Slowly getting a head. Also, the start of a rabbit and a pile of timber.

Been a very productive week. I really love being in the new studio. I’ve even found time to do some music and paint a bit, in between apoxie setting times.

So this week I have gotten the head sculpt completed and baked (sculpey) and attached it to a neck made out of latex. Next up will be hair. I am undecided as to wether to sculpt hair out of aves apoxie sculpt, or to use real hair like I had planned originally. I tempted to go with the sculpted hair for stylistic reasons, as the eye brows will be made out of Van Aken plasticine to allow for easier animation. I’m thinking that the Van Aken may be a good option for the eye lids too, otherwise I may have to do replacements. Decisions, decisions.

Sorry, it’s not the best pic, more to come later;

I have also made a start on sculpting the rabbit, which will need to be animatable, for the hat pull part of the performance. I’m finding this a good logistical challenge as I do not have the budget to run foam latex, so I will make a two part mold and pour liquid latex to create a sort of skin in which the armature will sit, then stuff it with cotton wool or something. The trick seems to be to get creases in all the right places in order to make the skin move in the direction it should when the body is flexed, otherwise it will pop out in weird shapes. It’s a bit of a “finger’s crossed” approach I am taking on it.

Here is the base sculpt, there are still a fair few hours of work needed on it though obviously;

You will notice the latex neck on my characters head in the background too. Figured it would be good to do part of the chest too so I can undo the characters top button and loosen his tie.

And lastly, I finally bit the bullet and did a massive timber shop. I came home with a huge load of wood and can now begin to assemble the animation stage, as well as beginning on set construction. Going to be a full on few months getting ready too shoot.

(to give you an idea of how much wood that is, the pink bits are 20ft (6m) lengths…)

Viva La Studio!

Its been a long time coming, but finally it’s done. I moved in to the new studio a few days ago here in Taranaki after a few weeks of evenings spent renovating.  It’s really great to be working in a dedicated space.

The studio is 4.5 x 3 meters (13.5 sqm) with a 3.5m high ceiling. It’s not huge but there is enough room for a post production area, a workbench, a kitchenette with enough room left to operate one stop motion animation set at a time. It’s light sealed, and with matte black paper on the walls too it will have excellent lighting control. This means that I can also use it as a photography dark room when I get the gear again.

The studio also has it’s own 50 KVA 240v transformer (which it shares with the engineering workshop owned by my father) so the power will be clean and regular.

Here are a couple of photos;

The Studio is nearly finished!

Over the last few weeks I have been in the process of moving house and moving city. My folks have been so kind as to offer me some studio space in which to make “Disappear” in over the next 6-12 months. Its out rurally in Ratapiko. Nearest house is more than a Km away and the nearest city is 45 minutes drive. I think its going to be a great creative headspace out here.

Studio still needs to be blacked out, concrete sealed, bench installed and then its all ready to move in for me to start work.

Here is the studio so far:

I’ll post some finished photos next week.

Logistics, more logistics and some fun stuff.

Well, there goes another week already. Time flies.

Most of my time has been spent researching and pre-production planning.

One of the things I have been looking into is flicker prevention, as upon testing my power points at home there is a fair bit of fluctuation in our home circuits. Basically what I will be doing is running all of my power through a light dimmer, monitored by a digital volt meter, so I can maintain constant voltage. More on that in a later post.

For now, I’ve been doing a number of things;

Firstly I did a quick hair test. I used real hair and glued it to the test head using two part epoxy glue (Araldite). It holds up to macro pretty well, and with a lengthy process of carefully glueing the hair in place should look pretty good on my final character.

Next, shoes;

Firstly I made a base plate out of Plaster of Paris (with keys molded in for later). The I sculpted some very basic shoes out of chavant NSP clay.

Next I put some flashing around the sculpted shoes and put some rods into the shoe entrances, these will create the holes where I later pour the latex through. After that I just used some petroleum jelly as mold release and casted it.

The mold came out good and bubble free. Which was a relief, as I didn’t have an air compressor to use while I was molding.

After cleaning the mold and letting the plaster set dry I did my first batch of shoes. The first batch were full of air bubbles. I came to realize that air bubbles were getting trapped inside of the mold and not allowing the latex to come into contact with plaster to let it cure. I hadn’t expected this, as I had only ever done large work with liquid latex and this had never been a problem. I found the trick was to pour a tiny bit of liquid latex into the mold, turn it around, shake it and get the latex into all of the nooks and crannies before pouring the mold full. Then just letting it cure and then turning it upside down to drain and final cure as normal. (Just note if you want to do this, its a good idea to have some baby powder to dust the final bits with when you pull them from the mold as other wise it will stick to itself).

The second batch of shoes turned out usable. I left them for a 5 hour cure time, which gave me about 1.5-2mm wall thickness on the latex. They still have some air bubbles in them, but they are internal, which just means variable wall thickness, luckily the wall thickness is thick in the right places. But yeah, the shoes are ready for a coat of PAX paint and they will be finished.


Lastly, I have finally completed my blocking masters. As well as completing all of the 3D set models for the previz. So now I can put the two together and get my 3D previzualizations and my digital story boards done.

One of the many pages of blocking. Personally I really like to block either prior or at the same time as story boarding. You can come up with some interesting shot variations that way.

The final film (all going to plan) will have a total of 31 shots, of which 10 are dolly shots. The takes are reasonably long, so its going to be a real challenge on the animation front.

Anyway, back to work.



My actor is “Under Construction”.

Been a touch under the weather over the last week. Although that may be a gross understatement. In turn progress has been very slow. I have however locked down a floor plan for my set, so I am more or less ready for a trip out of town to visit my parents and use my fathers workshop for constructing a few things. I have also had the chance to do a fair bit of research whilst being sick, i.e; catching up on movie watching time. This week I want to get a good chunk of my pre-viz done in maya, so tomorrow will be spent creating a 3D prototype of the set.

Anyway, all that put aside, I have an armature which is for all intents and purposes complete. It needs a little tweaking as to joint tightness etc, but that will be an ongoing process. I’m also most of the way through sculpting the base of my characters head, which will be given a matressfoam neck and covered in a thin, tinted, layer of liquid latex. Hair will then be added (I’m going to use real human hair) and the eye lids will be sculpted in sets out of super sculpey and animatable in a replacement style. I’m not 100% sure yet as to how I will do the eyebrows yet, but I would like to use real hair for those also, Im just not sure how I will make them articulated without making them too thick. At this stage I am going to try a small piece of 1mm wire to which I attach some latex and subsequently hair. Perhaps I will drill two small holes into the characters brow from which to articulate them. The hands will be liquid latex build up.

Anyway, lots of work to catch up on.



Final Draft Complete – heavy pre-prod time

As some of you might know, I have been working toward a new stop motion short film project over the last few weeks. I have just completed a final shooting script that I am very happy with. It seems to be very important when doing animation to have a script you can absolutely lock down as it save a lot of unnecessary work.

The screenplay, working titled “Disappear”, is about a man who has locked his passion in life away in order to fit into a corporate paradigm. The story is about his decision to escape.

Its a very light hearted and stylized take on the subject matter, and I think it will translate over well to the medium.

Well, time for pre-production. Sets need to be built, puppets made. Not to mention the animatic, story boards, basic sound track laydown.

This year is gonna fly by.

I will endeavor to post weekly and let you guys know what I am up to. I will take some pictures along the way and try to upload some animation tests etc when I have them.