Behind the Scenes of Peak Alpaca

I have to say, Peak Alpaca is one of my favorite Mochimochi Land animations yet! (Well, they’re all my favorites, especially the ones made with Maureen.)

We’re always so busy on the set that I don’t remember to take too many photos of our work, but here’s a shot I thought to take of our setup for the mountain climbing scene.

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All of the mountains were just pieces of knitted fabric draped over foam rubber.

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Here’s one more set photo, for our long shot of the mountain.

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There were a lot of tricky things about this animation, including getting the pacing right (slow is hard, we discovered) and the physics of things falling down a mountain. The apple bouncing at the end required a shot-by-shot diagram, and then plenty of Photoshop to erase the wires.

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Peak Alpaca is the third in our tiny sheep trilogy. Also see Happy Baa-lentine’s Day and Funky Fleece!

The Making of Pass the Apple

Last week I posted an animated GIF of the woodland mochis having fun with an apple in the woods. If you’ve followed Mochimochi Land for a while, you know that I’ve been making these little stop-motion animations for a few years, but this particular project was a little different, because I had help from a real live animator!

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This is Maureen. She’s been helping out Mochimochi Land in a several ways over the past couple of months, but to be honest, most of those ways are a vast underuse her talents. (There’s just SO MUCH YARN that always needs winding for kits!) Maureen is finishing up a degree in animation at the Illinois Institute of Art, so it’s been at the back of my mind for us to work on something together. Last Thursday I mentioned to her that I was thinking about making some kind of animation with my newest mochis, and four hours later we had one! Here it is again:

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Having three different characters moving in different directions and at different paces at the same time is a real challenge in stop-motion animation—just keeping track of where everybody is going in each shot is tough, so if I’d been on my own, I probably would have way simplified the action involved in Pass the Apple. But since there were two of us, I could move the fox and owl and Maureen could move the hedgehog and also keep track of what needed to happen in each shot overall.

Several people have asked how we got the owl to fly. No fancy camera tricks—just a toothpick in the back!

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(We switched it out with some long, skinny DPNs when the owl needed to be farther away from the backdrop.)

Maureen has all the slick animation software skills, but since we were working with a tight deadline, I put the shots together in Photoshop like I usually do.

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It turns out it takes 47 frames to pass an apple.

An unexpected issue was the constantly changing light—we were using artificial lights as I always do, but as we were shooting it suddenly turned into a partly-cloudy, partly-sunny day, and every time the sun came out it blasted through our makeshift blackout poster boards…

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So I made some adjustments in Photoshop, and then we decided that the flickeriness is just kind of charming. Lesson learned: next time, pick a more solidly overcast day, shoot at night, or get some actual blackout curtains!

I had a blast working with Maureen on this, and I hope we do more together before she’s snatched up by a production company! See her own work at boyleanimation.com.