Hi! Thank you! I’m really glad you liked it (and weren’t offended by it). That warms my heart.
Speaking of warm, to the matter at hand: animating with food. I discovered early on that if you use real food, the hot lights that have to be on your set all day tend to do smelly things to your characters. So what I did was I got replica steaks made from resin, which I ordered from a theater prop company. If you do a google search for “replica food” you’ll be surprised to see how much weird stuff is out there.
The reason it’s essential to use fake food (other than the lights) is that you want to be able to have several identical models in order to fulfill your needs for different types of shots. For example, most of the time the puppet for Miles the pear had a handle sticking out the bottom for control. But in the one shot where he runs out of the dining room, I had a separate puppet that had different manipulation points.
I don’t know if you plan to animate via stop-motion technique, or what the requirements are for your program, but the character bodies were actually just puppeted by hand and shot on 24fps HD. There were holes in the bottom of the sets and the characters were being puppeted from below. So that is also a consideration, and why I chose to restrict the setting to a family dinner where the table can hide a bunch of stuff.
What I actually shot was the steaks and pear with no faces on them, but a mark for where they would go. I used a sharpie to get a high contrast, just one small dot does fine. You may want to use two (I’ll explain why).
The animation was done in flash, to lipsync. The same audio track was playing during the puppeting of the “bodies” in order to get the desired acting. There’s no need to animate anything but the facial expressions and lipsync for the “face” animation. I composited that using PNGs with transparency, and brought the footage and the animated floating faces into Adobe AfterEffects.
In AfterEffects, I used to motion tracker tool to create keyframes from tracking the dots I’d drawn on the bodies, and I parented the faces to those track points. And then you’re (half) done! The puppets should have animated faces on their bodies. The arms were a less precise effort. I kind of used the same principle, kind of had to go back and forth in Flash and fudge it a bit more.
I hope that helps, good luck on your film! Send it to me when it’s done!
It’s kind of hard to see but here’s the setup, and the puppets without the faces, versus the final product.