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Posted by jabfilms, on 2007-07-05 17:07:57

Building to scale

Okay, I notice most animators use a 1:6 scale for their sets and puppets. For this project I'm working on, I have some pretty large sets in mind, and I'm wondering if 5.5 inches for a puppet (child), and about 10 inches for a 1 story wall is too small. I'm working in a somewhat small space so the smaller, (without loosing details) the better.

Posted by Nick H, on 2007-07-07 01:41:08

A 5.5 inch child ... Depends on how old, or how tall, the child is supposed to be. A 5.5" adult is like 1:12 dollhouse scale, where 1 inch = 1 foot. 1:12 is a very small for any decent animation. But for a small child who's only 2 1/2 ft tall in real life, a 5.5" puppet is 1:6 scale. I've found a 10" adult is actually very good for animation, which is either a short adult (5 ft tall) in 1:6 scale, or a taller person in something like 1:7. My 8" tall child animates ok too, but a true proportioned adult standing 8" tall would have a tiny head. My gnome (in puppet exercises like Bananajump at stopmoshorts) is about 6" tall and is getting a little harder to move smoothly, because you have to scale down the amount you move each frame with the scale of the puppet. But since he has a big head he's not too tiny to animate the mouth and eyebrows. My 3" fairy creatures (in Faery Cakes with Baba Ganushka at Stopmoshorts) were REALLY difficult to animate, just too small. You need to make some measurements to work out a common scale, see how big various props would need to be. And it also depends on whether you want a realistic style with everything in true proportions, or a cartoony or distorted world where you can take liberties. If the puppet has very big hands, things he picks up may need to be a bit bigger than the scale of the door he walks through. So for an unrealistic set, look at the requirements for each bit - doors taller than he is, ceiling a bit taller again, chairs with a seat height equal to the height of his knees, a hat to fit his head, a glass to fit his hand. For a realistic set, get a scale rule and scale everything the same. I had limited space, so I went with multiple scales. To get sets wide enough to cover a whole street, I went with 1:24 scale. But the 1:24 mini-puppets were never meant to be seen up close. They could so a little basic movement for continuity when cutting with the closups, but not real character stuff. For the puppet shots I built sections of buildings in 1:6, like most of one house front and half of the one next door. Then for the rats in the kitchen I built 1:1 full scale sections of the 1:6 sets... And then for termites I built 6:1 overscale sets... Whatever size the creatures, whether dinosaurs, people, or insects, they needed to be a workable size puppet to animate well, so the scale of set had to suit them. Possibly with digital compositing you could composite the puppet and a small part of a set into a wider scene shot at a different scale. I did that for one shot, with my character keyed over a shot of his house front using the 1:24 scale model behind.