Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Porch Report

Supreme architect and friend, M.Charles was fantastic a few weeks back when he came to visit and help design & build the cottage porch here in Halfland. You helped me so much that day, Charles. I can't thank you enough. THANK YOU!

He dove in and did a lot of problem solving to work out the perfect porch for this set using nothing but materials on hand. His wonderful sketches are above. He wouldn't leave until he got the construction well underway.
 Cirelle came a few Saturdays back and talked me through how I could construct the rest. That helped a lot too. Last night I made good progress in actually installing the portico lattice roof of her suggestion from redwood lathing strips, after actually installing the handmade twig and spindle railings that she had launched.
It's still in progress as you see it above, yet surprisingly rugged and sturdy, held to the cottage via just two screws.  What happens next is the wisteria chair gets finished and planted off the back of the decking and its vines woven in between the roof's trellis slats. But that's after the entire porch structure gets its color/tone evened out with diluted acrylic paints.

Cirelle will have to get the window box replanted with it's tiny fleurs. And the water bucket pulley system devised for over the rain barrel. Rana's loom will have to be built and set on this new room/porch and her bags of wool set around it. I'll have to use wood epoxy to secure the little acorn nut post caps to complete the scene.

The scenes planned for the porch set (on the cottage set) is Rana seen weaving a macro texture of a butterfly wing in wool on her rustic loom with a spider nearby threading gems onto its web in the doorway.
Construction deets: I have sorted all my dried and seasoned branches and twigs in the store room, so it was a simple matter to locate fairly uniform diameter twigs to cut down for the porch's railing balusters and posts. With Charles' advice in my ear, I constructed the railings by careful cutting and gluing. I used a scrap of some kind of wooden channel that I was able to shove the uprights into for stability. I used ample wood glue and let the four lengths dry flat with heavy tools as weights.

After they were solid, I filled in any gaps and blended the various shapes into the form with my trusty pre-mixed flexible cement. The railing lengths were joined by a time consuming process of drilling small holes into each newel post and length in order to embed pieces of wire between each join. Then the glue, then the cement, and finally the wood epoxy. The tall porch posts were custom fitted with cement collars so they can be removed from their drilled plug-in holes. After that was all dry I moved the porch set from the workshop to the main set for finishing and installation.

Meanwhile, I took apart a very old store bought twig chair, chopped it to pieces and reassembled it to be smaller for Halfland's main scale. I've had the chair for years and have always noticed little munchy bits heaped around the chair wherever it was. I knew something was inside having itself a feast. Sure enough, as I was disassembling it, I discovered the entire chair was filled with cleared out tunnels and holes. Somehow I don't mind. It seems right that Halfland should have living things in it.

I have been creating a wisteria vine for the porch from old dead tree trunks that I've saved and handmade fabric blossoms and crepe paper leaves. I've been wiring those elements onto the chair, trying to make them seem half of the other. I want her porch chair to look nearly grown there.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Desert Pre-Viz

For the last scenes in the series, figured out a way to create the desert landscape for our finished props. Made a sketch to get the feel for building the next steps.

It involves taking the real sand covered (queen-size) sheet and draping it over very large crumpled rolls of paper free from the factory bin out back. (seen in diagram below, pipe on back wall is electrical conduit for scale.) 
Started laying out the set in an open space last week to see what's what. Turns out the sheet covered in sand doesn't go on for miles as I'd thought. But it will handle the texture for the foreground very well. 
An easy solution to create more terrain will be to use more paper to establish the dune shapes and then cover them with matching thin foam sheets or inexpensive fabric dyed to match the sand. I also feel the real sand needs to be stained from the natural color to bright golden yellow with a bit of gold leaf flecks in the close-up areas.

The material used for the background hills will be made to match the final sand color, rolled under at the edges and fluffed into shape. Should blend well enough, especially for the blurred background.

The desert set was always planned to be placed in front of the same infinity sky scrim built for the main cottage set. If I position the desert at an angle, I may be able to fit it in without having to dismantle the main landscape much. If not, I can always take the desert set outdoors and shoot there. It's a very portable set as the sands can shift as they like, as real sand does, won't matter in this film and may even add a nice montage effect. Even the sun light moving at the "wrong" frame rate may enhance the surreal effect of these particular scenes.

Should take place bathed in strong end-of-day golden sunlit glow though.Will play off the gold nicely.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Elytra, She Ain't No Lady

Here she is.... meet the leader of the Bug Band at the wild insectile party, that is scheduled as soon as it gets the dark the night you are in Halfland. She's the No Lady Ladybug, Elytra. Her bass fiddle-head cello has a soulful sound while she sings the blues.
She started out puppet-life as a jacaranda tree seed pod tarted up to look like a lady bug. Lengths of wire were crudely twisted around preserved twigs to make her six arms and legs quickly.
I'm not trying to replicate nature, just a half impression. I like it when the results say both insect and handmade puppet from natural materials.

Her legs were built up into almost human shapely sexy legs with thick mediums over thicker wire. These were them coated in matte medium and sheathed in painted fine mesh netting to create a naughty stocking effect. Her sparkle red pumps were carefully sculpted onto her feet and glittered with ultra fine red glitter coated with gloss when dry. Her legs were rigged with jewelry findings in order to be mobile enough to keep time with the music's beat. A hex bolt was embedded under her breast plate with wood epoxy putty. How rude.

I had fun adding her tiny white hair curls complete with stray bristles and strands, her pearl and stone necklace positioned to frame the decolletage of her buggy cleavage, her nipple slippage from under her breast plate, and other details.

I painted stiff lace black and cut it into wing shapes and positioned them, like a negligee, under her mirror image red shell, called an Elytra on ladybugs. Maybe that's a good name for her?
Even her jaunty beret is nothing more than a natural eucalyptus cap, positioned to cover her seed pod pronotum, the part on a lady bug that protects their head and makes it look a bit more round.

I'm debuting her first because it's her nightclub in which the party takes place and because she is the headliner of the buggy ensemble, our star.

Next posts, I plan to intro the nearly finished (!) rhythm section and drums, woodwinds, and guitar players, each of the other four featured soloists who will improvise on the groovy melodies over the swinging arrangements.

This rollicking storybook party is on.
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