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The Animator's Toolkit

Compiled by Anthony Scott

Every Animator uses various tools while animating their puppet. These can consist of sculpting tools, adhesives and paints, hardware, and now, software. Here is a list of some of the basic tools used in Stop-Motion Animation.

Surface Gages

Starett makes great Surface Gages for keeping track of your puppet. Cole Fox Hardware in San Francisco can order the gage of your choice from Starrett and have it shipped to your address. Phone 415.777.4400

Less expensive Surface Gages are available - Search the Internet!

Frame Grabber

The Video Lunchbox by is a great frame grabbing device. You'll need a video camera and TV monitor to use it.

Drill

For drilling tie-down holes for anchoring your puppet to the set.  Cordless is best. A small vacuum or DustBuster comes in handy for removing any debris. A Dremel Tool is helpful for drilling tiny holes.

Funtak

DAP Products makes a blue sticky substance that you will use constantly. It'll keep props in place, plastic eyelids attached to your puppet's face, and will even keep your notes stuck up on the wall. There are other similar product out there as well, usually white in color.

Stikki Wax

You don't want anything moving on your set that isn't supposed to.  This is another great product that keeps things in place.   It is a harder substance than Fun-Tak and works great to keep props in place.  Just pinch off a piece, roll it in your hands to warm it up and stick it to something.  When it cools down it hardens.  You can mix it with clay to make a sticky wax/ clay compound.

Tweezers

Important tool for placing small parts.  Tweezerman makes some good ones, especially my favortite, the Splintertweeze.

Hot Glue Gun

If you're working on a cement floor and you don't care what happens to it, glue everything down.  This means your tripod, set, lights etc.  You can scrape it off when you're done.

CAUTION! Don't ever touch the glue when its hot.  I've seen many badly burned fingers and arms from accidents with hot glue.  Be warned!

Clay

Bits of different colored clay come in handy for filling up tie-down holes on your set and for making eyelids.

Thin Fishing Line/ Transparent Thread

Used for flying your puppet or object

Allen Wrenches/ Screwdrivers

Handy for tightening your Machined Armature

Bug Pins (Ento Pins)

These are made to mount insects but they are useful to the animator during gaging and for flying lightweight objects.

T-Pins

Use these for making small gages. Pinning clay puppets to pinnable set floors.

Stopwatch

Helpful when you are working out your timings for your shot.

Mirror

Use your own face to get facial expression and lip sync reference

Dental Tools/ Sculpture Tools

These come in handy all the time for sculpting and moving small parts.

Assorted Tools

Measuring tape, needle nose pliers, X-Acto knives

Thin Dry Erase Markers/ China Markers/ Grease Pencils

These are good for gaging on your monitor

Foam Core Board

Use this to make flying rigs with an X-Acto and hot glue.

Tools and Supplies

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Over 410,000 items to choose from. Many useful items for stop-motion from tools to rig-building materials.

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