Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Successful Failure keeps me a Smug Sailor

Two days ago I had an attempt of Moe's Foaming go slightly wrong. I didn't mix enough foam even though the mixture came out PERFECTLY! I baked it anyway to see if the foam would even come out (where the feet / head create slight pockets) aand it did! His head was hollow because of the lack of foam but I was extremely happy that the mold worked haha, phew! I saved the armature by cutting off the foam... which might be useful as body parts in some test animations.

Here is Moe with his split head - notice how it JUST creates his body form, almost no spill haha.

I went at it again when the temperature allowed; 6 AM in the morning it was 70 degrees. Unbelievable! I waited until midnight the night before last to mix some foam but it was still high 70's with humidity and I've had a lot of foam curing way too fast in those conditions to try that again. This time I mixed more foam only to be too confident with how much I had and come out with the same problem. This one however is salvage-able (is that a word?). His left lower leg is a tad hollow but I think I can bulk it up a little during the cabosil paste phase. The rest of the puppet is pretty solid and holds it's shape very well.

I'm very very very happy that I've made friends with Foam Latex - we finally see eye to eye. I'm starting to judge on the fly when to stop and move on to the next step of mixing, etc. While touching up the seams with the soldering iron I kept thinking of how terrible this smell must be for my health via Shelley's comment on the previous post. I took a couple of breaks inbetween each 10 mins or so of working just to catch some fresh air. Felt really nice! Even with a mask on the stuff just stinks while burning. It gets worse if it starts blowing into your eyes. Work with a fan or behind the wind!

I've noticed that I've done a bit too much lately and my hands are really feeling tired and sore. Actually yesterday I was just pretty flat out exhausted. This heat doesn't help either.

I was going to do another armature / foaming right before posting this but I feel like I should take a day or two off and just read up about lighting. I'd like to dodge the whole 500 watt bulb scenario and go with the 30-150 range. I have lights saved from Live Action experiments just incase I need a big powerful light but I'm hoping a long fluorescent tube will be all I need as far as big lights go. My father and I will try to recreate some of Nick Hilligoss' "cheap lights" and maybe purchase a pair of small Par Can lights as pinspots and barn yard window them up with cinefoil. Another project for father and son to work on :)

Hope Nick doesn't mind me stealing and posting his picture here!

I'll take 2 days or so to touch Moe up with paint - get some rest and try to do a few animation tests. It's amazing how just a small little flappy wire in his mouth changes the animation game. I've got my entire camera setup tested and working. I was really worried about the video assist but a little bit of black tape keeps the cam pretty stable on the viewfinder. The picture quality isn't the best but it's great for a video assist. I should have taken a snap and posted it - maybe next time. Finally got all that mumbo jumbo out of the way.

I'm finally moving out of the technical stuff and stepping my way into the fun stuff. For Stop Motion Magic's challenge (a tribute to Star Wars) I was just going to put a lightsaber in Moe's hands and let him loose. As I was drawing the sketch...

All that stuff at the bottom was me goofing around for halfland sea creatures for Shelley's film haha. I'm not the most creative guy :P I wanted to make a creature based on a play on words like "Singray" or "Key Serpent". After 5 minutes I saw how sucky of an idea that was - just look at those drawings haha. I realized there sort of is one already made "SeaLion"

I thought the design was pretty cute but I had no idea how to go about making a puppet like that with the flowing mane and all. So I left it at that and I messed around further with Moe:

I know its hard to see but I like this picture of Moe:

It's probably the closest to what I had originally planned for him to look. Again it's not amazing but I truly shock myself sometimes - the fact that my drawing looks like an actual person haha. If you saw my drawings as a kid you might have this urge to throw up just a little bit. They were hideous. In anycase I'm looking forward to finally animating this sucker.

And speaking of animating this sucker... Dragon Stop Motion is expanding to the PC market. A huge jump for PC users doing stop mo. This is just terrible news for me as I've always loved this program and have fought off purchasing such because it was never available for me. AND THEN THEY GO AND DO THIS. How dare they. My wallet...

So I requested a trial hah and they've sent it to my mailbox which I'll activate as soon as Moe is painted. Realizing that I was instantly ready to drop 250 dollars on a stop motion program really got me thinking about being so new to this and going too far with it. I haven't done nearly enough testing and practice and I'm looking at these lights / rigs / programs as if they were new cars. In the end I'll probably get it - but not until I've done some extensive testing to the point where I can call myself a stop motion animator. That'll be awhile. To top it off I've even discussed taking over my brother's detached garage (like a seperate giant toolshed now) to use as my very own stop motion studio. The space is great - the room is easy to get pitch black and it's seperate from the house so I can be a little noisy if I chose and have a little privacy.

I keep thinking... this is either going to be a giant success or..

a giant success. :)

UPDATE: Today I just saw this Par Can 46 Package (comes with lamp / clamp / safety cord / 4 gels) on ebay for only 11 dollars! The shipping of course cost more than the darn thing itself - total was 27 bucks which I thought was a steal. The lamp is 200w and requires no assembly - just find a place to hang it and plug it in. I really want the Par Can 16s or 20s to use as pinspots but I really need to test the waters first. I can buy 100w halogen bulbs for the worklights I have and force it out of a hole to emulate a spotlight... possibly.

I've been reading Mike's ( site and blog with all these lighting posts as well as the threads he made at TONS of information that I couldn't soak all in one day. There's fingers and dots and all sorts of body parts I couldn't wrap my head around. The hard part is I have no goal in what kind of lighting I'm aiming for right now. I don't have a set - just a puppet in front of a wall. So I think it's best for me to try a light or two and figure out what I need first.

My dad is able to do Nick's low voltage light kit setup, apparently it is "SO SIMPLE" according to my daddio. "You just do that and plug that in and done" Haha.

I may try doing one light with the kit just to see how its all done up close... and how a 30w bulb fares with the overall lighting. You guys know how amazing Nick's stuff always looks :) He's doing 'something' right!


  1. Oh, Tony! I'd love that sea lion! How about I send you some wool roving in a mane color to use for it? But it shouldn't be a full hard-to make puppet, is there a simple way you could make a little puppet? Wire inside, cut foam body, paint? Anything?

    Thanks for think of ideas, they're good!

    And congratulations on that foam cast, I think that's fantastic!

    When you and your dad are done with your lights, can you send him over here please!? You're so LUCKY to have him!

  2. Tony, I did now Dragon posted its beta version for windows. Great News!! I already bought Animator DV last month. If I didnt buy that, I would have considered buying Dragon too.

    Great progress on making puppets. Keep going !!

    Lighting.. yeah so much to do when working on the first film. I will also think about lighting when go back home.

  3. I meant "I did not know Dragon posted..." :) Sorry for the typo.

  4. Keep up the good work man. :)

  5. I think I can whip that sea lion up with stuff around here but I'd really like that mane to be able to wave back and forth like a fish fin :D

    You could always give Dragon Stop Motion a try Yaz! You can request a beta from their site - free trial never hurt anyone!

    and Good luck with the tourney Leo.

  6. Tony, I have already paid $150 for animator dv. It is better not to try Dragon now.. I know that Dragon is such a nice stopmo software and I dont want to regret buying Animator DV :(

    Your dad is going to make Nick's light kit setup.. Could you please ask him to come to Turkey after Shelley's :)