Don't Pull That Thread

I've long loved pareidolia, naturally occurring objects that can take on the appearance of other things. It's a trick of the brain that wants to recognize something familiar. That's a terribly important survival skill, to recognize friend or foe in a millisecond.

I really am striving to put as many of these types of things-that-look-like-other-things in Halfland as possible. After all, that's really a big point of Halfland, that things we "see" all the time in life might be more than we thought. Is that rock alive? etc.

Here's a couple more planned to be included:
I woke up the other day to notice my sweater had taken on the appearance of a jolly character. (seen above as I saw it lying down (with a slight digital sketching assist), and at right rotated to identify the expression more easily. I'm thinking of making the throw blanket into this sort of quasi face.

Bottom left shows how a scrap of orange thread and formed itself into an insect like shape on my robe. I want a few more ambiguous moments of wonder in Halfland like this to complement the more overt transformations. I would love it if people of all ages started thinking they saw something alive that is usually taken for inanimate. That half-state of reality is where Halfland really resides.


  1. well no doubt you are awake. I love this post. Now it's time for me stop being awake.... stopmotion work makes you burn the midnight oil...this is a good way to end the night.

  2. Shelley, I still can't believe this thread isn't an insect... Amazing! I also had a closer look at your mooresque rocks, they're beautiful! How much could you support that effect just by, let's say, the camera angle? Is it possible to push that effect technically? Any idea?

    I love that feeling being tricked by our senses and eventually discover what's really going on...

  3. HI Rich, when you wrote that I was asleep but now that I'm reading it I'm awake. Or am I?.... hee. Thanks so much! I think that maybe the people drawn to stop motion tend to be Night Owls don't you think? I can't imagine a normal sane disciplined person being interested. Am I wrong?

    Hi Jessica! I know! I hope I can recreate those little fluff insects for Halfland. I've saved that one just in case.

    As far as camera angles supporting that living stones effect, I think I understand what you mean. I'll have to shoot those stones in a way where we move past them long enough to think we see the human form in them. Is that what you mean? Or do you mean this, which is also VERY exciting to me, the idea of having a cluster of something that makes a shadow of something else?

    I want to get at least one of those illusions built in as well.

    Can you say more about what you meant?

  4. My idea was the following (it's sometimes so difficult to explain complex things in English...):
    Our brain is going to be fooled because our eyes just got a quick look, right? At this quick glance our brain decides if it remembers what it sees and if, sends a signal that it does. In this process errors could occur, which is why we see an insect instead of thread, faces instead of stones... whatever...

    If the camera offers us an point of view like the one we have when these errors occur we could trigger that impression much more easily... I also thought what kind of focal lenght would work best for that effect... Perhaps a Makro to enlarge tiny things? Does that make sense? I have no idea if this is going to be helpful, but I love the idea being fooled and then eventually discover the truth in such a playful way...

  5. AH, I see! (By the way, the only I know how to say in German is that, "I am a donut." so, you're way ahead of me.)

    I see what you mean about assisting the visual "mistake".

    I don't know about this kind of error taking place from certain angles or distances, DOF, etc. But you do raise the point that the error could be absolutely enhanced in the film by INSERTING the mistake image in frames between the almost-error puppet.

    Like, if I show a thread insect, I could slide a few frames of an even more realistic orange insect puppet into the shot and flip it back and forth until it turns back into the thread fluff by the sequence's end.

    Then it's as though I'm more directly leading the viewer's brain to see what I'd like them to.

    Brilliant idea!

  6. So… you're a donut? :D

    We're like sparkling, idea-generating factories, aren't we? That's what I like best about being an creative: having ideas and then bringing them into reality...

    Have a nice Easter weekend!

  7. I really like your idea of flipping between frames from the normal to the transformed - whenever I get tired I get alot of those out-of-the-corner-of-my-eye transformations of objects - I'd love to see that effect in half-land!

  8. HA! Actually.... I'M A PIE!

    (Made that image several years ago, it's still true, only there is no leisure slice any more, or housework slice, or husband slice, but there is a ballet slice)

    Yes, creative factories, Jessica!

    Thanks, Emmy, I think I'll make nearly identical little illusion puppets along the way and swap them out for the sheer delight of that. Could be a nice touch in this.

  9. Cool, that thread defiantly fooled me. I love the video in the last post with the lady 'wowing' over the set. It looks amazing by the way.

  10. Thanks, Jeff! It's getting there. Wow, can't wait!

  11. I just laughed aloud when I read the beginning of your post re: "naturally occurring objects that can take on the appearance of other things. It's a trick of the brain that wants to recognize something familiar." I immediately thought of how often I see something on my floor at home & think "oh no, it's a dropped dingleberry!"... only to discover upon closer examination that it's not from our cat... that it's only a dried baked bean or a tiny, wet dead leaf or something like that. HA! I'd rather be fooled into seeing something more fun!

    I am envious of your more exciting examples of this phenom. The thread-bug is great, but I love the sweater. I saw a sleepy python right away! Maybe I need more "training" to see fun living things in lifeless objects? I need watching Halfland develop, to help teach me to see :-) Thanks for sharing its development so frequently!

  12. Wow, Henniemavis, "I need watching Halfland develop, to help teach me to see :-)" That's about the best compliment I've ever had. Thank you!

    Once you start letting you vision see the patterns of faces, etc. you won't stop! It's like a switch that gets flipped on. Handbags with snaps and gaping zipper maws become comical characters. All sorts of poetic things start to flash in the corners of your vision.

    The Halfland character, Yanu, the moth man, won't actually ever be "seen" in the films for this reason. He'll always be a blur in motion or other wise seen partially.

    I've got a collection of my most favorite Pareidolia I should park somewhere online to share with you!

    (DaVinci also loved Pareiodola and was the first to write about the brain phenomenon, I believe.)

  13. Shelley, I am totally amazed with this idea. It fits so well to Halfland.

    I thought it was a bug when I first saw that thread too. I think you have more abilities for pareidolia in a film compare to a static painting, etc.. It should be all about getting the viewers brain ready for transformation of inanimate objects. Such as in film, if you first show a piece of thread wawing like a snake on the ground in the wind before showing that inanimate bug thread I think it could work perfect. It is like if I saw a bug walking on my leg in the garden, I can think of a piece of thread as a bug on the floor when I come into the house...

    Is this similar to what you would do in Halfland? Or do you take it like a pareidolia in static painting?

  14. HI Yazzy! Firstly, you always amaze me with your ability to express sophisticated thoughts in your second language! How do you smart people do that!@?

    Secondly, I hadn't thought of a moving metaphor, although, in truth, that's what all the characters in the film are...

    Allegory. Hidden meanings. Symbolism. Representing ideas. But mostly Myth. unusual beings that explain natural phenomenon, like wisdom, patience, or fear.

    I had in mind visual puns, double meaning illusions and the like. Tricks of the eye. After, Jessica's suggestion, I pictured a thread bug being shown as being made of thread but then the same creature only as a more realistic insect, via a few frames of each interspersed during a shot. (replacement puppets)

    Is it an insect? Or is that thread? Just like happens in real life. Only in Halfland it is slightly more obvious and hopefully magical that it is an insect.

    My fondest hope for the film is to get the audience to look for, naturally notice, and privately connect with more of the subtle life around them in this world.

    I didn't know that until I typed it.

    Thank you for asking, Yaz.

  15. "My fondest hope for the film is to get the audience to look for, naturally notice, and privately connect with more of the subtle life around them in this world."
    I wonder if there could be a better explanation for the purpose of ART... "Naturaly notice and privately connect" ...

    I now have a better idea about what you are trying to do here. Your words about a thread bug being shown as being made of thread but then the same creature only as a more realistic insect reminded me of something from Sagan which you wrote me before: "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." This is not the same thing but somehow made me recall this quote.

    I really can not wait to see Halfland! Even following up your process is like watching whole another wonderful film.

    English :))) I do sound like a kid sometimes while trying explain complex issues :)) Thanks for the niiiiceeeee words!!

  16. This all makes me think of an effect in Henson's Labyrinth - rocks at different distances combine to form a face, but only when the camera is in the right spot. As it moves along the rocks pull apart and are separate rocks again, the face is gone. Much like stars form constellations from where we see them on earth.

    I'm picturing a bit of thread cut from the spinning wheel and falling to the floor, maybe on top of a scrap of something so they form something new, then wriggling/flying away as it takes on life... in a place like Halfland, maybe if we see an insect, an insect comes into being in that instant!

    I like the sweaterman - existing for that moment, then if you pick it up it's a sweater again.

  17. Wow, Can I just say, I'm humbled by the caliber of people discussing these things here.

    Yaz, you make such a great point about the ideal effect of art. Yes, that is my intent exactly. That, and the illegal amount of fun making this world is! Mostly, the illegal amount of fun this all is.

    Nick, you are brilliant. I love how you've brought a context for the gag to the film! Thank you!

    I still have to see Labryrinth, believe it or not. The rock illusion you describe sounds exactly the kind of thing that makes my knees go weak.

    I have a collection of reference images of this sort of physical illusion making shadows, and a few of the optical illusion images that can switch depending on how you shift your gaze (I think I'll post the page.)

  18. I thought the roaches had moved in!! seriously real,...and the sweaterman,,,great! I thought at first you were going to make the sweater a crawling thing, then I saw what you saw from your the way eyes and mind work and don't work....I saw a face in the smudges of my sliding glass door and tried to capture it on captured me. I didn't wash it for a long time, watching to see how it might change. I also showed others,,we looked for other faces and saw a few,,or, did we just want matter..


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