STOPMO JAM 4 Behind the Scenes!

Post your behind the scenes photos here. I took a couple of snaps from the Robot Dance Title sequence. I made the puppet out of Sculpey and Armature wire in about a week. Animation took 5 days and Rig removal took about the same. It was very last minute as I was extended on Pinocchio by 6 weeks which cut into my time a bit, but I got 'er done! Please feel free to post your pics and share your experience.


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    • Hi Fex. Nice jam and nice BTS, a lot of work on both... I like your characters, simple but with personality. Good job.

    • Hey Fex, I enjoyed your bts video..  I liked the subtle results you got out of the clay with the mouth..  I fancy trying to do clay at some point.. yeah just like Nick I was curious interested in how you got that 'starfield' effect with the grey foam.. seems like a stroke of genius there.. interesting that you went back and brought out one of your first creations.. that's cool.. 

    • Fex - That's an original approach to creating a starfield, with the grey foam!  Looks like you just change the lighting so it comes up black, with lots of little stars in different sizes and intensities, all there instantly.  I've done starfields with a big roller blind painted black, and a layer of diffuser (could be tracing paper, or a white translucent shower curtain, or the Marex I used) behind, and a light behind to backlight it.  But that took lots of time to make.  Have also done it in Photoshop and keyed it in afterwards. Quicker, but still took more time than using the foam.  What made you even think of it?  

      Did you backlight the foam, or hit with a side light to just pick up the high spots?

      Are the space rocks made from an air dry clay, or is that plasticine?

      Nice work on the Jam clip.  Animating clay is hard enough, even without old brittle clay.  You got some nice character out of your two clay guys.  And thanks for sharing the making-of!


  • Hey Don, It's good to see some of your bts pics..  I like the downshooter and glass approach actually.. I wish I done more with it, when I had it set up.. but I got rid of it all a while back, trying to declutter, and dedicate to stopmotion with a large built set for puppets.. I found working on glass with the camera above though so so much easier, takes up much less room.. you could even set that up inside a cupboard so it's all hidden away..   how long did it take you to come up with your idea and animation itself?   

    • I come up with pretty much everything in life through improv. Running scenarios, usually starts as a gag, beginning, middle, end like the format for joke writing. 

      For the challenge of it, I didn't draw a storyboard, and there was no animatic. All timing was worked out via a script reading, timing it out like I was reading a book. Broke a rough audio track down, and ended up using it in the final animation. I love acting to audio, because my mind is very audio based, given the songwriting background.

       The whole idea came about in a few minutes, it was just sort of born- but it took months to figure out how to do it all. Went through a lot of lighting setups and framing tests. Only thing I'd do differently is not stop down so far. That caused flicker. Rather put a blue filter on the lens, and shoot at a lower F-stop, say f~5.6. For this, it was f~8.0. That's highest number I've ever used for exposure. Shutter speed was something like 1/2 second, with a correspondingly high ISO. ISO 400, if I remember correctly. Those were both firsts, as well. I usually like a higher shutter speed and lower ISO at f~5.6. Needed to get everything in focus, though. Depth of set is about 1 ft.

      This clay on glass setup has a computer monitor built into it, so the background can be anything. The stage framework is from a de-upholstered chair that I decided to destroy my fingers on one afternoon in 2020.

      Amimation was completed in one day. It's a mix of ones and twos. I had a drink, first. Animating on the sauce is fun if you don't overdo it.





    • ok that's cool approach..  


      yeah I can relate to working to audio.. I use to play and write piano and guitar.. so I get that approach..  

      I like the idea of a computer monitor behind.. so you don't need to do green screen then.. but how do you manage not to reflect the cam lens onto the screen.. 

      inregards to using an old chair.. that's very clever.. whatever works in it.. it's good to think outside the box.. also save alot of money that way.. it's like those stages they sell for puppet tie downs.. they not cheap.. you can just make your own quite easily.. if you needed that..

      it's interesting that all the prep and building sets etc takes the most time.. the animation itself can be done quite quickly, depending on what finish you want.. 


      lol drinking on the job hey ;) whatever works in it.. it takes alot for me to get in the right mood to be honest.. somedays I can't even go in the room.. I try and do something else instead if I can.. like watch YT vids on craft or editing or whatever..   


      I did find your jam quite funny.. when they being sucked up.. was it 'wosh' sound..    there were a few on there that had that simple kind of humor, which is good... 

    • Green screen would not work because the clay is shiny, and it would reflect a lot of the green background, causing there to appear to be a hole in the puppets. It might have worked if there was a good deal of separation between the foreground and background. Maybe even using a backlight that overpowers the rim of the green screen reflections on the puppets.

      The camera lens does not reflect in the glass because of the position of the light, which is diffused with parchment paper. However, one unexpected annoyance was the fact that if I wasn't careful with lighting from the side, you would see the reflection of the sheep in the glass. Another problem, was that if I shone a light on the back wall, you would be able to see my white wall and ceiling in the reflection. So, I had to hide the lights from the glass as much as possible by choosing very careful angles.

      The nice thing about the setup, is that the backlight from the computer monitor is very even. Getting lighting right on a multiplane setup is the most time consuming aspect. The background must always be the brightest thing in the image, with dimmer foreground lighting. Otherwise, you get *shadows* on the background. This took me a long time to realize, and it didn't help that I was working with LED lights which never got very bright. Ended up ditching those for Halogen PAR-20's on this project. I love those, they are what Will Vinton recommended in his class in 2012, and I just happened to be using them already years earlier by complete coincidence.

      After finishing this one, I animated a fun gag shot that features two of the same characters from this year, and one puppet from last year's 'Jam. That will be on the "prammation" Insta soon. As a celebratory ritual, I always do one more bonus animation before striking the set. This time around, it took a couple of hours to animate, and required some resculpting. It was fun, and inspired by an old animation from the '90s in which an animated robotic glove punches a bully's face off, leaving just a skull that looks confused. The difference, is that the glove has been replaced by another weapon. One that is rather appropriate to the subject matter. 😉

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    • Hey Don, what a interesting idea shooting over glass! all rigs out! I like it. May be I use it for some scenes. Your farmer is cute, the sheeps are a little "2D", I think it's complicated put its 4 feet on the floor if the sheep is 3D, doesn't it? 

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