Monday, October 25, 2021

Truss Me!

I learned about how trusses can hold roof slopes together from our renovation to the attic.
So when Kyelynn and I set about getting the roof to stay in position without a center post
it seemed like the perfect solution here too!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you, for the first time anywhere, the Halfland cottage with a very strong and solid roof, secured to outer walls at the edges and held together with a wooden truss. When I grab the truss and try to rattle the roof, nothing moves! Nothing.

We attached the cupola to the rafters rather than try to keep them all removable because I can film the cottage interior from any side around the tree. I found that I only needed certain walls to come out; the one to the right of the front door, the bay window, and the bedroom window. Kyelynn had the grand solution of installing a new upright post at the door threshold to attach the rafter directly which leaves the wall there (seen in place above) able to come in and out as needed without altering the roof in any way. Feels like sorcery. A Half House.

Two truss beams sandwich the rafters in such a way to allow me to install the handmade candlelier on a pencil (which makes me laugh). I had given up on including this prop in the house because I couldn't get it to look as though it was hanging but to actually be rigid before. In this new setting, it was easy. I've filled the holes Upstairs Clare had left in the front door using small dowels and then staining/aging them with acrylic and chalk washes. 

Here you can see the FANTASTICALLY textured 100-year-old fence wood (that 1/2L patron Shari gave me a few years ago) to the door's now (more narrow) threshold and it looks like it should have always been there! It matched the Answer Tree as if it grew into place. Thank you, Shari!
The fasteners have been painted to match and holes/seams filled.

I'll need a new latch for the inside of the door as the new upright made the opening significantly more narrow. I hand-cut the beautiful old wood to cover all four sides of the new post, as well as the existing left side. It made the round entry rug weirdly half-placed under the front wall but I figure that's On Brand for Halfland and not worth demoing walls to move. I'll fix it by planting grass.
Everything can be fixed by planting more grass! Remember that!

I tested whether the Rana puppet could still fit through the door and she can
but it looks tight so I won't be showing her moving through the doorway in the film. Not a problem.


Look for the upcoming post about the finished pulley prop for the water barrel on the porch seen on the right! 

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Model Citizen

The paper model proved very useful for visualizing the cube lighting rig
and how it would function for all the set's needs.

I needed to mock it up in cardboard before Kyelynn and I set about building the structure around the main set stage that would need to hold the small lights, support the background birch trees in all four corners, and most importantly hold the curve in the atmosphere/blur layers with their taught tensioning.  

I made the whole set room with windows and all outlets and pieces of stage/rigging/furniture/saw horses/lens holder/tables needed in order to verify and perfect the plan.

The actual LIFE-SIZED rigging build was completed this week with Kyelynn and it went very well and the key key was having made and studied the model all the way through the process. It allowed for problems to be worked out and for new insights and ideas to emerge on the fly.

An intractable issue is how much smaller the room is compared to the insane expanse I had (at the 4k sq' loft previously). But this is what I have to work with so I'll be grateful and make it work. It's tight, and the long shot is no longer long, but at least I can proceed to shoot scenes shortly. And I have light! And I'll have sky the way I must have it.


Upcoming Post: How tent posts (!)  Yes, beaucoup tent posts! and huge swaths of sheer voile blur my world.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Artist Alert: Alice Fox (AKA a RISD Rana)

Just saw this short video about artist Alice Fox in the UK. She has found a focus for her work in mainly using or reusing materials found on the plot of land she is the steward of. Her work is elevated and fine, meaningful and textural. A noble and admirable artist to me and very much akin to my personal sensibilities, her output is mind-bogglingly prodigious, my Halfhat is off to her.

Very natural world, noticing closely and making use of what is available, very sophisticated fine art. It struck me that she was akin to my main character Rana, the wise goat woman with allegorical authority over wisdom and memory, with one important difference.

Where Ms. Fox took her values and talents into an elevated fine art aesthetic, I took a back alley to goofy bugs at a party, a rustic, rough, craft style. More storybook than museum. Paul asked me if I felt regret over not having been to a school like the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) as we always admire the work of people who have degrees from there. It always seemed to us that that school, in particular, took its students into a magical room where creativity and art and the world of art-making were explained to them privately and exclusively. So his question came from years of observing the difference between what they do and what I do (or don't do).

My answer is no. It wasn't in any way possible for me to have gone that route in life. Not in temperament nor responsibility. And I find a certain homogenized quality in fine art education that isn't interesting to me ultimately. So no, I don't wish that I had a proper art education or understanding.

But sometimes I do feel unimportant with my little bugs and such. Even more than my fear of not being able to complete this massive project in the next few years is a visitation of objective perspective that the entire endeavor is perhaps not Art at all.

There were years that I wanted Halfland to receive (eventual) film festival awards or awards from specifically the annual MacArthur Foundation (unbidden) genius award, that would signal to myself and others that I am talented, that I am worth something of actual value in the opinion of learned others. I wanted that so powerfully it used to actually hurt my stomach in a grip of acute desire. But not now.

At some point over the last few years, all that dropped away naturally, like mud dissolving in the rain.

Making Halfland, even these stages of building the sets and puppets, only imagining the end results, is already fully fulfilling.

I was driving my 96-year-old ballet teacher to an appointment recently and commenting that I felt an urgency to finish Halfland or I feared it would remain only a permanent potential. He corrected me, as is his way, that even the thought of something is already something.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Doing 1,000 Things at Once

Before bombarding this blog with a slew of exciting new 1/2L action posts, here's a little tease,
a mere taste of what the heck I was also getting done in my house and home and garden and kitchen. Each image represents 30,000 small details that I can't describe in the space allowed by law.
Let's just agree to say that living life takes a great deal of time.
Four years ago we were fortunate enough to buy the house we had been renting for five years.
While taking care of minor repairs, a previously undiscovered attic with a 9' ceiling was revealed.
We embarked on a year-long process of transforming the two-story house into a three-story house.
It had been completely untouched for over 100 years, it needed to be made stronger
and by the end of it, became more useful than we could have known.

On the left was my linen cupboard that was removed to build the beautiful
staircase taking you onto the new attic level, as seen on the right.
(Here's an example of dear husband using the space in case anyone is interested.)

On the left, how the backyard looked when we bought the property,
and on the right is how the same view appears now at night. 
A tour is really needed to see all the raised beds for growing food crops
and the extraordinary pergola patio Kyelynn and I made
from the antique lumber removed during the attic renovation.
PS: A paint storage cupboard was built to cover the electrical meter box seen on the left side.
The doors for it came from the former hallway linen cabinet! Waste not--waste nothing.

Recognize these junk friends with vintage hardware features around the garden?
Yep, the drawers were put to fun use as well!


 Much constant work inside too. Above you see Paul's growling collection of books
cluttering up the living room until our builder created for him a full wall of custom shelves in his office.
Now each book is cleaned off, organized, and labeled by subject for easier reference.

There's so much more that can be shown, every dark forgotten place sorted and brought to order,
even under the kitchen sink. Anything no longer needed was given away. Pandemic-time Clean.

All this to say that from these newly shooken-out (not a word but should be) spaces, Halfland, although remedied last, has been brought forward just as much, perhaps even more. Hang onto your Halfhats!

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Giant Whacking Lens for Dreamy Storybook Film


Completed!
The first 1/2L task I asked of builder Kyelynn was to frame out my all-important clear-spot fresnel lens.
These salvaged old tv plastic lenses are VERY soft (so tender a paintbrush leaves a mark!) and require full support to use effectively. She found the perfect tutorial for building the frame for these lenses on YouTube. Most folks use them to cook with sunlight off-grid. I may be the first person to use one for stop-motion filming effect.

The speaker stands holding it up were curb-lottery finds right out front of the house! But they had a key part missing... no problem...!


I had a small amount of very old Ice Resin leftover and cast the missing brake part using the wonderful Composimold product to create the mold. Kyelynn was amazed at what mold-making could do.

She stopped at a hardware store before the next visit and brought the missing hex nut that fit the new replacement part as well as right-sized nuts and bolt sets used to hang the framed lens on the stands. The frame stand is stable and fully adjustable for height and tilting so I'll be able to control the amount of distortion in each shot.


Scenes from the set room through the new lens.  These are straight from the phone
but the film scenes will have tons of digital editing and heavy vignetting at the edges.

Just beginning to get the way to work the lens, ways to whack the angles to stretch the edges of things. It's kind of like what I imagine a giant tilt-shift lens might be like. The effects changing depending on what distance the lens is placed, and the distance and angle the camera is positioned to the lens.

Close up gives a dreamlike effect, further away exaggerates the refraction as if looking through a water-filled bag. Lens flares can be controlled with black-out curtains on windows and wearing dark clothing while filming.

One may wonder why use magnifying lenses like this for stop motion. The answer is here and here. But in short, it's because I want this world called Halfland to be highly textural and detailed but seen as if through an antique lens with all its lovely distortions and blur. This project has to be slightly dreamlike rather than give edge-to-edge clarity.

I've been stumbling toward this all along. For example, this set of reference images of what I most wanted 1/2L to look like from a 2007 (!) blog posting: 

[lens.gif]

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