Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Facing Change

I raided "Downstairs Clare's" hardware shop for new bits for re-hoofing rather than wait days to make it to a store.

The beauty mark above is pre-drilled brass lamp beads/finials that Clare found for me the other day, smartypants. And I learned today from reading the excellent Monterey tutorial (D.G. posted via Sven's May 30 blog comments) that I could try nickel-plated versions and use Locktite├é™ to secure the rods. If I can come up with a serviceable armature for me without having to braze and spark, I'd like to.

Yesterday I brazenly hacksawed off the stems of the carriage bolts I had well fixed to the stand-in puppet's hooval region and was stunned that the hacksaw I've had here for years is what one should use for such an operation. I also have a small Dremel but I even had a fresh blade somehow for the hack frame and voila.

Next stop: A refurbished stand-in with proper tiedowns and a hilarious short clip featuring my faux pas paws clip from the other day, but it can serve as my new (Sven-golly guided) Quicktime Still Cam sequence test!!

Friday, May 26, 2006

I Am Not Proud

Hey Gang, Here's one for the books, right up there with not realizing I needed to have a computer near the set in order to animate (I didn't catch on to that for months) is this...

I just realized that I did the tiedowns all wrong. I put (stop laughing) the carriage bolt head into the foot with its long tail permanently jutting out from the bottom. Oh sure, it stood there well with the wing nuts secured underneath the peg board. (stop it.) But when I animated a test clip early this morning that included a walk, I made a mental note to check the SMA boards for how to deal with the long bolts coming out from the bottoms of the feet?!! (I said stop.)

Now, this may have been a forgivable Rookie Error if--I hadn't already had the benefit of making a clip with Sven's correctly footed Ambassa'ture. (Look, that's enough, it's just sad now.)

Meet Rana's Stand-in

The Mach III armature becomes Rana's stand-in for a bit of brass tacks animation practice starting over the holiday weekend.

This dear little wire armature (as one of many armature 'speriments), fleshed out with foam, will happily be acting as an on camera stand-in for Halfland main character, Rana, the Goat Woman. After a while she'll be covered with clothes but I wanted to see how she moved without them first.

I did make a small clip with her tonight, with Framethief and the DSUWPoJ (Unibrain) and a simucaptured with a Nikon CoolPIx 950. But before I post a decent clip I'll need to figure out 1.) How to keep the Nikon monitor on during shooting. (It kept shutting off as I ran laps around the set like a hampster.) and 2.) How to import the resulting single images as a sequence that can be placed into an iMovie pane. (They seem to pile in at random.)

Starting at 4 this afternoon. I borrowed carriage bolts from "Down-Stairs Clares" that fit the peg board he gave me to practice on. Rushing against the clock, the sun, the moon, and now the sun again, I slapped some clay over the hoofel area (Don't worry, none of this is how I would do anything for the shoot if I weren't rushing and using what I had on hand for rehearsal.), covered the upholstery foam with 1/8th inch sheet foam, added woolly fleece and yarn hair.

Looking forward to trying her out.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Whole Enchilada

Brilliant animator, Phil Dale, sends in proof of his receiving an Official Highly Collectible Halfland Memorabilia Limited Edition Button all the way from the UK!!!!

I don't know what the title up there means but I do know that I will sure TREASURE this photo Phil sent along today.

Thank you, PHIL!!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Here are some of the reference images by talented photographer/artists that ring my bell for Halfland to give an idea of what I see in my minds' eye.

My big Halfland reserved day did not look like I anticipated, even after waking up at 5:30 am to get a jump on it.

I'm still working on work.

I did manage to print out the recent batch of 1/2L. reference image snags from the Interhoo, books, mags, anywhere, cut 'em out and file in them in their 34 individual envelopes. These envelopes are now, after 14 years, filled with precious treasures of visual cues and keys for me for all aspects of this project. I've got things in there that are like priceless jewels. In fact, I consider them among my most valuable trove. I've got about four large sheets completed (so far) of the clippings collaged onto paper panels that I hang near the table to refer to. I have many more to go. When I get them all pasted, I'd like to lay them end to end and snap a picture here. Then I could say, "Halfland, it looks like this in my head."

Thursday look for progress on Mach III foamy Rana and a brief practice clip using my digital still cam and Mike's Unibrain at once.

FYI: Clip Quality Finally Updated

Sorenson 3 Curtain Call on Vimeo
(This here is the higher quality Sorenson 3 clip as further converted by Flash. (Mike, fyi this IS the best I can focus the Uni.) At least you can see what I'm doing better.

PS: Did you all know that if you move the mouse away from the clip window after pressing play the slider and such will go away? I didn't.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Too Cool

O.k., can I just say how freakin cool it is to watch this clip by Jeffery Roche (! It is his clever, charming, funny way of sending appreciation for his very own highly-collectible, limited-edition 1/2 L. Commemorative button! (I'm cracking up!)

There's something so wonderful about animating with eachother's gear! I've got Mike's camera and Sven's armature for a visit that I use to make clips, Jeffery made a clip with Halfland memorabilia/artifact...I hope we all can play more like this!!


Saturday, May 13, 2006

UPDATED!! Rave Reviews!!!

Sorenson 3 Curtain Call on Vimeo
(This here is the higher quality Sorenson 3 clip as further converted by Flash. (Mike, fyi this IS the best I can focus the Uni.) At least you can see what I'm doing better.

This is/was quite possibly one of the most exciting 15 second experiences of my life.

Uh, Strider dude, you were so right. Mmmmmmm, Tiedowns. I am SOLD. I'm going to drill holes ALL over my beautiful set now, who cares, wood patch--wood patch!

Uh, Sven doodster, you are an artist! This armature is a dream!!! I have rarely had such a thrill. Actually I get excited a lot, but seeing this puppet dance is like my future saying, "This will work, all is well." and THAT doesn't happen everyday.

My only other lesson was to discover that I'll have to use a non-lead tin/silver alloy solder in my version as I am in an awful neurotic, OCD kind of fit over the lead in my new friend. I used the gloves of course, but the whole time, and even now, I feel contaminated. I'm all over my studio and computer while animating and touching my radio which then rests against my bare skin, etc. I feel as though the whole place is dusted with toxic poison. I wiped everything down afterwards with moist wipes but I feel dizzy and weirded out by it nonetheless. It's all in my head, but there's no way around that for me, short of dressing like Karen Silkwood on a rough day.

And taa daa... guess who rang ME today?! Clare. Yep, he saw the post about Sven's armature being here and he asked to come up and see it. And after looking at it for two seconds he knew exactly how we could make one here. He knew where to get the materials. He knew what equipment would be needed and confirmed that it all was already set up down there. He explained in detail the steps and fine points of constructing one. It seems to me to be a daunting amount of work. An huge amount of additional time and learning curve that I hadn't bargained for. However, today's test proved that indeed a ball joint is far superior control and performance potential.

I have two additional things to test before I fully commit to making these myself:

TEST 1: Tiedowns on Mach III (wire and block) armature being finished in the next few days for practice animation. If the wire can give me decent position control I may chicken out of fabricating a ball/joint. (Who am I kidding?--shhhh.)

TEST 2: A Pojo with Tiedowns (capitalized as Divine things are). If I can replicate something close to Sven's creation with my little fiddle bits then that may do for a while?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Guest of Honor

Lookie who jumped in a box and traveled all the way here... It's Sven Bonnichsen's first-made ball/joint armature!!

Yes, unbelievable kindness comes to the interweb and reader/blogger Sven ( took pity on my dearth of grown-up frameworks and wanted to help a brotha' out.

I feel honored that he would trust me, essentially a stranger, with such a precious, valuable creation for a visit. (And I really knew that I was dealing with an immensely caring person when I opened up the packaging to find a pair of neoprene gloves to protect me from exposure to the lead solder that's used in it's making.)

I gleefully moved all the joints around and was chilled by the life-like movement. How human the assemblage of metal findings are. It fooled my primal mind with its illusion of life. It felt luxurious, like driving a Rolls Royce, such smooth and precise handling metal.

Look for a wee (mind blowing?) clip of him tomorrow. Thank you, Sven, for letting me test drive this baby of yours!

It beHooves (heh) me to also keep working on my foamy Rana finishing too.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

If, You Are NOT Amish...

I noticed that my husband and I were writing down this link for people whenever casual conversation might have led to what I was into/doing lately. I even went to a design event last week and found myself scrawling the addy across the back of my business card. I thought a more enjoyable way to handle this would be to have buttons printed up with the address already on them that we could hand out to those interested. And they turned out so fetching, that I thought it would be grand to turn the idea into a limited edition series to commemorate Halfland as it develops.

I got the first package in the mailbox today from Kate Black, a young artist in Brooklyn who has an online art shop at ETSY ( where she offers to make custom buttons of various sizes for folks. I found many resources online that could make these, but I choose Kate for my buttons because she makes things with love and it shows.

And so, Fair Reader, I would love to thank you for your loyal support by sending you one!! Just email me at with a mailing address and you'll get your very own piece of this first-ever, highly collectible, stop motion memorabilia! (Plus as an added bonus, it can also add you to the coveted Noble/Kaye annual handmade holiday card list *<:-))

Monday, May 08, 2006


An off the shelf puppet joint, the hex nut is the diameter of a number two pencil eraser.

I stopped at Osh Hardware today and found a much better selection of tiny brass things to fashion the po'man's ball joint. This idea can be found in several key places on our particular trail, LIO's tutorial page ( for one, had a scanned article of it I believe. Forgive me for not naming all the fine folks I nabbed this from. The sources on this have blurred, but I thank you for it.

For this configuration I used the tiniest bits I could find, without having to resort to a specialty jewelry supplier:

4/40 brass machine screw nuts
4/40x1/4 brass machine pan head-phillips screws
11/16 brass screw eyes
No. 6 nylon flat washers

I grabbed a size 57 high speed steel drill bit for my hand drill (shown) to pre-drill pilot holes in the dowel bones.

So, the idea is very interesting. It's simple, inexpensive, easy to construct in required sizes. I'd have to work an armature up and see how it works to be sure. I'm thinking of it for perhaps a smaller role, a supporting character in Halfland. It'll be fun to use different techniques and methods throughout the cast.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Shaping up

Started in early this morning adding scrap upholstery foam onto the Mach III. (There is a foam shop near me that I can buy rolls of foam in varying thickness for additional fleshy exploits later.) You'll notice the bolts in the feet now, when this animation practice armature is finished, I'll be experimenting with tiedowns on a rehearsal stage.

I'm having great illegal levels of fun shaping this trial puppet up with scissors. (HAVE TO stop for the day to do paid work.) But will pick this up again in days to come, further deep carving the foam to match the clay sculpt, adding hooves, etc.

Tomorrow I plan to cover the legs with faux shearling fleece, rather than squander the beautiful brown goat skin I have at the ready, in all its primitively lengthy, wispy curled glory, to ply on the final Rana puppet.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


This brilliant little film (via Rocketboom) pretty much says it all for me. What is that?!!!! (, click on "Procrastination" on the right column.

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.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I just enjoyed a delightful hot, spiced Chai Tea (black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and cloves) mixed with a blend of almond and soy milks. It was made all the more delicious by being sipped from my new Fund My Short mug! What's in yours?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Let Me Articulate This

I hesitate to give the boys out there this link, in case they'd be distracted from their important animating!

And did I convert the price properly, only $12 USD?! update: not quite, the incredibly popular Obitsu body isn't currently sold overseas but Parabox does sell them here, and better than that, they sell several sizes of joints and parts separately, for those interested (

I'm still looking, I just had to have a laugh. Cheers.

Note she has magnets in her feet for "unlimited posing possibilities"

This sort of fascination with articulated bodies has been going on for an ancient while, the doll below was inspired from artifacts found dated as far back as 800 BC. The fingers of some ancient dolls were delicately carved so that miniature rings could be slipped on and off them.

Monday, May 01, 2006

These Are The Ultimate of Times for Animation

I'll share, strictly because I love you...

I just stumbled across what I think is an amazing animation resource, I'm certain there are others like it as well, but the fact that something like this exists at all, along with the Web in general, is about as miraculous for animators as I could have ever imagined. Do you all ever stop to think about what's really inside the processor box? (Maybe you've seen it when adding a card or whatnot) There are moments when I consider that these small pieces of silicone run in such a way as to enable us to travel, talk, and share ourselves globally. The experience continues to be nothing less than a marvel to me, a fact that is made all the more bewildering when I actually see that the hardware is not filled with magic elves inside after all.

BBC Motion Gallery. I checked it out by typing *Walking Goat* ( as an experiment for Rana and I got back several excellent clips of various goats from around the globe, walking from every angle I could ever need. I plan to advance these by frames until I can feel the correct motion for an animal walking, as Mike pointed out, with their extended hooves and lifted heels, etc.

I spent a long time in Home Despot (as we call it) today sniffing around for small metal things that could be adapted to joints and such. I got free advice from wise grey haired men with beards (not Clare this time) about how to rig my cottage wall panels so I can remove them/lift them out for shooting the interior. I got both flanges and screw eyes for the marionette-type above-set wires, etc. etc. Oh and mmmmmagnets!

I can hardly wait to test these innovations. Mike may be right, (there's no doubt of that, I'm just getting to it in my way) that the wires will shadow too much and/or the only way to go is with bolted through the floor tiedowns. But I've got to check some of these ideas out as I'm not only serving the techniques of stop motion and filmmaking with Halfland but also four dimensional fine art*.

(*By that I mean my art--not what should be considered good art to anyone else.)
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