Hi everybody,

First, sorry for my english, as you read I'm french. Nobody is perfect.
Secondly, I was very happy to find this awesome website. 

I usually direct short movies with real people, but for a low budget web-serie project in stop motion, we'll need to buy and make some puppets.
For the protagonist's armature, I've read some of your posts, and finded for our needs, three kinds of armatures in our budget :

- The Modus pro built armature from Julian Clark :
https://www.stopmotionshop.com/modus-pro-built-armature--300mm--12-inch-scale-486-p.asp
(unfornately this one is out of stock : 
https://www.stopmotionshop.com/modus-armature-kit-487-p.asp)

- The George SK armature, recent stuff in carbon :
https://www.stopmotionengineeringstore.com/index.php/prodotto/georg...

- And this one, from the same seller :
https://www.stopmotionengineeringstore.com/index.php/prodotto/georg...

Not enough reviews on these two lasts, but seem to be pro.
If you had some advices about all that, you'll have my eternal gratitude.

Thanks a lot !

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Hey Dackus,

well all advice is subjective, and all this is probably going to overwhelm you lol, but my experience I recently bought:

https://www.stopmotionshop.com/alpha-premium-studio-armature---9-in...

from Julian Clarke Studios, same place you were looking at the Modus.. yeah it's out of stock unfortunately..    and so far the ALPHA has been amazing to animate, he's my first B&S armature so I have nothing to compare it with, but compared to wire, a world of difference.. but the ALPHA from Julian Clarke Studios / stopmotionshop.com has lots of rigging points unlike a lot of armatures... 

I don't think I want to go back to wire now.. although wire has it's advantages and preferences... and the cheapest option for you.. but more time and skill needed to do wire.. and it's messy and ultimately they break.. but it all depends what your conditions and limitations are.. how much money you have to throw at it, and all sorts of factors.. it's had to advise anyone really unless you have all the information and even then it's still kind of tricky what best to advise.. 

well those  three options you were looking at there.. quite a big price difference between the modus and the George SK and then the George L- steel..  if you want a decent enough armature, why not look at:

https://www.malvern-armatures.co.uk/index.html

I was told by a few pros, that they use these, and a university lecturer in Cardiff buy only these.. because the prices are good, and your still getting good quality and articulation... 

but I think it really depends how much control your going to need over this protagonist character of yours.. is it going to be leaving the ground often lol.. i.e. jumping, skipping, hopping, running, flying, anything of that sort of behaviour, then your definitely going to need to buy an armature that has rigging points to connect the armature to a rig or winder.. not sure if all B&S armatures have rigging points do they..

 

and if you do need to get him off the ground or just need a way to support him other than tie downs, just to move it smoothly doing a walk or whatever - then I would definitely consider this 3D PRINED winder:  or a winder of your choice.. 

https://www.instagram.com/friendlybeanscreations/

that's the guy's page,  Luke I think, that designed the DIYnder 

and Simon T. the guy that can print and build the DIYnder for you is:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkW28zkO1wcSiwMdgyvLu_Q

write him if your interested... 

he's on here, he may answer you soon, if he's not too busy right now,  I got mine off him, and it's good, it's does the job.. but again if your character is going to be leaving the ground, anything other than tieing it down through the feet, you will need to use a rig or winder and if you are going to go down this path then you will have to do rig removal or ' masking ' on photoshop or after effects or some equivalent editing package.. that's a lot of time etc.. I still haven't learnt how to do masking.. but it's essential to remove anything i.e. the rig, the winder, wires etc that's in the frame that you don't want in there... so did you want to do much post production work.. I don't know if your familiar with that side of the production... 

apparently John Wright does some of the best quality armatures out there.. few profesisonals told me.. but way too expensive I just noticed,  amazing though.. he offers custom design service.. if I had the budget I would get him to design me a puppet.. 

https://www.jwmm.co.uk/galleries/armatures.php

there is so much choice nowadays.. it can be overwhelming... 

this guy edu puertas does great armartures too, I've heard..  but I'm not sure if he's in business right now because of the lockdown:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdEtDnvVeoqlKzpquM7IsNA

you can write him.. he's a really nice guy too.. 

So to sum up.. yeah budget is probably for most the main limitation how you decide what to buy.. other than that.. if it's definitely a metal B&S armature your going for, as opposed to making your own wire ones.. then I would recommend the one I've, I even bought the 3D printed head and hands off Julian, although my hands broke already, don't know why, I'm writing him next.. maybe something to do with what silicone he used.. or it's more likely it's me being too rough handling him.. I may have broke them... they are really cool hands though.. it's cool that the George SK one comes with head.. they don't all do that.. although that head doesn't look as good as the one that Julian Clarke sells for £50.. ultimately how much control are you going to need over the puppet will determine a lot I think..

in my view - just remember everything you do from the ground up has to be solid / stabilised, I learnt this the hard way, so B&S armatures definitely seem to the right choice as opposed to wire, all the £100+  ones, they all decent, they just have different qualities ontop of the control you have with a metal armature... 

another good choice:

https://www.animationtoolkit.co.uk

I found a totally different mindset or way of animating with B&S armature.. at first the idea of tension joints, and constantly altering the tension with the Allen key was kind of intimidating but now I love it, I'm starting to learn to trust it.. and if I know I'm doing a walk and it's up on one leg I need to make sure the lower joints are extra tight because of the weight has shifted onto one joint or one area of the puppet.. so things like this need to be accounted for.. but if your using a rig or winder that changes how tight each joint has to be.. it's experience will teach you.. I broke so many wire armatures.. I'm just glad I got a nice solid armature now, ALPHA from Julian Clarke Studios £299 to use, I know it won't break or fall down.. and I can stay focussed don learning to animate - spacing and timing - 

but I just finished a 2xday puppet fabrication course online with Jenny Kidd:

https://www.instagram.com/jenniferkiddstudio/

and I made a wire one.. lots of issues.. the hand is broke already.. tried to animate it last night first time.. although you will have hands breaking even on the B&S armatures.. they tend to be replaceable hands.. even the £50 ones I just had off Julian at stopmotionshop.com

ok my head is done in now lol with all this information.. I hope something I've said is useful.. don't be scared ok, just make a choice, they will all be good choices.. I was scared of which one to go for, and I just decided on the ALPHA and went for it.. people will always contradict you or each other.. because there is no one choice that's perfect.. and people are biased anyway.. we all talk our own talk.. you just need some fundamental knowledge about materials and processes.. I know now for example that having a B&S joint that is solid from one limb to the other, no weak points is the way to go.. as opposed to doing wire which will always break.. I personally don't want to spend lots of time building a puppet like the one I just done and it breaks down.. fine if it's for a quick short animation then you can afford to take that risk because it's probably going to last for a short shot.. but for long term use you need a decent armature, and this is what your trying to decide on right.. well I can only speak from experience, and I'm presently using the 9" Alpha from Julian Clarke Studios:

https://www.stopmotionshop.com/alpha-premium-studio-armature---9-in...

and so far so good.. he's solid, stable, good quality, lots of choice of where to rig him.. which I love.. whatever you go for, you definitely need one that is easier to tie down or to rig.. I find tieing the feet down with M3 screws and wing nuts fiddley.. I wish there was an easier way.. we need a more solid screw / wing nut option.. some kind of chunky tool to tie into it's feet.. I may have to try and build something.. because this is an on going issue and wastes a lot of time... drill is good but no always the best option.. especially if it's late and your don't want to disturb neighbours etc.. 

owe yeah I loved the fact that the ALPHA was delivered built.. you will pay more for this in the price of the armature but it's definitely worth it.. unless you love to fiddle and build it yourself and it will educate you how it's actually made and works.. but if like me you just want to get on with the animation then please buy one that is already built, you will save yourself so much time and stress... I tried doing a cheap one off Ebay few years back.. it was so confusing and tiny, I couldn't handle it.. sent it back.. so I think this can be a big issue.. so get one that's premade like the Julian Clarke Studio ones.. but they will charge you in the price.. you get what you pay for..  

I haven't tried covering him yet with clay or whatever after you protect it with PDFE tape.. .. I think I may try foam maybe, and or clothes.. I was going to go for 12" and everyone told me to go for 9" which is what I did, but now I'm finding there's much much less choice of clothing and props for 9" or 1/9 scale.. so I'm a bit peed off about that fact.. but I guess people where making me aware that you don't want it to small or too big.. and a 9" is apparently a good middle ground to handle.. I don't know.. anyway I'm stuck with the 9" now so I have to get on with it. and it's all good.. if the modus wasn't out of stock I probably would have gone for that.. as it's decent and it's £100 cheaper..

I did consider:   

https://www.animationtoolkit.co.uk/anibild-chimera-male1c/

I liked the fact it came with 3D printed body parts.. which is cool...

but I have heard good things about these guys as a supplier of armatures etc..

James.

Wow ! that was a very precise reply !

Thanks James for all your recommandations ; I can tell you that the Alpha seems really great but quite too expensive for our very low budget film. We have 250€ max to the kit armature + the rig.
Ideally, I'd like to stay around 120€ for the armature. That was why I retain the George SK (130€). From Anibild, I heard some good reviews about Creature kit Three.
I'm going to check malvern armatures like you advice.
But one question, did Brass strong enough to support a long use ? I read that this material could be brittle, in comparaison with steel ?

About the character, he's going to be seated 80% of the time on a cinema seat, making hands and head moves. He will make a few jumps on his seat, and walk a little, climb the scene, but not crazy moves.
Maybe we don't have to purchase a very pro kit... ?

Have a good day,

David

Hi there. I'm the Simon James mentioned above...

Brass is softer than steel and will wear more, but many people think it makes a smoother joint. Aluminium is probably one to avoid as it has a tendency to get a rough surface in contact with steel.

Do check out the winders. They are so useful for controlling a move and can be adapted to use on different things in the set.

I have used Animation Toolkit armature components and they are pretty good for the price. Also some Julian Clark small armatures (which I think are not available now), which have been good too.

Hi Simon,
Thanks, so Brass can be an option, allright.
I'm going to check out the winders, as you advice. I'm pretty sure they will be useful.
I'll keep you in touch about my choice, and later, show you some pictures of the project !
Thanks again to both of you

Hey David, I did actually respond to this yesterday but my internet was playing up.. I think there's a storm brewing in U.K internet was randomly working yesterday and there was lightening, I gave up in the end, and today very windy... 

anyways.. that possibility of a 'smoother' joint, this could actually be a big deal.. I'm noticing on my steel one, and I'm assuming he's steel, he's definitely not brass, if I don't tighten the joint tension just right, there's a lot of drag, pull, tension, or friction I'm not sure what's going on but I instinctively notice the difference.. so if that's friction I'm experiencing then maybe brass does give you that extra bit of smoothness / less friction / tension / resistance - whatever you want to call it.. words words words lol... you on the other side right now lol the others side of experience, I was like that before I made my decision to get the Alpha.. I was all over the place.. not saying you are, but I doubt anyway, for all sorts of reasons, but I came to a point where I just made a no lose no win decision and took the position of buying one, ok I did throw a lot of money at it, £299, and if I'm not getting a decent enough armature with that kind of money then there's no hope for any of us lol although when I look at the scale and precision of Coraline or Paranorman puppets from the Laika movies for example, I think I'm on the wrong path, and something is so wrong with these limited inferior commercial choices they are giving us, .. it is definitely harder to try and decide which ones out of these lower price range are - what - the 'best' although no such thing really.. it's all going to come down to this one or that one, and there's no equal comparison, not really, there's always going to be a trade off, one of the things I hate about this world is that they give us all this choice - organised chaos - and most of it is shite to be honest, I'm sure they do it just to confuse us, but keeps people in business anyway, andit's all about the money really, and control, don't start me off now lol,  I get really conflicted trying to choose.. but I notice we are all trying to control the variables, to get the most for our money, don't get locked into that pattern / tendency,  in my view, just make a decision, which is basically place the order, spend the money, because this over thinking, over rationalising, over researching etc is just a continuum loop, it's a delay tactic, it will go on and on if you let it.. I've learnt this the hard way, this is my experience and yes I am projecting, like I said before it's all subjective, and it is difficult to advise, it's tricky, and I do believe that we all experience the effects of saturation, or confusion, it's frustrating at times.. don't know whether this helps, to show that there is other people out there struggling with it all, some don't show no signs of conflict lol.. I wonder if these people are human.. anyway shut it James.. talking shite now lol sorry.. 

I think one of the key reason we will always doubt anyway is because we haven't got access to all the choices / armatures in this case.. and we trying to learn from other people perhaps that have made those choices, have those armatures, those mistakes right.. for me the only way to absolutely understand is to have access to all those armatures so that I can explore and experiement  with them then I will know for sure which ones are the best.. I had this delusion that I would buy one armature.. the alpha.. and that he will be for life, for all my projects..but that's a lie I was telling myself.. anyway I'm not restricted by budgetary constraints.. I'm no a pro.. if I go to uni this year I'm going to learn these kinds of pressures and limitations that have to be put in place.. budget is very important.. so I'm probably not really helping sorry..  

ok so if you don't want to risk going for the malvern's which lots of people swear by.. I may try one next time.. I don't know.. I'm curious.. then either go for the George SK :   

https://www.stopmotionenginhttps://www.animationtoolkit.co.uk/anibi...

although he's big mind.. he's almost a foot high..

or consider the anibuild three:

https://www.animationtoolkit.co.uk/anibild-three-professional-armat...

but please note: 

" For best results, glue all balls with a threading compound (Loctite) not included but available here. "  this means you have to glue all the joints.. that's what put me off from going for this one, I think it was Simon that made me aware that the best way is to 'silver solder' I think it's called.. you can ask Simon.. but this involves skill, I can't do it at this point.. the one I bought it's already done to each joint.. so there will never be anything coming apart.. but the thing with the anibuild 3 armature is that it gives you the flexibility to build anything you can.. but I don't know how flexible that will be once you have glued the joints the first time.. and whether you can alter that later.. and rebuild.. but it's good price. and it's an 8" I think, so just a little smaller than the ALPHA..  are you going to be buying clothes for your character.. because that's something you should consider.. I  bought 9" or 1/9 scale.. and I notice there's not that much choice for the 1/9, plenty for 1/12... I haven't come across any sites yet that give plenty of choice for the smaller scales... 

also.. have you seen these, someone on here told me about them recently...

https://www.facebook.com/armaturenine/

not sure if they will be a good approach for what your doing, but they are suppose to be really precision engineered for movement, they sound amazing.. I was going to go for this.. especially because I just wanted an armature that I could focus learning movement on, I wasn't trying to design a set or build a specific character.. to be fair they are designed as a learning tool for artists to do poses to draw, but I'm curious as to what the joints are like and how the designer has approached the tension issue with B&S, especially because these are wood or some kind of engineered wood I don't know... but not metal of any kind... 

yeah stay in touch, and be nice to see your pics.. 

James.

Hi James,
Sorry I didn't reply,  had a big work rush.
Thanks again for your experience share. I can see how brass could be a good option, that's probably why kineticarmatures went to this kind of metal. Their armatures will be available again for sale in two weeks, so do the modus armature from Julian Clark.
I'll decide in two weeks so, but I understand your point a view about buying the Alpha.
Really question of budget, a lot of things to buy : finishing the puppet, building the set, rent the captation & light materials, etc. I wish I had more $$$ !
Read you soon,
David

Hey David.. no worries.. and yeah it all boils down to money or budget.. unfortunately.. glad the modus will be available soon, at least you have more good options now... 

good luck with what you decide... and I hope you don't feel too overwhelmed with it all.. 

I think we all probably get those moments.. 

James.

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