Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why you should never leave alcoholic beverages in your animation studio....

Last month I planned to make an animation for the 'soundbite challenge' on (the online hub of all things stop-motion) where the aim was to make an animation to fit a 30 second piece of rock music. Unfortunately due to a whole host of events conspiring against me, I never got round to it. I did manage to set the puppets up for the shoot a few weeks ago, I just didn't have time to animate them. The intention was to animate all the monster puppets from my previous animations getting drunk and partying together.

Well, today I am putting all the puppets away and dismantling the set to build new one, so I thought I'd take a few photos of the drunken troublemakers before their booze was taken away and they were put way in a box for the forseeable future:

I apologise for the rudeness of that woolly purple monster - I assure you I had nothing to do with it!
The bottom photo is the box that the hungover monsters will call home for the next few months. I feel rather bad really, taking them out of their natural habitat whilst they were intoxicated and shutting them in a box without any asprin.
To anyone who is worrying about the quantity of hideous coloured liqueurs we own, please note that we may own them, but we don't actually drink them! All these bottles are all almost full, old and dusty (some are well past the 'best before' date) and were given to us over the years, probably by people who were desperate to get rid of them. People also keep buying Jack Daniels as gifts for Daz, despite the fact he hates the stuff... he just must look like a Jack Daniels drinker.
Now on with building my new set...

Monday, August 18, 2008

New woolly monster puppets

Woohoo! I'm back in action after a week incapacitated by back pain. I managed to put my back out whilst I was asleep (no, I don't understand it either) and spent days unable to do anything but sit upright and perfectly still or lie flat and perfectly still - really useful. Thankfully I am now feeling much better although still a little delicate. It's slowed down my schedule a lot though, which is a shame.

Here are the two puppets for my next animation. Unfortunately Steeee isn't going to be able to write a script for me due to being a very busy man (no seriously, I don't know when he finds time to sleep). I have come up with an ingenious idea for the script (or lack thereof) myself. It will all become apparent when you see the animation...

Anyway, puppets:

Woolly monsters - my speciality. They are hand crocheted and have wire armatures. The purple one is made from a purple acrylic yarn crocheted together with magenta mohair so it has a fuzzy surface. The nature of fuzzy surfaces when animated is going to be used as a feature in this monster. The blue details are a mixture of acrylic and fuzzy polyester yarn. The green monster is a combination of bright green and mustard coloured acrylic yarns and a grassy green acrylic wool blend. The eyes are made of uncovered white plastic self-cover buttons (the ones that are designed to be covered with fabric) and the locking disks on the back of them can be used to secure the eyes in place. The pupils are black buttons attached with white-tack so they can be moved around. I have not made the replacement mouths yet, but they will be felt donut mouths.

Here are some photos of how they were made. First I crocheted the skin of the monsters. I find it easiest to make the skin first, then make the armature to fit. Each monster was crocheted as four sections: the head/body, a trouser shaped section and two arms. After I'd made the skin, I placed the segments together, drew round them and made an armature from aluminium arnature wire and epoxy putty to fit the shape, leaving plenty of room for padding. I didn't add hands to the armature at this point so that I could still thread the arm wires through the skin. The feet have flange-nuts inside the epoxy putty to act as tie-downs.

I padded the armatures with polyester wadding, usually used in quilting, glued to the wire with Copydex (latex adhesive) and fixed in place with fabric strapping, usually used in first aid.

Then I 'dressed' the monsters in their skins adding extra stuffing where needed, then added hands made of epoxy putty and wire. I wrapped the wire fingers and the wire antenna in Copydex and yarn to make them thicker and rubbery. I threaded short lengths of french knitting onto the fingers and this grips to the rubbery surface to stop it sliding around. Then I finished sewing on the arms.

Now I just have to make the mouths then on to building the set - expect excessive use of LEDs, resistors and pretend alien technology...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Adventures in wholesale land

This afternoon Daz came home from work early and took me to Stax. It is a HUGE wholesale warehouse in Walkden near Manchester. You have to be a business and have a membership card to get in, and there is a £50 minimum spend, but luckily Daz has a card and had a big shopping list for work, so I just added my stuff to his bill and gave him the cash.

The place is amazing! It sells everything from powertools and every type of DIY material you can imagine to TVs and stationery, and all at a fraction of retail prices. I ended up leaving with a big assortment of goodies, including a dremel-type multitool thingy (it's not a Dremel, it's a Supatool apparently) which I have gone halves on with Daz, although it was only £12! I also got a set of drill bits, 5 packs of standard Milliput (£1.30 each, can you believe it?), two packs of superfine white Milliput (£2.50 each), some spray paint, lots of white-tack (35p a pack), a variety of types of sticky tape, packing materials and various nuts and bolts and other interesting bits and bobs.

Daz seemed to mainly be buying hundreds of pan scourers and some contraptions for making holes in tiles... something to do with building swimming pools I assume.

I've saved myself a small fortune on Milliput alone! I am now going with Daz on all his work errands to Stax.