Saturday, February 23, 2008

My First Date with a Dragon

Here I've attached Mike's camera to the scaffolding and am pressing the capture button with my left hand as I rotate the set with the right. I wanted to make sure the mechanism looked smooth enough and it does! The actual film will likely use Mike's discovery of a giant RV jack (scroll down in this section of his wonderful site) attached to the set base as a lower-tech camera control system to bring the camera right down into the scene with each turn of the crank. Something I'm grateful the Dragonmaker taught me.

After trying to buy a 6-pin to 6-pin Firewire cable at three places yesterday (none are to be found in shops anymore) I borrowed one from Paul. It was for two purposes, one to see whether The Darkstrider Unibrain Webcam Patrol of Joy was still working (She LIVES!!! It was a broken cable issue before!) and secondly to finally actually connect myself to the [trembling with excitement] Dragon 3.1.

I'm in the throes of a debate over whether to go whole hog and purchase a very costly to me new DSLR camera with a live feed to begin to animate in earnest even before the main set is complete or to piecemeal the equipment together more economically. Even though it is less "practical" or even logical, I am currently leaning at 95% towards going for it. Here's why, many of you know that I started this film 15 years ago, before the internet, before digital photography, before Mac desktop publishing, before framegrabbers, etc. I started by sculpting characters and building props, biding my time, although I couldn't have consciously known that.

Here we are, 2008 and everything I wanted/needed is now in place and obtainable for me. The very last item dropped into place last month with the release of Dragon's stop motion animation software built for the Mac platform. My friend David said it was as if I am technically being born now as he congratulated me on my moment arriving.

My inclination is to seize the moment with gusto. (I will have a hefty windfall project payment for designing my first website in a few weeks that will take the sting out too.)

Part of the Halfland film ethos is that filmmaking be doable with the means of the maker. Nothing bothers me more than desire and talent being stifled by waiting on someone else to provide the funds to make it real. (Don't make me bring up Leni Reifenstahl again!) No more movie producers, agencies, studios need be involved any longer. Narrow, deep, direct interaction between maker and audience rules the day as far as I'm concerned. And I couldn't be happier over that.

All this to say, I finally hooked up, roughly rooted around with her, and found Dragon to be exactly as I wanted her to be, built for what I'm doing, natural to understand and use, thrilling.

The other day I came across a real life Rana Cottage by accident! Some guy built this home in the wild country of Scotland for about $4000 (hats off!) but what really caught my eye was how much it had in common with Rana's rounded, quicklime-washed, rustic dwelling.

A book design client gave me a sample from from a fabulous hotel in Mexico that used naturally twisted twigs to spell out it's name (seen at top). I freaked in a good way. I spent a couple hours tracking down botanical typefaces online and got a few ideas along the way. There is no written language in Halfland as it takes place before civilization existed, before language was needed, before time, truth be told. So when I create the titles, using branches, shadows, and marking on leaves will be the way to go.

Readers here will recall that the Answer Tree hears your questions and grows your answer out on its leaves. Several have been waiting to hear what their's is. Wait no more. Some answers have emerged today...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sea Set Start

Kyra the mermaid's sculpt skin stumbles upon the undersea door to Halfland, guarded now by Nick Hilligoss' fabulous quadropode, now cast as sentry.

Sea Set Start from herself on Vimeo.Added a 12" (surprisingly smooth turning) Lazy Susan bearing to a crate to create a small tabletop stage for the Undersea scene.

Hawaiian undersea photographer and animator, John Hankins (aka; Castlegardener on the boards) sent his witty contribution to the scene. I opened the package in the car outside the post office in excitement, saw all the great disks of undersea photos John so generously included and a little soft foam sandwich? Then I read the note inside--and burst outloud laughing! He had made a Peanutbutter and Jelly FISH! So cute and clever. I LOVE it! Thank you John!

Thanks to everyone whose joined in the fun so far! (You've got time to get yours in the mail to me too! The Ides of March is 23 days away, mail takes about 5 days, leaving you more than two weeks still to build something! I'd love some seaweed or a paper school of fish... hello? hi, you've been thinking of it, c'mon! go ahead! *mail address at right>)

The other day I started sewing on aviary wire onto the cardboard set edges with wire. These wire forms will be sculpted into stream shoreline shapes. When the entire set is completely sculpted and mache-ed it'll be cut up into large fitted puzzle pieces that will allow access for animating. The Time Frog's pond is beginning to take shape under the cottage kitchen window. Below, the hard clay sculpt of him tries out his spot while a real frog shows how he'll look when half-submerged in digitally made water.

Big Halfland News
Brilliantly talented Guest Artist, Rachael DiRennasent a few snaps today of her experimenting with sculpting Flowering Thoughts for Halfland. I love the barely there faces and torn paper texture of these especially and told her she was nailing it! This is going to be great!

And today also heralded the return of Hila! Who has re-hooked up her computer after a transcontinental move and expressed her desire to make a Halfland fish!!! WOOT!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Urhu Serpent Sage Musician

Finished sketch of one of Halfland's main characters, Urhu, the half-serpent sage musician. We will only see him briefly at the end of the first Halfland series but he's important. He represents spiritual knowledge. Don't ask me why he's a serpent, half-human because I haven't a clue! He has one powerfully muscular arm, his human body form is squat and short. He plays an old string instrument with the subtle shape of a serpent's head. His hand is malformed yet he is able to hold the bow for the instrument. He leans the neck of it against his own and holds it in place with his bearded chin.

He lives in a vast landscape of sand and dunes alone. He has a colorful comfortable Berber style tent, laden with heavy rugs and pillows. His days are passed by playing the instrument on a rug in front of his tent, endlessly performing the strange music like a constant expression of what it is to be alive. A continuous sound of existence. He plays alone to the winds for countless years until our small troop of wayfarers arrives seeking help...

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Lookie in the Goodie Box

I picked up a package from all the way on the other side of the earth the other day. It was from the amazingly talented animator and environmental advocate in Australia, Nick Hilligoss. It not only included the two Quadropodes that make up Nick's cheeky pair of mollusk ... I just somehow lost the entire rest of this post...

(argh! I said it all with more flourish of words and links in the lost draft but at here are the main points...)

I kvelled over the package Nick sent me and all the things he included in detail (faux fur for hair, weights of wire, foams, gels, diffusers and a copy of his shorts, the dvd kind not khakis.) I talked about the other great puppets that have arrived so far and how it's not too late to get your undersea creation here in time. I suggested making seaweed or bubbles, anything that seems fun to make. I talked about how grateful and thrilled I am to receive this thoughtful animator's package from Nick and how we should do this for everyone slogging away on their own in stop motion worlds. It brightens the task to know we are not the only ones.

Then I told the tale of how I discovered that Downstairs Clare has been working on the cottage door! Describing in total detail the great progress he's making and how it will be the best built thing in Halfland for sure. Here's proof of the action starting...

Art Bonus

Today I finished making and mailing out 22 hand-made valentines as late thank you cards for gifts at the holidays. I fashioned these little boids out of colored handmade papers and attached them to various joyful silk-screened papers from Paper Source with raised foam squares. The tiny fluffy tails were made from a flower punch. I liked them all so much I hated to part with them. I wanted to hang them by thread all over our paper craft table like a flock of love. I am glad though that when they arrive at their new homes they'll bring a little of that along.
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