Monday, April 30, 2007

Giving Myself a Hand

Before going down with couch-time last Friday, I discovered that my small puppet for the black mermaid, Kyra, had the exact right size hands for the sculpt in progress for the half-crow woman, Tarn, character. I thought why not pull a cast of the hands in hot glue with wires inside and add them on the existing sculpt rather than to try making hands from scratch. Plus, this way two of film's character hands will look the same in style. (Plus plus, I dislike sculpting hands.) Stuck it on there, looks pretty good to me. Woo. Rock and Roll.

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE casting my plaster molds in hot glue?!!! These were Ultracal molds made over a decade ago for the Kyra character. I glued some floral wire into half the mold, filled both halves with high temp hot glue, smashed the mold halves together and waited about 2 minutes. Instapupp©, gotta love it. I trimmed the clear hand cast and of course, hot glued it onto the modeling clay sculpt in progress. For a quickie experiment it seems to work purty dern well. I can position the fingers and they hold. Fun not to have to sculpt these hands!

Sculpting the Invisible
Whilst on the couch I watched a Part One of classic poetic realism film, The Children of Paradise (1945). "Les Enfants du Paradis...undisputed grande dame of French cinema: majestic, imperious, and undiminished in its seductive allure."

I had never heard of it before and am so glad I have seen it now. It was lavish in budget and manned by director Marcel Carné and written by poet, Jacques Prévert, who have achieved the near impossible, creating an experience for the viewer of what isn't there, a contemplation of the nature of true love. It is available on Netflix as a two disk set and is well worth getting. From a review: "Notice the specific lighting that highlights portions of people's bodies, eyes, hair, and the sincerity that the acting embodies. Everything is in it for a reason, from the flowers to the moon. And if you love the theatre, the backstage sequences will knock your socks off. There are hundreds of people in a shot at a time, and each one of them is doing a specific thing. No movie will be made like this ever again. Choose your friends based on whether they like this film."
The brilliant performance of Jean-Louis Barrault as a pantomime is in each frame a work of art.

"...Blessed with the sort of convincing realism that can only result from a profusion of detail, atmosphere, and artifice, Children of Paradise succeeds in creating a self-contained, grandiose universe in miniature with deceptive ease."

The makers artfully use stage within stage, within stage motifs to superb effect.

Sample of what I learned from film scholar Brian Stonehill on disk one's commentary track:

• If your introduce a character by filming from his or her POV over their shoulder you can immediately begin to establish a sympathetic position for them with the audience.

• The blocking and the lighting specifically, are crafted to enhance the telling of the story more intimately.

• If you hold up a miniature chandelier in a theater set, in position, in camera, like a 3D matte painting--it works great!

• If you have a lot of entrances and exits in a scene you can design the set as a spilt level with stairs to add a great deal of drama and visual interest to an otherwise dialog-heavy sequence.

• During the era the film is set in, Paris of 1827, the poor would pay a few cents to sit in the topmost balconies of theaters, hence the name, "Children of Paradise" (or as they were referred to in England "Children of the Gods") and they would demand entertainment loudly from their perches. There were no movies, no television, no internet. Live theater was the public's only Visual Culture and they wanted it badly. I think the demand is the same today, just online now.

• French live theater traditionally begins with about six loud thumps on the floorboards back stage to herald the curtain's rising. We'll have to come up with some sort of new tradition for these little electronic theater pieces. Hmmm.

• If you announce a character with a specific sound, before he is seen, you can add to the character's symbolic metaphor. Like the sound of glass shattering as Tarn arrives, for example.

8 comments:

  1. nice post again.....cool tips and info!

    jriggity

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  2. Well you got me hooked; now I have to rent "Children of Paradise" and give it a try. Sounds very interesting.

    By the way, I rented the Doll Maker DVD you had posted as a "find of the day".

    I almost turned it off, the start is all about these people who lose a loved one and seem to be inconsolable. Not my cup of tea, but I hung in there and I am glad I did, Lisa Lichtenfels stuff is amazing, very life like. When she starts talking about the shaman series and how the dolls come alive and look back at her, I almost got chills - great stuff, and incredible work. Don't you just want to commission her for a puppet?

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  3. Hey, Mark, I think you may love it! Let me know.

    About the doll video, yeah, I should have said something about the nature of the documentary being a lot about the why of doll-making, what prompts humans to make them.

    But the Lisa Lichtenfels clips in it are pure gold, eh?!

    I GOT THE BLOOD FREEZING CHILLS TOO!! when she spoke about her amazing shaman figure looking back at her as she sewed the eyes!! Wooo.

    Paul says she probably just "exteriorized" her consciousness outside her body into the doll at that moment causing that very real experience for her but still, it altered the way she thought about her artistic process, so, that's great!

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  4. Nice Mold....

    but i'm a bit confused...

    have you finished the Kyra puppet from Glue?!, Pictures?

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  5. HI Ben, I made a few pulls of her face in glue, which was more difficult than the hands because of the deeper impressions in it. But it did work.

    The cured hot glue cuts really easily which is nice and it seems to take and hold plain arcylic paint very well.

    But I'm not REALLY thinking of puppet making from hot glue. I'm going to see if newer silicone mixtures are safe enough for me, or perhaps gel skin kits from make up artists, or perhaps even straight latex slush skins stuffed with fiberfill? Not sure yet.

    Although, the glue does seem to work, if you wanted to try it, it might be perfect for your guys.

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  6. so much info...how do you keep track of it all? i'm glad i don't have to.....i can just scroll through your past entries! thanks!!! shel

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  7. p.s. i want to touch a glue hand.

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