Friday, September 29, 2006

If You Had Known

Tarn gets a surprise crack open, like an egg shell.

I kept walking past the Tarn (crow woman) sculpt and wishing that the human side was not as small in relation to the crow side. The crow side which was a pre-made, hollow rubber black crow decoration that you may recall was my clever way to get the bird part to feel and look right without the struggle of trying to start from nothing. But as I revised the female side to the way I liked it, the bird side was now not right. So, I cut it. Yep. Got the trusty blade out and sliced the whole rubber crow away. My plan is to re-sculpt the crow side to fit the human side better. This won't be as impossible as it would have been without the crow doll as a training sculpt. I can do this now on my own.

Which brings me to an obvious thought. If I had known in advance that creating one of many characters for Halfland would take so long, be such a back and forth process, be something that worked best to do a little at a time, sit with a while and then revise, etc. would I have embarked on this enchilada? If I had known that each aspect of what was a single flash of thrilling inspiration would turn into a 5' deep mud slog wearing a diving suit experience, would I even have entertained the thought of ever in my life making it? The sculpture, the mold-making, the casting of puppets, the dressing and finishing, the set building (so that it can be taken apart for shooting to make it even more complex), the story, the animating, the equipment and software choice, the learning curves, the editing, etc. Each aspect its own universe of unanticipated difficulty and effort.

I resent having to learn about house construction to build the cottage. I wish perfect custom steel armatures were $24.50 and that Phil Dale-Qualityƃ‚? performance was magically automatically within me to do. I wish I had the latest editing software or even had a clue what I needed. (I'm waiting to see what shows up when I'm ready to edit as they keep inventing stuff while I work on this thing, you know, like the Internet for example! It was 1992-3, do the math--oops.) If I knew I'd still be invested so intensely in this project all these long years later, would I be able to enter into it in the first place?

All those complaints and a few more aside, even being at this beginning stage, looking down the barrel at the whole long rest of it, I would. I would, and suspect you would yours. I would because when a little advance happens and the realization of the project is a bit closer, it's a rush. And because when a small breakthrough in understanding happens there's nothing that compares to the thrill of it. And, over time, those small advances and understandings add up to something, the ability to do all those things that were unknown before I began.

Then there is the pleasure of the doing the art and craft of it. If I can back off from rushing, the process of sculpting, for example, is a contentment in and of itself. How about you, would you do it, if you knew?

The white sticky paper the precision laser cut quarries are arranged on is the size of the actual window panel. Saturday plans include hot gluing the leading to both sides and seeing how it moves in the light.

I had to cut a few pieces and leave a few pieces out to reshape the tiles to the panel size but it will work fine. I could NOT have done this without your kind gift, Mark. Thank you again!


  1. I think I came at my project, (Jenny Greenteeth) in a different way....originally it was just a tale for me to tell, something to sort of try to throw together in a few months...I didn't care about quality or puppets or any of that, just wanted to get it out of my system, quickly work out some angst, but once I began to delve into the technical aspects of stop-mo, its like the world openned up, and the project began to grow and grow, and become more and more elaborate...the more I read, the more I realize what can be in a way its the 'knowing' that has me in this boat :)
    I think any artist worth spit would do whatever he/she has to in order to bring vision to life, its our curse {8P
    So keep the faith, we're not gonna let you bail anyway ;)

  2. Oh yeah, I think its awesome that you ripped out the pre-fab crow parts and took the risk, she'll be better for it, 100% Shelley!

  3. Excellent comment, Jeffery. You're right, stop motion was a world that opened up and swallered me whole. And your right that it's just something we must do.

    I smiled when you said you guys wouldn't let me bail, I really got the brothehood of that. Cool.

    And you caught the perfect thing to catch. I also dug that everything in 1/2 L. will be tore up from the floor up hand-made by me.

  4. Try this Shellage....

    Just for a moment... Imagine life without Halfland. Without this blog brotherhood. Imagine just having a nice normal job, sitting behind a desk and shuffling paper or something.

    Or even imagine Halfland being something you could easily complete in a month's time without any real effort, without investing yourself into deeply. Would it even mean much then?

    Myself, I couldn't imagine any other kind of life. If I wasn't deeply and inescapably consumed by this I think I would lose my mind. And it absolutely needs to be something constanty growing, constantly changing, demanding all my resources and energy and time, and stretching out to the dim edges of my life. I couldn't bear the thought of it ever ending. It gives my life a sense of meaning, of purpose that I thinj is lacking in so many people. And then there's this shared comeradery between us all... wouldn't trade it for all the gold in the world.

    Sure, the journey has potholes and rain and sticky places and hot humid days when you can't get relief from the heat. It wouldn't be as sweet if it didn't. That's the kind of journey that means something and leaves unforgettable memories, as opposed to a swift comfortable ride in a jet.

  5. Beautifully and well said, Mike. Very beautifully and very well said.

    What I said seems ungrateful and whining complaint, except I didn't mean to make it sound that way. I can't not do my project, end of story, full stop. And the online friends?!* It's just that in my imagination/mind things seem easier/quicker/simpler than they ever are to actually do.

    I'll tell what I think it's like, I think it's like knowing and loving a full 2-reel movie by heart but then having to wait patiently while it runs, frame by frame, through the projector in order to see it. Like life, in a way. Like Quantum String Theory too for that matter, where everything exists on multiple vibratory dimensions and we can only perceive it through our relatively limited senses in time and space in 3 of those realities. Yeah, it's a lot like that. The patience to work within the limitations with a glad and grateful heart, that's the trick for me.

    *The support here is REMARKABLE! I mean, really! It's nothing less than a sea change in human interaction! Holy cow. Yes. (here she goes again) The thing is, in one sentence, that everyone (with electricity) has gone from being fed content by content makers to not only creating their own content but INTERACTING with others doing the same. Profound and notable transformation indeed. Beyond that, the people I've met online in the last 2-3 years have been the most talented, most fun, most generous, most intelligent, most valuable people I've ever known.

    I am enjoying the ride. (with a grateful heart.)

  6. You're going through something most people do who discover stopmotion and think "hey, cool! I'll make a little movie!". Well, it's not quite the same thing of course.... in your case you already have the movie in your head and have to learn how to realize it... most of the newbies I speak of just dream up some feature-length movie extravaganza and think they can have it done by next thursday. Then when they can't build a perfect puppet overnight with materials already in the house without having to learn any new skills they give up and we never hear from them again.

    Well ok, your situation is entirely different, except that you're gradually learning how difficult the project you must bring to light is going to be. But you're fully committed to it (and like me I believe you're slowly discovering new depths to your commitment, and how to access them). And I think the important part is you've made the discovery that the journey itself is the thing. What you end up with years (decades?) down the road might be quite different from what you've always envisioned. It's about accepting that and rolling with the changes.

    ...And about connecting with like-minded people online.... I just filled out my profile (favorite movies and books at least) and discovered something remarkable. Each item becomes a link and if you click on it you can find other people who listed the same interests. It's a new way to surf selected interest areas. You ought to try it.

  7. just keep saying to yourself: "process not product." that whole journey-not-the-destination thing. and think of all the people you've inspired with this process! it allows us to invest in it in a way that woulnd't be possible if we just saw the finished product. so thanks for taking us with you.

  8. You make your points very well, Mike. I understand. Thanks for the profile tip, I had no idea it did that! I'll have to check it out.

    And thank you very much for that, Gretchin. Very good advice and sweet of you to say.

  9. I think your halfland journey is enchanting, and I'm sure the final product will show it. the metamorphosis of Tarn is wonderful, I'm so happy you're going to sculp the crow side as you did the woman side of her.
    keep on, your doing a wonderful job.

    and I love your new thumbnail :)

  10. Thank you so much, Hila!
    I'm rolling along. Slowly. argh.

    When you make a set, like say, for "Agora", does it take you (or feel like it takes you) forever to make the walls, windows, furniture, etc. even before you get down to the rest?

    Knowing what it's like for you would be very educational and helpful for me, and I'm sure the others here as well.


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