Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by Antimax, on 2005-09-27 03:52:33

Cloud material?

Hey everybody. There is a scene in my new film where there is just flat ground as far as the eye can see and blue, cloudy sky. I am probably going to have some sort of matte painting for the background, but I would also like to have some "actual" clouds in the foreground in some shots. Does anyone here know how to make realistic-looking clouds? I thought about using cotton in some way, but I don't want it to look like there is a bunch of frayed cotton balls in the sky. Any suggestions? Thanks, -Max

Posted by GStacy, on 2005-09-27 08:00:04

I suspect cotton will indeed work best. If I'm not mistaken, the clouds in the dream sequences of Terry Gilliam's "Brazil" (like the scene where the hero is a knight with wings and he flies through the sky) used cotton clouds, and they look completely believable. You just have to fluff them up right.

Posted by minieffects, on 2005-10-08 23:24:58

Ok well you are on the right track using cotton , however what you want to use is a material called fiber fill and its actually polyester. It is filling for pillows and it comes in pillow sized sheets. There are a number of ways to use it. I have set up wood frames on each side of the set and tied monofilliment line from frame to frame and layed the fiber fill on top. Another way is to cut out foam core in the shape of the clouds looking straight down and the fiber fill is glued with spray adhesive to the foam core. If you want light or lightning to show thru you simply cut out the foam core where you want light to come thru and glue fiber fill over the hole. I have used this alot in feature film miniature effects. I have attached an example from the coneheads movie for the planet remulak. here is an example. hope this helps Minieffects

Posted by Antimax, on 2005-09-27 15:05:28

Yeah, that's what I was thinking, because in many special effects books I have read that they use cotton for clouds... I am just wondering if anyone knows any special techniques, or lighting techniques or anything to get them to look like real clouds?

Posted by Pjotr Sapegin, on 2005-09-29 17:58:20

That sceen in Brasil was shot in slow-motion with sigar-smoke, so i heard. I have a genius-photographer (lady!) who is unbeateble sky/cloud maker. Sky is a shit of white trasing paper on the frame. It is leaghted from the rear with colored light. Cotton clouds are tipet with scotch-tape from the back and leaghted with focused light, a bit pinkish. Works better then real sky.

Posted by Jim Aupperle, on 2005-09-27 15:50:08

[div class="dcquote"][strong]Quote[/strong] ... I am just wondering if anyone knows any special techniques, or lighting techniques or anything to get them to look like real clouds? [/div] I agree that cotton for clouds would be a good place to start. For lighting I should think you'll need to use at least three lights. First there's your key light which simulates the sun. I'd start with a light amber gel over the key. You'll also need a back or rim light with a blue gell for the sky light. You might want to soften the sky light with some diffusion over the lighting unit. The third light would be a bounce card from below to give the effect of light bouncing off the earth and filling the underside of the clouds. Go out and observe real clouds and ask yourself where is each light effect coming from and what's causing it. You need to understand light in the real world to start lighting a set. Jim Aupperle

Posted by Strider, on 2005-09-27 18:55:17

And for the love of pete don't use cotton balls! Get a few boxes of surgical cotton.

Posted by Tedder, on 2005-09-30 16:35:19

Cotton was also used inthe film "explorers". I think the trick is just to "sculpt" the cotton carefully. It looks pretty good. I find when you look at actual clouds, it can sometimes looks kind of fake anyways.

Posted by Pjotr Sapegin, on 2005-10-01 08:49:14

Cotton, right. Not the cotton balls of corse, but not the surgical cotton ither. I ment that cotton-like matheriall which called, i beleeve, SINTIPON. Used as a stufing in buble-cloths, or soft toys. Could be found in hobby-shops. You can spread it real thin. Takes rear-light wonderfuly.

Posted by Antimax, on 2005-10-01 22:35:26

Cool, thanks a lot everyone. I will be giving this a try in a little while, when it's done I will post some sort of picture. Pjotr, I didn't really understand what you meant with the tracing paper on the frame idea, but it sounds like it could be good... what did you mean by that? Thanks again, -max

Posted by Pjotr Sapegin, on 2005-10-02 15:05:08

What i have in the studio is a huge wooden frame, 2by1m. On that frame there is huge shit of TRACING PAPER streched, surving us as a backround, when ever sky-backround is needed. Tracing paper was used by arcitects in pre-computer days. It is not actualy a paper erven, but a thin half-transparent plastick. It comes in rolls 120sm w. So, this thing is like a screen, leaghted from the back gives you perfect sky.

Posted by Strider, on 2005-10-09 03:20:11

Wow, that set is awesome! I love the effects work from Coneheads! The fiberfill looks great... you'd never know that's what it is.

Posted by minieffects, on 2005-10-09 23:50:31

Hey thanks, it was a fun show to work on. Another footnote the background buildings were all foam core flats painted to look 3d. We stuck some christmas tree lights in from behind an presto instant city. If any of you guys have any other questions or want some tips just let me know, I have been doing this about 17 years so Ive built just about anything you can imagine. all the best

Posted by Strider, on 2005-10-10 00:58:59

I looked at the New Deal Studios site linked to from your homepage... quite an impressive list! Did you get to work on all those movies? I'm curious as to what the foreground buildings for Coneheads were made from? Also, which ones are flats? I honestly can't tell (but then, I guess that's the point, huh?). Is it just the rock-spire looking ones way in the back? What about the really big (building/mountain?) in the middle?

Posted by minieffects, on 2005-10-10 21:35:25

I worked on alot of the films New Deal has done over the years, however we modelmakers tend to move from shop to shop whenever and wherever ther e is work. The Coneheads models were done at a company called Stestson Visual Services where I worked for 6 years. You can see a fairly complete list of shows I have worked on here As far as the coneheads set the foreground buildings were fabricated from plastic, wood, and some kit bashing. The production designer gave us images of libius woods art work for inspiration. The central dome was vacum-formed styrene with various nurnies (detail) glued all over. The tall cone shaped mountain was sculpted out of urethane foam and painted.All of the foam core flats started at about a foot or two in front of the mountain. I attached some photos showing detail as well as the overall set. You can see in the top photo where the 2d foam core buildings start. Enjoy and thanks for the great questions All the best Minieffects

Posted by Strider, on 2005-10-11 03:41:39

Thanks! Great stuff - love the pictures! I need to add nurnies to my vocabulary. ;)