The Deadly Deaths

Nick's blog

This is my blog that follows the making of our of music videos. The blog posts related to my first stop-motion animated music video for the song "See The World" start from this post.

16th Aug 2006

Setup test....

I started setting up my animation space today. The following image is the table that I've made to hold the four main sets. It has removable metal poles/spikes that attach to the house sets, and wood below for attaching my forest sets to.

The garage is a bit of a mess. I think there are five bikes, a fridge and a whole lot of junk in there right now. I seem to have cleared myself enough space to move around though.

The above image is a lighting test for the television scenes. There is a lightbulb that sits inside the television and passes through the bottom of the set (you can see the orange cord in the first picture above).

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14th Aug 2006

Characters complete....

I finally got around to finishing off the female character today. It got left unfinished while I got distracted by all the other jobs I had to do. Here it is shown lent on the door that I've made for the male characters house.

I thought that I should probably post a picture of my animating setup too. The digital SLR camera (fully manual) is used to capture the final images used for the animation, while the webcam (the silver tube just to the right of the digital SLR camera's lense) and computer are used to monitor the movements of the animation.

I've also bought a few lamps over the last few days to use as my lighting rig. I've masked off most of the garage I will be shooting in to make it as dark as possible. I finally got around to building the supports for the second house set and assembled it too. I've made and finished off the remaining small props that I needed for the house sets (door, television antennas, televisions, etc). I've also bought a camera remote to fix the problems I had with the camera moving during shots. It looks like I might be able to actually start shooting this video sometime soon!

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10th Aug 2006

Flicker fixed....

Just after my last blog post I managed to break my Mac laptop (so I've been unable to shoot any tests this week). Fortunately I got it back today, so I can get on with this project.

While my Mac laptop was being repaired I spent some time researching my flicker problem. The shots from the last blog post were all done in a dark room with a manual camera (with the exposure, aperture, white balance, etc all set manually). I read that the problem is probably that the aperture for the camera isn't locked, and that it jumps to the chosen aperture (or as close as it can) for each picture. I looked into using a "de-flicker" filter through a program called VirtualDub on my PC laptop. Here are the results.... As you can see, the video looks so much better than the unprocessed video in my last post. While I will still endeavour to reduce the flicker on the camera side of things, I think that this program has pretty much solved my flicker problems.

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5th Aug 2006

Flicker....

I've been having a bit of difficulty today getting rid of flicker in my test animations with the digital still camera. You can see that the background of the animation changes brightness quite a bit. I guess I'm going to have to keep experimenting (I've found a few suggestions on the net so far). I may just end up having to have a little bit of flicker. I'm glad that I'm finding this out now though, instead of when I actually go to start filming.

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4th Aug 2006

Camera setup test....

Today I ran some tests with the camera setup that I plan to use for shooting the video. I'm using a web camera and software to track the movement of my scene, and a high resolution digital still camera to take the actual shots. You can see that the camera moves quite a bit in this test. I need to purchase a remote so that I don't have to touch the camera (and move it) to take the pictures.

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3rd Aug 2006

Further Through The Forest....

I added small mounds and grass to the forest set today. I also completed the ground for the fourth set. Spent a lot of the day spray-painting the material (and managed to spray-paint myself in the process) and attaching the material to the sets.

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2nd Aug 2006

Grass....

This is my first attempt at making the "grass" for the last two sets. It's basically light green furry material covered with dark green spray paint (to darken it and hold it in place so that it doesn't move around while I'm animating). It actually came out better than I had expected, and it seems to look alright with the holes drilled in it for the bolts that hold the puppets up.

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1st Aug 2006

The Forest....

I began making the forest set today. I've been putting it off for a while because I didn't know where I was going too get all my wood from. This morning I decided I'd try to start the set and spent about 15 minutes walking around our back yard (which is steep and muddy) trying to find decent branches that had fallen (or were about to fall) from trees. After finding one rotten branch and a tiny branch I gave up and decided to go back inside.

Halfway back up the hill I noticed a large pile of wood was hidden behind our garage. It turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. So after half and hour of dragging it out of the mud, battling with spiders and washing the mud off it I had all my wood ready.

This is one of the two sides to the forest path set. The forest scene is at night, so it should look a lot better with the proper lighting. I haven't figured out what I'm going to make the ground out of yet. I may have to experiment a bit.

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27th Jul 2006

One small step....

I tried my first walking test today. I'm not too sure how much better I'm going to be able to get it to look at 12 frames per second, but I'll keep practising.

The puppet's feet are held down with bolts through holes drilled in the floor of the set. Holes which I'll have to fill up to hide while I'm shooting the actual music video shots.

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25th Jul 2006

More walls....

I've been pretty busy upgrading the website over the past few days. In case you haven't noticed, this blog is now available as an RSS feed (the little orange RSS image at the title of my blog, or the RSS icon in your website address bar). So you can add the RSS feed to your active bookmarks to stay up to date with my latest posts.

I've made up all the boards and attached the material for the walls of the female characters room. I just need to drill some holes to fasten them all together.

The storyboards for the video are almost complete now too. I've got to finish the last part soon so that I can figure out what shots I'm going to need, and how I'm going to build the final two sets to accomplish them.

I've also spent a bit of time trying to achieve a flashing effect from the small television props on my sets. I don't really know a lot about electronics but I've managed to hook up some lights to a variable voltage adaptor. I don't think they're going to be bright enough though. I'm going to have to do some test shots. I have a bad feeling that pulsing the brightness of light at 12 frames per second isn't going to look too good.

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