What do Wallace and Gromit, the endearing British inventor/canine duo, have in common with Harvard? Both inspired Tim J. Reckart ’09 to delve into the wondrous world of stop-motion animation.
“In my freshman fall, I meant to shop the Intro to Animation course, but I accidentally showed up at the wrong meeting. It was the first meeting of a class specifically about stop-motion. I poked my head in, realized my mistake, apologized and left, and then a moment later I went back inside, decided that this might be more interesting anyway,” says Reckart.
“In stop-motion, you create a new frame just by moving an object, rather than redrawing the entire character. So the animation process is a lot quicker than drawn animation. What takes longer is that you have to build all your characters, sets, and props before any animation can start,” Reckart explains.
“I ‘caught the bug,’ and I’ve been keeping up with it ever since,” he says.
Reckart’s first film, “Leftovers,” may have been animated in a closet, but Harvard’s animation program is mighty. “We have really amazing teachers dedicated to a relatively small group of students. The professors are constantly cycling in and out, so over the four years that a student learns animation, he gets a lot of contact with different approaches to developing a film and the process of animation. This helped me find my own path in stop-motion, which has been mainly focused on character animation,” says Reckart.
Two years after graduating with a degree in history and literature, Reckart finds himself across the pond in the United Kingdom—where the “hand-pumped ales” are to die for. There, he works on the production team of stop-motion animation films at the National Film and TV School.
But while preparation is everything in his profession, Reckart’s believes that “the best opportunities in animation are usually surprises.” Thus, his plans for the future are yet to be decided.