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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Big Work, Big Baby

After creating my first short “Bean and Todd,” I started to come up with ideas for my next short film. Big Baby was written and storyboarded before any filming was shot. That made the job much easier to produce. It was during the early stages of filming that I purchased a copy of “Secrets of Clay Animation Revealed” by Marc Spess. Using the knowledge I learned from the book helped to create more fluid animation and experiment with different techniques.

Early on in the filming I purchased a Sony Digital 8 camcorder which made the process much easier and the quality better. There was no more fighting with the broken down VHS camcorder. Using the Digital 8 camcorder taught me to use manual white balance and manual focus for optimum results. If you do not use proper white balancing, the colors of the film will not look correct. Using the manual focus helped to avoid occasionally auto focusing shifting errors.

The book by Marc Spess said that recording the audio before the filming would greatly help. I found that it was much easier to know proper timing of clips when the audio track is already laid down. Unfortunately I had created the characters before learning about using armatures from Marc Spess. Armatures are basically aluminum skeletons on which the clay characters are molded over. Having the metal support allows for ease of animated motion without gravity pushing the arm or leg to the ground. Also notice that there were no speaking parts for any of the characters in the film. This was intentional to avoid the need for lip syncing each dialog piece. This technique alone saved my countless hours and headaches.

Although Big Baby runs only five minutes and three seconds on screen, the entire process was close to six months of planning, filming, and editing. I hope you can enjoy the humor and art of stop-motion animation. If you want to learn more about stop-motion animation be sure to purchase Marc Spess’ latest book, "Secrets of Clay Animation Revealed 3" or visit his website at www.animateclay.com for some helpful tips in beginning clay animation on your own.