A Tale from the Endless Stair

Stop Motion Animation

Pre-Production Production Post-Production
Main

Production

Trailer

Here's a trailer I produced. It was mainly done to test the setup to make sure everything worked OK. This was useful as I found a couple of problems with the set which I was able to iron out before continuing with the animation. There're more details on my blog here, or alternatively have a look at the set itself.

Trouble Shooting

I took a break from the animation to iron out some of the technical issues I encountered whilst doing the brief trailer, above. First off Iíve made a more secure support for the demon puppet. Iíve basically shortened the support frame I previously had so that I can clamp it to the wooden frame and adjust it as needed.

As mentioned in my blog post, I ended up ditching the set and instead took a library of stills and video. I then animated the film in front of green screen and a partial set and used chroma key to put in the background.

Shooting

Here's an 'in-progress' video of a shot before itís gone through colour correction, had the background added in etc.

The video was generated using the ístop motion movieí function on my Nikon D60. I was thinking about buying a digital SLR in order to get a better quality picture for the animation and this function swung me round to buying this particular camera. The function won't produce an HD movie unfortunately, but it will do a 640x480 AVI at a variety of frame rates. I've been using it as a reference to make sure my animation is looking OK as I go.

Once the sequence of stills are ready I copy them to my computer and do some clean up in photoshop if necessary (in this case I had to remove the support rig which is in shot, frame by frame) and then use a program called MakeAVI to string them together. The program also allows you to crop them to the desired frame size (I've been doing them as 1920x1080p) and then output them as a variety of AVI's and at a variety of different frame rates. The ability to choose different frame rates is also incredibly useful as you tend to vary the frame rate in stop motion animation depending on the frame rate. If memory serves, one of the books I have advises using slower frame rates for slow shots and higher frame rates for faster shots or camera moves to avoid 'jitter' as the camera pans.

This has been a huge help as previously I would drop the .jpgs into an editing program and line them up frame by frame by hand. It used to take ages! A big thanks to Dream Sorcerer for letting me know about it!

Overall the actual animation took something like 6-7 weeks to complete which was much faster than the time it took to complete Real 10 which took something like 6 months to build everything then another 6 months to animate!

Here's a sped up video of me doing some of the animation plus some completed shots. I left my camcorder recording as I worked then sped up the 40+ minute video *several* times.

You may notice I keep having to fiddle with the clamp which holds the support in place below the set. This is because it kept falling off and I had to hold the puppet in place while I re-attached it. Bit of a pain, but just one of those things that you have to solve as you go. I ended up screwing it to the support to get around that.

Intro Sequence

The intro sequence was done using shadow puppets which I was inspired to include after seeing an episode of The League of Gentlemen in which a character uses them. It was also handy to be able to produce some interesting shots in a very cheap and easy to do way.

Here's some test footage:

I wanted to do an intro sequence in the style of an intro from a Japanese Anime. I see alot of these at work and was always impressed by the style. This one is from Black Lagoon which I particularly liked:

I didn't exactly want to copy it, but I did like the fast paced style, the stylistic text, even the music and wanted to do something similar. Luckily I managed to find a piece of music that really fitted and the shadow puppet approach allowed me to get some interesting shots by doing such things as aiming a fan at the sheet so it fluttered as I was filming or getting handheld shots and getting the camera to white out by aiming it straight at the light. I was also able to be abit more experimental than in the main body of the story and added a large variety of different video effects to the footage to get a stylised look.

Blog

Check out my blog for step by step details on this project.