Constructing a World
Drew Hodges: Jon Klassen and Mac Barnett’s books had been clearly foundational to our work. In these books, there may be plenty of detrimental house on the web page, which makes you actually concentrate on the graphic nature of the characters, particularly their eyes. We wished this to really feel like an actual world, not likely stylized or set in a void or something like that. We additionally wished to keep away from over-clutter that would distract from the characters, that are at all times entrance and heart.
Inside that world, we wished to create a heat, cozy, inviting place the place viewers would simply need to hang around. Within the following clip, it’s only a easy log, however it’s their hangout place. They arrive right here and drink cocoa and eat donuts. What could possibly be cozier than that?
Throughout manufacturing, we needed to reply the identical huge questions as another stop-motion undertaking. What supplies are we going to make use of? What sorts of textures are we searching for? Will we use actual vegetation or make our personal? If we resolve to make our personal, how will we mass-produce the items we’d like in a cheap means?
Selecting the Proper Supplies
Hodges: Timber are at all times difficult as a result of they’ve so many leaves, so in our present, you don’t usually see the tops of the bushes. You possibly can see an instance on this scene after they’re sitting on the log. For the vegetation that do find yourself on the display, we wished to make use of the painterly palette of the books. For a very long time, we shied away from paper and tried totally different plastics, vacuum-formed skinny sheets of plastic you possibly can mannequin, like on the bushes on this scene. However for the leaves, we realized at our small scale the thickness of different supplies was actually magnified, in order that led us again to paper.
There may be at all times a concern with paper that while you shut down for the day and are available again the following morning, issues may have moved or settled as a result of environmental modifications. It was a danger to make use of paper, however in the long run, we had plenty of success with it. We made a whole bunch and a whole bunch of vegetation and silk-screened them, then ran them via a vinyl cutter that might make very exact cuts primarily based on vector recordsdata of the shapes of leaves we wished.
Setting up Characters
Hodges: Our characters are basically constructed on a cage, and the perimeters are panels that pop off, a face, a facet, a prime. One of many extra attention-grabbing issues about our characters is that typically they’ve limbs and typically they don’t. We needed to resolve if we wished to connect the arms or not. Ultimately, we ended up utilizing a wire coated in a latex rubber surgical tubing that we may get plenty of rapidly, that took paint very effectively, and that was versatile. We had been excited with that resolution as a result of often setting up arms and palms is extraordinarily time-consuming, however with our technique, we had all these totally different lengths of arms we used. There have been 1000’s of arms; there was a complete business devoted to creating arms.
Hodges: One of many larger challenges with the arms was determining how the characters would maintain one thing with out palms. The clip right here was one of many first scenes the place we needed to determine that out. How do they maintain a donut? Ultimately, we found out that if we prolonged the wire that’s contained in the tubing of the arm and have it simply proceed out via the highest, with slightly gap within the donut, you possibly can simply stick the factor on the tip. That technique of holding one thing we ended up calling the donut arm. Anytime a personality wanted to carry one thing on the finish of their arm, we stated carry me a donut arm.
The characters do most of their emoting with their eyes, so we ended up solely needing 5 totally different shapes for his or her mouths to cowl dialogue. However, while you multiply the attention shapes and the mouth shapes, we had a whole bunch of combos we may use to point out emotion.
Hodges: We wished it to really feel like a miniature world on a small scale. After we began, we may have made it something as a result of we had been translating a 2nd picture. The characters may have been three inches or three to 4 instances larger than that. Smaller puppets can be actually charming and clearly miniature, however the depth of subject is so shallow that it’s virtually unshootable in a means. Plus, the grains of sand would look larger, and the thickness of the paper is exaggerated… We ended up with three-inch puppets, that are smaller than most stop-motion puppets however which allowed us to nonetheless manipulate them.
Preserve it Easy
Hodges: As I stated earlier, we wished to keep away from over-clutter that would distract from the characters, which ought to at all times be entrance and heart. However everybody on the group is type of telling their very own story, so you understand if somebody went to the difficulty of creating one thing, we wished to make use of it. Typically on set, I noticed one thing that strikes, and if it strikes can we use it? Can or not it’s animated? Every thing could be very small, so it may be exhausting to animate. However in the long run, these particulars are plenty of enjoyable.
Off-screen, sound results like seagulls cawing or wind blowing imply you don’t at all times want plenty of stuff within the body. You don’t at all times need to see it to comprehend it’s there. We knew the supplies we’re working with and the builds we wished to do, however all the things needed to be value it in the long run, in service to the story.