Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by BLACK _ACID, on 2006-06-18 04:23:05

Set Building HELP PLEASE!!!

Hey everyone what's up?? Well I am new to stop motion and I am preparing to shoot a stopmoton film with 3.75" GI-JOES and was wondering if anyone could tell me how to get started on set building like how big does my set have to be? and How do I make it look realistic?? Thanks a million guys!!!

Posted by RavenstarStudio, on 2006-06-18 11:22:03

Well first give us an Ideal of what the set is , Jungle, city scape , inside of a building , vehicles , ect.. I'm sure we can pull up some books on set design . heres a few basic links .

Posted by BLACK _ACID, on 2006-06-18 11:58:15

Well so far in my story board were looking at the inside of a hideout im thinking a wharehouse look. and a desert. Also an indoor gun range. What do you think how would I pull this off??

Posted by BLACK _ACID, on 2006-06-18 12:18:16

O yea one more question what scale would fit 3 inch gi-joes 1:18 1:32 1;72?

Posted by RavenstarStudio, on 2006-06-18 12:53:39

the 3 inch GI joes I believe are 1/21st scale. to help with figureing scale and builing your ssets , go here and down load the "scaleMaster scale Calulator Utility" it will help you to build or sculpt any thing. as for building your sets. If your budget is low , ( which most are) , Draw out your designs to the scale you need , even if it is basic floor plans ( which you should no matter what) do a lay out ( if you can't draw well , find photos of what you like and copy them) then get some foam board , from you local crafts store. also check out the Doll house area, for items like lights , furniture , ect. i would start with that .

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-06-19 00:06:56

Usually a male figure is worked out as representing a 6 foot tall man. (Not that many guys are 6 ft tall, but it's a nice round figure.) Divide 6 feet by 1 foot and you get 6, so a 1 ft (12 inch) tall figure is 1:6 scale. It would take 6 of those 12" guys laid end to end to add up to 6 feet. A 6" figure is 1:12 scale (the scale used for doll houses, lots of furniture and stuff made in this size). For the 3.75 inch GI joe: I don't know those figures, so maybe they are at 1:21 scale... I just divided 72" (6 feet) by 3.75 inches and got 19.2", which is an awkward figure. 1:20 would be pretty close, and an easier figure to work with. That would mean you make things 1/5th as long as the real thing.

Posted by BLACK _ACID, on 2006-06-19 01:21:33

Thanks!!!....My next question is building a desert set this is where theres gonna be a battle between the Night Stalkers and The E1 Elite team. I have a pretty good idea of what I want it to look like the only thing is how do I go about building this?? I wanna use real sand so im able to half burry barrels and land mines and what would I wanna do for a background im thinking a mid day look. Also I have a helicopter thats also gonna be fighting in the desert how am I gonna achieve the flying look do I use fishing line?? Thanks guys!!!!!

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-06-19 02:04:25

Real loose sand is okay at the back of the set where you don't have to animate. But anywhere you will be reaching in and moving puppets, it's not so good - you tend to brush the sand with your sleeve without noticing, and s when you play back the animation it keeps moving about by itself. It's better to have a solid set that can't move. I build up ground shapes from plaster, then stick a little sand or sawdust on the surface, so nothing is loose. If you have the right kind of software you can support your helicopter with a thick strong wire, and paint out the wire frame by frame. See Mike's tutorial on removing a jumping rig in the Tutorials>tutorials section at . Basically you have a plain background image that's the same except there is no helicopter or wire there, on a lower layer. The frame with the wire holding up the copter on the top layer, and you erase the wire. What shows through is the sky on the layer underneath. It will make more sense if you go and see the tut. I use Mirage instead of Photoshop, but it's the same method. It's really hard to make even fishing line completely invisible, it tends to catch the light, but that is your best bet if you can't paint out wires later.

Posted by BLACK _ACID, on 2006-06-19 03:43:21

Thanks...wait so how would you build a desert set??

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-06-19 05:05:17

A desert is fairly flat, so I would start with a sheet of 1/2" particle board. Then I usually add some rough ground by building up here and there with plaster, and stippling with the brush to get texture. I might want the look of low rocky outcrops coming up through the sand, or just rough up the ground a bit. You can texture the plaster while it is still setting. Another trick is to spread a thin layer of plaster over some burlap cloth, then just as the plaster is starting to set but isn't quite hard you flex the burlap and create lots of cracks. The main thing is that it doesn't look as smooth and flat as a tabletop. I always use tie-downs, so I need to drill holes where the puppet will walk. Real sand can be sprinkled over wet paint or glue and left to dry to add a sandy texture, but it's pretty tough on the drill bits, so I usually use sawdust instead. I brush away any loose stuff, and add a bit more paint, maybe splattering with a brush or spraying with an airbrush. A little further back you can easily pile up dunes of loose sand if your puppets or vehicles don't actually go there. I did have to animate a rat running over loose sand once, and it was really hard to avoid touching the sand. The closest thing to what I mean that's online is probably my set for My Left Shoe in the Archives>Past Events at Stopmoshorts. It's more grey in colour than the average desert, but the textures are similar. It had a lot of tall rocks made from styrene foam, which you probably won't want, but otherwise its made as I've described. I kept moving the rocks around for different shots, so I sprinkled some loose dirt around the bases to blend them in. In the foreground where the puppet walks everything is fixed down. If you've never worked with plaster (or Water Putty which is similar but more expensive) it may be hard to know how this works.

Posted by BLACK _ACID, on 2006-06-19 14:49:48

Thanks alot!!! Hey how do you get your background to look like that though??

Posted by RavenstarStudio, on 2006-06-19 15:48:34

that is a very cool back ground.:)

Posted by junkycow, on 2006-06-19 16:57:10

i think for that shot's background the sky is painted slowly fading to white at the bottom, and then softly illuminated from below.

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-06-19 20:44:35

You got it Junkycow! The sky backdrop is painted on canvas. The canvas is stapled onto a 2x1 pine frame covered with 3mm plywood that is screwed onto the wall. The paint goes from darker blue/grey on top to white at the horizon. There is about a 1 metre gap between it and the back of the set. There are a couple of lights with blue lighting gel up above hitting the canvas, and catching a bit of the back of the set to add a little blue haze in the distance. Then there are 2 3 ft long flourescent tubes attached end to end, fixed onto the back of the set just below the horizon, to add a bit of extra glow to the bottom of the sky cloth. The set is a 4 ft x 8 ft sheet of particle board sitting on a folding rostrum (like the one that opens out in the tiedowns tutorial at stopmoshorts, only bigger).

Posted by BLACK _ACID, on 2006-06-20 02:34:20

Hey guys can anyone tell me how to set up my set table before any painting or plastering goes on?? And how do I make it sturdy?? thanks!!!!

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-06-20 04:03:08

You could make up the folding system like I showed in the Tiedowns tutorial. It's good because it can fold away when you aren't using it. there are 2 hinges at each corner, so that 2 corners fold inwards, 2 corners fold outwards. You can use different tops on it, like one for smooth floors and another that's been textured like rough ground. The design has been used in stage shows and tv studios for decades, its strong enough for actors to walk on top. Then when you put the top on, put a couple of screws in to keep the top from sliding around. What do you have? What materials, what tools? A hand-held power jigsaw will do most of the cutting you need to do, and a cordless drill is a really useful thing as well. Or find a sturdy table. Some of those tables with steel legs and frame in one piece are pretty strong, just unscrew the formica covered top and slap on your particle board top. There are a few different approaches, have a look at the "making of" extras in Stopmo DVDs for a glimse of the studio setups.

Posted by BLACK _ACID, on 2006-06-20 17:25:38

Yea im gonna have to check out some dvds to get an idea. For tools so far I have a power drill and looks like in gonna need a jigsaw.

Posted by BLACK_ACID, on 2006-07-09 19:49:55

Hey everyone!!! I was wondering if anyone could tell me a little bit about sets with removable walls like what material would you use? I can't find anything on the web that really talks about it. Thanks!

Posted by Strider, on 2006-07-09 23:14:18

You can use various materials to make walls. I've used construction foamboard, the kind that's like 1/2" thick with milled fiber facings on both sides (kind of like industrial grade foamcore ;) ). But that's kind of unsturdy. Now I've bought a bunch of sheets of light plywood from . Don't get the really thin stuff... it's too thin and warps easily. You need the 1/8" or 1/4". It's also a good idea to stock up on a bunch of their minature lumber... the basswood, not balsa (too weak). This stuff is perfect because it's like miniature versions of 2x4s and other kinds of lumber. Ok, now here's the really cool part..... Get a bunch of square stock, like maybe 1/2" square basswood (aluminum angle stock works nicely too) and a hot glue gun. To build walls, mark off where you want them to be on the table, glue down some pieces of the square stock (the hot glue sets in seconds, work goes fast). Then you glue the wall boards to the square stock... get it? You can always hide the blocks behind walls on the side where they won't be seen on camera. And use the angle stock to brace vertical corners. Quick, almost pre-fab construction. Because the blocks are square, they keep things at a nice 90 degree angle. And, the best part of all.... You asked about "wild walls" (the technical name for them). When you want to remove one, get yourself a squeeze bottle filled with isopropyl alcohol, the stronger the better. Try to get the 99%. When you want to move a wall (or anything that's hot-glued down) douse it with alcohol. Apply liberally and let it soak in for a few seconds, maybe a minute or two. Then just pop it off! The alcohol dissolves the bond of the hot glue. This is a proprietary animation secret that the major studios don't want you to know about, but I've scoured the animation blogs and brought back the good stuff for all of you, my peeps (um... thanks Tennessee!).

Posted by BLACK_ACID, on 2006-07-10 01:18:54

Wow interesting man I really needed that because I didn't wanna build anymore cardboard sets for my movie I can't get all the angles I want but with wild walls ;) it makes it alot easier. Thanks a million. Im gonna go check out the site where you purchase your supplies. Thanks again!!!

Posted by BLACK_ACID, on 2006-07-10 02:31:27

On that site where you get the wood I see the light plywood im suppose to get but I don't see the square stock. Is the square stock suppose to be my foundation?

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-07-10 04:24:40

For removable walls, I hot-glue some 2x 1 pine along the bottom of the wall, on the outside. The pine is laying flat, with one thin edge glued to the wall. The I drill a couple of holes through it with a bit large enough so a screw can push through it. I put the screws through the pine and into the particle board set floor. The screw grips tightly into the set floor, pulling the pine down against it. If the wall is right near the edge of the set, I don't have to screw it down, I can just clamp it on. Either way, it can stand up by itself while you put up the next wall. To remove it, I just take out the screw, or undo the clamp. I position the other 2 or 3 walls the same way. Mostly my walls are 1/2" particle board, some are foamcore, some are thick corrugated cardboard, but they all have that strip of wood along the bottom so they can be securely attached to the tabletop. Usually the back wall ovelaps the side walls, so a screw can go through the back wall, near the top, and into the side wall which butts up against it. If the wall is foamcore a screw wouldn't hold, so it also has a vertical strip of pine hot glued onto the outside, and the back wall can be screwed or clamped onto that. A cordless drill with philips screwdriver bit makes this quick and easy, but you can also use a hand screwdriver. Or just use clamps. Usually I have at least 2 walls up at once, so they can brace each other. So I might have the back wall and the left side up for one shot where I look at one character, then when I cut to a shot looking to the right I put up the right wall and take down the left wall. Or I can do a complete reverse angle, putting up the 4th wall and taking down the back wall.

Posted by Strider, on 2006-07-10 04:25:38

The stuff I'm talking about is called Basswood Sticks or Basswood Planks. You can select the sizes you want, it doesn't have to be square really, but should be pretty thick on both sides, like maybe 1/2"x1/2" or 3/4"x3/4" or maybe even bigger if you want, an inch square would work. Just cut it into lengths of about 2 or 3 inches. Then if a wall is say around two feet long, you might want to use three or four blocks along the bottom edge. Can't use it for securing vertical corners really, except along inside edges, like if you're making a house exterior. For vertical corners on interiors you'd need to get some aluminum angle stock and use it sort of the same way. ******************* Well, Nick's response wasn't there when I typed mine, and once again he provides some insight that I have to immediately add to my inspiration folder! Now why didn't I think to extend the back wall past the edges of the side walls, and then you can use blocks there too, or clamp or screw like he does. Man, ya really gotta follow this guy around the board and read everything he posts... these little revelations just show up unexpectedly in his posts. You could get some Proprietary Animation Plywood for sets, it's by far the best stuff, and what all the professional studios are using, but it costs 90 million dollars, and who can afford that? Ok, sorry, a little M dot Strange humor there.

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-07-10 04:48:56

Thanks Mike... actually I'm following YOU around the board! }(

Posted by BLACK_ACID, on 2006-07-10 23:56:06

Thanks!!! I was having a problem with camera angles this is gonna help out alot. Like I said theres only so much you can do with cardboard.

Posted by BLACK_ACID, on 2006-07-15 22:00:04

How can I make my desert set look like it's night time?

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-07-17 01:29:04

1. Paint a night sky behind it. Maybe a moon and stars. 2. use a blue gel on your main light source, so its more like moonlight. Put less front fill light on your characters, but try a little backlighting to define the edges. 3. Have your character carry a lantern, or have vehicles with headlights on, with a nice yellowish glow. A camp fire is good for this too. 4. Use sound effects - owls or crickets or something? 5. Use a caption - The Desert. Nightime. 6. Use dialog - "Jeez, Fred, it sure gets cold at night in this here desert".

Posted by BLACK_ACID, on 2006-07-17 15:39:07

Thanks again!!! I write down all this info.