Now, another post lurked on over at stopmotionanimation.com led me to pouring over some very revealing 'behind the scenes' shots of Coraline puppets- if I can find the link I'll also insert it here later- ah! there it is! The `Blog over at Scarlet stars studios! Take a look!
but among these wonderful photos, I spotted one that particularly fascinated me- Coraline herself without either parts of her replacement faces on- as in here!
( slight aside- Ken Priebe's latest book also revealed how the Coraline faces were divided into upper and lower sections, thus offering more potential combinations than a library of 'whole' faces- however, this then neccesitated a post production artist going through every frame and doing the old magic eraser/ clone stamp routine in photoshop to remove and camouflage the line between upper and lower halves. When I heard that, it suddenly made sense in terms of how 'digital' Coraline felt to view- if everyone of your characters needs to have photoshop trickery paint out an aspect at the DEAD CENTRE of the characters face, it should be no wonder that something feels 'not quite right' about the animation from a traditional stop motion animation point of view. Don't get me wrong, it set new benchmarks all over the place for smoothness of style and action- all respect to Laika and their amazing talent!
BUT I do think having to paint out this dividing line has introduced something 'unreal' that detracts from that sense we normally get that a stop motion puppet is a real object in a real environment- for me a vitally important aspect of what makes it beautiful and work.) RANT OVER!
So, what I saw inside the head was two universal joints, on which half round glass eyes were fixed- giving a free floating pair of eyes, able to float effortlessly into any position. Eyes are an area I had earmarked for development, so I thought about this for a while. I couldn't replicate the LAIKA design, and I couldn't do replacement faces- at least , not until I get me a REPRAP - the budget route to open source, affordable 3d printing- seriously, check it out!
(surely on the 2011 shopping list however- so replacement faces may be on the horizon next!)
But back to the kitchen bench version first!
I'd seen similar universal joints before, inside my Dad's remote control vehicles and boats- so I knew you could source them from specialist RC model shops. I went and bought a few. They weren't too much, about £5-6 for a pair.