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Cow Butt Balloon

Age 8Lafayette, US

This idea has been brought to life

Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumberland, UK

I'm an animator and model-maker based in Northumberland. I combine digital animation techniques with more traditional methods like stop motion. I enjoy sharing my skills with others - I'm an Associate Lecturer at Northumbria University and an animation mentor with TICE - introducing children to what it is like working in creative industries.

Magnificent maker8 brought to life1 working on

Maker blog entries

Chloe Rodham has been working on making this idea real.
Posted by Chloe Rodham

Adding sound onto the video is really fun as it brings the movement to life. I've added a variety of different sounds from the cow and also the sound of the invention working with a rumbly sound. I use a programme called Audition to put lots of different tracks together.

Posted by Chloe Rodham

I've been working on my laptop with all the photos I took when I shot the animation. I need to tweak the timing a little bit and I also need to make the invention around the bottom of the cow expand as if it is filled with gas! I used a program called After Effects to add more animation and do some post production on the shots like colour correction.

Posted by Chloe Rodham

Now I've finished the model I'm ready to shoot the animation. I needed to make some extra pieces of floor so that the car could travel over it. I'm using stop motion animation so I need to move the model small amounts and take a picture each time I move it. I have the camera connected to my computer too so I can see the animation as I go. I've used some plastercine to make it look as if the cow is blinking, I've got 4 different sets of eyelids and I replace them to make the blink work. I loved the GO! sign on the invention, I've made it so that it can switch between STOP and GO so that you know when the car is refuelled.

Posted by Chloe Rodham

I needed to make a car for the animation. Zeya and I talked about the idea of having a car drive up to the machine for refuelling. The car is made from wood and painted.

Call with Zeya
Posted by Chloe Rodham

I had such a great chat with Zeya about her invention on a Zoom call. She told me more about how the invention works - you can move it to where you need it and the cows would probably be out in the fields. The device they where would collect all the gas and then a farmer would attach the hose to the machine to collect it. The machine then converts to gas into a useable fuel or energy. It sounds like it would be really flexible and you could use it for all kinds of power generation, I'm going to make a car to drive up to the machine so that it can refuel. Zeya came up with some good ideas for the kinds of sounds in the animation like the cow mooing and the machine having a rumble sound when it works.

Posted by Chloe Rodham

The tank uses the same material milliput covering the end of a broom handle as it had a great rounded top. I've sanded this down so it looks really smooth.

Posted by Chloe Rodham

The cow would need to have grass to eat, so the surface of the model has been grassed with a material called static grass. This uses a machine to give the grass static energy so that when it falls into a glued surface it falls upright rather than falling flat onto the glue.

The Machine
Posted by Chloe Rodham

The machine is made out of wood. I loved the GO! sign Zeya put in her drawing so thought that maybe this could switch between STOP and GO when someone is using the machine to power something or refill their car so they know when it gets up to full capacity. The part the the cow wears is also made from milliput, I wanted to make it look rubbery so that it will look like it could expand when the air fills it. The tube hose is made from the plastic coating on wires which I have reused from some spare wire. I positioned it and then painted it bright green.

Cow Details
Posted by Chloe Rodham

For parts of the cow that need more shape to them than I can achieve in wood like the nose and udders, I've used a material called milliput. This is a material which comes in two parts that you mix together equally and feels a bit like clay. It takes a while to set but when it does, it is rock solid and can be sanded. I've used this to make eyes too. The ears and tail have wire inside them and I've wrapped string around them to make them look a bit more furry. The wire is useful as it means I can move the tail into different positions. I've made the tail nice and long like Zeya's drawing!

Making the Cow
Posted by Chloe Rodham

I've started off making the cow using a wooden coat peg as a starting point for the face, cutting it down and sanding it into the right shape. The body is a wooden block which is sanded into a rounded shape. The legs are made from pieces of dowel, which is a piece of wood which already has a rounded shape a bit like a pencil.

Posted by Chloe Rodham

I absolutely love this invention, its a really clever way of solving the problem of methane from cows. I want to try and capture how fun the idea is too in the way I make it and bring it to life through animation. The first step for me is to sketch out ideas based on Zeya's drawing so that I can start thinking of the materials I'll need to make it and what size it will be. The sketch Zeya has created is brilliant to show me what the invention looks like and the labels really help me to understand how it works.