Monday, May 12, 2008

Back to Drawing Board

UPDATE: My Team of Kindly Experts have weighed in... NO WAY! on the shelter solution. R u qwazy beeeotch!?

What a ride! Today I saw a very sturdy 10' x 10' garden gazebo in the hardware store for $199 bucks. That got me thinking. If I were to spend about $300 to construct something--and lugg up heavy panels, etc. why couldn't I spend $200 for something already designed and built, lighter weight and strong enough to be stable?

Hey, maybe I could even find one for less? Googled crazy and stumbled upon an amazing solution. It's a 15' x 15' geodesic dome nylon shelter for, well under $100. THANK YOU SRI LANKA!

I'd need to construct stilts extensions under the legs to have its roof reach to the max ceiling height but that I can handle.

I'd still need to backdrop the interior with a painted surface, maybe actually painting the nylon? and I'd also like to scrim that surface with painted stretch nylon, as shown in the lower right photo in yesterday's post.

My only bum out over this idea, is how much it closes down the environment. I love the expansive feel of how the set looks in the giant space of the shop. Ah, but all that chaos must be covered so...

If I don't hear a disparaging word from you clever readers, I'm buying one of these doggies tomorrow! NIGHT!


  1. Would that be large enough to cover your set?

    You might be able to remove the front legs and instead support the front from chains on the ceiling.

    You could leave the rear legs and use them to support your backdrop. That might still open it up a little bit and make it easier to move your camera around.

  2. Great idea, Mark. And the best I can say is the the shelter is literally 15' across which is the size of the set too. I may have to put holes down in the set in spots and have the land edges oooze out the sides but they can be erased out, frame by frame like rigging. uuugh.

    Hey, maybe this shelter will help with rigging supports too.

    Now lighting... I guess I'd just aim it on in from the front along with the practical lights on the set itself. And/or I could hide key lights up in it where they'll be hidden from sight.

    Welp, better get it and see what's what. Even if I just use it for the bones, it'll be worth it.

  3. The tent shelter solution worries me alot, Shells. The name of the game in stopmo is to make things rigid... I have serious doubt that the tent will deliver.

    Consequence: Folds in the fabric (not to mention the under-structure of the tent!) make it very difficult to light.

    Painting on nylon? I wouldn't. The reason the tent is made out of that stuff is so that it will repel water. Seems to me it'll do the same with most paints.

    But hey... If you have the ability to return it once you buy it, then absolutely give it a try and prove me wrong.

    Just be sure to keep your receipt!

  4. Oh! Just re-read Mark's comment and had a flash of insight... You're already willing to put hooks in the ceiling... You should totally have rigid *hanging* flats and a suspended ceiling!

    I was telling you about 8'x4' pieces of MDF / masonite... Well, just put a little bit of structure on the back to keep them from warping (just like you would with a painting canvas), add some hooks to the top, and heft them up into the air with rope!

    You can put them side by side and hide the seams with carefully applied butcher-paper and wheat-paste... And when you need a shot where you're looking up at a steep angle, you could potentially just pull on the ropes and lift the flats up higher!

    Hanging panels that form a suspended ceiling wouldn't be very hard, either. Just make a regular vertical hanging panel, then attach a few eye-bolts to the bottom and heft the bottom upward until the flats are horizontal!

    Big benefit: The work of getting the flats vertical is done for you by gravity -- you don't have to have struts on the floor keeping things upright and getting in your way.

    Sven's cost estimate: Possibly less than $200!

    Another big benefit: Rigid panels would be a joy to paint. You could easily use a paint roller to put in the big swaths of color.

    ...And when you're done with the panels? They're nice and flat -- they can be set aside for storage by leaning them up against a wall. :D

    Oh... I so think this is the way to go, Shells... I can see in my mind the blueprints... And it's so simple, I think you could shop, construct, and hang over the space of 3-4 days, no prob.

    If I've managed to talk you into it, I'd be happy to draw up a quick diagram, a parts list, and walk through a few details I can foresee coming up...

  5. I agree with Sven.... the idea of the tent thing gives me the heebie-jeebies too. You said it's the same basic size as the set.... that would make it too small. You want your background to be a ways back... give yourself room to walk around the set inside of it. Some distance also helps to keep shadows from trees/etc off the background.

    I don't know of any paint that will stick to nylon.... I used to make airbrushed T-shirts, and they had to contain at least 50% cotton.... synthetic materials won't hold paint.

    Are you dead set on needing to shoot upward toward the sky? Man, you don't believe in doing ANYTHING the simple way, do ya??!!?!? I'f you need a background that wraps around to also become sky, that's going to make it a lot harder to attach rigging I think (for puppets). You'd probably need to drill some holes into it and then when you're shooting upwards plug them with matching plasticene - or maybe have the horizontal partitions removable, so when you're shooting upward they can be there, but most of the time not. Then when you're shooting upward you'd need to find some way to rig puppets from behind or beneath or something.

  6. not going to be big enough or solid enough for your set....


  7. FANTASTIC! Thank you Team Halfland, my talented and valued team of experts...

    Let me axe you this...

    Instead of rectangular masonite panels can I use cardboard so that I can cut them into wedges to create a dome shape at the apex?

    Yes, PLEASE, Sven a quick diagram would be hugely helpful, as long as making it won't eat into your project schedule.


  8. Anonymous2:28 AM

    I turn my back for a couple of days and all this is happening! You smokin' Shel!
    Some thoughts... You can't stretch fabric around an internal curve - it just wants to cut the corners - so you'll need curved panels between wall and ceiling, like light ply, and paint the sky directly on them.
    A bit tricky to light the curve, but that should let you point partly up at the ceiling. I would avoid shooting into the corner, where 2 walls and the ceiling meet, that's just too hard.

    Here's another thought - some cotton clouds, hanging on fishing line from the ceiling, strategically placed to hide anything ugly that don't belong in the sky like lights or seams in the panels.
    Mike's right, backdrop has to be bigger the further away it is.

    I've done a few outdoor scenes, and never needed to shoot up at the ceiling. I can look slightly up, with my backcloth going right to the ceiling. If I need a low angle looking up at a character, with the sky above his head, I cheat - I lean him at 45 degrees away from camera, with my sky on the wall behind, and it looks as though I'm pointing up. But I'm not! (I've even tilted my entire set, but with your mega-landscape that ain't gonna happen.) But I figure keep it simple and shoot the angles you can. I'm not keen on the tent thing.

    With digital compositing you can allow a light fitting to come into the shot if your camera is static, and you don't have a moving puppet pass in front of it. I had to extend my sky for a couple of shots - a digital matte painting with a soft edge for blending, done in Photoshop and laid over the light hanging into the shot, fixed that. I wouldn't have dared in the film days, but with DSLR camera you can test it before animating the whole shot.

  9. Oh thank you for weighing in, Mr. Nick!

    I won't can't argue with any of you as I haven't made a film yet.

    I don't follow some of what you said, but I'm sure it'll all come clear once I actually try to light, rig puppets, and shoot!

    The only thing I can ask you is whether all-way stretch fabric can handle an internal curve if it stitched onto a curve rod substrate?


    Maybe I should go back to my ORIGINAL plan which was to build a rolling curved wall with an opaque backdrop screened with a sheer all stretch nylon scrim--both painted as cyclorama.

    It would always face opposite the camera as far back as needed, and curve over the set halfway, enough to get some over head through the leaves on wide shots.

    I thought it was too much trouble to build it but now it seems the easiest?

  10. Hey Shel, I bought an A@@ load of Chroma Key material thinking to do the same sort of thing as the green screen studio below. Unfortunately even the smallest folds or variations in light can really reduce the effectiveness of the ChromaKey when you're shooting with standard definition digital. Betacam and HD works much better.

    You could also go for a LumaKey, which is a lot more forgiving, and have bright white backlit sheeting or something like that.

    Although, I would have thought that a hand-crafted painted backdrop would be more HalfLand style.

  11. Anonymous10:54 PM

    I agree, hand painted!
    The simplest might be a flat sky painting that you can raise up and tilt so it's facing the camera, if you do a shot looking up. No curves. Something like a pair of French Braces to support it maybe.
    When shooting horizontally (normal type shot) just take it away and use your regular backdrop.

    But maybe you really really want to extend your backdrop onto the ceiling with a curve.

    Stretch fabric, supported by a curved rod from wall to ceiling at each end, will tend to flatten out in the middle. It will want to lift away from the wall and ceiling and find a straight line between the ends of the curve.

    Get a stocking or one leg of a pantyhose, and stretch it over 2 plates. move the plates apart, trying to make the stocking form a long cylinder. Watch what shape you get - it goes thin in the middle, flaring out like a trumpet as it approaches each plate. Imagine 1/4 of that circle, in a bigger scale, as your curved piece, only you're seeing it from the inside. (I didn't figure this out, I remember a bit of touring stage set, a round dais with stretch fabric around the outside, that curved in like this.)

    Suppose you had a whole row of 1/4 circle rods running right along, and the stretch fabric stitched to all of them? I think it would still curve in between each pair of rods, so it would have a series of ridges. And much more work than just bending some 3mm ply.

  12. OMG, I love your Stream, I loved seeing Rana going *Invisible* Pond Dipping, Do you think she is looking for Time Flies?
    Are you going to put plants like Poppies and Foxgloves around there because that would be beautiful. Have you seen Anne Hathways Cottage (William Shakespeares Mum) House it has a lovely Cottage Feel, Tell us about the Growth around the Stream and the Dressing, Please!, Is rana going to have a Veg Patch that would be fun!


  13. Mr. Nick, I've been digesting what you've said and think I have a solution, working on a model of it now. I'd appreciate so much your taking a look and giving your seasoned sense of it!

    Ben! How nice to have your enthusiasm back here again! So energizing.

    Here's the scoop on the landscape, it'll be pretty much like the sketch here

    Rana has a vegetable garden but you can't see it in the first film series as it's just over the hill from the cottage. But she has many lovely vegetables from her garden freshly picked sitting on the big wooden table in her cottage.

    Fairie flowers like Poppies and Foxgloves may appear but the only flowers I know for sure will play a big role will be the trellised roses against the window. They will grow half-outside and in and many Halfland critters will enjoy them; the 1/4 inch worm, the Queen Bee, and the Handicapped Butterflies all.

    Hmmm, Rana seeking a Time Fly... That's not bad!

  14. Ha! Love the new 'tar! That dude has a bigger hammer than Ahab does!!!

  15. heee. We just gotta keep banging away at it, doan 'we!?

  16. Yup.... else it starts growing out of control... hey, good avatar really! It's like playing Whack-a-mole... you just keep hammering away at problems, new ones pop up, and you have to smash 'em before they get too big.


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