At one point I have to animate a character who is taking a big whiff of something. Would I need to create a mechanism as part of the internal armature or could I fake this somehow else?

I've thought about using some kind of a hand bag pump to slip in his chest. So i could slowly squeeze air in frame by frame. But I don't know if there's any out there that are capable of manually controlling the slow release of air.

Other than that I've thought of just exaggerating the movement as much as possible with the help of camera angles, so that it really looks like his chest is inflating.

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I made a screw thread mechanism so a puppet could breath.  I have a video showing it in a gorilla. (     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWCp0Y9E4xw   )  I also put one in a monster, which was bulky like the gorilla so there was room for it, but ended up not using it for any of the shots needed.  If the monster was moving at the time, the expanding chest didn't really register, it needed to be staying pretty still for it to show up enough to be worth doing it.  

Mostly, if I want a puppet to inhale, I slowly arch the back and push out the chest, then slowly slump it to exhale, just by bending the spine, and that seems to read pretty well.  (I also have a nose with a wire inside that can twitch on things like rats or rabbits that need to sniff, and that helps too.) Try miming it for yourself, without actually inhaling any air or expanding your chest, just with posture, and you can see how it would look.

The screw mechanism gave me a lot more control than when I tried pushing air into a balloon inside a dino chest.  But I know Ray Harryhausen used an air bladder for a few of his puppets, including the Ymir.  It also showed up best when the Ymir was lying down and just breathing.

Thanks! It's funny that you mentioned miming because that's exactly what I was doing in the mirror before I asked the question haha. I think I will be able to get away with arching the spine of the armature like you said. It's really only needed for one shot, so I think I'll play around with the armature and camera to see how best to do it. And I don't know how I missed that video of the breathing screw mechanism!

StopmoNick said:

I made a screw thread mechanism so a puppet could breath.  I have a video showing it in a gorilla. (     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWCp0Y9E4xw   )  I also put one in a monster, which was bulky like the gorilla so there was room for it, but ended up not using it for any of the shots needed.  If the monster was moving at the time, the expanding chest didn't really register, it needed to be staying pretty still for it to show up enough to be worth doing it.  

Mostly, if I want a puppet to inhale, I slowly arch the back and push out the chest, then slowly slump it to exhale, just by bending the spine, and that seems to read pretty well.  (I also have a nose with a wire inside that can twitch on things like rats or rabbits that need to sniff, and that helps too.) Try miming it for yourself, without actually inhaling any air or expanding your chest, just with posture, and you can see how it would look.

The screw mechanism gave me a lot more control than when I tried pushing air into a balloon inside a dino chest.  But I know Ray Harryhausen used an air bladder for a few of his puppets, including the Ymir.  It also showed up best when the Ymir was lying down and just breathing.

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