December 8, 2014

Stop motion set fabrication class review

For my "partner in crime" in this class, Soha who has unfortunately been under the weather, which always sucks.Ii have been sick myself and not feeling up to the high standards I aim to keep. I know she regrets missing the class as much as we miss having her participation. Also to the the rest of my beloved students in hopes it helps remind them in some part of all the things we covered since we were without equipment to film the process for future reference. Also, as always my blog is for anyone and everyone out there who loves to learn more about the stuff I am so passionate about. So on with the show….
First I gave a general overview of the lecture. We discussed how to set up the table before and set up the camera and choose lenses we begin construction of the set pieces. The most important thing is to have a space and table that doesn't move. A good animation table is steel and sandbagged to fastened to the floor. You can top any table with a 4 X 4 piece of 1 nice plywood raised and fattened to 2 X4's. You can drill thru your table directly and skip building the platform if you can reach underneath and drill thru it to attach your tie down screws.  Remember when planning, framing the shot and building your set to try and best match your storyboard plans.
You probably have a lot of the tools you need for this portion but there a re a few good things you'll definitely need when working with the various materials such as rigid or floral foam. I got my folding japanese Dozuki from Lee Valley. Its a dangerous store to go into if you one tools as much as me, they have a great online service where your an order first then go in quick to pick up and get out before you break the bank. Have a good knife and scissors and a bunch of tools you've already been using for other projects in the class. Set building and fabrication is a huge subject and really depends on your goals but I attempted to cover some blanket techniques that are useful to everyone no matter what their end scene may be.
first we used cheap materials like foam core and cardboard to block out the elements and to see what scale they may be for their placement and how they look on camera. I can't emphasize the importance of preplanning. It'll save you time and money so don't skip this step.  I explained the idea of constructing islands as they are extremely versatile. The basics are make them on a surface like wood that can eventually be fastened to the table, yet they can be moved around and used to cheat shots since they are mobile. You can use a variety of materials like rigid foam, wood, papier mache, clay, plasticine etc to build them. Fasten them to the wood base for greater stability.
After a demo and giving the students some time to build elements we moved onto the next section which is to paint and texture their creations. This is one of my favourite steps and really adds to the quality and realism of the set elements. You need to know your products so that you can get the look that you want and so that the surfaces stick and hold up to the rigours of shooting. On the board are the steps we followed throughout the hands on demonstrations of various set piece examples.
These are the main products I use and they really aren't that expensive. To the far left is my new favourite spray adhesive by 3M, I picked it up at home depot and it is far superior and much cheaper than the stuff one can get at art supply stores. Then glue, and any glue from the cheap white glue to modge podge and/or wood glue is fine. I have my satin or matte medium from Golden for sealing and applying pigments. Pure pigments from pro tints. They are expensive but go a long way. You can also use any other paints you are comfortable with, like acrylic but you need to know the process and how to ensure they adhere t the many materials you may be using on your set construction. Some effect finishes to the right which patina silver and then baby powder or other release or anti tacking material.
this was a quick example I demonstrated with. carved foam with dollar store stir sticks, some paint effects after giving everything a hard sealing coat made with white glue mixed with water. The sphagnum moss and flocking give it an aged look. I did some splatter paint and marbling effect as well as dragged some halloween spider webbing across the gate.
Here are some other examples I used, a foam core silhouette piece to get the proper size for creating set pieces though arguable this can be used in the far background of a shot if need be. I created a fence piece with dollar store stir sticks and floral wire. The fun fur was an example of how to adhere it to the foam and stain it quickly for a more realistic grass look. I would recommend tan fun fur instead of the scrap of bright green, as the roots of it after painting will resemble dirt and look more natural on camera. We will continue with more examples for foliage, and how to cast and set up the backdrop and more when we reconvene for next weeks class. Ciao for now :D

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