Friday, May 05, 2006

Clean Sweeps

Sweep on Vimeo
Modifications to Mach III Armature:
Cut shoulder block into pieces to make separate shoulder action, added more wire throughout, run through adjacent limbs (armature no longer relies on any glued joins), added eye hooks for overhead wire rigging, added bones to legs to better model animal structure (Mike sent me a photo of an animal skeleton and explained the evolution philosophically which really went a LONG way to helping me begin to understand the difference in leg movement between humans and beasts. This has been a worrisome sticking point for me and so thanks to Mike I can see my way through it now. Thank you, Mike.) Added magnets to feet for this test, finally, wrapped the whole prickly mess in Teflon tape.

This is still a cursorily put together practice armature so that my rabid fangs may feast upon the stop motion beast. I still haven't referred to my visual references, print or motion, nor haven't arrived at a workable set-up, to sink into performance or timing of movement practice yet. I caught Nick Hilligoss's tutorial page on the SMS archives ( for adding foam to wire last night. Thought I might do that for tomorrow's test.

Purpose of Today's Test:
Today's clip was chiefly to test out the magnet and overhead wire support idea. And my conclusion from it is that the magnet tiedowns are not secure enough to animate. And I didn't care for the overhead wires as they couldn't hold the puppet body in place while I moved the limbs. I found I couldn't easily enough release more slack to progress the body forward during a walk. I was thinking that an ideal solution would be an second-hand dental drill arm that would hold in place until I moved it. However, Mike rightly brought up shadow and erasing concerns inherit with such a monster. I will keep the magnet idea in mind for a more lightweight, background, supporting type character in Halfland. It's just not suitable for main character performance I think.

Fronts I'm Working On Today:
Learning to adjust video settings in iStopmotion (purchased today) framegrabbing software and finding out better frame rates and presets. (today's test was DV-NTSC at 720 x 480; 15 fps)

Familiarizing myself a bit (emphasize a bit) with iMovie. At least now I understand how to import a clip and split clip at the video playhead, etc.

I dismantled the maroon store-bought arm chair (known for its performances in Maus and in Want an Apple?) so that I could use the pieces as a template to create a slightly smaller chair to better fit the cottage. I'm glad, as that was to be the only thing in the film I hadn't made by my own hand. I've been reading the walk section in Richard Williams' Animation Survival Kit during my meals.

Yes... I admit it... I'm putting bolts in footz and putting holez in a board to see how it is having ma'soles staaz putz.


  1. Fantastic progress! The armature is looking good... I immediately noticed the legs, which look great. And I love seeing the trials of new ideas, like the marionette concept. I personally had my doubts about that one, but didn't want to discourage. Exciting to hear you plan on doing some drilling.

    I think the other option that would work for you is a nice thick piece of 1/4" or 3/8" almaloy, either attached (sturdily) to a movable arm similar to the dental setup you mentioned.... could be something like my tabletop rigging setup. That's what I used for Buster's jumping rig. But you could also get more creative with it. I could see making some kind of "kickstand" device that would always be hidden behind Rana's voluminous skirts. Or securing a length of wire under objects that are hidden behind her. But that would get pretty complex to achieve.... in the long run you'd probably be better off with good old fashioned tiedowns.

  2. Thanks, Mike! That miniature rigging tutorial (with the lighting links too!) is another fantastic resource of yours. Thanks for beating the pathway down for everyone with your macho machete of stop motion courage.;+)

  3. Anonymous10:18 AM

    Wow Shelly, you are making leaps and bounds of progress - Kudos!

    I love what you call your armature, "the Mach III" it sounds so high tech - Go speed racer Go!

    I think you are discovering some useful information, magnets are not that great, and support wires are really a pain.

    Richard Williams is a great teacher, not always easy to apply to stop motion since he is a cell guy and they can "cheat" with pose to pose drawings and then go back and do the in-betweens. But he is a master animator, and he has learned from some of the best.
    Really good walk cycle stuff in his book.

    Mark F.


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