My brother Nathan has already started posting about the construction of the alley way set which features at the beginning of our film. You can find that HERE.
I thought It would be best to start at the begging and to show the first shot we set up for the film. To ease ourselves back into the swing of things we decided to tackle one of the more simple shots.
Pictured above is an image of the shot in question as it appears in our storyboards. The shot features the Mail man character looking up towards the camera with a look of shock/worry on his face. He then quickly raises his arm to look at his watch. In the film the character is actually standing outside, in front of the theatre, looking up at a billboard featuring Elle (our Actress character). However no theatre set was need for this shot since that would all be behind the camera, and we didn't need to make much because the character is being shot from above and taking up most of the screen. All we needed was a small section of pavement, some tarmac road and a street light.
The set is lit using two halogen lights attached to a simple scaffolding lighting rig. The character is being lit heavily from the front to simulate the bright theatre front lighting around the bill board he is staring at. The camera is a Canon 500D attached to a secure tripod angled down towards the character so that the character is looking up towards the camera lens.
For this film we are shooing with Stop Motion Pro V7. The computer is on a separate station slightly away from the set with the monitor angled away to stop any unwanted light from affecting the shot. In the picture below you can see an image of how the framed shot looks on the monitor using the full resolution viewer of Stop motion pro. To save time and materials, we try to only build things the camera sees. This means a lot of cheating. For example, the street light cuts off half way with no actual light attachment. You never actually see the top on the light so instead we suggested a street light using some plastic piping and a bottle top painted matt green. The sidewalk and road were made with MDF and card simply sprayed with a grey primer followed by some stone effect 'speckle' spray paint for a concrete texture.
Later in the shot, our character checks the time on his watch. We didn't actually make a small scale watch for our character, the shot cuts away to a close up before his watch would be revealed from under his sleeve. The character simply raises his wrist.
We then cut to a close up of the characters watch on his wrist. For this we made a large scale arm and watch which was close to being life size. The arm was made from a length of card tubing, covered in a thin sheet of flesh coloured plasticine. we used some spare material from the puppets cloths for the sleeve, which could be pulled back to reveal the watch. The whole arm was supported by a few twists of thick aluminium wire so we could give some movement to the arm. The watch was made from a jam lid, for the main body, and some spare leather material for the strap. We could have used an actual watch for this shot, but we felt that it would have stood out from the style of the film and looked too realistic. So instead we used my deluxe jam time piece.
We filmed this shot on the same set up so that the lighting would match with the previous shot. For this shot the sidewalk floor is out of focus with no visible shadow cast from the arm so it looks like it is further away from the ground than we actually shot it. The second hand of the clock could also be animated for that all important ticking
The next shot we decided to film allowed me to try out more of the puppets movements. This set was also very easy to make which might be a surprise considering what the storyboard panel looks like.
Pictured above is an example of the tie downs we are using. One wing nut has been soldered to the bolt (you can also use a length of threaded bar for longer tie downs) and another remains separate and is used to tighten the character to the stage once the bolt is attached to the nut in the puppets foot. The wing nuts make it easier to twist the tie down when reaching under the stage. I much prefer the tie down method of securing a puppet to a surface as opposed to magnets, which aren't as strong and can sometimes still allow the puppet to twist or slide.