Set is built, painted and ready to be dressed. Progress!!!

So it’s been about 3 weeks since I last posted and I have gotten a fair bit done.

That big pile of timber….

Turned into over 100 small bits of timber, which I’ve spent some time assembling into a section removable stage.

The set sits on top of a timber stage I built (I went a bit over kill with the stage, the thing is super solid, I estimate that it could hold a metric tonne of weight).

On top of the stage sits the set floor, which is 20mm MDF with floor board lines dremmeled into it. The four walls consist of six sections in total and the cieling is made up of two.

Everything is bolted to everything else, so in theory any piece can be removed without effecting the stability of the set. I tested the set for strength, I weigh about 200 lb. and the ceiling holds my weight. This is super handy for mounting lights etc in places I other wise could not.

Also, since over half of the film will be shot on the dolly (threaded rod advanced linear guide under construction) with a geared head, the ability to remove any walls I need but still have a ceiling is incredibly valuable.

Ive also added a hallway (to be shot from the apartment interior) for one of the shots.

And the set is now painted.

It still needs all the plinths, door frames, window frames, curtains etc etc. And of course a whole lot of hand made furniture that is still on my “to-do” list for this set.

There will be hand made light fittings in the ceiling too. I am hoping to develop something for that so I can partially light my set with the two ceiling lights, it just gets a little tricky at 1/6 scale I find.

I’ve made some modifications to the armature I bought from Animation Supplies.

I didn’t really trust the lock off joints, particularly because this will be a very high use puppet, so I reinforced the joints with aves apoxie sculpt.

I did my first test animation with it yesterday. The B&S armatures have a pretty steep learning curve I found out. I found it extremely difficult to get the joints to a comfortable tension. Particularly the toes. For the money the armature is very good, but in future I think I would build my own, as I dont think I like to have this many ball joints, particularly not on knees, elbows and toes.

Maybe the puppet will play nicer when I pad him out with foam in the coming week or two.

I finished the rabbit too, about two weeks ago. The sculpt is pretty rough, but it’s going to be covered in fur anyway, thats why he has some weird lines too, because I hope it will aid the bending points so the skin will not fold in unnatural ways. I will cast it tomorrow as I had been waiting to find an affordable supplier of ultracal 30. Turns out there isn’t one, but I managed to get some discount anyway. Then I’ll make a couple of liquid latex rabbit skins and have a play with different fur and paint combinations.

So, busy few weeks gone. Busy few months ahead. I really do love this though, I am getting to do so many different things. It’s an artists dream really.

Maximus guarding the entrance way.

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.