Friday, August 18, 2017

Animating Fungus: You Have to Be Kidding

My biggest creative challenge to date is my desire to share my fascination with mycelium with kids 5 to 8 years old. I see fungi in the woods on my walks and have enjoyed on occasion documenting these sightings.

A number of years ago my son gave me a copy of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World by Paul Stamets. I was absolutely intrigued by this idea that mycelia form incredibly large networks underground.(Watch his TED talk if you haven't seen it.)

An article in Scientific American states that one mycelial network holds the title of world's largest organism. It occupies some 2,384 acres of soil in Oregon's Blue Mountains. It is estimated based on its growth rate that it is between 2,400 and 8,650 years old, making it possibly the oldest living organism as well.

WHO wouldn't be fascinated?

So what's the challenge? I am animating the life cycle of the fruiting body of the mycelial network. They don't move around in cool ways like jellyfish or butterflies. It is possible to take a walk in the woods and not even see them if you are not trying. What is interesting and will be fun to animate is how the network develops either underground or in wood before we see the fruiting body, ie the mycelial network.

My drawing of multicolour gill polypore fungus I collected in the woods

What's My Process:
(Real Step One is research.)
Step One is the artwork. Below is the first iteration I drew with Procreate on an iPad. As much as I love it, after careful consideration I wanted something a bit less complicated, to have the visual focus on the fungus.

This is the second version which was drawn in Illustrator with my beloved Procreate textures. I wanted to make it clear that "we are in the woods".

I can animate the changing pattern of sunlight hitting the ground

Another version of the fungus

Version Three: This keeps on challenging me. I did the drawing below after the first time I published this post.  I think I've got it. I want something that really expresses the rich beauty of being in the woods. The Illustrator files are too flat.

Step Two was finding a music track that adds excitement.  I have had great luck with and I was pleased again.  I found this track by Peter Gresser, Skipping in the No Standing Zone. Peter was kind enough to reconfirm via email that this work is  CC0 1.0 Universal License, as it was labeled.

Storyboards are in the works and being modified and it's off to the races. Can I get kids 5 to 8 excited about fungus? Time will tell.

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1 comment:

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