Recent Works (April 2017)

 

작년 겨울부터 지금까지 저는 TV 시리즈 제작 프로젝트에 참여하고 있습니다. 위 사진은 바로 이 프로젝트에 사용될 금속관절뼈대의 바디 부분입니다. 딱 보기에도 손톱만큼 작은 크기입니다. 사실 제가 뼈대 제작을 시작한 17년 전만 하더라도 이런 사이즈는 제작할 엄두도 내지 못했습니다. 저렇게 작은 부품을 완성해서 손바닥에 올려놓고 보고 있으면 헛웃음이 납니다. 이런 부품을 만드는 데 사용하는 기계의 크기에 비해 결과물이 너무나도 작기 때문입니다. 제가 사용하는 기계들 중에는 높이 2.5m, 길이 3.5m에 달하는 것도 있습니다.

그런데 저는 왜 이렇게 작은 부품을 만들고 있는 걸까요? 그건 바로 이 부품이 메인 캐릭터에 들어가기 때문입니다. 사실 이렇게 작은 캐릭터에는 와이어 뼈대를 사용할 때가 많은데요. 이 캐릭터는 주요 등장인물 가운데 하나인데다 움직임이 많습니다. 그래서 스튜디오에서 와이어 뼈대보다는 내구성이 더 강한 금속관절뼈대를 쓰겠다는 판단을 내린 것이죠.

일반인들은 작은 게 더 만들기 쉽지 않나 하고 생각할지 모릅니다. 하지만 관절뼈대 제작에서는 전혀 그렇지 않습니다. 관절뼈대의 기본 기능을 구현하기 위해서는 모든 관절의 압이 정확하게 볼트로 조절되어야 하며, 애니메이팅 중에도 나사 부분은 최대한 풀리지 않아야 합니다. 별 게 아닌 것처럼 보일지 모르지만, 수십만 번의 움직임을 가정하고 뼈대를 만들어야 하는 제게는 꼭 해결해야 하는 과제입니다. 일반적으로 가장 많이 사용되는 크기의 관절에 대한 노하우를 축적하는 데에만 최소 5년 이상의 시간을 들여야 했습니다.

이렇게 작은 금속관절은 뼈대의 기본 기능을 구현하려면 정밀하게 가공해야 하는데, 이게 또 정말 어려운 작업입니다. 가공할 수 있는 공간이 절대적으로 부족하기 때문이지요. 1mm도 채 안 되는 공간에서 정밀 가공을 한다는 것이 생각보다 쉽지 않습니다.

다행히 한달 넘게 작업을 하면서 몇 년 전 만든 관절보다 더 균형 잡힌 소형 사이즈 관절을 만들었습니다. 이번에 제가 만든 작은 금속관절뼈대들은 이제 곧 인형으로 완성되어 무대에 데뷔할 예정입니다.

 

Hand Armature for Kia motors AD

This year, I had some clients asking me to make a hand armature. Earlier this year, I made a TINY hand armature for the Quay Brothers. And last month, I made a real-size hand armature for Kia Motors commercial series.

In the Kia commercials, this hand turns into a puppet and dance. Its fingers move as if they were arms and legs. Unlike the hinge jointed hand I made for the Quays earlier this year, I’ve used ball and socket joints for this one to create humanoid-like movements.

This armature is made based on a real human hand. So its size as well as the positions of its joints are exactly same as the real model hand. While finishing up this project, I once again realized that the human body is asymmetric. When you look at the fingers, you can see that the joints are machined to have curved surfaces. It takes longer time and harder work to machine parts in this way. And tie-downs are hidden in fingertips.

 

 

Customized brass nuts

Wuchan_CNUT1

This is a picture of customized brass nuts, which are used as supplementary parts for rigging. I usually make my armatures in various materials including alloys of steel and aluminum as well as brass. Some clients specifically order brass armatures.

Brass is highly machinable and offers greater corrosion resistance than steel. It is also easy to braze and weld thanks to its relatively low melting point.

Even with such advantages, however, stop-motionists in some countries have underestimated brass as a material for armatures. They say that brass is weaker than steel and corrodes under alkaline conditions.

It’s true that brass has some disadvantages, but I still think brass is a very good material for armatures. With a brass armature, it is possible to create smoother movements and control tension more precisely than armatures in other materials.

I’m going to write about this again some time later on this blog.

 

Mermaid armature

Mermaid_Wuchan_Armature

In early 2015 I made a mermaid armature for an NFTS (National Film and Television School, UK) graduation film titled Fishwitch directed by Adrienne Dowling. Adrienne told me that the film will soon start screening in festivals. I’ll post the link for the trailer when it comes out.

The trickiest thing about this character was that it had to move not only in water but also on land. I figured that the most important part was to make it move naturally in both environments. So I designed all the joints to have different ranges of motion in order to make it move like a human as well as fish. It’s possible to replace the mesh fin in case it breaks.

The hip part is made to install a square brass tube and a screw rig. You can choose to install the tube either horizontally or vertically. The client wanted the mermaid to swim in water horizontally and walk on land vertically.

Tiny Part of Hinge Joints

 

Hand_Armature_Wuchan

These days I’m working on a project for a studio in the U.K. I’ve recently made a prototype of little hand armatures specifically for this project. This tiny item is a machined part of a hinge joint for a finger. Making an item this small and thin is really a pain in the ass.

The smallest one so far

This is an armature for a mouse character in a newly released feature, Chieri and Cherry. For this Japanese animation, I’ve made various types of armatures including humanoids, four- and two-legged animals in different sizes from about 5cm to 50cm.

It was quite time-consuming to make various types of armatures in a small quantity. Yet the most challenging part in this project was to make all the customized parts in so many different sizes. In order to make these customized parts and finalized armatures, I needed to spend a lot of time communicating with the puppet fabrication team and the animation team.

This mouse character had to go through the same process. It was supposed to have a lot of movements, so the studio definitely wanted to have a ball-and-socket armature for it. Due to its tiny size, this armature became one of the most tested versions in the project. And it’s the smallest full-bodied armature in ball and socket I’ve ever made so far.