Introduction: Stop Motion Puppet From Copper Wire Scraps and Electronic Waste
“This is Holy Wood. To pass the time quickly, you just film the clock hands moving fast...” ― Terry Pratchett, Moving Pictures
You need neither advanced soldering skills nor expensive materials to build this cute e-waste guy. I made a couple of stop motion animation cutaway scenes for a presentation video. But if you are patient enough, you could produce a real animated short film with this technique.
- copper wire scraps (you could use any durable and flexible metal wire but, I found out that aluminum sculpting wire is apparently cowered with some sort of protective substance and is not easy to solder.)
- some pieces of random e-waste (dead capacitors, transistors and other stuff you could collect from old motherboards, power adapters etc.)
- soldering kit
- some sort of tripod or other camera stabilizing accessory
- smartphone or digital camera
- video editing software (I used Kdenlive which is free and open source)
Step 1: Character Design
First you should decide what sort of creature you are going to build. Since my character was supposed to be anthropomorphous, I just googled something like “sculpting armature diagram” and found this reference. You could easily find similar diagrams for other creatures like animals etc. Or you could draw it yourself if you don’t really care about exact proportions.
Step 2: Making the Armature
Now you may use your sketch as a reference for making a wire skeleton. It should be flexible yet sturdy enough to endure the weight of electronic components. Depending on your wire, you might want to add several layers.
⚠️I found out that sculpting wire from a crafts store was not suitable for this purpose, since it was not solder-friendly. It might happen due to some sort of protective coating. However random copper wire scraps just worked well. Maybe it was my particular experience, but I recommend that you check your wire out before actually sculpting.
Step 3: Head
I used two electrolytic capacitors for eyes, one ceramic capacitor for nose and a large film capacitor for lips.
Step 4: Body
I used a large electrolytic capacitor and a film capacitor for body.
⚠️Electrolytic capacitors contain (surprise, surprise) liquid electrolyte that could explode if you overheat it. So use only terminal leads to solder them and do not touch their cans with soldering iron. That is why I made a belt from a resistor to securely attach the body to the armature.
Step 5: Limbs
You could use nearly any components you find suitable. Resistors and small capacitors are good for arms and legs, small ceramic capacitors could be used for kneecaps and elbows etc.
⚠️Do not apply solder to joints. They must remain flexible.
Step 6: Filmmaking
The technique is basically the puppet animation. You’ll need a tripod to ensure that your camera does not move between frames and make sure the light does not change due to occasional window openings etc. You could use a remote to avoid touching camera. When all the scenes are captured, use video editing software for post-production.
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