Saturday, March 7, 2009
Have you ever wondered how animators suspend a puppet in midair? The answer is a handy device called a rig. A rig works like a crane; it anchors the puppet in the sky. Most of the more pro rigs look and work like a large ball and socket arm that attaches to the back of a puppet. After shooting the required frames, the rig is removed digitally with a program like Photoshop.
Unfortunately, because most professional rigs are hand built, much like ball and socket armatures, they can be expensive. Armature animators, like me, who can't afford the pro rigs have to resort to making cheap home made rigs. These rigs will work, but you can bet you'll develop a headache or two while using it.
A good way to make a rig is to take a heavy weight plate (the kind found on a dumbbell), some kind of pole that fits securely in the weight's hole, and a long strand of wire strong enough to suspend your entire model. Stick the pole in the weight's hole and wrap about half of your wire tightly around the pole, leaving the other half hanging out.
The tricky part is finding a way to attach the wire to your puppet. A simple way to accomplish this is to create a separate model for the suspended shot using epoxy to secure the wire to the the back of your armature. Make sure you still have enough wire to suspend your model in the air. If you can shoot against a green screen, I would recommend painting the wire green also to make the subsequent Photoshop work easier.
Posted by Jared at 4:30 PM