Bound and Determined

On the right you see the set re-assembled and ready for it's plaster top coat. I can't wait to paint! Argggggh!

Two days ago I finished chopping the entire giant landscape into seven sections that fit together. I edged every piece using rolls and rolls of masking tape to help bind the edges of the shapes. I fitted them all back together, securing one edge of each piece with screws and washers into wood with cardboard piers propping up the other edge.

I masked one half of each pair at the seam with plastic in order to be able to pull the pieces back apart after I add plaster coated paper into the join camouflaging where the pieces meet.

Yesterday I actually began the process of plastering (starting at the back until I work out the best method/mix). The test area is dry and reasonable stable, I think the technique will work.

And since we got word this morning that we **may** have to move.... It's a VERY good thing this set comes apart! Oui!?


  1. Anonymous12:17 AM

    What? May have to move? You can't possibly mean that after working out how to fit your set and sky into this space, you might have to set it up somewhere else?
    You just drop that little bomb with no further information?

    If so, yes, really good if it can come apart.
    For strength, I prefer to use re-inforcing with the plaster, like fairly open weave burlap or chopped strand fibreglass matting. This might be especially important if the set has to be transported. But I really hope it doesn't have to.

  2. Anonymous12:35 AM

    Shelley, I've got the strange feeling that your production may be speeding up. ;) Now a lot of the puzzle pieces starting to fit together and it's wonderful watching it.
    Thanks for leaving your encouraging comments on my blog!

  3. Hiya, Nick! I am proceeding with my hard-won 4-6 month solid Halfland production PUSH as though we are not forced to move as even if we are, they can't get us out as quick as that! (she said hopefully).

    The chief reason for the move, if it happens, is that Paul's friend (our landlord) must sell the building and surrounding factories and he was giving us an incredible deal on the rent. We could not rent a driveway in Los Angeles for the amount we pay.

    This low rent is what has allowed me to work on Halfland as much as I have and gave me the SPACE to do it for the first time. We've been here 5 years and that's just about as much time as it took to get everything in its place and it all working as a studio.

    The big money, effort, and time it will/would take to move us lock stock and barrel is daunting however, if it does come about, I will be as efficient as possible about it and hopefully have the space to work on Halfland in our new situation.

    Let me put it this way, any new situation/space may not be as fantastic as this for Halfland, true, BUT wherever Paul and I go I fully intend to squeeze it, wedge it, ram it in until it fits!

    (Paul says; "In the future, can you work in a "normal" scale!!!!") HAHAHAHAHAaaa


    Thanks Jessica--I really hope/pray/think it'll go faster now too! All my graphic projects are completed and there's his little window of time where I can roll on it like a steam train! Here I go!


  4. (^ darn knit. not another tear down.
    (^ sigh. just number nd letter all the set pieces maybe even color code the underside with different colored sharpy marks where the bolts line up.

  5. (^ tisk.tsk tsk.. time I REALLY contact joel fletcher.
    at least let him time lapse the tear down . he might like the break.

  6. Hi Edwound, welcome!

    You know... I understand you, you've got solid, cogent, intelligent advice in what you say in your unique way. Thank you.

    And glad to know about Joel Fletcher. Hadn't known his name before. A highly generative and creative person.

    I was thinking of time lapse of the plaster or paint going on the set but thought instead to just get on with it!


  7. oh, geez! i would hate being forced to move, and i don't even have a giant project i'd have to reassemble! good luck and best wishes.

  8. Hello Shelley, I really hope you don't end up having to move, or you at least get everything finished before you have to leave.
    Do you have preferences regarding puppet colour? For example if you have too many blue things but not enough yellow things, or something...
    The thing I am making will be sea-bed dwelling (if that is ok?) so I'll put a tie-down in it and send you some metric fixings to use with it.

  9. Wow! That would stink, on top of the fact that moving sucks... taking this set into consideration just ads insult to injury. I'd say shoot all the wide angle/crazy exterior tree stuff first, just in case, and then plan to shoot the more intimate shots/interior shots in the new (maybe smaller) space if need be. Its all about editing it to look like it was shot at the same time.

  10. Anonymous11:45 PM

    This space sounds like one of those lucky finds that don't come along very often. Ouch, what a disruption!

    Great suggestion Ryan!
    And think about shooting more of it as closer shots, with just a few wide shots to establish the setting where needed.

    I've usually resorted to a smaller scale to do the wideshots that could not be built full size (by full size I mean puppet scale, about 1:6) in my small studio. I do the big wide view in 1:24.
    With these newfangled digital cameras, it's possible to composite some of the bigger close-up set into the wide view... so there will be ways around it.

    Good luck with the Push!

  11. Ouch Shelley! I can only add my sympathy... I seriously hope you don't have to move into like an efficiency apartment!!! Here's hoping for a miracle, that you get to stay put in the Home of Halfland!!!

  12. Hi Everyone! Yes this loft has been a miracle, it's really huge and private and cheap nearly free, not free, but in LA it was unheard of.

    It's very noisy, a factory roaring out back 24 hours/7 days a week, and they broke ground this week on a 5 story complex across the road, which when they start really digging in for the underground parking may shake this 90 year old brick building right down.

    It's not fancy here, in fact it's embarrassingly rough. Paul won't invite friends over anymore. The roof leaks in the rain in several places, big bulges of drooping water soaked paint balloons decorate the ceiling as a result. Looks shabby. The neighborhood has heavy gang rule and bullets fly at the building, trash and homeless known by name (but that's everywhere in LA, even fancy neighborhoods).

    But we didn't care about any of that, dilapidated, gritty, etc. didn't matter, it was the coolest place we've ever lived. It allowed us to be more creative and free than we could have imagined. We absolutely loved it here.

    We've made a list of what we need in a next place but at the same time we seem to be here for the moment. Things may change, we just don't know.

    I'll tell you what though, Paul and I both agree, we can't go back to a normal style dwelling after loft living. No way. Once someone has lived in an open plan situation, especially with big projects... forget it! It's like trying to cram an eel back into a fishbowl again once it's outgrown it from being in a bigger container.

  13. We are asking around for a lead on warehouse space--no joke!

    Ceri, HI! I'm not getting your comments in my email for some reason. I added your email as a contact so I'll see if that fixes it.

    Anyhoo, how nice of you to ask about color needs. Lessee... we've got white, black, red, blue, green, (and of course the pipecleaner gang has every color in it). Purple? or maybe checker pattern? It truly is what you'd care to make and thank you for it!

    To anyone: There is one thing I was hoping for that hasn't come in yet... a small school of fish (a few simple things attached together in a clump of wire) that I could animate as a group, ideally with some clever play on a half concept. Could be paper fish or typewriter keys, anything.

    Anyone inspired? S-not too late! :-)

  14. One purple woolly half-themed creature on its way. I think I can send you that school of fish too if you like, I have an idea...
    Did you get this message in your email?

  15. YAY! You are no longer spam! I found a bunch of good people in there!

    So exciting, thank you again, Ceri!

  16. (^ phyti eh? I love my phishy coi so much I'llnever eat sushi.
    (^ tisk taskit again. (^ time I crank up some requests of old buddies and see if anyone has warehouse space leftover secret stash aways.

    (^ I'm on it.

  17. Anonymous9:10 PM

    Rather than send a bunch of fish, I could probably create an animation of a school of fish, and composite them over your shot. But I would have to see the shot first. I need to know if we are looking up, down, or level, where the obstacles to swim around are, and if there is any camera move in the shot I need to match it. I need to see the lighting, the timing of the main character, the duration. I would need the full shot to work to.
    I'd actually make and animate a bigger fish, 6 to 8 inches long, and have several of them at different frames in the cycle.
    There's a SendBigFiles service that allows sending of, well, big files, via the internet. Ron Cole sent me a big file with it, because we are looking at a project with elements from 3 of us composited into each shot.
    I have an idea for a school of PeaFish - each fish is like a single eyespot on a peacock's tail, and as a school they form the tail. (New thought, they follow one big fish?) I see them as similar to angelfish. When they turn front-on to camera they are very narrow, then they turn side-on again and swim out of shot.

    If this sounds worthwhile and do-able, email me.

  18. nick> (New thought, they follow one big fish?)

    (^ try a moray eel or an electric one even:
    ((^ peacock head and neck)
    (^ having its tail bitten/held onto by a puffer fish and craw daddies or crabs scuttling across the ocean/sea floor representing the peacock's feet.

    (^ think Arcimboldo

    . sum of many parts that creates an underwater bird for 8 frames or so then scatters.

    (^ I worked on this strange thing years ago called fred the fish/betty the bird for seseme street.
    I wonder if it still airs or if there's even a copy of it still around.

    (^ sorry. I just watched Nim's Island with my family.
    (^ has my mind dancing.

  19. Anonymous10:24 PM

    I was picturing something not quite so merged as Archimbolo's creations... spaces in between them, but they move almost as one creature (as schools of fish do) so they are both one and many.

    The eel plus pufferfish to make the lead peacock neck and body is good though! And crawfish... great image, but maybe too difficult to do except actually on Shelley's seabed set.
    Maybe they can follow the mermaid instead.

    I want to actually do something with it it now, whether it fits into halfland or not.

  20. ok. mind. blown.

    Wha!? FANTASTIC!

    Here's the email I just wrote to Nick:

    What a perfectly delicate sublime concept, Nick! I love it and MUST have it! Locked in my mind now, you've spoiled me! Yes, I'll send you the finished shot to do whatever you'd like with of course! The only problem is that it will be the best thing in the film~ try to muck it up a bit, won't you!?

    I dearly love things that look like other things and your idea is such a superb pairing. I get it!

    I'm still in deep HA! on trying to finish the main set whilst I have the room. It would be great to get it finished enough to grab my wide shots as suggested.

    By the way....!!!!! I thank God you suggested burlap! What a difference! Total and complete. Thank you thank you thank you!

    I'm nearly through 14 yards of it today and out to get 20 more to finish the 400 square foot set tomorrow!

    I haven't forgotten about the Time Fly to you either. I'm just trying to slog through the set before I go back to making the pupps!

    Thank goodness for you, Mr. Nick, s

    So, um YEAH! Hells YEAH! Can you believe this?

    One thing tho, the lighting matching is so NOT important in Halfland Sea--please don't do a great job with this. My plan for the rest of the underwater pupps is to shoot on green screen individually with my very best effort to display the pupps so generously sent to me. I will make each fish do its schtick/gag/action to present it in the very best light I can. But then composing the separate shots into composited motion image layers where they seem best suited.

    I want the scene to look fun and interesting and wild with with all the various creations living their lives but I won't be trying to match angles and lighting so that it replicates nature at all.

    There must be a term for how I mean this... mash-up?

    @Edwound Wisent Fantastic contribution to the concept! Thank you. I love the idea of the school forming a meta creature for a brief moment! brilliant.

    The elaborate Archimbolo image could be printed out and added to the scene as a flat puppet.

  21. (^ mermaid followed by two seaben=d dwelling crabs/crawfish/clams.. heck even cuttlefish essing up the underwater lighting by flashing rainbow colors swimming along as the knee joints..
    (^ of a wannabe peacock trying to catch up and follow the mermaid in her wake.

    (^ the bits on the floor ( "feet" whatever they be)
    (^ are is essence the "sticky feet" sinc up to camlog the layered effects fish etc to.

    steven johnson did ythis sort of thing with prudence fenton I think on some old bubblisious commercial.

    (6 and speaking of Poo Fenton...
    (^ that octopus you got?
    reminds me of 8 Arms to hold You..
    (^ first thing she ever worked on.

    (^ see if you can get her to help you find warehouse space.
    (^.. say prosser sent you.

    (^ she may say "whu?"
    (^ say "right between Peter Gabriel and Fazzo on the Human Rights Now special thanks. for amnesty international.

    (^... that should do it.

    (^ note who I'm tossing at you.
    (^ she's good ppl.
    (^ at least WAS way back on some coolaid commercial: last time i worked under her.

    (^.. yer welcome.

  22. @Edwound here's what's weird...

    I've met Prudence Fenton! Don't you think that's odd? The fact that I know her and you just gave me a suggestion to hook up with her?

    You giving me the entre to her is better than the impression I made on her I'm sure. My husband knows her from various things pretty well but when he introduced us she seemed not to have cared less that I was into stop mo. She didn't ask me a single Q about what I was into doing. Zippo, nada. Flatline. She be hating on me.

    We have mutual friends who know I'm deeply into this project and not one has thought to mention it to her, except for my husband. Good husband. Oh well.

    I can't make pppls vibe to me, either they do or don't. She seems to be in the don'ts.

    I'll ask Paul to check with her about warehouse space tho. THAT we could really use a connection to.

    Thanks, bRYEnd, your idea of undersea action sounds incredibly beautiful.

  23. (^ yes, well. you might be surprised how often synchronic smacks pop up around me.

    (^ happens with many a former grunt.

    (^ I am NOT surprised, tho I know nothing of you but your need for new warehouse.

    (^ prudence once offered me a sleeping corner at her and her then husbands place, first year I moved to L.A.

    (^ perhaps she just found my over talkativeness to be mindboggingly distractiveand was trying to figure a way to slow up my frenetic phonetically charged posturing.

    (^ oH!.. something else just struck me!
    (^ like a smacker O'' bluurdy!

    (^ how does warehouse space in longbeach
    california sound?

    (^ you see.. uhm..
    (^ how to put this without it sounding callus.

    (^ someone passed on of late.
    (^ skin cancer.

    (^ from what I
    've lived thru, I can imagine there may be a bit of a struf=ggle as to what to do with the left behind properties?

    (^ I mean. If I'd known you in 2002, you could have gotten 22 acers of land near chimney rock, nebraska with a full house, and some old churchuill films niki mathews puppet molds from Stanly and the dinosaur and I think some children heads from morris goes to school buried under my trailer house ,
    (^ yoiks what a run along sentance!:;^)0

    (^ you could have saved me much grief and loss by perch acing the whole shebang for under 60 thousand.

    (^ as it is, I only know a very few might help you out "just because"..

    (^ hell who knows.
    (^ try Jake Kasdan.
    (^ tell him another personality wrapped up in the Daryl Zero character asked .

    (^ Dan Bern and I go so far back I think I may have been to laurences hidden home without knowing it.

  24. 22 acres in Nebraska (with molds!) sounds good right about now.

    I don't you, not even your "name", except that you've obviously worked a lot, know a lot of talented people, and express yourself in the most unique way.

    Long Beach is a bit to far from where Paul must get to work each day. We are needing to be in downtown or Culver City area for sure. And we'd be renting vs. buying. Even if we could, I wouldn't care to buy in LA as I'd want to buy where I'd care to settle for good. That wouldn't be here. Paul doesn't want to split LA now though. Meanwhile, Halfland gets built in this cheap warehouse loft!

  25. A-Ha! I figured out who you are! I recognized your sculpture style off of your Flickr stream(s) from another animator's post about one of your pieces! HA!

    I feel sleutherific!

    Well, at least I know your "name." Does that mean I get 3 wishes?

  26. (^ wish away.
    (^ I haven't "worked" in nearly a decade.
    (^ well, yeah I have, but in bunraku puppet sculpting
    ((^ and in playing house hubby ^))

    (^ real name truly is
    Brian M. Prosser: but yer less likly to find that of value.

    (^ too low down and far back in the credits. if I got any, which was rare.

    (^ L.A. is long ago and far past for me.
    (^ I do talk a smattering with a few musicians when they want a laugh or thrice.

    (^ I'm easy to spot, really. I've nothing to hide.
    (^ not even secret hush hush trying to make money off my skills stuff.

    (^I'm wide open.

    (^ . I'm just trying to figger out how to help out without it costing me more than time and effort.

    (^ sew, ye found one of my two flikrs, eh?
    (^ I have stuff ferreted about in some odd places: comes from being web conscious for so long most of my good stuffs stuck in the wayback machine off

    (^ but seriously. getting used to shooting and taking down sets can be spiritually draining.
    drink fluids.
    hug those that have ever helped unless they're touchyphoebic.

  27. Dehydrated as we speak! Hitting the bottle.

    I don't hug but I do send hand-made thank you cards.

    Thank you for helping, Brian M. Prosser.

  28. Shelley Noble re'ped:
    > I do send hand-made thank you cards.

    (^ save it for my ASKetchBOOK.
    > Thank you for helping, Brian M. Prosser.
    (^ I try to at the very least and best acsendi sentimental saidiments

    (^ so hears something to print out and glue to some foam core board and make a 3-D mockbox turtle out of.

    (^ I thinkerme swapping book is caught up infront of some home where there was a plumming problem, somewhere near Ontario, CALIFORIA?

    (^ wHOLEy bedgAEIOU suss!
    (^ that's as odd as knowing there's a Buffalo TEXas!

  29. I got about 30% of that==a Mockbox turtle sounds good though!

  30. (^ woopSeuss. went overboard.
    (^ translation: I tried to send an attatchment to a "no reply" adress of something that will be in my sketchbook. I think you are or at least were part of the sketchbook swap experiment begun by castlegardner.

    (^ I'm now off to the international district to pick up a little dragon puppet thingy that I've plans to attach good earth tea bag tabs to like scales.
    (^ they have "wise sayings" on them.
    (^ (^ all I was saying was the home made thankyou card can be something you sketch in my sketchbook if and or when it finds you.

    (^ was that instinctually distinct enough?

    (^ I have a few pet projects of my own, you see.
    (^ most of them remain incomplete for decades.

  31. Yes, got it now, thanks for bringing it down to where I could grasp it.

    I won't be getting the Castlegardner sketchbook as I don't sketch. But teabag wise saying scales sounds incredible!

    incomplete for decades, yep, sounds familiar tune. My current thought regarding this Halfland project is that it's too large to do by myself, rather than I'm putting it off or unable to finish it.

    It just takes so much time--fun--but time.

    It reminds me of the stop motion frame rate reality, where the puppeteer's hands move at a faster rate than the puppet. Only in this reality, I'm the puppet moving 24 times as slow as the puppeteer! Whomever that is...

  32. (^ hee hee he she IT! are ppl still trying to shoot on 24s?
    (^ how ludicrous ! bump it back to single frame for digital video: 30, or ^), 60 ! if you count 3D of 3D: two frames interlaced from left and right eye.

    (^ or heck get serious and shoot at 170 frames per second: play it back at 30, to get slow mo effectiveness on wind turbulence, light refraction, dust particles in the smoke and mirrored layers.

    (^ transferring over to film for projectors that are gonne=ah get replaced soon enough by digital broadcast hooks to movie theaters for better clarity may be something to think about .

  33. God is filming me on the 2's! hee.

    You know, I might just well shoot as you describe above, I just might. Helpful, thank you!

  34. Anonymous8:21 PM

    I keep seeing references to 24p playback with hi def digital screens, so I don't think it is necessarily dying with film. I'll bet Coraline is shooting at 24 fps with their digital cameras. It will be converted to ntsc 30 fps for US DVD release, PAL 25 fps for Australasia and Europe.

    I'm not sure about Blu-Ray HD, whether it will stick to the standard def video frame rates in each country, or use 24p, or be a confusing hodgepodge of options.

    Personally I like 25 fps because 4 seconds is exactly 100 frames, so it's easy for my math-challenged little brain to work out. But that would be make no sense in the US. Sometimes I would like it to be 50 fps to get smoother fast action, but mostly I'm glad it isn't.
    I'll do the PeaFishies at whichever frame rate is required.

  35. Hi Nick, Can't we just shoot the Peafish at the rate you'd like and then squish and stretch it to fit the amount of time we'd like? (I just lost your respect didn't I!)

    In a way I'm being serious, albeit not technical. I hope to "paint" with the animation layers so that the action goes where we want rather than planning frame count/rate up front. Does this make it easier?

    Art over Animation on this one.

  36. Anonymous11:49 PM

    Ok, I'm beginning to get your approach maybe...
    I make the action go where I want by doing it that way. No planning, but I move the amount that feels right for the frame rate you are using.
    You can stretch up to a point. Exactly doubling the number of frames works pretty well. It will be a tiny bit steppy, or you can use frame blending (but that creates semi-transparent images which stuffs up the bluescreen, because it's half blue and half fish colours). Frontlight-backlight handles the partial transparency better so that's why I thought I could maybe composite it for you. (It also handles the fact that there are both blue and green on the fish.)
    But changing it from 24 or 25 fps to 30 fps means doubling up every fifth frame, creating a sort of stutter. It's like you forgot to move it for that frame, and it shows. So uneven amounts of stretching tend to be more visible. It may look better to just have the fish swim faster.
    Just doing it right in the first place is far less technical, so that would be my preference. (In fact you've probably stopped reading by now, turned off by this technical stuff!)

    But I'm getting the feeling this is more like a collage than a seamless integration of elements so they look like they were all there on set together. Is that sort of right?

  37. Stopped reading? You kid! More like lapping up.

    Yes, exactly. The underwater scene will have to be a collage (perfect description) rather than smoothly integrated, just by the very nature of everyone contributing a different style of puppet, material, movement, etc.

    That's why I thought to shoot all the little characters in it on their own and compose them together in an editing program so as not to specifically drive myself crazy.

    The frame rate for the film is as yet undetermined. I haven't even purchased the equipment yet. Although, if I were to ask my intuition, I'd say 30fps slowed down to the space of 24 for smoothness in the majority of the action at least on dry ground.

    I would like the undersea life to move in slow motion.

  38. I would like the undersea life to move in slow motion.
    (^ better start shooting half pencil lead thickness moves then.

    (^ remember: always easier to crop out than add in

  39. What if I shoot 30fps in the thickness of moves I'd like, like two full pencil lead thickni say, and then run that footage at the "right" looking slo mo speed? I will work this out by gum, or buy gum.

  40. (^ yep. shoot on ones: even on halves: then play back on twos is better than shooting on twos then trying to play back at 60fms.
    (^ I thing you got it . I trust you.

    (^ OH! one last oh wowww mann..
    does lightning in the darkened sky above water make blurred motion go all strobe like for a few frames?
    harsh crisp sharp clarity? but then back to mutted color blurry?

    (^ .. I think I need sleep.

  41. Greatly complimented, thank you.

    I'll leave the big flash matters to the experts.

    Thankfully, there's no lightening in Halfland...

    (Series One, anyway) ;-D


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