The Sleeping Dog Keeps Us Awake With “Three Billy Goats Gruff”

by Megan -

In the tradition of animators like Ray Harryhausen, Sleeping Dog Video Productions decided to animate a traditional Norwegian folk tale using stop motion animation. “Three Billy Goats Gruff” was created using iStopMotion and a commendable amount of research and preparation. The Sleeping Dog visited the goats at Fife Animal Park in Scotland to see first-hand how they moved, ate grass, and even how they butted each other. As a result, the Sleeping Dog’s three billy goats gruff were born!

The movie itself was made working from sketches and a five-panel storyboard. The goat models were created with wire-armature for movement. Their bodies were padded with strips of foam cut from an old seat cushion and were glued on with epoxy glue. Their heads came from baked Sculpey clay and the horns and legs of twisted wire, and after were covered with clay and baked again. Then, they were covered with acrylic felt of different colors for the different goats. The troll was made in a similar fashion, but it took a bit for the Sleeping Dog to come up with an idea for its head. In the end, he used a pattern to cut out six felt sinusoidal strips, sewed them together, and stuffed the resulting ball with cotton wool. The troll’s head had to be detachable to fit under the bridge, so a rubber washer was added to the bottom of the head to make it fit better on top of the aluminum wire neck. Other useful tools for the set included the “usuals”: a hot glue gun, scissors, a ruler, a needle, pliers, a hobby vice, a model holder with crocodile grips and a magnifying class, a paintbrush, a hammer, a pencil, and clamps.

The lighting came from three bendable, clamping LED lights, and the camera’s color temperature was set manually to make for a more natural look. The animation was done in iStopMotion, and the Sleeping Dog used audio segments from GarageBand to create the sound in iMovie. All of the narrating was done in five separate GarageBand files using the Male Narrator track preset. The Sleeping Dog loved that iStopMotion was simple and reliable, and that it integrated well with iMovie. He says that the timing down to frame, 1/12 second, was easy to synchronize with audio, and that it had handy video playback.

All of this resulted in a spectacular iStopMotion movie that grabbed our attention straight away! Check out “Three Billy Goats Gruff” here! Also be sure to check out the Sleeping Dog’s blog for future projects!