The Advanced Art of Stop-Motion Animation: Building Puppets: Part 4
For the animation of these puppets, I set up a white poster board curved into a cove to create a plain white limbo space for the action to take place. This was lit with some ambient lighting to help soften the overall effect but still create a shadow under the puppets, emphasizing the fact this would be a 3D stop-motion version of the logo. I imported an image of the logo into my frame-grabbing software, and used it as an onion-skinned image to line up the framing of the shot and size of the puppet in the frame (Figure 3.121).
The logo would be composited into the shot later, and I wanted to match the exact framing as closely as I could. Once I got the framing right, I traced the edges of the logo with a dry-erase marker on the monitor to give me a reference point for when the puppet would actually make contact with the logo, and where he should step and land. Using all of this as a framework, I started animating (Figure 3.122).
Because of the different positions caused by the extreme squash-stretch movement and the fragility of the various puppets, in most cases I took the entire puppet apart between each frame. If the arms or legs needed to dramatically change position, I would take the wires out, bend them into shape, and stick them back in their new pose. The onion-skin feature was very useful for registering the extreme movements after removing the puppet from the set, and toggling the frames gave me an idea of how the arcs and movement were working. The whole sequence took me about 4 hours to shoot once it was all set up, and the end results were a happy stop-motion jumping bean!
Check out the accompanying CD for the final animation, as well as the Stop-Motion Marvels DVD available from http://www.thunderbeananimation.com.
As some final notes for this chapter, let me point out just a few other excellent resources for a few specific things related to advanced puppet-building:
Online tutorials for making your own ball-and-socket armatures:
Lionel I. Orozco:
(Above tutorials also available with more written details in Marc Spess’s book, Secrets of Clay Animation Revealed.)
John Hankins (Castlegardener):
For additional tutorials and tips on creating silicone molds and casts, check out some of the issues and videos provided at http://www.stopmotionmagazine.com and http://www.marklagana.com/siliconemould.html, and consult the message board at http://www.stopmotionanimation.com.
Armature kits and other services/supplies:
Animation Supplies: http://www.animationsupplies.net
The Clay & Stop Motion Animated Store: http://www.animateclay.com/shop
Ken A. Priebe has a BFA from University of Michigan and a classical animation certificate from Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts). He teaches stop-motion animation courses at VanArts and the Academy of Art University Cybercampus and has worked as a 2D animator on several games and short films for Thunderbean Animation, Bigfott Studios, and his own independent projects. Ken has participated as a speaker and volunteer for the Vancouver ACM SIGGRAPH Chapter and is founder of the Breath of Life Animation Festival, an annual outreach event of animation workshops for children and their families. He is also a filmmaker, writer, puppeteer, animation historian, and author of the book The Art of Stop-Motion Animation. Ken lives near Vancouver, BC, with his graphic-artist wife Janet and their two children, Ariel and Xander.