Wax: Stop Motion's Little Known Material 1
- Saturday, 22 May 2010 05:23
- Last Updated on Monday, 16 May 2011 04:35
- Written by Marc Spess
Wah Chang's Yawning Man
When you think of stop motion, the first thought in your mind might be foam latex or silicone puppets. When you hear about clay animation, the first thought is obviously that puppets are made out of clay.
Even when Willis O'Brien made King Kong, different sponge rubber materials, liquid latex and paints were used on a lot of the puppets.
George Pal who created the Puppetoons puppets was known to carve complete replacement puppets out of wood. That's one carved puppet for two frames, and twelve complete puppets per second of animation! Obviously that is an insane way to do things, but the effect was very unique.
One of the least materials you might expect to hear about with regards to puppet fabrication is wax. Wah Chang who immigrated to the United States from China was a multi-talented guy. When he worked was hired to work with George Pal, he streamlined the replacement puppet process by using wax.
The kind of wax he used is believed to be similar to the wax used by toy makers of the time. Wax is something you can melt in a croc pot, double boiler or oven and pour into molds. Wah found that this is perfect for making many replacement puppets.
What George Pal would normally do is sketch the poses needed as part of the puppets he needed. So every pose was similar to hand drawn cel animation. Then artists would carve each pose in wood. Wah Chang instead cast many similar puppets in wax, and modified the poses and forms. The end result is a lot of saved time with the same appearance or style as the outcome as if done using wood puppets.