Saturday, March 03, 2007

An Early Spring

cherry blossom photo by Heather Powazek Champ

It's been in the air. Maybe you've felt it too. A fresh start burgeoning, getting things squared away, ready to rev up once again.

One thing led to another, I found myself Organizing and Cleaning both my studio and computer over the last two days. The morning Sven was here my stalwart computer hesitated to boot up, giving me pause. When it cut out on its own after that, I thought it important to take some time and sort and print an save the hundreds of screen grabs for Halfland reference and art inspiration I had taken from surfing safaris over the last several months. I happened, finally, upon a streamlined method of creating a "contact sheet" from an entire folder that can be printed out, as long as smallish will do. It's in Photoshop's Browse sub-program, under the automate pull down called "Contact Sheet II". It allows you to choose a folder and select how many rows and columns you'd like, the rest is automated and takes a fraction of the time I used to take doing the same thing by hand. [end of tip]Sample contact sheet of a miniature house technique as taught by Rik Pierce. These photos are very very helpful for showing me how I can build my cottage. I've still got many folders yet to compose and print and backup.

Today's Halfland act was to move the huge cottage set out into the hallway a bit in order to make room for building the landscape around it. The other day I stopped at gallery cluster, Bergamot Station for the scrap wood to build the set extensions. They had more clean flat plywood art crates than I could carry away without a truck. (Pay attention LA people, if you can use tons of free wood for your sets, the wood bin is at the far right of the parking lot as you drive in.) Downstairs Clare let me raid his scrap wood for what I hadn't find there. I collected all the lumber into a mini yard ready to build and generally spruced up the whole workshop to make it roomier to actually work in.

I cleared off half of my computer desk to make it a convenient animation exercise area. I hooked up Strider's web cam and all the odd lamps I had lying around. When I tried to make a test clip, Framethief crashed on every capture attempt (?). I'll have to tend to that mogumbow ASAP.

What I used for the first test was a little paper mask that I made during an impromptu workshop on textures and improvisational puppet construction Sven and I did the other day. We tore a manila envelope in to a mask shape, formed it over crumpled pieces of paper, held down with tape. The shaped paper was painted with a mixture of plaster and iron base paint which gave it great texture and structure when dry. So far I've added a coat of black matte gesso and plan to add several acrylic rust tones to make it look like old iron. I like the way the holes on the peg board look like pupils behind the eye opening.
Hello Dali?
The mask shot through poured glass bottles and a magnifying glass. edited in Photoshop


  1. I think the idea with a child playing with paper figures would be brill Shel, Great Idea I think it would be best shot in live action.

    P.S: Are you on IMDB, I saw someone called Shelley Noble who worked on TV, I know you worked on TV?


  2. Wow, Ben! I had no idea! Yes, That is me on IMDB! The first production I worked on for Julie Taymor, Oedipus Rex, was produced by Cami Video for PBS's Great Performances after the staged opera for a Japanese cultural festival was made into a film by Ms. Taymor. So somehow that qualified me to be included. (I also worked on two more of her operas, Die Zauberflote and her stage production of Titus. But I know think there's a IODB "International Opera Data Base"!)

  3. yea, I'm a regular legend, a legend in my own... mind!

    well, some of my cats like me.

  4. Awwww....I like you and so do all ya friends on da blog

  5. oh, and YES! I too was thinking of live action for the end, I forgot to mention that essential point. Thanks for saying it, Ben! Halfland starts with live action at the beach.

  6. Aww back, it's mutual!

  7. Yes! It finally feels like spring around here too..... the snow and ice have finally melted! Of course, that means a lot of rain and strong winds. A tradeoff, but the warmth is so excellent it's definitely worthwhile.

    The face looks fantastic! You're not getting the full effect of the special effects shots though.... the bottle should be full of water (if it isn't - the water turns the whole thing into a huge distorting lens) and if you'd pull back the camera so we can see the magnifying glass/bottle, it makes the effect a lot stronger.

  8. Been Freezing and raining in rainy britan all day...Wish I was in Springy California!

    Just a Thought:

    Why dont you shoot the Kyrah scenes through a glass jar with water would look very mystical!

    Still Raining >Sigh<

  9. It's so gorgeous here the last two days, it's like how one would wish summer in California could be, sunny, warm and perfectly mild with a gentle breeze! Not that I've been out in that loveliness mind you--but that's how it looks through the open window! Paul says it's earthquake weather so, be happy where you guys are! Yikes.

    Thanks! anf yes, Mike, those messing around shots were not with any water, just an empty poured glass, you know, the kind of clear glass that has udulations from its making.

    I will see about shooting through a bigger water-filled jar but the web cam (did you see it at work on Sven's new Toby post today!) doesn't see or focus through the water-filled vessel I tried. I'll play around because...

    yes, Ben, fantastic idea to use the through the water distortion for the Kyra sequences! It'll give the right look to match the hand-made, low-tech feel of the whole film.

  10. You need to get full manual cotrol over that little Uni... show it who's boss!

    After starting Framethief (with the camera already hooked up) go into Framethief Prefs> Quicktime Video Feed. Then click on the long oval button that says Video Source (should say Unibrain Fire-i on it). This will allow you tp set everything up on full manual. Then of course focus is done by hand, by turning the lens ring.

  11. Oh, I already did as you describe for certain. That wasn't the prob. It was that the focal point was not able to get past the surface of the jar. The still frame grab posted here is with a lot of manual control, including focus, without any water in between, and even it isn't that faithful to reality when compared to the still cam shot shown above it.

    And all of this is currently moo-t, as FT crashes on all capture attempts. sigh. I'm thinking of re-downloading and re-installing. Now where did I put that record of shareware payment to FT?

  12. That looks fascinating! would you also come organize me, please?

  13. Wouldn't that be great? Then we could play in your bead box. (That sounded dirty but I meant in a nice way.)

  14. Anonymous5:03 PM

    Oh did I miss something? Did you take a class from Rik??? Regardless I am jelous girl! Your house, masks, sound machine and trees look wonderful - but then I never expect less coming here!

  15. Aww, thanks, Ulla! Nope, I didn't take a $1,000 workshop with the genius model home/doll house builder, Rik Pierce (that I first learned about through you!) Some dear soul posted their own photos of her own model from one of his workshops she took and it was like gold for me to see a way to make my cottage.

    I worry but then doubt she nor I violated any confidentiality of Mr. Pierce's by posting and re-posting my thumbnail contact sheet of the images as there is no replacement for actually taking his workshops in person. It might actually whett someone's appetite to take one after seeing them.

    But for those of us without the extra grand to do so, it sure is fantastic to get a taste of some of the techniques!


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