Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Your Carriage Awaits

I've written a spec for a 1850s carriage I'd like made for the opening and closing scenes. It's going to be shot in 1:12 scale for these scenes as I want it to be landscaped and will need some depth (and room) to create the set so it needs to be a smaller scale. Scenes 2 to 4 will be 1:6 scale.

I'm hoping to collaborate on this one with a second year student model maker from Hertfordshire University who produced some props for my undergrad film so I've written a spec for what I want:-

Brief for a Stop Motion Animation Prop
1850s Horse drawn Carriage (1:12 scale)


                We are currently halfway through the production of a Stop Motion Animated short as part of a Masters Degree Programme at the University of Staffordshire, UK. Details of this programme can be found here Masters by Negotiated Study (MaNS) (further details of the specific project are available on request).

                This short film will be approximately three minutes long, contain five distinct scenes and is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017. The film is set in 1850s New England and is influenced heavily by the works of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women, A Long Fatal Love Chase), Edgar Allan Poe (The Raven, The Pit and the Pendulum) and the illustrations of Scott Gustafson (Eddie).

Anomalisa (Kaufman, 2015)
                Unlike many stop motion animated features which are aimed at children, this film targets an adult audience and is realistically styled similar to the recent film Anomalisa (right) or $9.99 (Rosenthal, 2008) as opposed to stylized and caricatured e.g. Boxtrolls (Laika, 2014).
                The purpose of the film is to showcase the fabrication skills of the Production Team in props, characters and costumes, including adherence to the authentic styles and materials of the period, therefore the Carriage must also fit this theme.


            The following are examples from the time period in question. The model maker is expected to provide an original design similar to these and fitting to the period in question rather than an exact replica. Care should be taken that the carriage looks American rather than European and should have four wheels rather than being a two wheeled 'buggy'.

One Horse Brougham Cab (
The Brougham, introduced in 1938 (
Stop Motion Animation Requirements

            Of the five scenes in this short, three will be produced in 1:6 scale which implies an adult male character of 12" (30.5cm) tall. However, the first and last scenes are external landscaped scenes including Orchard House (the home of L. Alcott) and due to the depth of the set for these scenes they will be produced in 1:12 scale, implying an adult male character of 6" (15.25cm tall - often referred to as 'dolls house' scale). It is common in most animated features to utilise a number of different scales dependent on the shot with 1:6 and 1:12 being the most common as props in these scales are readily available without needing to be bespoke manufactured.

                This film is produced at 25 frames per second (25FPS) using stationary cameras and tie-down or rigged characters. It is a requirement of stop motion animation that all props are securely fixed to the stage and do not move until required to do so, therefore the carriage should include a braking or ratchet mechanism so that it can be moved a very small amount at a time for each frame without free rolling, especially if the carriage is required to travel along an incline.

from Little Women based in Concord, MA
                The Carriage will not contain characters but will be animated to pass scenery along a stretch of road amidst a snow covered landscape at twilight. It would be beneficial if the carriage could be dismantled or one side removed should the script change to include the addition of characters within the carriage.

Circular front coupe New York 1860 Brewster & Company
Reflected light can often cause problems when shooting animation of this kind so care should be taken that metal or gloss painted parts are not excessively shiny and matt finishes should be considered. There is also no requirement to have glass in the windows of the carriage for this reason. The model horse will be provided by the Production Team but it is expected that the carriage will include the harness bars.



                As part of the Masters programme, a number of Study Guides / Tutorials are being written to assist future animation students in creating scale props for their films. The Production Team will produce a study guide for this carriage prop and will therefore need access to work-in-progress shots, an inventory of materials, suppliers contact details, costs and information on the techniques used. They will also need the Model Maker to advise on troubleshooting the manufacturing process with suggested alternative (lower budget) methods and materials.

The following outputs are expected:-
    ·         1:12 scale 1850s style black 4-wheeled carriage with stopping mechanism
    ·         Spare parts
    ·         Production photographs
    ·         Production Notes
    ·         Materials Inventory
    ·         List of suppliers of materials (with contact details)
    ·         Estimated costs
    ·         Availability to answer questions on production
    ·         Feedback on the Study Guide


    $9.99 (2008) Animated Film. Directed by Tatia Rosenthal. [DVD] Lama Films.
    Alcott, L. M. (2010) Little Women. 1st Ed. London: Scholastic
    Alcott, L. M. (1997) A Long Fatal Love Chase. Reissue Edition. New York: Dell
    Anomalisa. (2015) Animated Film. Directed by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson. [Cinema] Starburn Industries.
    Boxtrolls (2014) Animated Film. Directed by Graham Annable and Anthony Stacchi [DVD] Laika Entertainment.
    Gustafson, S. (2011) Eddie. London: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
    Poe, E. A. (2016) The Pit and the Pendulum. South Carolina: Createspace Independent Publishing
    Poe, E. A. (2015) The Raven.  South Carolina: Createspace Independent Publishing

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