Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by MattChappell, on 2010-08-24 20:18:18

Using real water or a clear resin?

I'm in the process of building a 2'x4' set of a swamp. I will be animating two 9" alligators on the surface of the water. I want to get a murky water effect. I was debating on whether or not I should use real water or simply use a clear colored resin. I like the idea of building a tank and using real water; however, I'm not sure how the water would film i.e. once I start animating will the water prove to be difficult to control. I know I can't control the water, but will it appear sloppy on camera - noticeably inconsistent/sporadic. I was going to build a mini tank and experiment, but I figured I'd ask here first to see if anyone has ever dealt with real water in a stop-mo film. Is it too much of a headache or can it be done?

Posted by johnl, on 2010-08-24 23:35:56

Glycerine on a perspex sheet might work. It will move around less each frame and not evaporate. Thats assuming you want a bit of play with the puppets coming in and out of the water. If you cut a hole in the Perspex for the puppets it will give them somewhere to go and you could then just put cling wrap and a bit of ky on top rather than having an actual pool of glycerine. On mary and max we had a river made from Vaseline, an ocean made from a sheet of perspex covered in ky with a plastic sheet over it, and a lake of the same making with shaving foam and cut out clear sheets for splashes and foam.

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-08-25 00:40:13

I've used water for very still ponds, because I had something swimming underwater in one shot, and creatures wading in it in another. They didn't stay in one place. So I had to have real depth, and a board under the water to screw the creature's feet to. There was some black paint in the water so you didn't see through it too far. The problem was tiny bits of stuff floating on the surface - I would disturb them so they moved about. Usually it was all jerky, but on one occasion they seemed to move in a fairly consistent direction frame to frame, and looked like those bugs - water boatmen - skating about on the water surface. Later I added wallpaper paste to the water to thicken it, so it tended to hold still more, even though my hand kept dipping in to move the puppets. That's what I did for the pond in L'Animateur, it's thickened water. Still water might look ok for a swamp. The main drawback is a complete lack of ripples from any boat or creature moving around in it. If you go with a thin layer of Glycerine/ KY on perspex you could get nice surface ripple effects but no wading through the water. A boat could be flat-bottomed so there wasn't much more to it that what shows above the waterline. I've just shot a 3d test frame with cgi water and some puppets up to their waists in it, which gave me rippled reflections - but somehow not as satisfying as using practical effects on set.

Posted by MattChappell, on 2010-08-25 16:22:38

Thanks for the advice John and Nick Plexiglass is a great alternative to clear resin. However, I'm going to first experiment with the water/wallpaper paste idea. I have left over paste and water shouldn't be too hard to find. :) @ Nick ... I first thought of using CGI. I saw your Chicken animation and really liked the results you got. But, since I'm dealing with semi-submerged trees and a house on stilts, I don't think it would mesh as nicely as your Venice set. Once everything is built-up I'll post some tests here.

Posted by Nick H, on 2010-08-25 19:59:57

Here's the other thread where I posted a 3d shot of a set, some cgi water, and some cyclopses up to their waists in the water: I do like the idea of an actual swamp set with trees and houses rising out of the water. Wallpaper paste is a powder that looks a bit whitish at first, then goes lumpy as it starts to absorb the water, then finally goes clear but thick. It's a bit slimy if you have to put your hand in it every frame. I don't know if it could be made even thicker so ripples could be animated in it. Or if you could have a thin layer of wallpaper paste all over, but use something thicker that didn't mix with it, to form ripples at the bow of a boat or something... After 2 or 3 days the paste starts to break down and goes thinner. Then it gets mouldy unless you get the one with mould inhibitor in it.