My name is Allan - I've worked on and off in the video industry for years but just decided with the latest Victorian lockdown to follow my dreams and start animating some stop motion bits and pieces. It's all extremely rough stuff that I've done using clay I've bought from Spotlight just before everything went to pieces. Anyway - I digress - what I'm looking for is a place to find rigging supplies in Melbourne. It's become abundantly clear that I can't do much with clay alone - and I also have a commercial project that will require animating some action figures - both of which seem borderline impossible to do without some way of holding the figures steady.
So the question I'm here to ask is - where can I get supplies in Australia for this sort of stuff? Coronavirus has sorta put a block in getting anything from overseas currently - and I noticed that StopMoNick is actually from Melbourne and might have some ideas. :)
Hi Allan. Here are some of my Melbourne suppliers for a range of materials. Not sure about rigging, there are camera rigs I buy and flying rigs for puppets which I make.
I use wire armatures for nearly all my puppets, so I can't tell you about ball and socket joint supplies here. It is years since I bought ball bearings (from a local sbearings shop that no longer exists), and used them for the balls. Had to be heated to make them drivable, and it still took cobalt steel bits to do it. I do have a ball and socket rig to support my puppets when jumping or flying. I made the plates from mild steel, and one of the rods with a ball at each end is actually a part from a sewing machine. I use whatever I find. For small light puppets, I use a bundle of armature wire, with 2 wires sharpened to a point that I can stab into the puppet.
K&S square brass tube in several sizes, where each fits nicely into the next size up, is useful for making mount points, and detachable hands. It comes from hobby shops lie Metro: https://www.metrohobbies.com.au/products/kands-7-32od-brass-square-.... I think their city shop is closed due to lockdown, but they may do online orders. I think it is also on eBay. This seller is in Braeside: https://www.ebay.com.au/i/143143208179?chn=ps&norover=1&mke...
For ordinary walking, or standing, I use tiedowns to support the puppet. Bolts and nuts come from Bunnings. The 7mm thick aluminium I make the foot plates from came from a metal recycler in Highett that is long gone. Otherwise I get aluminium from a place on the Princess Highway, near Clayton or Springvale. (I like aluminium because I can cut it on my bandsaw, and it is not too heavy.) I cut a slot in the foot block to take my T shaped tiedowns (You insert the T into the slot from below, through the hole in the set, turn it 90 degrees so the arms of the T go across the slot, then tighten it down with a wing nut). But for clients who prefer the usual threaded type, I have drilled a hole in the block and then tapped a thread to match the bolts. You can also put a "half-nut" - a thin nut - on top of the wire loop that forms the foot, and embed that in Selley's Knead-it epoxy putty from Bunnings. Or a regular full thickness nut, with a groove filed round the outside, so you can put the wire loop in that, then lock in with epoxy putty.
I don't animate with action figures, so I don't know how easy it is to fir some kind of tiedown plate into the foot, or if they can support themselves in any position from one foot being bolted down, as puppets can. It may be that animators who work a lot with action figures, like Patrick Boivin, always have a support rig. He tends to have so many leaps and high kicks, you would need a rig most of the time anyway.
Armature wire in 3mm (1/8th") and 1.6mm (1/16th")is sometimes available from Dean's Art. https://www.deansart.com.au/armature-wire
And just recently I bought some Benecreat craft wire in a less common 2mm size from Amazon that I hoped would be the soft annealed wire I use for armatures, and turns out it is. There are 3 sizes stocked in Australia, and 3 or 4 more that are US imports and cost more for shipping. Previously I had to order some sizes from Whimsie in the US, who won't ship to Australia, so I used a US buyer that buys stuff for you, then ships it to you, and charges a fee for the service. On Amazon Au I got this 12 gauge/2mm: https://www.amazon.com.au/gp/product/B082DCCRTK/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asi...
Materials for mould making and casting can be bought at Barnes Products in Richmond. https://www.barnes.com.au I usually get my silicone, Ultracal plaster, non-sulphur plasticine, foam latex kits, or epoxy and polyester resin there.
I also go to Dalchem in Cheltenham for much the same range of stuff. Easier for me to get to, and park, the Richmond. https://dalchem.com.au
My last batch of MM Foam Latex was out of stock in Melbourne so I got it from Adelaide Moulding and Candle Supplies in SA. https://www.amcsupplies.com.au
My green fabric for green screen keying is Moulton fabric from Theatrical Supplies Australia, just 2 minutes away in Oakleigh. They also stock canvas in wide rolls, for painting backdrops, and Sceneboard, a 9mm thick corrugated cardboard that I use a lot for set walls. http://www.theatricalsupplies.com.au
I get spray glue for sticking cushion foam for building up puppet bodies from an upholstery supplier, R B Gray in Box Hill. http://flexfoam.com.au
If you want to ask about anything specific that I haven't covered, let me know and I'll see if I have a link saved or know where to get it.
Thanks very much for the informative post Nick - also I found your YouTube channel to be utterly invaluable and full of very neat humour that made the whole process seem so much less daunting. Great stuff. I guess I'll have to make some of my own rigs up then. :)