Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Developing Characters for a Stop Motion Animation Short Feature

Whenever I work on my art, I usually tell myself that I can finish the project in 2 days, which never happens. It has taken me close to a year and a half, maybe more, to get this far with the dolls. I volunteered to help my friend Alejandro with his stop motion animation project. I thought it would just take a week to do it, but the week became a month, so in April, I was busy helping Alejandro with the development of characters of his feature film.
His initial idea was to have a laboratory type of setup, with a female robot or android, a scientist, and two lab assistants. The second set will be a newscast type of environment, with an older gentleman interviewing the scientist from his lab, with the scientist viewing the interviewer from the monitor in his lab.
I agreed to make the characters, and wanted to help further, at least in finalizing the rest of the bodies, but I had other commitments, so got as far as making the "masks" of the human characters and the head and jaws of the robotic character. I have yet to see his final animated film short, but he also told me he wanted to keep developing his story and probably lengthen the film.
That would be hard work, since each second requires a certain number of frames. Even at 15 frames per second, it would take a long time to come up with a 15-minute stop motion animation.
Latex is the base material for the masks. Initially I sculpted in polymer clay. Then I made plaster casts of the heads. I didn't include the back of the heads, because Alejandro can cover those areas with hair, and he'll figure them out later.
The eyeballs for the latex were tricky but easy. To make an eye socket on the latex, I superglued the eyeballs to the plaster cast's eye area. Then I brushed on the latex around the area. When the latex dried, the eyeballs were in place, and it was just a matter of using a blade to take out the eyeball for later coloring.
The robot girl was a different method. She is supposed to be "stiff," so the head for the shoot was made from polymer clay, with the lower section just below the nose cut off, so that jaws with different mouth movements and expressions would be interchangeable.
 She went through several incarnations, and so I'm not really sure which of her would be used. I gave all the different faces of the girl and their jaws to Alejandro so he can use whatever he decided on. I made a suggestion that the rejects can be part of the scenario, like including shelves of the prototypes.
Stop motion animation is a whole different discipline altogether. It was good to help my friend out, because we hung around and talked about stuff, especially since in March, the previous month, I took the Dov Simens Filmmaking School, which was a 2-day seminar on filmmaking.
What was funny was, on the day when he was at my place, my phone rang, and Dreamworks Animation called me. I was losing sleep, so I saw their phone number and called them 2 hours later. They expressed interest in evaluating my book, Dollman the Musical. So that was good.

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