Bringing the character to life

As I started working on my animated stop frame character, I realised the small and slight movements that make the character appear more life like in moving between scenes and less focused on just timing out a planned movement, or in-betweening each scene. 
This gave me in someways a quicker way of working through the seconds of the animation, in taking each shot in how it appeared naturally.

Starting with the garden scene, I felt was best, as this was a good way for me to adapt to the animated challenges. Such as the interaction between the two characters, making the dog and child appear to walk and react with each other. Was difficult as some of the movements could become in sinc with one character but appear jittery on the other. After a few attempts I became more relaxed in using the two characters and therefore easier to understand, being less focused on any of the individual movements. 


accidents happen

Animating in frame by frame animation had its benefits in being able to quickly place out the movements of the character at ease  and once i got into the tempo of that way of working i could get 2 secs done in a few hours. Which would take much longer on a computer system.
However, it did have its draw backs as it could be quick moving the puppet into the poses i wanted but often allowed me to make other un noticed errors. I realised like accidentally photographing my hand, needles or perhaps even the lens case as i could become pre-occupied in getting the right pose.

Even though i tried to re work these in photoshop the reality that re-shoting them might be the best route but lesson learnt is to watch out for mistakes. 


Dragon frame testing

Over the past few days alongside setting up for the animation scene, I also had to work out how to run the Dragon Frame software for taking the shots and time timing the poses to match.
I like learning new softwares or formats to work on .

Learning all the buttons and shortcut keys takes a while to get used to > note taking

But once I got the hang of the use of onion skinning, between positioning shots it was easier to quickly take shots of all the various movements of my character.

Here are a few giff animated example using the shots taken in dragon frame.


lights camera ..setup

each shot had to remain consistent so figuring out a set settings i would take the photos at for my animation was important as well as the file size i should ideally work to not saving it as too largess impossible to edit or too small so impossible to enlarge or display with out a fuzzy result.

I eventually decided on a settings or a medium resolution in camera quality and a 16:9 ratio which seamed to be the common preferred settings for the use in festivals and a quality slightly above h264 resolution  

here are some tester shots whilst learning the settings on dragon frame

Working on the setup

After building up my characters and the the props of the backdrop I started to put the actual pieces into place and to see how the composition  worked with my characters and the painted scenery.

Initially I propped them up to get a idea with tape leaning the tree silhouette against the walls, before settling on positioning and glue gunning the walls together in attaching supports and pins for the trees. 

Even when the trees where fixed into place I still felt there could be more added to the environment so I hand painted on some card a grass like texture which I cut out and individually pinned into place where i felt there was need for foliage.


Creating scenery

After creating my stop motion characters I now had to build the set for them to be filmed in there where two sets for my storyline one being the classroom the other being the garden.
Where the boy interacts with his pet dog i had done some earlier drawings of what I wanted it to look like ruffly in developing my concept of being a yard or garden fenced in with lots of greenery and a peaceful an slightly magical place.

I also wanted the foliage not to be 3d, but flat framing the characters and not overpowering them similar to my reference of earlier paddington style of animation.This way I could build-up a ornate illustration on the flat face of the cutouts to keep with my illustration style and to add a bit of magic to the set.

Using the guidelines of the cut out drawings i had worked on earlier. I then individually cut out these details with a electric saw to matchup as closely as possible with my initial shape.

Then bringing them to life with acrylic paint which gradually brought these flat pieces to life.
thankfully my past experience of painting scenery and murals in acrylic made this a bit more in my comfort zone.

Even in creating the opening door to the garden i added details like brick work drawing this out in a paint pen in a mismatch pattern added to environment an effect of being handed crafted .

Prepping the characters

After making my characters from scratch in the previous week this week I spent testing out there scale with drawing out cut outs of the garden environment an getting idea of the ideal size of the set.

I also wanted to test out how my characters would eventally  look like when the facial details where  added digitally
adding facial detail tester using masks on after effects.