Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Stopmotion: Barb Wire Fence

I'm working on the set for the second shot. I need barb wire fence and found that gluing tiny wire pieces to the wire fence works quite nicely! A bit stylized, but communicates the barb wire well!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Stopmotion: $64 Camera Crane!

   The next shot is complicated for a bunch of reasons. There's a real background, the camera movement is infinitely more complicated, I have to build a whole set. I'm sure the list is longer than I can think of right now. I spent last weekend building a camera crane from scratch. I need to pan down (finishing the establishing pan) then move the camera over and into the main character as he struggles to move the heavy bag of letters. I found a great video on youtube:


edu Puertas has been a great resource! His videos are a well I've barely tapped into! I watched the one up above and simplified his version for my own purposes. Mine isn't controlled by Adruino's and engines, but it should (hopefully) serve my purposes. In fact, I'm hoping this will serve as my main rig from now on! It's all nuts and bolts I can tighten and loosen as I need. Everything seems smooth enough movement-wise.

I went to skycraft and bought bearings and steel square tubing, then went to Lowes and got a bunch of 3/4 inch wide aluminum bars. The rest of it is wood. When I assembled it, it became immediately apparent that It needed a really heavy base, so I cleaned and prepped one of the Train track steel plates I had laying around. I even JB welded lego plates to the bottom to make it level and now I can add and remove wheels whenever I want!

I built a 3' x 5' table and now I need to build the snowy forest scene on top of it!

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Stopmotion: Take 3! The final take for this shot!!!!

It's done! I love it! No weird head vibration when he talks, no bed sheet seam visible in the background! Clean and better animated. Wooo!

The next scene requires a whole 4x8 table to build on. I have to ask my wife if it's okay to convert the guest bedroom!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Stopmotion: Take 2

Here's the new take on the same scene:

 You'll notice that it pans forwards smoothly. That's thanks to youtube videos suggesting a Lego Rig moved at 1/4 cm per frame. He also blinks now! Again, I sought out youtube to advise me on blinks. I went with a two frame blink, an eyelid slightly showing and a full eyeylid. I tried focusing on tiling the head from side to side instead of rotating it from side to side (if that makes any sense). 

Although I'm really happy with this, I have to do it just one more time. There's some head vibration I'd like to get rid of but most of all I can't stand that the bottom edge of the sky shows so blatantly at the end. This is because instead of zooming in with the lense, I'm physically moving the camera into the letters tube. 


Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Stopmotion: Some Adjustments

  I know these photos are a bit dark, but the lighting in that room isn't great. Day two of the shoot, I've modified the camera tripod. Firstly, if you're shooting on carpet... DONT. I originally wanted the entire third scene to have a slow zoom into SDS' face. I had to stop because turning the lense to zoom incrementally each frame was causing the camera to go all sorts of crazy places. This was, I think, because of three problems: 

Firstly, the carpet lets the tripod sink and shift at will. Getting it back on track each frame isn't impossible, but it eats up valuable time and isn't smart. I SHOULD have known this. I had learned this lesson from the first establishing shot which was all camera movement and nothing else..... but I guess I got lazy. I solved this (hopefully) by putting a piece of plywood down and hot gluing pieces of wood around each leg so nothing can shift. 

Secondly, the tripod knobs weren't tightened. No wonder the camera wanted to shift, nothing was secure!!! I think because I knew this was going to be a test run, I didn't care about taking my time and doing things right. I was too excited about puppeting a stopmotion puppet! So I tightened everything that I could on the tripod. I even took off the neck strap so there would be less in the way of the cords and me. 

Thirdly, the tripod is a lightweight aluminum one. That means the heavy-ish Canon Rebel T1i is making the whole thing top heavy. A lot of sway happens with this setup and keeping things tight gets harder. As you can see above I corrected this with a large magnet and 5 railroad spikes to weight the bottom. I had to do this for the opening shot, but thought I could get away with not doing it since the camera doesn't actually have to move. 

I also did some touch up painting on the face of SDS. The first frame last night, I chipped paint off with my fingernail. If you look at the video the left side of his lip has a little black mark. That's another lesson: sculpt your characters with same colored sculpey so they're inherently colored. That way scuff marks and chips wont show so bad. 

Tomorrow night, I'm ready to film again!!!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Stopmotion: My first real stopmotion thing!!

Here's the third shot! It's the first time I've ever really truly animated in stop motion. I did my logo run cycle years ago, but I feel like this is the first legit real go at it!

Don't worry, this is my first test run. I'm going to redo this scene a few times this week and animate it better. I'd like his bending down into the bag to be smoother, the camera work needs to be smoother as well. I want to put a big flat board down under my tripod so the zoom can be a little better. 

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Stopmotion: Lighting tests

Here's the evolution of the third shot (2nd to be filmed). Maria and I decided to go with the fourth lighting set up, with dark blue. The establishing shot is clearly depicting all this happening before even the sun comes up, so I'm happy going a bit dark on this. I'm really happy with the letters tube and the push on lot's of color! The incandescent light in the room is very happily casting that little orange at the edge of the mail! Perfect for a newly rising sun!

Don't worry the other shots will be a bit brighter. This needs to be dark because the camera is looking up from the bottom of his dark cold bag of letters to Santa.