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STOP-MOTION SETS

Posted by Burton, on 2005-08-24 19:25:48

I need a desert set, reminiscent of a Dali painting...

Hey there crew! My friend and I are FINALLY starting on our first serious stopmotion project. Up till now it's all been a Lego version of Harry Potter in which Harry is a psycho murderer that runs around chopping people up to put in his stew...it sounds morbid, I know, but they're actually hilarious. Anyhooow, along with needing just about everything in the supply department, we need to make a desert set on a cliff over a bottomless pit. Situated on the edge of it,f we're planning the kind of demented town that would result from a marriage between Salvador Dali artwork and disney world, with a little Seuss mixed in... Yes, we know we're insane. So, several questions. Firstly,the issue of sand. Is it best to simply use real sand for a desert? I mean, the puppets will be more than a foot tall, and so perspective shouldn't be a problem, but still.And how should we go about wind in the desert? Next, the bottomless pit. I plan on making the actual cliff out of textured styrofoam, but how am I supposed to make a looming pit of evil perilous doom (I'm melodramatic, sorry!:-) )? Thirdly, the sun. What's the best way to make a blinding sun as the light source convincingly? I'll leave it at that for now, but I have about a zillion more questions. To those of you brave souls daring enough to answer, be warned! You might get more than you bargained for-I'm a newbie! So to you foolish (in a good way), brave fellows, good luck,and kootos to you! Leah :+ We are willing to spend some money, but nothing too expensive! We're still in high school,and are therefore stuck with relatively low paychecks...we can save up, though. Thanks!

Posted by Nick H, on 2005-08-24 22:11:22

Textured styrene is a good way to make rocky cliffs, and the walls of the pit too, as long as you don't need to have the puppets walking or climbing on them. For the areas where they walk you need a hard material where you can get to the back to put in the tiedowns. I make a shape out of chicken wire, then cover that in hessian (burlap) and plaster, or fibreglass matting and plaster, then just plaster textured with a brush for the final coat. It works for rocks, big trees, inside a cave, any big irregular surface. The same with sand - it's fine to make piles of loose sand in the back of the set where you won't touch it, but better to have a hard surface where you animate (or brush your sleeves). You can coat your sand dune shapes with glue and throw on sand, or if you will be drilling it or cutting it use sawdust, because sand will quickly blunt your tools. "My Left Shoe" in Archives/Past Events at www.stopmoshorts has a very flat desert, just a sheet of 12mm particle board and some plaster texturing, with styrene rocks. For curved undulating dunes I'd use the chickenwire method, built up over the particle board. I'd cut away the particle board underneath so I could get access to the tiedowns. In a later round, I used some chickenwire and plaster cliffs, with some stills showing them under construction (Pride and Precipice). Some of your set, like the sky and distant hills, can be a painted backdrop. The Looming Doom effect depends as much on camera angle and lighting as on the set construction.

Posted by GStacy, on 2005-08-25 00:10:24

I've never tried animating on it, but I have made sandy-looking dioramas with sheets of yellow foam rubber. You could make a bumpy floor out of papier mache or whatever, and then stretch the foam across it. It looks surprisingly sand-like when it's stretched out, and obviously it doesn't blow around like real sand would.

Posted by minieffects, on 2005-08-25 09:38:58

one way to make rock walls is to use the styrene bead board, carve your general shape then brush on or spray on plaster with a "hopper gun" (home Depot) (for spraying joint compound). Before it drys you use a sand blaster (sears) to add texture to the plaster. Spray the plaster so it gets farily saturated with sand. When it starts to clump back off and move to another area. once this drys it will be as hard as conrete but a really thin coating over the foam. You should save the tiny beads of foam that are left over from carving. You can add this to wet plaster and it createts chunky texture. I have used these tricks on several films I have worked on and it works well. oh and tint the plaster close to your base color of your rock this will prevent you from seeing white if the paint gets scratched. Once the plaster is dry paint your base coat and dry brush a lighter color over the peaks and high spots. good luck! minieffects

Posted by Burton, on 2005-08-25 22:35:25

Thanks for all the suggestions, guys...and the luck, we'll need it! Wow, you guys are all here to help, and that's spiffy. I know for certain that the hessian method may be the most convenient for me, as I've got hessian already. I'm willing to try it all, though. About painted backdrops...what's the best method? I'm not a great painter, but I do well with pastels. If they'd be alright for a background, things could go well. Still, with the lighting, how can you be sure that inappropriate shadows won't appear because of the backdrop? How can you light a set so that this problem won't occur? Wow, I could go on forever. Thanks again for all the help! Leah

Posted by Nick H, on 2005-08-25 23:45:17

You need a little space between the back of your set and the backdrop. If the very back is just low hills in forced perspective, 1 foot might be enough. If there are tall rocks, buildings or trees you will need a little more room to make sure the shadows are below the horizon where you won't see them. Yeah, a tree throwing a shadow on the sky is not a good look! You also need to keep the light on your backdrop off your set, so a bit of space helps with that. (Although a little blue fill allowed to hit just the distant parts can give them some atmospheric haze.) It should be front-on, and will probably have to be from above. Sometimes I also have flourescent tubes below the back of the set to light up the horizon a little more. I paint backdrops on canvas, stapled to a plywood covered frame, with water based scenic art paint, which is basically cheap wall paint. Use the accent base to mix strong colours, the white or pastel base for your first primer coat. Start with a paint roller on a long handle (a broomstick or length of dowell works), then big brushes, then refine the detail where you need it.

Posted by Burton, on 2005-08-26 22:03:53

Thanks again, Nick, for the great suggestions...that's like the third time or something in two days. It's good that there are people trying (and succeeding) to be helpful. Thanks! Now here's another one for you guys: What's the best way to make a puppet fall( remember the perilous pit of doom? }( )? I was thinking of shooting our puppet lying flat on greenscreen and flailing it about, and then editing in the pit in place of the green. Now, is it possible to splice two different frames together to create the correct effect of plummeting downwards? If so, what program would be necessary? I plan on getting everything sorted out in mind while simultaneously saving my pay...hopefully by the time I have enough cash for everything (at least I have a partner to help with that), I should also have all the info...THanks to you well ace people! Leah

Posted by Strider, on 2005-08-26 23:33:59

If you have access to an image manipulation program like photoshop (any that allow layers will work) you could use a technique like the one I described in my flying rig tutorial. With slight modifications, it wouldn't be hard to do a puppet falling into a pit that way. Here's the tut: http://www.stopmoshorts.com/tutorials/jump_rig/jump_rig.html

Posted by Nick H, on 2005-08-27 01:21:38

If you've got the wall of the pit behind the falling puppet, you might be able to use a concealed rod. Use a length of stiff wire, like coat hanger wire, stuck into the side of the puppet away from the camera. Drill a row of holes in the wall, one for each frame, then fill them with coloured plasticine. The puppet hides the wire from the camera with it's body, and when you move the wire to the next hole you re-fill it with plasticine. The puppet should still be covering that hole, so you won't see the hole change. Watch out for the shadow of the wire on the pit wall though! I've done this several times with success. But you have more freedom of movement if you can use the wire removal technique shown in Mike's tutorial. I think there's a brief cut of a frog jumping in a pub in my demo reel on that site that uses the same wire removal technique. I'm about to do several shots with flying creatures that will be cleaned up the same way. In fact, gotta go animate!

Posted by Burton, on 2005-08-29 00:17:35

Thanks AGAIN for all the help...it seems like I can't thank you people enough-this place is Bril! By the way, Mike, that tut was great, it really worked that way...good job, and I like that little puppet, he's got character! ;-) Now I just have to try the whole DOING part. Let's think of another one... mmm, I may actually be done! For now, anyhow...I doubt I'll ever really be done asking things I should just figure out! But, presently, you are spared! :P