This stop motion video is the result of a great partnership between myself and Daddy Mojo’s creator and master craftsman, Lenny Roberts. Daddy Mojo makes some of the world’s best cigar box guitars and when I was asked by Lenny to produce a short teaser for his website I couldn’t have been more excited! The instant I saw the intricate creation process behind the guitars, I knew exactly what I wanted to film. A simple, clean step-by-step evolution from cigar box to guitar. One take, one angle, no bells or whistles- Everything is happening right in front of you. An intimate peak at a seemly average object, as it manifests into something completely different: The transition from cigar box to sexy guitar.
To emphasize this concept, I played with perspective. The video begins with a birds eye view looking down at the cigar box, as most people are used to seeing them, the camera then moves to eye level as the guitar forms and stands up. The CineDrive was absolutely integral to the process.
Step one involved thumbnails chalking out key frames, here master craftsmen Lenny was able walk me through the extent and limitations with which we could manipulate the production process for the camera.
After drafting the storyboard I reached out to After Effects wiz, Maryon Favior for an animatic. The stop-motion was shot at 24 frames per second which meant every frame of the animatic needed to be mapped down to the key.
While the animatic was going through its tweaks – Lenny and I started building out the props. And by Lenny and I, I mean Lenny as I watched the master at work. Stop motion means multiple versions of the same props in all different sizes so multiple cuts of wood, sanded down coins and an almost burned retina later, we had our props all ready to go.
Once the props were ready, we set up the track. The transition from birds eye view to eye level meant the track had to be attached to the ceiling. We were able to use the sprinkler system to help anchor the 12 foot Shuttle Pod. Since we had an entire wood shop to our disposal we were able to cut 2 x4s down to the exact size needed to hep support the rest of the track.
It was a little scary attaching the entire weight of the 5 axis CineDrive along with the 5D Mark III and a 24 70 lens but after the first test run the fear went out the door. Needless to say the quality of the Shuttle pod was unmatched! There was no sway in the 12 feet of track and the cart ran underslung super smooth!
After programming the move in all that was left was to light the set and get shooting!
The large windows at Lenny’s studio unfortunately meant large amounts of uncontrollable light, to tackle this we chose to shoot through the night, resulting in a 2 day shoot from sunset to sunrise.
Unlike live action, retakes in stop motion are a lot of work and on many a occasion a complete restart is the only option. So when planning a complicated 5 axis move in stop motion is always daunting but working with the CineDrive I could rest assured that there would be no need for retakes, and that is exactly how it went down. One take, 432 shots, and two days later we were all done shooting!
Now for post, assembling it was fairly easy as I like to shoot everything in camera and have very minimal post so it was literally just a matter of stitching it all together then a splash of sound design and we were ready to launch.
The sound designers Mayte and Mattia did really well with the small notes I gave them about making sure to use all folly sounds that were created with a cigar box. For the background strumming heard in the final piece, that was a track recoded by Lenny himself and edited to work with the video.
Over all the project was extremely fun to work on. Its always a pleasure working with a client who trusts your vision and the respects the process. The CineDrive really allowed me to execute a 5 axis move underslung without troubleshooting and worrying about making a lot of crazy calculations that would have other wise been pretty much impossible to do. Looking forward to coming up with use and unique ways to use this beast of a system!
– Salman Sajun