17 hours ago
A timelapse of me animating a prototype of the mecha-drill machine from the boxtrolls! thanks for all of the questions in response to my story - here's some insight into the animation (part 1 of 2):
• this animation was done during the development phase of the mecha-drill. it's essentially the trial-and-error period where the puppet builders and animators work together to arrive at a final puppet.
• the armature for the puppet is largely in place, but the remainder has been built up with laser-cut wood. we needed to prove that we could make the puppet work at this large of a scale before committing to the actual build for the movie (a prototype).
• looking back on this footage, i feel like i completely failed to capture the weight of the machine in the legs. you really feel that it’s being supported from above. this can often be a downfall of supporting a puppet with an external rig, and it’s something you need to keep an eye on to avoid getting too ‘floaty’.
• what is motion-controlled/animated by hand? you can see the large motion-control arm supporting this puppet. it controlled the travel and rotation of the main body and was operated by a series of dials (almost like a video game controller). the mechanical arm, the vacuum tube, and legs are all animated by hand - i kept the legs at a fairly loose tension, because they didn’t actually need to support anything. (from @maillefermathieu)
• what did you reference? the performance goal was to make the mecha-drill feel rickety and slightly out of control. i referenced quite a bit of footage of large, homemade robotics featured at county maker faires. (from @adamtaylorillustrator)
• how does the vacuum arm work? it was actually really simple, and just had a large chain of ball-and-socket joints running through the center. (from @shoestringmovies)
• how did you do the brick destruction? i was given a box of cobble-stone debris that i would build up around the tip of the leg when it punctures the ground. to make the destruction a little bit more violent, i also added some bricks flinging into the air, which were supported by armature wire and sticky wax. (from @jackiem321)