finished20rig20at20rest_zpsagbk2depRepurposing is a thing that happens around here. Because of the lives that Will Dearest & I live, a wide assortment of oddball stuff has a tendency to accumulate in our home – I have a suspicion that this isn’t unusual for people who make art on the regs; most of my friends have a junk drawer (or room) that they refuse to open in mixed company. We’ve acquired the regular stuff – a variety of printers and computer parts (some that work, even), pallets, milk crates – as well as some of the less usual: a fussy lighting rig, a photo enlarger for analog camera film, a ziploc bag of feathers, three steamer trunks, you know, biggish and/or eyebrow-raising stuff. All of these items one of us looked at and said, “This might come in handy at some point,” and then stuffed into a corner.

But, check this out – this week we used some of it \o/

I’m not gonna humblebrag until the project comes to completion (there’s still a ways to go), but I am excited af to tell you that the first steps of making a stop animation trailer for Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival are finally happening – we have built a rig!

The biggest problem I’ve had with filming anything, much less stop animation, has been about keeping the camera from wobbling like a drunken cartoon character. I know for a fact that there are folks around with stable arms, people who can shoot handheld and make it look like gold, but I can assure you I am not one of those people. And some my previous attemts at building a rig involved rubberbands. Spoiler alert, that business bounced around like an outtake from The Blair Witch Project. I don’t need to tell you that was less than ideal. So I approached this project with some trepidation. Luckily, our fantastic R ♥ 2016 intern, Audrey, was there to the rescue! So, here’s how it went.

Tools used: a screwdriver with a star-shaped bit, pencil, xacto knife. Not pictured: scissors, cutting mat & board (I like my carpet, y’all), most of a roll of blue painter’s tape, and a few sheets of cardboard. And a pot of coffee.


We started with two pieces of equipment: the enlarger and the light rig. The initial idea was to have the enlarger do all the work, hold the ipad and keep out the shadows, but it turned out the light was a) blocked by the ipad, and b) just not that bright. Hence the two-piece solution.

So we disassembled. What looked like a three-bolt issue was actually a two-bolt issue. Thank goodness, Audrey is a good catch. The enlarger was divorced from the frame. It will live in a corner until we figure out what to do with it (it might come in handy some day, natch). But, Ta-DA! We have a frame with a slidy piece that goes up and down!

Next step was to get something to hold the iPad & hold it still. We opted for the lid from a foam cooler.

With a hole in it.cut20the20cooler20top_zpsgwzgmdg4

Which we wrapped in blue tape, because loose foam is freaking messy.

Next we had to attach the cooler lid, now a shelf, to to the frame. The frame has a pokey bit on it which helped. The idea was to stab the foam from the underside with the pokey bit –

But this wasn’t ideal. Stuff flopped around a LOT. We added a shim on the side (more foam wrapped in blue tape) to keep things snug, and then added the ipad for a try through, but the iPad was heavier than we had anticipated. Enter the sandbag (cue metal guitars, please) and cardboard.

At this point the idea was still to keep the lighting separate and just angle the lights where we needed to. But then Our Man Cub came through and noted that the lighting setup actually comes apart. Hells, yes, we took that sucker apart – and put it on the new rig as an even better counterbalance than the sandbag. WE STABBED IT RIGHT IN THE FOAM! Ok, right next to the foam. Kinda through the foam. Whatever – you get the spirit of the thing.


And this is what it looks like in the end. Except, you know, with the iPad in the shelf   ~.o


We’ve shot some reference pix so far, and decided that we only want to do the majority of movement with one of our paper dollies, which makes everything way easier. Even better is that we figured out that we can do some stuff in post-production. In the next few weeks, we’ll be digging in in earnest. Please root for us ❤