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The Dragonslayer 7 Stop Motion Animation (part 5 the Journey)

That's one heck of a long title so let me explain a little bit. I have a series of videos called the Dragonslayer 7. This is part 5!

It is a stop motion animation that was done on a pretty big table set. Somewhere around 50 square feet of table top!

In this tutorial I will show you the actual completed video and give you some tips and information about how I did the animaton and how I built the set.

This project was a serious lot of fun and quite a bit of work too!



First let's take a look at the almost completed set. This gives you somewhat of an idea as to what is involved in it. There is more to the left and to the right. I used paper to make all the trees and I bought moss in an arts and crafts store for all the ground cover.

Building the miniature forest


The table

This picture shows the table top setup before I started doing the terrain. The hammer gives you a good sense of the scale. The board the hammer is laying on is a plywood sheet that is 4 feet by 8 feet. Add to that the second sheet on the right and you have quite a bit of studio area for the animation.


The trees

I made the trees in a variety of different ways including just drawing them out on poster board with chalk or crayons. I also made a series of trees where I used colored paper as the top section where all the leaves are.

To stand them up I taped 1/4 inch dowels to the backs. I drilled 1/4 inch holes in the surface of the table and inserted the tree dowels into them.


The assembled trees


This picture shows how the trees are assembled and inserted into the surface of the movie set.


The forest is done

The Ground cover is sheets of moss that I bought in an arts and crafts store. This is pretty neat stuff. It comes in a bag in sheets.


The background stars

One other interesting thing that I did in this animation is create a starry sky that really lights up. This is a picture of it before it was installed into the movie set.


The lights as stars

It is a line of christmas tree lights that I installed into the back of a large piece of foam. I drilled holes so the lights could show through.


Shooting the animation

Here is a shot of me working on the actual animation. You can see me moving the figure and you can see the camera on the tripod. This is to take the still pictures that will be used in the animation.


The animated figure

This picture shows the dragonslayer bolted to the surface of the movie set. If you look carefully you can see a series of white holes in the brown path. These are the holes that I use to make him walk. The animation is a series of pictures as I move him step by step from one hole to the next.

He has threaded bolts in the bottoms of his feet so I put the threaded rod through the hole in the movie set then put a wingnut underneath to tighten it up and secure him in place.


The StoryBoard and the Music

I want to talk a little bit about the storyboard and the music of this project because it is so very important when it comes to making a stop motion animation. You have to storyboard things out otherwise you don't know how to make the set! You have to figure out what things will look like and what the camera angles will be before you start building things.

And the storyboard is the place where you tell your story. Can't do the animation if you don't know what the story is!

The storyboard

This picture shows my storyboard and script for this project. Storyboarding is easy and a lot of fun. It is also very necessary. It doesn't have to be elaborate it just has to show the various scenes that make up the animation.

I have more information on how to do a storyboard here.



About the Music

If you decide you want to have music in your animation there are a few things to consider including the length of the piece that will be played! Once I knew exactly which composition I was going to play for this I could set things up. I knew how long the animation would be and I also created my scenes to roughly follow the flow of the music. This piece of music has definite sections to it and as the sections changed I changed scenes in the animation. It all worked pretty well but took a lot of time to figure out. I listed to the music many times and wrote out a time line by seconds so I could figure out when I wanted to transition to a new scene and at what second in the animation.

You don't have to go this all out with animation but it is something to think about. It will make your work more professional.

The classical guitar piece in the video is a composition by Fernando Sor, Opus 35 number 22, often referred to as the Moonlight Etude.


Here is the completed Video:


Talking figure

How to make talking figures in stop motion animation

Ever wonder how they make the mouths move in an animation? I have the tutorial right here. Now you can make animations that talk! How to make talking mouths in stop motion animation


Make a Camera Obscura

The Camera Obscura is a curious device that goes all the way back to antiquity. And it is a pre-cursor to the camera. Fascinating and easy to make. I have a tutorial right here: How to Make a Camera Obscura




Beginners guide to animation

Beginner's Guide to Animation: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started

To beginners, making an animated movie can seem like voodoo magic. And in fact, until recently, animation was expensive and time-consuming. But now with the help of Beginner's Guide to Animation, anyone can make animated movies, using a digital camera, basic software, and a computer. The book begins with an illustrated guide to setting up a simple animation studio at home, including a list of essential items. Then, new animators hit the ground running with six innovative, instructive projects designed to develop technical skills and explore the potential of animation. A full collection of scannable templates makes it even easier to get started and to finish up. Tips, tricks, and clear instructions on editing, scoring, even making your own show reels and shorts make this the complete one-volume guide to amazing friends and family-and everyone on YouTube!-with great I-made-it-myself animation.

Klutz book of animation

The Klutz Book of Animation: Make Your Own Stop Motion Movies

Welcome to the wide-open world of animation. It used to take an empire the size of the Magic Kingdom to make an animated film. And to get viewers, you'd need access to cineplexes or television networks. In other words, you were either in the industry or in the audience. That was then. Today, creating animation for a potential audience of 600 million requires a laptop, a camera, and an internet connection. That's it. The barriers have come down, the people have taken over, and the results are amazing. The Klutz Book of Animation is a complete how-to treatment of this newly accessible art form. It combines practical instruction and ready-to-shoot scripts. Real-life samples of all the projects are viewable online - the perfect marriage of book and web. Speaking of web, the software you'll need is available as a free download. It's plug and play on any computer (PC or Mac). Attached to the book is a piece of low-tech, non-toxic clay, ready to be molded into a million different heroes starring in a million different films - all of them animatedly yours.

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