Got No Strings on Me
Would you believe that some of today's most complicated computer animation still relies on puppets? Or is it the puppets that rely on the computers? Computers allow you to make a marionette without the strings or a rod puppet without the rods. Can your old squishy pillow or stuffed toy become a movie star? Let's find out.
Curious for an answer? Look Behind the Scenes.
- You will need: an old squishy pillow or stuffed toy that you don't mind getting glue on, strings, 1- to 2-foot-long sticks, tape, a stapler, fishing line, scissors, and dot stickers.
- Think of something you'd like to make. Attach the string, sticks, and fishing line to your pillow so that it will move the way you want it to without your touching it with your hands. You can tie strings around the pillow and attach the strings to the sticks, use the sticks like a rod puppet to push the pillow up from below, or come up with your own plan - whatever works the best!
- Practice moving the pillow until you've got all the strings in the right places. You may need a friend to help you move it.
- Watch closely to locate the joints - places where the pillow bends when it moves (like a knee or an elbow). Stick a dot sticker to each of these spots. These spots represent your encoders, called digital interface devices (DIDs). They record movement on a model and translate it onto the computer.
- Try a simple movement and write down what each encoder (dot) would "say" to the computer.
- Why do you think DIDs were invented? What could a computer animator do that a person working with a model can't do by hand? Now that we have computers, why would they still use models and puppets for special effects?
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