Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by m and j, on 2004-12-05 22:47:26


I was watching Rudolph on CBS a couple of days ago, and was wondering how they did the water effects in the movie. They looked really good, and obviously, they couldn't have used computers back when they made it. I'd like to find out how they did it because I would like to be able to do water scenes without using cg. Thanks for the help.

Posted by Tom Brierton, on 2004-12-12 08:57:17

Hi m; I've never read how they did the water in Rudolph, but in looking at the water scenes, it looks to me like they may have used replacement animation for the water (possibly using urethane for the water), but I'm not 100% sure about that. Another trick for simulating water (say for example sloshing around inside a bowl) is to do what they did in Nightmare when Sally gives the man in the wheelchair a bowl of soup); just use a hardened or semi-hardened piece of plastic or RTV, and animate it moving around inside the bowl. Albert Whitlock did an interesting effect with water in The Hindenburg (and I also think this technique was used in Ghostbusters when a car hits a fire hydrant and water spews upward). There's a shot in the Hindenburg in which water ballast is dumped from the dirigible. Since Whitlock was shooting a miniature, the scale of the water had to match the scale of the model they were using, so Whitlock used salt. In the film, the effect is quite startling, as it looks just like water. Good luck with your project. Tom

Posted by Marc Spess, on 2004-12-12 10:02:27

Ahh water, I have been thinking about water for a long time on my Zombie Pirates film. Do you want to know how I plan to do the ocean? This idea came to me and I researched it - and it is possible to do with three things: Half Life 2 game engine Premiere FRAPS Simply make a game level in Half Life 2's amazing game engine. It does water beautifully, and costs 50 bucks. You make an ocean level with the water created by the engine, and must be seen to be believed. Far Cry is also very amazing to look at, but I think Half Life has nicer water. Record the game in FRAPS which is 30 bucks: to capture the waters animation. Shoot your stop motion film using green screen in the water areas. Combine the recorded .avi from FRAPS of your water in Premire. This is the most affordable way to do it. You have to learn to make the game levels, but it's more simple then MAYA and there are tutorials etc. on the net. Maybe I'll record some water later on so you can see what I mean. I also recommend Half Life 2 if your into first person shooters. Absolutely the best 1st person shooter I ever played outside of Half Life 1. Marc Visit:

Posted by Marc Spess, on 2004-12-12 10:47:51

Okay, Lets see if this worked: You can see ocean-type water which can have different colors. Blue and brownish are the only two I have seen so far. Then I showed in the second part how you can do under-water stuff. The sky gets refracted the way it's supposed to. Kind of nice. Marc Visit:

Posted by Strider, on 2004-12-12 22:51:39

Marc, you madman!! that's awesome! :7

Posted by Jeff Mahon, on 2004-12-13 00:02:16

I have the wonderful book THE MAKING OF RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSE REINDEER and even though it doesn't go into much technical detail, there is a picture of Hiroshi Tabata using a brush to create the wake of some characters on a raft. The surface of the water looks like textured plastic and the wake looks like either sugar or salt.

Posted by m and j, on 2004-12-16 19:45:47

Wow, thanks for the ideas and suggestions. Marc, you're insane! I never would have thought of doing that, and it looks awesome! The only thing is, that looks pretty hard to do, and I was kind of hoping to avoid using computers as much as possible. I know that sounds weird because I plan on using a framegrabber and digital editing tools, but I would like to remain as oldschool as possible. Something about doing things the old way, and not using CGI appeals to me.

Posted by Nick H, on 2004-12-16 19:50:56

Marc, I can't play your Windows Media clip. Any chance of you posting it in QuickTime one day?

Posted by m and j, on 2004-12-16 19:52:47

I just realized that I forgot to ask what you guys meant when you said that they used salt/sugar for water effects. How did they do this? I never would have guessed that they used something so granular to make water!

Posted by dcuny, on 2004-12-16 22:21:58

As Jeff suggested, they it's used to give the impression of ripples on the surface of the water. Basically, the 'water' is just a sheet of unmoving textured plastic. There's not really any attempt to animate the plastic itself. They just put a bit of sand/sugar on the surface, and then frame by frame animate it into an expanding circle as the ripple "spreads out". It's also put in the front of boats and ice floes to give the impression of a spreading wake. Again, it's animated frame by frame, I assume with a brush or something. It's not a terribly convincing effect - I recall as a kid thinking that it looked exactly like animated salt moving over plastic - but it gives the general impression, and that's part of the charm of puppet animation. My recollection of the scene where the Bumble falls into the water is that they used something like crumpled tissue paper or plastic for the initial splash - it only lasts a second or so - and then sand/sugar for the ripple expanding from that. (The splash also helped hide the hole they dropped the Bumble through as it fell "into" the water.)

Posted by Jeff Mahon, on 2004-12-17 00:57:28

Actually, when the Bumble falls into the water, and when Hermy the Elf gets sprayed with something liquid, the book explains that they used cellophane.

Posted by m and j, on 2004-12-26 23:48:50

Tom, when you said they used replacement waves for the rippling water, do you mean they actually made individual molds for the entire water portion of the set, or that they just replaced the actual ripples? Also, how did they make the reflections? Did they just place a mirror underneath everything? Thanks for the help.