Sunday, 5 June 2011

Animating the Puppet... Ooo eck!

I had a bit of a disaster with my puppet this week, as I was testing out the limbs (exactly what Ann told us not to do... I couldn't help it!) one of the arms snapped off at the shoulder and the wire connecting the thighs to the pelvis felt pretty loose. Stupidly I had glued her clothes together rather than making them detachable, so I had to cut them apart to get to the armature. I have now learnt a valuable lesson... don't use too much araldite glue, because it is a nightmare to prise off if you need to replace a limb on an armature! In the end I had to make new forearms because I couldn't pull the broken wire out of the old ones, and I also had to make new holes in the pelvis so that I could re-attatch the legs with a stronger piece of twisted wire. This resulted in the puppet looking rather bow-legged with extrememly masculine shoulders, which looked quite bizarre underneath the clothes that I had now repaired.

Once the puppet had been fixed, I brought her into uni and with our tutor Georg's help we set up a camera that was linked to a computer with the programme 'stop motion pro' installed on it, and positioned my puppet on the special stop-motion metal stage. The stage itself has hundreds of little holes all over it, which are used to secure puppets during animating so that they wont fall over. You can simply use strong magnets to get puppets upright, but Ann advised us to attach small nuts to both feet on the toes and the heel so that we could use tie-downs to really secure the puppet to the stage.

Once I had everything set up, I began to attempt animating my puppet doing really simple movements. At first I tried not to move her feet and focus on just the upper body movement. So I started by animating a simple wave, then I made the puppet blow a kiss and take a bow, and at the same time experimenting with the different eyes that I made for her to change expressions. When watching the animtion play back it looked so clunky and the timing was off, and me being naturally clumsy didn't help because I knocked the camera a few times which made the footage jump.

Once I had experimented with animating the upper body, I attempted to have a go at moving the puppets feet and legs (using the tie-down method made it difficult to achieve flowing movements because you have to keep unattatching each foot from the bolt and screw them back down in a new position.) I tried making her lean from one knee to the other with her hands on her hips to experiment with trying to represent a shift in weight, and then tried to make her do a little wiggle with her hips at the end. Both of these looked terrible when I played them back, because her movement is so clunky and jumpy and it isn't clear what she is doing (the part where she's meant to be wiggling her hips looks like she is suffering from a painful trapped nerve!) But although the animation looks pretty awful, I am Kind of happy with the results because I've never tried stop-motion before and I really enjoyed having a go at animating my little puppet! To make the most of the multiple eyes that I made for her, I then animated a close-up short scene where my puppet reads a little newspaper that I quickly made out of card, and animated her moving her head and eyes as she 'reads' the text and turns the page. I think this little animation is the most succesful because it doesn't involve complicated moves, and the eyes work really well as he puppet is reading. If I get time during this week before our deadline, I would like to have another go at animating my puppet again... though I'm not sure how much longer she will last, her legs and arms are feeling wobbly again! Here is the animation clip... please don't laugh too much :P

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