Online Project Therapy--The Newest Sensation Sweeping the Interhoo!

Freud by Warhol

Good and true friend and Professional Master Steel Armature Builder (!) Sven Bonnichsen at Scarlet Star Studios wrote to me a couple posts ago in the comments (which, if you've ever been written to in your comment section, then you know how it can tickle!) asking some very excellent, supportive questions to get things moving again on the Halfland project. And then when I didn't answer them promptly he wrote again asking what he could/should do to help get me what I want. I thought my situation might be universal enough, in what must be more than just my private difficulty, to bring it out of the comments and talk about it here.

SVEN SAYS (after a dearth of action on Halfland for more than a week.):
So, I could see myself asking one of two questions at this point:
What's the next step in making 1/2L that you feel excited about? or
What's the thing that's getting in your way right now? (That you either don't know how to do... Or fear/dread doing... Or the outside obligation/habit that's stealing your time?)

SVEN SAYS; DAY TWO (after I didn't initially reply to the above):
Hey Shellsy --
Are we done with the "*nudge*" portion of this online relationship? ...Nudging is not something I naturally do -- I tend to feel like the best way to support artists is not with ass-kicking, but with dreaming and wishing together. But you seemed to want to "be held accountable" for a while there... What would you like a friend to do?

I wrote to him personally to clarify that I indeed do welcome his nudges, niggles, and any otherwise coaxing cajoles, elbows of encouragement, prods and pushes, as I'm seriously interested in getting further along. Does that seem a direct contradiction to yesterdays' claim to simply being content to enjoy the whole affair? I don't. I see them as both true in the same moment. I want to make real progress but I don't want to be uptight about it as I do.

So, here are my attempts at answers to Sven:

What's the next step in making 1/2L that you feel excited about or what's the thing that's getting in your way right now? (That you either don't know how to do... Or fear/dread doing... ?
The next thing I feel EXCITED about is dressing the cottage set in fabrics and props with delicious detail, but that seems a bajillion steps away from now. I'm also excited to animate the Birds in Hats puppets on a branch, but in between that and now again is a myriad of unknown steps. I'd like to finish the bleeping windows but realize it would be wise of me to size the openings exactly when the cottage walls are more finalized. I'd like to fatten up my tree with more foam, papier mache and a coating of Flexall compound. I'd like to get the roof beams cut and installed but I am tired of trying to coordinate getting assistance from my friend, Downstairs Clare, as he's got other more important things going on right now so I'd like to not rely on anyone else and modify the roof design so that I can cut them myself. I'd like to buy some pink insulation foam panels and begin blocking out the landscape around the cottage. I'd like to figure out how to configure the cottage walls so that they lock firmly together as a whole but can be easily disassembled for shooting. I'd like to figure out how to use tiedowns on my set as I can't imagine how I'm going to reach up and under in spots. I've left a gap between the two tables the set rests on but will I be able to crawl under there and and squeeze my hands under the 2x4's the set flats rest on 24 times a second? Will I be going under/tiedown, up/animate, under/tiedown, up/animate, under/tiedown, up/animate, under/tiedown, up/animate, etc.? And what about the camera? What kind? What editing software? What background? What lighting to buy (whatever Mike Brent's tutorial says is the answer to that) but I still need to acquire them and work out their rigging here.

Or the outside obligation/habit that's stealing your time?
I recently completed a huge work project, my first overseas printing of an innovative book design and a very inventive mailing device for that book, of which I'm very proud. I've got two more similarly exciting projects lined up from the same client and have a week and a half left to develop and produce comps of both before my next presentation/meeting. I also have to design a less complex item and get it printed ASAP. For my physical health and tremendous value and pleasure, I take my three ballet classes each week, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, which take more time than just the class hours as while I'm out I usually take advantage and run errands the weekdays and go to cafe with Himself after class on Sunday. (I know, rough life!) So that leaves the other days to keep house and take care of intermittent projects for pay. And then there are the seemingly ever present exceptions, like making special birthday cards for special people, cooking for ailing friends, or this or that holiday/occasion popping up to make something for. (Since I started this plog I have cut out nearly every other craft projects I used to spend time on. It was a great creative outlet for me but I had to choose a priority and 1/2L. won.) Oh, and the BIGGIE, the Internet!!!! I have noticed that I can sit surfing for HOURS online without the slightest idea that so much time has passed. On Monday I kept the computer off all day and night for the first time in at least two years and that undoubtedly was why I made so much progress on the Christmas Card Project. And then there is also an ongoing health matter that semi-regularly stops my momentum with all of this--cold.

What would you like a friend to do?
I want to "be held accountable." If Sven, or anyone else here, has anything to suggest I am open and very interested in hearing it. If you've found a way around this sort of thing yourself or handle/approach your tasks a certain way that works for you, I'd love to know about it! If you want to call me names or otherwise set me straight, that's great too because I believe in the wisdom of crowds, well, a select, intelligent crowd, in this case. Or maybe, we can just encourage each other through our endeavors even more. I'm willing.

"I'm afraid our time is up." --Sigmund Freud


  1. Anonymous2:27 AM

    It is so hard to keep momentum on a project, especially when you have other work commitments to honor that help pay the bills. I understand.

    However, the impression I have got from the blog over the past month is that you have got caught up in very detailed model building (i.e. the leaded windows!)
    I have nothing but praise for the detail you putting into the set, but you need to step back and look at the bigger picture of the film.

    Do the windows pay that big a part in the story? Is it really necessary to devote so much time to a detail that is not feature prominently?

    They may be very important in which case make them as detailed as you need.
    But if they don't need to be, your audience is not going to be that bothered how they are made, they be to engaged in your characters and story.

    Also if there is an aspect of the build you are looking forward to there is no harm in starting on that, as it may spur you on to finish the other stuff that not so interesting.

  2. Fantastic input, Phil. Thank you so much for writing it. YES! you are right I got waylaid in the windows. How to make them was one of the unknown tasks that I became fixated on working out so I would feel better. But I see you are correct, too small a detail to get caught up in, out of order, when the bigger picture is left undone.

    I wasn't supposed to be fabricating anything now anyway. Paul's idea was for me to run through the animation with cardboard cutouts and let the rest work itself out. Somehow I got into building and sculpting out of turn.

    I don't see how I can work out the camera moves without the set being erected. Sorry to go on, I'm just trying to work it out like a blind man in a brothel on Mars.


  3. You know I hate to see you torture yourself like this Shelley. We've had the discussion several times about ways to get motivated (or are you asking for input from lurkers who normally don't comment here?). As I've told you, what works for me is to just pick up whatever it is I'm supposed to be working on and hold it in front of my face, look at it. Pretty soon I find I'm working on it. If you just get five minutes done in a day, that's better than nothing. And once you get started, to keep going is the easiest thing.

    Some people work better with a rigid schedule (planning out what to do when, knowing how to tackle each problem before they get to it) some are better at just winging it when the problems arise. I think in your case you really can't be expected to have the answers to things a month or two down the road, because this is your first stab at an animation project. And I applaud you for sticking to your guns and wanting to only work on Halfland, but I really do think a few small simple projects would be a good way to familiarize yourself with the process of making a movie all the way through... making the puppets and sets, props, animating, editing etc, and then you'd probably immediately be able to see exactly how to approach this big project.

    Possibly you could work out an idea for just a tiny little halfland scenario, some fragmentary little scene that isn't a part of the major story arc, and make some quick and dirty puppets/ sets etc and just animate for the fun of it? Something that takes only one set and maybe one or two puppets, that can be shot on the corner of your table without dismantling anything that's already there?

    Or if that doesn't appeal to you maybe what we need is a new marathon? With Monster Month being over, November is lookin' good for 'thonnin'!

  4. Thanks, Mike. No, I'm not lookin' fer lurkers, huntin' fer hiddens, longin' fer loiterers. I'm sorry if my dredging this up is redundant. The Keep it in the Face tactic was lost on me because my face is always so "Ocupado" with other things in front of the project. Sorry for still not getting this. Maybe it is all out of my reach after all or if it takes my not going online and ballet classes in order to make project time I may be willing to give both of those things up for this.

    I thought initially that a daily journal would force a breakthrough in whatever laziness/inhertia/resistance I had going. I thought that by saying what was happening someone would say; "Oh, you're doing (blank) and if you do (blank) it'll work fine and fast. Try this..." and I would magically be a different person from then on. But instead I think it's flatly about choices and what one is willing to sacrifice for an accomplishment. It's iffy where I come down on that one in reality.

    Birds in Hats is as you describe, simple, short, two puppet clip on small set fragment. Maybe I'll build those puppets first up... in our SuperNOVember Extravaganza!! You're on!

  5. Excellente! The Novembathon! Novembarama! Hangin' wit the Novster!

    Yeah, I been kinda slackin' lately on my pups... better get a move on! But I'll tell ya what - it's really great having another project that I can flip back and forth to now and then. And I hear ya about life getting in the way! Sometimes you just can't find the time.

    About possible solutions to some of your quandaries:

    If you have a big table, there'll be parts you just can't reach to animate on (unless you cut trapdoors or accessways or something). You can really only animate on areas you can lean in and reach comfortable. And keep in mind, you can't do tie-downs from underneath only... you have to have a hand underneath and one on the foot to press it down as you twist the screw up from under. When you get toward the center of the table you'll find yourself crouching with your arms stretched out full length and the edge of the table pressing into your neck. Fun huh?

    Attaching the walls together - you could go with something like an octagon-shaped wire wrapped around the whole shebang near the top, tucked out of sight under the edge of the roof. The wall segments are attached at the bottom by rods through the table, right? You'd probably have to have a length of dowel or something to pop in to replace the missing wall segment, to keep pressure against the wire.

  6. Hey Mikee Mike Mike, You really helped me out there! I started looking at my set/set up and saw, after a few minutes of looking like a gorilla trying to learn oragami, it was so easy. Alls I gotta do is remove a wall of my choice, slide one of the floor pieces aside a bit and reach under the flat to tiedown while I'm sitting on top of the tables. I can make a diagram later.

    I figured out today how to replace the wooden dowels with the steel screws I bought. And I figured that my buying a mess of small "L" brackets will handle how I can brace the wall panels and the set flats securely to the tables. I'm far less unclear about what to do now. yay.

    And yes, let's--make--some--movies!!!! Get ready to rumble.

  7. Anonymous5:24 PM

    Novemberthon, eh? There were rules for the previous 'thon. What would the rules be for this one?

  8. The Rules are:

    #1. Take action on your chosen project each day. (if action can't be taken on any one particular day, the explanation must be brazen and unquestionably reasonable) Small actions are completely acceptable as the idea of the SuperNOVember Thon is to make daily progress.

    #2. Post about said action (a photo is preferred but optional.) Posts may be brief, outlining what action was done, what if anything was learned, what was cool, surprising, or satisfying, or where it went pear shaped and has gotten confusing.

    #3. If anyone has an idea for anothers dilemma they share it in the comments. yay.

    You in Svenmeyer!?

  9. Ooooh.... um, I think I'm going to be jumping back and forth between projects. But I'll try to make daily progress on one or the other.

  10. That's ok.... Rule #4 You can have more than one chosen project! (the idea still is DAILY progress on something!! Howz that?

    Oh, and Rule #5 We go until Thursday, November 30. At that time we see whether we choose to go on for more or break, etc.


  11. Cool! We're off to see the wizard!

  12. Anonymous2:44 AM

    Oh! I want to see the wizard too!

    My two main concerns:

    (1) I'm having computer problems that are making anything photo-related a real bear right now... Might lead to the computer going into the shop, keeping me offline for a while.

    (2) Thanksgiving. The current plan is to be out of town for two or three days.

    ...I'm wondering about the balance between 'do work every day' and 'blog every day.' ...Sometimes I've got so much to say, I wind up writing four posts in a day, and then schedule them to appear over the next few days. ...Doing so can also help me get a little ahead, in terms of posting.

    Do scheduled posts go against the spirit of the 'thon? Hm. Probably so. I guess what I'd need to do is learn to write short daily posts -- check-in posts -- that augment my more verbose "documentarian" writing style.

    I think I'm in. I'll know for sure by Monday.

  13. Ok, Acting as Thonmaster this time:

    (1) Completely Fine, I EXEMPT Sven from any photo post requirement. All he need do are quickie, brief, daily check-in posts that describe what he was able to do, strictly for the Thon's purposes.

    (2) Of course, yes, being away from home/studio base for the Thanksgiving holiday IS a qualifying, warranted excuse for not posting for the days away. [pussy]

    (3) You're right, scheduled "do ahead" postings are NOT acceptable for Thons as the whole idea is to push ourselves to make daily progress. I know for myself, letting days *slide* by is the biggest obstacle to my project progress.

    SuperNOVember Thon is strictly for the added support to overcome inhertia in an area. I don't see you hanging back very much, Sven. You seem to be very good at getting on with things, to say the least. HOWEVER--I love the idea of you being in on the NOVsterganza!


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