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I'm gearing up to start a year and a half long project in which I try to improve my stop motion skills. The last project I did, my puppet had a cardboard spool supporting her as I created the illusion of her walking. This time, I plan on trying to create my puppets so that they can support their own weight. But if they can't, I'm not sure exactly how I should go about making sure they stand 'on their own'. I know of the pin down method but I don't really understand how to do this without affecting the set. What are ways to 'pin down' puppets when they can't stand on their own? Any help would be helpful! 

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If you have access to a program like Photoshop or After Effects, then using a rig might be the way to go.

This is basically a weighted base supporting an arm that can be articulated. The end of the arm should have a piece of square brass tubing on it, that plugs into a corresponding socket piece fixed on the puppet, in the pelvis area is good. The arm should be strong enough to support the weight of the puppet. You can make one cheaply out of a '''helping hands" device, available cheaply on eBay - they have a magnifying glass and some crocodile clips for holding items for soldering. Rebuild it to have a single arm, and attach your brass tube to the end. You might need some extra weight on the base. 

Or build one from a lump of metal, e.g. a small exercise weight, and use enough twisted aluminium wire to support the puppet.

With a rig you can make your puppet run and jump as well as walk. But be warned, there's lots of work to remove the rig in post... And don't forget to take a clean plate, an empty frame, before animating.

There are great resources on this site- in the tutorials menu at the top there's the "Original Handbook" with a lot of topics covered. Here's one on tie-downs: http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/page/building-a-wire-armature-wi...

If you're dedicating a year and a half to learning stop-motion, I'd suggest learning how to use tie-downs before you get into rigging and rig removal. Tie-downs do affect the set. They will leave a trail of holes, although most of the time these holes don't really show up on camera (if your camera angle is low enough). You can also fill the holes in with clay or something.

There is another thread going right now showing T-nuts in the puppet feet for tie downs - a kind of nut made for putting into a piece of wood.  The looks like a good simple way to make tie downs. I sometimes use a flat square nut on top of the wire loop in the foot, but more often I use a T-and-Slot method with a small block of aluminium in each foot.  Takes longer to make, but quicker to line up while animating.  Here's my video on making and using tie downs:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK1tAh_kCZE   The basic idea is the same, whichever type you use.

Rigs are essential for running or jumping where both feet leave the ground, but for walking I prefer to just rely on the tie downs.  You don't get the foot that is holding the weight skating about when it is bolted into a hole in the set floor.

Thank you! I do have access to After Effects and Photoshop.

Simon Tytherleigh said:

If you have access to a program like Photoshop or After Effects, then using a rig might be the way to go.

This is basically a weighted base supporting an arm that can be articulated. The end of the arm should have a piece of square brass tubing on it, that plugs into a corresponding socket piece fixed on the puppet, in the pelvis area is good. The arm should be strong enough to support the weight of the puppet. You can make one cheaply out of a '''helping hands" device, available cheaply on eBay - they have a magnifying glass and some crocodile clips for holding items for soldering. Rebuild it to have a single arm, and attach your brass tube to the end. You might need some extra weight on the base. 

Or build one from a lump of metal, e.g. a small exercise weight, and use enough twisted aluminium wire to support the puppet.

With a rig you can make your puppet run and jump as well as walk. But be warned, there's lots of work to remove the rig in post... And don't forget to take a clean plate, an empty frame, before animating.

Thanks I'll look into these more.

Evan DeRushie said:

There are great resources on this site- in the tutorials menu at the top there's the "Original Handbook" with a lot of topics covered. Here's one on tie-downs: http://www.stopmotionanimation.com/page/building-a-wire-armature-wi...

If you're dedicating a year and a half to learning stop-motion, I'd suggest learning how to use tie-downs before you get into rigging and rig removal. Tie-downs do affect the set. They will leave a trail of holes, although most of the time these holes don't really show up on camera (if your camera angle is low enough). You can also fill the holes in with clay or something.

Thanks so much, this is super helpful.

StopmoNick said:

There is another thread going right now showing T-nuts in the puppet feet for tie downs - a kind of nut made for putting into a piece of wood.  The looks like a good simple way to make tie downs. I sometimes use a flat square nut on top of the wire loop in the foot, but more often I use a T-and-Slot method with a small block of aluminium in each foot.  Takes longer to make, but quicker to line up while animating.  Here's my video on making and using tie downs:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK1tAh_kCZE   The basic idea is the same, whichever type you use.

Rigs are essential for running or jumping where both feet leave the ground, but for walking I prefer to just rely on the tie downs.  You don't get the foot that is holding the weight skating about when it is bolted into a hole in the set floor.

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