Stop motion 1 - Edu doors

Eduard Puertas, co-founder of the animation production company Cytoplasms and director of Kineticarmatures (brand that produces articulated skeletons, rigs, motion control and other professional tools), discloses some of the highlights of the world of stop motion.

The reality is that it could be said that my arrival in the world of stop motion it was not planned. Originally, I trained in product design and I worked on it for five years: I made chairs, perfumes and all kinds of everyday objects. However, at the same time that I was studying the degree, I began to develop a some intrigue to discover how it worked. I did several experiments, I really liked the result and I ended up signing up for a master.

Stop motion - Edu PuertasThere I met the one who is my current partner, Irene Iborra, with whom I made a short film together with other colleagues that worked very well. Little by little we developed more and more projects until we decided to set up our own company, Cytoplasms, with which we have been since 2008. Since that year we have been doing shorts, commercials, series and now we have a feature film project underway, Olivia and the invisible earthquake, which we hope will come out in the next few years. We are still in the financing phase. We have a couple of grants left to achieve our goals, but everything indicates that we will achieve manage to carry out the project in international co-production mode and what will be a project super long due to the nature of stop motion.

At the moment, there is very little information available about stop motion. Either you are lucky enough to get to work with someone who knows, or the learning process is a very steep curve. For this reason, I launched a few years ago to launch a canal de YouTube to share the knowledge that we have been accumulating. The objective of this platform is to disseminate this art that, despite being a minority, we would like to contribute to make it stronger and stronger. And there are many very interesting technological issues when tackling a stop motion project.

The three pillars of stop motion

Actually, nowadays stop motion does not require super expensive technology. The key part is to have a digital camera with video output. Little by little, mirrorless cameras are being introduced to the industry, but in my experience, SLRs are still more reliable.

Stop motion - Edu PuertasThe next indispensable component in a computer with Dragonframe software, and capture assistance software super reliable, very intuitive and with many options that is used even in professional Hollywood productions. Basically, it allows you, beyond capturing images, to be able to go checking the ones you've taken previously to be able to see in real time if what you are doing is correct or not. You could animate blindly, but with today's quality standards you wouldn't get what people are used to seeing in the world of animation.

The third pillar of stop motion is the lightning. There is no selection of specialized equipment in the matter: the film standards, usually with LED, and then these solutions are adapted based on the needs of the project. For example, as the sets are smaller, we try to use lights that emit little heat, since the rooms are small and even the characters could deteriorate.

The complexity of the shots

It must be taken into account that what is possibly the greatest challenge of stop motion, leaving aside the artistic level, is the complexity involved in the cinematographic techniques in conjunction with filming times.

Stop motion - Edu PuertasIn the world of stop motion, any camera movementhow can it be a change of focus, it is much more complicated than in the cinema, because you are doing it frame by frame; In addition, the increments are so minimal that this simple technique can create significant challenges. This is added to the problem of the operation of this type of animation, since we still take a week to make a plane of 15 seconds. In that time, many things can happen. Even the room temperature variations they can make it physically move items, which complicates even more if possible that change of focus. However, despite everything, these camera movements are superattractives. You can't do without them! It would be very interesting if, looking to the future, the industry could create a system to be able to plan camera movements in 3D and be able to transfer the process to the software so that everything works.

On the other hand, it is necessary to take into account the important craft work that usually implies a production of this type. There are not many solutions at the material level of sliders or cranes that allow you to make camera movements at a reasonable price. Either you manufacture them, or the cost of a specialized crane can skyrocket.

Post production and UHD

Finally, the post-production phase depends to a large extent on the production budget. At an independent level, the process goes through the capture with Dragonframe, a first edition through After Effects, a final montage with Adobe Premiere and, if possible, a final image retouching with DaVinci Resolve of Blackmagic Design. From the sound level, we usually hire professionals in the field so that they can work on this whole area: from dubbing to music, going through all the sound effects necessary to bring the pieces to life.

Stop motion - Edu PuertasThe good news in all this post-production process is that we are not limited when working in high resolutions or in standards demanded by the industry. Currently, we capture with our SLRs in 6K: A much higher resolution than is required by the industry, which is typically between HD y el 4K.

This, like so many other lessons from the world of stop motion at all levels, has been taught the experience. The first short we created we recorded it in MiniDV PAL…something that is already surpassed today! Always, as in everything related to the world of audiovisual production, it is necessary to go a little further than necessary to make it last longer over time.

Stop motion - Edu Puertas

Edward Doors

Co-founder of the animation production company Cytoplasms and director of Kineticarmatures.

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By • 5 Jul, 2022
• Section: Thoroughly, Catchment, Cine, Cinema / Technique, Study, grandstands