Wednesday, May 15, 2013

And in an interlude from the "Making of" posts on the stop motion trailer....
Right now I'm listening to "The Secret Garden" on Audiobook. For a Victorian girly book about frolicking in the garden amongst the roses and listening to the robins sing, it has one of the most over the top brutal and hysterical openings ever. Frances Hodgson Burnett really didn't pull any punches on the description of Mary Lennox, "the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen". In case you haven't read (or listened to it) she's so disliked by everyone around her, that she's left behind in a village in India when there's a cholera epidemic.

Making of the Stop Motion trailer installment 3:
Now that the materials have been decided on here you can see Robin drawing out the plans for making the final puppet. Part of the planning is how to rig it so it doesn't fall over and deciding which parts need to move and how to make that happen. One special consideration for the rigging is that his body is made out of a stick and there's not much for him to balance on or to hide the rigging materials behind.
 You can see on the paper she's devising the rigging method, it will consist of a little tube glued to his back that a rod will fit in to and his arms will be made from a bendable wire held to the rig. We decided since Lollipop's character is somewhat vacant we could get away with him having a fixed expression and just his eyes and arms moving.
 Here is the beginning of the final lollipop head made from red plexiglass and cut by hand into the oval shape on a bandsaw.
 Edges ground down and ready for assembly.
 The joy of moving towards a finished lollipop puppet is overwhelming.
 Finished puppet! His mouth is a piece of wire glued in a permanent smile, his eyes and pupils are made out of paper lightly glued down and easy to reposition for animation.
Here's a close up of the rigging and arms...
and a detail of the back. This will be partially visible when on camera and will have to be removed digitally after the animation is done. He's ready to animate!

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

 Making of the Stop Motion trailer installment 2:

After making the storyboard and editing it to music and sound in Final Cut the fun really began. I got to go into Screen Novelties' studio in Echo Park and begin watching and helping with the puppet making. Before I even walked in the front door I saw this leaning up against the wall outside, you know if you're laughing at a mop by the dumpster before you even get started that you're going to have a good day.

The first thing i got to do was make a reference sculpture of Mr. Caper out of clay. Since building the actual puppet for animation is so specialized, giving it all the rigging, moveable parts and sewing little clothes etc. that I'm not qualified for,  my job was to make a model of Mr. Caper how I'd like to see him so they could use it as a guide when building the animation puppet. I hadn't touched clay (except Playdough with our daughter) for probably 20 years or more, but it was a lot of fun and I think it came out pretty well. I did accidentally make him about 30% larger than he should have been relative the the Lollipop puppet, which just goes to show another nuance of puppet building that I'm not skilled at.
The next step was a materials test that Robin did on how to make a Lollipop puppet. If you think about it, which i never had, it seems like an easy enough task,  just "build a Lollipop puppet" but out of what and how? This is was my first inkling into the myriad of obstacles and challenges to making a stop motion piece. Everything has to be fabricated out of existing and obtainable materials that have the right color, surface, thickness, weight, texture, opacity, sheen, strength etc. etc. and can be manipulated into a shape you want and rigged to stand up and move around. Obviously everyone at Screen Novelties is an expert at this but particularly Robin who does most of the puppet fabrication. After a couple of small tests like this Robin ingeniously came up with the perfect formula for something that looked so much like a lollipop it took a lot of restraint not to lick it. It's 2 layers of red plexiglass glued together, cut into a circle by hand on a bandsaw with the edges rounded off and polished. the stick is made of a metal dowel rod wrapped in white tape. This was all just to figure out what to make it out of, next comes the making of the puppet which will have moveable arms and eyes added to it and a wire bracket added to the back to hold it up.