Building an Animation Rostrum – part 1 (page 1 of 2)

Part One

By Brian Clare

“What’s that thing in your garage?” has become the catch phrase in our household over the past few months. “That thing”, I proudly reply to the butcher, the baker and the milkman, to name just a few, “is my animation stand.” “Cor Blimey! How does that work mate?”

I think a better question would be “How did you make it?”, and quite honestly it wasn’t too difficult, when you know exactly what you want and what you want it to do.

Some years ago I built my first stand which was to be simple, versatile, and portable, so I could shove it under the stairs when not in use. It turned out neither simple, versatile, and about as portable as a sack of cannon-balls. The reason? I didn’t really know the mechanics of a working rostrum. Being able to draw a little and understanding animation plus being a motor engineer all my life didn’t help at all. The rostrum worked O.K. but it was hard going, and. I almost said “Nuts”, to cartoon animation. Then one day I answered an advertisement in Moviemaker Magazine for animation supplies, namely David Jefferson’s Filmcraft, from whom I purchased a book entitled THE WORLD OF ANIMATION by Eastman Kodak. Apart from being a really good publication, it contained therein some very concise plans for a rostrum. The very thing I was looking for, so I set to and built this rostrum, which took me a couple of months or so, in my spare time. My first took around 14 months. The result, in my opinion is a very sturdy and versatile stand that will do most things you would require, as near as you can get to a professional set up at the price. The only regret I have is that I didn’t design the whole affair myself, what I have done however is to modify a fair portion and make it somewhat easier and stronger, doing away with nearly all the plastic bits.

There is a certain amount of welding or brazing required. If you don’t have access to welding equipment, or can’t weld, not to worry, gather all the pieces to be welded together and take them to your local garage or engineering works and a proficient welder would do the lot in an hour. It is a large stand and not really mobile, also not cheap to make, but if you would like a stand with a really smooth and accurate table I will tell you how I made mine.

I began with the woodwork. The following is a list of timber used:
4 legs 24″ long x 2 ¾” square.
4 side struts 36″ long x 2¾” x 1¾”
5 front & rear struts 47½ ” x 2¾” x 1¾”

Those thirteen pieces make up the lower part of the stand and legs shown in Fig. 1.
The table with it’s north/south movement will need:
2 pieces 29″ long x 2¾” x 1¾”.
2 pieces hardwood edges 31″x¾” ¾”.
1 piece of ply 42″ x 31″.

And for the east/west movement:
2 pieces 38″ x 2¾” x 1¾”
2 pieces 27″ x 2¾” x 1¾”.
1 piece ¼” ply 25″ x 20½ ”

The parts were assembled as shown in Figs. 2, 3, and 4. I made all the joints as mortise type which were glued and pinned. You may find it easier to use rebate joints. There is a hole cut in the top board of the table to take an animation disc. I got this cut out by someone with the tools for the job as the hole needs to be dead centre and perfectly round, with no side or up and down slop, so that the disc can be rotated under the camera. I use the FAX disc supplied by Filmcraft. It is a good one because the peg bars are held in place by magnets so need no mechanical locking device. The other discs advertised by Filmcraft could be used or if you wish you could just use peg bars on the compound. But I think that if you are going to the trouble and expense of making a reasonable stand it is best to use a professional disc.

The east/west frame assembly has a hole cut to take a backlight. A light shade of the Photax type sits in this hole.

The only other wood used was a piece of ½” ply for a pantograph table 14″ x 11″, not illustrated and a small piece of ply for a shadow board.

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