Swift River Rising: “A Project that Went Under”

INTRODUCTION

Swift River Rising, was an Animation I started to work in the Spring of 2013. The animation was based on the real-life story of the Quabbin Towns. The towns were located on the Swift River Valley, these towns were: Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and, Prescott. The reason of why these towns were the focus of the animation is because these towns were disincorporated from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to build a reservoir for the City of Boston.

The issue of the need for more water for Boston arose as the city was rapidly expanding around the mid-1800’s. After research done it was decided that the construction of a gravity aided reservoirs would supply enough water to the city. The usage of reservoirs was deemed appropriate as local rivers didn’t supply enough water nor sufficiently clean for consumption. By early 1900’s the construction of the Wachusett Reservoir among others were nearing completion or were already in operation.

In 1922 a study endorsed the construction of a reservoir on the Swift River Valley damming the Swift river to create it. The Swift River was fed from upstream bodies of water in New Salem which came from three streams, the Swift River, the Swift River Middle Branch and the Swift River East Branch. The river continued southward towards Ware and then turning westward draining onto the Connecticut River. In the valley the towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott were located. These towns were small in size but were interconnected with their surrounding cities. Walking or horseback riding were the primary methods of transportation, the towns also had connections with both the Boston-Albany Railroad and the New London Northern Railroad.

Once the construction of the reservoir started so did the displacement of thousands of residents on the valley. This move was controversial for the residents of these towns, there were protests and a legal lawsuit from the State of Connecticut but were unsuccessful. Some of the buildings were moved to nearby towns, the rest were razed and later submerged. The remaining of the former Township’s land was then given to the nearby communities up to the shoreline of the new reservoir. The destruction of these towns embedded itself into Western Massachusetts culture in which native residents might show distain towards the Boston area or legislature that seems to favor the State Capital and its nearby cities.

STORY

The animation surrounded the events of the announcing of the reservoir, the reaction of the citizens of those towns and the subsequent protests and later demolishing of said towns. The story started white the leader of the community of Enfield, Mr.Adams receives a telegram requesting a meeting with a state representative at his mansion in the Town of Amherst. He expecting him and greeted him from his staircase and asks him to come to his office. There he reveals the plans of constructing a reservoir were their towns lay. After this revelation he instructs him to break the news to the townsfolk in a town meeting.

Mansion of the State Representative
Mr.Adams Being Greeted
Mr.Adams Receiving Bad News

At said meeting he stood in front of his peers and revealed the news, he was met with opposition as he had expected. Later at his office he met with the meeting’s moderator and discussed the matter further. The moderator reminds him that the townsfolk will not go out without a fight and that he should go and meet with the representative once again. He seems hesitant but still agrees to do it. On his way home he a child approached and asked him about the issue and if he would do something. He gave a surrounding yes as to not let the child down. Once home he is having supper with his wife, she also looked shaken by the news. She pleads to him to see the Representative, he finally agrees in an truthful matter and buys a ticket the next day. After a ride to Boston he meets the representative at his State House office looking over at the protestors with disgust. He tells annoyingly that he cannot do anything the plan is set in motion he suggest to discuss the matter with the main town representative of Amherst.

Town Meeting Moderator Expresses Concern
Mr.Adams Stares Blankly Reflecting on his Position.
Mr.Adams Walking Home
Mrs.Adams Upset
The Adam’s Residence
Enfield R.R. Sation
Boston & Albany R.R. Passenger Cart
Protesters at State House Gate
“Evil Politician”

On his way back home he meets this “Female Fatale” archetype on the train’s lounge cabin. After some small talk she warms him and tells him to leave the matter alone, he disagrees. Next day he arrives to Amherst on the hopes he might find support on rescuing his town from destruction. Sadly his hopes weren’t met as this town didn’t have enough power to sway the opinion of this construction. That if anything he should reach the support of the county seat of Northampton. On his way out he sees the Femme Fatale waiting for him in her car she approaches him and told him that his search for help on this matter should stop. He ignores her while he gets on his vehicle, on his way back he encounters a vehicle full of men shooting at his vehicle. He continued running away until he reached palmer, there he lost control of the vehicle, crashing. Injured, he flees towards the railroad yard. There he is trapped between a warehouse and a rail cart. The men encountered him and shot him on the spot. Last scene is of his funeral subsequently his headstone is shown with a pan looking at the burning towns on the horizon.

Ellen has Something to Say

POST MORTEM

The reasons why this animation wasn’t finished are many ranging from scheduling, story and, direction. During the time of production I was just entering College and I was seeking a Pre-Law degree and was still debating on the future of me doing animations at all. After a semester I decided to switch majors to Digital Media and most of my concentration was dedicated towards my education.

When later revisited I felt it wasn’t worth continuing. A lot of my “long length” animations are created because there is an obstacle, something I need to learn. This animation did not fulfilled that ambition as well as other animation like Robbery. Additionally my skill were low and my workflow was trying to emulate Hanna-Barbera production style of using recycled elements. I wanted to go back and change the style by improving the animation quality and adding 3D elements. This extended the production time and was ultimately canceled.

Another reason that came after distancing from the project was its appeal. The issue that this story talks about is obscure, the collective memory of these events are faint. The arguments are also weak and shallow and I didn’t felt anyone could relate to it. So I don’t plan to revisit this project in the future.

A good take away from this project was learning more about the local history of Western Massachusetts, gaining an interest in photo restoration & colorization and, modeling detailed buildings. In overall I wouldn’t call this project successful but I gained some positives from it.

The Images below are extra Imagery from the Animation :

Enfield Town Hall

Enfield Congregational Church, The Church Burned down uncontrollably in the middle of the night from an unknown cause.

North Dana Goodman Hat Factory

Enfield from the River

Planet-9x

Planet-9x is my thesis animation as part of my requirement for a BFA in Animation at Umass Amherst. Planet-9x applies the techniques that I have learned in my years in college as well as new ones that I learnt throughout the creation of this animation. Some of the new techniques I learned include using Mocap Data, Satellite Data for landscape creations, and methods to decrease render time for smoke simulations. Planet-9x was screened at the Herter Annex Gallery for their Senior Thesis show and for the Animators’ Collective Festival at the Umass Amherst Campus in May 2018.

Thesis Animation: Planet-9x Trailer

For my thesis in Spring 2018 at Umass Amherst I worked the project Planet-9x. Planet-9x explores the achievements of Space Technology and Space Communications. The animation was screened at the Herter Annex Gallery on Campus. Along with the animation four images were presented to set the mood of the short and a handbook to provide more background about the animation. The animation was shown as part of my Thesis Show, below is my Artist Statement for the show:

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Planet-9x is a 4-minute animation that explores space navigation and communication with outer space beings. Along with the animation there is a series of four images. Three of them express the ideas of the animation and help set a mood. These three ideas are: Exploration, Communication, and Innovation. The other image is concept art that helped as inspiration for the creation of Planet-9x. Planet-9x is a 3D animation created in Blender and Maya 3D software. It uses Motion Capture data for the animation of humanoid figures and data from the ASTER-Terra Satellite to generate Earth locations. Three of the images were created specifically for this show to highlight the main ideas of Planet-9x.

The main concept is that communication enables the need for exploration which pushes innovation forward. This sequence is on a loop in this closed system – it feeds into itself. Generating new innovations to then be used again for even newer and better innovations. These innovations come from the innate curiosity within human ambition, however, this is not limited to human beings. Any sentient being, when given the opportunity of innovation, will evolve to find a way to make itself comfortable in its new environment. Like the cells and organism living within us we are opportunistic creatures by nature.

The idea of communication is of equal importance in this animation. Ever since humans developed radio communications in the late 1800’s, we have been emitting our signals into outer space like capillary waves. These run alongside other emissions from stars and galaxies lightyears away. This gibberish of overlapping signals travel lightyears away into foreign places we have not seen yet. In this animation, we explore the possibility of sentient beings responding to our messages through the same medium.

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Images Displayed at the Gallery

Listening Field
3D
2018
Reusable Landing
3D
2018
Jewel in the Crater (Concept Art)
3D
2016
Titan’s Morning
3D
2018

Planet-9x Trailer:

 

More Info after May 5th.

Enfield, Massachusetts

Enfield Town Hall

Created in 2014 based on Black and White Historical Images of the time.

First Congressional Church in Enfield.

Enfield Lookout, Still Present

These Images were based on Historical Photographs of the Quabbin Towns which were razed and flooded to make way for a reservoir to feed to the aqueduct system for Boston.

Amherst Massachusetts 1920’s

Created in 2015 to Illustrate what would Amherst Massachusetts would look like in the 1920’s. This was done for the Animation project Swift River Rising based on historical Photographs.