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.

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