Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Day 7: Ground Work

A basic pre-viz sketch of the grounds-arounds Rana's Cottage. Creating this helped tremendously with seeing what I'm going for out of cardboard. Now I know how to build the land between the front porch level and the bottom of the creek bed. (see photo below)

I've been making sure to take an actual physical step on building the set each day. Many of the steps were too dull, such as taping paper down on the floor, to document in a post so I just noted them in the Twitter window on the scroll, at right.

Here's the thing, I found out last year that the only progress I made on actually building the set came from doing something each and everyday. I think, and formulate, and create the project in my head constantly, but building it? Funny, that seems to take actually doing it. Most nights over the last week I was too tired to comfortably do anything but I pushed, at least enough to do SOME thing. It wasn't "fun" per se, NOT AS FUN AS THINKING ABOUT STUFF IS, but making progress gets me C-l-o-ser to working on the hyper-fun parts of it. And friends, the fun stuff is like Crack.

So, so far I've roughed in the stream bed out of cardboard propped up on empty boxes. Next will come cardboard flats held up by tubes support legs. Once the landscape is completely roughed in this way, the next step will be to begin the build up of land topography with clumps of newspaper and masking tape which will then be hardened with layers of paper and plaster mache.

It doesn't look like a week's worth of work but the building materials are organized and the stream is taking shape. And one thing's for certain... this stage would not be done today if I hadn't inched my way towards it each day.


  1. Wow, this looks so exciting, even if the little steps aren't!

  2. Awww! Thanks for that boost, Jessica Marie!

    Hey-- did you pick out my supervisor in the background on the right in the photo under the table lamp? Hee.

  3. Today I received a tiny holiday vignette frozen in a little glass so that I might always possess the possibility of having whatever I could wish. My partner, Mooncar, is a ginormous Xmas fan and will love and treasure it and love it some more... as will I!

    Unfortunately Australian Customs thought it was a bottle of illegal drugs and delayed it's arrival by opening it :)

    The pre-viz is great... the cardboard, well, it's cardboard but it's gonna be great.

  4. Aww! Thanks, Rich! Hey, you got a way with words! I'm dee-lighted that Mooncar will treasure the Whimsey in life! Any partner who is so joyful has got to be a blast!

    Hey, at least it got there at all.. The one I sent to my brother-in-law arrived to the UK in smithereens!! Thankfully no one was hurt! So not Christmassy.

    yeah, the cardboard is going to be way great, thanks!

    How's your head?

  5. Now thats some inspiration ta CHEW ON......great work!!

    your going about it perfectly Herself! One step a day is a MAJOR accomplishment!



  6. Gerald! You good doggie, what are you doing over here!? Thanks, J.

    I compare myself to your awesome work progress--you know--how your step-a-day is like an army's worth of progress. But then again you are built like a Viking warrior with all the strength, youth, and self-determination to plow through all nighters and still function the next day.

    Everyone's got their physical limits to contend with and we all have to make the most of what we have to work with.

    What feels really good now is when I plow on the best I can and have moments of helplessness/overwhelm about trying to make this film on my own, I shake that thought off and go ahead and do the next task MY WAY and the fun of it all clicks in again fast.

  7. Thanks Herself.

    Your Project is HUGE ...I would imagine it takes a ton of smalls to make a dent....BUT its all there and its happening bueatifully before our eyes.

    ....from the out side they look like pretty impressive steps to the rest of us.

    I tell my kids all the time.....Were all different animals...I would never expect a BEAR to FLY....or a FISH to RUN.

    as long as your wigglein !!

    Thats the REAL


  8. Wow. That is PERFECT! What a fantastic Papa you are, Justin! Thanks for letting me borrow a little of that support over here, it really makes a difference!

    I'll keep wigglein it! xoxo

  9. The head is looking forward to the scalpels... Stupid, annoying head!

  10. Ok, whoa. If your good dear head is ready--go get'em, Rich! Good luck with it and be sure to let us know when you're in recovery mode. (Or at least as soon as you are comfortable.)

  11. what is the cobble-stone-like paper beneath everything? is that part of the film?

  12. I know we've talked about this before -- but the farther you build the set out, the more anxious I get about actually animating on it.

    If the land goes all the way out to the stream, how the heck are you going to get under the set to use tie-downs?

    Even at this point, tie-downs are probably out of the question... Which I suppose means that you'll need to use rigging. It will be much more difficult to make the puppets' feet look like they're firmly planted on the ground.

    I strongly suggest doing some serious play-testing in the set with mock-up puppets -- to figure out how you're going to build rigging points into them -- before you make final versions of Rana, Urhu, etc.

    Cheering you on...

  13. hi gl! nope, the paper is taped down just to catch messy spills. I like having paper down under stuff so i can swap it out for fresh when it gets mucked up. A habit from shops I've worked in.

    Hi Sven! thanks for the concerns. quick rundown:
    #1. The entire set comes apart in pieces thanks to it being carboard/paper based. I can cut it into fitted shapes in order to allow access to any part for getting to tiedowns easily.
    #2. I'll be using a variety of methods for rigging, some over head, some tiedowns, some a combo for weight illusion where needed, etc.

    #3. I'm not caring any longer about straight animation styles, ie; smooth, life-like action. I'm interested now in making 1/2L's look being more distorted and artistic (or is that autistic?) In any case, my hope now is that the animation style match the lyrical nature of the subject.

    Partly due to my complete inability to be proficient in puppet performance and partly being philosophically true to the project's ethos of doing it how I want rather than right!

  14. I very much like the idea of distorted or artistic animation. It sounds like it will have a surreal or dreamlike quality that way.
    Very scary in your twitter the whole bullet thing - hope all is ok.

  15. YES! Exactly, Rachael DiRenna, artist in residence.

    I'll be experimenting with thick grungy old lenses and shadowy corner effects to make 1/2L look as though it were seen via an old spyglass.

    The whole film is a visit to another land by the viewer and is meant to be quasi-dream-like as a result.

    Thank you for the concern about the bullet hole. Paul found another hole by that bullet across the house, I'll put the pictures up, it's wild.

    I see from looking at the high res photo of the shop the other day, taken on the 7th that the hole WAS THERE!!! We are now assuming the shot was a total impersonal random thing, perhaps even as far back as new years eve when folks really shoot a ton of bullets into the air. Dunno.

  16. Halfland is so lovely, Your sketches are cool too. Halfland is taking shape and under the sentry of Halflands beaming eye (kitty under lamp! Meow)

    I added you on bloglines, such a time saver! and I can see lots of inspiration at the click of a button(65 feeds sofar), Add me too, You know where to find me!

    PS. I cant believe your bro-in-laws bottle whimsy was smashed!, No laughing matter. I'm glad mine came Ok and its now in my lil Curio in da basement studio!, I'll try to take a pic soon and post it!


  17. Oh Hi, Ben! You are for sure in my bloglines line up! Anytime you post--whoopmp--I'm there like a cat!

    Thanks, Mate!

  18. Love seeing your 'partner in crime' sitting in the glowing 'moonlight' there in the background! What a space Shelley! And honestly, every time I come and visit here, I am more amazed at what you accomplish!!! Bravo Girl!

  19. Wow, Ulla! Thank you! Really?! It agonizingly slow from this end! USUALLY an army of people makes a film like this! Yikes!

    The space is a total luxury for me, that photo only shows half! HA! Not many people would appreciate the place as it's very, um, rough shall we say? Most people coming in here would feel sorry we were so "poor". But artists know the truth...

  20. I saw this on the web today and thought of Halfland.

  21. Nick H7:04 PM

    Thanks for the cool Xmas Card in a Bottle Shelley! First time I've seen a tree in a bottle... looks like I can't quite match your ability to work at very small scale.
    Progess report:
    The 2 Quadropus puppets are now made, but waiting for eyeballs to be painted.

    Best way I've found for animator access to puppets on a large landscape set is to have undulating hills and valleys, where there is actually a gap in the valley that the camera can't see. They don't have to be deep valleys. Even 2 or 3 flat sections, tilted up very slightly at the back so the cover the front edge of the next section and a few shapes along the back to break up the straight line, will hide gaps big enough to walk through. Better still is a set that is S-shaped in plan view, with access from the far right and near left. That way some continuous ground can be seen, but some has rocks or trees that hides the ground that isn't there.
    - Nick

  22. @Rich OmagawdOmagawdOmagawd!!!! I LOVE THIS IMAGE< Rich!! Thank you so much for sending it! WOW WOW WOW! The next post talks about a book I found that tells how to make realistic landscapes from photos. This idea got me hyper jazzed but now this image!? forgedabout it! It's so going in!! Thank you!

    @Nick H WOW WOW WOW Wow! Halfland gets two quadropi from the great Mr. H!? Holy cow! So exciting!! Can't wait. I'm about to post an incredible Ted Talks vid showing an octopus blending with algae to a degree that takes the breath away--a MUST SEE!! THey show it in reverse in slow mo and your brain will STILL not believe what you see.

    Maybe there's an idea for your creations in there!?


  23. Nick H11:51 PM


  24. OmagawdOmagawdOmagawdOmagawd!!! Did you see it peeople! (I'll post it later today as it fits in perfectly with an undersea clip that must be seen and still won't be believed!)

    Mr. Nick!!!! You have made the most delicious perfect little Quadropusses for Halfland, thank you thank you! I lOVE them so much. I love that they are half things by having only four tentacles yet whole things as they look like classic Nick Hilligoss creation!

    It's like Christmas for me this morning! What a rush! Thank you!

  25. Nick beat me to the punch!

    Both Gretchin and I have created our contributions for Halfland's underwater sequence.

    I'll let gl. tell... She's putting together a blog post for tonight. I've written up a second post which just talks about the "making-of" of the pup I did; that'll go online tomorrow.

    To quote Doc Frankenfurter, "Antici....."


    This is such stupendous FUN FUN FUN!!

    Can't WAIT! ACK!

  27. "...pation!"


  28. Shelley-
    This is going to be SO COOL! I cannot wait to see the finished film.

  29. Ack!! Scarlet Star Studios delivers in a big way! Love the pupps peeps! See them already added into the slide show at right!

    You are all rocking my world!

    Thanks for rooting Ryan!


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