Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by youneekusername, on 2006-12-07 20:26:32

"Hilly Floor"

I'm not sure if "hilly" is a word but what I meant was basically a floor that is uneven in places. I wanted to make a set with the floor having small "hills" or whatever in it. If you've ever seen the movie beetlejuice , i'm referring to the part of the movie after the couple dies and is walking through that "hall-way of doors"...well the floor in that scene is uneven, slopey, and just plain bizarre. I wanted to do something very similar to that but don't know how! I mean I know I need to get an object, drap something over it to form the small hills, and then maybe put a layer of plaster? or something over that to make it all secure and in place. Hmmm...I'm still somewhat of a newbie when it comes to building sets so I was wondering if anyone had any ideas , just toss 'em my way and we'll discuss different options perhaps... Remember I don't want the surface "rough" like grass or anything, but actually really smooth like a tile floor. Can't work my brain around this one. Thanks in advance for any ideas, -Mike

Posted by jamesride101, on 2006-12-07 21:07:10

what cind of tie-down/anchoring method are you using for your puppets? If you can use pins to anchor your puppet then you can use any type of foam that is sturdy and easy enough to sculpt.

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-12-07 21:52:06

You want it smooth, but curved and undulating? I'll assume compound curves, not curves in one direction like bending thin ply or sheet metal. For screw-in tiedowns, you want a strong surface that you can access from the underside. You can sculpt it in clay, cover it in cling wrap, then build over it in fibreglass. Finish off with car body filler that is easy to sand smooth. Turn it over and remove the clay. Cut out a section of your set floor under this so you can put your tiedowns in. For a lower cost option do the same only with plaster straight over the clay, and fibreglass matting or burlap strips in it to reinforce it. Do the final layer with no reinforcing so you can scrape and smooth it. For the best possible finish, sculpt the clay surface more finely, make a fibreglass or plaster mould of it, then cast your final floor in the mould. Or you can make the shape from chicken wire, then cover it in fibreglass or plaster as before. This is harder to get smooth curves with though, better for rough natural terrain.

Posted by youneekusername, on 2006-12-07 23:02:36

As "Jamesride101" suggested, I thought about using maybe taking those different size styrofoam balls and cutting them in half to form mini hills. But then what do I cover this with? Clay? I have these following materials that I was thinking of using because I have them: clay, tin-foil, 1/8" foamboard, smooth fabric, and mold builder liquid latex. Obviously I'm just trying to come up with the best (easiest and best looking.../also cheapest) way of constructing this. Also I won't be using the traditional tie-down method because (1) my character will be very light and only stands about 5 in tall, (2) he will just be standing in the middle of the room for this scene, not walking or anything, (3) I'll use regular push pins to push thru his shoes and into the foamboard i'm hoping to use. I'm not sure about working with fibreglass like you mention in a couple of your suggestions...I mean I've never done this and don't know anything about fibreglass actally. The mold idea sounds the best but i've never made molds before either...I do have mold builder though. I tihnk i'll probably end up shaping it in clay, then somehow make a mold for it? I'll have to read more about making molds and casting because I've never done that before. Good ideas though! Keep 'em comming while I read more info about molds and casting methods. I know the best way to make sets is to just try different things and see what works best for whatever you are trying to acheieve. However I also realize there are a lot of pros on this site that could save me some time and money with some of the methods they've tried or heardd worked with success. Thanks again! -Mike

Posted by Strider, on 2006-12-07 23:14:34

If your puppet is going to be standing stationary in the center of the floor that makes things pretty easy. You can have him bolted down to normal tie-dwns (or whatever kind you're using) and just build up some areas around him. i wouldn't use styrofoam balls, unless you want domes (it sounds like you want gradual gentle slopes). For the ground in Terror in the Pumpkin PatchI just took some styro packing material from a shipping carton (I always save it) and shaoed it roughly with a drywall saw (which is actually a lot of fun, but very messy). I wanted it to look like ground. so I left it rough and painted over it with shades of brown, but if I wanted it smooth I'd put some plaster or something over it that can be sanded smooth. It's amazing when you find out some of the stuff Nick used and then you see how good it looks on camera! You can get away with just about anything - all that matters is how it looks in the final result.

Posted by youneekusername, on 2006-12-07 23:33:08

I don't know what I was thinking with the styrofoam ball idea...because you're right, I do want more gradual slopes. Sometimes I just have a few things going on at one time and I don't just stop to think one thing through. But anyway, I think I will just use some type of plaster and sand it down. Definately would be a cheap and easy way to do it. That's one thing I love about stop motion though, just rummaging through different odds and ends to use for something in the film. It's definatly the fun part of the whole process. :-) It's kind of funny because my dad and uncles would always give me weird things they found at work or wherever. Mostly like computer chips, various metal shapes and parts, and this cool "tube tester" which I kept intact because it's so old and cool looking! I'm not to the point where I hoard things, but I do have a nice small collection I can count on. Thanks for posting, enjoy your weekend... p.s. found a pic of the tube tester I have. That's basically what mine looks like except an older model.:7 -Mike

Posted by Nick H, on 2006-12-09 00:07:30

Like Mike said, if the puppet doesn't walk over those hills, they can be anything. You don't need to make moulds, unless you want to sculpt one hill, then cast several, and place them on the set rotated to different angles. Styrene foam would be easy to shape and sand, but he isn't kidding about the mess - years later you will still find bits of styrene floating about in corners of the room, and clinging electrostatically to walls and the undersides of tables. You could even get a big sheet of 1" soft cushion foam, and lay it over some things like bowls upsidedown, and it can stretch over the bumps and smooth out the spaces beween the bowls. You would have to staple or tie it down to the board in the hollows. You could mask and spray paint a chequerboard pattern on it first if you wanted that sort of tiled look. It would have a very matte surface though, to make it glossy you would need to coat it with something after it was shaped. It's absorbent, so it takes many coats.

Posted by Strider, on 2006-12-09 05:34:26

I'm thinking (if you [i]don't[/i] need compound curves) you could even get away with posterboard, laid over something to build up a little height here and there, maybe rolls of paper taped down to the table or something. Again you'd have to glue or somehow attach the posterboard where you want a low area. Tile joints could be scored with a knife before bending it to shape, pr better yet (since scored posteerboard won't want to bend smoothly) lay out one piece first, over your floor forms, and on top of that lay another (scored) pice, glued onto it. Spray adhesive would be good here so as not to wet your posterboard, which would want to warp.

Posted by youneekusername, on 2006-12-09 16:54:22

I decided not to hassle with moulds and to just use sculpey as the "hills forms" and then covering the hills and foamboard they are attached to (with hot glue or something) , cover all this with plaster of paris. I picked up a bucket today at the hardware store while I was out and thought I could sand it down for a smoothed finish. After i'm satisfied with the surface, i'll probably just spray or hand paint little squares all over so it looks more like a floor and not like it's outside somewhere. I think this will work out nicely if I don't do a half-ass job. :-) Today I also picked up a piece of Balsa wood for some furniture i'm making. I think you posted on another thread about my "Tim Burton inspired Set", and how the dresser and bookshelf don't really fit into the theme...I think that was you anyway... :7 I was thinking the same thing but because I can be pretty lazy I left it. Well since i'm a perfectionist by nature ;) , It started to eat away at me until I started making drawings for new furniture that better fit into the stylized look of the room. I just finished the dresser later this afternoon and it looks great! Next I'll put together the small book-shelf and post some updated pics! The funny thing about this project is that it's my first "real" film and i'm trying to do everything at once. I know most people start with a script or storyboard, then move on to character design and sounds etc., then lastly build the sets needed. Well I'm so excited I'm doing it sort of backwards or all mixed up because I just love building sets and seeing a little world appear from scratch. So at the same time I'm also developing the storyboard (which is all planned out in my head anyway) and trying to find time to work on the character as well. As soon as I get things more established and ready for animating I'll post some pics and also post my short film on here because I know it's fun to see other peeps work (esp. when they take time on sets, characters, etc etc.) Sorry this post was dragged out , but I'm just really happy with how everything is comming along for my first animation film. Getting help and advice from pros like you makes things run much more smoothly in the end. Hope you're enjoying your weekend...... :-) -Mike L.

Posted by youneekusername, on 2006-12-09 17:00:16

I'm not sure posterboard would be thin enough to form correctly over a hill type structure. These are pretty small hills..big lumps re ally. I need something that will take the shape nicely without too much work or materials involved so I just bought some plaster of paris and plan on covering it over the clay mounds I made as well as the foamboard on the "level" parts to even it all out. After that it's ready for a nice paint job and i'm all set; pun intended:P Oh yeah I also have to put two very small holes where he will be standing. :-) I hope this will turn out the way it looks in my head...If you're a little confused about what i'm doing with this project I'll make a thread dedicated to my small film project so you all can take a glimpse inside my twisted head, lol. Take care... -Mike L.