Peeling Onion Skins

Today I moved the Smoomoomoo to my desk and attached the Darkstrider Unibrain Patrol of Joy webcam so I could test animating with onion skinning and using a keyboard to trigger capture. For the tests I trotted out a couple of fantastic pupps made by faithful readers of this blog.

First up, a 54 frame audition for John H.'s (SMA aka Castlegardner) hilarious Peanut Butter & Jellyfish Sammich undersea critter. I glued wire into the sammich and kept it floating fixed while I moved the camera to make it appear that the fish was swimming.

Just for practice, I then took the frames into Photoshop, erased the rig, added a blue layer and wave distortion filter to each frame. In iMovie I rotated the video 90º and added a letterbox effect. The detail is utterly lost in these little compressions but the webcam doesn't get a lot of detail to begin with so, it was really just to um, yeah, get my feet wet!

This one was pretty funny. I was testing out Jeffery Roche's (aka Ubatuber) Octo-pussy puppet also made for the Halfland undersea scene. I fixed a tiedown to the Oct's underside and was proceeding to fiddle with its 8 legs, about to have it settle down for a nap when--my real kitty decided to do the same--and wedged herself uncomfortably right on the set! Hee Hee.

John has a terrific new blog that I highly recommend. His Beginner’s guide to ball and socket armaturestutorial on simple-to-make ball joint armatures is easy for me to follow and an obtainable solution. I'm taking the tut to a parts shop ASAP. Woo.

Jeffery's blog is filled with his truly witty Southern-style shorts and his day-to-day progress on projects that capture his formidable imagination.

My thanks again to you both for creating these wonderful puppets!


  1. Hey herself.....This is becomeing a very cool habit of posting cool animation tests on your blog!!

    very exciteing to see!!

    keep em comin...

    as for the cat....Ive had my cat get comfy on my tripod legs more than once in a shoot.


  2. Thanks, Justin!

    You mean the cat cozied up on sandbags holding the tripod legs or something? Did it ruin a shot?! Yeee. That's a sin on your stuff!

  3. Anonymous12:37 PM

    Hi Shelley, the tests look very cool!. I love the look of the puppets. I wish I could have made one, I would have created a squid with a top hat! But I wasn't around then.... not that I died and am posting as a zombie....:)

    I like your cat! I have a cat too. Maybe, alot of animators have cats. He's called Squeaky. We took him off a friend as a newly born kitten, he was the last one left because he has some kind of gland problem, so he can't 'miaow' properly, just kind of squeak.Well now he's a bit older he can do more howling squeaks, he's getting there.

  4. This is the same cat that took a dive earlier in the year? He's a sweet look'n ol' kit-cat!

    Although, could you imagine a cat ruining the shot when you were say... 15secs and x frames through a 20 second sequence. I'm quite sure the cat would use one of it's 9 lives at my place.

    The Butter & JellyFish is a great first leap from the great aquatic into P-Shop. I have to ask though, there's a light change in the 5th second; did that happen on set or in post?

  5. Anonymous11:04 PM

    The cat's a scene-stealer, no sooner did octopussy get into its stride than this big grey self-animating puppet hogs the camera. Give Octopuss another solo spot!

    I think Mike and I can say goodbye to that lucrative sponsorship deal with Manfrotto, couldn't make a sale! The geared head is not the only way, but it's the easy way.

    I used to measure pans with a 300mm (1 ft) disc with marks around the outside, and it does work, provided you have room for disc sticking out all around the camera head. Or you can sometimes measure by how a static part of the set moves across the screen, marking the screen each frame. Then there's the lazer pointer aiming at the wall trick... Take that, Mr Frotto!
    Subject closed, no more from me!

  6. Noooooo, Nick, NOOOOOO! You did make the sale! Manfrotto check's in the mail! Me getting one!! yay!

    @Rich, Nooo! That kitty is an altogether different kitty from the fall guy! This kitty is like Prozac, Christmas morning, and chocolate pudding three-meals-a-day joy for me. When I see her I melt into total happiness. So, you may see her in the final cut of Halfland!

    You know, like an Alternate Reality Multi-dimensional Wave/particle/wave/again bioluminescent Quantum Quark Cat Experience in Halfland.

    Yeah, like that.

  7. Hi Nofby, thanks and God bless you for saving The Squeaky!

  8. A Alternate Reality Multi-dimensional Wave/particle/wave/again bioluminescent Quantum Quark Cat Experience... of course, one of those... um... are you sure that wasn't a Jimi Hendrix Album? :)

  9. Stop Motion is a lot like the 60's!

    Good luck with the head surgery today, Rich. We're thinking about you.

  10. those are so fun! makes me want to dig imovie out ... except I would have no clue what to do next.

  11. HI Kim, If, for some reason, you were to get the stop mo bug, believe me your films would be spectacular!


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