Thursday, August 27, 2009

Working on the wrong movie - and drawing random caves

Click the image to see it bigger on Flickr, then click on "All Sizes" above it

I am getting some work done on my film, but I've actually been spending a lot more time working up the scenario for my next one. I'll have some images to post soon for the bar flick though, promise! (And no, the image above is NOT from that other film, it's just a random drawing I did to play round with my new charcoal and carbon drawing kit!)

Meanwhile, I've also been drawing! I recently read The Art of Ray Harryhausen and discovered he did his key drawings using charcoal powder, compressed charcoal and carbon pencils with highlights pulled with various types of erasers, and decided I had to try it. Hard to believe, but this is actually the first time I've rendered a complete environment with full-on lighting/shading effects. Feels like the beginning of a new era.

This began as just random marks on paper... when my new materials came in as usual I was too excited to actually plan out a drawing, I just started smearing things around on a piece of paper... but what I've discovered (as I had hoped) was that this method allows almost unlimited redos... if you don't like something just erase it and rework. It doesn't feel quite finished yet, but I decided it was time to scan it in case I completely screw it up after this.

Here are a few fun links to tutorials on drawing with charcoal and carbon pencils... this is some awesome stuff:

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Quakehold! Museum Gel for animating water, and a fix for the Solux Framing Art Light

Gel spill
(Click image to see it at Flickr, then click on All Sizes above the pic to see a bigger version)

Hmm... wow that pic is UGLY!!! Amazing how using the flash makes every speck of dust glare impossibly bright! And I didn't even know I had a little arachnid friend living on the set till I saw him larger than life in closeup. Egad!! Try to ignore the nastiness and concentrate instead on the beerspill effect (even though it's clear rather than beer colored). Hey, this whole shot would look a lot better through beer goggles!!

Anyway, the (1st) point of this post is to tout my discovery for water (or any liquid) animation... Quakehold! Museum Gel. Crystal clear, non-toxic, and easy to form into spills or drips that hold their shape for a long time. It will sag over time, but it takes a few hours for a ball to revert to a puddle. Easily enough time for animation. It can also be tinted by adding probably any kind of transparent tint. I tried it with some of the resin tints I used for the bottles and it works great.

Quakehold! also makes a Museum Wax that's just microcrystalline wax... a very sticky yellowish translucent wax that's perfect for sticking props to sets or even to puppets hands. It's a good deal stickier than the so-called Stikky-Wax I bought some time ago. I consider it an essential for any stopmoe to have on hand.

One thing I discovered quite by accident that needs further testing.... I had a blob of the gel sitting on a paper envelope for a long time.... probably a week and a half or so, and noticed a big clear stain spreading around it... like an oil stain. I peeled the gel off the paper and it seemed like it was a good deal stiffer than it normally is... to the point that you could maybe sculpt forms from it and they'd hold their shape long enough for animation. Not sure on that one... I decided to put it to the test and placed a larger glob on a piece of paper last night, but so far it hasn't leached very much, just the beginning of a spreading stain. It must take longer than overnight. But Im not sure if it was really much stiffer than the regular stuff.... more experimentation is needed. I'm also not sure why you'd need it any stiffer.... this stuff is perfect for animating spills or drips or pours just as it is. Seemed kinda neat is all.

Also, at just about the same time as I made that accidental discovery last night, I made another one.

This is my Solux Framing Art Light, a great little device that casts a very controllable spotlight effect. The only problem I had with it is that it was rather... well - droopy. In fact I used to say it was built like a Dr Seuss telescope. Kind of tricky to get it aimed exactly where you want. I was looking at it last night thinking I ought to find some way to secure it better, and I had an idea about bending a couple of strips of metal to use as clips. I started looking around the basement to find some suitable metal, when I ran across the rotisserie attachment from my convection oven... basically a useless chunk of metal that I had kept around in case I ever found a use for it! Hah! In a few minutes I had bent the pointy tines (prongs... whatever they are) into suitable positions and found that it's just what the doctor ordered!!! The steel has just the right amount of spring to it too... by tightening it a little too much I get some good tension on it. Now the Dr Seuss telescope is more like an arrow-straight ramrod!! And just incidentally, I found the steel rod is also a great handle for adjusting the light... I used to burn my hands on it all the time!!