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STOP-MOTION SETS

Posted by Morffin, on 2010-06-13 02:03:37

Suggestion for an appropriate malleable wheat.

So, my first stop motion animation involves a large wheat field that a character must leap in and out of. Therefore, it'll have to move and maintain it's shape. I thought of using hundreds of little wires wrapped up in rubber clay (The sculpey stuff, coloured to save time painting). This will obviously be very time consuming and fairly ineffective, so I was wondering if anyone else has some ideas or advice for this scene. I've researched stop motion movies but I havenít come across anything that looks like what I require. It just needs to appear semi-realistic with the wheat standing at around 25-30cm tall. I would really appreciate any help or ideas :)

Posted by Sasquatch, on 2010-06-14 10:42:41

How about going to a wheat field and film it swaying round in the breeze, then compositing your animation into that scene. Also brush bristles work good for wild grasses...If you go to a paint store they have those cheap brushes down in bins that would look great. Of course these suggestions would have great application if a realistic look is what you're after. A cartooney look could be achieved in any number of ways.

Posted by idragosani, on 2010-06-15 21:09:03

I'll probably get flamed for saying this, but unless you want to do a multi-plane kind of thing as suggested (a technique some early video games did that to achieve depth, especially on the Amiga), you could use Blender to create your grass (using particle FX) and composite your character in.

Posted by Morffin, on 2010-06-14 19:45:29

I did think of the bristles, but they'll look like grass, not wheat :( A cartoon-esque feel is what I'm going for, I guess it'll just be a lot of work to make a whole wheat field, oh well, this is stop-motion animation, hard work and patience are essential.

Posted by grecodan, on 2010-06-15 09:33:07

I wonder if you couldn't plan the shot out much like a multi-plane flat animation shot. In other words, design the wheat field set as a series of discreet sections, each one at a slightly different scale and made from a different material, and placed such that they look like one continuous field through the lens of the camera. For example, the foreground setpiece, behind which you place your animated character, might consist of a layer of wires topped with a dab of latex to look like wheat. These can be animated individually to make it seem like they are blowing in the breeze, or being pushed aside by the character. Each stalk would be very detailed. Behind this would be another layer, perhaps made from bristle brushes or something, which is not as detailed and maybe not made of individual strands but whole clumps that can be animated as one unit. Behind this would be yet another layer, perhaps even just painted card stock or flats, which again can be animated as an entire layer. And then in the very back would be a painted flat that completes the field and blends it into the background. With proper lighting and a the camera lens zoomed in sufficiently to compress the whole thing, it might give you that cartoony look you're going for, and save you from going utterly mad trying to animate the whole field as individual stalks. - - One other thought, look into a pin screen, and see if there's a way of modifying one of those to act as your wheat field. That might give you some interesting textures to work with.

Posted by Morffin, on 2010-06-16 22:38:44

What a terrific idea, that sounds perfect :) I'll try it right away. Thank you very much.

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-06-15 23:47:11

If there is a big field of grass waving in the breeze, there is a lot to be said for some kind of compositing. It could be footage of real wheat in a real breeze, or could be model wheat that looks like your close-up stopmotion models but flexes naturally if you blow it with a fan, or it could be 3d computer images, or even 2d animation - but that kind of large scale, smooth motion is incredibly difficult to animate in stop motion. It takes away your focus from the character animation, which ought to be more important. Up close where a character brushes against a few individual stalks of wheat and pushes them aside, that may be better to put armature wire inside and animate it. One possible way to do it single frame might be to have springy wheat stalks, with a fishing line on each one, all connected to a bar that can be moved a frame art a time.... but that's a lot of rig building. And they would move exactly at the same time, not in waves.

Posted by Morffin, on 2010-06-16 22:42:39

Now that you mention it a friend and I were thinking about a rig with a sloped bar passing underneath the wheat that was sticking out from under the set. Move the bar frame by frame looks like a breeze in reverse however :( on the plus side, I'm now using that effect to make a comical scene where the character is moving through the wheat like a mole through earth (you know, a lump that moves along).

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-06-17 04:29:37

I like the idea of a bar under the set!