Introduction: Animation Rig: Make Your Characters Fly
I've been dabbling in stop motion animation on a shoestring for some time now - it's a perfect way to quietly while away a couple of hours of your summer break, when it's too hot to go outside, or when your body clock is still running to school hours and you're awake before the rest of the family.
Experimenting with animating paper cuboids, I wanted to make the box jump in the air. This requires a piece of kit called a "flying rig", or just a "rig". Professionally-manufactured versions normally cost tens to hundreds of dollars, but I came up with this version that is practically free.
It can also, of course, be used to pose objects in the air for stills photography.
Step 1: Needful Things
Step 2: Before You Start...
Before you start, please note that this project will not work with all stop-motion set-ups.
The floor of your set must be non-magnetic, and reasonably thin.
My little set is made of 2mm thick MDF, stiffened with 10mm-square timber battens along two edges. As you can see in the first picture, most of the action in my clips takes place in a very small area.
My main animation armatures ("Bruce" and "Small") have 2mm neodymium magnets set into their feet, and I place larger, 5mm magnets under the floor of the set as required.
If your set is too thick, or made of iron or steel, then check the last step, where I also list the equipment and apps I use to make my animations.
Step 3: Make Your Box
The scene that spawned this instructable stars a small paper box.
I drew out a net for the box, and glued it together with clear PVA.
Just before closing the end of the box, I dropped in one of my 2mm magnets. It is loose inside the box, so that I can fix any face I like to the rig.
Step 4: Make the Rig
The rig itself is easy - I already had some steel gardening wire "in stock", so I just cut and bent it to shape.
The flat spiral and square on the ends are there to both stop things rocking and slipping out of place, and to give the magnets more material to attract.
Step 5: Using the Rig
Actually using the rig is easy - put a magnet under the stage to anchor the rig in place, then place the box against the top of the rig so that the magnet holds the box up.
Both will slide conveniently around between shots, without drooping or shifting and spoiling the shot.
The only awkward part is bending the rig and fixing camera angles to keep the rig itself out of shot (except for the clips that show it off on purpose!)
I've attached a GIF of the rig in action to this step, but to see the actual video itself, CLICK HERE. From there, you can also take a look at my other animations.
Step 6: Adaptations
Obviously, this rig, built this way, works for me. There are many reasons and ways to adapt it for your own use:
If your set floor is too thick for the magnets, just hold the bottom of the rig down with a patch of sticky tape or a blob of Blue Tac. Not so convenient to move around, but it works.
Likewise, if you don't have any magnets at all, you can tape both ends on (though you will have to make several boxes, as the paper will eventually rip as you peel tape off).
If your set floor is itself magnetic - iron or steel - then put the magnet on top of the bottom of the rig, and clamp it down that way.
If you are wanting to hold up larger or heavier objects, then simply upgrade the rig - thicker wire (or several strands of thin wire twisted together), and larger magnets.
Regarding making my animations, I just use my Android phone on an articulated arm that clamps to the edge of the desk that is my set.
I animate with PicPac (you can use the free version, but I recommend upgrading to prime), and perform other tweaks (like editing, cropping and acquiring sounds) with other free apps from the Google store.
Almost all my posted animations land on TikTok first, and my other social media feeds later.
Please, if you use a version of this project to make an animation, or to take photos, please, share them in the comments below.
If you're an animator, especially stop motion, comment with links to your social media feeds as well, and look for follows.
Participated in the
DIY Summer Camp Contest