Category: How-To

  • Backup!

    World backup day is March 31st. Even though I’m writing this in July the topic seems relevant at any time and the sooner the better if you are not backing up already.

    Stopmotion, or most animation productions for that matter, are very time consuming endeavors. Even though stopmotion productions involve real puppets and sets, a huge portion of the project assets live in the digital realm. A backup plan to maintain and restore hundreds of hours worth of footage and other production content is critical. I have been exploring backup scenarios and recently used gliffy to diagram a plan. I have also been exploring crashplan as an additional backup component during active productions where new footage and files are being created regularly.

    Here is my gliffy backup plan diagram.


    The plan contains redundancy to cover failures that might occur at various levels such as device, location and time. I also added the Vimeo example as a form of backup since it allows for the publishing of high definition content (although in a compressed form). There are other network attached storage solutions, external drives and RAID solutions that I may explore further. For example, something like drobo looks like it could take the place of individual USB drives in my diagram.

  • Modular Support Rig for Puppets

    I viewed a work in progress video by Justin Rasch and Shel Wagner Rasch recently. The support rig is still visible, which is fascinating to see. What appears to be a free weight is being used for the base. I had previously been drilling holes in the floor of my sets to hold wire support rigs for my puppet animations. The free weight idea is better because it offers stability PLUS mobility, flexibility of use, and freedom of placement on the set.

    I took a trip to the used sports equipment store and got a couple of 3 pound weights. The example in the Rasch video shows the armature wire secured to the weight. That pretty much guarantees stability. However, I wanted to explore something modular to help speed up repairs if the rig wire breaks during filming. I went to the home improvement store’s plumbing section and explored a bit. I found sections of plastic threaded pipe with associated threaded caps. I uploaded 5 pictures to flickr that I took while building.

    Armature support rig

    The experiment seems to have worked. There is nothing really permanent except the twisted rig wire epoxied into one cap. If the rig wire fails I just replace the cap (which means I can have spare wire-caps ready). If the height of the rig needs to be adjusted, I can add longer or shorter sections of pipe since they come in different lengths.

    I won’t know for certain how these modular supports work until I put them to use in a future project. Many thanks to the Rasch’s for posting their work in progress which inspired this quick project.

  • VICTUAL – new animation experiment

    Watch on Vimeo

    My short experiment titled VICTUAL 1 is now online. I did the animation one evening during the week and completed the audio tracks this weekend.

    Sven Bonnichsen’s recent “mutate” project inspired me to try something quick and improvisational. I haven’t worked with clay before, but wanted to try something simple and organic with that medium.

    I built a “golden section” cage to put a clay character within. The set also has a hole in the floor to let the stick appear and interact with the character. I put the set and cage in place then spent 3 hours animating.

    After animating, I watched the footage to see what ideas it evoked.  Color grading was done in After Effects with final editing in Sony Vegas. After a round of audio work (, the project was complete.

  • RE: Pop-thru Animation Technique Posted by Sven

    Sven posted some intriguing ideas about utilizing pop-thru in a project as the actual method of animating for stopmotion. The idea appeals to me especially in terms of time. Wanting to see what it felt like to I threw my character on the stage and tried some poses and here is the result. The total time was about 30 minutes from setting the puppet in front of the camera, transfer of image files, color grading, editing, and rendering out the edited frame sequence from Vegas…in short it was fast. I have other thoughts to post about this later in the week or possibly the weekend.

    Click to view the MOV test file.

  • Camera Dolly 2008

    Recently I read some information about camera rigs and the concepts found in model railroad designs inspired me. So, I browsed the “orange” home improvement store and found some items to build a dolly over the weekend.

    All photos are on the Flickr site (click the photo to see them). You can probably get the idea from the pics without further description but post a comment if you have any particular questions and I can upate the info.


    Pros: It seems to work pretty good.

    Cons: The tripod mount is too unstable and results in camera shake. Putting the rig on a firm stand should do the trick.

    A test video is coming soon.