Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Just by varying the lighting a bit, it's possible to alter the skyscape dramatically. For rain clouds, backlight, for sunset, blush pink gel on key light, soft daytime, light the far backdrop with a diffuser and hit the front too, and night time's moon glows just right thanks to a spot on the far back with no front.

I'm still working to install the sky backdrop, however, I wanted to give an update on the successful cloud scrim test made today.

I'm on a Halfland Retreat and haven't left the house for days, heavenly. And I only had on hand a small swatch of clear plastic drop cloth to try out my concept for an "infinity" backdrop effect.

I found it much easier to paint on the plastic than I thought it would be, especially after I got the knack for doing it after spilling half HA! the jar of precious Phatho blue paint on the floor last week. I found that wiping it up with a wash cloth left the most perfect transparent layer of blue tint! But I digress.

I sponged on white house paint and painted over with matte medium then tinted the scrim casually with a pale hint of blue. Not knowing how it would look I touched up any blank areas with additional white, etc. I might ultimately go more translucent on the clouds on the final scrims. But I was completely stoked and thrilled with the effect, even with this quick test.

The concept gelled as soon as I got the idea to DOUBLE the plastic scrim to further blur the flaws and offer myself much more in the way of animation of the clouds and changing the time of day.

I plan to buy a couple of large 20' x 30' clear plastic drops and light weight connectable tubing track to string them on, install ceiling and floor, with a pull string attached to advance the scrim every so often, thus moving the clouds slowly during the filming. natural and yet hand-painted. Perfectly what I was hoping for. I'm dropping the idea of buying a stage scrim this is working so well for a 10th of the cost.

I'm surprised and thrilled with these results.

Now, if I could only get the far backdrops up properly!


  1. Don't you just love those happy accidents, spilling the paint and wiping it up for the perfect look.

    The clear plastic sheeting idea is brilliant, it is adding so much depth to your scene with just the right amount of out of focus dream quality goodness.

    As for the different lighting effects you are getting... Ooh La La!

  2. Shelley, I thought those pics at the top of the sky were real! Lik refrences or something, they look great! I've got to make a backdrop for my outside sets, but I'll be going much simpler. Well done!!

  3. pretty! (esp. the moonlight...)

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    As I looked at it again this morning, I got even more jazzed about it!

    ok, onto the far backs....


  5. Just when I thought Halfland couldn't get any bigger...

    Soon Halfland fully took over Shelley and Paul's apartment, from the front door to the back kitchen. They were like two giants moving through the landscape -- with their equally colossal cats.

    The goat woman waved hello, the mouse in its little house sniffed in agitation and then continued writing its bold treatise.

    When Sophie arrived, she was astonished by the new view from the studio's windows... Not the LA neighborhood she remembered -- instead the gentle lapping of ocean waves in the distance.

    Downstairs Clare knocks, returning a small stack of hats that a flock of chatty birds have absent-mindedly deposited amongst his paint cans.

    Truth-be-told, the entire city is slowly fading into mist...


    ...Dear Ms. Noble, what have you unleashed?!?

  6. Wow, Sven! You are waxing poetical! Tell me about it! Living here has been like being an eel in jumbo tank. They grow to fit the space provided, you know!

    I've had to grow in my mind and gut to where the set, as huge as it is, became manageable and no big deal. This adjustment takes place slowly as I work on and with it. It's very um, e x p a n ding.


  7. Nick H9:03 PM

    Like your Macro Obscura experiments, this semi-transparent plastic layer is adding a half-seen quality to the look of Halfland. It wil take some tweaking to find out how far to go, but I think it's gonna work!

  8. Thank you, Mr. Nick. I'm really very excited about it.

    It's way in the back,behind the focal action, the atmosphere with be highly stylized and obscured. The visual depth that the sky layers provide isn't likely to make a difference. But I'm loving so much more than flat board.

  9. VERY COOL !



  10. When I consider that most of the time these elements will generally be outside the focal length of the camera, they become even more remarkable. Their addition to the patina of Halfland will be well worth the effort.

    Keep it up Shel!

  11. Bloody hell Shelley, those skies are amazing! Bravo!!! :)

  12. (^ ok I HAD to pipe up on this one line:
    >When I consider that most of the time these elements will generally be outside the focal length of the camera, they become even more remarkable.
    (^ bam. and there it is.
    (^ the reason I ran away from film makers.

    (^ i'm more of a netsuke sculptor:
    and couldn't STAND being told " no time no time. make only the side for camers. we're not paying you to be a toy designer. just make the commersial."
    (^...grrrr. I want to hold the dern thing in my hands after the shoot's fiinished, and am told that would be considered theft and then have suppervisers stand over me to visually check to make sure I throw everything in the insinerator: espECially any work I did.
    (^ no portfolio sots either. breach of contract.

    (^ sigh. remember, shelly. anything is available for camera shoots for the post production moc up of pre production .
    off camera "behind the scenes"..
    behind the stages.. now all you need is a venture capitalist to out and out purchace the building you're in to make it into a museum for when the mix of your neiborhood changes over to condo construction after chasing whatever indegent life left in the area off and away.

    (^ sheash that was harsh.
    (^ how's the SOUND PROOFING in that space by the way?

  13. @Rima I now live to get that kind of reaction from the likes of you! Thank you for the thrill.

    @Prosser, I hear you. Sorry the industry left such a bitter taste in your eatz hole arena.

    That's why I'm bypassing the whole working-my-art-for-someone-else deal. Number one, I never went to art college, never had any connections, in the industry, never had the ball break that way. When I did know great people in NY, I didn't want the near-art jobs. I wanted to work on my own stuff.

    Now, when someone is an artist and they have to support a family, all bets are off, work is work. Some happiness in life gets sacrificed to provide for kids. I don't have and won't ever have any, leaving me relatively free to indulge my selfish pleasures.

    I just turned 46 last week. At this age I would rather get down to what I would ultimately want to do after years of paying my dues working for production companies. At this age, the ULTIMATES have to be done NOW. This is it. My ultimates.

    You bring up a meaty subject with this. A big part of Halfland is the idea that one's art can be made on one's own without any financing, funding, grants, or big budgets. I'm after the concept that our art can be made with whatever we have available to us. Like the African making fantastic sculptures out of tin rubbish.

    Here she goes again...
    Leni Refeinstahl, an incredibly gifted artist filmmaker in the 30's, said in her memoir that she was never allowed to make another film after the war (she was blamed for Hitler's rise to power by making powerfully inspiring films of him).

    I like to imagine that if Leni were alive today, with today's digital cameras, editing, and computers, she would have been able to make what she pleased withOUT a studio or a producer other than herself.

    I believe we need no one but ourselves for what we need to do.

    Although, I say that and believe that while being aware that this giant space to work in and the food I eat are only possible due to my husband Paul and the goodwill of his relationship he'd built with our landlord.

    I guess my point is that if I had a safe place to live, food to eat, etc. handled, after that I believe my art should be made with my own resources.

    Total Freedom.

  14. hi Shelley,

    Wow, your blog is awesome too! That's cute about the pthalo blue spill incident. Don't you love the happy accidents!

    I just read your comment above, too... now I'm even more impressed. We all face these same issues as artists I guess; for me too it was a matter of time before I said alright, I just have to DO IT NOW!

    Your skies are gorgeous, BTW.



  15. (^ thanks for the bittersweet words on my gripy crankiness:

    (^At this age, the ULTIMATE BLUE(s)
    (^ is more a dodge than really consistant backdrop to my life.

    (^ like a land FULL of HALF empty spiritual hosts singing partial snippits of the hallelujah chorus line, my work is dung now.

    : innERRt voice spits>:
    ((^ ..prosser? wtf?!
    ((^ are eWE swayin'
    ((^ everythin' ye ever made
    ((^ during yer life don't mean
    ((^ SHHhIFt? "^))

    prosser:confuzzled: replies:
    (^ hmmn? ahh. knOWE.
    (^ (^ I meander
    (^ everthing DOES mean COMPOST.

    (^..shiFt like that blue tint warshed over plastic.
    (^ now all ye'd need a stretch of milar sheeting BEHIND it all to reverse the light bopunce.

    (^ one way mirror plastic that goes darkish clear unlit: goes greybounce reflect on the flashpop.

    (^ krikers I'm spewing alterrall TARtape altEARredGreen BlewMeAways.

    (^.. heh. I really need be off finding sound files off sorrygottogo.com

    (^ or reconfig my spell checker.

  16. you go. I need head down the street and do some stucco treatment to a wall in my neck of the woods. 9 got permission to do it by the home owner whenever I need to unplug from the electronic feedback) ..nice guy, that old retired mason/carpnter/building contractor.
    (^ just as a reminder: THAT"S my main focus.
    (^ all the rest are hobbies.

    (^ this is my gift, shelly. watch that youtube any time you get discouraged, mmmK?

  17. That's my dream house! But even besides that what a great project..hope it catches on, we need stuff like that!

  18. Gorgeous video, Prosser...!

  19. WOW, Shelley! You are an inspiration to all of us hunkering down in our sweaty basements tinkering, replacing broken lights, bulbs, getting clay on our hands, elbows, shirts, hair... All for the sake of MAKING something. I salute you and kneel humbly at your mantle. You are making a world any one of us would love to live in.

  20. And that SUN... Dang, you're operating on Suzie Templeton's wavelength! I really believe what I'm seeing. It reminds me of a ride at Universal Studios I went through as a kid. I looked up, and there was NIGHT SKY! Not just flat-painted blue ceilings, but a glowing iridescent night sky with twinkling stars.

    I experienced that same feeling of awe while visiting the production of Coraline. Well, here it comes again, just marveling at your sky. FANTASTICAL!

  21. Welcome! Stephanie, and thank you for the compliment of your attention.

    @Prosser, that video gift was indeed quite a gift, thank you! That's precisely the life I would dearly dearly love. Dan Phillips' approach is a winner all the way. Man, just the idea of a well built, creative, beautiful home without a mortgage revolutionizes everything.

    Duly noted. Thank you again.

    And I can tell Melvyn and Sven are grooving on it too!

    @Pram you are so kind to say those things! I know that everything is completely relative to something else and that we all have to make our stuff.

    That's what I tell myself when I see someone like Stephanie (above). She's as meticulous and detailed as my ubertalented friend Hila Rosenberg Araz in Israel and as artistic as the Brother's Quay. Check her out for some wow.

    We all gotta do our ultimate thing now.


  22. Woo Hoo, we received our wonderful basket of goodies. Mooncar was stoked! I, well, I started planning Monster puppets immediately :)

    Thanks Shel!

  23. yaya yaya yaya! yay. So glad, thanks for letting me know. I hope you both have fun making stuff with the stuff. And thank you again for the tripod head!



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