As an artist with a formal background originally in live-action film production, Cable Hardin creates content, narrative or otherwise, and creates it while experimenting with existing aesthetics, and often manipulates viewer expectations through exploitation of genre or parody. Due to his combined experience in film production and animation, specific areas in creative activity often include the combination of live-action and animated elements. Humor, playfulness, moments of frenetic energy, and the unexpected are major common elements in his work.
Cable teaches animation and film studies and at South Dakota State University in Brookings, South Dakota where he also organizes film and animation exhibitions like the SoDak Animation Festival and related iterations. In an alternate universe Cable has also specialized in special effects makeup for film and tv, an area he looks to revisit when the opportunity arises.
The short animated films White Out (2015) and Infestation (2016) were made with very different approaches, but both met the goals of learning through process and experimentation, and increasing technical proficiency and modes of expressiveness. Both projects emphasized the exploration of analog and hand-made processes, which contrast greatly with my prior, mostly digital experience. I also expect my processes to change based on the interdependence of teaching and creative research, which so often can inform each other.
White Out was a new concept for me and a much more complex process in establishing character and story, told through stop-motion and other physical, time-consuming and meticulous in-camera processes. This film was made in response to my prior experience in film and animation, which had been primarily digital. That process had left me bored and unsatisfied with the comparative sedentary and sterile experience. After being inspired by such contemporary animators such as Kirsten Lepore (Bottle, 2010), Quique Rivera (El delirio del pez león, 2012), and Emma DeSwaef (O Willy, 2011), I shifted to explore analog animation processes such as stop-motion and traditional drawing that use hand-made elements and exhibit rich texture in the imagery. Craft processes such as puppet-making, set-building, lighting, and photography were a welcome and refreshing change.
I primarily work independently, mainly by choice, but partly by necessity of low regional population.
The first significant collaboration happened recently with Minneapolis-based audio designer Mike Hallenbeck on Infestation. Mike contacted me after seeing (and hearing) White Out at an area film festival and explained he was interested in working on a future project of mine. The collaboration was straightforward in that he was given pretty much free-reign to illustrate the visuals with sound as he saw fit and also took it as an opportunity to experiment on his own. I have come to highly value this outside expertise and perspective and plan to seek collaborative opportunities in the future, particularly in audio.
Infestation, although brief in production and duration, is an example of working quickly and loosely with experimentation in mind. This approach allowed for less controlled expressiveness with the end result completed relatively quickly. Collaboration with an audio designer was also a significant new dimension of process. Much of the content for Infestation was created while traveling around the US and much inspiration came from unexpected and real experiences (with insects).
Teaching and Methods
View student work here
The core of my teaching primarily addresses foundations and principles of movement and cinematic language as it relates to many forms of visual time-based communication. Strong foundational skills in the basic principles of cinematic grammar and animation is the most important tool for students to master. With base knowledge and foundation skills, a student can continue to apply these principles over a variety of forms and through a myriad of techniques and mediums, regardless of film/video, traditional 2D, 3D digital, stop-motion, or any combination. To encourage creative and professional life outside of the classroom setting, I stress completion of quality work for exhibition and application beyond the educational environment. Attendance and involvement with film and animation exhibition and festivals is an integral method for student engagement beyond classroom function and a unique opportunity for participants.
Teaching methodology emphasizes project-based application of principles of cinema and animation. Success of even basic application of the principles is achieved through extensive practice. Many applications have been approached with experiential learning methods and/or actual clients. Project-based approaches build upon proficiency of basic principles of animation and movement that carry through successive courses and into areas of motion graphics and any area where time and movement-based communication is used (film, television, exhibition, interactive/mobile media).
Curriculum begins with the introduction of basic cinematic grammar and traditional applications of animation principles. Hand-drawn animation and analog filmmaking often serve as a foundation to all other processes and also provides a perspective and appreciation for which many digital animation applications derive. For many students, analog processes can be an eye-opening experience that lets them recognize the value of texture and the human element in animation that is often lost to young animators. Moving forward, digital applications and processes such as 2D and 3D digital applications, audio, and more complex workflows are introduced and explored. In more advanced courses, students are given the opportunity to create an original individual or collaborative work form start to finish and are often required to submit these completed works to exhibition opportunities beyond the classroom setting.
Ongoing goals in education, particularly if existing curricula is limited, is to include more opportunities for students to explore a greater perspective on film and cinema, of which animation is only one part. These more general areas of film and cinema dovetail perfectly with animation and motion graphics. When combined with other media and visual arts curricula, this creates a solid foundation for building media skills, improving media literacy, and allow for a stronger understanding of common culture and self-expression.