Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cinemastudies courtesy of Orson Welles (er, um, make that *George Barnes*??!?)


JaneE.mov - 3MB



For today's lesson we turn to the 1944 production of Jane Eyre, a beautifully-filmed movie brimming with incredible visuals and powerful (if sometimes over the top) acting. You know the drill by now if you've been a Darkmatters reader for any length of time... click the thumbnail to start the clip downloading in another window as you read this.

This film is on my Must-See list for any aspiring cinematographer or anyone wanting to learn how to tell a story with a movie camera. Every time I watch it I get new ideas for how to set up and execute shots. Orson Welles stars, and while he's not credited as such, he also played a large part behind the camera (for which he refused to take screen credit). I especially like the first 20 minutes, in which Peggy Ann Garner plays the young Jane and Elizabeth Taylor plays her friend Helen. Peggy totally embodies the strength and spirit that makes Jane Eyre so enduring, and for my money, she's far stronger in the part than Joan Fontaine, who plays the full grown Jane (rather blandly IMHO).

Anywho, that's not what led me to write up this entry. Rather it's about the cinematography, which really does bear the genius stamp of Mr. "We'll sell no wine before its time" Welles! As witness the shot posted above.



The above pic isn't a thumbnail to open another clip, it's just an image of the first frame in the shot I want to discuss.
First note the use of steam.... elements like steam, mist, sparkling water or trees moving in the wind always liven up a scene (in live action of course.... almost impossible in pure stopmo!). It's been backlit here to make it stand out and emphasize its translucency. But also it begins a diagonal arcing movement from right to left that will be the key element throughout the lengthy and complex shot. Watch the way the camera follows that arc to discover the doctor leaning over Lizzy Taylor in her sickbed. But it doesn't stop there, oh no! It continues, and he stands to remain in frame, until it finds evil Mister Brocklehurst. All this has just been lead-in, introducing the 3 people in the room briefly and their situations, before pausing on Brocklehurst for his little speech. Masterful I tell ya!!! The camera moves like a living thing... note the way it pauses on the group of two men for a second, then moves a little to frame B-hurst better as the other man walks out of frame - CONTINUING THE ARC THAT THE CAMERA BEGAN!!! Actually there's more to it than that.... I keep finding more little thingsas I watch in order to write this. When the camera begins its movement, there's just a little touch of Anticipation... it sort of wobbles just slightly like a little windup before it starts the arc. Probably the camera operator couldn't help it, but it adds a lot of life. I prefer this kind of move to a totally mechanical one. Then, it's almost dizzying when the doctor stands up as the camera moves past him... so much moving all at once... there's almost no solid frame of reference... until it finds Brocklehurst planted in his stolid stiffness like a pole in the center of the room. His rocklike solidity seems to stop the camera briefly, but when the doctor moves behind him it follows once again, awakened from the trance B-hurst put it under briefly. This shot is a masterpiece!

But amazingly enough, it's followed almost IMMEDIATELY by another prize-winner!!! A few seconds in, we come to THIS shot:




Here the camera finds the new positions of the two men after the shuffling that took place (partly) in the previous shot (and partly off camera). That in itself is cool.... sort of a visual puzzle solving itself. Plus we have an awesome example of a doorway being used as a framing device. This plus the light in the room and his overly religious attitude combine to turn Brocklehurst into almost a religious icon, some stiff-necked statue in a church or a cemetary, complete with droning sound! But.... get this.... that remarkable arcing action that began in the last shot (not counting the almost still shot of E.T. laying in her bed) isn't finished yet! Here it isn't the camera that's moving, but a character - and he's taking the light with him, and at the same time changing the set itself (by closing the door). It's almost like he's forcing the set to respond to his presence, removing the light that illuminated his private psuedo-religious niche and thus rendering it empty (it will soon be empty of life as well) AND closing the door, which in itself isn't that big a deal, except that it utterly transforms the deep-space (which is a trademark of Welles) tunnel-like set into a flat shallow space that now serves as a backdrop behind the two men in a mid shot:




.... The camera hasn't moved since the last pic I posted, and yet the two shots look completely different!

I could go on and on (as I'm sure you know by now... ), but I won't. Just watch the scene a few times, and marvel at the masterful camera moves, the way they work in relation to character movement and lighting. Then the reveal on little Jane and the way she reverses the movement.... breathtaking!!! If Brocklehurst was strong enough earlier to briefly arrest the arcing movement of the camera, Jane is strong enough (small and hidden though she is) to completely reverse it! Movement in the next succession of shots is now left to right, ending with the same teakettle, only from a different angle so that now even the steam is blowing left to right. Ah, I'm not worthy!!! Makes me want to steal the cinematography!!!

Seriously, watching excellent 'tography like this makes me think of ways I want to build sets so I can stage similar shots. And this brings up something I mentioned in an earlier Cinemastudies post.... great cinematorgaphy like this doesn't take place in simple rectangular sets. Here it's two rooms joined by a door, and by careful framing and successive camera placement the camera operator (I won't go into whether it was Welles or the actual DoP George Barnes) was able to create impressive artistic cinematography.

Well, like everything these days, this film has found its way to YouTube: Jane Eyre 1944. It's uploaded in several chunks, but with big pieces missing (and of course with that godawful YouTube compression!). So consider this a teaser for the newly released DVD, which includes two different commentary tracks (and is available through Netflix as well). When I first discovered this little gem in one of my latenight AMC sessions and was intrigued enough to go in search of, there was no US DVD available, so I have some kind of Malaysian or Indonesian import.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lightshow

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I promised to show the effects of my nifty focusing mini-spotlights, and here they are. It's hard to believe the tremendous difference it makes in the atmosphere and overall look of the shots I can get now. You also get a sneak peek of how the puppets are looking, thanks to iron-on tansfer paper that works with a standard bubblejet printer. For the lighting here I only used two lights.... the Logo 75 as a tight spotlight aimed down at his face/shirt, spilling a little onto his arms, and the Solux framing art light on the background. And as always, I strategically placed some paper just out of shot on the table beneath Tom to get a little diffuse reflected light onto the dark shadow areas and soften the blackness there.

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Just so you can see the differences, here's essentially the same shot, framed differently, and without the reflected light. That blackness is so harsh - those reflectors are lifesavers!!!! I also didn't desaturate this one in Photoshop..... the above shot was this crazy-brightly colored till I desaturated it!

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I'm not real happy with this shot... it's a compromise so I could show Ronnie full length.... she wanted to show off her newly refurbished Emostyle. The lighting setup was the same as for Tommy above, but with the addition of one of my Blackbirdies aimed at the table in front of her feet, where it was looking awful dark. That also casts a stronger relfected light onto her. I left the bottles sitting in darkness for all these shots. Oh, and I kinda went nuts with Photoshop on this one, that's why it looks pretty weird colorwise.

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And here are two shots demonstrating the versatility of the Logo 75 projector. It's the only light used for these shots, and the only difference between them is a slight change in the light's focus.

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Ok, enough for now. Sorry for the lack of recent updates, it's the crazy season.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Another point of light in the Darkstudio

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There's a new addition to the Darkstudio.... the Logo 75 Gobo Projector sold by Starlight and Magic. I've had my eye on this little beauty for some time, and finally decided to get one, mostly because of the lack of accuracy from my (otherwise fantastic) Solux Framing Art Light {which as I've mentioned before, has a tendency to sag like a Dr. Seuss Spyglass - very difficult to get exact placement}. Most of the specs for my new toy are listed on the web page, but I wanted to bring up a few things I've discovered about it.


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It's easy to insert a Gobo - here's one of the freebies they included. Notice it goes in upside-down and backwards.

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I made a quick Hobo (Home-made Gobo) by tracing one of theirs and cutting it out from an advertising card they included - how's that for getting full use of things! I wanted just a tight spotlight beam, so I tried to cut a small circle (using an X-Acto knife). Wow, is that hard!!! You can see 2 problems with it below....

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First and most obvious, every irregularity in my hand cut circle shows up plain as day! And twice as big, to make it really stand out. But also, (and I didn't notice this until I shot these pics for the blog) you can see the advertising from the back of the card coming right through! Since this pic I've covered that with some gaffer tape - it doesn't show anymore. Oh, and actually a third problem.... the 3 bars of light off to the left. Can't get rid of those - they seem to actually be coming through the hole itself! They're images of the scalloped reflector built into the halogen lamp - see below where I slightly defocused the beam to show them in all their glory....

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Like a sunburst.

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The best solution is to defocus until everything looks good... the sharp edges of my crude cut blur to apparent smoothness and the bars disappear into a faint halo all around. Good enough for a spotlight effect anyway, and that's one of the main reasons I wanted this thing. As for cutting circles, I've read you can use Blu-Tac on a sheet of glass to make gobos - need to try that. It shouldn't be too hard to cut a nice round hole in blu-tac (end of a brass tube or whatever).

One final problem I'd like to bring up.... the light from this unit is a little greenish. The lenses themselves have a distinct green coloring. It can be a bit distracting, so I've cut an amber gel to correct it which does a pretty good job, but dims the light a bit. I thought it would need a red gel, and I tried a few, but they didn't work right. Pink also didn't look right, but as soon as I placed some amber gel in front, it cancelled the green nicely.

Oh, and one even more final problem (didn't realize there were so many....) - the unit has a built in fan, and when you switch it on it makes everything bounce up and down slowly for a long time.... like 2 or 3 minutes at least. You just have to wait till it stops before you can start animating I suppose. But then, I doubt I'd be ready to shoot frame 1 within 3 minutes of shouting "Lights!". It's because of the cheap plastik yoke - I should make a steel one, I think that would be much sturdier.

Just to point out the differences, the Solux Framing Art Light gives a nice white light, doesn't bounce around, and I haven't noticed it projecting any sunburst rays. But it does have that Dr. Seuss problem, which is very frustrating, and it's a lot harder to make and insert gobos for it - you have to make them on a round piece of glass and take apart the unit to insert them.


****


Ok, a little more experimenting and I solved the 3 bars of light problem. You can adjust the three lenses in various configurations.... they say to push the first one all the way up against the machine (I do keep that one there) and pull the last one all the way to the ends of the posts, then use the middle one for focus. So I tried putting the end one a little farther back and adjusting the middle one for focus again, and voila - no bars of light!

I'll post some actual pics of what it can do on-set soon, those pics of it aimed a a blank white sheet of posterboard are pretty dull and really don't show what it's capable of.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The best thing since sliced turkey

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A little foamlore® today kiddies. Here's my quarry - an old sofa cushion I've been mining for many years - all the puppets I've made since Ahab came from this massive chunk of fluff.

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But as you can see, it was getting a bit ragged. It was great having such a big piece of foam, but I didn't have a decent way to cut off slabs from it. I used to just attack it with scissors, saws and knives and basically rip chunks from it - about as precise as a shark attack. Witness the results above.

But tonight the Thanksgiving Butterball came to the rescue - a strange ally in my ongoing pupetquest. I discovered my mom has an electric knife! Where that thing has been kept I couldn't say... I never knew she had one, but out it came along with the good china and monstrously huge dinner platters that come out only once or twice a year (and that I got to wash along with the other menfolk this year..... ). Seeing it triggered memories - I had read somewhere on some vast black message board that such a knife is perfect for cutting foam cleanly - so I appropriated it and whisked it away to the Darkstudio under the pretext of fixing the latch, which is hard for her senior hands to open easily. It took me all of two minutes to X-acto away a little sliver of grey plastic and fix the latch, and then the fun began.

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Clean as a whistle!!! (a saying that has never made sense to me.... maybe a brand new whistle is clean, but after a while they get filled with all kinds of saliva reside.....)

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Now I have a nice stack of neatly sliced foam slabs! It actually took me about two hours to cut all these pieces because the knife gets really hot. It's not used to so much stress for a prolonged period - it takes maybe 2 minutes to cut all the way through the entire cushion, and by that time it's hot and needs to cool off for a half hour before making the next incision. I don't use electric things when they're hot anymore, ever since losing my first Dremel that way.

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And here's some Deli-Sliced® foam too - otherwise known as Athletic Pre-Wrap. It's also known as UnderWrap in case you're looking for it locally. It's used underneath tape when athletes wrap parts of their anatomies. But I know a better use for it - shaping puppets and wrapping their tiny little limbs.

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Here's how I use these two foamslices in conjunction to form puppets. Above I've (crudely) fashioned what I term a foam Bodytaco for Huck (from back in November 2006 - wow, have I really been working on these guys for over a year now!!!???). A little spritz of spray adhesive is what attaches the foam to itself and to the armature.

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Then I shape with scissors as closely as I can, which leaves a kind of bulky semi-formed puppetbody.

And finally I wrap that with the underwrap, using little dabs of Barge flexible contact adhesive at each end to secure it. It's nasty, stinky, toxic stuff, but it's the preferred adhesive among puppetsmiths. The underwrap can compress the cushion foam where needed, like for waists, and build up form in areas like hips or chest. You can cut it into strips and fold them over if you need to. For arms and legs that will be covered with clothing you can just use it alone, no cushion foam needed.

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I've also devised a technique of sculpting forms from liquid latex and cabosil to make implants (like for Veronica's boob job) that can then be Barged on and wrapped in place to give further shape.

Ok, well Kiddies, I hope you've learned something today. Fabbin' with Foam can be Fun!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Vintage Veronica

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The puppets are all finished now and being dressed. Here's Veronica, desaturated nicely above and sporting lovely vintage Sepia tones below....

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Bottlefactory

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Man, that's tiny!!

I've never really done this kind of work before, especially at this tiny scale!!! But as I go I learn, and 2nd or 3rd generation comes out looking pretty good. That applies to the bottles and to the labels (the vodka label is obviously still under development).

I did discover how to get bubble-free castings without needing a vacuum chamber.... all it takes is stirring very slowly. I also learned to spray the bottles with clear coat before pouring up the silicone molds, and also to spray the castings the same way.... makes them come to life! I only wish I had smoothed down the sculpts with solvent before baking them... I had no clue there were fingerprints all over everything!!

Now I'm learning to steal - um, borrow - elements I find online to make the labels look official and snazzy - a coat of arms here, a graphic element there (in some cases a complete label, with only minor adjustments). The earlier labels are looking downright crap in comparison to the newer ones. Guess it's time to redesign them now! But it's all worthwhile - I'm learning valuable skillz.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Friday, October 26, 2007

Immerse yourself in total inspiration

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John Dods website

A massive megadose of inspiration, that's what John Dods has been providing at the message board lately. To me it's been a revelation - because somehow, unlike apparently everybody else of my generation who's had a lifelong interest in stopmotion, I failed to discover Cinemagic magazine. It was one of the plethora of sci-fi/fantasy type movie magazines abounding in the 70's, but it featured a strong focus on stopmotion, particularly with "how-to" articles for aspiring amateurs. Many of those articles were written by John Dods. I didn't find out about this phenomenon until discovering and joining the stopmo message board in 2001, but since then I've read about this guy and his incredible pictures and articles that so many of my fellow stopmo enthusiasts have drooled over for most of their lives. But still I wasn't able to see any of it, until recently when John joined the board and started posting images all over the place. Pictures to melt the mind, and to excite the imagination.

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I'm serious - this guy liberally peppers all his posts with these huge pictures. Every thread is a visual feast. His life has been the dream the rest of us aspire to - sort of a modern Harryhausen. He's done many types of special effects work.... prosthetics, stopmotion, puppets masks and makeup effects among other things, has made his own films and been involved with various TV shows commercials and movies, generally as the creative genius behind the look and imaginative aspect.

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This is probably his most famous character Grog - featured in the films Grog and Forest Story. I'm pretty hazy on the details, but I believe Grog was an early film John made - probably the one on which he honed his skills and ideas. On his website you can see the evolution of the character from early rather crude (but always enchanting) home-made puppets to the more sophisticated ones he developed later. Forest Story is a later film, not finished yet, featuring the same character, but now benefitting from John's extensive experience in the SPFX field in between.

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Upon joining the message board, John made the exciting announcement that he wanted to trade in his old Bolex for a digital camera and proceed with Forest Story in the digital realm. I believe the film has been in limbo for some time (years?) but now it looks like he's going back into production on it. Exciting news indeed!!! I can only imagine how it must feel to those faithful fans who have followed John's progress through Cinemagic magazine all their lives and only been priveleged to see the pictures and read his words, to learn that one day they might at long last be able to see Grog in action! And yes, he has said that he will get Grog digitized and posted online somewhere.

Looking at his site (which he just put together and posted quite recently) my head starts spinning with sheer inspiration. It's a testament to what's possible for people like us... those who were fuelled on Harryhausen and King Kong and dreamed of doing similar things. John obviously works hard and is able to focus his energy to an astonishing degree, and he seems to be bubbling over with creative energy.

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This post would be woefully incomplete without mentioning 'Mysterious' Ron Cole, John's friend and fellow SPFX artist/stopmo wizard who joined the board before John did, and in fact convinced him to join AND to dust off his surface guage and fire up Forest Story again. I do Ron a disservice by posting this small bit about him at the end of John's article, but then he's mysterious, and little is known about him aside from the incredible film he's working on In The Fall of Gravity, for which he developed his own incredible cable-controlled facial apparatus. You can see the trailer plus Ron's amazing tutorial about his cable control device here (many thanks to PaulVortex for hosting it - the generosity and helpfulness of the stopmo community never ceases to amaze me!).

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hittin the bottle - plus possible Prometheus prerelease????!!!!

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Wow, did you ever notice how everybody uses the most worn out cliches for their blog titles? And also (allegedly) alliteration. Oh well... whatever you can come up with in about 12 seconds I suppose. Anywho, like I mentioned last post, I've been busy making bottles lately. Here you can see the first few castings, alongside the original sculpts. I've improved my technology along the way.... the first few bottles came out pretty rough-surfaced, covered with fingerprints that I couldn't see in the sculpts, so I started sanding them down and gloss-coating. They came out much better, though I wish I had caught it before baking the sculpts so's I could have brushed them down a lot smoother (beats the hell out of all that sanding, which doesn't get everything anyway). And don't ask about the colors.... they're crazy I know. Only the dark green wine bottle looks right to me. I'll get some glass paint and try to fix them.

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Here are the molds, cobbled together from whatever I could find that looked the right size (some of them had to be extended slightly with epoxy putty - the containers weren't quite tall enough). I'm using EasyCast clear casting epoxy, made by Castin' Craft. I originally went in search of their more familiar polyester resin, which stinks to high heaven (it's the same stuff used in fiberglass) and discovered this odor-free 1:1 ratio epoxy, which sounds a lot better to me (I always hated trying to figure out how many drops of catalyst to add to that polyester crap!). I got their mold release, used it on most of these, and tried one without.... turns out you don't need it in a silicone mold. Good, because it's a pain to apply!

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Here's the biggest problem.... tiny bubbles. Thousands of them! The instructions said this can be caused by using the epoxy cold and to warm it in hot tap water for 10 minutes to avoid it. It doesn't work! At least for me it didn't. But I guess I can live with it. Heck, bubbles almost look right in beer or champagne bottles (only they shouldn't be frozen in place!)

Here's a nice little trick I discovered too.... after they set up completely (which takes three full days, during which time they're like soft, pliable and very sticky gummybears!) and you've cleaned up the castings, hit em with a coat or two of clear gloss spray. It takes off any dullness and makes them shine like nobody's business. Next up, making labels and painting the caps.

In related news (sort of) I just found this on the Bright Eye Pictures website:

"I hope to have the DVD (Prometheus' Garden) ready for sale on the Bright Eye Pictures site..... by December 1, 2007. "

Posted the 1st of September, but as yet there's no mention of it on the site, or on Bickford's site. Getting excited though (and I also just found out there's a lot of cool stuff on the Bright Eye site.... goin to check it out as soon as I hit Post).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Holy Crap!!! Check out this amazing artist!!!

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Virginie Ropars

Virginie Ropars.... the link above will take you to the English version of her site, where you can feast your peepers on her insane visions of fairy tale and mythical figures. She's what would be called a contemporary doll artist, but prefers to call them figures (which I agree with.... these aint no dolls folks!). Nothing more to say.... just go and be astonished! I linked directly to the Dark Work page of her Personnages (figures) section (seemed kind of fitting on the Darkmatters blog.... ) but be sure to look around a little. The hands just blow me away.... (And this pic really makes my blog look good).

Meanwhile, been makin lots o bottles.... pics coming soon.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Real or miniature?

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Harrowdown Hill music video on YouTube

SmallGantics article at Bent Image lab

This is truly mind-blowing!! There's a longstanding axiom which states that shallow DOF (Depth Of Field, which refers to the area in a photograph that's in clear focus) is a dead giveaway that something is a miniature. Photographers (including StopMoTographers) have always struggled to create an illusion of reality by trying to get as much DOF as possible.... generally by flooding a set with plenty of light and stopping down the iris in the camera or in the lens. Well Prammaven clued me in to this awesome project from Bent Image Lab to do just the opposite.... to make full-sized Real-Atures look like tabletop miniatures! Click the 2nd link under the picture above to read about it (though they don't reveal exactly how it was done.... sounds awfully complicated).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

FLATIRON

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I thought I'd test the ideas of shallow and deep filmic space, which I'm only theoretically familiar with so far. Shallow space is a favorite of Von Sternberg {maybe I've written about him before? Can't recall.... ;) } and I know it can be achieved with a telephoto zoom lens with the camera set pretty far back from the action and zoomed way in. That's how I got the above pic. Notice the way all the puppets look the same size, with no foreshortening of perspective. If they weren't overlapped, it would look like they're all standing side by side for a police lineup. In fact there were about 16 inches between the frontmost and rearmost puppet! I couldn't quite get focus on all of them at once. This technique is used to create a sense that the image is flat like a painting.... it emphasizes the flatness of the screen and doesn't let the viewer feel they could walk into this space.... it distances them from the characters and creates a sense of disconnect between image and viewer.... a favorite among the avant gard because it makes viewers think about the nature of art. The back wall of the set seems to be squeezed right up behind them, and the entire space is squashed flat, with no room to breathe.

Heh... I also played around with some different settings in Framethief, and tried widescreen. But as you can see, all it did was stretch the image out sideways. Also, I apologise for the puppets always being in the same poses.... I don't want to bend them around too much before I pick up my megaphone and shout action.


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Here's the deep space we're all more familiar (and comfortable) with. I definitely prefer this look. It complements the stopmo aesthetic nicely..... what's the point of building 3 dimensional puppets/sets and then flattening them out photographically? Some people could make good use of shallow filmic space I'm sure, but for now I'm sticking with good old depth! Look how much smaller Cosmo (the bartender) is here than Hoppy (pop-eyed guy up front). His entire head is about as big as Hoppy's eye... now THAT'S some foreshortened perspective! It's funny, I actually moved Hoppy back about 5 inches because it was even harder to get good depth of field (focal depth) this way. This one was shot with a 6mm lens and the camera right up in Hoppy's face.

Setting up for these shots is really showing me the problems I'm gonna have with that mirror. It's hard to find an angle where the camera doesn't show and the light doesn't reflect directly into it and make sunspots. A flag cut from a piece of MDF helps a lot with that, but I can see it's gonna really drive me nuts. If you're gonna have a big mirror in your set, it becomes the most important factor and affects all your other choices. Plus the matte spray I misted it with to make it look dirty can really flare up bright when the light hits it a certain way. Ugly! But I should be able to minimize these problems when I've made some shelves and loaded them with bottles. Then the mirror will only show through here and there. And if it still gives me headaches... out it goes!

One thing I dislike about it is this.... good lighting is more than just how you aim your lights and shape the beams etc.... about half of it consists of what the light falls on.... form, texture, color etc. A flat mirror doesn't give it much to work with!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pre-production still

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This is one of many such shots I've taken so far, using the camera I'll be animating with and Framethief, to get as close as possible to actual filming conditions. The purpose is to fine-tune the visual elements as I go, making decisions about lighting, exposure, filmic space (deep space versus flat space etc). I'm also thinking about colors, since I have yet to paint much of the set and make clothes for the puppets. Things begin to suggest themselves as you look at the pics. Example; I'm rethinking my plan to make a front wall for the set, and the reflected TV is giving me ideas....

I find this a good way to go into pre-production... often you see things in pictures that you just don't notice otherwise. I find myself taking more and more stills as I go, until it's time to start animation, and then it's not a sudden transition, more of an easing-in... less surprises that way.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The bar will be opening soon....

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Sneak peek. Sorry for the small pic, Photoshop no longer seems to work for me. But I posted it to Flickr, so click on it to see the full-size version (once there, click on 'All Sizes').

The mirror is a double-edged sword. It doubles the (very limited) size of the set and the number of puppets, but it also makes it hard to place the camera where it won't show up. That puts a bit of a crimp in my montage ideas - I'm extremely limited in terms of shooting angles. I'll try a few experiments.... but the mirror might need to go.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Strange sighting exposed as hoax updated!!!

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Click the Pic to see Monster Month Blog


The chill of October is in the air, at last the opressive heat wave is at an end, and crisp orange and brown leaves lay on the ground. And this time of year, strange creatures are sometimes seen. (Isn't it funny though, how nobody ever manages to get a good photograph?!!)

This pug-ugly above was (allegedly) seen by one Professor Ichbonnsen, and the painting done according to his detailed description by my friend Sven from Scarlet Star Studios. I don't know..... kind of crazy if you ask me. Nothing so bizarre could possibly exist..... could it? Something about it though.... can't quite put my finger on it....

If it does exist though, it certainly has my sympathy.... those Noubs sound like a terrible affliction!!!

***

Stop the presses!!!! Accusations of fakery levelled against Professor Ichbonnsen!! Following is a transcription from the comments section of this weblog:

Sven Bonnichsen said...
Looks suspiciously like a Dontiss to me.

Coincidence? Plagiarism? An evolutionary relative?

Hm. Given that were so... If the Dontiss feeds off mental emanations of intelligent host animals, could that perhaps explain the mysterious "forums" of this animal? Telepathic pow-wows?

Stranger and stranger.

9:23 AM
Professor Ichbonnsen said...
Yes! Telepathic communication is a plausible explanation.

Noubs are known to have a counter-telepathic effect on sensitive individuals. During "forums," the D.S. invariably begin their exchange with a grooming ritual: picking noubs off one another, killing the parasites.

If these animals were attempting to establish mental contact, then most certainly the noubs would have to be removed as a first step.

The facts all fit.

The hypothesis will need to be tested, though. I must contact the Quay sisters immediately. They will have to recapture the specimen that we previously tagged. If we remove its noubs, then a legitimate psychic (not difficult to find in Romania) should be able to make contact...

Mr. Brent: I've noticed that you go by the "screen name" of Dark Strider. Are you perhaps a fellow researcher of this species? If so, let us consider pooling our data. Knowledgeable collaborators are always welcome!

10:00 AM
Shelley Noble said...
fyi; I've made the following brief report of my DS siting at Sven's Scarlet Star site:

"I too have seen the Dark Strider. A magnificent creature able to demonstrate baroque mental agility far exceeding the expectations of its nature. I have heard fabled story too of its gentleness in the face of predatory threat and stupidity of the Booring Neids, a neighboring nocturnal forest dweller.

God's speed DS, we need more monsters like you in the world."

10:17 PM
Darkstrider said...
Ah "professor" (if you are indeed a professor.... )

First let me say that I find it rather inexplicable that, while these "Quay sisters" were able to apply a radio tracking device to one of these alleged creatures, they failed to take any photgraphs or obtain any form of solid physical evidence of their existence. Instead, the only visual representation we have of it is a painting that, as Sven already pointed out, bears a more than passing resemblance to my own (purely imaginary) Donstiss.

"Telepathic comminication is a plausible explanation"??!! "Reputable psychic"??!! I assume you're no stranger to terms like crackpot or faker?

.... In fact, could it have been you I surprised snooping around behind my garage last night? I didn't get a clear view of the lurker, but being nocturnal myself I was awake and around 3:15 heard some furtive noises out in the back yard. When I turned on the lights, there was a flurry of sudden activity, then a burst of running footsteps toward the street followed by the hasty starting and racing away of a van. Then there in a somewhat hidden location behind the garage I found an odd pile of painted canvas and 2x4s with a paper mache mask resembling the head of this "Dark Strider" creature. The 2x4s seem to be made to strap onto arms and legs, and the ends are sharpened to points, which would leave tracks like those of this imaginary (and in fact plagiarized) creature. And furthermore, the whole costume looked like a poor-man's forgery of a creature from the movie Dark Crystal (which I don't really recall, but could it have been called a Land Strider?).

According to your weblog sir, you claim to be galavanting about the world via an unlikely assortment of conveyances (rather like Phinneas Fog from Around the World in 80 Days). But could the truth in fact be a bit more prosaic? Which raises the question..... why the somewhat unnatural attachment to my friend Sven (whose last name is Bonnichsen). I propose sir, that you are a fake! A charlatan! An imposter! And worse, a terrible fake! Your copies of creatures from other sources are pale imitations, and even the names reveal their origins. For some reason you seem to have attached yourself to Sven and his circle of friends in a desparate gambit for attention at all costs. I believe you require professional help sir. Please, I beseech you, halt this travesty and seek the psychological counselling you obviously need! You seem to be fixated on Sven in particular.... perhaps you could approach him. Let him be your link to reality. Sven has a good head on his shoulders..... he could help you see reason, get you the assistance you require.

You know, it's funny. All the accusations I leveled in this post came only after noticing the one unforgivable mistake you made. I would have let it all slide.... the telepathy, the awful forgeries and transparent naming conventions, but you made one mistake that I couldn't ignore....



Everybody knows that it's not possible to conduct a forum without the presence of Noubs!

6:12 PM
Darkstrider said...
Thanks Shelley!!! You demonstrate your Noble nature once again, by both saying such kind things about me, and by playing along with the obviously deluded "professor" rather than chellenging his skewed views.

6:28 PM

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Studio Tour; or how to conquer a massive mess (new & improved - more pics added!!!)

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Well, the Great Basement Cleanup is just about complete now. It's truly been the Labors of Hercules! You wouldn't have believed the sheer massiveness of the mess here - I almost wish I had taken Before pics, but it was too ugly. Now that I've tamed the beast, I decided to get some pics because you know what - it'll probably never look this good again!!! First here's the good old Camerajack moved into place in front of the new animation table - every bit as heavy too! None of those unwanted earthquake effects, but if I kick this puppy it'll leave a mean welt on the ol shinbone!

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Incredible.... I'm still stunned that all of it managed to fit! If only you had seen this area a while back.... I shudder to remember! But along the way I did dig up lots of long lost favorite tools and forgotten drawings etc. I went with clear boxes for stowage..... it all used to be in cardboard shipping boxes from Amazon, Micromark or Smallparts (yeah, lots of jokes there..... not a great idea to have boxes sitting around that all say "Micromark - the Small Tool Specialist" right next to ones that say "Smallparts"!)

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And look..... I can actually see everything now!!! When it's in cardboard it's amazing how you forget what's in the boxes. Spend days looking for something and it was right under your nose! But no more!!!! Now I've achieved Clarity!!!!

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A big part of my strategy was to whittle down space by tossing most of the boxes for my DVDs and putting them into this massive 300+ disc binder. It's really kind of bizarre how much wasted space there in in a DVD box - a wafer-thin disc and an inch of empty air! And we don't want to part with it because of the pretty packaging! Yep, us wasteful Americans.... hypnotized by glossy printed paper with colorful pictures on it and advertising blurbs for all the special features etc. So hard to part with it!!! And it's worthless really, except in the case of certain box sets or if the disc itself is a plain silver one with no markings (that you won't be able to recognize in the binder).

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The binder I got has these nifty pockets up front for holding those booklets you just can't bring yourself to part with.

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Size reference - yep, 300 some DVDs - enough to fill several cubic yards if left in the wasteful packages - enough to fill like 4 of the boxes pictured below!!!! And talk about weight!!! All those plastic boxes..... you're talking 40 or 50 pounds for a few hundred of them!!! (just a wild guess, could be way off)

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I found these nifty boxes at Bags Unlimited. They have them for books and for video tapes/DVDs. The cheapest decent storage solution for a good low price I've found (short of stuffing them into those old Amazon boxes!). Two levels, with internal support pieces to facilitate stacking 3 boxes high.

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Here's what it looks like closed.

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I found it necessary to strategically apply some clear packing tape in two places to secure the boxes properly.

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Here are the DVD's & tapes I didn't want tucked away inside dark boxes, alongside my mediacenter stack, topped off by the mighty Locustman resin kit.

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A tabouret is incredibly handy!

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And so is a cheap sheet metal toolchest made in China!