So here is whats up.
When I returned from my most recent work trip I picked up work on my short. I got SUPER excited and was so super motivated from the energy I had felt working on Robot Chicken. I decided to do a walk test with my ball and socket armature. I set it all up and had him take a step. I felt totally alive and thrilled as I finally animated my little man.
The thread lock came loose. For like the THOUSANDTH time. I had 9 joints in the neck alone and the thought of one or all of them going while I was in the middle of animating gave me a headache. Have you heard that saying "to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results is insanity"? Well I realized, I could re-clean the joints, reapply thread lock AGAIN and maybe this time it would stick. But louder than that voice came another one that had been stirring ever since I worked on the Moral Orel special. I really loved those armatures. They were wire armatures but the way they were made was amazing. I could animate it as hard as I wanted and they never broke. When I returned to Burbank later in the year to work on RC they used the same armatures. And again.... I loved them. Before I made a decision I asked myself a question:
- if the puppet broke while I was animating it would I have fun in stopping to take the time to fix it? Or would I be annoyed and impatient and want to get back to animating?
Answer: I would be seriously annoyed and impatient.
So I've made a decision. I'm going to remake the armature out of wire. I don't want it to break while I'm animating. I care more about animating than I do building. There is just more joy for me there.
When I came to this realization I felt both relief and panic. I had spent MONTHS of time working on the ball and socket armature. Had I really wasted all of that time?
When I look back on the time I spent in my cold studio with my fingers freezing trying to piece together the steel armature what I recall the strongest was how happy I was. I love building things. I always have. I love using my hands. This is really why I love stop motion so much. I had fun building that armature. I can't think of a better way of spending my time than by doing something I truly enjoy. The sum of that time is not a useful tangible object but rather bits and pieces of knowledge that I gained while sorting through the many small obstacles I encountered. To me this is priceless. What else is priceless is knowing that I worked on the things I thought I wanted most - a ball and socket armature. And to be shown that when I thought I had to choose between A or B there was actually a C I didn't even know existed. I love being surprised, especially when it changes my mind about something I was so sure of.
So I happily pulled out my original sculpt. I measured it and made a scale drawing, shrank it in photoshop and am now using it as my template for my new armature. Using wire will enable me to get back to the proportions I had first envisioned. Smaller joints, thinner limbs. I'm excited.