If it wasn't clear, this video is a commercial for the AnimateClay.com weekly web-streamed live show. Our January monthly challenge theme was to create some sort of commercial for the website. It could be promoting the tutorials/freebies, the web forums, the live show, just something about the website. The very talented Ron Cole volunteered to do narration/voice work if we needed it.
As is usually the case, my first idea was too ambitious. I wanted a good-size group of classic, distinctive stop-motion characters sitting together, each character speaking the praises of the AnimateClay weekly web show. My script was okay, and maybe if I had 6 months to devote to the project, I could finish it?
After struggling for two weeks to create just one lousy, dysfunctional puppet, I canned the idea. It was a puppet of Victor from Tim Burton's "The Corpse Bride." He was very cute, but he wasn't working at all. He was poorly designed. And I needed roughly 6 more characters for my script. So, it looked like no challenge entry from me.
On the closing day of the challenge, another member of the AnimateClay community shared that she hadn't finished her commercial entry, and asked the moderator if he could extend the challenge one more week. And thankfully, he did!
So, with one week to throw something together, I tried to think of a way to re-write my script for a single puppet character. I thought of a song in Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas", where the main character, Jack Skellington, finds himself in the land of "Christmas town." I thought his over-the-top enthusiasm in discovering something new would make this a great song to parody for a commercial. Plus, I've always wanted to make a parody. This was my chance!
Ron Cole did such an awesome job recording Jack's voice! If you listen to the original song, you will see how eerily similar he sounds. I think he really captured the essence and inflection of this character.
A little creepy, no? I really appreciate him going out of his comfort zone for me! He's such a good sport.
There are different ways to make your stop motion puppet talk/sing. I chose to make a bunch of replacement mouths for the different mouth shapes. This was something new for me! I've only had a couple talking characters before, and they only had one or two mouth shapes. Jack's head is made of baked Sculpey. After his head was baked, I molded my replacement mouths. I cut a little notch out of the back of each mouth, and after they were baked, I super-glued a small magnet to the back. The teeth were made from toothpicks.
In this photo, we have "L", "U", "E", "O", "V", and the "M" mouth is obviously flipped to show the magnet.
Here is Jack without any replacement mouths, showing the washer that the magnets stuck to. Yes, it's crooked. No, not on purpose.
As crude as my system was, I think the end result was convincing enough. It was really fun to experiment with. I would love to try again and do it better!
Sewing Jack's suit was tricky, it's supposed to be very fitted. The jacket sleeves ended up a bit baggy, but it worked! Suit construction in progress:
Green screen! New territory for me. The poster board seemed to work okay. Jack was secured to a paint tub.:)
This photo is of the poor innocent pocket knife, from which the the miniscule flashlight was removed. I wanted the computer monitor to shine light on Jack, so I drilled a hole in the computer, placed the light in, and diffused it with a bit of plastic.
Sadly, it didn't make much of an impact. I couldn't see much difference with it on or off. I'm glad I only wasted six bucks on it.
Chair in progress. The chair and desk were loosely based on movie props from Jack's tower/study.
Here is the entire set-up! This is the shot where Jack reaches up to spin the globe, as you can see on the laptop screen. It also shows the audio clip broken-down for lip-sync.
A few of you may recall, AnimateClay.com had a commercial challenge back in February of 2012. Audio clips were assigned to members, and then compiled together at the end of the month. Ron Cole recorded that audio as well.:) My contribution was the man watching the television commercial. Here is that finished project:
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I conclude my ramblings with a photo of my siblings and I in the front of "The World" theater in Kearney. Sadly, there were no stop-motion shorts up for an Oscar this year. But they were all beautiful, entertaining, and technically AMAZING! The Luxembourgish-French CG film titled "Mr. Hublot" won the award. You could summarize the film as "Clifford, the big red robot." It was not my first pick of the group, but what do I know? I kept thinking what a thrill it would be to have your film distributed in theaters around the world! <sigh>