Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by patman, on 2007-12-05 22:17:06

recommendations on stage type (not newb thread!)

As I'm preparing my first real set for stop motion, I was wondering what peoples' thoughts were on foam w/ pins stages vs. platforms w/ tie down drilled holes or something else entirely. I'll post pictures of the desk I have tommorow (just want to get this thread up before I turn in)! The puppets that will be used are mostly clay with wire armatures (no, you can't convince me to use latex: my mom actually has a latex allergy :o ) about 6 inches tall. I really just wanted to know if the tie-downs were that much better, or if I might benefit from learning the ropes with another method of pinning down characters. Promise some desk measurements/images of that and the "cast" to follow. :7 If you really want to take a look at them now, here's a clip of them in action (note: this was made w/o tie downs of any kind, and some of the characters have been remade since this was shot. You'll see why I describe what I'm building next to be a "real" set. Also, I've lost the space where this was animated to my friend's parents' mini-coop, and will be using the desk I mentioned earlier.)

Posted by youneekusername, on 2007-12-05 22:49:13

I don't see a clip of animation. I'm animating using the pins sticking out of the bottom of the shoes method, which I really haven't heard of anyone else using, although i'm sure it has been done. The problems I run into are basically just having to hide the bottom of the feet when the pins aren't entirely in the foam and also the connection of the pins in shoes to the actual puppet. I use epoxy putty to form the shoe, stick a "T" pin in (these are about an inch and a half long or so) and then connect to the bottom of each leg where the wire is exposed. This is a somewhat delicate way of doing it and i've already had to replace them once so finding a new way is definately a priority for my next animation. Using screws with nuts to tie down a character can be great but you have to either pre-drill holes where you want the character to stand or use pegboard and go from there. So if you can't drill holes into your desk, you might want to consider building a stage for your set that you can drill holes into. I think a member just wrote up a tutorial on how to make a stage for use with screw tie downs. Most people will tell you tie-downs with screws are better simply because they are. They are very strong and can be secured to the puppet very well if done right. I didn't go the tie-down route because this is my first animation since I was like 15 and I wanted to take a different route because I like using foamcore for sets. There isn't a lot of "tricky animation" in my animation so I think i'll be able to slip by this time. But for the record (even though i've never used them) tie-downs are the preferred method for most animators. Earth magnets can be used too, i've never tried them but there was just a thread started the other day about them: Hope I could help some, and hopefully someone else will give you a method they tried for experimenting of your own. -Mike L.

Posted by castlegardener, on 2007-12-06 01:09:44

Yes, I posted the tutorial on stage building. I have used tiedowns for all almost all of my puppets. I have tried magnets and they didn't really work for me so I now I use threaded tie-downs like I would guess most people here do. It really makes it easy to stand on one foot or tiptoe and have the puppet not move at all. Isomer had to use t-pins on his railing for his tiny dancing puppet and I can see why in certain cases it would better to use something like this or magnets or pushpins, but for 98% of all the animation I plan to do I will use standard tie-downs. It is tricky to work at first drilling holes and then hiding them later but once you get the hang of it, it really is a great system.

Posted by patman, on 2007-12-06 18:44:39

I actually have seen your tutorial, and that's where I got the idea for doing a platform and drilling in the first place. I had read that post earlier about the magnets but considering how strong they were, how expensive, and how they may not even work that well lead me to forget about them. The reason I really added this thread was to ask if that's something not entirely necessary, but can give better results in the future, or if I should just go for it now. I'm fairly certain I have a drill somewhere, and although it may require some persuasion of my parents :o I hope I can get them to agree eventually. I was really wondering how well alternative methods worked for beginners, which seemed to be what Mike was describing worked for his but wasn't a great approach. Seems to be worthwhile getting the platform (hope I get that clamp right!) Should be exciting :7 And I could've SWORN I put the link in, sorry :( I don't know why it didn't show. Seems I don't really need to post the pictures of the desk after all, but since I promised... Really sorry, but for some reason photobucket won't resize this one! And the (old) models of the characters

Posted by castlegardener, on 2007-12-06 19:03:30

If you decide my stage I can help with measurements. If you give me the size of your desk I can post a list of the wood size measurements you can take to the lumber store and have them cut it for you. Where I live I think they charge less than a dollar a cut after you buy the wood. I used a whole sheet of plywood which will probably run you between $25-$45 approximately. And you don't have to go that elaborate. You can just lay a board on some books on top of your desk. Then you can drill through the board for your tiedowns and not hurt your desk. Then just prop up some backdrops. The biggest issue with this basic setup you will find is that everything tends to move on you as you shoot. But with a bit of work you could secure everything down.

Posted by youneekusername, on 2007-12-06 19:23:09

After seeing your animation, I think you could probably do without screw tie-downs. The only reason I mention this is because you are using clay figures, so the clay feet will naturally stick to the "floor" anyway. Using screw tie-downs can be a bit of hassle when attempting a walk so you might want to start off with just getting the timing down and just securing the puppet's feet with clay or blu-tak. If you get the timing down, you'll find that it really doesn't matter how secure the character is really, as long as you got a good shot out of it. It's your call. But with the characters you have, i'd keep it basic because then you won't need to use drills, find the holes, screw, unscrew, etc. etc. Instead you could just animate the way you have been but now put a little piece of sticky tac or blu-tak under each foot to make sure the puppet stays where you want it to stay. I don't do claymation, I make my own wire/foam/clothe that's a bit different. Either way, you will need a way to easily secure each puppet's foot during each shot. p.s. don't forget about timing, what fps do you use? Hope I at least helped A LITTLE. :7 -Mike L.

Posted by patman, on 2007-12-06 20:31:32

The clay alone doesn't seem to be able to hold them in certain poses that may end up being necessary for walks, or is that what would require this glue-like stuff you're talking about. I thought that, although it requires more pre-work and such, was in the end a better way to animate? I have also been considering the posibility of using tie-downs for something like my exterior set, but using pins for an interior set w/ carpeting over a foam floor, or some way of getting pins onto hardwood-looking floor. As you noticed, some of the "slug-tail characters" don't even need to worry about this at all.

Posted by castlegardener, on 2007-12-06 20:34:48

I kinda agree with Mike. If you are going to use clay maybe just don't show the feet during walks and stuff and you can use bluetack or pennies or whatever to prop the feet and keep moving on. Work on animating other stuff and not stress yourself too much with the tiedowns. If you have the tools and skills then it is great, if not then just use what you feel good with and just write your stories to show off your skills and hide your weaknesses. As you advance maybe later you will switch over to tiedowns.

Posted by youneekusername, on 2007-12-06 20:39:49

Sometimes just adding a tiny bit of clay to each foot will hold it for a little while until you get the shot. Otherwise there is blu-tak or sticky-tak. This stuff is normally used for putting up posters and stuff but is actually pretty useful for stop motion too. It's like clay, but is a lot stickier and more elastic. I used this to stick on my replacement eyes for my character that had a sculpey baked head. It worked a lot better than clay I found, and also is very cheap $$. I'm just thinking that you might not want to hassle with screw tie-downs with the type of clay figures you have because it might end up being more work than you'd be willing to put forth. But then again, each person has their way of doing things, so you might end up loving using screw tie-downs! I don't know. -Mike L.

Posted by patman, on 2007-12-06 21:01:34

Well I guess that makes sense (assuming blu-tak comes off easily, which seems too obvious to ask because it wouldn't be stopmo useful if it wasn't :D ). I was just wondering whether it would be really worth making a tie-down system at this point, and apparently it's a 2 for 2 "no". And of course, i can make a tie-down set whenever the need arises. I've gone from untimed blob animations to attempting full puppet and set stuff with an actual frame-grabber quickly enough (BTW, that youtube clip was pretty much untimed, the last thing I really did before trying to time my animation). Thanks so much for the advice Mike and John :+

Posted by castlegardener, on 2007-12-06 21:56:51

Well one more note, I just had an issue my last shot because I had bluetack on a wood door and it didn't want to come off. I managed to get most of it off by applying a big ol' blob of it and pressing and dabbing and pulling it off. But most other stuff it seems to come off pretty well. I have seen it in hardware stores near the picture hanging aisle or in craftstores near the scrapbooking aisle.

Posted by Nick H, on 2007-12-06 22:44:11

I haven't tried it, but I find it hard to believe that blue-tack would stick as well to clay as it would to the tabletop. Clay is oil/wax based, a natural release agent in itself. If there's an armature inside the puppet, with foot blocks, bluetack would stick slightly to that. I would think the clay itself would stick a little to the floor, but not enough to let the puppet get off balance. And that's what you do when walking, you geat way off balance and fall towards the leading foot. You can continue with shuffling clay figures if you want, and work on your timing and storytelling. But eventually, without tiedowns there will always be limits to your animating - you'll have to stick with poses that don't fall over, not poses that look right. I'd make a platform to put on top of that desk and drill holes in it. So I'm a vote for tiedowns!

Posted by youneekusername, on 2007-12-07 13:38:39

Whichever you decide Patman, keep in mind each shot might call for something different. Sometimes I can get away with actually hiding something behind the puppet to hold it up in an awkward pose. For example, when my character gets out of his bed. That frame or two when he's kind of hanging in the air in between sitting down and standing straight can be difficult to hold without screw tie-downs. Not to mention he has a big head so that was working against me too. Needless to say I pulled the shot off by just resting him on a small prop on the bed and it actually looks pretty darn good! So instead of taking votes on who thinks what method is best, I say just go for it and you'll find that sometimes a different method altogether needs to be used to get the shot to look just right. This sticky tak we're talking about is sold under several different names, but it's all basically used for the same purpose; sticking things to other things and having that option of remvoing it somewhat easily. It will stick it a smooth surface and sculpey clay...i'm not sure if it will stick to other clays like van aiken or not though. I think this stuff will hold most easy poses with clay figures, depends what you're doing. A backflip or something might call for screw tie-downs though. Then again, some people might be able to pull it off without. I'm not trying to confuse you, instead just leaving options open for you to try them all and find what you like best. Enjoy your weekend :D -Mike L.

Posted by I_make_cartoons, on 2007-12-08 12:14:52

It only really holds up very light puppets, but it can keep them from falling over. -marc more hassle than it's worth? pfft. screw that!

Posted by Strider, on 2007-12-08 17:17:15

All pro animators use tiedowns of some kind - either screws or magnets. The people who don't use tiedowns are YouTube animators with shuffling puppets. You decide.... where on the scale do you want to be? If you want to advance and start to get some more pro looking results, tie-downs are definitely the way to go.

Posted by I_make_cartoons, on 2007-12-16 13:28:04

i agree very much with mike. it can get very tiring, watching similar youtube 8fps claymations. I mean, you search 'stop motion', and after like 10 pages, you finally get something with sets and puppets, a storyline, and good animation. Animating with tie downs or magnets makes things just so much better, as you don't need to worry too much about balance, and the feet don't get wider and flatter as the puppet walks. -marc