Hey everyone I have recently revisited a short I left collecting dust a few years ago. A few months ago I took some time off from freelancing as an animator and designer in NYC to dedicate to this film. I would love any feedback and suggestions. I will be updating my facebook page with making of stills, I am finishing up puppets and getting ready to shoot! Please view my work in progress! I'm really excited to work on this and hope it furthers my career in stop motion! 


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Oooh... great sets!  Love the staircase, and the piano.  

And the potbellied stove - did you make it, or is it a bought item?  Not sure about the stove location though, with the pipe intersecting slightly with the top moulding.  I think I expect some tiles underneath, maybe a iron plate behind, something to make it look more like it belongs there.

Where did you get that miniature egg-and-dart moulding for the dado rail?

thanks for the positive feedback! Yeah the staircase and piano were the trickiest, the piano will be functioning so figuring out how the keys will be pressed down etc. 

The pot belly stove is just some trinket I found in my moms kitchen. Yeah the placement is not ideal, good idea with the tiles underneath. It does look just a bit thrown there. The moulding I found at a local arts and crafts store, very handy!

StopmoNick said:

Oooh... great sets!  Love the staircase, and the piano.  

And the potbellied stove - did you make it, or is it a bought item?  Not sure about the stove location though, with the pipe intersecting slightly with the top moulding.  I think I expect some tiles underneath, maybe a iron plate behind, something to make it look more like it belongs there.

Where did you get that miniature egg-and-dart moulding for the dado rail?

Looks great.  If you want the keys on the piano to be pushed down the easiest option might be to just hide a layer of sponge below them.

We actually discussed that very thing before - Nick said he had tried that and it results in all adjacent keys going down alongside the one being pressed. Even if you cut the foam into strips, that'll still happen - each key pretty much needs some kind of isolated spring return or a wire attached. It's a puzzler for sure.. 

a puzzler indeed! I figured the best way was to make a block that is placed under all the keys. I figured out which keys were being played and cut out slots in the block just for those. Each of these keys has an individual stopper. I will have access to the back of the piano so when it is time for a key to be moved, I will remove the block and replace it with a shorter one, then another shorter, and another. Then reverse the process until its level again. It seems a bit tedious but I think this will ensure the other keys wont be wiggling around as he is playing. thoughts? I have a photo of a test stopper i did, errrr but i dont know where I can put it on this discussion? I will add it to my photos

That sounds like a good plan! 

For uploading pics to a thread, go into the white reply box and look at the row of icons across the top of it - the 2nd one, right next to where it says Link - that's for photos (the slightly bigger and darker blue one next to it is for videos). Click on the icon and then you can choose a pic either on your computer or from a URL, and it will show up right in the post. 

One thing that occurred to me is a bunch of little springs, like from ball point pens. But they'd need to be just the right strength so the puppet's fingers can hold them down without pushing him up and off-balance or lifting his arm. Maybe wooden plugs are better. Be sure to check carefully before taking each frame - make sure the adjacent keys haven't moved slightly. That's something onionskin might be good for, though you could also tell from stepping through your saved frames to the live one. And I suppose a key jiggling slightly wouldn't be the end of the world either! 

Now you've got me puzzling about how to make working piano keys again...

A flat strip of something bendy under each key might work.  It probably wouldn't have to be spring steel, a bit of plastic would work.  The strip, would be attached to the piano at the back, behind the keys, and pivot freely with the key stuck to it's top.  Sort of a hinge with no moving parts. That would attach the key as well as providing the return springiness.  I think you could start with one piece of plastic sheet - like the vacformed bubble packaging you get on almost everything - and have it the width of the keyboard and maybe 30mm deep.  Then cut from the front, 88 times, but only halfway so it's still one piece with lots of tabs.  Stick a key to each tab and it should be good to go.  If they jam, cut a fine V between each key instead of a single cut. They don't bend that far so I don't think they would fatigue and lose their bounce in a hurry.

The only bit I don't quite visualise is the black keys - I think they need their own set of strips, higher than the others, so they can move independently.   I have no need for a model piano, and plenty of other things to make,  or I'd start playing about with it...

thanks for the feedback, yeah its really tricky with the black keys. The song calls for a few flats but I may just fake them :P I think I'm gonna try adding a strip in the back and taking it from there. I put them on a threaded rod so I could put a nut on each side to tighten the whole thing but the tighter it is the more chance the ones on the sides will slightly move with the key being pressed and the loser i make the nuts the more wobbly side to side they are.
I like the stair case shot. The only thing which detracts from it is the bannister joint. The first pic is very nice except for where the walls join, it looks like there is blue fuzz growing out of the wall! I think you should pay more attention to these kinds of details because overall the quality of the sets is excellent, and small flubs like these appear larger because of the quality of everything else.
thanks for the feedback, yeah i tried to add some grit to the walls give it some texture but it went a little out of control. normally I would just control Z but its a bit harder in real life! I guess I could just put a thin piece of wallpaper over that area huh?

Also for the bannister, I agree it is kind of abrupt, do you have any suggestions on something I could put there to blend it better? I have some wood filler that I could add to make it smoother then just paint it the same color.


I'd fix the bannister with epoxy putty. You could leave it not quite flush and use the wood putty to finish it, smoothing with a wet finger, or just take it all the way to finish with epoxy putty the same way. 

I did notice those same areas Martin mentioned, but I figured you weren't quite finished yet and would be taking care of them as you got to it. 

Oh actually, taking another look, I assumed the bannister wasn't going to show in the actual animation, because it seems like it's above the level where the ceiling would be (I assume the camera won't be tilting up far enough to show that the ceiling isn't actually there). But of course, if that's the case, then you really don't even need the upper section of bannister. Judging from the height of the stove, assuming it's about mid-thigh height or so - unless this is a mansion with incredibly high ceilings - then I'd guess the ceiling would be at about the same level as the break in the bannister? So it'll never show. 


I think I might know just the spring you need for the piano keys. Brushes on motors often hae tiny almost flat springs to keep the brushes against the armature, and they might be just the thing you need. You might google "motor brush spring" or check some websites which have electric motor parts.

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