taking one frame at a time since 1999

Monsterous Murders is a two minute stop-motion puppet animation set in Victorian times where a series of monstrous murders are taking place.

We have decided to try and get some funding to create this film through Kickstarter. This will allow us to improve on our techniques and materials used. We are very excited to bring this film to life and to share the process with everyone!

This is the first puppet that we have made for the film. It's only a test version that we used in a test shot. For the actual puppet we would like to make the head and hands out of silicone which we have never used before. We normally use Sculpey which is what we used for the above head. We do love the texture and colours that come out when you bake it, but we'd love to try silicone and see if it's better for us.

This is also our most ambitious animation yet. We'll be making 6 puppets (including miniatures) and 3 sets. The most we have made before for a single animation is 2 sets and 2 puppets, and the sets were a lot smaller and less detailed than these will be. One of the puppets on this film will be a monster... a big one, and it involves a transformation which we have no idea how we will do. At a later stage I am sure we shall be asking you guys for your opinion and tips ;) It's rather daunting, but very exciting!

Thanks for reading and I hope you have enjoyed this.

Head on over to our Kickstarter Page for more details if you'd like to see more and help fund us if you can!

Sarah & Sarah

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Hi Sarah and Sarah, good luck with your project. I am sure you will find lots of helpful information on this site.

Hi Anthony! Thank you :). We're always finding lots of wonderful stuff on here :)

I like the sound of this project, and your puppet looks good!   

Don't know if this helps, but - I have made a few silicone heads now (including the Poe head I'm using for my avatar), and there is a short video of how I made one here:

For hands you might be better off using a liquid latex buildup method rather than silicone - I think it would be tricky trying to do it with silicone. Nick also has a tutorial on his channel for buildup latex - heads and possibly hands as well, not sure. 

The set and puppet are looking good. Do you plan on dirtying things up a bit or leaving it all pristine and clean like that? Personally I'm a fan of the dirtied-up look. 

I was going to say that, but then I thought it might be too much information at this point.  

I have done silicone hands as part of a complete silicone body, where a lot of the puppet would be bare so you can't really join the hands on. My silicone hands (cast in moulds, not built up) are not so good - there is a lot of seamline, running along both sides of every finger, to trim and patch, and I can't seem to get rid of all traces of it.  The seam is as thick on a finger as on the side of the neck or torso, but is a bigger proportion of the finger.  And silicone is a bit weak, after a while the wire can start poking through.    So unless the hands are very large I prefer the built-up latex method, where there are no seamlines.   I cover latex hands in my build-up puppet body:

I agree about dirtying down the set.  Also, on the door, I can see it is made of card, because the cut edges stand up.  This happens when you paint it, the paint soaks into the cut edge and swells it up.   It helps to sand the edges back a little to remove that raised ridge, then add more paint, maybe 2 or 3 times until it settles.  (Sometimes you can press it down by rubbing with a spoon, it's worth a try.) The Victorian era doors I've been making recently are mostly 3mm plywood, so I can get some of that woodgrain texture coming through, but I have done doors with just layers of card that looked just as good.   You can even press some grain into the card, with something like a disk type pizza cutter, or sometimes by drawing lines with a biro (ballpoint pen) pressed hard, and cut a few cracks into the card near the ends of the planks, to sell the aged wood feel a bit more.   And doing a paint job in a darker colour, then a layer of crackle medium and a second coat of paint in a lighter shade, is good for something that would had many coats of paint in it's life and been exposed to the weather. 

Ok, now that is too much info, somebody shut me up!

I just looked at the Kickstarter page, and saw there were a few great looking films already made! 

Thank you :) We'll have a look at Nick's tutorial for latex hands. We definitely want to dirty things up and add more texture. The puppet's clothes in particular will be totally redone in a different fabric and we'll try and make it look a lot older, dirty and scruffier. We'll have a go at making the door more door-like ;) Thanks for the tips Nick!

We've never really shared anything at an early stage in time to make changes to it before. So we're really appreciating all this feedback :) Definately not too much info! We're loving it :D

Ok, I kicked in a small amount, just to send you my best wishes for the project.  I see you are making progress on raising the amount you need, I think you will get there!

For the tripod head, your best and most economical option for smooth measured pan and tilts is probably the Manfrotto 410 Junior geared head.  They make bigger ones (at higher prices), but the 410 is more than enough to support any DLSR camera.

Dragonframe is a good choice.  I use Stop Motion Pro on my PC.    I too had used Dragon (previous version)  at another studio and knew it was a good alternative when I had some PC issues just as I was about to shoot.  So I installed Dragonframe on the Mac I use for post production, and have been moving it into the studio each time I do a shot.

About aging/dirtying up the cloth - I find if you use watered-down acrylic paint on cotton it stiffens up nicely and then you have less problems with unwanted chatter. 

Thank you so much for backing us and thanks again for all the tips you're both giving us! Can't wait to try them all out.

The Manfrotto tripod head you mention is actually the one we had budgeted on getting. We looked into it and it seemed to get pretty good reviews everywhere, and your recommendation definitely backs that up!

Thanks again for all your advice, we really appreciate all of it :)

I *THOUGHT*  I remembered a pair of Sarahs who had made a film called Electreecity that I saw on the old board, and from your Kickstarter page I see that is indeed you. You have a very unique style that I like. And so, since creative misspelling was a strategy in that film I won't ask if you're aware that you're misspelling Monstrous - I assume it's on purpose. 

yep, the misspelling is intentional ;)
It's nice to know that you remember our film from a while ago, glad you liked it :)

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