By W.T. Edwards
Photos by Olivia Vaughn
“Are you ready to do Motion Capture?”
These were the last seven words I heard before finding myself dancing to an unknown hip-hop song in an effort to be immortalized in The Movements of South Street motion capture library. Surrounded by cameras, Kate Slovich and Tim Cartlidge, the proprietors of Burlap Studio, watched on, clapping, and laughing as I paid homage to Billy Idol and danced by myself.
What I thought was going to be a normal sit-down-over-coffee interview turned out to be an intimate view into the creative workings of Philadelphia’s most up-and-coming visual art studio.
Burlap Studio, located at 641 South Street, is endearingly referred to by Kate and Tim as the mad scientist studio. This is where the two collaborate.
Kate’s primary work includes the artistic editing of her own film shot on 8mm. These celluloid wonders can be found on loop, projected against the walls of the studio. “I don’t really care about chronology, this linier story,” says Slovich. “But what I really care about is, can I get you to feel something really strongly in three minutes? That, to me, seems like a real achievement.”
Through her camera lens, Slovich is able to not only unify a group of people at an event, place, or time, but relates the feelings and emotions that are actually happening to the viewers of her short films. Kate was educated in television production and has since contributed to several documentaries. To name a few, Kate was part of the team that brought you “Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues – A Musical Journey” which aired on PBS. “First Person,” where Kate was the producer, was a documentary from right here in Philadelphia. This film followed a group of high school juniors through the tribulations of modern adolescent life. These experiences in capturing real-life events in both the present and past tense is obvious in Kate’s work as a cinematic artist.
Tim Cartlidge is a jack-of-all-trades if you will, with what seems to be an unappeasable hunger for knowledge. He has an undergraduate degree in mathematics and a graduate degree in astrophysics. Tim’s occupational and educational history had him creating observatory and astronomy reports. He even shared an office with Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered the dwarf planet Pluto. In addition to Tim’s impressive education background he is also a self-taught motion capture artist. Using a series of cameras and 3D rendering software, Tim is able to capture physical movement of a live model and create 3D interpretations. “Do I have to be all artsy?” Tim answers when asked of his inspiration.
“I’m inspired by what looks cool.”
Now, how did these unlikely cohorts get together? Ballroom dancing.
Tim and Kate are both ballroom dance instructors here in the city and they met at the dance studio on Headhouse Square. Kate went on to tell me that she was looking for a specific type of animation to use in a piece that she was working on, and after mentioning it to Tim he got right to it. He was able to solve Kate’s quandary over night. “It just so happens that Kate has these [artistic] needs that meet my needs to learn,” says Tim. This `gift of animation was a sure sign to Kate that they should be working together. Kate goes on to say, “Tim is like this insane genius guy… astrophysicist, ballroom dancer, teaches himself…” The two really compliment each other creatively in a way that uniquely merges art and technology.
Together Tim and Kate intend on using Burlap studios as a living expression of Philadelphia. I encountered this first hand when just as my interview was wrapping up, a couple walked in off the street to check out what was going on in the studio. Kate welcomed them in to look around. Tim piped up and asked if they’d like to be motion captured. After a brief explanation and some gentle coercion, the couple agreed. One after the other, the two danced their asses off for no one but themselves. After the capture was complete, Kate and Tim thanked them for participating. The couple returned the thanks and went on their way.
In addition to housing Tim and Kate’s own work they intend to use their space to host events and exhibit other artists. This is to include displays and screenings of other artists’ works. Additionally, in January Burlap Studio will be hosting what promises to be an amazing night of second-rate performers. They call it The Recital for Mediocrity. How often have you seen an amazingly flawless performance? On this night you are sure to see the exact opposite. Your local Average Joes will be in attendance to show off their talents. Mistakes abound, all in good fun; these artists will show off what they’re only slightly ordinary at doing. To sign up for the event, find the studios contact information at www.BurlapStudio.com along with work profiles and other studio details.