Below are samples of my work as Camera and Motion Control Engineer on LAIKA’s latest stop motion film, Missing Link (images graciously provided by LAIKA). It’s a gorgeous film and I encourage you to check it out. Besides what is represented below, I also worked as a motion control operator, setting up, maintaining, building, and calibrating motorized rigs for cameras and practical effects.

 

Animation Tracker software

My positional tracking software can be seen running in the background of this hero animation pass (look at the right side of the image). This software worked with Kuper and Dragonframe, and was developed in collaboration with our stop-motion animators. This software was used for almost all of the elephant shots, which comprised one of the most technically demanding sequences LAIKA has produced.

Animator: Brian Hansen, LC: John Ashlee, AC: Drew Fortier

Motion Control winch for the Santa Ana train

I designed and machined a specialized winch that was used to pull the train shown below in multiple shots. It’s driven by a large stepper motor and programmed with Kuper. The setup I created was repeatable enough to work for multiple elements, while using a small cable to minimize VFX work. For the final shot of the sequence, we used additional practical tricks to make the train ‘rock’.

Paul Mack working on the train from the Santa Ana sequence, before I setup the motion control.

My winch (nicknamed ‘daWinchi’) designed for pulling the train in the Santa Ana sequence of Missing Link.

LC: Frank Passingham, AC: Gavin Brown

KDI and Witness Trigger

I refactored a critical part of our stage infrastructure, a mediator application for the Kuper Real-time Motion Control System and Dragonframe, the industry-standard stop motion application. I rearchitected KDI to make it easy to update and more user-friendly. Previously all control logic was inside the hardware box, which made it difficult to update in a stage environment. I also wrote unit-tests, a system testing matrix, and documentation for users and developers. I collaborated with a hardware specialist who rewrote the firmware code for the physical boxes.

The application can be seen in the photo below – look on the right side of the screen, it has a green border around it. I can’t show you a closeup for IP considerations.

The hardware portion is sitting below the keyboard with a green display.

The bright yellow box is a Witness Trigger, a specialty hardware solution I made for triggering multiple Dragonframe instances from a master animation station.

Assistant Cameraperson Adam Jones setting up a shot.

 

Twiddler Android app and speciality lens adapters

I wrote the Android application running on a tablet in the left side of this image. It displays positions broadcast by the encoder box underneath, and allows animators to make reference curves of a performance. I also did the CAD work for the lens adapter Jake is using. I wish you could feel how perfectly that adapter clicks into place on a 5D.

Assistant Cameraperson Jake Carlson setting up a shot.