The film is a collaboration between Henderson and the musical artist Poppy Ackroyd who composed the score. However, unlike the traditional process wherein a film is picture-locked and then delivered to the composer for scoring, Henderson and Ackroyd worked backwards. “[Poppy] would send separate ‘stems’ — that’s where the film got its name — of each track of music. I would make characters and instruments that looked like they might make each of the sounds she’d given me and we’d go from there.”
Henderson who is himself a former chart-topping musician likens animation to music. Like music, “[animation] comes down to a matter of trying to move people, with what, and for what purpose? There are technical [similarities] too, about rhythm, tone and sentiment. Films have a kind of melody.”
Despite the final film’s modest runtime, production took the better part of six months, a testament to the painstaking work inherent to stop-motion and central to Henderson’s ability to bring his characters to life. “I take my time,” says Henderson, who is then quick to point out that the design of the puppets is every bit as important as the way in which they’re ultimately animated. “They should have a kind of ‘aliveness’ even before they move, that way you don’t have to do terribly much in the animating to bring them to life.” When asked if he ever gets attached to his creations, Henderson’s response is perhaps unsurprising: “I cherish them. Even the ugly, or half finished ones get a place on the shelf in my studio. They’re like this weird, constantly growing little family who stare out at me from the windowsill as I’m working.”
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