Friday, October 24, 2008

'Xcuse Me While I Kiss This

It was worth it. I had to marathon without booting up to get it done. I had to get to a violent level of ambition to make it work. But done I must now declare the Noble Design Infinity Sky backdrop to be.

Hey, Here's an idea... Why don't I build a HUGE tree for my stop motion set?! Wow, that took every bit of grit I had to do. Well, better build a suitable landscape around it so it has a setting, ooooo, wow, wasn't expecting that to take more work than the tree, well, this is the only big set of the film, so. Hey, better go ahead and put the sky backdrop behind the set so I can see where to put the distant hills to finish the set... um, whoah, THAT WAS WAY MORE WORK than all the rest put together! --What next--I'm afeered to axe.

I heard the new Charlie Kaufman film involves an artist (hilariously) building a life-sized replica of New York in a sound stage, hiring 1,000's of extras to act as population, as he rehearses his actors in a play for decades. How, one might ask philosophically, is that art different from someone living a "real" life. I see a slight connection to that concept in my building a total world called, Halfland. How about in your art?

Small portion of the 25' x 20' dropcloth being rubbed with a thin tint layer of acrylic phthalo blue; I got my cloud mojo working by making 4 small strip paintings on scrap wood before beginning the set's sky. Making them, I discovered a new technique of building up the layers of color with exquisite pigment pastel powder burnished with sticky wax, layer upon layer in each painting; A lone painted cloud on the middle layer of the sky's "cloud curtain"; The Infinity Sky set up seen from the side view (lower left), painted cardboard far background, cloud curtain on clear plastic drop cloth, blue tinted drop cloth pulled taut and supported by pvc conduit and small bungee cords; The dry tinted sky awaits being installed in front of the cloud curtain layer (center bottom); The conduct supports were installed into the floor via plumbing flanges and fitted rod reinforced bamboo segments; Looking through the clear curtain back towards the set as a cloud begins to form (middle right) painted in situ; The gloved 10' pole acted as an extra hand as I struggled to begin hanging the sky layer by myself, not easy to do.

It looks exactly as I'd hoped. I had to keep working the sky layer until it was smooth as a drum, which it is for 2/3's of it. The remaining third needs additional bungee magic to be further tightened up. Plus, there's a pvc support running across the 2/3's point. I am resigned at this point to facing a post production rub out of the support and any sags that show on the few wide shots in the film. Of course, how the set will be lit will make a vast difference. In the main, this sky set up is giving me what I wanted in spades already.

Some things turned out better than I thought. This is the sky shot straight up from inside the cottage. I had no idea the Infinity Sky would allow me to get these angles. This means I can show the Mothman character up in the tree's branches, as well as the bickering little Birds in Hats.

Up next: Get ready! The beautiful Foliage goes on!


  1. Yea! It works, your sky is muy fabuloso!

    Violent ambition - If you could only bottle it and sell it.

    Looks great Shelley!

  2. Thanks, Mark! Christmas stuff coming to you after the jump of Halloween... can't wait!

    "Violent Ambition" a new fragrance by Hubigon Mersacé. I can see the ad now, Mark!

  3. YAY! Go Shelley, I'm almost relieved you've got this done, but it looks fabulous. I want to live there ;)

  4. Oh and the fish will be sent out in a few days!

  5. Anonymous8:33 AM

    That looks great! Congratulations!! I knew you could do it.


  6. Anonymous10:03 AM

    HOLY !@#$#!$^&&*(^&$^%#@@$$T!!!! THAT LOOKS ASOME!!!!!!

  7. hooray! i'm glad you're happy, shelley. i'm amazed at how you're able to push through the most daunting projects.

    mefull: violent ambition? isn't there a hair color called that? or nail polish? :)

  8. Anonymous7:08 PM

    Your sky solution looks incredible! Great work Shelley!

  9. Thanks, Seamus! Saying that you want to live in Halfland is EXACTLY my fondest hope for the project. You've paid me the highest compliment possible. Thank you! Can't wait to see this fish! YAY!

    Yuji, you knew I could do it?!--Next time tell me! cuz I sure didn't! :)

    Melvyn, thank you for saying "HOLY !@#$#!$^&&*(^&$^%#@@$$T!!!!" because that's the reaction I have too! I'm loving how it looks now!

    Thanks, Gretchins, no one is more surprised at the tenacity on this project than myself! I have never been the type to be disciplined or to persist before. I'm completely into it.

    Thanks, Grant! When can you show us your latest stop motion film, VITRVVIVS?!

  10. Shelly your set is breathtaking! I love it! I have been so bogged down with work and such that I just have to go back and read the threads on what you did to create such a wonderful sky.

    *sits back in awe of what you've accomplished*

  11. Aww, thanks so much, Chris! All I can say is "whew". Onward! How are your projects coming along?!

  12. Anonymous10:04 PM

    I didn't know if it would work either... But it sure does! I figured you would find a way somehow, but I wasn't sure it would be this way. Congratulations, and put me down for a dozen bottles of Violent Ambition! I've got a case of Doubting Thomas and a half-finished caraffe of Lethargic Indolence I could swap...

    As for the finished effect of the mighty tree against the sky,
    I can't really say it better than melvyn erville.

  13. Sorry, Nick, already plenty of Lethargic Indolence and Doubting Thomas on hand here. How about some Lively Lilacs?

    Couple a problems showed up today; so far by extra bungee-osity hasn't tightened the sky much yet. It's all so make-shift it looks like it was put together by the Our Gang comedy kids.

    And two, when I made a couple of video tests tonight, the clouds didn't pass each other as I had expected. I thought the clouds on different layers should move at different rates as the POV rolls by. It did on the small sky model but on this scale nothing seems to move.

    It's possible I couldn't gotten the same effect with a flat wall. Live n'learn.

    Still, I like it better and the severe mistakes in the far background show up less.

    Thanks for saying, "HOLY !@#$#!$^&&*(^&$^%#@@$$T!!!!"

  14. That looks totally incredible! Congratulations Shelley - You pulled it off! :oD

  15. Herself the Conquistadora!!

    congrats girl.


  16. Anonymous3:07 PM

    Hey Shelly,

    Lookin' good.

    The bit about sticky wax intrigues me- where can I find that stuff?

  17. Thanks, Paul! I'm still trying to pull it tighter!

    Thanks, sénior Justin

    Hi Don, I used sticky wax because a friend passed a vintage box of it on to me when a ye olyd newspaper stat camera paste up room I used to work at back in the day was finally being dismantled in the digital age.

    This is the kind of wax you used to put little bars of inside a melting machine that would coat the backside of linotronic output so it could be positioned in place on layout board before printing. Can I get a woot woot from the pre-digi gang?!

    Anyhow, got a box of this stuff and I'd be happy to spread the joy and mail you one to try?! Leme know if you'd like it.

  18. (^ about cloud movements on large scale:
    (^ ye need think analog.
    (^ exponential speed ratios.
    the shorter the distance the faster the move.
    (6 but couds are not bound to the sky. they are pushed by heat and may not stay on the same plane all the time.
    depth crawls can be tricky.
    i'd really really like you to discuss all this sky pattern stuff with Jim Auperkl, but I'd bet he's swamped at the moment.

    all I get from your one lined looks like a flat wall painting is this:
    speed up and slow down the playing fields.
    9^ what looks grand as a picture mperfected monument may read static when played as a .mov

    highspeed camera shoots make for grand slow mo shots.
    think cluods fall into orbit differently when viewed with two eyes and perhaps spinning the wheels of different planes need be MASSIVLY different on a MASSIVE scale than on a minscule scale moddle being microshot
    (^ ok. i've been sniftering ode due caugh feed whilst sipping
    turtlewax soup, so iffen me wyrds dishevel, so should atmospheroids.

  19. Man, Bitterbetty, I sure needed that boost today, thank you! I was trying to organize the place and the more I did the worse it looked for ever getting the house in order again. I was beginning to think the whole project wasn't doable. So, your kind words really saved the day.

    And thanks to you and everyone else who listed themselves as a follower of the unfolding story here. That really makes me encouraged to go on as well. Thanks to each.

    Hi Prosser! I got a solid 30% again of what you said here but good it was! I figured out the cloud movement issue in a way that works for this unprofessional thoroughly casual production (hey, maybe that's what I'll name the company?)

    This has been a...

    Unprofessional Thoroughly Casual Production


    Anyhoo, no high speed for me, we're using frickin' misshapen cardboard and plastic drop cloths for goodness sake! This is below low tech.

    Regarding Mr. Jim Aupperle (a definite hero artist in Halfland!) if you are reading this, please take pity on me and come over to advise this poor ignorant soul on how to light this set! I'll make good use of your wisdom--forever, and will share it with many children (whose I have no idea--but I will find some!)

    Anything you can do, Brian, to pass that note along? *wink*


  20. (^ try

    Barry Wiggins (google search hobbit house tujunga )
    is someone just called me out of the blue today! (^ I designed a whole lot of the tree room /office space mentioned in this video.

    (^ he DOES know lighting. used to be a photographer for hot rod magazine before he hit drinking age.
    anyway, mind if I pop him a pointer to this blog? i bet he'd have fun swinging by to shoot some stills.

  21. Wowsers Shelley!!

    Here I've been caught up in Real World A Rama, and hardly any time for the posting thing, and you're making all this fantastic progress on me!!!

    It looks incredible.

    From the pics I sure can't see any slack. And that shot of the "sky"? I'm still not sure if you mean the make-believe sky you made, or the real Macaw?

  22. Thanks, Prosser, Mr. Wiggins is one determined dude! Made me feel completely normal for building my comparatively tiny tree house! He's done some incredible work out there. The hand carved tree room was amazing. Great work.

    Anyone is more than welcome at the blog, point away, please!

    Tujunga is so bloody far from LA I'd hate to have guests come to shoot the set until it's further built up. I've got foliage to plant and a little house to finish out. I'd welcome lighting equipment suggestions (specific to the situation) and an expert eye later on to be sure, thank you.

    Hey Mikeeeeeeeee! Nothing is ever good until you weigh in on it! so yay for me. THANKS! I didn't show the slack sags in the pixtures, duh! I only showed the 2/3rds that were smooooooth! (and rubber stamped the shadows that were in it due to using wrong lights wrongly placed.)

    That sky seen from inside the cottage is for reals the backdrop, (er, topdrop?) actually on set--no photoshopumups! I swear! How sweet is that?! Sure beats masking around every leaf precisely! I know a little fabrication house in Czechoslovakia that's fond of trees that woulda loved my Infinity Sky technology! eh?

  23. YAY! shelley,


    it's so very beautiful.


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