Thursday, December 13, 2012

More Clay Animation: Pyscho Bunnies

So for my Stop Motion class final we are doing a Lip Synch Ultimate Fighter Challenge. This entails animating a 15 second performance to a provided audio clip. I decided that I wanted to use clay because I wanted to stretch the mouths on inbetweens and also, despite it's drawbacks, I think it's actually the most fun to make characters with.

The audio clip I chose is very dramatic and violent sounding, so I created clay bunnies to play out the scene.

Velvetine, the snooty know-it-all. You know the type.

Manny, the meek flip-flopsy one

Captain Garrett "The Carrot" Widowmaker

As their mission becomes more perilous, tensions in the group are revealed. 

If anyone knows what this audio clip is from, please let me know! Hope you enjoy. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Animating a Calder-inspired Wire Sculpture

As simple as it is, I think that animating this puppet was my favorite. It was fun to figure out how to make it expressive with limited and abstracted features, and it was definitely the most challenging use of the fishline flying rig.

I did some lighting tests on the Zemeckis stage at USC where I had lots of space to see how to best light the wire for green screen.

Then I mimicked that lighting setup as closely as possible on the Stop Motion shooting stage. 

Against my water footage, she's looking pretty nice. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jim the Janitor Returns!

This week I did a test run with Jim, and used the super cool flying rig loaned to me by fellow student Lisa Chung. It is kind of tough to get used to at first, but the more you use it the more it grows on you :). Plus rig removal is super easy!

Here is the final result: Jim heads out for a jog.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Making Underwater critters

Since the majority of my short takes place underwater, I wanted to make sure that I created a lot of hand-made elements to fill the sea as Klimtina falls to the bottom. Although I will be compositing live action effects like fog and particles with After Effects, I want to make sure that the sea environment feels like a true mixed media surrounding for the puppet because she is made of foam and sheet copper.

Rice paper is probably my new favorite thing. What a way to stretch a budget. I used it to make almost everything.

The first thing I made was some seaweed. I did this by painting rice paper with watercolor, then ripping it into strips while wet. I used a reddish orange color because I knew I would have to shoot them against green screen.

Next, I brushed on a little bit of watered down Elmer's glue and twisted them onto strips of armature wire. The watercolor allowed for a nice variety of color.

The second thing I made with rice paper was some fish. I drew lightly the shapes of fish I wanted, then colored them with oil pastels. Then I wet the rice paper and tore a frayed edge around each fish. Here is how they looked against live water footage with some particles.

The third thing I made from rice paper was a papier mache jellyfish. Cameo from my cat, stage left. He probably is plotting destruction as we speak.  

Other than rice paper, I found some artist's sponges and other textures to add to really create an underwater world that fits my puppet. More to come!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Mold-making for Stop Motion

I decided to create my main puppet for my Klimt-inspired stop motion short "Falling" out of a material called foam latex, which is poured into a mold over a wire armature. Since this was my first time fabricating with this process, I was really lucky that Justin Connolly was doing a workshop at USC on mold making and agreed to use my clay sculpt of my puppet as an example.

Here is a photo of how his mold came out. He made it by laying down the clay body (Sculpey) and building up walls around it with water-based clay. This created the negative shape for the mold, and we mixed a type of cement called Ultracal which is the material you are seeing in this photo. If you use Ultracal be sure to be in a ventilated space.

Check out Justin's blog for more info on this process.

After Justin helped me through making the mold of the body, I repeated the same process to create a mold for the puppet's head. I sculpted it and used beads to create the concave space where the eyeballs would be.

Pretty creepy-looking, huh? I kept the mouth open to allow for an animatable jaw armature.The Ultracal bonded with the beads so that they became a part of the mold. You can see the remains of my clay sculpts. If you ever make molds this way be prepared for them to be useless afterwards.

The next step was to build my armature.

Lastly, I lucked out again in my foam puppet-making adventure because I was helping out on the fabrication end of a short stop motion film being made by Shel and Justin Rasch called The Line, and Shel took an entire afternoon to help me improve my armature, teach me how to mix the latex (much like making cake) and how to pour it. Then she let me bake it in her oven for several hours until the foam had set. 

It's important to remember not to use an oven you actually eat from when baking any stop motion materials like foam latex or sculpey clay. 

I found this method of puppet making really meticulous and time-consuming, but in the end it really paid off because I was able to get the texture I wanted without having to deal with the fickleness of clay. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Clay Animation- say Goodbye to being a perfectionist!

This week I worked with clay stop motion and it was very challenging. My character design was all wrong for clay. I went with a cute, small, multi-colored character, and in retrospect let me just say I can see why Gumby looked like he did. Art Clokey knew what he was doing.

Although clay was a challenge, I really did enjoy using it as a medium for character design because it is so versatile and fast. With practice I think it will be really fun to use this medium, I just need to get used to it so I can focus more on timing.

Check out my short experiment in clay.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Animating with Legos!

I tried out animating with lego figures, which was is actually quite challenging. They are great because they are already fabricated and they hold poses perfectly, but the downside is that they have limited motion (and they are tiny!), so I found it difficult to to get some of the broader arcs of motion out of their little cubic bodies. You can see what I came up with.

I think I would really like to try more with legos, like mimicking 8-bit or maybe with the figures again but with more use of sticky wax and flying rigs to get broader, smoother action.