We are back! We have been away touring to Gladstone and teaching clay animation to some amazingly talented young people. The showcase of animations that participants in our workshops created in just 8 hours was shown at the Gladstone Entertainment Centre to a huge audience on Friday night and they were amazing! But we have now returned and here is the next instalment of our blog!
So where were we… oh yes…
Concept…check. Storyboard…check. Character…check. Background…check. Now what?
Now you need to set up your equipment. Don’t worry. You don’t need lots of gear OR lots of money. We have ways around that!! Before you begin we would like to suggest that all technology resources and powered equipment is best used with adult supervision. This is for your safely of course! You need to be very careful when hooking up equipment to electricity.
The way we do it is to set up a camera on a tripod. This will act as your lens.
We use a digital video camera of broadcast quality but really any digital camera will do. We connect this to our laptop or computer with a fire wire cable. On the laptop we use a program called Stop Motion Pro. This is the program commonly used within the industry (they use it to film Wallace and Gromit!) and a free trial of this program can be downloaded from their website www.stopmotionpro.com
There are of course HEAPS of other programs out there but this is the one that we have found works well for us!
What else do you need to consider?
We also generally like to use a room with curtains or blinds and then use lights to create a consistent shooting environment, otherwise if you film in natural light you get shots that are all differently lit. We generally use mini par cans on a T bar (you can see them in the image above). But you can simply use desk lamps like we are in the image below!
With lighting there are many special effects that can be created with gels (filters that change the colour and intensity of the light). Experiment and see what sort of creative lighting effects you can create!
Basically you now have your stage setup with your background, your characters and other objects placed on the background (or to the side if that is where they will enter the frame), the camera, the tripod, the laptop or computer and the lights… what now….
You basically need to take a shot. Then you will move the characters just the slightest amount. Then you take another shot. Then you move your characters again…
The reason that Chicken Run took four years to make was that for every one second of animation, they took 24 still shots and only moved the characters one or two millimetres each shot! Now we are not suggesting that you go to those lengths! (Although we did warn you that you needed to be patient if you were to explore clay animation!) The less you move your character each shot the better. For the demo animations that we film in our workshop we move our characters two to four centimetres each shot and then we play the videos back at a rate of two frames per second. That is why there is a jumpy effect (like the flicker books we mentioned in our first blog). But a great result can still be achieved despite the low frame rate as long as you have original, innovative ideas and you spend the time to create a unique character that will withstand the rigours of animation. Our next post is going to wrap up the series with some handy hints and what to do with your animation when you’ve finished so stay tuned.
Bye for now,
Fiona and Grant