Tuesday, June 02, 2009

New additions to the lighting grid -- fine tuning the Movie Making Machine


I've been running into some frustrating limitations in my lighting grid.... lights can only be directly over the table or a couple of feet in front of it. I wanted to be able to get lights lower, and to position them farther from the table in any direction. So I got a few accessories from the hardware store and rigged up a pair of these nifty ceiling-mounted light posts.

A 4 foot length of hardwood dowel, a couple of pipe clips, and some big hefty C clamps is all it took. I can clamp the posts wherever I want to the ceiling joists (incidentally, the clamps ensure that I don't permanently mar the joists). I always have to laugh at sizing conventions in the hardware world... a 1" diameter dowel fits into a 1" diameter hose clip with about 1/4" of clearance all the way around. I had to jam pieces of wood into the gap and fill the chinks with hotglue. But I guess the pipe clips weren't made to fit real snug anyway. Oh well, it works.

The other day as I was setting up for one of the Skulkin animation sessions I was struck by a thought....

The stopmotion studio is all one machine. All of it... every part.... the table with the holes drilled in it, the little puppets that can be secured to it, the lighting grid, the camera positioning apparatus, the camera and the capture device (computer, software). It's all made to work together in perfect harmony, like clockwork with you as the operator - nothing moving or changing until you want it to.

The really cool part is when I get the puppets set up and get ready to do a shot.... I position and plug in the set lights I'll be using one by one, and then switch off the normal overhead light. This process is a gradual transition from the ordinary basement surroundings into the Stopmotion World. Now only the set is lit, and it takes on a special look... far more attractive than under ordinary household lighting. The mess that is the rest of my basement fades into darkness behind me, and now my attention is focused completely on those little puppets that I labored so hard to make, and will now labor to bring to life.

Welcome to the Stopmotion World!!!

In fact, now that I think about it, you could extend the machine metaphor to include the shelves full of books that feed my knowledgebase... the DVDs and tapes that provide invaluable inspiration... even the computer that connects me to the internet... to other animators and friends all around the world. Wow... it means my machine is connected to Shelleys, and Svens, and Jeffreys... and to YOURS if you're a stopmoe!!! Insprirational!!!! 


Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Dark,

My brother is a wood worker.

A 2 X 4 started out two inches by four inches but once planed and finished it is less. The same is true with dowels. It is a starting measurement.

As to the set lighting.
It looks like a great mobile set up. Easy Peasy to move and set up. Great Job.


Mike Letendre said...

Nice. I may be doing this for my junkyard set as there isn't a lot of room for free standing lights.

I'm currently working on building robots to help run my stopmotion studio machine ;)

Edwound Wisent said...

(^ as to the machinima stagekraaftwork :
bo forwarnded:

there may be bugs in the mix.
(^ i mean organic parts that don't stay in thier propper place:

ghosts in the machine:
static clingons and electromagnatism that half way through a shot all of a sudden without warning..
switch polarizations on USe.

the background noise becomes forground thrum:
and the heartbeat refibulates in ways that no amount of torcing nor masking ducked ape will be rid of.

(^ .wtf?!..

(^ sigh..
stop motion..
is not a cleanroom.
it isn't without dust bunnies and flitty mots ..power surges and interference patterns.

using to UTYLISE that instead of yelling "CUT! cat on the set!"
is that stroke of genious the creators LIVE with: but cannot be counted on.

(6 like in my grueling trial of "the arival"
a short showing off of chalk lining the shadow passage of time it took to make a pram roll down a hill and show up on my front stoop:

I could not stop and wait for my cat to get out of frame:
the time was wasting:
the shadows were crawling:

(^ yikes this is getting longwinded..
cutting it short..

should I try to beg Jim
A. into giving lighting cheats?
I mean he IS one of the masters..

(^ the blogosphere is far larger than stopmoe and is in facet mutating into storytelling alchemy.
(^ every little thINKg ..
((quote from Pete's Dragon))

is/was ( or will become).. connected.
((^ quote from a buried song^))

and seperated:
and danced against the grain again.

((^ spllchk wyrdverif dinatior = ordination divination domination ordinating

Sven Bonnichsen said...

One big machine... Heh. I'm "cog#0000007" over at Machine In Use Studios. The idea must be catching on.

Similar to what you're hanging from the ceiling, I built some vertical wooden towers that can clamp onto table surfaces. C-clamps rock.

jriggity said...

Stopmotion World!!!....Ive been there!!

nice to see we frequent the same universe...

keep havin FUN man...see ya there sometime.


UbaTuber said...

I know exactly what you mean, I put a lot of emphasis on the lighting so that moment when the overhead lights go out and the rest of the kitchen fades away, that transition into the "Stopmotion World", is one of my favorites, possibly even better than that first playback of a clip or pulling the first baked foam pup out of a mold...

Yaz said...

Have been building my stopmotion world and will be there soon in a dark room with the lights on... "And I think to myself what a wonderful world"...

StopmoNick said...

I may pick up on your idea of "drop-down" light supports. I made up an overhead grid consisting of 3 parallell lengths of 48mm (outside diameter) pvc pipe, and when I need the light to hang lower I use a light stand. But a light stand is one more thing to kick with my clodhoppers when I've been animating for hours. There is a kind of scafolding clamp that would work, but I don't have any so will probably come up with my own way of attaching a short length of pvc pipe at right angles - probably something that can slide along the horizontal pipe, then have a screw tightened.
I go with the bigger 2" size so I can use the standard G-clamps available from disco lighting suppliers. It's the same as the fittings in the ABC TV studios.

It's autumn here, and my "animation machine" seems to have trouble starting on cold mornings...

Darkstrider said...

Heh... Edwound... cats don't make good stopmo studio pets... an old sleepy dog is much less hassle!!

Justin, I expect to see you rocketing through the stopmoverse in one of those cool spaceships pretty soon!!

Nick - I think you need a can of GoMo Juice (AKA GoMoJo) to spray in the carbeurator!!

Thanks for the responses everybody!

Shelley Noble said...

My comment did make it up. I don't think I was controversial, maybe I was. Upshot: very cool insight.

Darkstrider said...

.... I take it you posted something and it disappeared? Not my doing!

Darkstrider said...

And Thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm leaving the StopMo world for awhile (the internet version, anyway) because I can't work on anything when i'm typing about it.

I think the best way to finish something, anything, is to unplug, at least for 5 or 6 hours a day. Do nothing else but work on your film. Then, the rest of the day, do whatever you like, if you have time. Little by little, you will finish the project and have a social life. The two will co-exist, rather than one dominating the other or battling for supremacy.

See you on the other side...

Darkstrider said...

Wow Don, big bombshell announcement!!!!

Well, ya gotta do what you feel you gotta do I guess, but we'll miss you here on the grid!! Hope you see your way clear to post something now and then.

bRYEnd_of_the_schtick said...

(^ "going dark" = an old habit/term for quiet on the set..
(6 later, thINKgs get revealed, but often much ends up on the cutting room floor.

(^ I love sweaping up.

sweaping = sweeping swearing sweating swapping sweatiness