I am very new to stop motion, although I have done a bit 2d animation. I have experience with directing and DOPing documentary and fiction film(shorter and longer) with festival/broadcast credits and looking forward to learning and getting good at puppet stop motion animation. Creating a short film seems a good place to start. Will be working solo for the foreseeable future.

In the last 6 months I purchased 200 euros worth of tools and various equipment to make armatures and other essential stuff like glues, clamps, foam, etc, as I had nothing that could be used for a workshop. Also few books.

With that in mind I want to ask 2 questions:

  1. Are there any specific materials that I can purchase to stock my non-existing workshop for the purposes of set design? I know it depends, but I am asking from the point of view of a beginner who would like to start learning also the model set construction and eventually create a short. It should not be overly expensive (toward the budget side) but in any case decent for proper model set construction. Any recommended books?

  2. In addition to the above question, how would you approach creating water and trees?

  3. My son plays with some great looking 1:18 scale cars. I was wondering if I could somehow take advantage of that. I believe a common scale for the stop motion puppets/set construction is around 1:7. Could I incorporate that, is this something common?

  4. What about a basic lighting set? I could afford an APUTURE LS-MINI 20D or a 150w Arri or a dedo, but nothing more. Should I prefer bicolour, tungsten or daylight?
  5. Any other advice very welcome.

I am aware that there might be several answers in the forum, but these are to get me started, will be doing lots of digging in here.

Many thanks!!

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Ah, I think I actually shot the fence and character against green screen for that title shot.  I did need to make the house a little bigger than it would really be if it was shot at the same time. 

I did do some mixed scale shots later in that episode I think.  1:6 to 1:24 is a big jump in scale, easier if the smaller size was 1:12 or 1:18.  But it's like the Mel Brooks gag with the big telephone up close in the foreground (The Producers?), that turned out to actually be huge when the actor came close to pick it up. You think it's a wide angle lens with exaggerated perspective, but it's more like a normal lens.  

I couldn’t t stop laughing when I saw the producers’ trick many years ago. So clever.

I see many people like you and the Stan Winston course I am watching, that prefer the 1:6 scale over 1:8 or 1:9. Do you find it much easier to move the character in 1:6?

Ok. So I’ve read some of your previous comments. It seems that it is easier to find stuff already made for the 1/6 scale. So big though. I am thinking about the sets that also need to be big!


 At what scale did you do the opening scene in the cinema? 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5k1pXdfU2E&list=PLA590B898B854...


StopmoNick said:

I've made 1:24 scale sets in order to use 1:24 model cars, and get a wider view than I could do in my small studio with my usual 1:6 scale.  At the big scale I could fit in about a house and a half, but in 1:24 I could have  whole street, with various parked cars.  All the character animation is done at 1:6, but I do have little mini-puppets that can do a simple movement in order to continue the action. A person on the footpath might turn as a car goes by, or start to take one step back and then I cut to the real puppet in a 1:6 scale set with just half of the building behind it.  For the bigger scale, I make cars from scratch, or parts of cars, and sometimes use 1:6 motorcycles.

1:18 would let you do more with puppets, but is still a bit small to really carry the story and give real character.  But you could key the larger puppet over a small scale set, or make it look like it is big because it is really close to camera, when actually it really is big.  

Here's a clip that shows how I mix scales.  In the pre-title shot, the puppet, sign, and fence are 1:6, but the house behind is 1:24 scale.  The wide shot next, with the episode title, is all 1:24. Then there are some 1:6 shots, and a 1:1 closeup of the rats on the kitchen bench.  The green Morris Minor van backing out is 1:6 (back of van made from MDF, front from fibreglass), which cuts to a wide shot at 1:24 where it backs into the street.  I made a Morris van and a VW Beetle in 1:6 scale for this, and also a small Morris because I couldn't get one in 1:24, but all the other cars are only in the smaller scale.

The exterior shots of the cinema are all 1:6 scale.  There isn't much more of the set than what you can see.

For that 90th Birthday Ray Harryhausen tribute that the shot is from, I didn't need any wider shots of the street, so I didn't use any 1:24 scale sets.  I didn't have any American cars in that scale, and in 1958 Mid-West USA the cars would have been nearly all Detroit makes, but I did have an American motorbike of an earlier period to give a sense of a busy street. 

It was a 1:6 die cast 1948 Indian Chief made by Guilloy, a Spanish company, except the headlight had come off so I replaced it with one I made with a practical light inside.  (A wire went down through a hole in the set to a transformer.)  I don't know if they are still making them.  Cheaper 1:6 scale motorcycles are made by New Ray and are readily available.  I have a NewRay Triumph, a military Indian, and a Vespa scooter for a project I may get around to one day.  Very expensive ones  have been made by Minichamps but are sold out on their site.  I found one of the 1:6 Brough Superior models that I bought for the same project, new for A$350 (218 Euro, US $244) on eBay for A$3,100 (1,920 Euro)!  Expensive at the time, but it was the exact model I wanted for my Death character in all of history.  (T E Lawrence's bike that he died on.)

The cinema front is made of Sceneboard, a 10mm thick double layer corrugated cardboard, and MDF doors and frames, with thin card bent around a particle board base to make the curved box office.  The footpath and road are 12mm article board.

 

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