"Meraki" Stop-Motion Thesis

meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective)
A word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put "something of yourself" into what you're doing, whatever it may be.

Meraki is a unique Digital Arts thesis film for Dodge College of Film and Media Arts at Chapman University.  Originally conceived by directors Taylor Johnston and Austin Piko, the film revolves around the relationship between a warrior and a spirit in an ancient fantasy world, told through a hybrid animation style using both traditional stop-motion and computer generated animation.

Due to the ambitious nature of this project, our team of young filmmakers are faced with the special challenge of constructing a physical world for our stop motion character to interact with.  Unlike most other Chapman Digital Arts projects, this film relies on practical sets and effects, which will later be composited with CG animation and effects.  We are also thrilled to announce our partnership with AMD Studios who have generously contributed a computer workstation for our project.  

So far, the physical assets to produce this film are expensive, and we have ordered professional equipment from around the world--ranging from 3D printing at Purple Porcupine in Irvine, CA to armatures from Julian Clarke Studios, the professional makers of the armature assets for Aardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep) in Kent, England.  We are accepting any donations to help support our funding for these assets as we assemble our stop motion set and begin physical production in January.

The Team:

Taylor Johnston - Director
Taylor is a senior at Chapman University studying Digital Arts with an emphasis in Animation. He loves to be outdoors, take photos, and spend time with his friends.  He chose to make a stop motion film because he loves to work with his hands and create tangible environments and characters. Taylor left his home in Lafayette, California and enrolled at Chapman to pursue his dream of becoming an animation director.

Austin Piko - Director
Austin is a senior Digital Arts major with an animation emphasis at Chapman University. His interest in the digital arts field began at a young age while growing up in Colorado. Austin grew up loving Pokemon and enjoying video games with his friends, and these hobbies have heavily influenced his choice to pursue a career in game design. Being experienced in the CG world, Austin has teamed up with Taylor Johnston to put his technical skills on display with this ambitious stop motion project.

Evan Ridpath - Producer
Evan is a senior Creative Producing major at Chapman University. He is thrilled to be working on such a unique thesis project that brings his interest in stop motion animation to life in a professional way. Evan enjoys the collaborative process of filmmaking and hopes to pursue a career telling stories in the themed entertainment industry.

AMD Studios leverages super high-fidelity rendering, pre-visualization, virtual production and new post-production technologies to pursue the goal of a single end-to-end digital pipeline, easing production time and effort, while solving some of the world’s most challenging technical hurdles, like real time 8K video editing across platforms, or 8K VR playback.
AMD Studios pairs this advanced hardware portfolio with long-standing relationships with leaders in content creation software, and leverages open standards-based technologies to fuel powerful, cost-effective solutions such as the powerful physically-based renderer, Radeon™ ProRender, and a wide range of tools and technologies for content creation available through GPUOpen.com.
AMD Studios has a long pedigree in the entertainment industry, and is staffed by tech visionaries, distinguished engineers, prolific content creators, and industry pioneers with credits in many of the biggest blockbuster movies in recent years.

Purple Porcupine, a 3D printing service bureau in Southern California, provides rapid prototyping and engineering services to industries all over the country. With the reputation of providing the highest quality prototypes around, Purple Porcupine supplies customers with a wide array of services such as FDM and PolyJet 3D printing, 3D CAD design, RTV tooling, and post-process finishing services. To learn more about Purple Porcupine and how to get started creating immaculate parts, visit www.purpleporcupine.com or give them a call at (949) 474-7222.


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  • Shawna Straw  
    • $100 
    • 30 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $250 
    • 31 mos
  • Mark Alexander 
    • $100 
    • 32 mos
  • Suzette Ridpath 
    • $500 
    • 33 mos
  • Carly Nasch 
    • $60 
    • 33 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Evan Ridpath 
Orange, CA
Austin Piko 
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