8.29.2006

Trees Bolted: The Woodsy Set


Got the new trees all rigged for tying down, basically made little styrofoam/bass wood sandwiches, attached them to the tree bottoms with epoxy and hot glue, then threaded a tie-down through the set...I was worried that they would not stand straight and I'd have to try something different, but they turned out alright...

I need to add a support beam to the center-underside of my set floor, you can see in the pic above that it is starting to sag from the weight of the trees...for these pics I used a lamp with a red lampshade on the left, and my handy bendy desk lamp pointed at the ground on the right, altered the color in Photoshop...

8.27.2006

The Best Tree Yet...


Spent some time this weekend making more trees, these ones will bolt directly to the set in the foreground, and they'll have mossy bottoms (sounds like a cajun call-girl :) and some hints of roots....

...Haven't rigged the 'tie-downs' or roots yet but when I do I'll post a pic...

...I started experimenting a little more with the plaster layer, used a brush to dab and drag plaster after I applied the cloth and wrinkled it, which gave me much more detail and barkiness...

This one to the right is my best tree yet...

You'll hopefully see these in action soon, as I plan on using them for a Sept30 StopMoShorts entry...which I'll blog about 'in-progress', 'cause we saw what happened with the Pandora blog after the film was completed....I just lost steam...let's try it this way now :) More later...

Ernesto

Tropical Storm Ernesto this morning became Hurricane Ernesto, the first of the season, the first headed this way....as of this mornings path projection, this one looks to miss us...Florida, not so fortunate....posting this pick has given me a great epiphany, a view of a potential scene from 'Jenny Greenteeth', an overhead shot as we see Jenny's path toward Nola....I love it....

8.25.2006

NOMA Series: Dorothea Tanning

The anniversary of Katrina is fast approaching, in a few days it'll be a year. I'm racked with the desire to somehow record the progress in the city 'so far', and set out today with my digital camera to get some pics. Before I knew it I was under the spell of City Park, about 10 minutes from my house, where all the best climbing oaks are. Lacking funds, and employees, the park is severely overgrown in spots, but even more beautiful.

In the heart of the park lies the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), which is recently reopened and free for LA residents. How could I resist? Their big attractions right now are an Ansel Adams exhibit, and a huge collection of Katrina photographs by everyday folks. No photography allowed in the Katrina exhibit, so I don't have any images, but it was gut-wrenching. Floor-to-ceiling imagery.

Next I set out to find my favorite pieces, paintings which have inspired me for over a decade, and as I hunted them down one by one, I thought it might be cool to do a series of posts here, periodically highlighting a piece and its creator, as blog filler :) Two paintings in particular are very dear to me, two all-time favorites that have drawn my stare for many hours through many years. They've watched me grow. Here's one, my first in the NOMA series:

"Gaurdian Angels" by surrealist painter Dorothea Tanning, oil on canvas, 1946. I love this one, the palette, the lighting, the composition. The silhouetted legs of the dream angels, the beds trailing off into the distance, the sleeping child, there's something elegantly enticing yet frightening about it. Here's a detail...


Google her name to see more of Dorothea Tannings work...

8.24.2006

Animator/Sadist

I watched "Little Otik" this week, by stop-mo legend Jan Svankmajer, which led me to discover a great site: Alchemist of the Surreal ...tons of interviews, pics, artwork, poetry, etc. Here are some quotes:

"If western animators have tended to emphasise the procreative nature of their work, boosting their ability to give life to objects and drawings, the Czech surrealist film-maker and animator Jan Svankmajer continually reminds us of the technique's deadly flipside, its fascination with destruction and its power to take back the "life" that it gives. Steeped in Prague's alchemical traditions, his magic is a black one, from the murderous puppets of The Last Trick (1964) to the sorcery of his Faust (1994). Although Conspirators of Pleasure only features small bursts of 3-D animation, one level of the film continues to comment on animation's sadism...The use of live actors adds a menacing realism...which would never be possible in the all-cartoon world films of the similarly sadistic Tex Avery."

"There's a lot of misunderstanding about surrealism. People still see it through the prism of certain works of art, by Dali for example; they look at it superficially in terms of aesthetics. But there is no surrealist aesthetics; it's a psychology, a view of the world, which poses new questions about freedom, eroticism, the subconscious, and which attracts a certain sort of people - subversive types. It offers an alternative to the ideology offered by most modern societies, and it's a great adventure; it's tried to return art, which has become representational, aesthetic, commercial, to its level of magic ritual. And that's why I consider myself a surrealist. If art has any purpose, I think it's to liberate... both the artist and the spectator. And if it doesn't liberate, it's just a commodity, an aesthetic game."

"Everything around us has its own life, even inanimate objects, because a life was put into them by people who had contact with it. Now I'm sure you know from your own experience that you touch the same object every time in a slightly different way. It depends on what kind of mood you are in at that time. You can take the same objects into your hand with a great love. At another time you can just throw the object because you were angry. The emotions which are present in us at the moment become part of those objects we touch. Those moments, those emotions, have been printed into them. At the same time it can be said that the object is a testament to all the events that take place in the environments that they are in and have been in, a funeral, crime, murder, wedding. All the events are imprinted in those objects. Therefore I very much prefer old objects to new ones because the new ones don't have any content. The same particular idea relates to my objection to computer animation, because the objects are created artificially and have no content or soul as new objects. I believe that under certain circumstances objects which are charged and contain emotion are able to reveal those emotions. Specifically when people are in a frame of mind or certain sensibility when this communication between their emotional state and the quote unquote emotional state of the object are conveyed. This is the reason that I use very particular objects in my films and it is my wish and intention that the objects will reveal the kind of content and emotions and expressions that I know is in them and that will affect the viewer. That is where I see magic in animation. In that sense you can compare an animator to a shaman ."

8.18.2006

Nola 2 Campfire Quicktime

Watch the video

Some folks (Mefull, Nick H) have had trouble viewing the wmv file, and some folks (Sven & most, I've come to find) just outright prefer mov, so here it is in glorious Quicktime.  Thanks to Eric Scott for converting for me, he's quick!

I find the wmv's visuals and audio quality is better, but maybe I just need to futz with the QT settings some when I render, see what I can come up with....in the future I'll try to post both versions :)

8.16.2006

Back in the Saddle Again

I've been animating and editing mostly for the past two weeks, so now its time to ramble...see previous post's clip.....OK...with said clip I set out to test a few things: Nola 2 (who ended up not getting much attention), the newest set pieces, and that lighting from the Bait Series of b/w photos (way back in the Nola 1.5 days ;)

Here's a screencap of the entire film in Sony Vegas....


The first track is my logo, brought in as a jpeg. The second track is text, the words 'Ubatuber Productions'. Third is the fire track, which has a chromakeyer effect on it, along with a glow effect. Next track contains the clips from StopMotionPro, and has a slight orange tint to it, to properly reflect the firelight. The remaining eight tracks are audio. By closely studying this pick one might tear apart my editing techniques, which involve sometimes repeating or reversing clips :)

The fire was created with Particle Illusion, an incredibly easy-to-use program which provides particle effects: fog, shimmery water, smoke, fireworks, that kind of thing. I got it for free with a computer magazine, or DV editing mag, I don't remember which, so there are probably freeware versions out there somewhere...lots of room for improvement with the fire...Just looked too cookie cutter...I created it on a black screen, layered it on top in Vegas, then removed the black with a chromakeyer.

I wanted to use mostly sound effects here, instead of just plugging in some random bit of film score. With the exception of the heartbeat and a couple of thunderbolts, all of the sound effects are mine...the repeating bass note was recorded using my brother-in-law's DJ software (FL Studio), which has oodles of instruments and mixes and options, for future scoring if I decide to give it a whirl. The cicadas and frogs were capped live, lots of cicadas this time of year here, and I've always loved their sound. The fire crackling is just me with a plastic bag.

I used a clamp-on desk lamp, aimed at an angle, one with a bendy neck. For every frame, I bent the neck, sometimes a little, following a kind of arc, sometimes a lot, to get a jerky, random, fire kind of feel. The original thought was to retry my foil lighting idea from the reflective water test, but we were out of foil, D'OH!

I like the way the sets look, they are a bit shallow at the moment but with more 'tree islands' and a bigger set-up, I'll be good to go. Nola 2's eyes are not connected together the way Nola 1's were, so it was more difficult to change them out. I'd say I spent twice as much time fiddling with the individual eyeballs. So, mental note: if feasible construct replacement eyes like little pairs of spectacles, joined together with a bit of armature wire. I painted them with a varnish so they would gleam a little bit, which I like. You can see it in the pic posted below with the video. I'm starting to tire of the same five pairs of eyes, so I may make new sets soon to go along with them...I plan on having as many as possible, scared, sad, squinty....all in a little foam lined cigar box...

I have to get used to animating Nola with her scarf on...her arm movements become extremely limited but I want that to come across in the film, so its something I have to develop more...and I've decided I should be animating more, even if its just a random clip a week, 2 seconds, 2 minutes, whatever...so if you, dear viewer, do not see animation regularly on this blog, bug me about it :)

8.15.2006

Nola 2 short short

Watch the video
...here's what Ive been up to for the last two weeks...this started out as a campfire test clip and turned into a sort of short film, with a little nod to Paul Berry's 'The Sandman'....I've got a lot to blog about with this one, so stay tuned......really....