taking one frame at a time since 1999

Hi all,

I'm getting ready to start shooting some bar scenes and have several shots which will require pouring liquor from a bottle into a shot glass as well as a few others where the glasses will contain liquid.

I have a few ideas on how to go about shooting it, but am interested in hearing ideas if anybody's got some.


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I can't remember if it was from Coraline or a different show's "making of" vid but I think that tiny clear pieces of acrylic or silicone? in different shapes were used to show rain drops falling and running so I would imagine you could make several pieces like bottle full, several different pouring lengths and a glass full or something along those lines depending on your scene and switch them in order.

If it is a slow pour or long pour you could make three or four full pour pieces and rotate them which would hopefully look like the liquid pouring out. I have never animated anything like that so can't speak from experience but it seems like that might be a feasible way to do it. You could probably also tint them whatever colour you need. I would love to hear suggestions from anyone who has done this or has another method.



I use a twist of cellophane or clingwrap, sometimes with a thin wire inside to shape it. I change it a little each frame. At the same time, I add liquid to the glass with an eyedropper to fill it up.

Thanks guys! These ideas sound very similar to what I had in mind, so I have the impression that I'm on the right track with the approach. Those old Rudolph movies are great for low budget ideas.

Nick - have you ever dealt with the liquid in the bottle? Sloshing around and such? I have a little glass bottle I'm planning on using, but I can work with one of the resin casts as well, which is not hollow inside. I suppose it doesn't really matter, as long as the correct impression is given to the viewer that there is a) liquid pouring out of the bottle and b) that the glass is receiving it.

Real liquid adjusts itself when the glass is tilted, but it doesn't slosh if the glass is waved around and there is a change in direction. That was something that would have looked better in the shot I did a couple of weeks ago, but i couldn't see an easy way around it. I would have had to cast several transparent resin inserts for the glass I guess, plus some little splash shapes to shoot over the top of the glass. A nice touch of realism, animators might appreciate it if you did it, but it still looks ok without it.
I wasn't pouring from a bottle this time, but from a tap on the end of a barrel. I drilled into the end of a piece of dowel, enough to poke the end of my clingwrap into it. The bottles I made myself are all solid so I couldn't have done any sloshing in those. I do have a couple of hollow ones, a couple are champagne bottles that came with bubble blowing liquid in them, bit I have settled for real liquid draining out of them and not worried about the sloshing. The most pouring and drinking I have done (with puppets that is!) is in The Seventh Skol, which is at my stopmonick Youtube channel.

I'll have to check out The Seventh Skol.

Have you seen "Fred"? Misha did a great job with the liquid in the bottle. You think that was just actual liquid in there? It kind of looks like a resin maybe...

Yeah, great sloshing there! I don't know how you could change the resin inside the bottle - unless you actually made a set of bottles, each with the liquid in a different position?

There is something else, a semi- liquid that I used at the end of 7th Skol, that I was able to animate dribbling down Death's ribcage. Shelley Noble sent me a couple of samples of it, but without the packaging. You could put that in a bottle, and reach in with a bit of wire to shape it. It holds the position long enough to take the shot. Trying to remember what it was called, it was from a toy store in California, I couldn't get it here.
Just looked again and that stuff in Fred looks like it could be it.

Cellophane and an eye dropper, that's a great idea Nick, I look forward to trying that, thanks for sharing. It does seem like it would be a bit of work to make a set of bottles and glasses each with a different liquid placement. The substitution method used for the raindrops that I was talking about was the source of that idea for substituting the pour bits for liquid but it seems like one would need to build sets of things or pieces to accomplish that. 

It might look pretty neat too, if feasible to match glass, bottle, background colour, lighting etc and do a quick cut to a closeup real pour glug-glug-glug and then cut back to the character raising the bottle as though just finishing the pour.  Then you can drink the drink after the shot, now THAT'S realism lol :)

Or if you wanted to go even further you could build a 1/1 character hand and arm and after showing the stopmotion end of the pour you could cut back to the glass like maybe cutting to a close up looking straight down at the hand holding the glass you just used for the pour shot and shoot a live shot of the hand swirling the liquid slowly in the cup ha ha Just a thought. All you would need for that is a lifesize hand prop and bartop colour underneath with matching glasses.

Sorry if these ideas got off track but I alwaystry to think of potential solutions for shooting different scenes and these ideas just popped into my head so I thought I would share:) 

I am using a 1:1 scale hand, mostly for shots of writing with a quill, but also for one closeup of the hand holding the glass. I got a real glass of similar shape from the Salvation Army shop for $1. It contained real liquid, so it didn't slosh a frame at a time though. Fortunately it didn't need to. I suppose it could be shot live, but it I jerked it around much it would drop the glass, that would be safer with a real hand only it would look too real.

I remember doing a job where we used those clear plastic icicle Christmas tree decorations for pouring liquid. We heated them up and bent them into an arc and made a short replacement cycle. It worked really well but was for quite a large scale. For smaller scale you could use clear plastic sheet (blister pack thickness) and cut a replacement "arc" cycle, then add texture with clear glue and little cling film. You can also cut out splashes etc. Cling film on its own works well if you're animating a squirting hose but looks too much like what it is for slow pours. For the liquid in the glass, glycerine is self levelling and doesn't evaporate, KY jelly is similar and can be animated to a certain extent - it is especially good for drops moving down glass. However, it dries out and develops a skin quite quickly so you have to work fast. Clear hair gel is the thickest and can be built up quite easily, but has to be levelled manually. Usually it would involve a combination of all three. Good luck and make sure you have plenty of kitchen towels handy!

Cool idea with the icicle decorations for large scale, thanks for sharing Nick.

Great advice; I especially like the cling film idea. I'm shooting my first ("real") stop motion vid -- for an original kids' song; everything on my set is made of household* paper materials, so I was SUPER stumped. This site is a life saver! Thank you ALL for being so generous with your knowledge! (* The site is to encourage kids to try stuff themselves, so I aim always to use materials THEY'RE likely to have handy.)

I know this is kind of an older thread by now, but sifting through the info on the message board helped me out a lot, so I thought I'd give my two cents here.

These two shots below I did with a stuff called quakehold clear museum gel. (
As you can see it's not clear anymore though. I pigmented this with some silicone pigment. :)

You can basically just sculpt the stuff. From the moment you shape it in any form it will immediately start leveling out but very, very slowly. It does mean that when you push it in any shape it will smooth out by itself! perfect for fluids. I found that you can help it smooth out  even more by using a brush and some terpentine. Another thing that's great is, that it doesn't evaporate and doesn't stick to your brush so there is no need to top glasses up like you would have to when using KY jelly or something similar.

Hope this is of help to anyone
(First shot still needs the rig to be masked out if you are wondering what that weird stick is doing there.)

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