The Ice Book: The Fairy Tale Pop-up Brought To Life

<p>This charming miniature theater projection will melt even the coldest of hearts.</p>

Kathleen Flood

The Ice Book, conceived and constructed by husband and wife team Davy and Kristin Mcguire, is a fascinating look at how the intricate, low-tech medium of pop-up paper art can be enhanced with light projections to produce an animated live theater performance against the backdrop of these delicate pop-up settings. Created during a four month artist residency at The Kuenstlerdorf Schoeppingen in Germany, the story of a young man who warms the ice-cold heart of a mysterious princess is brought to life on this miniature stage, creating a 3D storytelling experience that is located somewhere between a pop-up book, a shadow theater and a 3D film.

Although having no previous experience with pop-ups, Kristin tackled the paper set while Davy created the projection scenery, made up from miscellaneous photos cut and pasted together and animated in Adobe After Effects.

The actors you see in the performance are the artists themselves, filmed with a Canon 5D Mark II against a makeshift green screen and then superimposed onto the photo montage. Davy then added dust and grain to give the film an aged aesthetic, drawing inspiration from early Russian fairy tales, the works of Jan Svankmajer and Georges Méliès, as well as the short animation Flatworld.

The whole book is backlit, and in order to stop the light from spilling through, a proscenium arch was constructed to help block the light, as well as give the piece an added theatrical element.

The pages of the book/set are held up by magnets—the whole project proving to be as fragile as the love story itself—but the duo are in the process of producing a sturdier version using Adobe Illustrator, a laser cutter, and a proper book binder. They hope to come up with a budget to realize the miniature version as a full-blown real-life theater experience with live actors and large-scale projections.

To book The Ice Book for a film, theater or arts festival, visit their website.