Monday, August 1, 2011

Ball & Socket Stop-Motion Chickadee Puppet

This puppet is for Writer/Director/Animator Evan DeRushie's project "The Fox and the Chickadee".
(Update! Here's the finished puppet!)
It's approximately the size of an actual Black-Capped Chickadee and as it turned out, about the same weight (1.8oz).
On a low budget project like this you wanna reduce costs wherever possible. Being a bird and all, this little guy was going to be doing a lot of wing flapping over the course of the shoot so a wire armature just wasn't practical. Wire breaks, which means frequent repairs and interruptions in the animation process.
Also, I wanted the wings to be able to conform to and hold both the outstretched and folded positions to avoid having to use a replacement for each position.

Here's the bare armature

The next step was to carve the body mass out of SignFoam.
It's great stuff. Light and durable.

Here he is with the wings in place and some "stand-in" feet and feathers before he got the final ones.
Because birds aren't the most expressive creatures in the world, there's a "brow-rig" that goes in the hole in his forehead to help give him a bit of expression. Sort of a "T-Bar" configuration.
Seems I forgot to put it in for the pics.
He also has a cast plastic faceplate with eye sockets and the upper beak.
The lower beak was cast in plastic onto a separate ball-joint rod below the upper beak.

Here are the final feet.
Braided 20 gauge aluminum wire wrapped with fabric ribbon and coated in tinted latex with plastic claws.
They tension-fit into a brass connection in the ball joints in the body.

Here's the preliminary design "sketch", working out the basic function of the puppet. Just a starting point before getting into the details of the measurements.
The "brow-rig" idea was added after.
(done in Adobe Illustrator)

Pics of the finished product coming soon...
(Update! Here's the finished puppet!)


Anonymous said...

This is VERY VERY VERY GOOD...well done.

Graham Read said...

Mayor Ford?
Is that you?

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Graham Read said...

More coming soon...

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Anonymous said...

Hi I hope someone can help me here, I am looking for ball joints that are very small and will hold a pose. I make posable dragons, I am using barbie doll leg joints for the knees and elbows but I can't seem to find any ball joints that are strong enough to hold a pose.