I spent the evening preparing everything--tweaking lighting, getting my paint and glue at hand for quick fixes, checking camera angle, setting up tripod support in case of rampant kitty, etc. Psyching myself up for a night of animating. Reviewing storyboards. Got Roman all settled in, kissed the Queen, and disappeared into the studio for a few hours of life breathing. Until I clicked to open Stop Motion Pro. Y'see, a few months back I made the mistake of upgrading to Windows 10 from 7. And I started getting error messages from SMP and Windows. "This program requires an app download. Download DirectPlay now" ...ok download..."Could not read or write memory"...Aaaaargh! After an hour or so of tinkering, digging out my serial # to reinstall and reregister, I finally got the software to at least open. But with no live view, or onion skin. And the error popups kept coming. I just kept sliding them over because if I closed the messages, SMP would close also.
So I decided to use my wife's laptop. Had to download SMP, reregister again. Had to reset my serial number because I then had too many registrations, only to have the same issue on the new laptop running Windows 8. Error error error.
Turns out, my version of SMP, Action HD 7.5, does not run on Windows 8 and up. I needed an upgrade to use the software. $160. (Regular price is $175, gee thanks for the $15 discount SMP). I don't have money laying around, especially one week before Christmas.
So I decided to go in blind. No onion skinning, no live view. Just me and my camera. And since the end of the clip basically sees the set floor get destroyed, I had one shot to get it done right.
The first night went perfectly, I couldn't be happier. The second night, the animation plays rushed, but I can work with it by manipulating playback speed, slowing down the clip. Might be choppy but its supposed to be an old b&w film so it'll do. It is what it is. And it is done!
Watch for the one minute PSA here in a couple of days :)
All set up for the first part of my last scene, essentially the only lengthy scene in the Krampus PSA. The majority of the short is quick cuts, like a commercial, leading up to this moment. "Lets see what happens to this naughty girl on Christmas morning..." Coal bounces out of fireplace to girl (rubbing her eyes with sleep). Girl picks up coal which begins to heat up. Drops coal which bursts into flame. Xmas lights flicker and go out. Black. Fireplace ignites highlighting the form of Krampus now huddled where the coal once was...
Its hard to see in the pic, but there is a bit of clay coal suspended on fishing line over the fireplace. The fishing line is wrapped and tied to the thread spool which is mounted on a wooden dowel which is hot glued to my gauges. Ive never used this method before, normally I would use wire to animate the coal, but the practical lighting on the Xmas tree created so many shadows of the wire that it was virtually impossible to photoshop out. Hence the (hopefully invisible) fishing line.
Poor poor Jenny G....so neglected....I never did finish the sculpt, she sat under a plastic bag for years until one day the oil in the clay broke down the wood blocks in her feet and she just fell over. And shame on me, I left her like that. Thankfully the feet are whats left to do, so no major damage to fix, except to somehow rig her up while I finish the sculpt. Also.....she's filthy....gonna pop her in the fridge to harden her and then give her an alcohol wipe sponge bath...
Last week saw the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the impetus for my stop mo adventures. This is what I posted on Facebook:
" Ten years ago, a storm rocked my world. My queen and I watched from a distance as our city drowned and burned, and in the back of my brain, a story began to brew. In the months following Katrina, I poured all of my angst and anger and hurt into a monster in my mind, and Jenny Greenteeth was born. I began to research stop motion, and along the way made some wonderful online friends who became essential to my recovery, while my city recovered. I started blogging. Discovered StopMoShorts visual haikus. Realized I had a lot of stories to tell, and that I could do it from a dark little corner of my kitchen.
So much of my Jenny G story is a morbid fairy tale version of Katrina. The monster, Ms.Greenteeth, the hurricane personified, with her single eye, the eye of the storm. A doomed little girl named Nola, caught in her destructive path.
Now a decade later, now that I know how to make a puppet, how to shoot frames, import and edit, now that I have a handful of short films under my belt, I think its finally time to let the monster out. Time to focus on the film that has been swimming 'round my brain all along. I hope you will join me on this journey. Just don't get too close to the water......."
So....I have been slowly and periodically hammering away at my tiny stop mo Krampus PSA. My studio is a hoarders dream of a mess right now and I cant even get to my animation table (the little filler shots that Ive done for Krampus have been squeezed into whatever tiny spaces I could find....one shot was even balanced on my painters easel lol). So Ive got some cleaning to do, some organizing, one or two hefty shots left on Krampus, and then I am putting Unearthed on hold to officially begin work on Jenny G! Its been a long time coming and I cannot put it off any longer...
Watercolor has become my medium of choice when depicting my lil gremlins. Here are three of my most recent paintings. I'm torn when it comes to the Nola children's book, about whether to watercolor the whole shebang or incorporate my puppets. When I began conceptualizing the story, I intended to use as many "real" elements as possible (even considered constructing a miniature streetcar interior), but I've been loving the watercolors so.
I suspect I will probably end up with some mix, somewhere in the middle....wont find that balance until I start actually creating pages in Photoshop, I suppose...