Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 14:31:27

The Comfy Chair

I made this little chair for the bear this weekend. Something I'd never attempt in real life was actually a lot of fun in miniature! I'm going to add a mechanical claw on the back that will take his hat and maybe bring the remote.

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-02 14:36:15

nice woodwork. looks great, love the claw thingy. all your wood finishing is just awesome, that wind-up toy *eskimos* i think it was called, omg just incredible

Posted by PaulVortex, on 2008-09-02 14:46:27

Beautifully crafted! Nice work... Is that balsa? OMG - Just found the video! My goodness - Again - Beautifully crafted, and I totally LOVE your animation style! This is so promising!

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-02 17:51:08

just watched the video, for some reason missed that before. great work, love the head gesture at the end. Didnt you just post a few photos of making that puppet, hes awesome

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-03 11:01:03

thought you might enjoy this video mike theres like 2 other videos also with this guys work have you thought about including some of your wooden "toys" in a stop motion short, like your *grooming man* ? love that guy

Posted by castlegardener, on 2008-09-02 14:55:44

I really like the claw thing also...well done...great work and the video looks incredible....

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 15:55:11

Thanks guys! I really appreciate it. I was going to have him jump into the chair but I accidentally kicked the tripod. So I considered it a good practice shot and decided to try it again with the "claw" on the back. The claw mechanism is regular pine (I think at Hobby Lobby it's called Hobby Wood). Until I can cough up the dough to buy a planer I keep a little stock of this around. The claw part itself is micro plywood that I can't live without. It's really strong stuff and pretty thin (1/8" and 1/16"). As long as the joints are stiff enough I figure I can animate it. And I can swap out the claw attachment for different heads (hook, laser, dental equipment...) down the road, I suppose. I can't wait to get it painted and slap it on the chair!

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-02 16:09:14

hmmm micro plywood, i'm gonna have to get some of that, ty for the tip

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 16:22:25

Here's a link to where you can pick some up: I'm lucky to have a Woodcraft store in my town. Actually, with all the neato tools and supplies there it's more of a curse! My wife will back me up on that.

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-02 17:00:28

oh good, i get a mailing from them still once a month, theres a big shop Woodcraft shop close to me, its a bit expensive there, but great quality

Posted by castlegardener, on 2008-09-02 16:39:01

what is your animation experience? why does your animation look so good? Enquiring minds want to it your art background?

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 17:09:10

Hey John, First off, thanks! I'm not new to art and craft but am to actually doing stop motion. Quick run-down: I've worked at Hallmark Cards for almost 20 years. I've mainly worked in the arena of humorous illustration and paper mechanics. About 6 years ago I was introduced to Flash animation with a shift to producing online e-cards. This was great as I have always been a fan of animation and looked at it as a chance to learn something new. Hallmark is a great place for iron to sharpen iron and with the help of others was able to get up to speed in this medium. I still would put myself in the realm of Motion Graphics as tight, Disney-type animation is beyond me. The opportunity arose to spend some time learning the craft of stop motion and I went after it. I figured it'd be a great melting pot of all the things I like - woodworking, storytelling, humor, animation... and a chance to learn new skills - stop motion, puppet construction, soldering, sewing... I came to a fork in the road (insert Yogi Berra joke here) between stopmo and CGI). I do enough sitting in front of the life absorbing screen already and I knew stopmo was a better fit for me. I made the right choice. Plus, I believe stop motion emits a warmth just being what it is - real. And the stories I want to tell are probably better suited to it. I have had a blast these past months! I can't say it enough - is THE best resource for this magical craft. It informs, inspires and kicks you in the butt when you need it. Sorry to get long winded! mike PS: Oh, and an addendum to a previous question on the claw - the thinner bits of the arm are also micro plywood.

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 17:12:12

Yeah, they aint cheap! I'm sure there are other outlets for the plywood. I think they use the 1/16" for model airplane construction so a quick search online might bring the price down a bit.

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 18:00:27

Yeah, I did. I put him up in the Newbie section. Since this is work related I'm taking pictures every step of the way. I just finished the chair and thought I'd post it here.

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-02 18:07:50

well you might call yourself a newbie,but i see a skilled craftsman, who is leaps and bounds above what one would call a newbie that chair is great, please keep us posted on the rest of the set and film. all very impressive so far and you use magnets right, if my memory serves me ?

Posted by Nick H, on 2008-09-02 19:48:59

I can't see your animation (I get a blank white page when movies are posted in whatever way you've used) but I do like the claw arm! It's a little like my Cleaner Robot claw (in the tiedowns tutorial at the now vanished Stopmoshorts) except you've got this much cooler 3 claw arrangement. You're one of those "Newbies" who is already skilled at many of the crafts required, it's only applying them to stop motion that is new. I've never heard of this micro ply. I probably would have used mdf for something like that, but the ply would be stronger. Since I can't see the animation, any chance of putting it at YouTube or some other video site? Or posting a photo of the actual comfy chair?

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-02 19:53:44

I keep thinking of Monty Pythons - Spanish Inquisition and the comfy chair skit. Everytime i log onto sma here i see....." oh nooooo not the comfy chair"

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 20:37:45

Hey Nick, sorry the link's coming up blank. I just put it up on Vimeo but it's telling me that it's going to take 110 minutes to upload. Hopefully it'll appear - It's not that long. But I gotta tell you, the whole time I was animating your word "Staccato" kept sounding in my head. You never know what's going to end up really helping you and for some reason it was that word in a former critique from you. So, thanks! I don't remember your claw. Is it on your personal site? I'd love to see it. I initially was going to mainly use wire for the tension but thought the screws and nuts would work and give it an added manufactured look. I kind of want it to look like he made it with spare wood from the wood pile out in the forest. I'll attach some process pics of the chair. I went overkill on the arm construction (probably could support a small dog). I usually start with foam core and paper before I commit to wood. I LOVE that micro-ply! It's come in so handy when not much else would work. It really responds well to a very fine blade on the scroll saw. It also would do well with a plain ol' jeweler's saw, too.

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 20:38:55

Bob, one of my all time favorite sketches! I place it just below The Cheese Shop and Dead Parrot. But not much below.

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 21:42:05

Awe man! I just saw that there's a Props board. I'm really sorry I posted this on the wrong page!

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-02 21:49:11

lol tis ok, i think its better when everythings together anyways

Posted by emmyymme, on 2008-09-02 23:41:55

That is a beautifully made mini-chair - I love how all your pieces look just as refined during the making-of photo's as they do finished!

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 23:44:55

Was able to paint and assemble the arm minus the claw this evening. (The kids went easy on me and bedtime went smooth!)

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-02 23:54:10

Thanks Emily! I can now put "miniature upholsterer" on my fake resume. That might be a fun assignment for this community. Everyone post their stopmo resume (ie - skills done in miniature). I know Stider's a wicked Bottle Maker!

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-02 23:48:21

lookin' good, your moving right along. did you paint instead of stain, because of various types of woods used. or since you are obviously a damn good painter too, you just went for that look ?

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-03 00:11:48

I was going to stain initially but the grain on the pine was pretty large. It was nice but just too big. I'm not that happy with the grain I painted but it'll do for this. I'd like to find out which woods work for miniature grains. I think somebody told me once that red oak works well. Tiny grain without the big pits of regular oak. Since the feel of my subject is light and not realistic anything goes, really. I really like a lot of the textures in the Fimfarum films. They're nice and meaty and you can tell somebody had their grimy mitts on them!

Posted by Nick H, on 2008-09-03 00:48:01

Your arm is wood coloured, mine is painted grey, but they even fold up in a similar way! I like the woody look, goes with the period design of the chair. I've just uploaded the Tiedowns Tutorial with the robot arm in action, to YouTube. It's there now. Here's my page: Really nice work on the upholstery too! Everything looks so well crafted. I agree, pine grain doesn't work so well in miniature, so better to do some fake woodgraining over it.

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-03 08:40:26

That claw is awesome! The whole thing is awesome! I think I like your claw better as it continues the look and design of the arm. Is it all painted wood? It looks great. Did you use him in anything else? It's a great character - pre WAL-E! I love the contrast between the very precise, robotic, even movement with the falling apart at the end. Very funny. And did not see the little dance at the end coming! That is a great tut! It's one thing to say it but to show it is like gold to me. Also nice to get a glimpse of other folk's shops. Thanks for putting that up!

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-03 11:54:03

Holy moley! That's incredible! It's like a catalog of about every gear you can imagine in one machine! Thanks so much for the link. I'm amazed at how smooth it was. Usually wood on wood creates a tremendous drag (at least mine do!). That's the guy you want on your block! If anyone's interested in this type of thing there is a great site: They used to have a museum in Covent Garden that I visited about 18 years ago. That's what got me started. They have excellent videos on the subject at their store. I think now they have traveling shows.

Posted by leevi, on 2008-09-03 12:10:52

The props and character look really nice. Anyways, a blast from the past... have you ever heard of Polish puppet animation tv serial "Miś Uszatek" made during 1957-1979? A kind of similar atmosphere as you have. Here's some sample pics, if you are interested: Edit: I wasn't able to watch your clips. Firefox crashed every time. Sometimes I have problems with the Quicktime plugin.

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-03 13:03:59

Hey, thanks Leevi! Those pics are great. I'll have to track that down. I like the look of it - very warm. I'd love to see in in motion! Here's the finished claw on the chair. I may go in and add some wires and such to make it look like it could actually function. I think it'll be fun to animate. I'm going to spend the rest of the day fixing his arms. Just don't like the length and one of the hands is coming apart.

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-03 13:07:44

Wow! Just looked Miś Uszatek up on youtube. It's great! I love the characters and the whole feel of it. I really liked the lettering in the opening graphics. Thanks for the tip!

Posted by leevi, on 2008-09-03 13:10:57

Here the Miś Uszatek in action: For those who didn't know Miś Uszatek was made in Se-Ma-For studios. The same studio where Suzie Templeton's "Peter and the Wolf" was made.

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-03 18:30:12

Really looks good. Are you going to color the hardware on the arm of the claw? The only reason i say this (and i hope some pros chime in on this) is because to me, when i look at the arm of the claw my eyes kind of gravitate towards the hardware, instead of the great paint job you did with all that grain work. So if they were toned down a bit the nuts and the spring it would.... i'm gonna stop my bizarre observation. I'm no pro, so i should just keep out of this one lol. :P IT LOOKS AWESOME

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-03 19:38:37

Hey Bob, That's a good call. I hadn't really thought about it. It might be a good idea to dull up the hardware a bit so it doesn't distract. I think it stands out in the photo a little more than in real life but I think under the lights it'll really get shiny. If I can't wait to animate I'm going to drudge ahead but a nice spray of brass or something might be a good step. I think I saw a can in the garage today, actually. Thanks for the idea. Sometimes you get close to something you're working on and don't see the warts.

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-04 13:20:06

O.k., here's the new hardware bumped back with a Krylon spray series called, "Hammer". I slightly sanded the screws, washers and nuts that would show and they took the paint well. Thanks for the suggestion, Bob! I like it way better. It fits the look and doesn't distract. Thanks a bunch! mike :)

Posted by bobharling1, on 2008-09-04 14:45:31

really cant wait to see this in action. looks great mike.

Posted by castlegardener, on 2008-09-04 20:14:03

after a hard day of animating, I am sure any of our puppets would enjoy a chair like that...

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-05 14:30:18

And they are welcome, any time!

Posted by CraftCadet, on 2008-09-05 14:33:10

I'm think your propmaking is great. I'm love the photos. I too can't wait to see it in action. Great stuff Tony

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-05 16:41:55

Thanks Tony! Hope to get into it soon! -m

Posted by chestnut, on 2008-09-11 19:10:26

Phenomenal work, Mike! And thank you so much for posting the making-of photos of the bear puppet... I've been dying to know how to make "plush" puppets that capture the Czech look (or that of Domokun or Komaneko)... Seeing the fabric-over-wood construction, it finally starts to make sense. Sincerely, your latest fan --

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-14 16:05:03

Thanks Sven, And right back attcha! I've really been a huge admirer of you and your work, as well. You inspired me to take lots of pictures along the way - it's been a huge help. I also love the look of Domokun and Komaneko -( just discovered Komaneko). Within the past year I took up sewing to make larger, hand puppets and wondered if the patterns would work on a smaller scale. They work really well with a few adjustments. The fleece is really durable and you can stick whatever you need under it! Wood, foam, batting - it's all good. Another thing I picked up from you is the spirit of "just do it". Get your hands dirty and make those mistakes sooner than later. Your sense of play and experimentation are inspiring. mike

Posted by jriggity, on 2008-09-15 01:10:40

Craaaaazzzy Flovor man!! I love your ART! Excellent style and it lends itself to stop motion bueatifully.Your work is really dripping with talent.....thaanks for the inspiration. jriggity

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-15 12:15:56

Hey thanks man! I really appreciate it. And coming from you - it's extra nice. I LOVE your blog and all the work you've done. Really can't wait to see your film. Love that dog! Mike

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-16 23:22:23

Finally was able to take the bear and chair out for a spin! I used my favorite animation trick - when you're short on animation, fade quickly to black and add a bunch of unrelated and unnecessary sound effects.

Posted by castlegardener, on 2008-09-17 00:22:59

the video is listed as private, I couldn't view it...

Posted by Yuji, on 2008-09-19 09:48:24

Great work! I love your animations and designs. You have quite the artistic eye. I checked out your website and no wonder, you are a professional!! Love your e-card O'Rama! Your toys are genious. :-)

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-17 00:50:13

Oops! Sorry about that. Now it's public.

Posted by emmyymme, on 2008-09-17 00:56:15

That's awesome! I love it, really great expressions for each emotion, manages to convey alot - his smug attitude when it works is perfect!

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-17 01:04:32

Thanks Emily! I like something that cute getting a little comeupance!

Posted by castlegardener, on 2008-09-17 01:00:12

very well done animation...after a year of animating I still don't have emotions like your little bear does....great job...

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-17 01:16:23

Thanks John! I am a big fan of your work. I've been impressed by how well your sets and puppets mesh together. You have a definite and consistent style that looks so good in stopmo. Your animation reminds me of the Fimfarum movies. They rely on body language more than facial expression, in my opinion and it's very convincing and wonderful. My little guy's not able to convey much with his stubs so the face has to carry the load. I think every character (2D and 3D) has their center or something they lead with. With this guy it's definitely the eyes and the face. Thanks again, Mike

Posted by Toggo, on 2008-09-18 23:36:31

Excellent! I Love the chair and the Bear is awsome! I have been away due to work but have tracked down the post about making the bear and plan on going back to re-read it. Great work!!!!!

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-19 09:28:30

Thanks Chris! I appreciate it!

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-19 10:47:27

Thanks a lot Yugi!

Posted by Nick H, on 2008-09-24 01:15:27

The finished chair in action is just perfect, and so is the bear! He's a well thought out combination of shape and finish, and methods for getting the expressions that suit that style.

Posted by madair, on 2008-09-24 10:47:25

Thanks Nick! I'm having fun with him. Thinking about some minor adjustments (tad bit longer legs with toes!). I'm in the middle of kicking around various short story concepts. Thanks for the nice words! mike

Posted by Animationgirl, on 2008-10-10 14:03:33

OMG only just found this, so glad to see more of your stuff after seeing your bear making on the newbie section. All i can say is as above, everyone has taken the words from my mouth. To be honest watching your animation makes me want to cry, as it's so good and i know i wouldn't be able to do anything like that for a long time, as don't have the time or money to make somthing even close to your standard and to be fair i'm really bad at coming up with ideas for stuff to animate if i'm given somthing then fine i can think of loads to do with it, but making somthing myself... not so good. If you ever want to talk about making me anything get in touch ( :-) Also what camera, software and lighting did you use for this? Thanks again and keep up the good work!! x

Posted by madair, on 2008-10-13 12:02:26

Hey Zoe, I'm sorry this reply is so late - I've been buried with work lately and haven't had the chance to look over the boards here. Hey, everyone is learning and as long as you end the day, week or year better than when you started you're right where you're suppose to be. In my case I'm really bringing a lot of other interests and experiences to bear (no pun intended) to stop motion. I liked your Jailhouse Rock clip on youtube. I think animating to music is a GREAT way to learn. As far as making other things to animate - this little guy has taken soooooo very long to get right and he basically is property of my employer who is sponsoring this stopmo journey. Maybe down the road making puppets for other animators would be possible. It'd be really cool to see what other folks would do with your puppet. That might be a cool exercise for this site. Someone makes a puppet and then mail him to interested animators to do with him what they will! Maybe there'd be a place in the Guiness Book of World Records for the most countries visited for a stopmo puppet! As far as software - I'm using Dragon on a Mac Powerbook. The lighting is all over the map. Strider set me on the right track with the info on his sight (right down to the supports!). I have a couple of par cans, a pin spot and some "snoots" (I think they're called) from work. They cast a nice cool light while the par cans lay over a nice warm light. Another tip from Strider set me at ease that you don't need lots of fancy lights to achieve a cool effect. Thanks so much for the nice comments! I'm getting ready to head back down to the "fungeon" as I all it. I have until the end of the year to produce some kind of short for this project. I have a good start on it but it's a long road ahead. cheers, mike

Posted by Nick H, on 2008-10-13 20:55:52

Fungeon - I like it! :7 Some animators on this board are already doing the puppet exchange/travelling puppet thing, with a few puppets already sent to different parts of the world to be animated.

Posted by madair, on 2008-10-13 21:48:52

That's so cool! I hope they post the results. It'd be interesting to see the personality of the same puppet change with each animator. We should make a woman puppet named Sybil for this!