Hi everyone!

I am looking for some help on how to animate with both animator (me) and my puppet in the same shot. 

My story is about a puppet that realizes he is just a stop motion puppet with all his actions being controlled by the animator. I really want to establish that conversation between the animator and the animation.

And in one particular shot, I am hoping to show the animator animating. Similar to this, at around 0.30:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pF_MTFzm27A


I am unsure on how this gets animated and would love to hear from you all. I assume there would be quite a bit of rotoscoping, but I am unsure on how this is set up, cause I don't think it's a timelapse? 

Thanks 
:)

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It is time lapse, sort of.  But not the normal sort where the camera takes a shot at regular intervals, as you would do to record something natural like clouds moving.

If you wanted to animate the puppets smoothly, you probably wouldn't have an automatic timelapse, because it doesn't take the same amount of time to move the puppet every frame.  You would be better off having someone shoot as soon as the puppets are ready, like you normally do with animation.  So it's more like a manual timelapse.   If there is only you to animate and take the shots, you could have a remote shutter release in your hand to trigger the camera.  Otherwise, sometimes you would be hanging around waiting for the camera to click because you had it set for every minute, but you only needed 20 seconds for the move on that frame.   I do timelapse for my tutorials on making puppets, and whatever the timing I set, it's too slow some of the time, and to fast at other times.  It works better when I can reach over and take a shot at the right time.  

That shot in Boxtrolls would have had a second person to take the shots.  There is no rotoscoping, the animator is there doing what they normally do.  The long exposures make them seem ghostly, because they will have moved during the exposure.

If you wanted the animator to move in real time, while the puppet moved as well, you would have to shoot them separately, live action video for the animator and a frame at a time for the puppet.  Then you would have to use something like greenscreen to put the animator in front of the puppet, or maybe split screen if they never cross over the same space.  That would be like the old Harryhausen films where animated creatures and live actors have to appear to be in the same place.

Another way to put live actors and an animated puppet in the scene together at the same time was done in the film The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb, where the actors were animated like the puppet.  (Pixilation - animating of live people.)  They had to hold a position until the shot was taken, then move a tiny bit and hold still again.  I notice that the puppets move more smoothly than the actors do, because puppets are better at holding perfectly still until the shot is taken.  But the slightly weird motion of the live people was part of the film's style.  You can see it at Youtube:    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k02RCw2aIMg

I'd actually bet that to do that particular shot, they had Dragonframe set up to take multiple exposures -- the smooth fade-in of the animator, and the relatively little motion blur on him in any given frame looks like for each frame, one was taken with the animator in position, and then he stepped out to leave a second, clean shot. Dragonframe actually lets you configure an automatic time-delay between these multiple exposures, so maybe he did it in the reverse order; snapped a clean shot first, with a couple second delay built in before the second shot triggered so he had time to step in and pose himself, so he didn't need a second person to snap the frame with him in it. Dragonframe stores the multiple exposures for each setup as separate sequences, so it's easy to mix them together afterwards.  

Laika definitely uses multiple exposures for a bunch of stuff (there was a really great video posted recently with a Laika compositor talking about that at SIGGRAPH), so I wouldn't be at all surprised if they were doing that for this sequence as well.

You can just set a capture delay under Preferences > Capture in Dragon. So you press the capture button when you're ready and then you'll have time to pose yourself "animating" the puppet before the camera takes the frame. Not a bad idea to set up the second exposure like Thomas mentioned so you can have a clean pass if you wanna do something like fade yourself in and out of the shot.

I see! I actually didn't think of capturing the frames in long exposure. And will definitely check out the video about Laika's compositing.

Thanks everyone! :)

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