Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Lightbox Litany

I didn't plan to, but yesterday's small act turned out to be building an ad hoc ligtbox on the newly made practice animation desk. (note: this post's photos were hacked through Flickr as Blogger's upload was down.)
I attached wooden frames to the desktop with small L-brackets and used tiedowns for the post uprights so they can easily be moved around. You may be able to make out the two sizes of make-shift bracket tripods that the Strider cam o'joy can clip to conveniently. Right now I use odds and ends lamps, which still give a soft pleasing light on objects and puppets in the box (seen on the now completed Bosq sleeping cat puppet.) Later, I can add stronger "can" lights from outside the stretchy white nylon as well. Backdrops and flying rigs can be clipped onto the frame for my animation practice sessions. This will be where I test shooting ideas and special effect techniques on a small scale before building them out larger for the full-sized Halfland set.

I also finally wired Bosq the cat's ears by drilling a small hole through his head (me-ow!) and gluing the ears back onto either end. I filled in the gaps with glued bits of fur from the cat's belly. Now his ears can be animated as though they were alive. It's a remarkable illusion.

Good news on the sound front as well, I borrowed a USB mic and found I could input dialog directly into iMovie. This means I can buy a modest headset and use it to practice dialog and generally add sounds to films at will. It doesn't enable me to distort the voices, like Sven showed me, as there aren't any audio file filters available for iMovie like there are for Garageband. But I can always go large later with more sophisticated applications. Right now I have enough to do with using what's right here on hand.

Art Bonus: The birthday card I made for Corey never made to France, so I'm showing her a saved little picture of what the inside looked like. It was a coin-sized pair of hand-made red velvet shorts (or culottes) on a miniature wire hanger with the line, "C'est le petit J├ęsus en culottes de velours!". That's a quaint French saying Corey wrote about on her wonderful blog that her hunky French husband might murmur when something is really good, so good he almost can't stand it! It translates to something like, "Holy cow, that's as smooth as the baby Jesus wearing red velvet shorts!" I made these shorts to fit on the miniature soft-sculpture bas relief portrait of her Yann on the front of the card. Happy Birthday, Corey!


  1. Awww, Bosq Is so Sweet, You should make copies of the puppet to sell after the film, I'd Buy One!

    PS: A while back you posted a great pic of Bosq in a Red Chair how come he is shown here in a Green Chair?


  2. Man, Ben! You are paying attention! I love it.

    Yes, you are right, there were two upholstered chairs used in photos posted. Both were purchased at a discount clothing store in their home departments. I think they are made to display teddybears or dolls. I bought them because, a.) I suffer from a slight (used to be worse) miniature chair fetish and b.) they were almost the right scale for Halfland.

    I Iearned from talented professionals that when you create a project like this you have to keep your eyes wide open for this to use as ready made props but only when the scale of them matches perfectly. When the scale is off the whole illusion can be ruined. In this case, I've used these chairs as patterns. Nearly everything for Halfland will have to be fabricated by hand.

    The red one started out green when bought but I dyed it wine color to mach Rana's palette. In the end, I took it apart for patterning as it was about 10% too large after I built the cottage. I have it in pieces and may just reduce the patterns on a copier 90% and create the smaller version with that out of new fabrics.

    The tall pale green one you saw today, isn't going in the film but comes in handy for photo shoots like this.

    (You may also like to know that the throw blanket Bosq sleeps on there was hand-woven on a little loom for the project.)

  3. wow....your details are incredible.....and i'm liking how organically your story is revealing itself.


    and hand woven on a little loom???? wow wow wow.


  4. Thank you so much, Shel!

  5. Ace Shel, How did you get a little loom...I hope you dont mind, I have been using that pic as my desktop image.


  6. Aren't you clever!!! Darn i wish even more that the card had arrived! The front was equally as charming!
    Thank you for thinking of me...and yann!!

  7. nice pics herself!


  8. --HI Ben, Mind if you use the photo of Bosq, the sleeping/snoring cat (don't cats mostly sleep!), as a desktop image? I'm delighted! Thank you for the high compliment.

    Thank you for asking about the loom. I used a Backstrap Loom to weave various 1/2L props.

    Such as the skirt on this test clip of Rana

    --Maybe the card will show up somewhere, Corey. At least you got to see the little joke.

    --Hey, thanks Justin.


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