Updates - A Mix of Stuff

Today's blog post covers a couple different topics, all updates about some stuff I've been doing or might plan to do.

First of all, you may remember from a post I did a while ago about an armature I made. Recently, I've added a head to the puppet, but it still needs some work. From the images below that I took, I noticed that the nose looks a little weird, so I will change that some. I'll also have to figure out a hair style to put on him. I don't have any plan for when to finish him so it could take a while.
The other day, I also found some glossy white paint marked down, so I went ahead and got it. I thought of a little animation I could do a long time ago that would need a white glossy set, but I never got my hands on any paint. Now that I have it, I can possibly make the animation. I do need some wood however or something else to paint for the set bottom. I tried looking for some actual images I took a while ago for some pre-visualization, but I can't find them. There's a little poster type thing I made anyways. If I ever get around to doing it, the animation would probably be around a minute long or so.

As far as the website goes, I haven't done any more on it, but I have gotten the vector image of the logo so that it can be used as needed. You can see the logo below. I also need to start collecting some resources for the resource page.

For the video tutorial, I still have to edit it some. I'm not sure when I'm going to finish, still figuring out things about compression and stuff. I still need to create the credits and captions as well as other stuff too so it could still be a while before I'm finished.

I'll have to cut down on some of the other stuff I do in my free time to try to finish these other things. Got lots to keep me busy.


Video Editing

I've been trying out some video editing using virtualdub and blender for the video tutorial. It's been slow because this is my first time doing something like this and I have to figure out a number of different things like codecs and stuff. Once I have the rough of it edited, I'll try some blurring effects to hide some personal info (not that personal, but want to hide anyways) and I'll need to do a few other things (add text, credits, ect.) and it'll be finished. I pretty much have the intro done, but I'm starting to think that there's probably some copyright issues with it because I'm using some software logos that I don't own in it. I may have to redo the whole intro because of that which could take a while longer or I'll just shorten it a bunch for the first few episodes or so until I can make the new intro. Other than that, things are going pretty good.

I'm probably going to be gone the next few days so I won't be posting, just to let you know.


New Site Design

Well, my brother has been too busy to do a web design for me, so I started to do my own. The image above shows a glimpse of what the site will look like. It's not final, I'm pretty sure I'm going to change a few things and get the actual logo(my brother designed that a while back when he had time). I'm not quite happy with the look yet, I'm not sure exactly why, but I think it's some size and spacing issues. I'll also need to implement the words Kramer Klaymation into the title area somehow. Yep, it still needs a lot of work.

Some changes in the new site will be:

- Getting rid of the fun and projects pages. Neither have shown much potential or use. Any future projects I may have will be recorded in a separate blog at blog spot or another most likely.

- Adding a links and resources page. In the site that I currently have right now, I haven't been too open to sharing other people's sites and links. When getting this blog however, I decided that I should do it so that I can share some of the nice resources I find with other people more easily.

- The gallery and videoclips will probably get a face lift. I may switch all my videos over to you tube or some other host just because of ease of use. For the gallery, I'm going to try to find out a new way to display photos so that I can also add captions. I think that I already have an idea of what to use using javascript.

- Adding a tutorial page. All the tutorials that I wrote will go into this. I originally designed these as JPG images, but realized that it wouldn't be a good idea because of slow loading and such. Because of that, it will take a long while to redesign these into html. More tutorials will probably be added later on as time goes by and as I get ideas for more.

- Store. The store will most likely go. I'm going to be busy and also moving overseas for the next couple years so it will be too hard to keep that running. I haven't had much success with it anyways. The ad in the image above is just a spot that will be used for random ads for my site or Google ads or something.

- About Us Page. That will be made up to date. I may rewrite the whole thing or just add a little section on the end. My goals for the site will also be added.

I sure have got a lot of work cut out for me. New site design estimated arrival will be within a year. I'll probably try to get it done sooner if I can get myself into the habit of working on it.

Oblivious Inferno - Money Masters

Here's a neat animation using little circles of paper or something of the sort.

I've continued to work on the tutorial, need to figure out some editing stuff still, like I mentioned before.


How to Build a Set Tutorial

Here's a tutorial I found online about how to build an animation set at cjandbuster.com. It's not the most complex set, but it looks pretty nice nonetheless. On the page he gives a brief rundown on how he built the set as well as giving some pictures for us to see along the way.

Click here to go to it.

On another note, I've been busier than I though I was going to be for the last few days so I'm not sure when the tutorial is going to get out. I also have to figure out how to edit it. I've been having problems with some stuff.


Space Intruder Animation

Here's a neat animation on you tube called Space Intruder by Sander79. Although simple, it has a nice set as well as good animation. He tells how he created it in his description:

This animation was made for a yearly art festival in my hometown Maastricht (kunsttour.com). Showing all my old stuff wasn't an option. So I started building a set and tried to come up with a story with two characters and a lot of violence : ) Filming took six full days in a period of three weeks. I only had the chance to animate when I had a day off from work. But sculpting, storyboarding and setting up scenes where done every evening.
A very talented Dutch musician (dob Audio) gave me the opportunity to use his music. Here's a website with a few tunes by dob Audio http://www.ser1.nl/dob
Hope you all like it!!

No clay was harmed during the production of this animation : )

---------------------------------------- ---------------------

Here some more details for other filmmakers and people who are interested:

The set was build with a soft wooden floor, styrofoam, montage kit, paint and a little fake plant. The frame rate is mostly 12 fps, but some parts where increased up to 24 fps. Exactly 2532 pictures where taken to complete the animation. The UFO part was shot real time with wires. But you probably saw that already (wires are clearly visible).
All movements of the little blob character where done with replacements. Meaning that every frame has another ready sculpted replacement character. Almost 100 replacements where sculpted for all the
blobs movements in the animation. It's a very quick way to animate : )
The shots where a character comes out of the ground were filmed backwards, because it's easier to slice the character with fishing wire than to rebuild it.
The clay I used is found in almost every toy store. It's modelling clay in a few different colors which stays soft. You can mix colors together to get the color you desire.
Nails with both ends sharp where used to let the humanoid character stand in any position. The nails are hammered in the soft wooden floor and fit in holes under feet that reach a few centimeters up the legs for stability. The characters armature holds up to 30 individual small metal wires in each body part. It's impossible for a limb to break off even if you try. Metal strips are twisted around the metal wires to prevent bending on unwanted places (bones). Check our armature building tutorial:

The puppet is made using the buildup technique. Applying layers of cotton wool soaked in liquid rubber directly onto the armature. Acrylic paint is added to the liquid rubber to get the right color.
I used a Canon MVX20i DV-cam and Stopmotion Pro Version 4. The blur effects where made with the character/object hanging on a wire and then moved the object/character while the frame was averaged. Magix Video Deluxx was used for editing. I used a picture from the moon of my previous animation (Misplaced) in the background.

Here's the animation:


Coffee Bean Animation

Here's an interesting animation that I saw online that looked well done. The creator used coffee beans to animate different things. You can view it below.


Recorded: Wire Removal

Well, I recorded some today using a free program, keeping with the show theme, "Editing Free"(I'll probably try to create the show using all free programs). Now I have some editing to do, but I think I'll let that wait a while. How would I say my first video tutorial recording came out? I think it was decent. I didn't really go into depth as much as I wanted to and there were a number of flaws, but I think it will work. As always if people need help, I'll let them email me to ask questions. One bad thing I already noticed is that my headphones kept creaking so the audio in the video will have these little noises. It was also harder than I expected it to be. I kept messing up and had to really think through what I was going to say before I started recording. The computer lagging because of the screen recorder also didn't help much. Some things to do next time are:

- Write out an print a more specific script.
- Try to figure out some way to make the earphones not creak.
- Enunciate my speech better and speak slower.

My estimated time that this will be ready for online viewing is probably within 2 weeks. I still have to finish the intro animation, edit, and upload. I have a break from school this next week so it could come out much sooner. Hopefully people like it and want more.

Now I have to come up with some more video tutorial ideas...


Editing Free

I still haven't yet created a video tutorial yet, but when I do,I decided to make it part of a series called "Editing Free". I decided to call it Editing Free because I'll probably be using free programs in the video tutorials so that anyone using them can do what I'll be explaining. I don't know how often I'll be able to make tutorials because of different issues and that I'm not that proficient in the programs I'll be using so it takes a while to get it down before I can teach it. Also, based on the poll I took, it seems that people are eager to learn how to edit in Blender so that's good. If you haven't been keeping up with past blog posts, my first tutorial will probably be about wire removal. I might not be the best at teaching in the beginning, but hopefully I'll be able to learn to do things better over time through suggestions. Right now I'm working on an intro animation for the thing, it might take another week or so to polish up and get sound to.


More Video Tutorial Planning

Just to let you know, I've still been planning for the video tutorial. Today I planned out the "script" or lesson plan, just a basic outline to follow when I'm doing it. I also did some testing with the recording program to get used to it and to make sure I know how to work it. Yesterday I worked a little on an intro animation, I still have yet to come up with a name however before it can be further worked on.


The Windmill Boy

Here's an animation, I'm not sure whether it's a short or a movie, but I thought it looked pretty interesting. I don't think they have either finished yet or they just aren't giving out the final product to the public so I haven't had the chance to see it. What I have seen looks promising however. It seems that the production crew is made up of a non-professional group of people and yet the quality they have is quite good. I'd say it's probably only a couple notches down from Wallace and Gromit. If you want to watch a couple clips on their production and everything as well as a trailer on Youtube, just visit the links below. I also listed the official site.

The Tale of The Windmill Boy- Documentary
The Tale of The Windmill Boy- Documentary Part 2
The Windmill Boy Trailer
Official Site


Oreo Commercial

Here's a short oreo commercial my brother and I made this past week. It would've been better if we hadn't run out of time. We just used the footage we got to make it longer by timing it to music.


Wire Removal Test Video

Yesterday I finally figured out how to finish up the wire removal stuff. It's not perfect because of some poor masking, but other than that, it looks pretty good. I'm probably going to try to make up a video tutorial, but I can't promise when it'll be on the web. Some planning will have to go into it as well as some other factors before it will be ready. If you want to see the results I got, view the video at the bottom of this post.

To get the results I went through a few different steps:
1. Combine captured frames into an avi movie clip (Virtualdub doesn't take QuickTime files) using Blender 3d.
2. Use Virtualdub and a filter to de-flicker the video. This made it so that there would be a constant lighting. If I hadn't done this you would notice where the wire once was.
3. Change the compressor in Virtualdub to one that is compatible with Blender, then save it.
4. Use Blender to draw over the wires and unwanted objects to create a mask. Save the mask as a movie or image sequence in case needed later for further use.
5. Use Blender's node system to mask out the wires and show the clean plate instead. Do a few color corrections on the clean plate and modify the mask a little.
6. Export from Blender as QuickTime File.

If you don't understand some of that, don't worry, I plan to go over it later. I just wanted to give a rough overview of what I did to get the results. I'll probably talk about the reasons why you would want to erase wire later. Note that this is just one way to remove wire. There are others, but I found that this is pretty effective as long as your camera is not moving.

Here's the video:


Interesting Article - Cracking Clay

If you don't already know, over the last few months I've become more and more interested in digital effects, editing, and that kind of stuff (probably because of my use of Blender3D). Yesterday I found an interesting article talking about some of the digital stuff done on Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Since that movie is probably my favorite animated movie, it furthered the interest. Previously I had known that they had used certain digital effects like fog, rain, color grading, CG rabbits, and a few other ones, but this article went more into depth on the effects used in the movie, telling me some other things they also did. I didn't know the extent of computer editing that they had actually used. They also erased rigs(I knew a little about this), used green screen, and composited different shots together. So if you want to check out a neat article about some of the digital editing behind Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, check out the link below.

Click here to go to the article


More Wire Removal Testing

I had the concept down on wire removal, but I didn't really try it yet. Today I tested out the theory, and it seems to work pretty well. The only thing that is messing me up right now is flicker problems from not constant lighting that shows where the wires were. I tried concealing it somewhat using a plug-in in Virtualdub and while it fixed the flicker problem there are other abnormalities that happen because of it. Other than that and some bad masking, it looks pretty good. I may need to try to fix it by using the plug-in first and then masking out the wire, but I'm having some problems with using footage in Blender that has been exported from Virtualdub. Once I can figure that out, I'll do another blog post to update you on what's happening.


LSW: The mad project

Here's a link to a site I think you should check out about a guy with a goal to remake StarWars Episode 4 using Lego animation. I first saw it quite a while ago, I don't remember when, but I thought it was neat back then and still do. Sadly, it seems that this site has been dead for quite a while now though, but it still has some cools stuff in it about how he did some of the effects that he did. Even though this is not claymation, it is still stop motion and I found it interesting seeing some of the techniques he used to complete part of his goal. He uses blue screen to do some of his space scenes, tracks, and other neat tricks to make things look like they're flying and stuff. So check it out, even if you don't watch the videos, take a look at the "making of" page.



Chroma Keying - Part 2

Image taken from Flickr.com, taken by Sou Patinador

Well, as I promised, here's part two of chroma keying. Seeing as I've learned most of the stuff I've learned about chroma key off the web, there's really no point in trying to explain it when I can just direct you to articles and video that would explain 10 times better than I could. It also saves me the work of writing out a bunch of stuff, so that's nice. Anyways, here are some of the links I've found during my research.

The Art of Keying
This here is a really nice article on chroma keying by fxguide called the Art of Keying. It has more information than I really want to know about the subject at the moment. It tells about the process, how it works, why you use blue and green, and much more. So if you want to learn more about what chroma key is exactly and some other odds and ends about it, check out this article.

You Tube Video 1
This is a good video done by Mark Apsolon on Youtube.com that covers chroma key nicely. He explains a little bit about chroma key, tells you where you can get the supplies to make one, some common errors people do and how to prevent them, and a number of other things. Below is his description of the video.

"This is a new updated video that goes into more detail about chroma key (green screen). We go over what chroma key is and how it works, chroma key muslins (cheap and expensive) and how to light your green screen background.

This is a two part video and one of a series of how to video production training videos."

You Tube Video 2

This is another good video by Mark Apsolon. He talks about some different chroma key materials and how to set them up and stuff. His description is below.

"In this part one of a three part tutorial we show a basic chroma key setup with lighting and chroma key backgrounds (plastic, muslins, Chroma key suit and paint). I tell you where I found affordable green screen Chroma key products on my search of the web."

Tube Tape
Last but not least is a place you can buy some chroma keying materials - Tube Tape. Just check out some of their stuff yourself by viewing their site.

And that's all I really have for you. These materials should give you a nice start on chroma keying, what it's about, and how to do it. If you want to learn more, just search and I'm sure you'll find lots more stuff out there.


Wire Removal Studying

I haven't gotten around to posting the rest about chroma keying yet, I think I'll do that later within the next few days, but I have done some studying and research on wire removal. I'm trying to figure out how to do it a couple ways and give options to programs like I did with the chroma key, but I think I'll probably mainly stick to blender since I've had pretty good quality results. I should probably animate something with wires as well instead of using still images to see if it really works too. I'm not sure how I'll share this yet, maybe as a video tutorial but I still need to get a time to record. Now onto a couple more tests.


Chroma Keying - Part 1

Image taken from wikipedia.org

Chroma Keying, the act of taking out green, blue, or whatever color you want from an image and replacing it with another image of your choice. It's used often in weather reports, movies, and a number of other video productions. Some know it as blue or green screening. People may think this process is something beyond their own grasp, something they have to purchase a program or shell out a lot of money for. That is not the case however. Over time, I have found a number of free programs that you can use to chroma key with. Some are simpler than others, while some work better than others. Although I haven't tried them all, I'm going to bet that the more complex the program and the more available functions you have, the better the key will be (meaning no jagged edges and color spill and such). You'll have to learn to work them though.

T@B ZS4 will be the first on the list. This is the first free chroma key program I ever found, using Google. At the time, I thought it was a little complex, so I never really got into it. I didn't have this tutorial however, so go ahead and watch this if you feel like giving it a try.

Blender 3D is the second free program I found. Although some people may think that this program is mainly for 3D modeling and animation, you can do much, much more with it. Chroma keying is one of the extra bonuses of it. You can do this two ways in Blender. One way is by using a plug-in for the sequence editor found here. Another way is to use nodes. There are actually a number of ways to use nodes and you can get a better result over time with them depending on how you use them. Like I said earlier though, it takes a bit more knowledge and time to get it looking right. Good places to see some tutorials on how to do chroma keying with nodes are found here and here. A couple other Blender chroma keying resources are listed below.


Some of this stuff may be hard to understand how to do if you've never used Blender before so you may want to try some other programs first. You can however get some pretty professional results using the Blender node system however.

Wax is another program of choice. I haven't used it before, but I think it's probably one of the easiest out of the batch. The quality it produces however isn't top notch. If your standards aren't high and you just want do some quick and easy chroma keying, this is probably the way to go. Here's a video tutorial from Instructables.com that you can watch to learn how to use it.

Cinegobs Keyer is the last of my free list. I'm sure that there are others out there, but I have yet to find them. This program I don't know much about. From the features displayed on the site, it looks like it has potential and may be better than Wax. You'll have to check it out for yourself however. You can probably figure out how to use it from the manual found here.

A couple of programs that you can pay for that I know of that have chroma key features in them are Adobe After Effects and CompositeLab from Fxhome.com. Both have more features than the average program other than chroma keying and are pretty high quality so you'll have to pay some money to get them. Stop Motion Pro also has some chroma keying functions for use in animation. You can find out how to use it here.

Now that you've read this, how is chroma keying stop motion related? Well, in your animation you can have the ability to use a green/blue screen behind your animation and put in an actual image to show the setting, you can use green/blue screen as a T.V. or screen and put actual information and stuff on it in post process, and do many other useful things with a green/blue screen. Why do we use green and blue for chroma key and how can we make it so that it's easier to chroma key? We'll save that for another post.

Thanks for reading and hope you learned something.


Custom Kramer Klaymation Armatures and Props


I've been hard at work over the past week or so, creating web pages, ads, and setting up for my very own armature service. So I proudly present Custom Kramer Klaymation Armatures.

We currently will be offering to make custom wire armatures, you design them, we'll make them. All you have to do is email us to let us know by email and we will figure out cost and everything that goes along with the process. So, if you need an armature or know someone that needs one, check it out here.

We are also going to be offering a limited prop service meaning that we'll make props for you depending on the difficulty of them. If we don't have the ability or tools to make the prop, sorry, but we won't be able make it. All you'll have to do is email us telling us what you want and we'll tell you if we can do it. You go through the same process to order it as you do the armatures.

Last but not least, we are selling some armature wire in 20 feet rolls. This is so that you can buy the wire to make the armature yourself if you think you have the ability to or want to save a little money. You can purchase that here.

We may not be doing this very long due to traveling overseas and such, so order soon!


Remodeled Front Page

Today I remodeled the front page. I wanted to give it a fresh look, but I also wanted to adapt to the change in the update system. If I would have kept the old look, there would have been wasted space that used to be taken up by the old update areas. Also, since I also took off the old update links, I'm going to post them here if any one is interested.

Old Web News
Old Claymation News


Xbox 360 Animation

I saw this on Youtube, and had to share it. It's a really cool animation advertising the Xbox 360.

Fan Art, Kinda

Here's a little art done on my site that I received from a friend a long time ago. He was using the drawing fun game type thing I have on my site and went crazy with it. It wasn't really used as it was intended for, but hey, I did say, "Heres a little thing I made that you can try out for fun or just if you are bored. ".


Video Tutorial Ideas

Here are some ideas I have for video tutorials. At first I was thinking about doing them all together and selling them as a group, but I really don't know the software well enough to teach how things work, just how to do some things, so I'm not so sure about charging for them right now. I haven't really tried making a video tutorial yet either, so my first one may tell me whether I should do more or if I shouldn't. Hopefully I'd improve in technique wise as I'd more as well. There are quite a few things that go into it that may need fixing. Anyways, here's a list I made up a while ago, not all are Blender related. These are just ideas if I really get into it or something.

color manipulation
green screen
erasing wire
compositing digital effects
Sequence editor
Virtual Dub
-other filters


Claymation Update: Video

Here's the short animation I did not too long ago. It's nothing that great. I really need to work on timing and stuff. This is also the first time I've ever really done post-processing on an animation as well. I adjusted color, sharpness, and a few other things.


Claymation Update: New Charater WIP

Here are a couple images of the new character I'm making. So far I only have the armature done and have covered it with clay. I'm not sure what I'm going to sculpt yet so it may take a bit longer until I actually finish it. This is the first puppet that I will make using Van Aken clay and 1/16 inch aluminum wire.


Virtual Dub

I haven't been using Virtual Dub very long or very much, but from what I've already seen from it, it's got some potential. It's another free video editing software that you can use to edit your shot footage, add sound, apply filters, and do a number of other things.

The couple of things that I've been interested in it for are some of the downloadable filters that you can use to Deshake and Deflicker your clips with. The Deshake really works well, and if you have some really shaky footage, it will do a couple of passes and work to stabilize your video. Deflicker simply helps take out the flicker a little that may occur in some animations because of unstable light sources, you wearing white that reflects light, and some other reasons.

Like I said though, I don't know much about the program and how to use it, but I'll be sure to post some of the things I find about it that I think will help you learn more as well.

Blender 3D

For anybody who doesn't know, Blender 3D is an open source program that you can use to model 3D objects, edit video, animate, and a do a large number of things with. It does take a while to learn, but once you get the hang of the interface and many hot keys, the work pays of and you can do some pretty professional stuff, all for free.

What does this have to do with clay animation? Well, first of all, you can edit footage with it, using Blender's Video Sequence Editor (VSE). If you know how to use it well enough(you really need to know quite a bit), you can even composite special effects and CG into your animation like fire, rain, or even completely CG characters. Some other uses could be to simply put in an animation title, color correct, sharpen, or do a number of other simple things to your video. 3D animatics are another thing that would be possible through Blender for use in the Pre-Visualization stages of an animation. The list could go on for quite a bit. So, in this blog, I'm probably going to post about Blender every so often, just because I use it as a hobbyist, and because it does benefit the film community. The posts may be tutorials, new functions I've learned or tested, and more.