Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I Picture Halfland Books Moving!

Start Casey Neistat's vlog from November 11, 2015 at mark 8:52 near the end for a clue to the future of Halfland.

They are called Video Brochures and I intend to have six small sequences of Halfland animation embedded into them and have them bound into over-sized Halfland storybooks, that are fully illustrated with embellished stills of the whole story.

There will be three total volumes to tell the whole Halfland tale, each with about six chapters, a motion device like these for each chapter, featuring an important moment in the story.

I'm picturing a simple twenty second moment of; Night time in Rana's cottage, her turning her head toward the hearth and leaning over to stir the kettle of soup; then looking up into the camera and giving the reader/guest a pleasant smile, for one.

Another could be, in the third volume, the whole troop of characters, dressed in their travel gear, fighting their way into the golden sands of the Secret Season. The sound could be of wild winds blowing.

A new friend and Halfland fan, told me that when she was little, she would pour over a special set of children's books she had. She would read the stories and then close the books and tilt their lenticular illustrated covers over and over, just to get the thrill of seeing moments of the story to move a little.

I think these may have been the "illustrated puppet books" she was remembering from the 60's:

This new technology of embedded media players into paper books would, to my mind, allow Halfland story-art books to hopefully be even more magical an experience for their readers.

More on this later...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

I'll Be Sea-ing You!

Yes, I know, it's ridiculous! I am well underway on the construction of the undersea set. I meant to hold off on building this in hopes someone else could take it on as their own project. But, as always happens, whenever I say "I won't work on xyz" The very next thoughts that rush into my mind are in fact, fun, easy methods for how to build that very thing. And then I'm all in and off I go building.

The good news is that there's now a 100% better chance of all you lovelies actually seeing your wonderful fish puppets in the film! 
I sketched the idea with a small paper box, cutting out as much as possible without destroying the integrity of it. Next, wrapped it in plastic sheeting and painted it black, to vignette the edges of the openings, leaving one of the short ends open like a lens to film through.
Lit from above, I walked my hand around inside the sketch and viewed through the opening. Even without any blue tinting, etc. it looked like the idea would work as I wanted. So it was onto the full-sized version....!

Bought 3 large moving boxes for $1.20 each, fitting one inside the other halfway, and using duck tape (it actually was Duck Tape brand of duct tape.) to secure all seams, inside and out. Then I set about cutting it open, extending the side openings out like wings to increase the width of the set.

The far short end will be painted blackest black and have a diffusion in front of it so it will feel like it disappears into far distance. The interior will be carpeted in thin painted foam that had been laminated onto layers of aluminium foil so it is posable. On the right, you see the set all fully sculpted and all corregated edges taped-off with masking tape ready for painting.

Stay tuned... having illegal amounts of fun with this.

Thanks for watching.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Visit from Shel and Daughter Unit A!

Yay! It had been about three years I think since I'd seen Ms. Shel Rasch! (Director of wonderful award winning stop motion films such as Dogonauts and Gerald's Last Day) Too long!

Updated to add that I went to see the Raschs at the premiere of their short; Dogonauts--Enemy Line!

The last time was when she came all the way over to the old loft when I was in bad physical condition during a rush move into this new place and was destroying a lot of the sets and concerned about how to proceed. It meant so much that she came over and gave me some of her good vibrations and told me everything was going to be okay. Her visit then made all the difference.

Shel is one of the extraordinary souls that make you feel better when they are around. There's a rumor that the Rasch family may be moving out of LA for good at some point so it's important to make sure we see each other while she is still nearby. She visited the other day along with the (nearly grown up (!) budding concept artist, Daughter Unit A.

We caught up a bit and I got to show them the new set ups here. I love when I get to show people the jokes coming in the bug party scene. One thing they got to see that hasn't been blogged, is this tiny present with the plain moth. The lid is rigged to open and the moth can emerge and fly away. I embedded the hand-made box into the base (upper left) so only the moth will move during that sequence. The base will be screwed into the set from underneath. What such a moth, with gold on its wing tips, means I don't yet know.

I only snapped the above shots of the ladies updating their signing in our dark hallway on the guest artist boards as they were about to leave because I just wanted to enjoy spending time with them, to take them in as much as possible while I still can.

Hopefully, we'll get to do it again! Because Shel Rasch and her lovely daughter are some of the most talented, interesting people on the planet. Love you guys!

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Mouseland Comes to Halfland!

Lucky me! I got to have one of my most favorite artists, the one I feel most kindred with, come to visit last week! The extraordinary Ms. Maggie Rudy, creator of Mouseland (no, we did NOT copy each other--the names of our places being so similar was pure coincidence.)

I didn't have to fret about Maggie's visit, you know, whether my housekeeping was presentable, etc., because having her over was as natural as having myself over. That's how much I understand her, and believe she, me.
“My house is only clean when I'm neglecting my art!”
(Maggie-ism when I told her I wouldn't likely have time to get the house in shape) 

We had a long enough visit for me to show her my most important favorites and for a few things she thought I should know about to be written down, during speed talking conversation. She brought me a "January box"! (It was a super duper doozy one, details below). I gave her her January box early, as she was here but I'm continuing to add to one for mailing up to her early next year on schedule. These are little boxes in which we collect material that we feel may be of use in our respective lands and send through the mail. I started doing it just to show my appreciation for her work, a fan tribute. She outdid mine with what she brought down with her though and never has to give me another thing again.

Another tradition, established this visit, was to cook each other lunch with as much vivid natural color as possible. Fun, right? It was accidental as I was talking so much I didn't know what I was putting in the oven. Only about half of what I had planned to serve her got made. But what came out was so bright and pretty we enjoyed it all the more. Now the problem is getting me to leave my house to get to Portland to for her chance to do it. Ha.
She gave me a precious Mouseland button. I think one of the things I love the most about Maggie's work, besides the wonderful details and loving craftsmanship, is the living emotion her characters possess. She has the uncanny ability to instill her mice figures with an Illusion of Life even if they aren't moving (she makes charming animations with them when she wants). They not only seem alive but also alive with genuine feeling and thoughts.

One of the things we spoke about was realism in making things like insects. How some people are  able to remarkably replicate nature itself (I pointed her to Graham Owen's work as an example). She, in her authentically funny way, said that she used to be interested in that sort of perfect imitation bug making but then found that...
"I just wanted to put a dress on it!"

Girl, I hear you!

Here's what she brought in my Goodie Box that you may find as interesting as I did:
• high quality 12mm glass eyes by Pat Secrist
• dark copper wire, finer even than a hair (sourced from motors)
• smallest seed beads (on earth) from... are you ready for this?!... her Great-Grandmother's dress. (I felt faint from her giving them to me. So precious. A gift to treasure.)
• real oak galls (!) maybe from the very forests surrounding her house?!
• vintage flower pistils in several colors
• the box even features a cameo of Mouseland mice!
• beautiful array of beige natural materials; opium poppy pods, antique veiling, flax, and wasp paper (the delicate color variants come from what the wasps have eaten and spit out during nest construction, it was explained.)
• vintage trims
• striped fine twine that is used for fly tying to make centipede speckled legs. (She mentioned what a fantastic resource fly tying suppliers can be! like Montana Fly Co.)
• packet of vintage specimen pins (original Emil Arlt Elephant #2 to be precise--finest pins ever made) the kind one would have used to display mounted insects. But I love the simple paper wrap they came in just as much! It reads "Made in Austria" on one side and looks terrifically 1930's era as well.
• package of frilly faux eyelashes that she recommends for use as insect antennae (great notion!)
• preserved sea foam green lotus leaves (her favorite color)
Thank you, for these wonderful things and the thoughtfulness with which they were prepared and carried all this way.
In addition to showing her the Halfland sets and puppets, I got to share Dare Wright's Lona (my most seminally inspiring and beloved work of art), talked about projects, told some personal stories, talked about people we have in common, had our lunch, showed her all the fairy finds made for my downstairs neighbor girls over the last couple years (above, she's enjoying the fairy shoes in the light), and gave her some woad. (You know, she needed woad! I know she did.)

All that in about 2.5 hours?! How is that even possible?? We wish we lived nearer. It would be incredible to share more, talk more, cross-pollinate our creativity. But until that happens, we'll have to be satisfied with a rare visiting, every now and again.

Maggie, you are amazing. Love you.
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