Armature, Puppet Making
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Custom ball and socket armature for Adem

armature
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I placed an order for a custom ball and socket armature for Adem. It has been an hard decision to make…

For me stop motion is a real art form. I do not expect to make money out of it. This is not my “job” instead this is my “art” that I am learning step by step. So, at first, it did not sound right to me to order an armature. I should have done everything in my hands.

Here you can read how I decided to have someone else make the armature for me.

So, the choices were;
1-using the puppet with wire armature I made,
2-trying to build a ball and socket armature on my own,
3-buying one of those ready-made kits and modifying.
4-ordering a custom ball and socket armature

Let me explain… This is my first stop motion film. So, experimenting everything. Two steps forward, one step backwards.. Learning, learning.. I first started with building a wire armature for Adem. Using wire and epoxy putty for the armature, covering with foam to give a body form and sewing some clothes. Hands made out of silicone and the head made out of super sculpey. Before I finished the final Adem puppet you see under “Attempts”; I tried couple different wire armatures, different wires, epoxy putties,.. different clothing, couple different heads with sculpey.. So, after all, I did some animation tests. Those were okey but not as good as I expected…

I am not after a super cool, “successful” animation here. But, I want to get a little smoother movement on the set. Regarding the smooth movement; I like to leave the feeling of stop motion on the puppets when animated (you know that little interval in between each frame telling the audience that -hey I am being animated here frame by frame and someone here working hard with her heart to make me alive…) But at the same time I don’t want to get a mechanic look. I believe that each puppet has its own spirit and sometimes the spirit needs to be released to be free without considering the restrictions of being inside a puppet. This is how I approach stop motion as an art form.

Back to the stop motion armature… Many pros are out there working with puppets made out of wire armatures. They get great results. It is about experience, knowledge and of course talent! I also have a bird character: kush and I am going to be making a wire armature and animating with that. It is going to be another long process, many attempts… I may try making my own wire, ball and socket mixture armature. but for Adem as a main character of my film; I do not want to ruin my animation because of the problems of wire armature I made.

So, second choice was trying to build a ball and socket armature on my own… Yeah, it could be done if I had the machinery and equipment or I could have tried with some ready made parts. This is whole another process. I imagine how much time I would have spent on trying to build good working ball and socket armature. I will DEFINITELY try for the next project. But not for this one. There are many other things I need to learn. Also, when I try making my own ball and socket armature; I will have a good one in my hand as a reference. (Hey, shhhh.. I have not hold any stop motion armature before. The only one I saw is the one with wire armature I made.)

Why didn’t I prefer buying one of those ready-made armature kits?

animationsupplies.net armature

There are many companies selling ball and socket armature kits in many different sizes and quality. Naming couple: Skeletoon, Armaverse, AnimationSupplies. These are the ones seem better among with many others. You buy one from them; modify as much as you can: change proportions, fix joints (change a double ball joint to a one ball joint where it is need such as in the arms..) Price range is $100-$400 depending on the brand, size, type. You can find more expensive ones or even cheaper ones. I have never used one of those. I read many forum posts of the people who purchased these kits on different sites. As far as I have seen the material used and the design may cause some problems. I was not convinced about those kits being worth the money. If you are trying to decide, you can also read the news-byte-commentary about Armature Kits at Stop Motion Works.

I decided to order a custom armature spending some of the money I left for expenses such as buying lights, stopmo software,… Using a good armature will add a lot to the film I will be shooting. So, it is all about your priority.

If you are a newbie, be sure to start with making a wire armature. Then go further with a ball and socket armature, either buy an armature kit, try making your own or purchase a custom armature… This is a suggestion from someone who is new to stop motion but taking it very seriously..

9 Comments

  1. “For me stop motion is a real art form. I do not expect to make money out of it.”

    Yaz, you are now not only my stop-motion daughter, but also my sister, friend, mother, teacher, and guru!

    I am in awe of you.

    Go ahead.

  2. justin rasch says

    Yaz!

    I think it was a great decision to go with the armature. It just should minimize some of the hassle while allowing you to concentrate on performance.

    great investment.

    jriggity

  3. Shelley, it is great to hear these words from an ARTIST like you! Thank you my teacher 🙂

    Justin, I was sitting here in front of my computer this afternoon writing this loooong post trying to explain why I ordered an armature. I wanted this post to be helpful to the newbies in my situation. But as you see, I was also writing for myself saying -hey this is okey.. you can order an armature for this time.. not a big deal. You dont have to do everyting by yourself. Leave making a ball & socket armature for the next project :).

    I have received both of your comments and feel better now! Thank you…

  4. Hi Yaz!
    My hum (short for human haha) ponders about making all the stuff too, but as you can see, we don’t. We made the sets and lots of the furniture and stuff, but we feels the props can come from many sources: your own hands, or found objects, or wherever… for us it’s the process, however you gets there, that matters. But we do see your point. Yep.
    Take me for instance, I’m not a stop motion puppet, but somehow I’m gonna have to learn to be, which means some sort of under-the-costume external armature is gonna have to be invented for me so that I’ll be able to, as my hum says, “hold a pose”. That’s gonna be fun. NOT! Ah, the suffering we must go through for our art! hehe!!!!
    Big little bear hugs from Jed
    xo

  5. Thanks Jed. I will be following up your armature process. Take it easy and say hi to your hum!!!

  6. moo says

    woah woah woah did u just say this is your FIRST animation?!
    DONT but a frigging armature if you’re a complete novice! PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE

  7. Will says

    don’t listen to moo. everybody starts somewhere and an armature is a great investment

  8. Will, dont worry… I just do not care what he says and laugh actually. Web is an open platform. If I put my process here detailed, ofcourse there would be some people commenting negative. Thats all fine with me as I am here doing what I love to do! Thank you very much for your nice comment though!

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