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Stop Motion Walk Cycle

Year One: Unit 2- Project 3 (Part 2)
by

Jodie Wick

on 16 January 2013

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Transcript of Stop Motion Walk Cycle

The materiality or textual nature of stop motion animation has a distinctive aesthetic appeal The characters that you have designed have been created because conceptually the idea will work best in stop motion. You have considered how your characters will move and this is your opportunity to now test this within an animation.

The animator not only has to breathe life into otherwise inanimate objects but is also trying to create the illusion of a physical world, albeit on a miniature scale, in a way that is believable to the audience in order that it can suspend its disbelief. You will be creating and working in a three dimensional world- you will be working with a physical object, touching it, moving it and creating a material end result.

Remember to consider this when you storyboard your ideas- consider the spatial relationships between the character and its setting and any other objects in the shot. This will help you consider shooting problems.

As Paul Wells describes ‘It's the ability to make and build things, as well as to respond to the miniature demands of theatrical practice and live-action film- making techniques on a small scale’

Testing and preparation for shooting To consider:

A sense of theatrical performance and live action cinematography






Connection with theatre, acting and over dramatization through movement and gesture of the models Within this project we are focusing on developing and creating biped character examples Remember to divide the movement into sections- eyes first then head then shoulders etc.

You already have a good understanding of basic movements but now you need to start to add in the details specific to your characters, as we all know a walk cycle varies depending on your character, its mood, its structure the situation and environment. You need to consider all these elements even in the simplest of situations. That’s why we have removed lighting and sets so you can really concentrate on developing the movement as a discipline. As Susan Shaw notes; walking a puppet is the first thing that you will do in stop motion animation and is usually the most difficult:

If you study walks enough you will see that the movement originates from the centre of the body, the hip. The leg is pulled forward from the hip, the body rotates slightly from the hip as each leg comes forward, causing the arms to swing. The arm doesn’t lead the leg, and the leg doesn’t lead the arm- but, in a relaxed walk, the movement starts at the hip and moves outward- so the hand is the last thing to move forward, as it is at the extremity of the body. You will find moving your puppet by grasping the pelvis and manipulating the legs and body from the hip, means your puppet/ armature will keep its shape much better as you walk it. Don’t be tempted to pull your character forward by the foot, as the whole shape of the move gets lost.

The full stride is the point at which both feet are touching the floor; the size of this stride is determined by the speed at which your character is walking. And the size of the stride is how you measure the distance your character will cover, and therefore when to bring your character to a halt.
(Susan Shaw, 2004, p. 123) Quite difficult to find long sections of walk cycles because animators usually try to avoid this! It’s up to you to keep the character alive and interesting- body language and movement can tell the story dialogue may not tell.

Think about the characters inner monologue- what are the character’s inner thoughts as you make pose choices.
Here is an Example from Kenny Roy (Mentor at Animation Mentor; Founder, Director of Arconyx Animation Studios):

Let's use an example. You are animating Kramer bursting through the door into Jerry Seinfeld's apartment, looking around, seeing what he is looking for, and walking to the counter to grab some cereal. Go ahead and be literal with the monologue. A potential inner monologue might read: "BOOM! Let's see here! Where is that thing? Is it over here? Over there? Aha! There it is! I'm walking to the counter. Aaaaaaand got it!"

Obviously, nobody would narrate what they are doing like this, and certainly not out loud. But as you read through the above inner monologue a few times and get comfortable with it, feel the timing come out of the words. Immediately the "Ah" of "Aha!" starts to feel like anticipation of the reaction of seeing what Kramer wants. Also, the long "Aaaaaand" feels like a nice stretch on the body when he reaches for the cereal. "...over here? Over there?" probably jumps out at you as evenly timed, but try reading it one more time, REALLY emphasizing the "OVER" and saying "here" and "there" quickly, and sharply. You might feel that the timing choice for Kramer looking around the room just changed dramatically.
Sandman-Paul Berry
Hilary- Anthony Hodgson
Coraline- Henry Selick
Peter and the Wolf- Suzie Templeton (See Animation in process)
Big Story- David Stoten & Tim Watts
Fantastic Mr Fox- Wes Anderson
Mary and Max- Adam Elliott
Next- Barry Purves Examples: A REMINDER:
Ed Hooks, a major acting practitioner for the American animation community, offers ten tips to animators when thinking about the ‘acting’ for the their characters:

•Thinking tends to lead to conclusions; emotion tends to lead to action

•Your audience only empathises with emotion, not with thinking

•It is good for your character to have an obstacle of some kind

•A gesture does not necessarily have to illustrate the spoken word. Sometimes a gesture can speak of a different inner truth (study Gollum in The Lord of the Rings)

•Animate the character’s thoughts. All of them. The more specific the thoughts are, the better it will be. (Look at The Iron Giant scene in which the giant eats the car in the junkyard. You will count something like 13 different thoughts in a 12 second time frame.)

•A character plays an action until something happens to make him play a different action. In other words, there should never be a moment when your character is doing nothing

•Definition of acting: Playing an action in pursuit of an objective while overcoming an obstacle

•Scenes begin in the middle, not at the beginning. You want to enter a scene as late as possible

•Dumb people and dumb characters do not think they are dumb. They think they are smart

•Don’t start animating until you have your story set. Storyboard everything first. If a sequence lacks conflict or negotiation, try to fix it before starting the animation http://vimeo.com/3514404 It's Alive!- Coraline Next- Barry Purves See 'Animation in Process' by Andrew Selby
Pages 126-131
Also some good 'Making of' videos: See from 4 minutes 30 seconds- very good walk cycle!
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