Mystery Box Holiday Catch-Up

Over the Easter holiday, I managed to get a costume sorted for my puppet. Unfortunately, I managed to forget my puppet in my packing, so I had to make the costume only referring to my scale drawing and an action man of roughly the same size.

I picked up the material for the uniform at Rye market while I was on holiday, as I noticed the stall was selling exactly the right shade of navy blue I was looking for. The guy was nice enough to give me a quarter of a meter of his roll for 50p. I should have at least bought a pound’s worth! I noticed he was also selling the blue upholstery foam we have all used, so the stuff is clearly not hard to come by.


To start the costume, I made some templates with brown paper based on some action man trousers I had to hand and the scale drawing I had.



With the parts cut, I slowly cobbled them together over a couple of days, finishing the sewing on the jacket with a red mandarin collar.  On the first day back, I took what I had of the uniform and added the cuffs and the pockets with Evo-Stick.

Unfortunately the trousers have come up a little big on him so I’ll have to fold over the seams to make them a tad skinnier. This means I’ll wait to put on the red stripes on his trousers.

Today I managed to make his hat with some cardboard and left over material from the uniform. I curled a piece of cardboard around his head, secured it with masking tape and cut it to shape, before slathering it with Evo-Stick and laying on the blue material. I then traces the width of the inside of the top of the hat and made a top to wedge into it. Then I made the peak with another cut of cardboard, cut to shape.

In some of the early drawings, I had him carrying a satchel, so I cobbled one together to see how it looked.


The strap is a little on the short side, however it’s made of masking tape and I’ve coloured it in with brown felt tip which has given it a leathery effect which is quite satisfying. I may re do it a bit longer, but for now, it’s a fine prop.



Week 24 Summary

This week I began planning my postman’s uniform for Pete. As easy as is was to throw on the clothes that I have currently, I need to match what I have on the model sheet. The material I currently have for that isn’t quite what I want. I need a fine, navy blue shirt material. I’ve been researching patterns for the desired shapes and talking to my mum about how to go about the stitching.

I’ve also had the time to do a couple of test shoots, having Pete do Head-Shoulders-Knees-and-Toes. I’m happy with how pose-able his hands are and his pose-ability in general. I know it’s going to be a real struggle to get the full 10s performance done in 2 hours though.


Regarding research, we’ve all been digging up information around Animade. We can’t seem to find any of there work that goes beyond short form promotions, but that isn’t a problem. I have the contact details now and intend to send an email to their general enquires address.


I’ve learned a few extra tid-bits about After Effects in Robin’s workshop this week, shortcuts to cut clips and how to make a controller. I had a lot of fun using the lip sync puppet he’s created, I see a lot of potential in how to emote it during the dialogue. I look forward to editing the assets for it to create my own spin on the puppet. I plan on creating one that looks like Vincent Price.

Week 23 Summary

This week I’ve come a long way with my puppet by adding hands and feet and a head to him as well as finding him some placeholder action man clothes. I managed to drill some holes in the feet of my puppet and on Wednesday I shot a first pass of my animation. Then, I discovered that I had drilled the holes slightly too big and had to use two pins in each hole to support the puppet. I also tried using paper cut-outs to give my puppet a face which has proven very fiddly. I will need to perfect this if I’m to use this technique in the final animation.

For the media industries research project, I now have a group of four focusing on 2d animation. We have created a group chat and have begun to look at possibilities of productions and studios to focus on that best suit our interests.

Week 22 Summary

This week saw me begin my journey building a stop motion puppet. Helped by Barry and Helen, I now have made the wire frame body and sculpted the torso and limbs. This happened very quickly as I haven needed to spend a huge amount of time working on the foam because I have chosen to finish my puppet with jogger’s pre-wrap which shapes and covers the foam for me. This also means I haven’t had to wait around for the glue to dry.

I also managed to get the core to the head made in the 3d workshop straight after my induction on Wednesday. This meant I could instantly start working on the super sculpey head. I attempted to complete it this week but I didn’t like what I have made so far so I’m leaving it for next week.

Starting animation to sound was a lot of fun and I’m enjoying working in after effects again. Dave’s enthusiasm around the subject of creating visuals for music was very motivating and I was very appreciative of his interest in my work. The video I created in the end I felt was pretty good and I’m certainly considering spending some time working on more videos of that nature.

Thinking about what I would like to research for the media industries project, I would like to research around the role of a compositor for 2d animation. Looking at a lot of modern 2d animation, notably in Gorilaz music videos, people are using 2.5D animation to give their work the illusion of perspective using parallax. I think this is a fairly new job role and am interested in researching it further.

Week 21 Summary

Starting this week with acting for animators helped me really begin to visualise my character better and see how my final sequence should look. From that session, I developed a better working-storyboard that better reflects my research on Jacques Tati. The work I did on my storyboard helped me when it came to the animatic workshop on Thursday. The poses I used in the storyboard worked well in the animatic and the character began to come to life. I’m happy with the timing of the animatic but I need to think of a more interesting ending.

Starting the new research project, I have begun to look up the role of a stop motion animator for the short presentation next Tuesday. In the introductory session we learned that 30% of all animators are freelance. Stop motion animators I think make up a large proportion of those because of the fluidity of the industry. Tine Kluth made it clear that animators are picked up and dumped from production to production and the time in between them varies a lot.

Week 20

This week I began to explore character designs for a stop motion puppet in preparation for the mystery box project. I initially looked at a saxon warriors but in the end drew on my research for the narrative project and began looking at making a character based on Jacques Tati’s Monsieur Hulot. Working from there, I developed a character visually based on an old fashioned postman whilst drawing on elements of Hulot’s appearance posture. Making the maquettes in Thursday’s session helped me develop the character further and has made me think that there needs to be more emphasis on the basic shapes the character is made up of.

Week 6 Summary

Stop Motion this week was a step up from bouncing balls to a performance using basic armatures. I was looking forward to this and felt confident about it going in but I ended up struggling with the timing. I think this may have been down to the fact I was shooting at 25fps and animating like I was shooting at 12. I was attempting to get through my animations quickly so my partner and I could take turns. My animations suffered consequently and I would like to revisit them another time. I need to focus on the spine action and also be patient with poses I need to hold.

I feel like I’m keeping up with the CG project and am continuing to find the graph editor an intuitive way to create movement. This week we started moving the ball on multiple axis and added an interaction. I found this fairly easy to execute, however the thing I get lost with is the loss of energy at the end and how fast or slow that should come. It’s much easier to plot that kind of thing out in the graph editor, however I think it will be a long time before I can create an aesthetic in CG that can surpass the charm of hand drawn work.

On exploring my chosen film for the narrative project, I decided to look at the shape of the story using Kurt Vonnegut’s graph. I found that it resembled the shape of the old testement’s shape with an incremental rise in good standing before and incident and a terrible low at the end. I thought about why I thought Chomet decided to end the film like this but I’ve yet to back it up with any sources. Next I would like to look into the devices Chomet uses to propel the story without dialogue.

Week 5 Summary

Having my introduction to CG was very enlightening at the beginning of the week. It opened my eyes to a whole new way of animating and I’m very excited to get to grips with the finer details of Maya. I’ve been trying to work on some of my own basic sequences at home but have encountered some compatibility issues.

My narrative essay has come to a start this week as I’ve chosen to analyse Sylvian Chomet’s ‘The Old Lady & The Pigeons’. It’s a film without any (meaningful) dialogue so I’m going to be focusing on visual storytelling and narrative structure. Being a short form piece I’m going to have to look into the structure of short film narrative.

Shooting the first of 3 stop motion exercises was a lot of fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve really worked in stop motion and it’s magical to get back into. Its rare for me to work with a format so free and tactile. The bouncing ball exercise was a good start to reorient me with the format but I’m looking forward to working with armatures.

Looking at perspective in life drawing was fascinating. I was especially interested in the idea of drawing in fish-eye perspective. We were tasked with drawing the room around us and it was fun to draw things in context but also to think about what I’m really seeing rather than drawing an impression of what I’m seeing.

Week 4 Summary

This week saw me finishing one of my animated sketchbook ideas and leaving the other two in need of a little more development. The car driving over the bump is now complete and I’m going to leave it as is despite a small flaw at the end making the loop look odd. Robert praised me for recognising the problem but though it was best I leave it and continue working on my other animations. My self portrait is good but not progressing. I’ve inbetweened the first half of it but the laughing half is tricky to work with. I find that when I put in the inbetweens it breaks the timing and ruins the movement so I’m contemplating leaving that one as is also. The bird diving however is great and just needs to have the tie down layer drawn over.

Our session with Tine Kluth was interesting. She had a lot to say about her career and shared a few lessons in landing jobs; Number one piece of advice was to ask the crew what they’re getting paid before you sign a contract. She talked a lot about how stop motion work had been booming the last few years but she expected to see a lot of her colleagues out of work very soon. One thing I was surprised to hear was that  stop motion animators are paid far less than any CG animators. In my mind, Stop Motion was more of a specialist skill compared to people working on software but what do I know? She said any job working with your hands means less money – even if it’s working for Aardman.

Week 3 Summary

This week got us back into the swing of things after the Christmas break.

It started off with another look over our animated sketchbook plans before getting on with doing a rough animation of each of them. I’ve started my idea of a car driving over a bump. Robert spoke to me and reminded me that I should only rough out the extremes of the movement before spending a lot of time drawing any inbetweens that don’t fit. I will remember to do this with the other two also.

We also started looking at storyboarding. Helen talked about the importance of storyboarding, particularly in animation. I particularly enjoyed this session and drawing the example Iron Giant script and look forward to tidying and improving that over the weekend.

The trip to the Whitechappel Gallery to see the William Kentridge exhibition was a fantastic experience. Despite it’s great complexity, I particularly enjoyed some of the simpler installations. One installation which particularly caught my eye was a portrait projection of Kentridge putting up and fixing a picture of himself on the wall. Then after a while the picture turns around to see if he’s gone and walks off. Although very rough around the edges and very simply executed, it really worked well and made me chuckle. It was one of a few of himself that played backwards. The other installation I really enjoyed was one of his contraptions; It was a sewing machine with a horn stuck to the top of it that appeared to be a static sculpture but started violently and loudly working at random. It terrified quite a lot of people walking around and I found it very funny.