Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by grecodan, on 2009-09-26 00:54:37

Pre drill tie down holes?

I'm not quite ready to start building sets yet, but when I do I'm curious to know if it's better to pre drill holes for the tie-down bolts based on the action that I've blocked out for the scene, or would it work better if I drilled the holes as I go? I'm assuming pre-drilling means I have to disguise the holes...with painted clay, most likely. Anybody have any thoughts or preferences? Thanks!

Posted by Isomer, on 2009-09-26 06:37:37

I don't have any rigid rule about that, sometimes I drill in advance and sometimes I don't. It partly depends on what your set looks like, if it's a rough natural ground sometimes you can get away with not drilling in advance and not covering the holes at all because if you have the camera low to the ground you won't even notice them on screen. (that's the case on my most recent animation) But if your set is like a clean smooth surface, you may need to plan, drill and fill them in advance of animating. I never really know what will be best until I start animating but, I can say that I prefer to drill holes as I animate. That's because I don't plan my animation to death before I start a shot unless it's totally necessary, I think I animate best when I go into it with a general idea of what I will do and then just go for it. Dealing with tie-downs is my least favorite part of animating, (OK, I hate them!) especially when I need to lock the puppet's foot down and I have a difficult time finding the nut with the screw. The WORST is when my puppet is in the middle of a large set and I have to stretch one arm over the set to hold down the puppet's foot and stretch my other arm beneath the set to place and turn the screw. Last year I was animating on a film that had a HUGE set and there was simply no way to be above and below at the same time. I needed to peel the rubber up off the puppet's foot and screw a threaded rod down through the hole in the armature - through the set and then crawl beneath the set and screw a wing nut onto the other end. And I needed to do that every 18 frames, what a pain in the rat hole! Frequently, there is no way to drill the holes just prior to your character's foot landing where you want it because your drill will bump the puppet. So I will often find where the hole needs to be by measuring in from the edge of the set and drill the hole from beneath the set. I will often measure incorrectly and end up having to drill two holes to get it in just the right spot. AS I mentioned earlier, my current project has a natural, sandy/rocky outdoor ground and so I don't need to disguise the holes because the camera is always down low enough so that the holes don't really show up. But it's funny how if you look at the set from above, it looks like Swiss cheese!

Posted by StopMoWorks, on 2009-09-26 17:08:30

Different strokes for different folks. I don't 'plan to death' but maybe somewhat 'plan to semi-unconscious state'?? ;-) I like the whole process and the technical steps of preparation. Planning does not mean you cannot deviate. It's like a road map. Here is an alternative to drilling tie down holes. Using diamond hole perforated sheet steel surface. Does not work in all cases (like hill scenery type terrain). Also, much more work constructing this kind of Stop Mo animation stage/surface. This is my Stop Motion R&D Laboratory stage set-up. About 5 feet length and 32 inches deep ....

Posted by grecodan, on 2009-09-26 19:36:50

Master Lio, I presume there are big washers or something beneath the steel mesh, keeping the bolts from slipping through? Also, I could see how a simple coating of papier maché or plaster could easily be "breached" on the fly, as needed. Is this how you disguise the steel mesh? Thanks much to all.

Posted by StopMoWorks, on 2009-09-27 09:04:28

You answered your own questions correctly. For 'tests' or practice animation exercises, I would not cover the perforated steel sheet surface. For chromakeying compositing (no miniature set) you would have blue/green screen background and you would cover the floor with poster board painted the same as blue or green screen color and then just punch holes through poster board, as needed. This is not my concept. The old Tippett Studio in their Stop Mo days, used this type of diamond perforated steel stage tie-down system. Also, in the UK some stop mo studios use similar but sheet steel is round hole perforated. Then that concept was imported to USA by formerly known Vinton Studios (now Laika) where they first used it on 'The PJs' series. Round hole sheet steel allowed choice of screw tie-down or magnetic tie down. Sven known as 'Chestnut' on forum here did a tutorial attempting to make such a tie down table system .... Again, it is not easy to construct. Also, a bigger surface area using metal perforated stage will SAG. It needs support struts underneath to stiffen. IMO, just stay with the tried & true easy solution of using WOOD surface/platform for your stage and drill away. Do not get lost in technical complexity, in which Stop Mo newbies tend to do. In the spirit of 'Saving Trees', keep re-using that wood tabletop stage and pretty soon you'll be collecting/adding more holes and requiring less drilling. EDIT: Some have also used 1/4 inch thick PEG BOARD with the quarter inch perforated holes, however the hole spacing might be too far apart but you can still drill additional holes as needed. Also, 'peg board' can SAG/Bend if it's too large surface tabletop area.

Posted by Nick H, on 2009-09-27 20:34:35

I prefer to pre-drill. Drilling the set floor during the shot can shake the set, and creatrs a pile of sawdust you have to get rid of. Once the puppet foot leaves that hole you will have to hide it anyway, so it's no big deal doing it beforehand. Occasionally I am forced to add a new hole I didn't anticipate, but I prefer to put plenty of holes in beforehand. I've used flat perorated steel in a similar way to the diamond mesh, for a spaceship set where it looked good as the floor with no need to disguise it. I've also painted a pattern onto particle board and drilled a whole grid of holes so they were hidden in the pattern. But usualy I drill a row of holes where the puppet wil walk, with a few extra to allow for improvisation. As I re-use the same floors or bits of rough ground, they get more and more holes in them.

Posted by Rocketspaceboy, on 2009-09-27 23:13:54

I've never used the steel sheet process but have known some people that have used it and loved it. Personally, like Ron it depends on what I'm animating. I'm currently working on animating in an improvised way. I have an outline of what I would like the puppet to do and goal in the shot that I want to achieve and then start animating while letting the puppet and the construction of the armature talk to me. Also I'm only doing one takes, so if something goes wrong like moving objects or the set or camera gets bumped I just go with it. The set I'm using is very gritty, old and lined with dirt. So because I'm doing an improve of movement the drilling while I go isn't noticable. What I've done in the past however is take plates of the set before I place the puppet in and then pre drill the holes. Then I animate while leaving the holes alone, then I go into After Effects and clean up the holes using Vector Paint. This is the same way I clean up wire rigs and what was taught to me by some pro VFX guys.