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Old June 16th, 2002, 03:06 AM   #1
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claymation/stop motion

I don't know if this even belongs on this site, but I was wondering if anyone had any tips for doing stop motion animation. I want to do a project, but I don't know exactly how the process works.

How many separate images should I aim for per second (15 or so seems about right, and when I edit I will use each image for two frames [2x15 = 30fps])? Is that way off base?

Also, if anyone can recommend a modeling method (I'd like to do claymation). I was just going to simply build them out of some kind of clay and move the parts around, but I don't want them to fall apart before I'm done.

I'm only aiming for like a 2-5 minute piece here (and believe me I know that's still a lot)
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Old June 16th, 2002, 03:22 AM   #2
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Yes, for video you'd animate at 15 frames per second to do what they call "animating in 2's". Basically, repeating 1 frame twice. If you wanted the burden of more work you can animate in "1's" which is 30 frames per second. Most traditional hand animation houses don't do that. Richard Williams is one guy who always animated in 1's.

Depending on how your characters look you might want to give your clay figures an aluminum wire armature. Or if you want to be really fancy you can build your own ball and socket armature using parts from armature supply companies. That would help your figures. Keep in mind that you will always have to "repair' them as you animate since clay doesn't agree with excessive movement.

If you can, you should capture your frames with a computer, that way you can "onion skin" or check your animation as you go. Use long lasting light sources because if a bulb blows out during a sequence a new one will not have quite the same color temperature as the old one and that'll pick up during your shot.

I'm thinking about the same things as well. I'm developing a story that has to do with animating figures as well. Back to my roots!

Good luck!
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Old June 16th, 2002, 03:40 AM   #3
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What was the bit about the frames and the computer? I was just going to shoot it all and import it into Vegas Video when I was done.

And you were saying to build the clay around a wire skeleton?
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Old June 16th, 2002, 03:56 AM   #4
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With the computer you will be able to see the animation play without any tape issues. You might be able to "onion skin" (the last from is 50% visible under your current live feed, depending on your software.

>>And you were saying to build the clay around a wire skeleton?

Yes.
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Old June 16th, 2002, 04:03 AM   #5
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I gotcha. I don't have the stuff to do anything like that. I was thinking I would just put the cam on a tripod for all shots (or on a flat surface, if need be), and never move it, using the remote control to start and stop recording.
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Old June 16th, 2002, 08:47 AM   #6
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Ray Harryhausen was one of the innovators of the stopmotion effects in the 50's and 60's. Among his credits, was Clash of the Titans and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. When he did these, there was no refence for stopmotion, he had to make it up as he went.

In an interview on the ScreenSavers, he said that he learned sculpting, cast molding, and anatomy to help create his models. They were all made with wire frames to help support them, keeping them in the pose while he snapped the pictures.

While it is very cool, and extremely impressive, I don't have the patience necessary to do claymation or stop motion. But I can create models using Photoshop and a 3D program. Standard animation is 10-12 frames a second. Smooth "perfect" animation is 15 frames for second. As Justin points out, you would use 2 frames per change, to keep it in line with the 30 frames per second of video. It helps keep things from going wierd as the video program trys to fill in between the frames of animation.
Much luck to you both with your endeavours,
Keith
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Old June 16th, 2002, 10:29 PM   #7
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stop motion

Hi Josh,

You have picked one of the most tedious forms of filmaking there is IMHO.

I built armatures for "James and the Giant Peach" as well as a number of other lesser known films. I also have been known to animate on occasion.

We've always animated in 1 frame increments.

There are alot of tricks to this stuff. Realize that not only do you have to move the character, you need to move background objects(trees, water, sky, props, etc.) also. Additionally there are things like eye blinks and speaking that usually require some type of replacement animation. And..... when moving the character you need to move the parts at different speeds depending on the action you want. Remember...all your body parts don't move at the same speed when you move.

Good luck,

David
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Old June 16th, 2002, 11:47 PM   #8
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You can get some good info here. I don't know anything about their products.

http://www.animateclay.com/

Good luck, Chris
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Old June 17th, 2002, 04:37 AM   #9
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Jeez. . .after looking at that, instead of wanting to do claymation, I just want to kill myself. I think I'll "modify" a preexisting action figure or something, or paint one of those marionette looking things.
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Old June 17th, 2002, 06:09 AM   #10
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I'd suggest you go down with the capture on the computer
as Justin suggests. If you do a "photo" on the XL1 it will
actually record a few seconds. This is way to much. Premiere
(an NLE for Windows) actually has stop motion support build
in. This works much easier then when you need to import
a tape and manually extract each frame (from those x seconds
of footage), double it and put it back together. Premiere
(and perhaps other NLE's) will do this for you!
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Old June 17th, 2002, 11:08 AM   #11
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more thoughts

A great way to get animation into the computer is to use a digital still camera and input each still frame into the computer. You can still input the frames into Premiere or FCP and you can also input them into Photoshop to remove any wires(if the charactor is jumping) of add effects to the frame(fire etc.)

In addition, using a really good digital camera that uses traditional lenses (I use the Canon D30) allows you to get true depth of field which you don't get with the video cameras.

Don't get discouraged. There's alot of very successful directors and effects people that got started doing little clay puppets and an 8mm camera on their kitchen table.

IMHO "GOOD" stop motion looks as good or better than any of the digital stuff out there. I saw some of Tom St. Ammand and Phil Tippet's test animatics for Jurassic Park. That was before the computer guys got their software together. It was beautiful!

This industry is art in it's purest form. The general member of the audience has no real concept of what goes into a feature film, or the level of artistic ability that the crews need to pull it off.

As a Special Effects coordinator for 15 years I've seen some wild stuff created in the name of film. The talent on those crews rivals anything you'll see in the corporate world....and we're faster and better looking too. :-)

David
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Old June 17th, 2002, 11:54 AM   #12
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If you are at all good at this I would recommend using puppets instead of claymation.

Some pioneers actually used props from life including Svankmeyer who used dead bugs.

Check out "The Brothers Quay Collection" from Kino Video. It's on DVD. Very creepy and inspiring stuff.
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Old June 17th, 2002, 12:36 PM   #13
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Thanks for the tips. It doesn't have to be "clay" mation. . .I'll look into other ways. I don't have premiere or still camera, just my XL1s and Vegas Video.
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Old June 17th, 2002, 01:18 PM   #14
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you should also keep in mind the timing of movment within your characters...

in my stop motion days, we would document a timeline of all the movements and time it takes for the character to perform the movements. this way you
dont run into unconsistant animation. Theres plenty of literature you can
obtain on this information. Expecially for lip syncing, we would model numerous different versions of the lips each shaped for different sounds
and time these with documented voice overs on a timeline. Very inticate
stuff, and requires lots of time and patience.
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Old June 17th, 2002, 02:51 PM   #15
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Yes yes. . .that's what I would do if I were being paid for this, or even if I were doing it for someone else. However, as this is a personal project with more than likely no reward to it, I'm going to go ghetto, and aim for passable.
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