taking one frame at a time since 1999

Stove-burner flame, pot full of water, and lighting / shock bolt special effects

I have a couple of effects I'd like to achieve so I'll just sneak them all in this post. 

1.  Small flame for a gas stove burner.

The eyes/burners are fairly small with pots and pans on top. I'm looking to make small flames. The burner itself is a small circular piece of painted balsa wood with painted paper 'grates' over it. I feel like I could potentially make a small flame-esque piece that fits around the circular burner almost like a lions mane that I can rotate each shot. Not sure how convincing that would look.

Is this something that is better to do in post? 

2. Water from a sink splashing into a pot to fill it.

I'd love to know what materials some of you use for liquids. I'll be using hair gel for a fish tank and filled containers but for the sloshing and splashing around I'll need something that can hold shape.

For the sink stream I was planning on using an acrylic tube (of different lengths as it turns off and on) with hair gel covering it that I animate between frames. I think that will work well. 

Does anyone have ideas for sloshing water in a pot? Something that will sell as liquid that holds shape?

3. lightning bolt

At one point in the film theres a shock bolt that is sent from an object to the main character. I could make a cut out of the bolt in pieces to animate as it reaches the character but I'm a little concerned with making it look lit up.

I had an idea of having a light source a similar length to it that I start with covered and then move the black wrap each frame to reveal a little more that will light the bolt but I'm definitely worried about many of logistics of this. This is another thing that I'm considering doing in post. Thoughts?

I'm diving into research myself but would love any input or ideas any veterans have. Thanks in advance, guys.

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The only one I have an answer for other than conjecture is the water splashing into the pot. I just mentioned this in another of your threads (that I thought was brand new but after answering I see it's a year old and already has several answers!! D'oh!  ) but here it is again - Quakehold! Museum Gel. Made for securing glass objects onto glass shelves on a museum and to hold even through an earthquake (supposedly anyway). It's a perfectly clear gel that lets you create shapes and will hold them for a good long time, but is constantly sagging very slowly, so you can easily animate liquids moving around. It can be tinted if you need, using various transparent tinting agents - I tried the tints made for epoxy putty and it worked well, but took a lot of kneading (with rubber gloves on) to work it in thoroughly and wants to stain anything it touches. You can roll a little rod of it to use as the water pouring fro the faucet - I believe it will work anyway haven't actually tried that one, but if it doesn't, then I'm sure you could roll it around a piece of wire or something. Or just use cling wrap for the descending water. 

And if you don;t already have some microcrystalline wax, be sure to also order their Quakehold! Museum wax as well.It;s an amber wax that's sticky and excellent for tacking things together that need to be animated but held in place so they don't jiggle around between frames. 

If you need to animate droplets of water, try some hair gel with some water mixed in. You can adjust the thickness by the amount of water added - I found if you hit the right consistency the drops will automatically move exactly like water drops would, seeking low ground, but in slow motion. So treat it like time lapse photography - try to always take the same amount of time between snapping frames and it will move smoothly. Experiment before trying it in a scene to figure out water/gel ratio and time between frames for proper movement. 

Oh, but be careful not to leave the hair get mixture in place overnight - I did that on a plastic window and it dried there and ruined it. Had to make a new window from glass and do the shot over (several times before I got everything right).  The museum gel is different - it never fully dries, but will eventually get too dried out to function properly (takes many months though). 

I add lightning bolts in post.  During shooting, I like to point an extra light at the set where it will go so things light up as they would from the bolt, but the actual bolt, or electrical discharge, is easier to paint on in another layer in Photoshop, TV Paint Animation (the one I use), or probably in After Effects.  Often I will use two layers.  First I paint the lightning on a clear layer, then I duplicate the layer.  I apply blur to the lower layer, so it comes out like a soft halo around the core of the lightning.  I did some of that, complete with extra lighting from a small LED torch (Flashlight), in this short piece (at about 0:36 - 0:40.  

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Looks like embed code isn't working so here's a link:

I also add flames in post, again with lights in the set but then by painting the flickering flames in post.  First I paint them, then use a smearing tool to stretch them out and make them go partly transparent.

But you might like the idea of using in-camera effects, done with actual objects on set, not necessarily trying to look more realistic, but as part of a handcrafted style.  I did do some flames with replacement cellophane (or lighting gel) tongues of flame once.

I used something similar to that museum gel to animate water once, it was a great "slow water" effect.  (At the end of my Seventh Skol at Youtube channel).  A friend (Shelley Noble at Halfland) sent me some. The samples I had have since dried up.  

KY Jelly will do tears running down a puppet face, but would not be so good for a large quantity of flowing water.  I just nudge it a  bit each frame with a toothpick.   I haven't used the hair gel but I think it would be similar. 

Cellophane twisted around wire does work well for pouring a cup of tea or water from a spout, you change it a bit each frame and the fine armature wire gives you an arched shape to the stream.

For water, I followed the advice of Strider and got Quakehold. It works well.
Recently I discovered another interesting option: orthodontics silicone bars, you can get in any pharmacy. They are like little plasticine translucent bars. Depending on brands, you can get some fully transparent.
I used a replacement painted acetate pieces for the spaceship flames in this opening but I didn't look for realistic look, but a toy aspect

Orthodontic silicone bars huh? Interesting. I looked them up and it looks like they're for holding dentures in place (if I found the right thing). Is it like a really soft squishy silicone gel? Can you cut pieces of it and animate them? 

Well, I have slight problems with translation in this matter . The bars I said are used in dental appliances for teenagers teeth. A piece of it is modeled and applied on sharp metal parts for preventing injuries inside the mouth.
But I just discovered than there are two kinds of bars: wax and silicone. Probably, silicone ones are which I remember fully transparent and wax ones are the translucent (that I have now). In both cases, you can model them like plasticine. See the photo

Nice!! Thanks for explaining Antonio. Yeah, that looks like some good stuff - useful for water animation if you get the clear silicone ones. 

Yes, I will try to find them

Hi everyone, 

Sorry for the late reply and thanks for all your help! Here are some of the things that I ended up trying:

Water from sink into pot:

We used a hot glue stick that was whittled down each time so that we could have more or less water coming out of the faucet and also created some perceived movement. 

Beeswax would have probably worked well, too (  Works similarly to the dental wax that was suggested. I used this to mold some glasses, bowls, etc so that the set had some different materials scattered throughout but could have also worked well for water.

We're adding the lighting and flame in post.

1.  The circular wreath of flame shapes sounds like a good idea!  I've used flame shapes made from  thin foam with a 1mm wire inside that I could animate, but then I went over it in post and  painted and smudged some more. (The foam flames are on the top of the head,  flames along the sides of the body are purely done in post.  ) Mostly I do it in post.  I have some kind of lighting, either little LEDs in the fire area, or a hole cut in the floor underneath with a pinspot underneath pointing up, and clear and yellow/orange cellophane to make the glowing surface.  If possible I vary the brightness of the lights so there is a flicker.  Then in post (TV Paint Animation), I paint little flames on another layer, and smear them, and usually stretch the duration with frame blending so I get twice as many frames of animated flames.  If there is a grating that covers part of it, like in this photo, I copy that onto another layer in front, and erase around it so we see the flames behind it.  With the gas burners, there is usually some kind of grid above the flames to set the pan down on.  (Of course, if it's too hard, you could make it an electric stove!)

2.  Haven't done that.  I've done a stream of water from a tap with a twist of cellophane or cling wrap,  and it looks good, but not the splashing in the pot.   I sometimes mix up some wallpaper paste to make thick water, and you can make it as stiff or as runny as you like, so it might help.  A friend did water in a swimming pool with gel on top of a perspex sheet, with a layer of thin plastic sheeting on top of that, so he could animate the surface without getting the stuff all over his hands, and that worked surprisingly well.  Well, I knew it looked great in a still image, but I was surprised how well the fairly random movements read as moving water.  Not like ocean waves with a clear direction and a smooth progression, but actually the waves in pools come from all different directions and do look quick and random so it worked.   Possibly cling wrap on top of the gel or wallpaper paste, being thinner, would let you animate the sloshing in a smaller area like a pot.  (Swimming pool water -  )    For violent splashing, cling wrap or cellophane work by themselves, but not so good for sloshing I think.

2. Lightning bolt.  I'd say, do a flash of light on the set so you get the interactive lighting, then add the bolt in post.  (I usually d 3 or 4 frames with the light getting brighter, then fading.)  Easy to paint it in Photoshop or TV Paint (or AE?) and make it as solid or semi-transparent as you like.  I paint the lighting bolt on a separate layer, then duplicate the layer, and add a blur to the layer underneath - that creates a soft glow around the hard-edged top layer.   (There are a few zaps and bolts towards the end of this 1 minute clip:     All are done in post. )

Duh, I didn't see that this was an old post, or that I had already answered it. Glad to see you came up with ways to do it all.

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