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.