Monday, March 10, 2008

Stable as a Table

It's a new Day in Halfland as my husband Paul is now managing my schedule. I'm actually getting things done that I'd normally stress over for months yet never actually do. I'm very very good at being creative but doing things in reality, especially if discipline were required, has eluded me nearly in total. But no longer. All I do is say what I'm doing and he makes sure I'm doing the correct priority and staying on track when I get discouraged. Enormously valuable, priceless help. I have Paul to thank for his making my minutia his concern when he's already so busy and we have Sven and Gretchin to thank for introducing us to Twitteriffic, the beautiful Twitter 3rd party application that makes this new management so easy to do.

Saturday I was able to lay in the cardboard base for the entire main set. I couldn't believe how LARGE the set is and how small the cottage and tree now look. The scope of it caused me to question whether I am Richard Dryfus on steroids with this, not just making a giant mashed potato mountain but now the entire desert landscape around it too. I decided that I am not off my rocker and this is doable and will be an incredible film.

When I saw how much square footage would need papier mache-ing I enthusiastically thought of throwing a papier mache party here, inviting everyone I know in Los Angeles to come over and get messy lending a hand to finish it in short order. May still do that (let me know if you're interested) but at this point, I think I can do it fast enough on my own, will see.

I screwed thick cardboard box flats into the wooden set bases and then supported the cantelevered ends with free cardboard tubes from the factory next door. I am shocked at how strong and stable the set base is. It doesn't even wiggle when jiggled! This is going to work fine for building up the topography in paper, wire and plaster! That's me wearing extra sweaters on my frozen arm returning a cottage wall panel in place.

Character Progress

I've also discovered the joys of inDesign's table features. It allows me to create fast and easy tables of all kinds to better visualize the project's progress. Above is the current status of Halfland's characters. This table shows how many characters will be built, the order of their appearance in the film series, who has sketches made, armatures, sculptures, etc. all the way through to ready to shoot. Only two puppets are finished all the way at this point. But many others are underway and this charts their progress.

There's more to say, like how I realized this morning how to make an inchworm crawl up the paper roses on the trellis with micro magnets that I have. (going to have add a little worm to the chart now) and how there may be mini smiling lizards cast into the chandelier. I also discovered a paper-cutting folk art called Rimambelles (thanks to ULLA and Meggiecat!) that will now replace the puppets in the last scene. Now Jessica (Rose Red) will be cutting out the characters in paper, both as scene titles and under the final credits. Samples of that in the next post along with showing you the little Time Flies puppets in progress. I've got three foam clay sculpts made and am looking to find watch parts to add to them.

This is so fun, now back to other work... Wishing you every joy.


  1. "I've got three foam clay sculpts made and am looking to find watch parts to add to them."

    ...What's "foam clay"?

  2. Ack. Google is failing me for finding info on foam clay -- but I did find this intriguing Halflandish artist who seems to be using the stuff:

  3. Too Cool your Landscape is going to be Simply Stunning. Are you going to add any Garden Ornaments like Fairy Houses in the Landscape?

  4. @Ben! Hi thank you so much! There is a little house at the base of the tree for the writing Mouse as you may recall. But no other.

    There will be a clothsline strung in the back with quits drying on it in the breeze. The chicken painter will be of course near there painting (WHAT YOU PAINT FOR HIM!)

    The pink snail will lumber by at dusk. The time frog will catch a time fly. The Queen bee will fly in with her followers looking for a new place to set up house. The Birds in Hats with tussle above in the branches. Yanu will sit near the lanterns and keep an eye on things. So there's a lot going on out there!

    @Sven Hi!!! That is a Halfandian artist! A jaguar with wings! cool! The clay in question is something I splurged on in a local craft shop and threw away the bag. But it's lightweight, flexible when dry, paintable, and lighter than air. Sculpy makes a new Ultralight oven bake clay BUT this gear is air dry! woo!

    I found something like it here:

  5. Thar she blows; Call me Ishmael, that's a monster set!

    I think a lot of people who try to do these projects get caught in the same mindset, I know I do, of being overwhelmed by the 500 things that need to be done and then end up doing a little of each without finishing any of them. It's not a lack of discipline (not always *wink*) or lack of drive.

    Congrats on discovering and doing something about your need to have someone scheduling your efforts in putting the set together, and making puppets, and devising camera shots, and, etc, etc.

    Just remember to thank that person when you're finished ;)

  6. Now your talkin!!

    great to see a chart with GOALS on it. Shel helps me make these with almost everything in my life too now that I think about it!!Ha~!

    I LOVE SMASHING those Squares with big Fat X 's.....I had the same list for all the characters in our film. When I look at it now it seems like a different life...but it all happened.

    Goals are always MAJOR elements in moveing forward,....

    The set Is HUGE!! It looks great.

    You gota do some actual small anim tests on it to get a sence of how if feels.....and to entertain the masses.

    Keep it up.....your on the yellow brick road.


  7. awesome. i miss "notes on notes from halfland"! :)

  8. grant7:44 PM

    I stopped by your site...saw the pic...and immediately thought of CEOTTK and the Richard Dryfus character...and then you mention that in your post. 8-)

    Looking good!

  9. @Rich, Good point on the thanking part although I wouldn't know how to thank Paul for a fraction of what he does for me. I'm gifted with the best person on earth for me, as if I'm living with my guardian angel.

    I was listening to a radio show about the brain last night and they mentioned that often creative people can be greatly helped by having others help the APPLY their ideas. APPLIED CREATIVITY is the trick, see?

    @Justin, Now I'm rocking, today I finished the banks of the stream the whole way--awesome. And Paul suggested the water run from the back to the front asthe back was higher ground. A great idea as it will give me some super great shots of the mermaid popping up and swimming under from a longer distance! I'm so stoked about it now. Photos next post.

    I'll do some tests when I build to the ready to paint stage, after papier mache-ing the land a bit more. Then I'll cut it into pieces for animating and run some pupp tests for sure.

    I also plan to create more tables, one for finishing the set, etc. They really bring it all into focus.

    @gl, That's so cool, Paul was really touched to read that, Gretchin and said to say that he's re-invigorated and plans to get back into posting again this weekend! Yay!

    @Grant, I'd be totally insulted--except your right! There are many moments when I stare at what I'm making and wonder aloud whether it's absurd. It is totally mashed potato mountain around here!

    The only thing I can offer on it is that even though the more I do the more I feel AN URGENCY TO DO (painful!). I'm up for it, couldn't be more thrilled or having a better time as when I'm working on it. So, loopy or not, I love it.

  10. for watch parts you can look here: (somewhere in the page between halfway and the bottom)

    I bought from them previously and it's been a pleasant experiencem, but a warning: if you're anything like me you'll waste hours browsing their offerings :P

  11. Anonymous2:18 AM

    Hey, another burst of actually getting things done! Not the first, I've watched the house roof sprout shingles and the tree sprout leaves before (like magic to the faraway observer, but plain old hard slog at your end), so don't say you can't do it. But this time there are tables and big fat X's and some idea of what's done and what's left to do.

    I like the lay of the land around the tree. So easy to do flat landscapes because chipboard comes in flat sheets, but this will be so much more alive. Especially with the stream!

    Nice to see the Curly Star and the Lace Jellyfish joining the guest cast as well.
    Nick H

  12. @Enui, Good Lord, Woman! That site is a have of gotta haves! I'm both glad you thought to tip me off to it and worried that I'll be shopping too much! Seriously though, thank you for the great resource for stuff to make stuff with! woo.

    @Mr. Nick, Thank you thank you. Your words always bolster my strength to forge on. I always think about how you said that this was like a roman cathedral and estimated to take generations to finish! I am always looking for ways to expedite th process as a result, like the papier mache party idea.

    My hope is that with now having the support from Paul, that I'll be making regular bursts of progress. It doesn't feel sloggy at this point! Just thrilling fun. I'm sure the slog is coming, but I haven't found it yet. The most difficulty I've had so far was the inertia of not knowing how to do it all correctly.

    When I drop that and just do what I want... it's a total thrill to work on!

    As far as tables and charts, I plan to not only do more of them but also shot by shot story boarding to star blocking out the story visually.

    Thank you again for checking in. Did you see where your Quadropodes are now sentry on the undersea door?! Wow, how perfect they are. I started to move them at the end of my last test clip! They are wonders!

  13. Wow, awesome Shelley!!!! The set just keeps growing!!!

  14. Growin' like a Samoan! HI Mikeeeee! Gettcher email to werk?

  15. Nope, still isolated and in the dark here. Feelin' kinda lonely!

  16. Nick H7:37 PM

    You won't have got my email thanking you for the SMS moderating tutorial then. It worked!

    Yep Shelley, I saw one quadropode getting ready for his featured role! I knew him when he was just a background extra... Hope he can manage the door handle.

    Now I'm looking forward to seeing how the Time Flies come out - love the idea of watch parts!

  17. @Mike awwwwww. That's so unfair! Have you tried a WEB-based browser yet? I use Yahoo-mail as mentioned before. I can go to any computer with web access and retrieve and send personal email. If you're online at all.

    @Mr. Nick, Yeah I started to animate the sentries in my turntable test, just at the end--it was so FIN!! er, I mean FUN!! They'll use all there hands to get the door open...

    And thanks to Enui, that resource link she posted here had fantastic watch parts, all the little gear shapes, etc. that I wanted. I bought two tins full and they're on their way!

    You see, the Musca Tempora are representing the origin of time in the world. When they get eaten by the Time Frog in the puddle pond collected from the stream of _________. Must be consciousness I guess?

    There's so much that's mythical here.

  18. Hmmm.... I'll have to look into that.

    Hey, sorry to use your comments box as email, but I though our old friend Alejo would be interested in Marc Spess' contest, looking for a graphic logo for his site. Could you send this link on to his please?:

    Here's the text:

    " Logo Contest!
    Fri Mar-14-08 08:17 PM
    Hi Everyone,

    Were going to be launching a new version of We need a logo for the top and hope someone with lots of graphic design experience can help.

    The winner will get the master course we sell which has all our DVD's, CD's and e-books in one package. You can read about it here:

    We may or may not use anyone's design. It just depends on what we get, but if we do use it - the master course will be shipped out to the winner for free.

    Hope to see some logo's,


  19. Absolutely, Mike! Not a problem, I'll send it right away. I think you're right Ale would be perfect for that job!

    Mi blogg es su blogg, dude...

  20. What? Sue has a blog? Who's Sue? ;)

    Oh, sorry, lost it for a second! Hey I think you'd really dig Jessica Koppe's shiny new blog, especially her latest post:

  21. Done.

    And wow, yes, I love Jessica's animation blog, woot. Subscribed on the spot and will look at it further at my next opportunity.

    Rock on. See you tomorrow... in Halfland. (yes, I know it isn't a "real" place!)

  22. This is so exciting! The journey to this amazing film is amazing all in itself. I love watching your step-by-step progress. Congratulations!!

  23. Aww, Allison! Thank you so much! I love your support! I love reading your well-written stories and seeing your photos at your Flickr page. I read your last one days ago and am STILL thinking about it. Man, you're so GOOD!

  24. Hello. This post is likeable, and your blog is very interesting, congratulations :-). I will add in my blogroll =). If possible gives a last there on my blog, it is about the Wireless, I hope you enjoy. The address is A hug.

  25. Happy Easter Shelley!

  26. Anonymous2:29 PM

    Holy cow, you're going to have to start building outside if your set gets any bigger! This is a huge project, and it's really starting to get fleshed out! I like how you did the multi-level set, it's not just sitting on a flat table, but has all kinds of elevation points. That's something I want to tackle in an idea for a music video I have, but I'm not sure how to go about doing it. Would almost need a hill.

    Oh yeah, those armature pics will be up in the next day or so, gotta make a break for the Mac store today and test drive one of their Mini's!

  27. Anonymous2:40 PM

    Oh yeah, one bit of production gold:

    If you have to animate a set or camera move, and it needs to be precise, you can rely heavily on the Onion Skin feature and line up the edges for that oh-so critical smoothness you're after.

    Uh, try to ignore the content, I was just having fun.

    So, yeah.

    This is a HAND-HELD webcam, using nothing more than Onion skin for keeping everything in line. Actually, I don't even think I used Onion Skin for this, just the toggle flip. Onion skin works great for keeping track of camera moves, you might actually be better off holding the camera in your hand than locking it down in some instances. This clip was shot at 30fps.


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