Hello Everyone,

   I'd like to share the finished version of my stop-motion film that I recently completed in October.  Tragic Magic tells the story of Greygaunt the Wizard, who is trying to teach magic to Tadwick, his apprentice.  They get interrupted by the arrival of Death, who is looking to collect a soul.  Will their combined magic skills allow them to defeat Death?

   Here is the link on vimeo to the film: https://vimeo.com/305589331

So far, the film has been shown in several film festivals, and a few awards.  Two scheduled screenings have been cancelled, I'm sure others have experienced this disappointment. The film took about 4 years to make (but I didn't work on it every day). Almost all work done by myself. I had some fantastic help on voice acting, wardrobe and sound design from a few friends.

  Please have a look and enjoy. Cheers!

--Geoff Clark

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Here's the Promo poster for the film:

Shame about the cancelled screenings, there is a lot of that happening both to small film makers and to big studios who have blown millions on promotion for films that can't screen to live audiences.  But good for us here at SMA, we get to see it online sooner!  

Just watched it, really liked it!  Good story, great sets and lighting, and the graphic and effects are used well to help tell the story.  Bravo!

Well done, Geoff!  

Thanks Fellas!  I edited my initial post because I think it came off as too conceited.

If anyone has questions on how I did certain things, I'd love to discuss them.  I learned a ton of stuff during this project. 

I think the additional fx came out nicely and I really liked the glowing death head that was projected on the wall.  Can you tell us about some of those?

AWESOME film man.. very well done, loved it.. really great stuff.. inspiring.. 

Hi Adam,  thank you!  I called that face the 'portent' of his arrival and it was done with a cheap digital projector for kids called the 'wonderwall' by the discovery channel. It was $25 on ebay and I knew that it was being used for cheap gobos (also known as cookies). this is what it looked like.



If you take it apart, remove the digital projector part of it, you can put in your own paper gobos, like cut-out stencils. They are very small, about 2 inches square. I had 4 or 5 of them, and they're really cool for lighting effects. Putting a blue gel in front of the lens makes it look like moonlight thru windows. I used some landscaping fabric for a diffuser.  I had to be careful, the paper is near a hot bulb so I didn't run it for very long due to heat. 

One of them was Death's face, with a green gel.


For the portent, I put a barbeque grill with holes in front to create some variation in the effect. 


For the secret room, I made another Gothic window gobo with a corner filled in, to simulate the light hitting the back of the lecturn.  The projector was actually above the set in this scene.

I got inspired by Harryhausen's Medusa by making one gobo that's just a short slit, to highlight death's eyes in some shots:



More stuff to come!  I learned sooo much on this movie!


Adam Taylor said:

I think the additional fx came out nicely and I really liked the glowing death head that was projected on the wall.  Can you tell us about some of those?

Great use of those projectors!  I love a good practical effect!

Hey Geoff, I just read your above post and followed all your links, and to the wonder wall projector on Ebay.. so question, does one have to use a projector to create these effects on the wall, can the same effect be achieved by using one of those modern LCD  video lights.. then you wouldn't have the issue of it getting hot?    Love your use of lighting in this film.. I'm learning more about that myself now in my own animation..  what you using to move the DSLR there.. some kind of winder you adapted?  and what size was your set?  any advice on that, I want to build something more stable and bigger here next..  did you learn any issues there, like you could have done with more height or different materials... any bending over issues, bad back, knees etc..  did you drill into wood ply or mdf and use tie downs on these puppets.. how did you stabilise the puppets? awesome love seeing more behind the scenes of your film... 


Hi James,

  I dont' know about the LCD or LED lights you refer to; the key here is that the light needs a lense in it and that will usually hike up the price.  4+ years ago when I looked, there weren't any cheap options but now I see more reasonable options; I just found one on Amazon for $60 with prime; "DragonX" makes one, but still more than 2x what I paid but I wanted a challenge!  I had to put in long screws in order to mount it on a tripod, it has no mounting screws by default.

   That threaded-rod mover is a rig that I got from my step-dad and it was awesome. He's a mechanical engineer and that kind of person is good to know! great stuff in the garage, you know.  It is pretty accurate but it can't go very far, 2.25 inches with 20 turns. I had to make the 'cheeseboard' to mount the DSLR.  In the back of that shot you can see a threaded-rod mover that I abandoned.   Choose a mover that you can put anywhere, and you can screw it down. 


Pic of the plastic cheesboard I made, with the set which is 5 ft x 5 ft square:


But sometimes I couldn't remember which way I was rotating, so I made a note for myself. LOL:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/3vadw5zbjo06oul/IMG_2714.JPG?dl=0

I could even screw it in an up-and-down orientation to perform a pedestal shot:


For stationary shots, I uses a tabletop Slik Pro II tripod.  Impossible to screw to the set, so you can see I improved little mounts to keep it in one place. :


   I have a second camera mover which has a greater travel, and can be pivoted with a screw hole. It's a C-shaped extruded metal bar (again from my step dad's junk) which I made a little 'sled' to move along the channel. You'll see there is literally a ruler glued to the side. A nail on the sled shows the position.  Real fancy!  But it worked great. Screw it down and it won't give you slop.  Truly DIY.

taken apart: https://www.dropbox.com/s/nj1u5e1pu0z2sm9/IMG_2787.JPG?dl=0

in action: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ap578djkodvdsbf/IMG_2657.MOV?dl=0

side view of ruler guide. :https://www.dropbox.com/s/uy1orppbxjz5m75/IMG_2789.JPG?dl=0

The set is 5ft square, and it's just plywood with 2x4's and saw horse mounts x4.  It's cheap and you can get all that stuff in hardware stores.  But if I can make one Recommendation: TRY TO KEEP THE LEGS OUT OF YOUR FOOTPATH. I was constantly kicking the legs, jeopardizing shots.  


Yes, I used tie-downs for all three characters, with thumbscrews for under the floor.  I don't have any pictures for the tiedowns directly, but here are the wonderful feet designs by Julian Clark armatures:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/tcknjirzjd7ndd3/IMG_2793.JPG?dl=0    I totally love his armatures and I think they are something that you should splurge on. Worth the money. Last a long time!

That's it for now! Let me know if more questions come up.



Thanks Geoff, for your extensive response.. that's awesome.. I appreciate you putting in so much effort.. I use to write really long responses, but haven't got the mental whatever to do it now.. haha.. but you know what you talking about.. cool.. I did check out all your links, great stuff.. and I understand bit more now on the projector, I'm going to try it on my projector, I already got one for home movies.. so I can experiment right with putting cutout shapes infront to project onto the wall, will that work I don't know... maybe it's a different kind of projector maybe... I didn't know about those thumbscrews and the horse mounts, I will look more into that, I'm gutted because of the lockdown local builders merchants are not delivering wood now etc.. maybe I should just get some tresses off ikea if they deliver now and desk top.. I don't know what to do know.. probably end up waiting it out few weeks.. but would love to build a more solid base here... I was surprised your set is only 5x5ft.. although that is a big size.. I was just expecting I don't know 8x 4 or 8x8 or something more full room size... my sense of scale is warped lol...  I have had a look at Julian Clark armatures and especially the feet yeah, and I almost placed a big order with him.. but he didn't get back to me for ages, and also a lot of things are always out of stock on his site, he said that's because most of the bulk gets bought up by bigger studios.. so I didn't go ahead then... I need to write him an email personally what I want, he said.. he doesn't use FB regular.. I'm thinking Latex Foam now and wire.. because I ordered an oven and a mixer.. and Kathi Z. video.. just haven't got around to trying yet.. I wrote to a site that sells the stuff... anyway that's another topic isn't it.. I asked that guy lots of questions which he hasn't answered yet.. that stopped me ordering.. and my oven and mixer is at a friends, and because of the lockdown owe boy it's stuck there... I don't have a car...   anyway thanks for your length response and sharing your film here, your obviously very passionate, and that's great to see and engage with... 

if there's any other questions I will write again... 


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