What’s a Rig Arm? Let’s Find Out!

by Joost | Last Updated: January 11, 2023
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A rig arm is an essential tool for stop motion animation, but what is it? 

A rig arm is a metallic arm used in stop motion animation to hold a figure or object in place. The arm can be adjusted to move in a variety of directions. It allows you to move a puppet or model in small increments to create the illusion of motion. 

We’ll show you the ins and outs of this essential tool so you can start creating amazing stop motion projects!

What is a rig arm?

A rig arm is a device used in stop motion animation. It’s a metal arm that’s mounted on a tripod or flat base and is used to hold the puppet or figure in place. 

It is adjustable so you can put the figure in any position you need to. The figures or objects stay in place while you take the photos, making life much easier.

A rig arm is an essential tool in stop motion animation. It’s important because it helps animators create smooth, consistent movements in their characters and objects.

The rig arm is also used for creating more complex movements, such as walking, running or flying.

In conclusion, the rig arm is an essential tool in stop motion animation. It helps animators to create smooth and consistent movements, save time, and create more realistic and believable animations.

Ways to use a rig arm

The rig arm usually stands on a base plate with an adjustable “metallic arm”. A clamp is mounted on the ball joints so it can hold the object into place. 

You can use the rig arm for all sorts of objects or characters. The rig arm can be attached to the outside of a figure or object. It can even be attached to a kinetic armature

Kinetic armatures are a type of skeleton that are the base for any puppet or figure. 

The armatures are made of ball and socket joints and have great mobility.  

Next to a rig arm you can also opt for a rig winder. This is a type of rigging system that is even more precise than the rig arm. It is controlled by a wheel allowing you to move the attached rig arm on a x and y-axis. 

Winder can be used to create a wide range of movements, from subtle movements to more complex movements. Winder is a great tool for animators who want to create realistic movements in their stop motion animation.

All of these tools can be used to rig an arm in stop motion animation. They all provide the animator with the ability to create realistic movements in their stop motion animation. The type of armature rigging system that is used will depend on the complexity of the movements that you are trying to create.

Rig arm vs rig winders

Both the rig arm and the winder have the same goal. To hold the object in place and use it for controlled motion. 

The big difference lies in the amount of control you have over your object. 

Rig arms can be used for any more simple use case. Either to make your character jump or run, a rig arm probably is your standard go to solution. 

If you are looking to make your animation even more realistic, you might want to check out a rig winder. This system offers extremely precise control, adjusting each movement in tiny linear increments. 

Winders are typically more expensive than rig arms, as they are a more complex system. They also require more skill and experience to use effectively. 

Rig arms, on the other hand, are cheaper and simpler to use. They don’t require as much skill or experience to operate, making them a more accessible option for novice animators.

In conclusion, rig arms and rig winders are both useful tools for creating stop motion animation, but they have different strengths and weaknesses. 

Rig arms are suited for basic movements while rig winders offer more precise control over your characters. 

So you have your rig arm, what’s next?

Rig arms can be used in any type of stop motion animation.

Stop motion animation is a type of animation that is a series of still images that, when played back in sequence, create the illusion of movement. 

It is often used in stop motion films, commercials, and music videos.

Here are some examples of types of stop motion animation:

Rig arm in Claymation

Claymation is a type of stop motion animation that uses clay or any moldable substance to manipulate figures.

The rig arm can be attached to a wire armature inside the clay or directly to the clay to hold the objects in the place. 

Rig arm in Puppet animation

Puppet animation is a type of stop motion animation that uses mainly puppets as characters. 

The rig arm can be mounted in a variety of ways. You can use the clamp to the puppets exterior or attach the rig directly to the (kinetic) armature. 

Rig arm in Object motion animation

Also known as object motion animation, this form of animation involves the movement and animation of physical objects.

Basically, object animation is when you move the objects in small increments per frame and then take photographs you can later playback to create that illusion of movement.

The rig arm can be used to keep any object in place, just make sure that the rig is heavy enough to hold the objects without falling over. 

Rig arms in Legomation / brickfilms

Legomation and brickfilms refer to a stop motion animation style where the whole film is made using LEGO® pieces, bricks, figurines, and other kinds of similar building block toys.

Basically, it’s the animation of Lego characters and is very popular among kids and amateur home animators.

You can attach the rig arm with some clay to the Lego figures to make them jump or fly. 

FAQ about rig arm

How do you make a Stop Motion Puppet Armature?

Making a stop motion puppet armature requires a few basic materials and tools. You’ll need metal or plastic parts to form the skeleton, such as wire, nuts, bolts, and screws. You’ll also need pliers, a drill, and a soldering iron to assemble the parts. Once the armature is built, it can be covered with clay or foam to create the puppet’s body.

How do you edit rigs in Stop Motion?

Editing rigs in stop motion is done by adjusting the joints and wires of the armature. This can be done by adding or removing parts, tightening or loosening screws, or adjusting the tension of the wires. 

It’s important to make sure the puppet is properly balanced and can move freely. Once the rig is adjusted, the puppet can be posed and moved in different ways to create the desired animation.

How to remove the rig arm during editing?

There are several tools to help you mask the rig arm in post production. 

You can use tools from the Adobe Suite, like Photoshop or After Effects, to remove the rigs from the photos. 

There are also options in stop motion software like Stop Motion Studio to help you remove elements from your raw material. 

I wrote an article on how to make your character jump and how to do this in Stop Motion Studio.

Check it out here

Conclusion

I hope you have a bit more insight into the use of a rig arm in stop motion animation.

 We’ve seen how it can be used to create smooth and realistic movements, as well as how to set it up and use it.

With this knowledge, I hope you can now go ahead and create your own stop motion animation with a rig arm. 

Don’t forget to have fun and experiment!