Friday, January 07, 2011

Meet Constance: Bamboozled in the Groovy Grove

 Sweet and shy, Constance peers through the Bamboo Grove set in progress.

Constance has been coming to Halfland for months already and this is the first chance I've had to introduce her and some of the marvelous contributions she's been making here.
 Here she's reinforcing Peggy's cardboard trees with scrap lumber so they can be made to stand as scenery flats.

She's one of the rare go-getter-people who dives right in and gets a lot done with focus and enthusiasm. It's really rough though because we want to work on Halfland and get great things done but then also just sit, laugh, and talk, and enjoy the delicious coffee she brings from the farmers market and the produce from her own garden. I find her company charming and intellectually stimulating. Her sensitive insights are a joy to discuss.
She's also wryly funny and quick to joke, here she eyes the camera through the Time Frog's belly in progress.
One of the first projects she tackled with me was the Bamboo Grove that will be the setting for Yanu the Luna Moth Man to appear in carrying the Moon Lantern through at night. Here's the How-to:

33 slim, 8' pieces of emerald green bamboo, heavy with natural resin, were given to me from a nearby meditation garden. We took a scaffold plank I had here and cut it in two to ease moving this mini strip set around. Next we used various sizes of hole saws to drill down about 2 inches into the planks 33 times. The round cores left in the wood had to be chipped out by hand. Each piece of bamboo was fitted with wood inside the base as tightly as possible (see lower left) so that the screws from underneath the planks would have something firm to bite into. Next each hole was fitted with a slice of cardboard tubing that fit its interior diameter to act as a support collar for the bamboo.

After each piece was secured by long wood screws from under the plank up into the (now) wood centers of the bamboo, we slathered on batches of anchor cement in and around the tube collars like little mounds of ground. With this method, as described above, even though it may seem laborious (and it definitely was!) we created a very secure, solid, stable 6' wide, 8 ' tall bamboo curtain that can have an afterlife as decorative room divider in our home after filming is complete.

We knew the lovely color of the boo couldn't last over time so we mixed a glaze of wood dye, ink, and and matte medium to paint the grove a few coats. Then Constance added hand-cut crepe paper leaves to the natural vines throughout the grove. We finished it off with a brown bag paper maché base around the collars extending beyond the plank width, covering that in dirt, and hand-gluing forest debris in place.

Please see photos below for previews of how the moon lantern (also already beautifully built by Miss Constance) will look as the light interacts on the surface of the bamboo stalks as Yanu passes through them...

Constance, you are an amazing assistant here and I can't wait to see what butterflies you come up with!

I'm so lucky to have your help.


  1. "33 slim, 8' pieces of emerald green bamboo, heavy with natural resin, were given to me from a nearby meditation garden."
    – I love how Halfland is emerging from so many different sources, and how especially those accidently found pieces come together to become your stunning project. You often take in things other people don't need any more, and I like the idea of literal re-cycling... Lovely!

    Have you already decide which aspect ratio you're going to use in your shots? I ask because you often take your pictures in upright format but a film normally uses landscpape ratio. (I like the upright shots very much though!) – Just curious!

  2. Ha! yep, I'm either green-minded or really a cheapo, Jessica! But, yes, I really love using what's on hand or what comes to me to make things.

    16:9 Baby, 16:9 all the way for sure. The verticals or 4:3 type photos used on the blog are just image "sketches".

    No shots have really been blocked or composed yet.

    I will most likely have a hellashis amount of fixing in post to do on this film. But what's a little excruciating frame by frame when you're crazy. Am I right?!

  3. Jessica Koppe11:50 PM


  4. Anonymous8:01 AM

    Shelly! This is all looking so marvelous! I can't imagine that you'll have much to "fix in post" at this rate. It is all so beautiful and carefully detailed!

    However, DO let me know if you have batches of rotoscoping to do. I can do it long-distance. I love the frame-by-frame. Its meditative to me, sort of like knitting

    Nice to meet Constance.... thanks for the support!

  5. Jaw dropped. Are you kidding me, Peggy!? YOU'RE ON!!!!!!

    Perhaps you can teach me how to do it! Like, what software do you use for that?

    I was admiring your wonderful cardboard trees here just yesterday. Sighing over how lucky I was to have your expert drawing ability to create those!

    YESYESYES I plan to start shooting MARCH 1, 2011!!! So you'll be hearing from me very soon.

  6. Anonymous4:07 PM

    I used Quantel software back-in-the-day when I worked at Video Post & Transfer. I was once crowned the Roto-Queen of Dallas. It was a paper crown... I'm pretty sure it was made of recycled paper! Any recommendations about what software would work on my mac are welcome. I'd love to get back into it!

    And... I LOVED the card. Thank you thank you.

  7. I'm on Mac too. Was aiming towards using Adobe After Effects. That is the sum total of my knowledge on the subject.

    I know that AE sells for over $800, so I'm not relishing buying it as I'm trying to make Halfland with tools available to nearly anyone with electricity to demonstrate that there are no barriers to making what you want. Etc.

    I'll stay in touch with you about this. Exciting!

  8. Anonymous5:49 PM

    I have After Effects. Excitement times ten!

  9. WOO!!!!

    Learn me Learn me!!!

    This is getting spooky!


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