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Old December 4th, 2005, 04:06 PM   #1
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A King Kong animated short

My friend and I whipped up a stop-motion King Kong short for this contest:

http://www.aintitcool.com/display.cgi?id=21869

I'm very happy with it and wanted to share (and it was shot with a GL-2 so I figured it was okay to post it). Here's the link:

http://www.zirk.brickfilms.com/KKvsA.mov (Quicktime, 9.2MB, Sorenson 3 video, MPEG-4 audio)

It's not a Lego animation, if anyone's concerned. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!


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Old December 9th, 2005, 12:05 PM   #2
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...and we won first prize. Yay for us!


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Old December 9th, 2005, 01:42 PM   #3
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Wow! That was extremely well done. I noticed you kept different events on their own "timelines," like the toes starting to wiggle before he smiles, and so on.

Great job, keep it up!

How the heck did you do that? The camera motion in the very beginning seems like it'd be very hard to do.
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Old December 9th, 2005, 02:41 PM   #4
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awesome! loved the water and POV... thats a keeper :)
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Old December 10th, 2005, 03:09 PM   #5
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Thanks for the nice responses, guys.

All of the POV motion was done with a geared head, animated in small increments just like the puppets. The camera and Kong arms were both mounted on top of it.


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Old December 10th, 2005, 03:31 PM   #6
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How'd you do the shots of the... cephalopod (I can't remember its name, LOL) tumbling through the air?
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Old December 10th, 2005, 04:25 PM   #7
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Both the full size Aquadrillicus and the miniature (even the Kong arms in a few spots) were held up with fishing line.

As it flies toward the tree a vertical line bears the weight while a horizontal line (both rigged to the same C-stand) stablizes the swinging. Once it hit the tree I used only the vertical line to hold it up; it could be positioned by leaning/hooking/mashing it against the palm tree and underbrush.


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Old December 10th, 2005, 08:45 PM   #8
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You have just got to put up some stills of the set and behind-the-scenes. :)
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Old December 11th, 2005, 03:35 PM   #9
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Some behind-the-scenes stuff

I didn't document the work thoroughly because of the tight timeline (we found out about the two-week contest after a week had already gone by) and I doubted anyone would ever see it - but because the host indicated he might need "proof" I thought it prudent to record something. I ramble in the videos and often move the camera around too fast but I was pretty worked up and in a hurry. I hope it's interesting anyway.


I shot it in my currently-ungoing-remodelling studio at home. Here's two photos of the setup:

http://www.zirk.brickfilms.com/KongSet1.jpg

The head & torso Kong sits under the plastic while the arms-only Kong is attached to the camera above. His partial feet sit just on the edge of the 'pool' and just to the right you can see the miniature plasticine quadrobeast. The full-size Aquadrillicus waits in the wings. This was just before I started shooting.

http://www.zirk.brickfilms.com/KongSet2.jpg

Partway through the shoot. Since we don't see the water again after Kong lifts his head I disassembled it (thankfully it didn't affect the lighting to any great degree) and moved the reflection Kong so I had access to the other side of the set without having to crawl under the tables.

You can see the fishing line helping to support the arm. The shirts on milk crates where the water used to be are there in case the line broke (again) and Aquadrillicus fell on his delicate, squishy face (again).

The plexiglass in front of the camera was for smearing the ink and holding the foam eyelids for blinks.

The Kong was mostly wood, steel strapping and aluminium wire covered in plasticine and fur leftover from my satyr Hallowe'en costume a few years ago. His eyes are dolls eyes, the teeth bits of Q-Tip stick.

The quadrobeast was a plastic plumbing 'L' with a steel mesh sac and steel strapping legs (twisted aluminium wire at the ends for delicate motions) padded with cotton and covered with fabric. I painted him with acrylic paint and slapped a plasticine face on it. His eyes are cat dolls eyes turned sideways.

The "before" video:
http://www.zirk.brickfilms.com/Before.mov
(I mention in here about painting the walls black... I was doing that anyway to convert the space into a stop-motion studio, not because of this contest.)

The "after" video:
http://www.zirk.brickfilms.com/After.mov


I didn't shoot anything about the sound or music but here's an exerpt from what my sound/music guy wrote elsewhere:

Jay contacted me on Wednesday evening say it had to be done for Friday (Sat, 5AM as an absolute deadline).
I had very few time, something like 48 hours to do everything (incl. lunches, sleeping, making breaks).

I started with a rough script and some pictures and a rough timeline.

On Tuesday morning, I had half of the movie and some timeline revisions.
On Friday morning, I had the movie and could work with the entire movie.

I emailed the final soundtrack to Jay Friday at... midnight !

For the music, I immediatly thought of a cartoon style, as the shortness couldn't let me to develop a theme. So I did a music inspired by the WB cartoons with no particular theme, no obvious key and time signature and a lot of chromatisms and changes in the instruments and timbres.

Since the beginning, I wanted the first notes to be a spoof of the opening Jurassic Park theme.

In order to save time, the end credits reintroduces the opening intriguing gimmick (with the double basses section).

I've worked very fast, using my dedicated audio PC with Cubase SX3.1 and the East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra Gold library, which are really fantastic tools to produce orchestral mockups.

Only those tools were used to compose the music !

For the sound FX, I've used some of my own collection (footsteps, punch) and I've recorded some extra samples : all the water sounds (done in my bathroom), the palm hit (hits on several soccer newspapers), Kong's chest beat (heavy hits on my bed), the scream of the flying squid (me following by a +1 octave pitch shifting),... using SoundForge 8, a MOTU 828mkII audio interface and my brand new pair of Oktava MK012 microphones.
I've bought the gorilla samples over Sounddogs.com (which sample quality are quite disappointing at high fees !)

All the gorilla sounds (grunts, snorts, beat, footsteps) have been heavily processed with equalisation (much more bass, less treble) and harmonization (pitch shifting) effects : that's what makes the gorilla sound terrific and scarier than a normal gorilla.

An outdoor reverb has been added on the ambient sounds (Kong's scream and chest beat, Kong's footsteps, the squid's scream and hit on the palm tree then on the ground).


Loic's contribution was, of course, immense.

That's all I've got.


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Old December 11th, 2005, 05:17 PM   #10
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Thanks, great to read about it! I checked out your site and some of your back posts. What a massive amount of work you have put into these things!! Great stuff, keep it up.
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Old December 11th, 2005, 05:51 PM   #11
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That was excellently done. Very impressive. You should submit that to some festivals and online film sites. I'm sure it would get accepted.
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Old December 28th, 2005, 12:39 AM   #12
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Man I wasn't expecting that.......... that was AWESOME!

I was impressed : )
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Old December 28th, 2005, 10:44 AM   #13
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Man, that was awesome. I appreciate the behind the scenes. I loved seeing your miniatures. Now I want to do one.

What did you shoot it with? Was it a still camera?
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Old December 29th, 2005, 01:42 PM   #14
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I glad that people are still finding this and liking it. Thanks for the nice comments.

It was shot with a GL-2.


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Old January 5th, 2006, 04:00 PM   #15
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Good job!
I was really impressed. The monster looked geat. I liked the touch of the pteronodon flying across the screen at the top of the shot.

What stop motion software do you use, Jay?

I'm a huge fan of stop motion- I'll be converting part of my garage to a studio this summer to give it a try myself.
For those of you who don't know, there are several fine programs out there that allow you to capture stop motion right to your harddrive via firewire. you can use a DV camera, and I think there is even some software you can use a webcam on. I use i-stop motion(for the mac).


edit: I just realized you are responsible for "The Gauntlet" as well. That is one of my favorite stop-motion shorts.
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