Hello,

I'm a stop motion animator based in Japan.

I would like to know how to make a screw hole accurately according to the position where I want the puppet to stand.

Now I use a paper cut in the shape of a foot. I put it under the puppet's foot. After removing the puppet, I drill a hole at the position of the hole of paper. 

There is very little information in Japan because the method of fixing the puppet with screws is not used very often. I would like to know what method is used in other countries.


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If you know what position the screw goes in, then you can just drill straight through the baseboard and fasten it from underneath. I use long M3 or M4 bolts with a wing nut to hold down the foot.

If you can see the holes in shot after the puppet has moved, they can be filled with plasticine the same colour as the floor.

I drill the holes before I animate.  Then I have to make the puppet foot land in the right spot.  I use a slot in the foot (and a T shaped tiedown), so it does not have to be as accurate as it does with a threaded hole in the foot.

Thanks for your comment.
But I want to know how the animator knows the exact position the screw goes in.
For example, if puppet's foot touches the ground when the puppet walks, how do animator know where is the position the screw goes in? Is animator drilling holes before puppet's foot hit the ground? Or do they know the position the screw goes in in some other way? I think animators need to know the exact position when animating with quality like Tim Burton's movies or LAIKA's movies.

Simon Tytherleigh said:

If you know what position the screw goes in, then you can just drill straight through the baseboard and fasten it from underneath. I use long M3 or M4 bolts with a wing nut to hold down the foot.

If you can see the holes in shot after the puppet has moved, they can be filled with plasticine the same colour as the floor.

Thanks for your comment.
It's also a smart way to make holes before animating.
I've never heard of the slot and a T shaped tiedown you wrote. Can you tell me more about them?

StopmoNick said:

I drill the holes before I animate.  Then I have to make the puppet foot land in the right spot.  I use a slot in the foot (and a T shaped tiedown), so it does not have to be as accurate as it does with a threaded hole in the foot.

Yes, I show how I make them in this video:



Shigeru Okada said:

Thanks for your comment.
It's also a smart way to make holes before animating.
I've never heard of the slot and a T shaped tiedown you wrote. Can you tell me more about them?

StopmoNick said:

I drill the holes before I animate.  Then I have to make the puppet foot land in the right spot.  I use a slot in the foot (and a T shaped tiedown), so it does not have to be as accurate as it does with a threaded hole in the foot.

Thank you so much for sharing the video. It's a very unique and interesting way.
As you say, there is no problem even if the position of the hole moves a few millimeters.

StopmoNick said:

Yes, I show how I make them in this video:



Shigeru Okada said:

Thanks for your comment.
It's also a smart way to make holes before animating.
I've never heard of the slot and a T shaped tiedown you wrote. Can you tell me more about them?

StopmoNick said:

I drill the holes before I animate.  Then I have to make the puppet foot land in the right spot.  I use a slot in the foot (and a T shaped tiedown), so it does not have to be as accurate as it does with a threaded hole in the foot.

You can work out the length of the puppet's stride, the time duration of the shot and where you want the starting and end points to be. If you rehearse the shot with key positions you can then mark and drill your hold down holes.

Thank you for your advice.
Certainly, if the animator does the rehearsal well, the hole position can be known before the animation. There may be exceptions, but that's the basic method.

Simon Tytherleigh said:

You can work out the length of the puppet's stride, the time duration of the shot and where you want the starting and end points to be. If you rehearse the shot with key positions you can then mark and drill your hold down holes.

You basically have the correct method by using a foot template.  Sometimes you can make a metal foot template but it is the same concept.   I have been a Laika for a short time and the other studios in Portland and as far as I can tell that is the way most have figured out to do it.

Ideally, you will have a perfect rehearsal and then repeat the steps exactly during animation, but that doesn't always happen.  A stride might be slightly longer or shorter due to whatever circumstance.  I often have to drill a new hole from rehearsal to hero pass.  If the whole is only slightly off you use a larger drill bit to widen the hole just a little or you can use the same size bit and pushing into the floor until you have a slot rather than just a hole.  

What system of tie-downs is most used in Japan? 

Hello, Adam,
That information is what I wanted to know most. Thank you so much.
For decades in Japan, the method of sticking a pin on the ground of a cork from the top of a puppet's foot has been used. Compared to tie-downs, the weakness is that the puppet's foot is not strongly fixed, but the puppets used in Japan are a little smaller than in other countries, so this is not a big problem. However, recently, the size of puppets used in Japan has increased, and tie-downs have started to be used. 
I used tie-downs for the first time with Netflix Rilakkuma. I think I know the basics of tie-downs, but I haven't seen animating with tie-downs in any other country, so I would love to know if there is a better way than my own.

Thanks for the info on the Japanese cork and pin method.  

My favorite way for tie downs is to use a piece of threaded rod and attach it to the puppets foot, insert the rod into the hole in the stage and use a knurled nut or wing nut from under the stage.  It is much more efficient than inserting the bolt or threaded rod from underneath and will save you from back fatigue. 

Having the threaded rod just longer than the thickness of the stage speed things up as well.  You only have to twist the wing nut a few turns.  If the tie down is long you spend time spinning and spinning all the while with your back in an awkward position.

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