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I thought it might be worth showing you my tiedown idea. Not yet used in anger, so I do need to test it thoroughly but...

I got so fed up with struggling to get a tiedown threaded into the nut on the foot, reaching across the set to stop the puppet toppling over (brushing against bits of set), and under the set to do the screwing (mostly blind), that I thought there had to be a better way. I haven't gone down your route, Nick, with the T system, and to do so now would involve a lot of rebuilding of feet, but I can see the massive advantages of what you have done.

Most of my puppets' feet have M4 T nuts in them. And I recalled that the E European method for tiedowns is just to pin through the foot from the top (using styrofoam as a baseboard, I think). But I didn't want to have to rebuild the set...

So here's a sort of combination of the two: Using a 50mm long M3 screw (with the head ground down a bit to enable it to be concealed inside a shoe) I poke the screw down from the top, which holds the puppet just enough so I can go underneath and grab the screw. Puppet is now secure and doesn't need a hand on top. Then I slide a 3D printed collar on to the screw and tighten it.

here's a picture. I think I need to lengthen the collar a bit to bring the screw more clear of the underside of the baseboard, and a big head on the locking screw would make it easier, but tests show it works. It may also be good for allowing a loose hold so the foot can be at a little bit of an angle.

Any obvious drawbacks?

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I was going to explain my thoughts on this but it's too complex.. I follow the issue here.. even got me thinking on a solution.. the idea you came up with so far Simon looks great.. you can send me some if you want. .I don't mind paying.. try them out and I let you know.. I hate tie downs myself.. they are not ideal.. alot of it is to do with not being able to see what your doing undersneath, it's an access issue.. I like the idea that you got Nick of screwing from above.. maybe they got it right with the pins then.. like the cat in Coraline right was done that way.. if the puppet is light enough and we not too heavy handed animating, then that could work nicely, less complicated, less mess. cleaner way to work..  no need for all this extra stuff.. I do like the idea of using the rig more.. I should be practicing with that, I haven't used it in a while.. I was thinking though what we need is some kind of like a quick grip idea.. you know those g-clamp quick grip.  that sort of idea for attaching onto the bolt coming down through the set.. from the foot.. we need a clamp more than a screw / wing nut.. I don't know if I explained that properly and I think Nick you mentioned something that maybe same is it.. 

ok what about a rig from below the set then.. is that even possible... taking the idea of rigging the puppet like you normally would through the hip or the back or whatever but instead rigging it from the foot under the set.. and a platform underneath the seat to hold the rig.. ideally this would be mechanised.. like the ones for the camera same idea.. so you would move this rig in small increments from underneath.. and you would have to design the floor set with your path of action laid out so the rig that's attached to the foot has complete freedom to move the puppet through that space as long as the camera can't see that angle where the gap is in the floor, but there's ways you can cover that over anyway right.. maybe something like the idea of the slit in the foot which hides the screw, could that be done on the floor to hide the point where the rig attaches into the foot.. or be perfect if you could rig it staight into his pelvis from the floor more solid but then we back to having to remove the rig then right so that's probably not going to work.. I'm thinking composition is my friend now lol.. so many issues isn't there. this is fun trying to bang your head in over trying to solve these issues.. 

If the biggest issues or the real deal breaker here with tie downs approach are the fact that you have to thumble around underneath the set, not being able to see what your doing, the ergonomics issues alone here is taxing on the body, back, neck, knees, all that bending, it is definitely awkward to say the least, even worst in the dark, trying to screw the SMALL wing nut onto the threaded rod..  it's all an ACCESS issue really right.. whichever way you look at it.. it's a shame the magnet approach didn't work out.. that would have been ideal...

just a thought.. you know the Mocco camera, the fact that movies are all heading in that direction.. automation of tracking, doesn't that tell us that we need to have a similar setup for the puppet itself.. so we need to free the puppet from the ground.. hence tie downs no matter how advanced they are, are not going to be the future of stopmotion.. maybe we do need a solid device.. where we can stabilise the puppet to like a Mocco camera arm-rig and plan out and automate it's movements through space.. so we need to change the way we think of the set itself.. instead of seeing it as the point at which the puppet has to be fixed and bolted down.. perhaps we need to have a Mocco rig for the puppet... is that what I'm trying to say.. crazy idea or what?? 

Personally, I find using any rig while having feet on the ground as well is really difficult, I find the rig and tiedowns seem to fight each other.  A rig for flying up in the air is fine.  I prefer the movement to follow on from the foot tied down to the ground, it just seems to flow naturally that way - the leg pushes off and the body follows. I only use a rig for a run and jump when I have to.  So I would not go with a rig on a track for a walk, that makes the forward motion of the body lead, and the feet have to keep up with that.  

I tried to make my Cyclops run in place with no ground (against green screen) for my Harryhausen100 tribute, and it looked fine until I keyed it onto the background and moved it across the frame. Then I found that if the forward motion was smooth, the feet skated all over the place, and sometimes went below or above ground level.  If I kept the foot in one place for all the frames it was on the ground, the body's forward motion was uneven, and not keeping the momentum.  So clearly I needed a bit of ground to locate the feet on, and either move the ground back a measured amount each frame, or track the puppet forward, and keep the foot tied down when it was supposed to be taking the weight.  Even if the whole puppet is not supported by the foot, it still needs to be at least pinned to the ground.  So given the choice, I would free the puppet from the rig, not from the ground, except when both feet leave the ground and I have no choice.  

The one exception to my problem with using both tiedowns and a rig, was when I had a rig that helped take the weight of a heavy puppet, but freely slid or rolled along after the puppet, so the walking action of the legs drove the movement.  That worked ok for me. 

I agree with you Nick.. thanks for sharing your thoughts.. 

Well, I did a shot using the tiedowns.... and they worked pretty well. I had to file the thread on the 50mm bolts down and round over the ends to make it easier to get them through the feet. And they were a bit awkward to remove at the point the foot leaves the ground, as the leg gets in the way.

But working underneath the table went very well. I could just about hold the top of the protruding bolt while sliding the tiedown onto it (pliers would be better) and tightening with the thumbscrew was easy. Once the tiedown was on the bolt and the puppet wasn't going to fall over and pull it out again, I could adjust it a bit and slide it further up the bolt. There is enough thread in the two side thumbscrews to exert plenty of downwards pull to lock the foot in position, and I like the fact that I can adjust them for a looser hold as well.

So I am fairly pleased, and will continue to use them. 

On the rigging issue, I would agree that rigs and tiedowns seem to create problems with each other. I used an overhead rig for a female puppet with a long dress, where I simply couldn't get in to hold the foot. I actually mounted her feet on 'skis' that protruded out of the back of the dress, but as I was supporting her with a rig I just used these to create the effect of moving knees.

Ah yes, I remember now that you say it, when the trailing foot is ready to lift off the ground, the leg is angled over it and it was hard to get to the screw with the screwdriver to remove it.

The dress with "skis" to move the feet sound like an ingenious solution!   I would consider a block hidden under the dress that could simply slide along, With a screw to raise and lower the upper body a little if I was being really fancy, but adding that knee action would definitely make it look more like a walk.  

I found this to be the most interesting thread ever!!! Very nice to realize that we all are trying to figure out solutions to the same problems.

Here are some of mine. I thought at some point to use surgery needles with thread that can be pulled out backwards, but didn't find a handy quick release to tighten the string. Another thing I tried was a homemade spring nut. But it wasn't strong enough. I think that a mechanism like the cymbal quick release nut could be made to work. You would need a longer nut grip to give enough spanning tension on a M3. 

Share you thoughts - I really like the brainstorming here!! 

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