Well - another week animating lots of sheep, and this time they have been disturbed by the noise the crow is making from above, so one of the shots I did was to have them pulling wool out of their own bodies and stuffing it into their ears, thus reducing the screeching sound!
We're having to animate as fast as possible without losing the quality that we aim for, which is always a challenge with this amount of puppets, but as long as things are planned well and rigged the animation is usually made easier. In this case I had to 'tie down' the sheep to the set using special screws into their feet. This ensures they are held down in place, because in this shot they didn't need to walk anywhere. They were all fixed on the spot, and just needed to do their actions with their arms.
Three sheep at the front were the main focus, and so I had to keep the others 'alive', but without letting them dominate the action. This is achieved by simple blinks (which usually involves just placing closed eyelids onto them for two frames) and head tilts or glances at each other and back at the crow.
Below is a still of the flock. Note the one at the front leaning. In order to keep in securely in this position he was placed onto his own special rig, which consisted of a ball and socket 'armature' attached to a strong magnet.
The second still is a close up of the 'main' sheep that the other copy, with some wool in his ears. The wool itself is very fiddly to animate, since it is too small and delicate to have any armature of its own, but I used pins to first attach it to his hands, and then to his ears when they were in place.
Hope you all are having a great bank holiday weekend, and I'll be back with lots more next weekend.