For my clay puppets I used Lewis' Newplast (hard, slightly dull range of colours, used by professional animators), Tallon Fun Plastic (quite soft, cheap, ok colours, aimed at kids) and Flair Plasticine (soft, good range of bright colours, aimed at kids). I used the harder Newplast to make the main bodies of the puppets, and used the softer clays for adding features and detail and building the removable mouths. In retrospect, the soft clays were a little too soft for this, especially under hot lights, and the Newplast was a little to stiff for easy movement, so in future I plan to make my puppets from Newplast and Plasticine blended together to the right consistency.
I also had to prepare my set and work area. I blocked out all natural light by taping cardboard to the windows. The set was made entirely from things I had lying around. I fixed a carpet tile to my work-table with two mini G-clamps, the rest of the set was made of a cork notice board (the frame provided the skirting board in the set) covered in coloured paper and foam letters. This was then white-tacked to the wall behind the carpet tile. I used an angle-poise lamp clamped to the table, with a 100watt daylight simulation bulb, to light the set.
The first animation did not have proper tie-downs, but for the second one I had to drill two holes through the carpet tile and table to fix the puppets feet to the set floor. I use an adjustable trestle table to work on, so I can drill as many holes in the top as I want, then just replace the sheet of wood! To fix the puppet to the table using tie-downs, I push a long M6 bolt with a wing nut on it, up through the hole in the table. I screw it into the nut in the foot of the puppet, then tighten the wing nut under the table to secure the puppet.
I used a webcam fixed to the table, my laptop and a frame-grabbing programme called Monkey Jam to shoot the animation. The first animation was shot at 24 frames-per-second (the same rate as traditional film), the second was shot at 25fps (European video rate). The set up was far from ideal, as I sometimes had to reach over the webcam to adjust the puppet which had disasterous consequences on a few occassions. In future I will attach the camera to a full sized tripod further from the set, to avoid knocking it mid-animation.