One day, while listening to some music, Ivan Owen had an image pop into his mind. He envisioned a cute little spider dancing furiously to the beat. The image brought a smile to Ivan’s face, but more importantly it brought the inspiration needed to get a project going. Drawing from a common linkage in “helping hands” that many of us have on our workbench, Ivan set out to make his little spider.
It finally dawned on me that my desktop 3D printer would be a huge help in doing so as it could really simplify the process of creating an armature on a budget.
He 3d printed the bulk of the spider but canibalized some desktop helping hands for the linkages. That was apparently more difficult than it sounds. Possibly the most difficult part, aside from actually synchronizing the spider’s motion to the music.
They were made out of surprisingly strong steel. Also fairly difficult was making sure I synchronized the song and video. I built the song one note at a time in Garageband, and then set it to 180 beats per minute. The song is in 3/4 time. I then set up my animation to be 24FPS so it would work out that every quarter-note in the song was equal to 8 photos. This way, as long as I planned out my shots correctly, I could keep track of the beat of the song and create corresponding motion.
If you watch through the video, you’ll see the spider going through a range of motion that may leave you wondering how he’s supporting the structure without the legs touching the floor. A quick assumption might be to think he’s simply got it propped up on something but Ivan actually designed a complete mechanism to assist in this aspect of filming.
The mechanism in the picture holds a rod and can be hidden beneath the animation stage. It can then be adjusted a very small amount at a time to raise or lower the rod. I used it to help me keep the spider in a single position when he was bouncing up and down, as well as to control his rate of bounce. It was also very handy to hold him still during the “tap dancing in place” sections of the piece.
It can be quite incredible the things we learn and create simply from a quirky mental image. Ivan hopes to release all these files soon, along with some other bits and pieces that would help you create your own stop-motion spider.