taking one frame at a time since 1999

I've been working on my project for over a year now, and my main set is finally ready for filming. But, I've run into a problem with my tie downs that I've been losing sleep over for months now. 

For my main characters I used skeletons from animation supplies, that come with a hole in the foot to screw in threaded wire. The character walks down the street in a back-shot so the backs of his feet will be visible.

I've built the street in a slope, with uneven pavement, using fiberglass and hotglue for the cobblestones. This rests on a table, so there is an empty space between the table and fiberglass street. This makes it very hard to put a screw something from the bottom since at the widest point it's a 10 cm space I have to bridge. 

I've considered using magnets for as far as I can reach under the street, but would that hold through the fiberglass? 

If anyone has any advice I would be very grateful, since filming it without tie-downs is hell...

(Just Iphone pictures for now, sorry ><)

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Hi Anne Great looking set incredible! I love the detail that you put into it the sloping of the pavement the cobblestones everything looks really really good!! I can see what you mean about the tie downs being an issue...what about rigging from above And then remove in post-production? Thats all I have for now but I'll be thinking on that one for you lol! :)

I think I would either put some longer legs under your set to raise it higher off the table, or remove the table completely and put some even longer legs under the set, so it becomes its own table, if that makes sense. 

Here's another possibility that doesn't involve any carpentry - maybe you could just slide the set so it's hanging over the edge of the table? Hopefully you need the puppet to be walking at the edge of the set rather than out in the middle - if it needs to be in the middle then I guess this idea wouldn't work. 

And if the set isn't secure enough after sliding it, you could secure it down with some clamps or tape or something, maybe some weights off camera somewhere. Of course all these ideas rest on the thought that your set isn't permanently attached to the table. If it is, maybe you could cut it off (at the very end, after the rest is done, and film this shot then).

The other thought is you could cut away part of the tabletop to make an opening where you can reach through. 

Ok, looking back now at your post, I'm not sure I really understand the problem. Is there air space between the tabletop and the set, or is the space filled with something like styrofoam or crumpled paper? 

Is the street self supporting or on a board. You could add a backboard to the street then Andre it with different length legs between it and the table. Alternatively you could use spray expanding (plumbers) foam into the gap, buy a long 3mm drill bit and match the street angle with the long hole and long tied down.
Just a few quick thoughts.

I guess this is why you don't see undulating ground that often, tricky to make and use - but it's why your set looks so fantastic and not the usual stopmo set!  So it's worth figuring this out.

You said tiedowns of threaded wire - do you mean threaded rod?  (wire, to me, is something that you bend.)  Anyway, threaded rod can be any length, I see it in the hardware barn at 3 ft (90 cm) lengths, so it could go through 10 cm or more.

This is tricky with a bolt or threaded rod, since it has to be at the right angle to the puppet foot for the thread to screw in.  (That's why I use a "T and slot" tiedown system, it doesn't need to be straight to go in, turn, and lock the foot down.)  You can get special long drill bits, and you would need to drill down from the top so you can be at right angles to the street surface at that point.  (I think you'll need to go between the hot glue cobblestones, glue would gunk up the drill bit.)

Usually, if my uneven ground is going to have mounds more than 3 cm above the base, I cast a piece in resin and fibreglass, or plaster and fibreglass, or build it over a chicken wire shape, so it is hollow, not very thick.  I blend it onto the particle board base, which has a big hole cut in it under the mound, so I can get up under it.  I do make mounds of styofoam or urethane sometimes, but not where the puppets are going to walk.

Can you explain a bit more about how your set ground is constructed, and what it rests on?

Thank you all for thinking with me. My apologies if my explanation wasn't entirely clear, sometimes these technical things are difficult to explain in English. (I'm Dutch) 

@Michael Weldon; Thanks! I was thinking about rigging from above as well, but I'm not sure how to go about this so that it'll be sturdy. I still have a lot to learn when it comes to building things that are actually practical.. 

@Strider; There is air space in between. So your idea to cut out part of the tabletop might work out great, I think I'll try this. I just need to find a way to keep everything steady, especially since the fiberglass street has the horrible tendency to slightly move when I lean on it, so making it its own table probably wouldn't work.

@ Jason Lynch, the street is supported by a table. I actually considered the foam as well, but I was afraid it would clogg up the drill.  

@Stopmonick; I meant threaded rod, and I have found these long rods, but it's nearly impossible to guide the long rod through this empty space where I can't see, neatly into the foot. 
I built the street with fiberglass over chicken wire, so this isn't thick, but it is, unfortunately, a little wobbly. At the bottom of the street it just rests on the table, and further up it is supported by wooden blocks. It's a bit of a weird construction but this is my 2nd stopmotion project and I'm kind of learning on the go, often bumping into issues like this one. 
By the way, thank you for your amazing youtube video's on puppet making, they've helped me so much! 

This is another one of my handy constructions (I suppose I enjoy making it difficult for myself : p ) This is a 1:18 scale set, I made the road out of PU-foam and gave the puppet pieces of wire under his feet so I could stick him into the foam. That works, except that the cart is full of clay worms, making it a little heavy, and it wants to roll down. I have yet to find a good way to keep the cart in place. 

Holy crap, your sets are gorgeous!  They definitely deserve animation to match.

Best option is probably what Strider suggested, either cutting an access hole in the table, or raising the set up.  I doubt magnets would do the trick in this case, unfortunately; those awesome cobblestones will mean no matter where your puppet's foot is, there will be a good amount of separation from the magnet, and their pull power decreases with the cube of the distance... a little gap kills a lot of power.

If that doesn't work out, Michael's suggestion of overhead rigging could do it for sure.  I don't know what level of resources you have available, but if you can get your hands on a couple of c-stands to run a bar over the set, that would certainly be stable.  Even with overhead support, a little bit of something to hold the feet in place goes a long way, too.  I've been playing around with this sort of setup a lot lately, and Sticky Tak has been working ok.  However that can take some cleanup when the foot rises, and if leaning on the set will move it, rubbing off the residue is probably a no-go.  Something similar but clear, and more bonded to itself might be better.

Anne Koreman said:

... (I'm Dutch) 

Well we won't hold that against you!  

Ok, now I understand your set better - thanks for explaining it. You might be able to reinforce it in places underneath, by adding more fiberglass, and possibly placing wooden blocks or something wedged in between the set floor and the table and glued in place. Only do this where you don't need to drill tie-down holes, like under buildings. Also, if possible I would try to make any cutaway sections bigger than you think they need to be, because it's going to be difficult getting your hand under there and up through the hole to put tie-downs in place. The last thing you need is to hit the edge of the cutaway and not be able to get your hand in where it needs to be. Just a couple of things to think about. 

Wow, beautiful set!

That's all, don't have any useful ideas yet.

What does that hill look like from the back?  Is it open at the back so you can reach in?

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