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STOP-MOTION SETS

Posted by G_Tokyo, on 2004-11-07 09:51:11

Interesting set idea -- would like your suggestions

Hi; I've got a new stop-motion music video project in the works and I'm contemplating creating a drum shaped circular set. Character will run, walk, stop etc. on the top of the drum-shaped set towards the camera which is fixed. Character remains equal distance from the camera and the set rolls beneath him. Camera can be moved to shoot from behind, or from the side to shoot side profiles. Anyone out there done anything like this or can point me to some example films or other examples? I planning for the character to be about 15cm tall, set will be about 1.5m wide. As I want there to be quite a bit of walkway/road/path in front of the character, the resulting diameter of the set will be quite large (at least 3m), so rather than create a massive drum ( and have to shoot from a very high camera position), I'm thinking about creating a 1/4 pie wedge set which for a continuous shot I can rotate through 45 degrees before I need to cut. In this way the apex of set would only be about 1.5m high -- axel sits near the ground, is this clear? In particular, I'd be interested to hear suggestions for materials for the drum, axel, set surface, rotation lock-off mechanism etc. Thanks for your help. G_Tokyo

Posted by nou, on 2004-11-07 14:07:29

Maybe a set made like a tank track would be a better one? it can be continous, you just have to place items on it when it comes in view.

Posted by G_Tokyo, on 2004-11-07 22:51:26

Thanks Lucas; Yeah I had thought of that; however, the curve of the set at the apex (where the character stands) is important as it will kind of look like he's running on the crest of a hill. I should have mentioned that these sequences with main character will all be shot against blue screen. I then intend to shoot all the backgrounds separately. They will be shot on a professional rig that allows me to animate on layers of glass, shooting from straight above. I do like your idea of a tank track, I'm still thinking about how to make a mechanism to to lock off the rotating set. Geoff

Posted by Strider, on 2004-11-07 23:33:07

I've seen it done before... examples that come to mind are in Grey Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood by Garri Bardin, and I believe Aardman did something similar for their first clay character... don't recall his name or anything though, but I have seen pictures of him standing on top of a little globe that I think was spinning in the movie, though I've never seen it. More to the point, a similar effect was used in one of the Davy and Goliath movies, and details are posted on Ron Dexter's website. He's a sort of all-around film effects guru who seems to know everything about everything, and posts tantalizingly brief snippets on info about all of it on his site. You can spend many days or possibly weeks wading through this stuff, and if any of it sticks, it'll make you a better animator: http://www.rondexter.com I don't remember exactly where on his site the info is, maybe in one of the stopmo-specific sections, or maybe under rigging or something else. Sorry, but just poke around a bit, you'll be glad you did. Here it is: http://www.rondexter.com/stop_motion_animation/fake_travelling_and_go-motion.htm Looking at it now, it's not exactly like what you're talking about, but similar. Still, I recommend some time spent browsing his entire site and taking notes... this guy has probably forgotten more than most of us mortals will ever learn in three lifetimes!

Posted by G_Tokyo, on 2004-11-08 02:10:34

Mike; Thanks very much for your reply -- great information. I have looked through Ron Dexter's site in the past, it is a fantastic resource, though I hadn't remembered the drum shot photo. Thanks so much. I have seen the Aardman film you mentioned, think it is called "Adam". I'll try to check out Bardin's film. I noticed it is included in a tape available on AWN. Thanks again for your reply. Geoff

Posted by Strider, on 2004-11-08 02:53:21

Every time I look at that site i get all fired up with ideas and want to start making things! Ok, I've been thinking about this, and I'm not sure a quarter pie wedge would really work. As it rotates I'm afraid the edge would become visible before it turns very far. My initial thought was maybe you could make 1/8th pie wedge sections, or even 1/16th wedge sections, and as the "drum" rotates, take them away from the front and add to the back. It would be pretty complicated though, and that's never good. Occam's Razor... all things being equal, the simplest solution is always the best (to paraphrase). So I thought of this. Why not have two half-discs of plywood braced onto a table or a plywood base so they stand upright side by side, as wide as you want your "drum" set to be, and then have a bunch of strips of wood each with slots cut so they fit onto the edges of the discs. These would be thin, like lathboard or even smaller. Maybe only an inch wide. They could have holes drilled for putting tie-downs through. This way, to get rotation, you remove the frontmost strip, which is against the tabletop, slide them all forward until the next one touches the table, and add the first one to the back. You keep them in constant rotation. The idea is to slide them forward incrementally, they'd probably need to move several times before you could remove the next strip of wood. Your plywood discs would have to have cutouts so you can reach in and mess with the tie-downs. The problem with this idea is how to have your set built on it. It depends pretty much on exactly what the set needs to look like. Conceivably there could be a sheet of fabric laid over this whole setup, with the set built on it in such a way as to be flexible... again it depends on what it needs to be. The cloth could be pinned or stapled onto a few of the wooden strips so as they move forward it goes along with them. You'd have to pull out the pins and let the cloth bunch up around the front of the set, or have it be made in sections too so they could be removed, and maybe added onto the back again. Ok, just had a new thought. You could do it similarly to the way I just described, only instead of flexible cloth the covering would be cloth impregnated with plaster or resin... you could use plaster and fiberglass cloth the way Nick said he does to make a hard shell tough enough to use tie-downs through. With this system you could use the strips of wood underneath or not, however you choose. Might work better without them. Ok, the set sections are maybe anywhere from 1/8th to 1/4 of a full cylinder, like your pie wedge sections, but... and here's the beauty of it.... the plywood discs are built onto the forward edge of your table so as you rotate them forward the front section can rotate out of sight under the table until it's out of frame, at which time you remove it and can then add it to the back. Or, yet another upgrade to the idea, the reinforced cloth shell could be a full drum shape, but the plywood discs are only half-discs, so it goes under the table, almost touches the floor, and then comes up in the back again. Of course you're left with the initial problem you mentioned, of needing a huge diameter drum. You could always cut out a section of the floor but the landlord might not like that much. So maybe better to go with sections that can be removed form the front and replaced at the back. When you make the sections, I would drape them over the drum so that the edge hangs over the sides a little, so when it's all hardened up you have a shape that will sort of lock-fit over the edges of the plywood discs (is that making any sense?). But I think the key is to make the sections small, like 1/16th or even 1/32nd of a full cylinder, so they can be removed and replaced without needing more than 1/2 of the actual drum shape. *********EDIT******** Wow, it's been hours, and I can still edit this! Pretty cool. Ok, new thought. You could use the two half-discs of plywood standing side by side on the tabletop, with little slats of wood permanently glued on to form a hard surfce, and over that have a belt of cloth. The discs come right to the front and back edges of the table, or there could be a cutout for the back, so the cloth belt can slide continuously around the forms. Tie-downs could be magnets, or you could use traditional tie-downs and maybe cut slits in the cloth for them., You could probably get the slits to close up right in front of the puppet's feet without too much trouble. So effectively you'd have either two or three cloth belts, depending on how you want to do it. The puppet could place one foot directly in front of the other, so you'd only need one slit, see, or he could place them side by side so you'd need 2 slits. The set itself could be made from individual setpieces that would be attached to the cloth belt(s) as it (they) slide by over the forms. Then when each piece reaches the front cutoff point, where there's a sharp 90 degree angle, you remove it and can replace it at the back. I'm thinking of setpieces like trees or bushes or something, that could be done this way. It could work really well if you're going for a cartoonish look.

Posted by nou, on 2004-11-08 10:32:00

I think the belt/tank track idea can be quite easily done. You just need a shaped table (I've recently made one from styrene foam covered with thick cardboard like one used for passe-partout, for a set of photographs for my latest exhibition (not available in digital version at the moment, but i will update my site soon). What you need to do is to have another cardboards as a layer between a continous belt of "ground" and a table, to be able to move it. The table should not be a cylinder though! for good perspective it should have a shape of a wing with more flat end to the camera. Or you may just move props and leave the ground static. In my work i had to move entire set back and forth for different shots (of total of 22 photos) between three net curtains. It can be done and patience is what we all definately have :D