I animated this stop-motion Moon Beast shot from Kubo and the Two Strings! I’ve included the green screen Moon Beast animation so you can get a better idea how it was done. Some thoughts:
• Kubo’s animation is pretty straight forward - run along a curved path toward the sword, reach for the sword, narrowly grab the sword before being grabbed by the Moon Beast. I kept Kubo’s run fairly simple and uninteresting so it wouldn’t pull you away from the attacking Moon Beast. To prepare for the run, I filmed myself running a similar path and diving onto a crash mat. • My only major note for Kubo’s performance is that I pushed his anticipation of grabbing the sword as much as possible. It starts about 16 frames before actually grabbing the sword. I also focused on making it very clear by having a nice big open hand silhouette as he reaches.
• I animated Kubo first, pretending like he was being grabbed into the air. As I animated the Moon Beast, I had the footage of Kubo and the set layered on top of my animation window. • The direction I had for the Moon Beast was to make it feel out of control and monstrous. My approach was to break as many planes as possible. If a snake slithers left and right, I wanted the Moon Beast to chaotically slither left, right, up, down, diagonal, etc. When I rehearsed the shot, I kind of just let the puppet go where it wanted to go, not letting myself find any type of pattern.
• In order to create the approaching Moon Beast glow on the set, we had a long LED strip moving through space as I animated Kubo running.
• Knowing that the shot was going to cut right as Kubo was being grabbed, and possibly losing a bit of clarity, I had the Moon Beast open it’s mouth very early, anticipating the attack. This set up the next shot nicely, which very clearly shows Kubo in the Moon Beast’s mouth. If I hadn’t anticipated that open mouthed attack, it might not read what happens into the next shot.
• You can see how the Moon Beast was rigged in the air at two points, where the ‘chest’ and ‘hips’ of the puppet would be. The very tip of the tail is supported by fishing line! Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best.