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Stop Motion Poor Man's Armature

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Stop Motion Works presents ...... Reprint from StopMotionAnimation.com Message Board

Poor Man's Jointed Stop Motion Armatures


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Subject: "Weelian's Poor Man's Armature" weeliano Member since Jan 17th 2006 4 posts Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Tue Jan-17-06 07:41 PM Hello fellow animators! This is my first post here and I and giving away an invention of mine. Enjoy! I have created a simple armature for use in teaching stop motion animation. I am now sharing it to the animation world. This simple to make design was created in 2003 at LaSalle-SIA Institute of the Arts (Singapore) to help students make an affordable armature to do stop motion animation themselves. Though the range of motion is not as good as professionally made ones, I have students who have successfully made short films with it. If you buy the parts in bulk, a single armature would only cost a few dollars. Here's what you need to get to make this "Poor Man's" Armature. 1.Special round cross section tipped pliers (for removing retainer clips, not those semi-circle round nosed pliers) 2. Soft Stainless Steel wire, 1.5 to 2mm in diameter. Aluminium and copper wires won't work as they are too soft.(Don't get those ultra stiff ones as they are incredibly hard to bend) 3, Lock Nuts, Washers, Spring Washers, and the Bolts (look at the attached images to see how to set up, you can put a little bit of super glue to the lock nut to prevent it from loosening.) 4. A Vice or Flat head pliers. You may need these tools to hold the wire tightly while bending the loops. And that's it! That's all you need. Just look at the pictures below and you'll see how easy to build one for yourself. Look closely at how the wire is bent to achieve the various axis of motion. One piece of advice, do not build your armature more than 6 inches tall and don't dress your armature in heavy costume otherwise they won't hold the pose. Make the bolts easily accessible, so you can make tightening adjustments. For the MKIII design below, I used thicker wire and heavier bolts for the lower body as they are more stable. My first attempt was not very stable and the armature didn't hold the pose very well.

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Stop Motion Poor Man's Armature

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______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Tue Jan-17-06 08:47 PM In response to Reply # 0 Tue Jan-17-06 08:49 PM by Strider That's ingenius! I'm glad you posted this. Looks like a great (and inexpensive) way to make a very simple armature. Heh... can't wait to see the MK X! Mike Brent ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Wed Jan-18-06 09:38 AM In response to Reply # 1 I've seen the, Exact same concept when I went to Vinton Studios in the 90's:
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Strider Member since Oct 05th 2001 6655 posts

Stop Motion Poor Man's Armature

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Marc Spess Member since Jul 21st 2003 792 posts

I believe they used some brass rods, soldered to brass nuts. Then they drilled out the hole in one of the nuts where the hex screw goes through. They really figured out a lot of tricks like that - it makes you wonder what other hidden secrets they had. Marc ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Wed Jan-18-06 05:44 PM In response to Reply # 2 Wed Jan-18-06 05:44 PM by prammaven Hello, prammaven Member since Aug 27th 2004 481 posts I have been working on the same idea, but my problem was keeping the nut or screw from coming loose from each of the joints. It looks like it will work in theory, I'm just in the dark as to how to lock the nut with glue, and still be able to tighten the joint.Wouldn't solder work better for that? My design is actually cheaper, I believe. To make each joint, you would simply get two ring terminals for each joint, crimp the terminals onto pieces of wire that don't bend easily, and that's that. As I recall, an armature builder on here wrote in a thread somewhere that he didn't like using joints like this because the animators tended to want to move the puppet in a way that it wouldn't go. The design is cool looking though, and you win the award, Weeliano, for building it first. ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Wed Jan-18-06 06:49 PM DaveHettmer Member since Jun 09th 2005 336 posts In response to Reply # 3 Wed Jan-18-06 06:52 PM by DaveHettmer prammaven, can you get nylon stop nuts where you are? That might do the trick.

http://www.stopmotionworks.com/articles/poormansjointarmtures.htm

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- Dave ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Wed Jan-18-06 09:09 PM In response to Reply # 3 Hi Prammaven! Thanks for your compliments! The nuts I'm using are Nylon lock nuts as Dave has mentioned, the super glue is just to give me more hold as moving the joints constantly will eventually loosen the lock nuts. The spring washers will become weaker over many movement of the joints and to solve that we just unscrew the joint and bend the spring washer or just replace it. The armature design is very simple, although it resembles the Vinton Studio's Brass armature as mentioned by Marc, I believe it is different and original itself, there are no drilling and soldering involved, but you'll need a lot of hand strength though to bend the loops. It took me about 6 hours to build MKIII and at the end of the day your hands and fingers will be quite sore bending the loops. This design allows for modularity. You can make standardized parts and construct various creature armatures for your work. Sort of like "Mechano" or those construction toys with many standardized parts. If only someone can make a machine to make the wireloops, then this can become a great business! I'm not making any money from this, just credit me as the person who started this idea. This design of mine is not perfect, but it works as a great introduction to learning stopmotion animation. I developed it primarily as a tool to teach stop motion animation at a very low cost. On average each armature cost only a few dollars, provided you buy the materials in bulk. I had my students go to the local hardware and specialty Nuts & Bolts store to buy all the stuff and they got it at great deal. I still have many locknuts,bolts and washers left and essentially have enough material to make 5 more armatures. My MkIII is already more than 2 years old and though the upper body joints are loosening, the lower more robust leg and foot joints still hold their stiffness. If someone can improve the design, I'll gladly share the credit . Quote Hello, I have been working on the same idea, but my problem was keeping the nut or screw from coming loose from each of the joints. It looks like it will work in theory, I'm just in the dark as to how to lock the nut with glue, and still be able to tighten the joint.Wouldn't solder work better for that?My design is actually cheaper, I believe. To make each joint, you would simply get two ring terminals for each joint, crimp the terminals onto pieces of wire that don't bend easily, and that's that. As I recall, an armature builder on here wrote in a thread somewhere that he didn't like using joints like this because the animators tended to want to move the puppet in a way that it wouldn't go.The design is cool looking though, and you win the award, Weeliano, for building it first. ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Wed Jan-18-06 10:36 PM In response to Reply # 5 Wed Jan-18-06 10:37 PM by hugolino Hello to all. Instead of metal washers what you need are nylon washers. My armatures are made up of various steel wire gauges (12, 16, even large paper clip wire) that I've hand formed sandwiching #2 or #6 nylon washers which you can purchase at: hugolino Member since Nov 20th 2005 25 posts www.microfasteners.com or www.mcmaster.com With the nylon washers you won't need to glue the locknut ends. A heavier gauge wire is best because as you manipulate a limb, the wire will naturally bend at the clamping point. Unfortunately I do not have the ability to post my stills. I still continue to experiment with this type of joinage, however I'm beginning to combine them with brass joints of the same nature made of tubes with flattened ends and bore with a drill press. I was inspired by the cross bars you see in a scaffold structure. Get your hands on nylon washers and the difference in fluidity will be significant. The washers are inexpensive too. Hugo ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Thu Jan-19-06 01:12 AM In response to Reply # 5 You need a wire bending jig! Here's one to show you how they work:

weeliano Member since Jan 17th 2006 4 posts

http://www.stopmotionworks.com/articles/poormansjointarmtures.htm

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Strider Member since Oct 05th 2001 6655 posts

You can make one yourself... just put some screws into a plank. Make sure the plank is either big and heavy or clamped down securely, and it gets pretty easy to bend wire. Mike Brent ______________________________________________________________ weeliano Member since Jan 17th 2006 4 posts RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Thu Jan-19-06 01:17 AM In response to Reply # 7 Hi Mike! Thanks for your compliment in the 2nd post and thanks for sharing the tip for bending wire. ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Thu Jan-19-06 01:45 PM In response to Reply # 8 Thu Jan-19-06 01:57 PM by prammaven Weeliano, The only thing I would change about your design would be the feet---I would make them easier to tie down to a table, unless you figured out a way to do it with the existing design. I like you design a lot, though. It's the most original armature I've seen. For the feet, I would probably use a spade terminal, and crimp the wire in there. This works really well, and my wire armatures have been standing for weeks without anything to support them but their own balance. prammaven Member since Aug 27th 2004 481 posts Hugo, If you need to post a pic... www.putfile.com It's very easy to create an account, and then post pictures, music, video... Any of those. I would definately like to see your armature. Marc, I'm not all that sure what I'm looking at in the pic of the brass armature at Vinton's. I seem to recall seeing something like that when I visited the studios. Did John Ashlee give you the tour? Man, those guys went through armature designs like toilet paper! I've seen the original ones Will used in Closed mondays, and then next thing you know it's plug 'n play style brass stock, later ball and socket, and who knows when the design featured in your picture came about. Those guys were some serious innovators, that's for sure! I never did hear what became of John Ashlee, though. ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Thu Jan-19-06 08:38 PM hugolino
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In response to Reply # 9 Thu Jan-19-06 08:40 PM by hugolino Member since Nov 20th 2005 25 posts This is a test. Stills. Hugo ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Thu Jan-19-06 08:51 PM In response to Reply # 10 hugolino Member since Nov 20th 2005 25 posts The test worked, however please forgive low-end quality of stills. Will improve. This armature (in progress) is for a Megatherium. It is comprised of flanged brass tubes and wire formed swivel -hinge joints. The hardware is 2-56 and 6-32 bolts, nylon washers and locknuts. The hip bridge is made of a high strength baling wire. The brass flanged joints are very strong and easy to make. I simply use a tube cutter and heavy pliers to flatten ends which are then jobbed on drill press. I use 5-32 to 1/4 tubes found in hobby shops. I've even used 1/8 tube for smaller joints. Hugo ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Thu Jan-19-06 09:34 PM Strider Member since Oct 05th 2001 6655 posts In response to Reply # 11 Wow, that looks great Hugo! I hope we get to see the finished armature. Will you be building it up using the methods you described on another thread about the buildup process? Mike Brent ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Thu Jan-19-06 10:48 PM In response to Reply # 12 hugolino Member since Nov 20th 2005 25 posts Hey Mike. Good hearing from you. The upper half of the armature should be complete this weekend. I do a majority of work during my lunch hour and after hours,(I'm currently in maintenance, work out of small room. My press and supplies are all there. Hard to work at home). Yes I will be building up using foam and cotton. However foam will see greater use. There are several fabric shops I've visited that offer a variety of pelts too. I've a build-up sample to show as well. Will follow shortly. Hugo ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Fri Jan-20-06 10:15 PM In response to Reply # 13 Hope everyone is well. Here are some more stills with rough arms on Megatherium armature. When I build an armature I begin with a prototype and then develop into a finished piece.I also make sketches of configurations but never a blueprint. The other wire structure is for a giant flightless bird armature I never did finish (intend to). Its just an example of what can be done with wire as a models frame.

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hugolino

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Member since Nov 20th 2005 25 posts

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RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Sat Jan-21-06 08:16 AM prammaven Member since Aug 27th 2004 481 posts In response to Reply # 14 That's pretty awesome, man. But as much work as you're going to for those joints, why don't you consider building a ball and socket design? No offense was intended by this question. ______________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Sat Jan-21-06 10:05 AM In response to Reply # 15 None taken. Actually its more muscle than anything else (as you noted in your post about making the loops). I prefer swivel hinge joints to b&s joints. The hardest part is fixing a ball to rod and that was something I was never able to do well enough. If I'd had a lathe, I'd be chirping a different song. If I do use a ball joint it would be for the base of the head. I like the nature of the materials (brass, steel wire) because, one, its all I can afford right now, and two, they are easy to "sculpt", yet very strong. Hey did you look into the nylon washers? If you can't get any, I'd be happy to send you some.Let me know. What bolt size are you using.. 6-32 or 8-32? Hugo ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Sun Jan-22-06 02:37 AM hugolino Member since Nov 20th 2005 25 posts In response to Reply # 16 Sorry, I meant to address Weeliano regarding hardware need question. hugo ______________________________________________________________ RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Sun Jan-22-06 08:00 AM weeliano In response to Reply # 17 Hi Hugo! Member since Jan 17th 2006 4 posts Thanks for offering to get me the nylon washers. Right now my spring washer and metal washer setup works pretty well, but your setup sure looks cool and innovative!

hugolino Member since Nov 20th 2005 25 posts

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My bolts are ranging from 2mm to 3.5mm(approx.) in diameter. I used the smaller bolts for the upper body and limbs while for the legs I used bigger 3.5mm bolts and thicker wire. ______________________________________________________________ hugolino Member since Nov 20th 2005 25 posts RE: Weelian's Poor Man's Armature Mon Jan-23-06 08:28 AM In response to Reply # 18 Weeliano, Thank you for the feedback. Will you be using for a clay based model or otherwise? Hugo ______________________________________________________________

For info lurkers

, FREE ADDITIONAL 'BONUS' ADDED BY STOP MOTION WORKS (not included in original messageboard topic) ....... ELEPHANT / MASTADON-like 'Wire hinged armature' example: Pic 1 - Pic 2

LIO Tip: If you cannot find Nylon washers,


you can Do-It-Yourself fabricate substitute plastic-type washers using the Polyethylene seal tops you find on coffee cans, rolled oats containers or other supermarket grocery items that have the big plastic seal tops . See photo at right. You can recycle as something useful. The do-it-yourself polyethylene plastic washers are not as tough or thick as Nylon, so you might need to double or triple the polyethylene washers for every joint so that they do not over compress or flatten out too much. The heat resistance of polyethylene is about 140-180 F.; so you will need to test it, if you intend baking hot-cure foam latex rubber in oven (at or under 200 deg. F curing temperatures). With Build-Up Puppets, where no heat is needed, home-made polyethylene plastic washers might work for you. You can try cutting out the washer round shapes and also the middle holewith exacto knife/blade (it does not have to be 'perfect' circle shapes) ....

The premade Nylon washers are more durable and has some heat resistant to about 300 degrees F.. Perhaps applicable if you are placing armature in a mold, for oven baking Hot-cure Foam Rubber Latex.

Nylon washers available at Small Parts Inc and Micro Fasteners Or better yet, using hollow gasket hole puncher set similar to this .....

In USA, Harbor Freight Tools has them. Maybe not be best quality, but perhaps adequate for ocassional use ____________________________________________

More Tips about POOR MAN's ARMATURES


Why do nuts and screws seem to magically loosen themselves? Some reasons include corrosion in the threads (for metal fasteners), vibration, or cyclic movement of the parts causing the nut or screw to "walk" loose (as in Stop Motion, the repeated joint movements). Temperature changes

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can cause fasteners to loosen if the coefficients of expansion for fasteners and fastened parts are sufficiently different. Sometimes this might happen if you use oven/heat curing Foam Latex Rubber (armature inside the mold & filled with foam). The mild heat might slightly loosen the joint's tension. The simple Do-It-Yourself Home Brew Hinge Joints (as shown above) needs to be tightened FIRMLY. I recommend a plain flat washer underneath the nut, then very important, use must use a Thread Locking Sealant on the threaded ends that goes inside the NUTs. The lock sealant should be removal grade (such as Loctite 242 / Temp resistant to 300 deg F), so that later if needed, you can unscrew & loosen the nut from screw. Follow the thread locking sealant instructions for the 'curing/setting time'. Before you bury-embed the Poor Man hinge type jointed armatures inside the foam rubber or before you do a build-up method of the outer puppet skin, you must FIRST, PRE-TIGHTEN all the joints so that they have GOOD TENSION. You then put the armatures through practice animation tests, posing it through all the motions/movements (without the skin). This testing will reveal any of the weak joints that may loosenup.This is a trial & error process of getting the right firm tension that is specific to your armature design and so this joint adjustment process may require re-application of the thread locking sealant and re-tightening the nuts on the joints. After puppet has its outer finished skin, the joints underneath still might loosen but that is part of the Stop Motion Animation 'process'. Even with professional armatures, some joints can loosen while you are animating. No need to get your 'Underwears in a Bunch' . You can razor slit open the skin (foam rubber) and re-tighten any loosening joints. Better to have 'tighter' joint tension, especially ankles, knees, and hips Brought to you by STOP MOTION WORKS A divison of StopMoWorks LLC - All rights reserved

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