Saturday, June 27, 2009

People mover!

Our resident machinist Scott Petrie (my dad) has just finished one of the coolest production pieces yet for Moving Day.
Introducing the "People Mover"!

If you've been following this blog for any length of time, you have probably heard me reiterate again and again the importance for having complete control over your character's movements. This typically means always having your character bolted to the ground to prevent any unintended movements.

"Ok," you might say. "That makes sense." But the first thing everyone wonders when they sit and think about animation for any period of time is, "Well wait a minute, what about when someone jumps in the air? How do you bolt them to thin air??"

Hmm, good question! Back in ye olde days of stop motion animation, characters were suspended in mid-air with very tiny fishing line. This is still used today in some animations, but most of the time the character is held up by something that is later photoshopped out. Often times this is called a "flying rig." We have called ours the People Mover and somehow the name just stuck:

Look ma, no ground contact!

This partially-finished armature was constructed with 1/4"-20 nuts in his upper back, lower back, and bottom of his butt. I can attach him to the People Mover in any of these locations and have him held 100% securely in place! Later on, after the animation is filmed, we will go back and edit out the bar so it looks like he is suspended in mid-air.

The ingenious design of this rig is of the first to come out of our armature / rigging machine shop run by none other than my father Scott Petrie. There was another famous team of father-son stop motion animators that made a pretty big impression on quite a few people... ever heard of a little guy by the name of Ray Harryhausen? If you don't think you have... you have, you just don't know it yet. Google it up.

Ray's dad was an accomplished machinist and designed a lot (if not all) of his armatures which Ray later animated and inspired nearly every special effects guru of our day. In the same way, my dad is currently building - well, that's a different story :-)

For now, take a look at these pictures of our awesome People Mover:

You can turn the crank for very precise movements along this plane:

This one is nice and long. Others may be shorter if the space is limited.

Notice the ball and socket joints. The sockets are designed to be the exact radius of the ball, providing maximum coverage for the most resistance with the smoothest movement. In other words, they aren't going to wear out for a long time and they will hold their tension very well.

There is a different type of joint for where the armature attaches to the arm, which makes it a breeze to attach this to a character.

Well, back to the shop to keep production rolling! It's a big set-design construction day over here. More to come soon.


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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Set design update

I was going to post a tutorial here, but due to technical difficulties (my camera ran out of juice) I would have to pull pictures from the Internet. I like my money and don't like getting sued so I decided against that.

Whew! Things have been very busy lately. Chairs are getting finished, props are being built, big plans are in the mix, etc. Unfortunately due to some technical difficulties pictures are not currently available. But fear not! Next week we should have an update on the set posted here. Read more!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Have a Seat, part three

The chair is finished!

You are going to have to forgive me for being a little sparse on details... First I was out of town for almost a week and then I was sick for even longer - so this post is a long time coming! I didn't take a lot of production pics because I just wanted to get it finished ASAP.

For those of you who enjoyed all the details, here is a quick rundown of what has happened since the last post.
  • Used epoxy putty on the feet to sculpt the shape and also affix a bolt to the bottom of the feet for attaching the chair securely to the set (see pic below)
  • Used "Goop" to glue the threading all over the chair. Yea, that's real threading from a fabric store.
  • Cut out balsa wood panels for the front of the arms. Stained them with walnut-covered wood stain.
  • Painted the feet with the same wood stain.
After that, the chair was finished!

And here is where the story gets a little sad, well for me anyway. This chair is supposed to look old and beat-up. Only problem is, it looks brand new. So, after having just made the chair perfect and beautiful, I went to town making it look "old" with the help of my sanding dremel and wood stain.
What do you think?


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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Directors Journal #4

Wow! Talk about busy!

Everyone is working so hard to not only get this thing in the can but to make it ooze with greatness! I am always amazed at the detail that the team takes on this project. It makes the overall finished product even that much more enjoyable and entertaining.

Everything has a story. From the small stain on the couch to the deteriorated wall on the inside of the house. I can't wait to share more with all of you!

Right now we have Duane making the finishing touches on the chair and the main character Chris while Brian slaves away at finishing the set before we move into production. We're really excited to start shooting while still making preperations for production on the rest of the film.

We decided to outsource a few things such as props, furniture, etc to some good friends in California and we'll encourage Jared to make some posts on that soon.

I decided that as soon as we're ready, we'll throw up some concept art of the inside of the house (where the action is) to give you a guys an idea of the look and tone of the film. More of that soon to come!

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