17 May 2011

The PiKA PiKA Workshop at Nippon Connection 2011

 The PiKA PiKA Workshop by Tochka was one of the highlights of Nippon Connection 2011.  I got the chance to have a peek behind the scenes at the set up for the event, watched the workshop in progress, and joined in at the end to participate in the creation of a message of support to the victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku.  This final part of the event was in support of Tochka's Safe and Sound Project.

Who are Tochka?

Nara-based artists Takeshi Nagata and Kazue Monno make up the collaborative art team Tochka.  They met at a film club while both were students at Kyoto University of Art and Design.  They have been making animated films, graphics, and manga since 1998 and are particularly famous for their innovative use of stop motion animation techniques.

A message of hope: I'm the turquoise heart at the top in the middle.

What is PiKA PiKA?

PiKA PiKA is the name of the lightning doodle technique that Tochka came up with in 2005.  It is stop motion animation made using coloured flashlights.

The name comes from the Japanese onomatopoeia "pika pika" (ピカピカ) which is associated with flashes of light.  Fans of Pokemon will recognize it as something that Pikachu, whose power involves electricity, says all the time.

What tools does do I need to make PiKA PiKA animation?

In addition to flashlights that have clear coloured paper taped over them, one needs a camera with long exposure capabilities, and a black background.

"Durchhalten" = hang in there - I'm the top "A" :-)

How does it work?
With the camera shutter open, the participants draw shapes in the air with their flashlights for 5 - 10 seconds.  They then repeat this process in order to create a series of images.  When the images are played back at normal speed, the PiKA PiKA animation comes to life. In the Nippon Connection workshop, the camera was positioned on top of a large screen.  After each round of filming, the resulting image was projected on the screen so that the participants could see how the results of their work.
I'm making a turquoise star in this one.

What happens during a PiKA PiKA Workshop?
The Nippon Connection workshop was run by Takeshi Nagata on his own.  He played funky music in order to create a cheerful atmosphere.  After a short introduction, he began with the simple shape of a small circle.  He then had the participants repeat this shape up high and down low, so that when the images were played back the circles of light resembled bouncing balls.  As the workshop progressed, the participants were encouraged to suggest their own ideas for shapes or words that they wanted to animate.

Here is the result of the Nippon Connection PiKA PiKA Workshop:

What makes PiKA PiKA so special?
 PiKA PiKA is a type of animation that anyone can participate in regardless of age or artistic ability.  It is a fun way of teaching the basics of stop motion.  When moving images were first invented many people believed that cinema had the ability to be a universal language. In this vein, Tochka's PiKA PiKA animation demonstrates how animation can be used to connection people from around the world in a positive way.

The best thing about the workshop was how much fun the participants had.

How can I book a PiKA PiKA Workshop?

You can contact them at tochka.jp(at)gmail.com or via twitter.

How else can I support Tochka?

You can support Tochka by purchasing their DVD Tochka Works 2001-2010 from CALF or the British Animation Awards online shop.  Read my review of the DVD to learn more.
Catherine Munroe Hotes 2011
Nippon Connection 2011