Thursday, September 24, 2020

Catching Up: Beetles Fan Club!

My dear friend, Shari asked me in 2016 for something just laying around extra from Halfland as her birthday present. I can't believe this is the first time I'm getting to tell you about it. 

Of course, nothing much is laying around extra in Halfland so I made her a little Halflandian-style birthday beetle just for her.

It's a bug that would fit right into the Halfland bug party but is kept at Shari's house as a keepsake from her "unusual" friend. It's always fun to make these bugs!

I made a base of earth from painted sponge and railroad grass, sat the beetle on a velvet leaf with a mushroom ice-cream cone, all under a small glass dome.

Catching Up: The Quiet Girl Is Gone


These photos are not only adorable to have of any kitty, but they are also as rare as spotting a unicorn! We hardly ever saw this cat of ours and one day, while looking absolutely everywhere in the house for her, I accidentally peeped into the Halfland cottage set to find her sleeping on Rana's little bed!

Even before Cloud passed, Our most elder cat, Isabella passed away too. She was 20, which by any standard is a full life for a cat. But in her case, reaching that number was even more remarkable as her life was fraught with ill health and constant stress. She was a feral rescue when we lived in a canyon. She, and her brother from an earlier litter, were highly visible as pale, lilac-point Tonakese in a coyote feeding environment, where a cat's inability to blend into the brush at night meant they might not live.

Paul skillfully captured her, but by then it was a week or two later than we had caught her brother, and that seems to have made a big difference in her staying completely feral all her life. We hardly ever saw her in the 20 years. She never let us get close enough to her to touch her, ever. We never intentionally frightened her nor stressed her but she behaved as though everyone was a constant danger around her, even feeding her and looking out for her, and being kind made no obvious change.

Until the day she died.

On that day she came and sat on my lap unbidden. She purred and asked to be petted. I didn't catch onto what was happening until it became clear she was in real trouble. A few hours later, she cried for me to help her so I comforted her as best I could and then she vomited up blood. The serious kind, where there can be no mistaking that things inside her body were broken.

That's when I got online through tears and started Googling around for what we could do. After a while, it became clear, given her age and extreme pain, that we should call in a vet to the house to put Izzy down, to relieve her of her agony as soon as possible.

They came on an urgent basis within a couple hours and it wasn't until the kind doctor administered the drugs that would let her sleep and then cause her to die, that I felt the shrill wraith of pain that had filled the house all day at once subside. The contrast was so profound, I wept.

I was so grateful she had been relieved of her anguish and so contented that we could afford to have her pass in the most grace-filled way we could provide.

God bless you, dear Isabella. You lovely girl.

She liked hiding from everyone through the years on the Halfland sets.
The colored light through the window lower left was from wildfires burning that year.

Izzy on or near the day of her passing. Can you hear the pitched tone of pain even through the pictures?

Catching Up: A Lovely Grey Cloud Has Passed Over

Our long-time life companion, Cloud, passed away a while back and thought you should know.

She had had a stroke at some point and would fall down each step but then somehow kind of healed herself from that and lived a year or so longer. She never adjusted to having the two newer cats in the house and seemed unhappy since they arrived. We didn't know the optimal way to introduce them, not that in Cloud's case it would have improved their reception.

I think her being the Queen of the house--and then suddenly not--
rubbed her the wrong way and I'm truly sorry about that.

At rest in a square of sunlight, a few days before her passing.

As a wee rescue kitty found in the flower pots at our local home improvement store. 

Being starved nearly to death, she weighed 00.0 on the vet's scale when we took her right in and bit the nurse's finger when she opened a can of food for her, so hungry was our little grey cloud.

With early trauma like that, she was rightfully always food-obsessed. Here you see her just after stealing a huge beef roast off the counter, hot from the oven, bigger than she was, dragging it between her legs nearly tripping over it with each step. This is how she looked as I just took it away from her for our dinner. She is wondering how she can get it back.

I loved her. She had a very healing purr and would come to me when I sang her special song out loud.

For more fun photos and stories about Cloud, they're posted to Halfland Underground.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Tarn's Entrance

Sketch of half crow woman, Tarn. A mock-up of how she might look when we first see her outside
the cottage window at night. I was after your seeing a human face outside the window first and
then a giant crow staring back from the side of her face in the shadow, i.e.; the Halfland effect.

I have in mind a reworking of the lower jaw in the Tarn puppet. I am not entirely happy with the marriage of the lower beak to a human jawline. The puppet ended up looking more comedic then I was hoping so I was using the opportunity of making this digital sketch to work the concept out a bit better.

I need there to be no human chin and a large curved bill, like how my own profile feels when I let my jaw go slack, like this...

[candid shots]

But the result shouldn't look like a pelican either, as the current puppet looks above.

This exercise (sketch at top) helped me to see why I made the choices I did. But it also gave me the idea of how to modify the jaw to get closer to what I am after with the sketch.

In case you're interested, I composed the sketch digitally with this image (screengrab in an old movie that struck me as the right feeling for this shot in Tarn's entrance sequence.)

And this image (screengrab of a YouTube channel I follow that features trained corvis birds.)

I wanted a sketch of Tarn that had the right mood so I could put together some sound ideas from after yesterday's fun with the opening background sounds.

Want to hear the first background soundscape for Tarn's Entrance sequence? <<<<Click the link to the Super Generator and let it load! (Picture the visuals of the scenes rendered in the style of the top image.)

Here's a still shot of the 28 elements composed and controlled as I wanted them. (If you hover your cursor over each slider in the actual SuperGen linked above, you will be able to see the names of each specific sound that was used to make the scape.) Enjoy!

Note the notes: The ASMR style whisper you hear is more like the negativity that comes with this character and not the character herself speaking verbally. When I add a hit of glass shatter and baby crying effects I have into the mix, it'll be so right on!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Ron Beimel's Many Journeys

 Ron making a Christmas Cracker gift for his girlfriend at the old loft in 2010.

Ron's passing was reported in the news because of the international tragedy of it. But how he passed was but a metaphor for how he lived, striving for heights, challenging himself, and representing the best of humankind in his actions.


My husband was close friends with Ron's father Steve before Ron was born. Paul gave Ron a plush piggy when he was just a baby and this super cool, accomplished man unapologetically kept that piggy. He'd proudly tell Paul he still had it when we'd go to their home for dinners through the years even though he was a lanky teenager at the time. Above Paul and Ron in China as part of a large tour group coordinated by Ron's father. They remain life long friends.

I was privileged to know Ron and his family and delighted to watch Ron grow up into one of the most fiercely talented people I've known. He was a virtuoso on piano and violin, high-level warrior in multiple martial arts, a fine operatic singer, highly active in numerous social clubs at his university, highest-level graduate of the most prestigious language/translation school, fluent in multiple languages to the point of being a sought after live translator. Before his passing on the Himalayan expedition, Ron was leading tours to Asia in the tour company his father founded.

He leaves a great lack in the world at a time when we need every upstanding, hard-working, gifted individual we can hold. Ron was his parent's only child together. Ritsuko and Steve demonstrated the noblest and admirable strength at the enormous loss of their beautiful son. It was as if his needing to leave had been explained to their hearts by angels. 

He passed in June of 2019 at the age of 34 and I could only come to tell you about it now.

Want to Hear Halfland?

Morning in 1/2L Spring: My mock-up of a sample opening sequence frame
from the film 
with new (faux in this case) fresnel lens distortion and blur effects.

(flowers made of pale hand-dyed paper, sky made of 3 transparent layers.)

It's all happening very quickly now. Realizations that were hazy fragments are stunningly clear as pieces of sharp glass lens.

The Notes from Halfland coming to my unconscious mind with sudden clarity:

There would be no man-made musical instruments used in the soundtrack. (unlike what I had thought all these years) I had been envisioning a storybook, perhaps medieval, kind of folk soundtrack for this film, and had even gathered a few samples. I was about to approach a composer friend to license the use of something of his I'd heard that fit the bill, etc. But there was an awareness gathering in the knowing depths of not knowing that Halfland takes place before any instruments have been made or used. Or in a parallel place where instruments weren't made, more likely. 

I was slowly catching on, hearing, or noticing, sounds in videos that piqued my interest for use in Halfland without understanding what I was responding to. I wrote on the chalkboard to use human voice, metallic glimmers and shimmers, strums and stings, and ambient sound effects like rubs on balloons, crunches, claps, or scrapes.

I knew for years the soundtrack would be more of a "soundscape" with multiple stacks or layers of specific symbolic sounds that emphasized the storytelling, especially since there would be no dialog in it. I wrote here that there would be the sound of breaking glass and a baby crying when the dark Tarn entered the story.

I watch a lot of YouTube. I mean a lot. Gardening videos to educate me for food growing, stand up comedy to laugh, Tiny House tours, Black and white movies from the '30s and '40s for film education, etc. Inexplicably, I also kept watching horrible true crime murder videos, telling myself it was head-tweaking and that I should stop. But I kept pressing play on them because their soundtrack was acting on me like catnip. True Crime genre video documentary shows usually have these "tonal drones" running as they are laying out the truly horrific details of the cases. And even though the subject of the videos was making me afraid to ever leave the house again, the droning "tension" sounds were calming me and really interesting.

So now I know why. Just an hour or two ago, Paul showed me a cool new website for generating sound. I knew this was what I had been waiting for within 5 seconds. I have been sitting here reading how to use the amazing site and experimenting to see if it would work for Halfland and it was like the movie's hand fitting inside this sound track's glove. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Yes.

From the "Brainwaves" section there I learned about the origins of *Solfeggio Tones and their healing effects. I added one to my experimental opening sequence stack. And it did everything I had hoped.

I signed up as a patron of the genius creator of this site, Dr. Ir. St├ęphane Pigeon, (research engineer & sound designer) which provides access to expanded features and sounds to utilize for a modest monthly $5 donation.  He offers this extensive therapeutic sound site for free on a donation basis and records much of the sounds himself in remote locations. It's incredible. Best thing ever.

I just made my first SuperGenerator with four separate soundscapes; Chapel Voices, Solfeggio Tones, Distant Thunder, and Meadow Land, all gorgeous and profound.  I'll be able to take these generators as MP3 files into my video editing software as layers, modulate, embellish them with other sound files that flow with the action. I'm extremely excited at the potential of this new sound approach will have on the film.

Want to hear the first background soundscape for Halfland's Opening sequence? <<<<Click the link to the Super Generator and let it load! (Picture the visuals of the scenes rendered in the style of the top image.)

Here's a still shot of the 31 elements composed and controlled as I wanted them. (If you hover your cursor over each slider in the actual SuperGen linked above, you will be able to see the names of each specific sound that was used to make the scape.) Enjoy!

*...Solfeggio tones were introduced by Dr. Joseph Puleo and Dr. Leonard Horowitz in the seventies and were inspired by real facts. The name of these tones - for example - finds their roots in the eleventh century, when music theorist Guido of Arezzo developed a six-note ascending scale: ut, re, mi, fa, sol, and la. The seventh note, si, came a little later. These names were taken from the first verse of a Latin hymn to St. John the Baptist, Ut Queant Laxis.

Ut queant laxis, resonare fibris
Mira gestorum, famuli tuorum
Solve polluti, labii reatum
Sancte Iohannes

These names are still in use today in musical notation. They have precise frequency associations, octave by octave, which are derived from a particular musical temperament. The frequencies that were associated by Puleo and Horowitz are different: they were generated from the Bible's Book of Numbers, using a Pythagorean reduction algorithm based on our decimal number representation, applied to verse numbers of Chapter 7...

Friday, September 11, 2020

What Eliya Did

My angel, my hero, my champion, Eliya Eizerikova, just posted this shot to IG she took in 2016 when she flew from Isreal to Los Angeles to help me get going filming Halfland!

Only just saw this now and it captures me feeling so incredibly happy to be finally making my puppets move with Eliya's experience and great support and kindness.

Go see what she has been doing! It's even better!

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