hotaru / fireflies

Some background for this Mixed Media Animation

A short 15 second loop mixed media animation, I tested my limits of composition and animation through this project with still images.

This animation was made between Photoshop and Adobe After Effects, with the final render being done through Adobe Media Encoder.

Tidbit of info : Hotaru is the word for fireflies in Japanese.

animation reel

Below I’ve provided the animation reel for Hotaru. Hope you enjoy it!

building up the composition

I had set my mind to building an environment based on my research, which fireflies would likely visit. There had to be a water body and it was to be a marshy area preferably, but I decided to forego the latter, since on screen a marshy area may not look very interesting (I also didn’t find relevant images to achieve this).

breakdown of the composition

The composition was built with the use of various images, from flowers and grass, to trees, water bodies and mountains. These all came from ancient japanese texts “Ehon Suikoden”, “Nihen” and “Sorimachi”. Below is the collection of the various images I used to make the animation.

animation of the fireflies

Although I tried as far as possible to stick to old books and images from old japanese texts, I was unable to find fireflies, only references in text of these magnificent creatures. I turned to photos therefore to complete the project, these photos are from flickr (Terry Priest/ Art Farmer).

I arranged these photos on after effects after cleaning and cropping on photoshop. These images ran in sequence continuously to make it look as though the fireflies were in actuality flapping their wings.

Following this, I slowly added the glow effect and timed the glow of the fireflies based on a message by using morse code. To further emphasize this, I timed the ‘chirping’ sound of the fireflies on this basis as well.

Although I doubt anyone noticed, or had suspicions, I tried to spell hope using morse code. Why you ask?

Literally no one: 

Me: Hm. My animation doesn’t seem to have any depth or anything worth noting or of interest.

My brain: Fireflies flap their wings right? What if we spelt out a message using that and the glow with morse code?

Me: Oh that sounds like fun!


Just listing the various people and sites who helped make this project a reality –

Terry Priest (Fireflies photos) :

New York Public Library (Sorimachi) :

University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries (Ehon Suikoden, Nihen) :

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