Thursday, June 16, 2016

Halfland's Fairy God-Brother: Jeff Gatesman

Can you tell how warm and sincere this individual is? How about how fully-loaded with professional
filmmaking know-how he is? Jeff Gatesman, Director of Photography, newly met, talent to spare.
I see wings of kindness on this artist with an eye for capturing emotional imagery.
After a conversation on the beach Easter Sunday, my friend Riayn asked some industry-pro friends of hers if they knew of anyone who knew stop motion in LA. One of them asked another of them, who then suggested Jeff because of his experience in shooting a children's web series that involved a mix of live action/cgi/stop motion. I can't thank the whole chain of people enough for the perfect suggestion.

Part of my delay in actually shooting Halfland scenes was a.) my love and comfort with fabricating puppets/sets/props, b.) my assumption(s) over what software I would have to learn to use to assemble frames and make a majority of edits with.

Jeff, within 10 minutes of discussing my animation workflow, had blown all of my "facts" out the nearest window and blown my mind with his wholly different approach.

That would have been enough, but he then proceeded to spend a few hours here walking me through the process from frames to render, including a clever solution for outputting in the proper codec.

I took notes. And posted his later instructions on my wall, like sacred text. He checked my computer for competency, tipped me to which cloud backup he used, shopped external RAID backups with me, being careful to cover what I needed but not more than I needed to keep costs modest. Jeff made excellent suggestions for lighting and scrim material as well, all of which was enormously helpful.

It's like being lost in the dark and having a kind, patient person lead you to your path. I can see how to get where I'm going now. Thanks to Jeff and the people that sent him over.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Incredibly Moving

"Young birds are not pushed out of nests they know, as we’ve been told.
Instead, parents remain a distance away, urgently calling them forth."

-- Shelley

This man is one of the most important figures in my life. Over and over.
I can guarantee that hundreds of other people would say the same thing about him as that.
He is extraordinary.  A Master of Classical Dance. A transformer of lives.
These photos were taken of him coaching me during class in 2006.

For an explanation of what I've been doing other than Halfland for the last while and why,
I wrote it up at length on the Underground.

Things are moving. The wheels are in motion. Stop Motion. And I hope to show you soon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Little Character Folk Swatch Painting: Rana

One of our cats pees over everything. Every. Thing. I spend a lot of time each day scrubbing and cleaning up after her. I had two 10" tall prints of Rana's portraits on my desk to use as reference for retouching the file to order a poster-size version when a wind gust must have dashed them into a pee puddle in the corner. Having them ruined for sure gave me the courage to try a painting technique I'd been curious about, since I would be trashing them anyway, why not try?
Gluing down strands of sheep's wool and costume fabric swatches to the finished folk painting of Rana.
I glued the trimmed print onto watercolor sheet and blue taped a border on the paper. I taped that to a lap-sized desk of gypsum board that had been wrapped in brown paper with the second print next to it to refer to as I went. I was obsessed as soon as I began.

I've never painted before and considered adding the layers of color on separate leaves of acetate, in paint-by-number style before just trying it out to see how it was. I LOVED it! I wouldn't stop working on it for 3 days, stealing moments right from waking up to right to going to bed.

I was hoping to have it be very rustic and folk, to fit with the film's visual style. Very rough with high impasto texture, almost as an impression of the character rather than a portrait. I used a new medium from Nova Color that is nearly as matte as my trusty matte medium but a much thicker, #208 Matte Gel (satin finish thick paste; dries clear), to build up the areas I wanted to be most dimensional.

Even though she's positioned in her cottage, I only detailed the fire-lit hearth behind her shoulder and the dripping honeycomb near her hand to indicate her setting.

I used acrylics with unrefined (cheap) brushes in what I now believe is called dry brush technique, lots of blending colors and off-loading paint on a cloth until it could do what I wanted.
I made up a purpose for doing it (Needing a reason for doing something besides it being illegal amounts of fun.) and now consider it to be a "Swatch Character Painting", with all the little squares of Rana's costume added on as well as a bit of the hair and moss on the kettle lid (above, right) her spider web lace skirt peering out.

I hope to make one for each character eventually and have them bound into a book for viewing at the Halfland exhibition, should things go that way.

Please stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

When Your Answer Appears

When your Answer appears on Halfland's Answer Tree, you feel the tender sweep of soft green leaves awake you from your deep sleep. You realize that you lay in perfect comfort on the grass covered ground near the trunk of the Answer Tree and that the tips of its branches have caressed your forehead to awaken you.

You open your eyes in mellow sunlight, feel warm breezes blowing, hear birdsong and insect wing abuzz. It's almost as if you can hear the Wind's voice in the branches above you saying that your answer is ready and waiting for you. You scan the canopy from where you lay, wondering what the Answer Tree will tell you.

Then you see it. The glint of sunlight shimmering among hundreds of other leaves. One gilded leaf has unfolded itself and grown amid the rest. All the wisdom of all the world has been brought to bear upon the question you most longed to satisfy. And now, what you've waited for so eagerly, so longingly that you finally fell into sleep, has, at last, been realized.

All you must do to know is to reach up... and grasp it.

Dear readers, the above story happened to me today. Well, nearly. I sleep under a large tree each night. It's one of several large potted plants and trees in containers that we keep inside our home. This morning, I was gently awoken by its tender, soft, new green leaves brushing across my face. And even still asleep, I knew what had happened. I knew that I was given the feeling that the tree was tenderly waking me, as if it were my care taker.

In that instant I knew that this touch was the way in which Halfland's inhabitants were alerted that their Answer had appeared on the Answer Tree above them.

Several weeks ago, I painted a large fallen leaf with shades of gold. It gave me the idea that the answers on the Answer Tree would turn golden when an answer had emerged. That seemed so RIGHT. And now with what transpired and inspired today, it all came together in a wonderful FLASH! I added a bit of transitional "golding" to scale Answer Tree leaves for steps in the sequence as well.

PS: I still have the original questions that some of you wrote to the Answer Tree and they will be among the first to become real.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Akting Up

Draft of scenes and shots* outlined for the Halfland film series in; a Prelude, Four Main Akts (ordered by Time of Day and Season), The Final Akt ("The Secret Season"); and bonus story featuring "The Answer Tree".

There are also bonus stories written that feature the "The Time Frog" and the "The Bug Party", which I hope to also translate into oversized printed scene illustrated storybooks.

(*made prior to reading ggrandma's book and may be subject to refinement.)

Please stay tuned!
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