Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Episode II ... the creation of George

I am so close to the animating stage I can almost taste it on the cusp of my tongue. It tastes like epoxy glue but then I have been going a little crazy recently; surely a bit of mild solvent abuse won't matter. I have completed the main character with his medieval garments and weaponry. The only thing George needs now is a pair of hands and some lovely fabric booties.

The progress from the last couple of weeks
I have made wire hands before but usually need some advice to get it spot on. Luckily, the 'microblogging' service known as Twitter has been of good fortune to me, where a fantastic stop motion animator and photographer known as Ben Whitehouse kindly sent me a link to his Blog. His recent entry went over in great detail one of the best ways to construct armature hands. So all I need now is some god damn wire!

After posting the cunning plan of the animation table (episode I of 2012) I have actually constructed it to the letter. I just love it when a plan comes together! It has enough room for George's test animations which I plan to incorporate into the first couple of animated episodes. You will see the storyboards for these in my next blog entry.

The image above shows the basic 'table making' process of which I carried out using a powerful tool known as the Jigsaw. Even with such a gaping hole in the table top, there was still enough frame to hold the legs in place for a sturdy and safe piece of furniture.

The steel sheet fitted over the table top and can be reached under the table for the magnets to hold the armature in place.

With the animation table all set to go, I am simply waiting for the magnets to be posted and can then download the 30 day free trial of Dragonframe. I will eventually purchase the software but with anything this expensive, you clearly need a trial run. Me and my colleague Ashley Lightfoot have already been over the pros and cons of the Dragonframe software and it seems a worthy piece of awesomeness to work with.

This is the basic set for the pilot episode of George the Knight. Simplicity is the key!

As I mentioned earlier, there are only two parts of George that need finishing: the hands (as leather gloves) and some boots. Both will be of a beige colour so as to stand out from the blues and greys of the costume because I really want to accentuate the hand movements due to the fact that George only has his eyes to communicate with (no lip synch just yet!).

The hands you see on the armature above were already made and only temporarily stuck on for show. The sword and belt combo was perhaps my favourite prop to make. The belt does actually undo via a button clasp behind the super sculpy 'buckle' and as you can see, the sword can be drawn from its leather scabbard.

I have made the sword as light as possible (with a cardboard blade) so George can hold it easily

There are a couple of extra details I need to go over before I can animate. The boots will be made with fabric and segments of super sculpey for a solid base, although the puppet can stand up quite easily already. Perhaps it only needs boot 'covers' of which I can sew into the puppet's trousers.

Regarding my pillaging 'hobby' I was presented with an old dolls house for £20. What actually happened was I overheard one of the dinner ladies mention it and I whipped up the opportunity to invest in such a prop.

It is simply magnificent! Although, I am not sure of its use just yet. It is clearly not a medieval dwelling, but for such a price you can't go wrong.

So for now, I shall bid you farewell and make a couple more adjustments to George and his very simple set. My next entry will indeed show you the storyboard and the final preparations for animating the pilot episode. Long live stop motion!

For updates on my other animation project follow

Friday, 6 January 2012

Episode I ... get the ball rolling

I have now got at least five different projects to keep me busy over the course of the next year. Some can be done in a matter of days, some will obviously take months. Two have recently became of high priority due to the spontaneous enthusiasm (or sponthusiasm as I call it) and has led to mountains of ideas and quick fire development. My good friend and fellow animator Ashley Lightfoot is helping me spearhead one project which will essentially be a music video for indy pop band Los Campesinos! 

This is the current music video for the bands song 'You, Me, Dancing!' and as you can quite tell, it is already animated. I remember playing this song to Ash about six months ago and his reaction was a little hysterical; in the sense that he laughed at the chorus and screeched it at me from time to time in the animation studios. Such a silly tall man!

Anyhow, it seemed to grow on him and we both had an idea of a vague storyline that could accompany the song if we would ever consider animating for it. Today has been an epic development in our we are going to give it a bloody go!

Ash has already emailed the band and even though their reply was short and sweet (I quote 'go for it ash') it is permission none the less. So I believe my colleague and I are going to meet up in the very near future and have a few drinks and let the ideas bounce off our brilliant animated minds and hopefully storyboard something spectacular within the next month. 

Now, a project I have been working on for a while has also had a breakthrough. Not by much, but I have finally solved the problem of the wonky and temperamental helmet of my character: use better glue! And for the love of God make sure you remember the obscene smell the 2-part Epoxy has to offer. My next problem was the style I have chosen for George the Knight because I rather fancy he looks a lot like Marvin the Martian from the Looney Tunes clan. Oh well. If there is any issue with copyright I shall give George a pair of Elton John glasses and a big bushy beard.

It has been revolutionary (albeit minor compared to the progress I ought to have made) to finally get the basis for the puppet. The wire frame is done, the steel feet are ready and highly magnetic. I also have a steel sheet that will be screwed onto a customised table to form the platform to animate on.

The cunning diagram below will show you what is to be done.

I need to find myself an electric jigsaw and cut straight into this table! 

Monday, 2 January 2012

2012 Shazam!

I have just returned from what ought to be a New Years resolution, however, I have been jogging constantly for the past few months. I like to think that I can keep up more of a routine throughout 2012, but between you and me... this is highly unlikely. Perhaps this year I can simply work on my motivational skills and stop watching Lost or spend hours mulling over my determination to spend a full day sculpting (when truthfully I would dedicate a forced 45 minutes). So there we go; from typing out this paragraph I have given myself a resolution to (quote) STOP BEING LAZY (unquote).

This is what I can do if I am not distracted by the likes of Facebook or girls (I shan't divulge in the latter).

A Christmas card I painted for my Nan. I did a whole range of name plates in the same
style for the able on Christmas Day.
So on a lighter note, I do believe I have enough money to finally buy some animating software now. I have been torn between the Stop Motion Pro 7.5 software I am familiar with from working on it at University, or Dragonframe, which has been popping up with some fantastic reviews. So I shall ask around and see what feedback I can get. This means that I will be able to animate Zabrina the Zebra and generally get some more practice in (although Amazon really do have a problem with sending me the right colour plasticine - twice now they have posted 'stone' coloured Newplast instead of the white I need to finish off the puppet).

Willy Von Schmidt 

The New Year party was pretty sweet compared to most years. I was with a few mates in Nuneaton of all places (no offence, but come on!) at a sports and social club. Everyone dressed up: I was Willy Wonka, Lee was Freddie Mercury and Sam was a non convincing Fresh Prince of Bel Air. There was also an expected Smurf, David Brent from the Office, Jay from the Inbetweeners and a Jazzy Jeff.

100 awesome DC postcards
After some exceptional drinking games and dancing I tried out the Gene Wilder gambol, which ended with a painful 5 man pile-on. I was also held upside-down on my head and had beer poured into my mouth to clear up a spot of hiccups. All in all, the holiday period was better than most years. I got some really cool presents including a 'sculpt your own girlfriend' Kit, a musical tie, some sandal socks and a vintage DC comic postcards set. These were alongside the mountains of chocolate I will try not to eat as well as satsumas and nuts. Mum does it every year.

Here's an interesting find. Upon browsing the graphic novel section
in Waterstones, I discovered the true origin of Bucky O'Hare.
Is there anything Star Wars cannot offer?

One final addition to my 2012 attitude will be the introduction to Dungeons and Dragons. Now, without you all being sceptical let me persuade you to overlook the stereotypical geeky demeanour surrounding this game and check out the awesomeness that is D&D. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant to begin with but, after two sessions and the completion of my first quest, my character Lobo Vaรงade (a half elven Ranger) is now at level two and has a base attack of +5 with his composite Longbow. I have modelled Lobo from parts of a Wood Elf set and also sculpted his trademark afro. He has slain 1 crow, 1 panther and a Dwarf named Svingold.

Lobo has an irrational fear of crows 

I know a few people who play this game and now that Lobo has completed his first quest he can join up with other teams or do a solo quest to level up and improve his fighting and survival skills. I was introduced to this game via my good friend Peter Kitson and his dear brother. Coincidentally they are the stars of my random video of the month which is somewhere at the bottom of this blog post. They are also fighting in a recent Photoshop picture I edited together. They do get around!

Just something to pass the time. Pete is sporting a blue lightsaber whilst his brother Doug thrusts forward with a Lirpa

And the random video of the month is...