Tag Archives: flying rig

Making a fish puppet

This is what I did to form a fish puppet for my new film.

I took a square piece of K/S brass and soldered to rod with a ball end. I put this in a ball and socket joint. I glued the square brass in a piece of mdf that was shaped like a fish head.

I made a wire armature for the shrimp.

Wrap the ball and socket joint with bandage foam.

This shows the rig that fits in the square brass tube to hold the fish up.

The brass tube will sit in the fish and hold it up. I will put the threaded rod in hole in the overhead with a nut holding it up. I can turn the rod to move the fish up or down. Every turn of the rod will move the entire rig up or down in height.

The nut and washer will hold the rod from slipping through the hole above the set. Turn the rod and the rig rises or lowers.

All of the larger fish or creatures in the film will use this same square tubing set up so I can swap the puppets in and out and use the same rig. I will attach the threaded rod overhead the set in a rig that slides back and forth across  the set. It will probably just move by eye without a geared or threaded pull system. I will rely on the video assist to determine how far to move the rig.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

Some more exterior set photos

I have been absent for awhile now but I have been busy working on the throne room film. Here are more photos of the exterior set of the throne room film. This is the set outside waiting for nightfall.

The rig at the top is a flying rig that will move the gliders along the set. The three small things in the middle of the below photo are the gliders. Notice also the new wooden camera rig I use to hold my camera. It slides up and down, tilts up and down, and twists side to side. Knobs on the side tighten the rig in one place. A bolt tightens the twisting motion. My webcam is hot melt glued to the top of the digital camera.

Here is a better view of the camera rig.

Below are the three gliders in place.

This is a wider view.

It is all paper mache and paint, and will be shot all after sunset.

The tiny gliders.

The gliders will be pulled along with a threaded rod and a wingnut.

The busy background will be digitally painted out.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

a new flying rig

Well for the stopmotionmagic.com october challenge I needed to turn my puppet 180 degrees, and for that I needed a super great wonderfully terrific flying rig, so I built one. (Note: in the photos you will see a black track, ignore this because that is my track lighting, has nothing to do with this rig)

Here is how:

Start with a long piece of wood, cut a dovetail slot in it with a router bit or table saw, cut a small scrap with a dovetail to slide in the slot. So now you have a 4 foot long piece of wood with a scrap that slides in a dovetail joint along the length. This will allow your flying rig to slide across the set left and right.

Now for the main piece. I wanted three connection points to keep the puppet better balanced. Take two pieces of scrap and make a Tee.  Glue these together. Drill holes in the ends for round dowels (pencils work great). Attach string to the dowels, and attach tiny wire hooks to the ends of the string. To raise or lower the hook heights just turn the dowels. If your holes in the wood scrap tee is not exact fit for the dowels you can cut a slot, and then put a nut and bolt on it to make it a tighter fit.  I drilled holes in the pencils and put a thin diameter dowel to make turning the pencils a little easier.  The whole tee assembly gets a bolt drilled through the center and is bolted to the scrap that has the sliding dovetail cut on it. Using this system allows the tee to swivel around. A wing nut on the bottom loosens or tightens the tee against the dovetail block and makes it easier or hard to twist around.


My latest animation exercise “turn your puppet 180” uses this flying rig and no tiedowns at all.

here is the link to video.

you can see the strings in the video.  I will remove them later.  The rig works great. Hope you enjoy. Let me know if you have any questions about how to build this.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

Beginner’s guide to ball and socket armatures

Ok, for my new film short, I need a flying rig to hold a wooden sled in place as it comes down a hill. So, let’s head down to the shop and build one today. It will use basic ball and socket joints which you can use in your puppet construction. This is a very basic ball and socket joint with a few tools. It is not professional grade and will not be the smoothest joint you have ever seen but it works and it is what I have used for all my puppets with ball and socket construction.

First I start with a steel plate from the hardware store. This is what it looks like straight off the shelf.

I then use the drill press to drill a hole in between the two holes in a line. This hole will be the proper size to tap a 8-32 hole.

This is what the plate looks like after drilling the center hole. This hole should be as perfectly centered as your setup will allow. The more perfectly centered it is the better the hold and the smoother the joint.

I use a dremel tool with a cut off wheel to cut the plate into two. If you wish you can round off the corners but for this project I am not. Then take one plate and drill a hole large enough for a 8-32 to pass through. One plate will be tapped with screw threads, one will be large enough that the screw can slide through freely.

This is the tapping tool. It comes with the proper size drill bit. So, you drill a hole with the proper bit, then put this tapping tool in the hole and slowly turn it back and forth until it cuts threads in the hole perfectly fitted to your screw size. These tap sets are pretty cheap ($5 US) but most do not come with the handle. That is sold separately. Use lubrication when cutting threads and your bits will last longer.

This is the dremel tool setup used to cut the plates and the threaded rod. Wear eye protection because fine metal dust will be in the air. I wear a full respirator but at least wear eye protection like wrap around goggles that seal against your face.

These are the brass balls I use. They are not ideal because they are softer than the steel plates and can easily scratch but they are cheap and I can find them right off the shelf at my hardware store. They are drilled and tapped for 8-32 threads when you buy them. I pay about .50 US each for them.

This is the solder I use. It has silver in it and makes a stronger bond. I have had very few solder joints fail me.

This is the one item you may not have in a normal shop. It is micro butane torch. It is a terrific tool. I do all my soldering with it. I think it is about $50 US or so. It uses refillable butane.

This is the 8-32 threaded rod. I bought this in one foot sections for a few dollars.

Put the threaded rod in the vise, careful not to damage the threads.

Cut a slot in the rod to help solder flow better.

I always use flux. Any kind should work. It keeps the solder joint clean and helps the solder flow better once you apply the heat.

Clean off the rod and coat with flux. Screw on the brass ball.

Apply heat to the ball.

Apply your solder and wipe off excess. This is a ugly joint but you get the idea.

This is what the plates look like when completed. Put the screw through the plate with the large hole, all countersunk holes in the plates facing inwards, and thread the screw into the tapped plate.

Insert the ball into the hole and you are done.

For mine I soldered my whole rig onto a heavy brass hinge so I could clamp it to my set.

This is what it will look like in use. I will erase it in post.


Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

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