2nd October 2009
Hand Crafted Contentby 000898
Could you explain the process of creating one of the animations for NoPostie? How do you make the characters come to life?We use a very traditional, painstaking technique called stop frame animation. Stop frame animation is the technique where a puppet is manipulated one frame at a time in order to create the illusion of movement when the series of frames are played back as a continuous sequence. Depending on the complexity of the shot, we can create between 5 – 11 seconds of animation per day. In creating a 30 second piece there are a lot of other factors that can take up a lot of time as well; such as set changes and changes to the camera and lighting set ups.
Making the puppets, such as the Tatty Teddy puppet, is an art in and of itself involving many processes; sculpting, mould making and casting. The Tatty Teddy puppet was complex; first came a full ball & socket armature; basically a metal skeleton, then a fibreglass and foam body and finally the furry skin over the top. We knew that it was crucial to get the look and feel of the puppet correct. If the puppet didn’t look right then the whole thing would be wrong before we even started animating.
What’s challenging about working with Tatty Teddy?
Animating Tatty Teddy is complicated because of his dense fur – we sometimes get an effect called “boiling”. Boiling is what can happen when anything such as fur is animated. As the animator touches the furry puppet during each frame of the animation, the fur slightly moves. If left unchecked, when the animation is played back it appears as though the fur is constantly moving. This movement is what we call ‘boiling’.
We found ways that we could animate the Tatty Teddy puppet and ensure that the boiling was kept to a minimum. There were even times that we manipulated the boiling to work in our favour to create certain expressions on Tatty Teddy’s face or during one of the shots when the wind blows all the flowers away.
The animations are filled with sentiment and character, how is this achieved?
Character development in stop frame animation is very similar to that in a live action production. The director and the animator discuss the ins and outs of the character before the animation starts – just like a director would with an actor who is about to perform. Tatty Teddy has his own unique personality; this comes across through the situation he finds himself in, his movement and facial expressions.
Most scenes were actually acted out by the director and the animator together before animation began; this helped to create a shared understanding of what was going to happen on the screen, and the time the sequence would last. Once the animation begins, it is then the animator that brings the character to life and captures the emotion and sentiment.
What have you learned from working on NoPostie? What was the experience like?
We have been fans of the Tatty Teddy and Violent Veg cards for a long time now and so to get the chance to take both these projects to another level was a fantastic opportunity. To be able to create two projects side by side that are both totally different from each other was a lot of fun.