Hi everyone. I haven't posted much, but I've been lurking around this site for the last five or six years, reading and learning as much as I could.

I just finished my first ever stop motion animation. Here it is, I'd love to hear what you guys think.

https://youtu.be/hgVjQJheN84

Thanks

-Jeff

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It looks really good, but I think you could work on the way it cuts between shots, some of the cuts are pretty jarring, try cutting on movement to make the transistions more seamless, like if you did a cut as the guard started to jump and the next shot started with him finishing the jump it might be harder for folks to know the cuts are there, but keep up the great work, looks a lot better then my first stop motion. 

That's funny Chris, I saw the guard start the jump on one shot, and finish it after the cut, just like you were suggesting.  (That's how I cut, too, so I was agreeing with everything you said, before I watched it.) The video couldn't have been updated after you commented could it?  Or your player skipping frames?  I know exactly what you are saying about cuts, but I didn't find the cuts jarring.

Looks great Jeff!  First ever stop motion?  I wouldn't have guessed it.  

My only problem was the loud thumping of the intruder's footsteps, when presumably he is trying to sneak in.  (He is ducking back and hiding, after all. That duck-back was nicely done, too!)  A change of audio might fix it, although he does seem to be animated to land fairly suddenly with each step.  A sneak step would have each foot take the weight more gradually, with some ease-out.   Maybe less noise opening the door, too?  Unless he is meant to just stomp in, thinking the castle is deserted, then is really surprised to see a guard there.  But I didn't quite read it that way either.

Nice intro with the spider scuttling, then the tilt up to the door!  Like that secondary animation of the ring-handle bouncing.  Great character and costume design!  Nice lighting.  Cool set, with the stone walls and beams going way up.  A good clear sense of style with everything. Looking forward to more episodes!  

In the meantime I can watch some of your making-of video:

Yeah...  I found that when I put my plastic eye beads into an unbaked Sculpey head, if I left it for a couple of days the styrene plastic and the Sculpey would merge.  Have to use glass beads to sculpt over instead, or ball bearings, anything I can find that matches the size of the beads I will use for finished eyes later.

I've got a project from 5 years ago that I start and stop with, too, I know the feeling!  Good on you for getting back to it!  

oh wow, I feel silly, guess I didn't notice that cut because it works :) but there were a few other cuts that didn't, so learn from the one that did.

Thanks Chris

Chris A Boyer said:

It looks really good, but I think you could work on the way it cuts between shots, some of the cuts are pretty jarring, try cutting on movement to make the transistions more seamless, like if you did a cut as the guard started to jump and the next shot started with him finishing the jump it might be harder for folks to know the cuts are there, but keep up the great work, looks a lot better then my first stop motion. 


Thanks Nick, I really appreciate the advice. The sneaking steps I agree with most, they should have landed more gradually. As I animate more and get more experience moving the puppets I imagine I'll get more of what I want.

As I did each shot I would always start with an idea in my head of how I wanted them to move, but by the end it was something altogether different.

Your one of the guys I've learned from most here on the boards, so thanks again for the comment.

-Jeff


StopmoNick said:

That's funny Chris, I saw the guard start the jump on one shot, and finish it after the cut, just like you were suggesting.  (That's how I cut, too, so I was agreeing with everything you said, before I watched it.) The video couldn't have been updated after you commented could it?  Or your player skipping frames?  I know exactly what you are saying about cuts, but I didn't find the cuts jarring.

Looks great Jeff!  First ever stop motion?  I wouldn't have guessed it.  

My only problem was the loud thumping of the intruder's footsteps, when presumably he is trying to sneak in.  (He is ducking back and hiding, after all. That duck-back was nicely done, too!)  A change of audio might fix it, although he does seem to be animated to land fairly suddenly with each step.  A sneak step would have each foot take the weight more gradually, with some ease-out.   Maybe less noise opening the door, too?  Unless he is meant to just stomp in, thinking the castle is deserted, then is really surprised to see a guard there.  But I didn't quite read it that way either.

Nice intro with the spider scuttling, then the tilt up to the door!  Like that secondary animation of the ring-handle bouncing.  Great character and costume design!  Nice lighting.  Cool set, with the stone walls and beams going way up.  A good clear sense of style with everything. Looking forward to more episodes!  

In the meantime I can watch some of your making-of video:

Yeah...  I found that when I put my plastic eye beads into an unbaked Sculpey head, if I left it for a couple of days the styrene plastic and the Sculpey would merge.  Have to use glass beads to sculpt over instead, or ball bearings, anything I can find that matches the size of the beads I will use for finished eyes later.

I've got a project from 5 years ago that I start and stop with, too, I know the feeling!  Good on you for getting back to it!  

The set is amazing! Very detailed, as well as your puppets. Awesome camera angles as well. I can't believe this is your first stop motion film, it's impressive. 

Wow Jeff, that is really excellent!!! In every regard - aside from just a few small imperfections that as I think somebody said will clear up with some experience. I especially like the puppets - the style you use. There's something about the legs in particular that makes them look really cool and active. And the clothing is really well done - very complex and yet it never looks overdone and it all works when they move. This is really at an amazing level for somebody's first film! 

As an episode, it works - I'm hooked and can't wait to see the rest. Thanks for posting this here!

Ok, I've spent some more time with it (I'll be going back in for more in a minute), and I think I see why there's some objection to the cutting on the action on the jump. It looks like maybe it takes just a few frames too long to cut to the other shot, where he lands. I played the jump a couple of times and timewise it feels like he would actually land during the first cut, off camera, then when we cut to the second shot he's still in the air - so it feels like things rewound to a second or 2 back in time, if that makes sense. I would try trimming a few frames off - maybe even cut it before he's out of frame, which is usually how cutting on the action is done. In fact (you're probably aware of this) you would normally try to make sure the character, or some important part of him, is in the same screen position in the second cut as in the first, so the viewer is still looking at that spot, so the motion of their eye flows continuously - or maybe have him already advanced just slightly. I think, in addition to the feeling that time-wise he should have already landed, it's the fact that he left the frame in the first shot and then in the second he's starting still inside it that also makes it feel strange. If he leaves frame in one shot he should probably be off frame in the next one (or so I theorize, sitting here in my basement, not having tried anything like that!)

I think doing something like this would make a huge difference. Of course, this might be an early rough cut and you might not have trimmed your cuts all the way down yet - I often leave a little wiggle room especially on those really critical edits like this one. 

Also, one thing I noticed this time - I really like the way everything looks like an illustration - like a Rackham painted drawing brought to life!! So good!

.. It might also have to do with the fact that you broke the 180 degree rule. He was moving to the right in one shot, and then he's moving the opposite way in the next That's pretty jarring, and goes against established filmmaking conventions of continuity cutting, which aims to never confuse the viewer. That's fine if you're doing French New Wave style filmmaking, but nothing else in your film feels like that. And especially since it's set in Medieval times, it probably needs a very classical feel (which it has, aside from that extremely bold 'jump cut'!)

But I think if you just trim off enough frames it will work in spite of breaking the 180 degree rule. Just wanted to point that out as something to pay attention to in the future. 

Ok, last nitpicky consecutive post, I promise!!  

The only other thing that I noticed is the sudden stop right at the end as the camera is craning up to show the guy in the rafters. The camera move is very well done - nice and smooth - but it stops too suddenly. It needs a little ease out to look more pleasing. If a real camera did that it wouldn't be able to just stop on a dime like that. 

/nitpicking

Ok, I lied! 

Just can't stop picking at those nits! Actually this time I've got an idea for how to fix all the problems with the jump cut. Not that you should re-shoot, but just by way of, again, keeping ideas like this in mind for the future. 

Because I do have one other (very minor) nitpick that I caught this time. In the shot where the guard lands, the camera is positioned facing toward him and all we can see is the very edge of the wall, where the sneaker was standing - it isn't clear to us if he just stepped back. I didn't realize he was 'gone' until the next shot, where you showed the entire stretch of hall all the way back to the door where he came in. I couldn't help but think - what if you would skip that camera position and instead cut right to the next shot, or maybe just a bit higher up for a slight down view, but have the guard finish his jump - in that camera angle. That way you would accomplish 2 things - you wouldn't break the 180 degree rule, and the viewer immediately sees exactly what the guard does - the entire (empty) hallway where he (and we) expected somebody to be. 

Of course then you miss the great camera angle of the guard landing, which shows his reaction to finding nobody, but in classic continuity cutting (not that you have to use that - a lot of directors don't anymore) you would first show what he sees and then his reaction. Sorry, I'm just thinking out loud at you now. 

Strider out!! 

Very nice style for set and puppets, lots of lovely detail.

My comment is not about the visuals - I think Strider has covered that base - but the sound. The music is excellent for setting the atmosphere, and brings it to a close very well. The first steps are a bit loud, but then when we hear the guard speak he is loud enough to draw the audience in, so we start to empathise a bit with him. He feels too 'close' to the audience. He also starts talking in a rather English accent, then finishes sounding more North American with "Eyes playing tricks on me..etc." Maybe if he was a little more distant sonically it would help to get the sense of space?

Also I wonder if there should be some reverb in the hall. It is a medieval castle with stone walls, so would be echo-y and empty-feeling. I wonder if there should also be doe other foley sounds, such as clinking armour, creaking leather, all that sort of stuff?

The other thing I wonder about is whether the guard should react with his grunt so soon after he lands. Perhaps taking a moment to realise that the corridor is empty, before registering it with the "Uhh?"

But these are nits on the back of nits! It does look lovely.

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