Monday, October 4, 2010

Move, Armature and Visit to Special FX Studio

It's been a while since I posted to Miguel and El Frijole Magico because I've had my projects on hold because we've been planning our move to Norway.

But we're in Norway now and other than the rain and the food, I'm getting used to it.

Rather than wait around to get motivated, I decided to start talking to people around here about film making and animation and doing a bit of research as to who's doing what.

My first visit was to a town called Tonsberg about 1.5 hours south west of Oslo on the coast. There I met a fantastic guy named Steinar Kaarstein who does special FX for movies here in Norway. It's a tough business he said but he's really getting his name out there.

The cool thing is Steinar is the go-to-man in my area for hard to get stuff like latex rubber and casting supplies. It's not like in the states where I can have everything shipped for cheap. Nope, this stuff can cost an arm and a leg getting it shipped over here and he's a distributor so that helps out a lot.

When I was there we took a couple of pics of my daughter and wife with one of the costumes and another one of Steinar.

Steinar also was kind enough to give me an armature kit that he had purchased from England but said he probably wouldn't be using it any time soon. I've started to assemble it and it looks great!

We also went to look at my father in laws barn.  Upstairs in the barn is a lot of unused space.  This thing is just itching to have projects in it. We just have to put a floor down where the planks are, some insulation, some windows and away we go, instant studio!

On another note, I just decided also to start diving into learning animation on my own. I started looking up resources on Youtube and here's my first attempt at a biped walking, running, then jumping. Yeah, it sucks but it's a start for my first one so give me a break!  Any tips for free animation resources are completely wanted!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mission to visit Stop Motion Mission

Last Sunday on our way back from our vacation the family got to visit Justin and Shel Rasch's house in LA and check out the awesome work they have been doing on their latest stop motion movie called "Line, Space Dog against Space Flea".  The story is reminiscent of the never ending battle between dogs and fleas but the set in another galaxy and in space ships.
Justin and Shel are also the creators of "Geralds Last Day", a story about a pooch's last day in a pound and all the creative stuff he does to try to get someone to adopt him.
Although the visit was short I received lots of encouragement from seeing their studio and the progress they've made on the movie thus far.  I brought along Chris Bot and talked to Justin a little about what's motivating me to do stop motion or animation in general and got a couple of cool pics of Flea and Dober with Chris Bot.
Because of our move, we're going to be putting Chris Bot on hold until we can set something up in my in-laws barn.

Lily and Maia had a blast playing with all the toys, checking out the puppets and the set, and amazingly enough didn't break anything!!!

What's really impressed me the most about Justin and Shel's work is how they've balanced work, family, play time and animating.  Absolutely inspiring and amazing.

Here's some photos from the visit.

From Left to Right: Justin, Shel, Me (Miguel), Lily, Runi, & Maia.

From Left to Right: Flea, Chris Bot, Dober

Here's Justin with Dober.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bunny Test

In one of the scenes of the Chris-bot movie Chris bot encounters a bunny, the first of many subjects to photograph.  This is a test of the bunny which is made out of clay.  Here's the Youtube Link.

Friday, June 4, 2010

New Rig!

I've been having trouble making Chris Bot walk and so I badly wanted a walking rig like the kind that you can buy for 60 bucks from some animation pro shop that uses ball sockets and joints.  Well, cause this is ghetto puppet making at it's finest I always keep my eyes open for stuff that may help me in my endeavors.
Well I recently came across some cheap ball and socket joints at Autozone.  The were attached to small mirrors and extension handles.  So basically I bought six of these small mirrors (they were two bucks each) and took the mirror and the extension portion off and soldered it to some square tubing.  Using a piece or round stock metal, I drilled into it and epoxied the square tubing into the round stock and attached it to my puppet.  Here's a picture of the mirrors and the final product.  Not bad for 5 bucks.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Painting Chris Bot and Adding Hands

So my wife Runi helped me paint Chris Bot this evening.  She has a background in theater and was able to create a nice textured look like old metal on him.
Once the light is adjusted you can see his true color.  In the photo above he contemplates taking a photo of the flower.
Here's the link to the short Youtube Video.

You may have to see it a few times to get the hang of whats happening.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Woo hoo!
After 5 attempts we finally got the final cast of Chris Bot to work.
I had mentioned on a previous post that Chris Bot lacked the expression in his arms and so I moved his arms to the outside. Quite a simple fix but getting the foam latex to work was a nightmare!
So after speaking with Justin and Shel from Stop Motion Mission(Thanks!  You guys Rock) I got some good advice and basically baked the thing for 12 hours on really low heat.
I'm using a small oven, the kind you have on a counter top and so I believe what was happening was when I was baking it at the recommended temperatures the elements were causing uneven heating and causing steam pockets which pulled the casting from the mold.
By cooking it on lower heat for longer it prevented these pockets and viola, it worked.
So here's a photo of the finished cast along side the old one. BTW, I did a test paint on the old one and it looks pretty cool. I love the metallic paint. Rocks.
Chris Bot prior to being trimmed.
Chris Bot get's a trim

Monday, May 24, 2010

Christ Bot Take 2

Over the weekend I made a rig that would be more solid than the LEGO and clay rig I had set up before.  It consisted of drilling into a half inch thick piece of round stock steel, epoxying three strands of twisted aluminum armature wire, and then adding soldered square tubing with a counter balance to help keep Chris Bot up.
I then animated Chris Bot doing a quick walk and thinking about what he was going to shoot next.
The rig worked pretty well when walking but when I wanted to make Chris Bot jump he was too heavy to be picked up by the rig and so I had to hold him up with my hand in the shot.
Here's a video and a link to you tube of 5 seconds of Chris Bot.

One thing I noticed is that Chris Bot's arms are hard to use for expressions while he's walking since they stick out in front of him. And the fact he has no hands as of yet makes it even more difficult for him to do things. Chris Bot 2.0 (coming to a store near you) will have his arms shifted to the proper place, where his shoulders are at and will have the added advantages of hands and a remote control for this camera rigs.

This should help him as he takes photos and moves around.