June 2, 2010

REEL2010  Xue Hou

music “Chromes on it” by Telepathe

May 27, 2010


click to view in full size.

i miss u




self portrait 

May 25, 2010
title animation for “Oscar’s Kids Guides”, Nomad Traveller TV, 30’s
click the link above to view the full animation.
DVD Labels and cover

oscar’s Costa Rica adventure newsletter

title animation for “Oscar’s Kids Guides”, Nomad Traveller TV, 30’s

click the link above to view the full animation.

DVD Labels and cover

dvd label Oscar's Kids Guides-nycdvd label Oscar's Kids Guides-nyc final

Dvd cover oscar's kids guides

oscar’s Costa Rica adventure newsletter

March 30, 2010
March 17, 2010
November 25, 2009

video title for MAD

Museum of Arts and Design 6s


November 10, 2009
May 6, 2009

My initial idea for my thesis was to do a series of animation dedicated to several friends of mine who were born in February, March and April. It started with a conversation online between me and “February”, who at that time had a story for an animation and hoped that i could make it for her. However during the process of developing the story, it became more and more a story for “February” instead of a story of “February”. I couldn’t help adding my ideas and feelings to it and ended up doing my own story instead.

It has always been an issue to think about that I can never stick to the originally story i made. and I’m still not sure if that is a “problem”. “February” specifically, first I’m lack of the ability to coherent with a complicated and detailed storytelling in case of clay stop motion. What i shot is not what i pictured in mind. The animation worked well this time, on some level, due to the fact that I did want this piece to be abstract. But there were some other time when I had to make it abstract because I couldn’t tell the narrative the way I wanted it to be.  The second reason that i altered the story this time was because I had this new idea about what the flower would served in the animation as one of the two characters. It also related to the fact that I kept adding my feeling to the story. In that case, it’s fine with me that I keep developing the narrative while working on it.

I guess what I will do differently next time would be to start with a larger picture at the beginning and get to the details step by step. Do an animatic with the real audio before jumping in mass production. This time although I started aiming to do an animatic, somewhere during the shooting, not far from the start though, I completely lost and got myself deeply involved with the details and as a result, went straight to the major shooting. First because it was fun to do, and I just got drown in that easily. Also I was worried about time and just wanted to see a complete,though rough, piece as soon as possible. Looking back, I think an animatic could help me to clean and deliver the story.

"February" is really big for me. I got very emotionally involved in it, which I don’t usually do in my animation. Also a general idea about working flow of animation,for example mood board, model sheets, animatic,etc. I definitely need to look at learn a lot more. But this feeling of finding something I am passionate about and starting to be serious about it is awesome!

thank you dana, marina, lovely class and itp.

April 26, 2009


fixed version without audio

just done with the first version!

I’ve been working on an animatic while shooting final footages. not much time left but i think it’ll really help. The old flower friend is tiny, weak and lack of personality,so i made a new one instead who will be there to seduce our little girl, a germ like flower grows inside of us.

need to finish the rest of the shooting by monday followed by tons of finalcut and AE.

quite a photogenic lady~

Stopmotion test 02 in color and BW

Stopmotion test 01 Crawling on Meat

prime beef, $7.84, trader’s joe. almost half cooked when i was done.


The thesis project includes two narrative animations titled “February” and “April”, dedicated to two close friends of mine, who were born on those two months. Characters in those stories are abstract figures, with each of the figure and story shows the personality of each friend. My feelings for them will also be applied to the story. Although the color scene and technic used in the two animations will be totally different, both will share the same delicate, soft and creepy animation style, and both will be light in color, and have a less digital, low-tech appearance. By looking at a screen capture separately, they will just look like traditional art piece.

In those two animations, the reveal of personal emotion is one of the most important elements. Starting with mood board first, and the narrative and character building come after according to that.

The mood board of “February” is a collage of black and white portrait, still detail shots of  daily objects and illustrations. All images form a rectangle shape with a illustration of a little girl’s head trapped in the middle.  The washed out color and the blurriness of images, together with tiny pieces of past indicate memories that live with a person’s everyday life and are difficult to erase.   With a large amount of white space left, mood board of “April” combines several fashion magazine cut outs, animated style illustrations and simple line graphics. It is stylish, simple, cheerful and shallow in a sort of “indie art” way.  Based on the two mood boards, “February” is made as a black and white clay stop motion. Character made of polymer clay and sculpture wires is shot blank faced using istopmotion inside of a environment made of clay and meat, and her facial expressions are composited in After Effects after the original footage being edited in Final Cut Pro. While “April” is going to be a mixture of stop motion paper craft  and 2D drawn animation in flash with vivid color, and in the end will be put together in After Effect as well. Narrative and character of “April” are still in developing.

Story of “February” is a tale about this delicate little figure lives inside of a human body who has never left the house and saw the world outside. She sleeps inside of the stomach. Mouth is her living room and the lungs are her backyard and swimming pool. She grows beautiful plans in her garden, among them there is the little red flower, her best and only friend except the “house” itself. Despite the sudden bright light that sometimes comes from outside of her living room window that scares her so much, she lives a peaceful and happy life. The person is aware of her existence, enjoys her company and feels protective. So the “house” eats less and less in order to provide her a safe,clean and warm place to sleep, and slowly gets seriously sick because of that. But she doesn’t understand. The house couldn’t stop coughing which constantly woke her up at night, and the sticky liquid flowing everywhere starts from her swimming pool eventually kills her small flower friend. She gets really mad at the house. Thinking about the bright light, she suddenly has the courage to want to go out and leave the rotten house. So she rushes to the “door” with her dead flower friend in her hand. And then she stops, at the door, she got paranoid just by one glance of the outside view. For the first time of her life, she feels so insecure and she panics. She couldn’t do it. She wouldn’t know where to go or what to do if she leave,she would always be afraid and on guard. She is trapped. Trapped with the person she lives in and shares a life time memories with. She slowly walks back to her bedroom, now there is sticky fluid everywhere as well. But she just lies down and closes her eyes, humming, sensing she will be killed too, eventually.

Focusing on “February”, the biggest problem while developing the animation is how to make audience get the emotional changes of character. First, as much as emotional changes this story involved, it requires the support of a highly refined narrative. Second, both the facial expressions and audio need to be super accurate in order to deliver character’s emotion correctly to viewers. And at the point whenever there is a switch of emotion, those elements seem to be particularly crucial. Figuring out that problem under a  tight schedule is the main challenge right now.

test on facial expressions

Just more eyes and lips. tomorrow i’ll need to make more video tests on her facial expressions. and for the weekend i’ll do test on stop motion with her crawling around, lying down, falling down, etc. and also my storyboard needs to be modified with more emotional transitions, now some part of it, esp

ecially the last page feels really confusing, both to me and to marina.

well,seeing the goodie box getting more and more crowded always makes me happy.

Top view after i took out the other 35 pairs of eyes~

test on the eyes.

me and my EYEs

now i can blink, look right/left, look right/left when with sleepy eyes, look up and down,and look shocked!


so i made a small scale stomach mold which also known as her bedroom. tried to figure out how am i going to build the set.

with her tiny model sitting inside

i actually quite like how this is turned out to be.

TWO very important things that i figured out today,with the help of marina.

the facial expression(eyes) issue

  • make all the eye positions i’ll need in clay.(blink and look around, look down and up, smiley eyes, sad eyes, angry eyes)
  • shoot still images of her in all the eye positions separately.
  • cut the eyes out in PS.
  • shoot the animation with her in one of the eye positions only.(decide the eye location)
  • composite her with the right eye position in aftereffect.

how to build the environment she is in

  • make stomach, lungs, mouth separately.
  • shoot animation in those three sets above in front of a green screen.
  • shoot background composition (meat, jello…) in small scale.
  • composite the background in AE.

a failed puppet on the happy miss April

about the eye blink/facial expression problem regarding to clay puppet, i figured out a really time consuming way of doing it. and if i can do the frame by frame thing in flash,why not just as well do it by hand? because it’s super time consuming! i’m willing to do this as long as it gives me the best effect though, oh of course, if i can finish it on time. Should do test on other ways too.

character building and narrative "February"


There is a delicate little figure lives inside of my body. My stomach is her bedroom, my mouth is her living room, and my lung is her backyard and swimming pool. Sometimes she would sit on my tongue all day, just read, or dream about the world outside.

I eat less and less since she lives here, and eventually stop eating. so she can sleep in a place where it is clean, warm and safe. She grows beautiful flowers and little trees in my lung that make me cough. Slowly i’m getting sicker and sicker, she couldn’t swim in my lung anymore, because the liquid gets sticky. My cough kills her plants and she couldn’t fall asleep at night, neither do i. She has to leave.

She is usually quiet, but sometimes we talk. she would talk about how much she wants to crawl out and leave me. I know she couldn’t do it. She wouldn’t know where to go or what to do if she is outside, and she would always be afraid and homesick. She is trapped in the memories she had, she is trapped with me.

I wish her dream would come true. I wish she could take the step, and I was strong enough to help her. We would both be free then.

I’m afraid too.

she is made of sculpture wire wrapped by polymer clay. I’m not sure if I can put her in oven, I do want her figure to be quite settle so it won’t get messed up easily during the shoot, wondering if the joints are still going to work after being baked though.

another thing, i can’t cook, and i’m not sure if i can put sculpture wire in oven…

but i definitely quite happy with the way she looks right now. i need a replacement with her eyes, i want them to be able to blink, and the eyeball can move around as well, not sure how can i do that though. since she will crawl around the set most of the time, and she is basically naked, her facial expression will be very important. i’d like it to be pretty vivid and can reveal a lot of personality and emotion.

i like the way she looks with one eye only somehow…

a little test on her digital look in flash. she is picturing something sweet inside of her head, which gives her the blush.

she is shy.

when she puts on some make up, she feels pretty. and that’s when she is happy.

It’s not easy to see her gets angry, but when she is, it’s horrible.

i guess i like her best when she sleeps. It looks so peaceful that i sometimes forget we are slowly killing each other.

just more sketches

you know sometimes she is almost there.


I plan to make a series small scale video sculptures with narrative animations projected on them. The animations feature four close friends of mine. With one story a month, dedicated to friends who were born on December, February, March and April.

The characters in those stories will be abstract figures, with each of the figure and story reveals the personality of each friend. And my feelings for them will also be applied to the story. Although the color will be totally different(two of them will be mainly black and white,the other two could be very colorful), the four stories will share the same animated style, which is delicate, soft and a little bit creepy.

Before I start to work on the piece, I did a research on my thesis topic. My research for the past mainly focuses on animations and  short videos. All of those carries a certain style that I would like to pursue. They share a simple and elegant graphic style, soft and light in color, and have a less digital, low-tech appearance. So if you do a screen capture, it will just look like a traditional art piece. Besides the visual elements, I try to pay more attention on  audio as well. Because audio is generally something my work is lack of. But I’ll decide whether or not each piece needs audio by the story of it, so the video sculptures will contain audio only when it’s necessary.

On the other hand, my future research ranges from animations, films, video installations to paintings, drama, photography and dance. I use them as my inspirations of ideas, and resource of self-questioning of my work. The more I look at those shows, the more I begin to understand why, or how well the physical form of the art piece or the way it is performed supports the idea behind.

In this piece, the reveal of the personal emotion is one of the most important elements for me, so i made mood boards first, and the narrative, the style of characters and animation are built on those. After I come up with the story, I do sketches of both the sculptures and characters. and start to build rough examples of the sculptures. By having the actual sculpture examples, i can figure out the best way for the animation to be projected on, so it serves its best in both artistic and technical way. and I need to modify the sculpture shape and test projections on different surfaces. The animation comes after those, only when the sculptures and the project surface is settled, then I can do  animation that matches up perfectly with the sculpture. The animation is not going to make sense just by itself alone, but needs to be viewed with the sculpture.

For the sculptures, i need to explore different materials. But i would like to work with materials that feels soft and low tech, so what I have in mind now is clay and sculpture wires. The sculpture wires are the bones of the sculpture and the clay is wrapped around the bones to give the sculpture life. Not only because of the sculpture wire plus clay serve the style of my animation well, they are also easier to make change on. One problem i have now is how to make the projected animation looks less flat on or inside the sculptures. I can get a lot of different effects by projecting on different surfaces and by modifying the animation with angle illusion. I  have to do tons of tests on that.

For the animation, I usually create characters and simple movements in flash first and export them as quicktime movie clips or PNG images with a transparent background, and import them in Aftereffects to finish the final animation. The problem with this method is the animation looks more or less digital, though it is easier for me to work with and especially faster for me to make changes to the animation when necessary. The other method is  to create the character using the same way i make the sculpture and then shoot a stop motion animation, and edit the footage in Aftereffect and Finalcut Pro. It takes more time than the first method and the original footage is not reversible, but i think the final animation fits better with the sculpture in terms of style.

RESEARCH :The Past and The Future


My research for the past mainly focuses on animations and  short videos. All of those carries a certain style that I would like to pursue. They share a simple and elegant graphic style, soft and light in color, and also a less digital, low-tech appearance. So if you do a screen capture, it will just look like a traditional art piece. Besides the visual elements, I try to pay more attention on  audio as well. I especially like the audio used in Showstudio’s “Let There Be Light” and Conclave Obscurum’s “Desperanzza”.  With one so gentle and refined, and the other one creepy and quite random, both of them go perfectly with the emotion and visual content of each.

On the other hand, my future research ranges from animations, films, video installations to paintings, drama, photography and dance. I use them as my inspirations of ideas, and resource of self-question of my work. The more I look at those shows, the more I begin to understand why, or how well the physical form the artists choose to show people or the way it is performed supports the idea behind. I might find some of them do a great job, while others don’t. And why is that? and in what other ways I propose they can present their idea and serve it better?

and relates to my thesis, why do i want to use projection? or do i want my physical sculpture and animation be a independent piece without each other? If they do or don’t, why? or even, why physical object have to be there? I know I want it to be there, but how can I put it in a way that will make sense to the viewers as well?

I hope those are the questions I can answer through my research.


SHOWSTUDIO “Let There Be Light”

audio, combine of graphic(cutouts) and movement and gesture.

    JOE DAVIS “Scribble”

    simple, clean, narrative, audio, unique idea needed

      STUDIOaka “Sing Up”

      commercial, simple, color

        CONCLAVE OBSCURUM “Desperanzza”.

        creepiness, color, audio, photography

          FERIC “Bear”. simple, ironic

            BURST OF BEADEN “An Eye 4 Annal”.

            narrative, audio, characters, hand draw

              VANNA BOWLES “For My Love”

              detail, dancing lady in the throat

                NATHALIE DJURBERG.

                sets, clay istopmotion, idea and content

                  KATEY JEAN HARVEY. color

                    THE FUTURE LIST

                    Blood Tea Red String (2006)

                    • Handmade stop motion animation link

                    Stormy Night (2005)

                    Bodhi Obfuscatus (Allegiance); An Installation by Michael Joo

                    • now - Feb 7 @ chelsea art museum link

                    Digital Natives: A Selection of Media Design Work from the Communication Design Department

                    • now - Feb 14 @ FIT link

                    Alexander Calder The Paris Years 1926-1933

                    • now - Feb 15 @ Whitney link

                    Artist’s Choice: Vik Muniz, Rebus

                    • now - Feb 23 @ MOMA link

                    DIVA: A Highly Tensioned Drama in a Unique and Mysterious World

                    • Performance
                    • Feb 27 - March 01 @ HERE link


                    • Video
                    • now - March 07 @ Martos Gallery link

                    NEW COMMISSIONS Daria Martin: Minotaur

                    • Film, Dance
                    • now - March 08 @ NEW MUSEUM link

                    Frontier of Dawn (Frontière de l’aube)

                    • Film
                    • March 06 - 12 @ BAM link

                    NEW COMMISSIONS Urban China: Informal Cities

                    • Feb 11 - March 29 @ NEW MUSEUM link

                    N.O.BODY Renate Lorenz, Pauline Boudry

                    • Photography, Video projection
                    • Feb 18 - April 04 @ SI link

                    Burning Down the House: Building a Feminist Art Collection

                    • Paintings, sculpture, works on paper and videos
                    • now - April 05 @ Brooklyn Museum link

                    Alex Bag

                    • Video installation
                    • now - April 12 @ Whitney link

                    The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860–1989

                    • Paintings
                    • now - April 19 @ GUGGENHEIM link

                    Noguchi: The Bollingen Journey 1949–56

                    • Photography
                    • now - april 19 @ GUGGENHEIM link

                    Trisha Brown Dance Company

                    • Dance
                    • April 29 - May 2, 7:30pm @ BAM Howard Gilman Opera House link


                    • Photography, Installations, Performance art
                    • april 29 - June 20 @ SI link

                    Gustave Caillebotte: Impressionist Paintings from Paris to the Sea

                    • March 27 - July 5 @ Brooklyn Museum link

                    Artists Making Photographs: Chamberlain, Rauschenberg, Ruscha, Samaras, Warhol

                    • Photography, Installation
                    • Spring 09 @ WHITNEY link

                    MOOD BOARDS

                    "February" - past and trapped

                    "April" - boring but sweet

                    December 23, 2008

                    ITP Winter Show Project Fall08

                    Video sculpture, multi-source projection

                    Video shoot, post poduction: Ramona Pringe, Xue Hou

                    Dancer: Lea (NYU dance department)

                    Inspired by “Ballerina di 14 anni” by Edgar Degas, our ballerina has come to life on multiple layers of gauze/tulle.

                    The fabric is inspired by the softness of the ballerina’s skirt, and with multiple sheer sheets, capturing the various “generations” of multiple projected sources, the result is a ghost like layering of dancers.

                    We wanted to create a classical piece using contemporary tools, and build a piece that people interacted with spatially, seeing different perspectives on the piece, overlapping dancers, and echoes of their motions, depending on your viewing angle.

                    It was also important to us that this piece not appear “digital” but rather embody the grace of classical ballet and the softness of the dancers movements.

                    The challenge was - how to we capture a dancer’s grace, and flowing agility, and how do we make it move in three dimensional space? One solution was using a projection material that has it’s own organic movement, and seems to sway as the dances moves, and as people pass around the piece.

                    early prototype