Progress. More than one minute into the film.

It has been a while since I have last posted. Lots has been done since then.

Late 2012 the newspaper for my region came out and did a story on the film, which was an interesting experience. Still, if there is one thing I have learnt from it, it’s: never trust the media. I had specifically asked them not to film certain aspects etc, but that was completely ignored. Moral of the story – have selective NDAs on hand.

For those who have not yet seen the article, it is available here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/entertainment/8062288/Theres-no-stopping-this-dedicated-young-film-maker

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I have also, and finally, put together a showreel: (removed)

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Furthermore,  I am at approximately 1 minute and 20 seconds into “Disappear” (I say approximately to leave room for tweaking/editing). So that means I’m about 30% of the way through animating.

Shot04

So, ticking along. Amongst juggling various other projects, and a life etc, I’m still aiming for completion before the end of June.

I’ve decided to build a motion control rig. It turns out that moving the camera by hand is proving to be far too distracting from the animation process. I will be building it in two phases;

Phase 1:  Dolly (1500mm rail), Pan, Tilt, Focus + 8 channel Arduino powered control box.

Phase 2: Boom and Swing (jib/crane)

Building it in two stages will allow me to finish the film sooner (and save some money initially). I have to say a special thanks to Doug Kropla for ideas and electrical advice, and also Leo Hutson, who will be helping me on the electrical and programming fronts.

I’m sure there is a lot I have missed, but that will have to wait for another time. Back to work!!!

Harrie

First shot is in the can! (and a sneak peak)

I finished my first shot for “Disappear” on Thursday night at around 11pm. After being in pre-production on and off for around 12 months, this is a major milestone. I can finally start to see my vision take on a life of its own.

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Stay tuned for some frames pulled right out of the first shot at the end of this post…

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I actually did a little bit of previs before I started animating to help me with the timing and spacing.

And after a very short practice run I kind just dove right in.

I have to say that character animation in stop motion is by far the single most difficult thing I have ever done in my life thus yet. It probably didn’t help that the first shot was a massive 40 seconds long! At 12fps I shot 488 frames over two weeks, including a camera move on the geared head.

It’s a pretty amazing feeling having this first shot done. I’m gearing up for the next shot now.

You’ll have to excuse the quality of the photos, these were taken on my cellphone because the 2nd slr was in the office.

The following is a still of the last frame in the sequence;

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As promised, here are some still frames from the first shot…

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Now, onto that next shot….

Till next time,

Harrie

My Theatre Debut!

So I had temporarily fallen of the face of the earth and lost contact with the world, so I will explain where I have been;

As some of you already know, I have been in a theatre production of “The Great Gatsby”, in one of the leading roles, Nick Carraway. The show went incredibly well and was very positively received.

This was my first show, having previously acted only in front of the camera and never in front of an audience. It was a very big role, so I certainly had to learn to swim as I was drowning, I was on stage for aprox 95 pages (/minutes).  It  was a very different experience and has taught me a lot.

Here are some photos of the play;

Thanks to everyone involved. I had a great time.

 

Cheers,

Harrie.

Character completed, hands, furniture started.

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted. I’m gonna make it a “first week of every month” thing from now on, unless it’s just a few quick photos.

I’ve fabricated some new sculpting tools out of brass, after watching a tutorial excerpt by Marc Spess (very talented sculpter), and sculpted some apoxie sculpt hair onto the baked sculpy head. Then undercoated it with my new Badger 150 airbrush (which I am very happy with).

After that I spent a few hours airbrushing and matte coated it with some Krylon stuff when done. The eyeballs, which I had made and hand painted previously, were then covered in vasaline and inserted into the sockets. I then sculpted eyelids over them out of apoxie sculpt. The eyes can be animated by inserting a needle into the pupil. The eyelids can be animated subtly in post if need be, as I will be doing extensive secondary animation in post for the mouth to achieve subtle expressions anyway.  I finished the rest of the paint job by hand. The eyebrows are Van Aken plasticine, so they can be animated.

I’m fairly happy with how it turned out considering it’s a first attempt.

Life;

Over Xmas and New Years, we had some family stay, my aunt and uncle and their kid. Was really great taking a couple of weeks off to live a bit. My aunt sometimes works in project consulting and scheduling (I think?), so I sat down one afternoon with her and did a schedule for the film. Man, I really had no idea how much time this thing was gonna take me. Principal photography is scheduled to start on the 1st of June, Post production complete on the 31st of December.

I think they enjoyed it here. New Zealand is a very different country to the Netherlands.

Back in the studio;

I spent some time on the milling machine and made a whole bunch of brass knuckle brackets for the puppets hands.

After that I just did the usual, twisted aluminium wire and heatshrink . Then apoxied the hands into some brass tubes as to make them slot in to the armature, thus making them easily replaceable. Pre-coated them in PAX. They looked kinda freaky, as if the skin had been eaten off them or something.

Then started building them up with cotton wool and latex.

They are nearly done now. They haven’t turned out as good as I had hoped, but hey that’s life sometimes. They are totally usable, I just tend to have high expectations.

I’ve started on the furniture too. His bed is done and so Is the dining table.

I used 6mm open cell foam (cushion foam) sheets and some Ados spray glue to bulk out the armature, making sure to leave access holes for the tightening screws. After trimming the excess foam off I made a start on dressing it. The clothes required a fair bit of tailoring but they got there in the end.

He is nearly finished now. His shoes are painted with PAX. I made a tiny 1/6 scale belt buckle out of brass. I made his beeper. All he is waiting on now are the finishing touches on the hands.

Will probably upload some photos of the finished character in the coming month.

I think he is going to work pretty well in this film.

Life;

After having spent much time in a dark room over the last 6 months, I thought I’d go out and audition at the local theatre. I ended up landing one of the leads, Nick Caraway, in a local production of Ken Duncan’s adaptation of  “The Great Gatsby”. Should be a good little show.

Also, I’ve come across a location that has sparked some massive ideas for a feature film.

More on that later this year.

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.

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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.

Cheers,

Harrie.