Stopmoman Ryan Mcculloch took a few moments from his clay work to speak to us and here are his replies.
1. How did you end up here with a whole series based on your characters and even a Wikipedia entry about your work?
The Fox & Calf series was the first thing I pitched when I came here to Tertiary Productions. I had a handful of short comics I drew over the years that people liked when I showed them. I came up with Spencer The Fox and Wally Calf to drop into the various plots as the common denominator. As for the Wikipedia reference to “Without You,” that’s just a fluke. I made the little film when I was just a kid and it touched a lot of people, it kinda grew a life of it’s own and I didn’t have much control over it since then. It’s been cool to see that 10 years later people still remember it.
2. Can you give us a few clay tips?
Keep your animating area as cold as possible, and the lights as far away from the clay as you can (while keeping it well lit) to keep them from drooping and melting in your hands. In between shots I like to stick them in the fridge and get them nice and hard.
3. We can see plenty of your strengths looking at your characters, what do you think is your biggest weakness?
I have not yet attempted quadruped walk cycles. I don’t enjoy building armatures and I don’t enjoy animating walk cycles, so I limit myself there a bit. It’s a bit more of a hassle in clay than it is with foam, I love moving foam bodies around (especially with ball and socket joints!), and I may dabble in some non-clay puppets in the near future so I can push that aspect of my craft a little more. We’ll see.
4. What is your camera and software setup?
I use my work’s camera, I have no idea what it is, I know it’s digital and widescreen. And I capture on Frame Thief, edit in Final Cut Pro. Been a Mac man for many years now.
5. What has been the hardest character to animate and why do think that is?
It’s usually characters that I take unnecessary shortcuts in the building process to save time and then I pay for it when they start falling over mid-shot.
6. Anyone you would really like to work on a project with?
Someone who can bring something to the table that I can’t. That’s why I love collaborating with musicians. I think Ron Cole does something so different than I do that we could make a worthwhile collaboration. I also wouldn’t mind writing something and having Justin Rasch or Nick Hilligoss do all the dirty work; their stuff blows me away.
7. What kind of stop motion goals do you have?
Getting to tell more of my stories and to a wider audience. However that works out would be cool with me.
8. You are also quite the artist. What kind of training do you have?
My first love and true passion has always been illustration and fine art. I went to the Academy Of Art University in San Francisco originally as a Fine Art major and after a year changed majors into the Illustration department, focusing on character design. For five years I drew and painted from live models, learned color and composition theory, studied the masters, all that kind of stuff. Towards the end of my schooling I spent a semester studying painting in Italy. I had a watercolor sketchbook and painted many of the sights I saw in my travels, it was amazing. Over the last 2 years or so, most of my painting has been digital, which is fun and cool in it’s own way, but I hope to dust off the ol’ paints again soon and do something traditional again
9. Any tips for young people who may look up to you as a role model?
Learn ergonomics! Take care of your wrists, take breaks, and stretch them. Don’t get any pains that keep you from doing what you love.
10. Write and answer your own last question.
Q. What is the most fun part of the process?
A. Getting loved ones involved in the process. For years my dad did so much on the productions, and now my wife is starting to contribute, and we have a great time creating together.