Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Notes from Stop Motion Craft skills for Model Animation by Susannah Shaw

Shaw Susannah, 2004, Stop Motion Craft Skills for Model Animation, Oxford, Focal Press

1 Introduction - Playing God

- animators not need only create a character but how they would sit in a whole world. They have to treat it like god - make puppet live, then perform
- 2d became 'house style that top animators can identify the rules and guiding principles in the way they worked mostly applies to puppet and model animation
- model animation has grown out of a tradition of story telling, fable or legend. Most developers found their own way of working with the material as there is no principles as there is for 2D but basic laws of movement still apply
- large traditional of puppetry in Eastern Europe had to breathe life in wooden dolls, etc and very important to the story telling process
- rotoscoping and motion capture are only used for the most complex scenes as straight forward coping makes the animation appear lifeless and loses the art and performance
- Starewitch animated a frog and began with life like movements but this didn't work so animated him caricatually and it came out better
- caricature is vital to the character design e.g. Wallace and Grommit allows a range of emotions described through the smallest movements as portrayed by Grommit's brows
- "The model animator is working in a subtler area, where the body language is employed to greater effect" (Shaw, 2004: 4)
- enough replacement models are made for the different movements
- two types of model animation evolved
1. the style that derived from fairy tale and fable
2. the model animation that derieved from Willis O' Brien = hyperrealistic
- O Brien and Ray Harryhausen both were a huge inspiration on today's model animators
- Harryhausen laid the foundations with his armatures, latex, drawing and bronze casting skills
- "His animation had a more naturalistic movement than seen before, and his animation of the skeletons in Jason and the Argonaughts is one of his most enduring sequences studied by animators." (Shaw, 2004: 5)
- Harryhausen influenced many animators including Phil Tippet who worked on Dragon Slayer, Jurassic Park and Star Wars
- model animators today tend to embrace CG as allows more freedom with fewer constraints

6. Model Makers - the Professionals

- make a 3D maquette from animator's sketches which is the blue print from which the model is formed
- sculptors have to mimic the style so models fits in costumes and sets in complete world
- at maquette stage the sculpt is made over a basic brass sleeve and wire armature so it can be disassembled
- separated elements to mould makin process: sculpting, mould making, casting, painting and armature making
- ball and socket armature is durable and reuseable and tougher than wire
- gives animator a greater control and smoother movements
- animators need to consider how may limbs a character has and aware of how it moves
- a character flying or leaping need a rig (k and s)
- if puppet is made from foam latex or silcone, a mould would be cast, allowing materials in
- textures gained from existing surfaces of old leather, almond stones, bark, leaves, etc
- under cut - a corner or curve that would be problematic when trying to release the mould
- seams - careful looking where joints come on the model
- 7 rules for moulds
1. for hard cast, use a soft mould and opposite
2. plan your under cuts
3. think ahead with seams, flashlines
4. remember to add location, keys to mould pieces
5. remember release agent
6. remember to block vents after casting
7. don't rush

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