“Birth of a PVC Man” Full Video and How this Stop Motion Animation was Made

As briefly previewed with my other Stop Motion Projects, here’s a full Youtube format video of PVC Man coming to life:

This took a bit longer than I wanted to get processed because apparently Ubuntu Linux doesn’t handle this conversion from an animated GIF file to actual video quite as seamlessly as Windows XP does (I’m sure there is a way, but I haven’t found it yet).  Apparently Windows 7 doesn’t natively support this either, so I’m glad I still have an XP machine running my CNC router.

As for how the video was made, it’s similar to my other Stop Motion projects.  Things have been gradually upgraded along the way.  The first few were made with my Env2 dumb-phone (see the mount I made for it), and soon thereafter I upgraded to my 7 year old Casio Exilim camera.  With this though, I’ve finally come into the modern age using a Canon T2i with an infrared remote trigger that allows me to shoot without shaking the camera.  The results seem to be quite a bit better with this equipment.

Some Items Used in this Post From Amazon:

Canon EOS Rebel T2i with lens– The camera I used in this project

NEEWER® IR Wireless Remote Control RC-6– The IR Remote used (Extremely cheap, very effective!)

pvc man disassembled on floorOnce transferred to my computer, everything was downgraded to 640 x 427 pixels using “phatch”, which is a photo batch processor.  It works great in Ubuntu, and there’s a Mac and Windows version as well.  You can put a logo on these images too with Phatch, which is what I did on the little GIF file you may have seen in a previous post.  These smaller photos could then be processed into an animated GIF using GIMP (see my tutorial).  From GIF, this can be inserted into the Windows XP version of Moviemaker if you have that available, and it will process it.

As for how everything was photographed, the legs and arms of “PVC-Man” were left unglued (I’ll give detailed directions on how to build it in an upcoming post – subscribe to not miss anything!), so they could be adjusted slightly between each frame.  The camera was setup on a tripod, and the remote trigger was used to capture each frame so that it didn’t disturb the camera position.  The delay between each frame was set to 100ms for the stop motion video, which turned out pretty well.  The human eye can see 24 frames per second, but 10 gives a pretty good approximation.

pvc-manThe first challenge while making this were that the eyes, made out of rolled up electroluminescent lights, (see my review of this set) started flaking out.  The problem seemed to be in the splitter, not the lights themselves.  To be fair, the battery pack was being dragged around by the wires a lot, and even hung from the wires, so avoid this if possible when working with EL.

The other challenge was making it stand up.  At points in this sequence the center of gravity wasn’t over the feet, so we tied a fishing line to the torso.  During some of these shots, Jason (hear his podcast!) was actually in the bed of the truck supporting PVC man with a fishing pole.  We weren’t prepared to do this, so it took a ton of time compared to the other shots, even though the standing sequence was only a couple frames.

You can probably figure it out from the video, but be sure to check back to see how the “PVC-Man” itself was made!


  1. for windows 7 …
    It may sound silly, but a virtual winXP may prove more adapt at your task, than a dedicated xp machine. The newer computers can virtualize a whole computer that runs faster than old hardware.

    The other option is, and I HIGHLY recommend this…
    Ditch Windows Movie maker entirely, and use http://www.virtualdub.org/.
    Inside the program, open your gif as a video file, and save as .avi

    simple and quick.

    I’d go a step further, and use JPGVideo(by NDW Ltd.) and go straight from image to video, no gif conversion needed. If you have a mac, I believe most every version of iMovie will also go from jpeg to mpg/avi.

    However you got there, I LOVE PVCman. Let’s put him in the middle of the desert, and see if tens of thousands of half naked, fully baked artist types show up!

    • Hey, thanks for the advice! I’ll have to try some of that!

      Thanks for the kind words on PVC man! That’s a good idea about putting him in the desert and seeing if a bunch of “artist types” show up. Or maybe the beach…

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