Archive for the ‘stop-motion’ Category

Not to brag, but working full-time at Stoopid Buddy Stoodios as a Puppet Fabricator has been fantastic. It has been a lot of hard work and the 10-hour days took a little getting used to, but the fun and creativity can’t be beat. I am incredibly fortunate to have been given the opportunity.

I have already handled quite a few materials and helped construct a pretty diverse selection of characters, both human and not. I have painted, glued, shaped and sculpted everything from clay to fur, assembled and repaired puppets, helped rig armatures and now I am starting to mold and cast. I came in with some good knowledge, but between the variety of projects and the vast amount of experience in the studio, I seem to learn something new every day.

And now that the studio has acquired a high quality 3D printer, things are about to get even more interesting. I am familiar with RP and creating models for prints, but working with one on a daily basis can be a whole other thing. The resolution of these prints is amazing, too. I am excited for the potential in the area and look forward to seeing what comes out of it.

On the topic of things coming out, I still can’t reveal anything specific, but a couple of the projects I have worked on have either been released or announced. So awesome! The first thing I worked on, an unusual little commercial for the Indian mango fruit drink Frooti, is here:

I painted some of the tiny people (who were 3D printed, by the way), which was truly an exercise in patience. The finished commercial looks great, though! A tremendous team effort that makes it all worthwhile.

The next thing I worked on – and still am – is a new show that was just announced at the Crackle Upfront event: “SuperMansion”.

  

The above image is the first promo shot of the lead character, Titanium Rex, released by the studio. I should mention that I personally did not work on this specific character – that was left to more senior artists – but I have worked on plenty of others. Again, I can’t share anything else beyond what has been authorized just yet, but I can say that this show is a must- watch, and that’s not just because I am biased. 🙂

Then, of course, Robot Chicken Season 8 is also starting up for us as well. Proud, sweet times.

I hope to be able to share more of what I have personally done in the near future. In the meantime, let’s all keep making cool stuff!

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted again, but that’s because I have finally moved to sunny Burbank, California! That’s right kiddies, I’ve packed my bags, loaded up all of my crap and left Chicagoland just in time for the brutal winter to set in. The timing was not planned that way – it just happens to have been when our lease was up. Really. You won’t see me complaining, though. 😉

It has taken some effort to become acclimated to this new environment and I do have my gripes, but from what I’ve seen, they’re the same things most people take issue with (bad drivers, anyone?). The lack of refrigerators took me completely by surprise, though. That’s right, you read that correctly. If you’re from another area and you plan on coming out here, consider this your fair warning: be prepared to buy, rent, borrow, steal etc. your own refrigerator. 99% of the places out here do not come with one. Neat, eh?

The thing I do absolutely love, though, is the amount of creativity and industry surrounding us. Besides the studios, art and artists are everywhere, and although we have not seen anyone we recognize, we have overheard some interesting film conversations in restaurants. The energy is thick and it makes me inspired and hopeful for my future career. It’s exciting and it’s the REAL reason I came out here in the first place.

The other interesting thing I came across in the process of packing were some of my old (and newer) stop-motion armatures. Just for kicks, I decided to line them up and take a pic.

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Now, from left to right we have one of the characters from “In The Park” that is a block type, single wire with resin feet (some body foam still attached). Next is ball-and-socket Grandpa, who’s looking a little skinnier these days. ;-P. His silicone head and a silicone foot are still there, but the rest has been stripped down for future recycling. After that is the first wire bundle armature I made for Caterpillar, when I was playing around and testing out the decidedly non-human design (see previous posts for the final piece). And then lastly we have my current piece in its very early stages. Another wire bundle, I am combining a couple of techniques I have learned from Stoopid Buddy and the Chiodo Bros. to create this decidedly large, humanoid character. I will dedicate another post (or two) to that when it is further along, but for now, I just found it curious to lay them out and have a look at them.

Different styles, different characters. It made me reflect a bit on where I was when each one was made and where I am going. I like to think my skills are evolving and growing with each new piece, but it also feels like they are adapting to the different challenges in my work. That’s another reason why I came out here – to change things up.

So, now it is time to embrace another challenge. See you soon!

So as you may know from my previous post, Learning From Stoopid Buddy, I am learning puppet fabrication and animation from Stoopid Buddy Stoodios. If you haven’t read that post yet, you may want to give it a read first.

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Here are the casts de-molded. The jewel cut is a little hard to see, but it’s basically a zigzag pattern cut into the silicone. The castings now need to be cleaned, sanded, and primed with the flashing removed (those little pegs you see).

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Photo Jul 18, 6 37 18 AM

Once that’s done, I painted the head and jaw and attached them. The flappy jaw is imbedded in the head with a pair of lashed wires attached with Cold Weld. If it breaks, it will be fairly simple to fix. The eyes are going to have “floating” pupils (flat discs attached with sticky wax). The whites look creepy though, I know.

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Photo Jul 18, 6 36 08 AM

So this is skipping ahead a little as I didn’t have time to take pics of the bare foam body buildup, but here is her body after it was covered with colored latex and painted. The liquid latex was laid over the foam in layers on top of a covering of foam tape.

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Photo Jul 18, 8 52 32 AM

And here she is with more costuming details. The body has also been flocked at this point to give her more of a “fuzzy caterpillar” look. You will also notice the head off to the right side. Her antennae (wires with foam and latex built up like the rest of the body) have been attached, along with her funny “mohawk” of yarn hair, which is stiffened and attached to dense foam.

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All that was left was to put it all together, so there ya go! I really enjoy the “Muppety” look of her. I could hide the sides of the jaw with some foam tape and latex, but I am rather fond of the obvious hinge. I think it adds to the charm. She WILL, however, be getting some hard-cast eyelids with the eyelashes to make them animatable. Right now, there is just colored sticky wax there with the lashes stuck to it as a placeholder. Also, her dress needs more work. Admittedly my sewing skills could use some pointers, but I can make it look better with a little more time.

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Stoopid Buddy Stoodios is awesome, but I’m sure you knew that. If not, here’s proof.

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Now I just have to clean up my mess – in preparation for the next build, which will most likely be Bookworm. 🙂

The Animation class is continuing for a few more weeks, so I am still producing material for that and will be discussing it in another update very soon. The videos are still private, but I will see if that changes at any point. It’s been super fun and educational and I’ve loved every minute of it!

It’s been a little bit, but here I am with what I think is an exciting update. I haven’t gone into it yet, but I am spending my summer studying both stop-motion animation and character fabrication with Stoopid Buddy Stoodios in Burbank, CA! I am actually about halfway through the sessions, but I’ve been so busy between traveling out here and doing the actual work, that my update had to wait a while. That, and I wanted to have something solid to show when I did.

Unfortunately, I did have to sign a NDA, so I have limits on what I can share publicly. As much as I would love to show and tell you about all of the very cool things I’ve seen behind the scenes, I can’t. Suffice it to say that Stoopid Buddy is neck-deep in lots of REALLY nice and fun stuff! Actually, if you haven’t seen the tour that Wil Wheaton did on his show recently with Seth Green, you should check that out. It will give you some idea.

In character fabrication, we started out with planning our original character puppet while learning the basics of Stoopid Buddy’s process. For our puppets, we are going with the build-up technique. Built on a wire armature bundle derived from the Stoodio’s developed method, we are then going to sculpt the body from foam and coat that with latex. My character, as you might imagine if you’ve been following along, is one of the main characters from my thesis. It is the Caterpillar here and here. I felt that she would present a true and proper challenge while standing out in her own, unique way.

Here is the armature build. It is a combination of various gauges of aluminum and steel wire for flexibility, strength and memory, bound together and wrapped/lashed tightly with string and adhesive. Body blocks are formed from epoxy and contain the tie downs at the ends, also bonded to the wires contained within. It is still pre-hands here, but they will be formed from another bundle of steel wires lashed to the wrist loops. The neck and leg wires are intentionally left long at this point to allow for working room while forming and adhering the foam body. The legs were a bit tricky and took a previous test to settle, but this form should work fine. There is actually a ‘notch’ at the top of each leg arch encased in the epoxy to help prevent the wire from coming loose and shifting back and forth or side to side.

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So I did not get a picture of my head sculpt before it went in, but these are the silicone box molds before they are cut open. Just a bunch of foam board cut to size and hot glued together. The silicone we used was Mold Max, a pretty common one for this purpose. The pins you see sticking out of the sides are to mark the position of the sculpt inside. Unfortunately, my sculpt didn’t make it out in one piece (not unusual), but it was done in Chavant NSP.

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And here are the molds cut open. This involved literally cutting the silicone with a surgical blade slowly in what is known as a “jewel cut” until the sculpt is reached. The jewel cut pattern/texture helps seal and hold the mold together when the head is cast. This was an interesting process, as I’ve never quite attempted it before. An interesting alternative to the two-part molds I used for “Grandpa”. Of course the silicone molds are a “soft” mold, which is more suitable for our heads, which are going to be cast in hard plastic. In my case, the Caterpillar will have what is known as a “flappy jaw”, which means she will have a hinged jaw that can be animated. That is why there are two molds here instead of just one, as the jaw naturally needs to be cast separately.

At this point, the heads have been cast and we will be de-molding them next week. Then the real fun of painting and finishing them begins. As you can see, there is much more work to be done before a finished puppet emerges, but I am enjoying the ride!

As far as the animation class goes, I am restricted from sharing the majority of the work as we are using actual Stoopid Buddy puppets to animate. However, if you are interested in seeing it, I would be happy to give you the password to view it privately. We started out with some general exercises to get the fundamentals down, but now we are getting into performance-based material, which is really fun! The current collection is on Vimeo here, but keep in mind you need the password from me to watch.

That’s it for now! Keep checking in! I will have much more to share on this and other topics soon.

In keeping with a very busy and interesting summer this year, I just got finished working on a short pixilated film called “Speed Dating”. What is pixilation, you may ask? Well, it is a stop motion technique in which you ‘animate’ real actors and/or objects on a live film set. It is very intense, as I found out, as it combines both the labor and setup required on a live shoot with the patience and planning necessary with animation. My official title was Assistant Animator, although I did everything from helping to build props (I actually made fake cigarettes that appeared to burn down), to Assistant DIT (Digital Imaging Technician) duties to driving people to the train station at night. We filmed at Cinespace in Chicago, a professional film studio currently housing some pretty big-name movie and TV productions. It was great to be around all of the activity and get a taste of Hollywood right here.

I made a lot of friends, learned a LOT about live action productions while refining my animation skills and gaining more experience on a professional studio lot. I hope the film will have a website up soon that I can share. In the meantime, I did manage to snag a few behind-the-scenes photos from one of our producers. As an unreleased work, I can’t share too much more right now, but I hope to soon!

The Director Meghann Artes (green shirt) overlooks the Animators on the bar set.

The Director Meghann Artes (green shirt) overlooks the Animators on the bar set.

A little behind-the-scenes of the Sports Guy shot on the bar set. These poor actors had to hold their poses for so long!

A little behind-the-scenes of the Sports Guy shot on the bar set. These poor actors had to hold their poses for so long!

The lead actress on the bar set being directed by Meghann.

The lead actress on the bar set being directed by Meghann.

The interior of our Cinespace area between stages. This place is HUGE!

The interior of our Cinespace area between stages. This place is HUGE!

Wrap cakes! The "capture" one is kind of an in-joke and the needlepoint one will make sense when you see the film. ;-)

Wrap cakes! The “capture” one is kind of an in-joke and the needlepoint one will make sense when you see the film. 😉

“Grandpa” Shot

Posted: June 20, 2013 in stop-motion, WIP

 

This is an excerpt from my stop motion “Grandpa”, now in post-production. I particularly like this shot, so I am sharing it as a tease. I hope to have this completely done within the next couple of months, if not sooner. So excited!

Some people have asked to see what my homemade stop motion setup looks like, so here you go. I built the stage from pegboard mounted on 2x4s (so I could reach underneath) cut to size and then glued and nailed together. The board was then topped off with some fine velvet to simulate carpet for this shoot, which is held on with spray adhesive for easy removal later. This is also a green screen shoot, so the cardboard screen is behind there. My lights are the clip-on variety you can find at any Home Depot, attached to laundry poles, of all things. They’re great, though. As you can see, they have multiple “arms” so I can attached several lights as well as being fully adjustable. I have my DSLR attached to my laptop, which is shooting in wonderful, little ‘ole Dragonframe.

A simple setup that obviously doesn’t match what the pro studios have, but it works for my smaller scale projects, and I don’t have the budget of a studio. 😉 I’ll be sharing the footage from this short soon!

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“Grandpa” Continues

Posted: March 27, 2013 in stop-motion, WIP
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It’s been a little while, but “Grandpa” pre-production is finally just about to wrap up. There are some odds and ends to address, but I’m pretty ready to dive into animated bliss. I’ve encountered lots of challenges on this piece so far, and I’m sure they’ll be more before it’s done, but I’m determined to make it the absolute best it can be. Hopefully, my next post will be some shots in-progress. For now, here are a few pics of the finished Boy and Grandpa puppets (with some temporary clay shoes). If you’re not on WordPress and you cannot see the slideshow, click on the link in the post’s title to go directly to my blog. Take a look and be back soon!

Building "Grandpa"

Posted: November 30, 2012 in stop-motion, WIP

The “Grandpa” project is coming along and I have other images to share down the twisty road, but here’s the start on the Boy character’s head sculpt in plasticine. He looks kinda scary right now. 😉 The ball-and-socket armatures are from kits that came in about a zillion pieces and had to be cut to size with a hacksaw and then assembled. Fun stuff! The frumpy suit top in the background is for my reference and is… well… too frumpy for the character. That’s more costume fun for down that twisty road I mentioned earlier.

And no trying to figure out what’s on my shelves and walls in the back, either! I’m watching you! 8-o