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So, I'm working on this stop-motion claymation short and there's a shot where these two porcupines are walking in from opposite sides of the screen toward one another and they're basically walking at the same pace. The director however wants me to offset one of the porcupines footsteps, but that would throw off the sync. I already panned each porcupines footsteps to their sides and to follow them as they come into the center of the screen where they meet.

What would you guys suggest?

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How many fps is it? Because animation tends to have a lower fps than live action, you'll probably have a little bit more leeway sync-wise, meaning you can separate the footsteps, yet still have them both occur in the same frame of picture. Also, you could try giving their feet slightly different aural characteristics.

Without knowing much about the situation, i'd guess that what the director means by that suggestion is that they're concerned that it'll only sound like 1 pair of footsteps onscreen. Or perhaps they want more of a sense of chaos/movement.

Minor rant: some directors try to tell us exactly what to do, rather than make us understand their intention. It's down to us, then, to try and decode what their intention actually is.

  • I'm not sure how many fps it is. How do I find that out? And yes the director is concerned it will just sound like one pair of footsteps on the screen. I tried eqing the footsteps differently to try and give them different tones, but alas that did not work either. I'll try off setting them a bit and see what comes of it. – Mitchell Scott Mar 18 '11 at 19:50
  • @Roger Middenway Nevermind, I found it. It's 23.97 FPS. Is that slower than a regular film? – Mitchell Scott Mar 18 '11 at 21:28
  • @Mitchell You could even try adding slightly different elements to the feet, pitch shifting, or using different foley props to make the sounds. And by frame rate, i meant how many stills make up one second of screen time. You can find that out by nudging through, frame by frame, and watching for where the picture changes. Some stop motion can have a lower actual frame rate. eg. if 12 stills make up 1 second, then 2 frames=1 still. – Roger Middenway Mar 18 '11 at 22:08
  • But if it is 1 still/frame, you should be able to give the feet a slight offset without too many sync issues. – Roger Middenway Mar 18 '11 at 22:09
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Do it, show the director both versions back to back and explain yourself. If you feel strongly about keeping the steps in sync with the video, you need to express that, but ultimately it's the director's decision.

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Don't porcupines walk on 4 legs?

I think it would be fine to offset them.

One thing I have learned about working with directors is that you must must must try their idea for them no matter how ridiculous the idea is - after all, he is the one entrusted with the success of the film. The good directors are the ones who notice it's not quite right and will let you reset it and do it the way you wanted to - but you must be willing to try anything he says.

At least try it and see if it works - I think it will because of the four feet and 2 of them might be hidden anyway.

The amount of leeway I have seen some people use up with ADR lip flap, I think you will be totally safe with slightly out of sync footsteps. Plus, if the footstep is a bit transient, all you would need is a few frames to offset them to the ear.

  • @Utopia Yeah you're definitely right. They do walk on four legs, and I think it does work now. I just had to fool around a little bit with the rhythm of the footsteps. Doing foley for footsteps is slightly new for me. This has been a great learning experience as far as getting the footsteps synced up properly and making them sound tiny enough for these porcupines. – Mitchell Scott Mar 18 '11 at 21:23

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