A Tale from the Endless Stair

Stop Motion Animation Set

In-Progress Pictures Finished Pictures

This is a set which was built for my stop motion animation A Tale From the Endless Stair.

It's mainly constructed out of packaging polystyrene and wood. The idea is that the staircase stretches from Heaven to Hell. The top was digitally extended up into infinity.

Part of the film involved a WWII trench so there's also a partial set that was filled in using chroma key.

The initial intention was to animate the models in front of the set however I had a problem whereby the set was pretty much taking up my entire front room. This meant I hardly had any space to work in and as the set was raised only about 10cm above the floor I couldn’t get any low shots as the lowest my tripod could go was about 40-50cm. This meant I could only ever get shots of the puppets from above which was somewhat limiting.

I’d also encountered a problem with depth of field; basically my plan was to photograph the puppets in front of the set so I didn’t have to worry about green screen, however the models appeared as though they were only a few feet in front of the set. This is because they were ; the puppet and set were both built 1/6th scale, so if they were full size they’d be a couple of hundred meters apart, however the camera isn’t fooled in the same way as the human eye and the effect was that they appeared as though they were very close together. You can see this in this short trailer I produced:

In miniature photography, smoke is often added to help with depth of field, this wouldn’t work in my case however as the smoke would not look convincing when photographed for stop motion animation - it would move and disperse and so the end result would appear to flicker as the smoke moved between photographs. In order to get around this problem I decided to photograph the set separately and then use green screen to composite in the puppets at a later date. This meant I could dismantle the sets and actually get my flat back!

In the below pic I’ve used photoshop to extend the sets beyond where they oiginally ended and also to add artificial blurring to elements that are further away. This lets me fake the depth of field effect. I can also then blur the background elements seperately whilst keeping the puppets in focus.