Creating Stop-Motion Environments For “Shape Island” With Rosco X-Effects®

Shape Island is an Annie Award-nominated children’s series on Apple TV+ that follows the adventures of Square, Triangle, and Circle as they learn how to navigate each other’s differences. We had the chance to speak with Director of Photography Eric Adkins about how he utilized multiple Rosco X-Effects® LED Projectors to create a number of different lighting effects for the stop-motion series. Below, Eric describes how he created some of the show’s magical environmental elements such as harmonic vibrations, circus lights, flowing water, and the aurora borealis.

Kaleidoscopic Harmonic Vibrations

In order to visualize Circle’s abilities to summon sound waves in the “harmonic vibrations” musical number, we used four RGBW X-Effects fixtures with their standard “water gobos” to help us create colorful, kaleidoscopic movement in our stop motion lighting setup. We also used another X-Effects fixture to enhance the waterfall effect outside her front door.

Chaotic Circus Lights

Two Rosco X-Effects projectors are aimed at a pair of rotating, mirror-dotted panels to create the effect of multiple spotlights in a circus scene.Two X-Effects aimed at a pair of rotating panels with mirror dots (L). Close up of mirror-dotted panel (R).

We discovered that, if you take the gobos out, an X-Effects can create a sharp, circular beam like a spotlight. We found this to be very useful for an episode that took place inside a circus tent. To light the scene, we aimed two X-Effects Projectors - without any gobos inside - at a pair of rotating, mirror-dotted panels to help create the chaos of multiple moving spotlights on the tent walls.

Flowing Water With Light


Rosco X-Effects projecting water effects for the stop motion series Shape Island on Apple TV+

Another Shape Island  lighting effect occurred when a wall of the set needed to move up and down as water is “poured into the scene” via visual effects. To help accentuate the VFX, we used a single X-Effects to mimic water flowing down into the set.

A Crater With An Aurora

A key Shape Island lighting technique for stop motion was creating an Aurora Borealis lighting effect for an episode revolving around a crater.

In episode 8, a mysterious meteorite crashes into the island and forms a crater. For these scenes, we turned our RGBW X-Effects Projectors green and created an aurora borealis effect in the night sky around the edge of the crater. While the night sky and stars were added as an overlay in VFX, the practical aurora effect helped the transition between the crater set and the VFX sky feel more organic.

Rosco blog Shape Island XFX blending postBlending the VFX with the practical lighting effect together in post.

Magic Flames Inside The Crater

In the episode with the crashing meteorite, the characters also take a moment to imagine what might have landed in the crater. By using an X-Effects Projector under the set and reflectors above the set, I was able to uplight the crystal that Square was imagining in the crater of the fallen meteorite. After changing the color of the light, we also used this same lighting setup to create the magical green flames that Triangle imagines he will discover inside the crater.

Cinematographer Eric Adkins used a Rosco X-Effects projector to uplight a crystal and to create magical flame effects inside the crater set of Shape Island.

When it comes to lighting effects for stop motion, the Rosco X-Effects Projector is a handy solution to have on set. If you would like to learn more about these fixtures that Eric Adkins used to create the lighting effects for Shape Islandplease visit the X-Effects product page on the Rosco website.

Rosco X-Effects LED Projectors create the best lighting effects for stop motion animation.

Rosco X-Effects® LED Projectors


About Lacey Colter

Marketing Manager - Film/TV/Broadcast: Lacey Colter has been working in the entertainment industry since 2015. She started in production before transitioning to a cinema lens manufacturer and now covers the film and television market for Rosco. She has spent years of her career interviewing a variety of industry professionals.