolling in,” Becker said, since Vines are very popular right now.

His big break came when he hosted one of social media news site Mashable’s weekly Vine contests (his week’s theme was Star Wars Mashups, and he himself created a themed Vine).

ESPN took notice and contacted him, and he’s worked consistently since then.

Stop-motion animation has always been a passion of Becker’s and “since I was a kid, it was what I wanted to do with my life,” he said. “Vine got me there.”

 

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