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.


  1. Wow Shelley,

    This must be a real high budget picture, you even have a stand in puppet for test animation and lighting setup while your real puppet kicks back in its trailer waiting for everything to be ready. :-)

    Seriously, even the Rana stand in is looking real nice. You may want to make the foam sculpting thinner to allow for the thickness of the covering. You have great definition in the legs on the foam, but it disappears when covered with the goat fur. I am not an expert by any means as I am a long way a way from getting to this stage myself , but maybe there is another material you can use to cover with that is thiner, I don't know.

    Looking forward to watching her move

  2. Anonymous11:19 AM

    Beautiful! I'm really impressed with how well the 1/8" final foam covering worked.

    And I really like Rana's beeeeeelly. Nice to have another fan of zaftig puppets around here. Sometimes it seems like everyone wants Jack Skellingtons, and nothing but.

    Re assembling the still shots into a film...

    Do you have QuickTime Pro? I just checked, and it's available for both Macs and Windows machines at this point. The QuickTime player is free; it's $30 to upgrade it to QT Pro. Let me tell ya -- it's $30 well spent...

    If you have a folder of still photos, you just use the "open image sequence" command -- and poof! QT makes them into a movie for you. You get to choose your fps.

    Also, QT Pro is the quickest, easiest way I know to do compression. You've got a whole bunch of "export" options -- you just save a copy of your film in the compressed format.

    The program's also really useful for marrying sound to image. I do up my soundtracks in a digital four-track program... But then to marry the sound to the silent film, it's basically an easy cut'n'paste.

    ...Anyway -- I'm a big fan of this software. It just makes a whole lot of things really easy.

  3. Thanks Svenaling!! I found the Nikon monitor instructions today, so that's handled, yay. I read Alejo's blog updates this morning and he answered my "What the heck do you do with the bolt tiedowns whilst walking" question, erase 'em, yay! And now you've answered my image sequence question! Wow ! it's like the best kind of magic! I didn't opt for QT Pro earlier because the fellers that run Vimeo said it was a rip off, but it clearly is what I need, given your experience! yay!

    Thanks Mark!!, Ha! Very funny {:-B} About the stand-in, the rules were that I wasn't allowed to fabricate anything--just shoot-- but a quick job of a stand-in in order to test various armatures seemed on point. I feel funny about posting these not-all-my-ability-brought-to-bare things to you all as I know it is only human nature to assume what is shown is all that CAN be done by that person. I do it all the time, it's natural, I see it, therefore that's all I can go by. It's like me running out to a market in my pajamas or old torn sweats, hair all directions, no make-up (frightening the local children) smelly, torn shoes, you know, everyday wear. When a stranger says something interesting that I want to pipe up about but can't because I look like a baglady and they won't know that I'm capable of a shower and nice freshly pressed clothes in order to have entree into society enough to be listened to. Posting things in progress is exactly like that.

    And yes, I'm thinking of lifting up the fleece and chopping out some foam. Also adding layers of nylon stocking to her skin as ::DISCLOUSURE:: I had to photoshop the seams in that shot of the white foam. (hangs head low)

  4. :D fun fun fun...
    ...I'm also a fan of the Botticelli approach ;) Rana's plump little stand-in looks great!

    'only human nature to assume what is shown is all that CAN be done by that person' so true, and an issue that I have had in the past as well but I think thats the great thing about 'in-progress', we get to see all the little foibles and tidbits...

    Have you fiddled much with your digicam's settings? I am still not using a framegrabber (don't kill me Mike) and am capturing pic by pic with my Kodak, one thing that helped me out A TON was the timer setting...set at 2 seconds, there is very little wobble going on because the camera has time to steady itself on the tripod after I snap the pic...also fiddle with the 'white balance' option if you have one, to lessen flicker...

  5. ...also, the puppet brought to mind a thread over at SMA, where someone asked about Victor's Mother's ample bosom in Corpse Bride (if you look closely there is some bounce going on)...not sure if you want to get that detailed with her animation, but it might be something to consider with Rana's armature....course Phil says that they used mechanics to acheive the effect, but you might be able to replicate it some other way...
    ...just an idea, my head is most definitely NOT in the gutter........really......promise....

  6. Whoah!! Nekkit Pichures at Halfland! It's Ranna of Willendorf!

    Really great soft sculpt work there Shellster! Your stand in is better than many actual puppets I've seen people use. And she's definitely got that earth mother thing going on.

  7. Brilliant. Mike, I had to Google Willendorf ( how did you know about that?!

    Thanks for the compliment. Wonder what exactly was going on with that hair/face/knit cap(?) Isn't it weird to have a figure with detailed hooha without it also having the little detail of a face?

  8. Anonymous7:03 PM

    I can really relate to this woman, she has hips like a REAL lady!

  9. The Venus of Willendorf (usually pronunced Villendorf). The first item in many art history books, and the first thing we covered in class. Generally considered the first known example of sculptural art. It's thjought to be ceremonial or magical in nature rather than what we today think of as artistic.... all art in those early days was used in ceremony or magic of some kind, and Willendorf was a fertility fetish. It's thought the beehivelike mound of head/hair/whatever it is is to dehumanize her and make her more of a universal symbol of pure fertility. As Paglia puts it (and I paraphrase) She's a droning, buzzing hive of creative activity, the wellspring of all life, the very essence of pregnant Nature herself, Mother of all... the First Mover and the Primary Principle. She is the source of all mystery, the humid hole from which we all emerged, implacable and uncomprehendable. She has no face because she has no humanity... she is the Grand Matriarch in the cosmic sense, fashioned by some awestruck primitive to try to placate the unpredictable powers of nature. Her swollen belly is the loom of creation, where our fates are spawned.

    ...or something like that.

  10. Can't argue with that! Thanks, Mike! I had intro to art history during my illustrious higher educational career, a single semester of community collage :P, and must of seen her too? I guess I glossed right over her due to total lack of interest in the unknowable.

    Not knowing what the real purpose of an ancient artifact is annoys me. Speculation, even if logically arrived at and as educated as a guess could be, can still be sooo wrong. What will they make of a webcam one day?! They'll probably make up a story that fits their modern understanding and purpose, like we all do. :-B


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