Thursday, August 19, 2021

Giant Whacking Lens for Dreamy Storybook Film

The first 1/2L task I asked of builder Kyelynn was to frame out my all-important clear-spot fresnel lens.
These salvaged old tv plastic lenses are VERY soft (so tender a paintbrush leaves a mark!) and require full support to use effectively. She found the perfect tutorial for building the frame for these lenses on YouTube. Most folks use them to cook with sunlight off-grid. I may be the first person to use one for stop-motion filming effect.

The speaker stands holding it up were curb-lottery finds right out front of the house! But they had a key part missing... no problem...!

I had a small amount of very old Ice Resin leftover and cast the missing brake part using the wonderful Composimold product to create the mold. Kyelynn was amazed at what mold-making could do.

She stopped at a hardware store before the next visit and brought the missing hex nut that fit the new replacement part as well as right-sized nuts and bolt sets used to hang the framed lens on the stands. The frame stand is stable and fully adjustable for height and tilting so I'll be able to control the amount of distortion in each shot.

Scenes from the set room through the new lens.  These are straight from the phone
but the film scenes will have tons of digital editing and heavy vignetting at the edges.

Just beginning to get the way to work the lens, ways to whack the angles to stretch the edges of things. It's kind of like what I imagine a giant tilt-shift lens might be like. The effects changing depending on what distance the lens is placed, and the distance and angle the camera is positioned to the lens.

Close up gives a dreamlike effect, further away exaggerates the refraction as if looking through a water-filled bag. Lens flares can be controlled with black-out curtains on windows and wearing dark clothing while filming.

One may wonder why use magnifying lenses like this for stop motion. The answer is here and here. But in short, it's because I want this world called Halfland to be highly textural and detailed but seen as if through an antique lens with all its lovely distortions and blur. This project has to be slightly dreamlike rather than give edge-to-edge clarity.

I've been stumbling toward this all along. For example, this set of reference images of what I most wanted 1/2L to look like from a 2007 (!) blog posting: 


Saturday, August 14, 2021

Underground Stuntworm!


I need this? YES!
A little interstitial moment somewhere I'm sure. (Still TBD).
These sets will add a great deal of depth to the world of Halfland,
making it feel more dimensional and full.
I know that seeing the earth underground, as
I've made places to plant some trees this year,
really adds a lot to my experiences of that sort in this world.

On the side of the underground set I used leftover dirt cloth made back at the loft (perhaps for this purpose) to make ridges and groves for the silk-covered worm puppet to wriggle into and around.

The puppet itself is made on a plastic ball-jointed armature, covered with layers of tight fabric wrapping cinched with wire to enhance its many hourglass curves. The final layer was a ruched tube of silk that had been sun-faded outside for a long while. It just looked right so I used it. Coated it finally in a flexible iridescent medium that makes things appear to be wet, to contrast with the flat matte of the dirt.

I shot these test shots with a small fresnel magnifying lens to add the Halfland atmosphere and slight analog distortions I need to make it all feel dream-like and poetic. I found that if I draped myself in black felt, I could control the flares and glares.

Friday, August 13, 2021

Halfland's Velvet Underground

DONE! This small macro set was hanging out in my mind for YEARS!
I tried to omit it for time's sake but asked myself how I would make it with all the roots
and stones being born I'd been diligently collecting.
How could I make something feel as though it was buried?
See, that's the trick (or trouble), asking a question like that provides the answers!

Took a box (not hard to find these days) and started taping brown paper into crumpled rolls and taping them to the inside surfaces. Painted that with a nice brown/burnt umber acrylic, and then sauced around seeking a clean material to texture it with.

Coffee! Watered down glue and my magic matte medium slathered on and then heavily dusted with rich Colombian coffee that had long gone stale. I wondered too late whether handling ground coffee for days would be dangerous but Google wasn't saying.

I build up the set with real roots and ancient fossils, rusty metal bits, a coin, a shell from an ancient sea, and three stones-coming-conscious sculptures I'd made years ago tucked into the folds of textured paper.

I wanted this set for a single transitional shot of the macro-scale grass tufts above, panning downward into the earth's inky darkness. BOOM--next scene! From the Bug Party scene among the large grass blades panning to the black of the underground set, then up, right into the Writing Mouse's underground house set!

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Welcome, Kyelynn!

 The Amazing Kyelynn!

On the left, I caught this adorable image of her exploring the set for the first time.

I had only told her that the roof needed to stay up on its own, even as the walls
would be taken away for filming. Yeah, you know, no big issue. Right.

She had it all figured out by the very next visit!

Stay tuned for photos of how well her idea worked!

I've Got All The Answers!

Hi, Everyone! So much progress here. The lockdown situation has stripped away everything that could possibly have been in the way of my building Halfland and showed me what the hold-up was. It was just me.

Once the many hours for ballet classes were gone, leaving the house for normal errands were gone, and once I got every single tiny scrap in the house fully sorted and organized into new living systems, etc., then what?

The answer for me was a partner, the right partner for the task.

Once other priorities were more or less handled and completed after a year, Paul suggested I keep on the excellent builder helping me with garden projects to come inside and help me with stuck parts of the 1/2L build.

So for the time being The extraordinary Kyelynn comes once per week, as able. I ask her to help me with the aspect I am most stuck with. Kyelynn is most effectively deployed for the "most" stuck things. I could, of course, use her help on absolutely every little thing here every day, but that isn't practical for her life or my budget. So, once per week it is.

And the stuckest things are STUCK NO MORE!

Please stay tuned to this spot for frequent posts about all that has moved through!

The positive benefit of the "Kyelynn Effect" lasts beyond her weekly afternoon here. The stuck places cleared, I find that I ROLL like a frickin' manic steam roller through all the aspects related to that no-longer-stuck blockage. I actually have gotten things done in Halfland that I'd only been able to think about and collect material for years and years. It's so incredibly satisfying to experience.

When we were gardening one day, I was complaining to Kyelynn that I wished I could live for 1,000 years to get some of what I wanted to make done. She asked me about that amazed because she felt the opposite. She said she was fine having just her season on Earth. I'd never met anyone with that approach to life, it took me aback. No frustration over mortality?! No overwhelming constant sense of dread?! No defeat before beginning at the impossibility of one's desires vs. reality?! Got me thinking.

What if I relaxed and just got done what I could in a relaxed way? What if I shifted to intense gratitude for anything more than for everything? I've been a different person since then, honestly. Someone who gets everything fully done each day without stress like before.

I'm making several posts right now and scheduling them one per day to publish. For fans of Halfland, it should prove very interesting to watch things happen in next to real-time.

I needed a quicker method of creating posts going forward which I'm sampling with this one. I'm shooting progress shots of what happens with my phone, sorting those shots into albums on Google Photos, taking a screen grab of those albums as a mosaic, and posting that mosaic here to document each post. please tell me if this conveys the projects enough as you read the posts.

I think it'll be a more streamlined way to illustrate all the action. It means I won't be taking the images into PS to edit and carefully layout as I did before, so more raw/flawed now. And it means I lose some control over a visual narrative, the images are smaller for example, but I think more frequent posts make that worth dropping. But you tell me if this works or not as you see more posts. Can you see enough detail? Do you feel you are experiencing enough of how many thrills I'm having?

I chose The Answers for this post as I have finally received mine. Stay tuned!

Halfland developments happen continually as I go along.
And one of these is The Answers that grow out from the Answer Tree's wisdom.
In case I hadn't mentioned this before, your answers to questions asked appear, in intuitive script rather than in any language per se, written along the lines of the veins on the backs of the leaves.

A patina of gold emerges as the answer ripens and is ready for you to receive.
The fine edges of the leaf are gilded with gold... well, leaf! (Just caught that.)

Large scale and small scale (in middle) finished leaves waiting in display box until their film debut.
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