Visible Mending is a short animated documentary about the ways we repair ourselves through craft (notably knitting), even when we can’t be fully mended. The project is Directed by Samantha Moore and Produced by Tilley Bancroft. The MediaActive Projects CIC production is presented by BFI through the BFI Short Form Fund.

Visible Mending Film

Style: Stop Motion
Client: MediaActive Projects CIC
Year: 2023

The Project

Second Home was commissioned to facilitate the stop motion shoot for Visible Mending. This included character rigging, motion control, prop making, sets, lighting and animation. The idea behind the film was to use a group of stop motion knitted objects to tell the stories of people who have used knitting for therapeutic purposes, even if the repair is temporary.

Knitted mouse puppet, Lois, sitting on white set with knitted blanket wrapped around her.
Lois’ Knitted Mouse

Characters & Props

The interviewees are all represented by a knitted or crocheted object of their choice, some of which they personally hand crafted. It was our job to retro-fit the characters with armatures and rigging points so they could be animated.

The mice and bear had ball and socket joint skeletons with flexible wire arms, legs and tails. Objects such as the hat required something a bit more complex; a giant rotating spring on a motion control model mover provided the spinning / dancing effect. The jumper had a full wire skeleton which could be broken down bit by bit and could still stand solidly, even when large parts were missing and large gaps were left as it was gradually deconstructed.

5 stop motion knitted birds sitting or flying onto knitted wire
Lorna’s Knitted Birds

Sets

Sam’s vision was to shoot on simple white cycloramas to ensure focus was on the characters. Knitted props plus lighting and animation techniques such as window outlines and flashes of reflective foil added extra story development and visual interest. Snowflakes for one case study were shot individually on a rostrum and composited in post-production. 

Knitted stop motion bear puppet sitting on window shadowed set.
Mike’s Knitted Bear

Animation 

In many of the scenes, characters naturally needed to be seen knitting. For the majority of any knitting, we shot these backwards taking away stitches from the finished knit pattern. Mike the bear had a special slot in his tummy and jumper from which his knitted objects could emerge in stages. To complete close up of characters knitting we used the pixelation technique, this meant human hands inside mittens with giant needles, taking stills frame by frame for a stop motion effect. 

One case study covered a mother who began to knit when her son was injured in a car incident. To represent the start of this story we see a sequence of headlights turn to blue lights. This was knitted like a scarf, one big long pattern which we shot frame by frame moving along the scarf using motion control.

stop motion animator on set moving a puppet
Jessica Mehler Animating Lois’s Puppet

Aesthetica Film Festival, 2023, Official Selection, In Competition (Best Animation)
Animasyros International Animation Festival, Greece, 2023, International Premiere, Official Selection, In Competition (International Competition)
DOC NYC, USA, 2023, Official Selection, In Competition (Best Short)
Cinanima, Portugal, 2023, Official Selection 
London International Animation Festival, UK, 2023, Official Selection, In Competition (Best British Film)
Manchester Animation Festival, UK, 2023, Official Selection, In Competition (Best British Film)
Norwich Film Festival, UK, 2023, Official Selection