Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by franontheedge, on 2007-01-17 08:17:28

Creating a Waterfall

Hi, I'm at college doing an animation and the first scene I will be filming has a waterfall in it. I started by using the woodland scenics waterfall kit, but expanded on that so it's a good deal bigger than the kit would allow me to make - which is why I bought a big bottle of "Realistic Water". Now I've been reading the Scenery Manual (Woodland Scenics again) and it warns you to make sure there are no holes or cracks in the plaster cavity into which you want to pour the "Realistic Water" - well, there are loads of holes - the plaster bandage stuff is just riddled with holes,... My question is are these holes big enough for the "Realistic Water" to run out of? and if I need to fill in these tiny holes, what can I use to do that, cos no extra plaster came in the kit, just what the bandages were impregnated with. And "Woodland" doesn't work, I mean I can NOT go to the site and order anything, even if I knew what to order... this makes thing difficult as where I got the kit from originally was at the other end of the country, and being at college I can't just drive off in the car hunting for somewhere to buy such stuff from. Help??? Fran

Posted by Nick H, on 2007-02-21 00:18:11

I get my Realistic Water straight from the tap! It runs through the tiniest holes... :P Not sure what the stuff from Woodland Scenics actually is. Is it some kind of resin that sets hard? If so, you could maybe paint on some thin layers first to make sure it is sealed. If the holes are big, you really should put more plaster on it. There must be somewhere to buy plaster bandage or plaster of paris and hessian (burlap) to reinforce it. Art supplies, craft stores, medical supplies... I just had a pond in my last film. I first used a sheet of heavy aluminum foil in the hole, then plastered over that. Other times I've used plastic sheet first, anything that is watertight. So even if my plaster and matting stuff has a hole or two, the plastic or foil under it doesn't. My water was water mixed with wallpaper paste to a thick liquid so puppets could wade in it. That meant it would leak at any time if there was a hole in the pond bottom.

Posted by franontheedge, on 2007-02-23 05:27:15

Nick, Thanks for replying. As my characters don't wade in the water I don't need it to interact with them so that's why I'm using 'Realistic Water' instead, also I often need to shift the scenery models from room to room when I can get time booked in the studio for filming. And as 'Realistic Water' sets solid, that's safer around cameras that I do not own. No, I don't _think_ it's a resin, it reacts and looks more like a more viscous version of PVA, and it sets clear. As that's what it looked like I tried using a coating of PVA on the holes, which looked like it was working at first, but holes reapeared as it dried... I thought that perhaps there _were_ a few less holes than before the PVA coating, so I did it again, all in all I used 3 coats of PVA - and this seems to have done the trick as when I poured the 'Realistic Water' into the pool area it worked just fine - no disappearing down the holes! And two layers of 'Realistic Water' and I have a great looking pool. If you want to see what I mean, the image is here: That's what it looked like when it was curing, it's had more landscaping since then though and will have more done to it before I'm finished with it, but it's incredibly complex getting images online from here in college, and that one of it curing is the only stage I can access today. But there you can see the milky colour of the "water" - that's gone now, and it's nice and clear. I'm doing a treehouse and the dragon at present....

Posted by Nick H, on 2007-02-25 22:40:53

That set looks good, glad you got it to work. I understand what the water stuff is now. With animation, I had been considering moving water in things like fast-flowing streams or waterfalls. I came up with different options like shooting live water separately, or pulling a long strip of cling wrap over the waterfall/riverbed a frame at a time, or using moving light patterns on the clear resin water to add a sense of movement. Treehouse, dragon... sounds like a really interesting film.

Posted by Antimax, on 2007-03-01 16:33:52

Traditionally in special effects this has been done by pouring salt, and it looks like a large waterfall of running water. They even used this method in some shots in the new star wars series, then composited it into the massive CG landscapes.

Posted by franontheedge, on 2007-03-11 14:07:57

Hopefully it will turn out okay, kinda depends on my script. I'm doing a version of it for sound this week. Today I cooked the dragon's head. yum yum, tasty! Here's a pic of the dragon's head, Before and after cooking: I'll cook the lower jaw later, after I fit it more closely to the cooked upper jaw. I'll try using salt, it may work. I know the waterfall you mean.

Posted by Nick H, on 2007-03-02 01:07:39

I was looking for techniques that could be shot frame-by-frame, since I have a DSLR still camera but no video camera. I could composite real waterfall footage in as well if I had the HD videocam to shoot it with. If the waterfall was small in frame, a standard def video camera would do, maybe turned on its side to get a tall format. The image sequence can be looped to play endlessly. Pouring salt right there on the miniature set would probably call for high speed shooting to get the sense of scale. I've never actually tried it.

Posted by franontheedge, on 2007-03-11 20:19:05

Cling film might work too, especially as I have the fall of the water itself now with "water effects" running down the face, and looking pretty like water to me... frozen in a still frame but certainly watery. I've now put some teeth on the dragon's upper jaw and just taken the cooked lower jaw out of the oven, haven't looked at it yet though, as I need to wait for the smell to dissipate.

Posted by catizone, on 2007-03-12 19:31:47

Next time model the scales going the other direction, and push in the tops of each one a bit... Or you could also model them emanating from the snout backwards... Best, Rick

Posted by Nick H, on 2007-03-12 20:36:35

I was going to say that too ... the dragon actually looked better before baking, with just the nice sculpted shapes. The scales are a bit big, and are going the wrong way. I would consider adding some more Sculpey over the surface and doing a new scale pattern, then baking again. Or even leaving off the scales, this head has a crocodilian feel to it and they don't have so much scale pattern on the head. The dragon head shape is too nice to spoil it. Overlapping fish scales like that have a direction, and should definitely be going from the nose backwards. There is a reason scales go that way, just as there is a reason roof tiles overlap the way they do and not sideways or upside-down. Round or hexagonal type scales that butt up to each other have less of a direction to them, and you do find those on some lizards. But on reptile heads you often get a different pattern of scales anyway, with finer scales around the eyes, some bigger plates over the top of the nose, a row around the lips. They go with the way the skin flexes more in some areas, and not in others. "Form follows Function". Look at photos of snakes and lizards for an idea of what I mean. By all means be inventive, it's a dragon not an existing species, but to make it feel right it helps to follow general principles. The fish scales would look ok on the neck and body. But they need to point backwards to allow the animal to slide forwards smoothly, without the edges of the scales catching on rocks and slowing it down. Bird feathers overlap the same way, to reduce wind resistance.

Posted by franontheedge, on 2007-03-19 18:04:32

Phew! Lovely stuff, thanks to both of you. And good timing, as I've just decided that the head is too big for my needs. So I'll be remodelling a new head but half the size. The size will be half as big again. I take your point about the scales needing to point the other way - wind resistance etc. And about the smaller scales around the eyes. Not sure how I'm going to do that - I was using a tool made specially for the purpose of scales by my husband. We had a heck of a job finding any scraps of metal around to make the "tooth thingy" out of. What with living in a new flat and all... Thanks very much for the advice.

Posted by Nick H, on 2007-03-20 00:29:27

I use the different diameter tubes from a telescoping antenna off an old radio to press different sizes of scales into clay. I sand each end slightly to get a sharper edge, and usually squash one end into an oval with pliers. Then I lay some cling wrap over the clay so it rounds slightly as I press the tube in, instead of making a sharp cut. Wrinkles can be done with the cling-wrap method as well. I use a combination of scales and wrinkles around the eyes. Hobby and model shops often have a selection of brass and aluminium tubing in small sizes. For a very large monitor lizard with thousands of small scales in rows, I hot-glued 3 bits of tube together to speed up the process. It still took 4 days just to do the scales.

Posted by franontheedge, on 2007-03-20 15:02:40

brass and aluminium tubing, good tip, thanks. How would you get the wrinkles on one bit of the model and scales on another - do the wrinkles first?