Unearthed - Cafe du Petit Monde

I made a lot of progress yesterday on the sprucing of the cafe set. I realize I'll need to change my greenscreen now, as I've got green beads and green grass and green awning.

I've named the shop "Cafe du Petit Monde" and sort of modelled it on a local place, Cafe du Monde, where you can treat yourself to a damn fine cuppa coffee and chow down on beignets (pronounced 'ben-yays', square doughnuts fried and covered in powder sugar), another N'awlins tradition.
Still got a few props to make and some minor details to add to the set.


Unearthed - Cafe Bead Tree

Ive decided to spruce up the cafe set a bit, given the amount of detail I put into the alley set. I'm adding a second table and chairs, the back wall of the cafe, and beyond the patio railing, a bead tree. During Mardi Gras season, trees along the parade routes serve as bead catchers.....


Unearthed Part One, The Where-to's and How-for's

I've got a lot to talk about and I work best in ramble mode so here I go :)

I generally like to have all of my sets and props built before beginning filming, but in an attempt to get something done for SMS, and show my undying love for the Visual Haiku Challenge , I started filming Unearthed with only three of my six sets built. Hell, I haven't even finished storyboarding a few of the main sequences :P I'm thinking this may be a better way to work, though, especially on longer shorts (oxymoron!). I'm getting a lot of positive feedback on the clip and its helped to rejuvenate me a bit. I'll be striking the alley set and preparing the cafe set for filming in the next few days. The cafe scene leads directly into a 2-D sequence (Herbie unlocks the book and sees its story) which I haven't even started on yet

As for Part One. For the puddles, I simply cut the shapes out of some hot pink cardstock and laid them on the set, then chromakeyed out the pink and layered in the float footage, which had to be reversed b/c the floats were going the wrong way. You may notice the writing on the float is backwards, d'oh!
I had to desaturate the opening of the clip b/c I couldnt get all of the pink out at the edges. I originally planned to have puddles across the entire set for Su to run through but decided that was nuts. Just plain bonkers. Waaaay to many headaches for this film, lets save those for Jenny :) In the end I coated the cobbles with a high gloss varnish so they'd appear wet.

I used a lot of camera movement on this one, pretty much everything that you see was done while shooting. My favorite bit is the close-up/knife reveal. I screwed a plank between my camera and tripod, tied the pups down to the end of it, and panned across the set.....pups stay in one place, set moves behind them. I got the idea from a camera move I saw originally in Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, where he attached the camera to a running actor, keeping them stationary in the frame while the background twitters and twirls behind them.....I plan to develop this further, I'd like to try a walk or run where I'd basically animate the walk through camera moves while the pup is stationary.

I didnt drill any tie-down holes until I needed them, didn't drill any for Su at all, just balanced her on her dress.

I decided to start Su off with a cut across her cheek and a bloody nose, to let the audience know right away that she's in trouble, that you're joining an attack in progress. When I needed to animate her eyes, I'd paint out the pupils with white paint, then redraw them with a fine-tipped ink pen. I designed her train with armature wire in it, to be sturdy enough to hold her up in the air with no rig for the big yanking scene, but when I came to animate that scene, after attaching the ends of the train to Herbie's hands and adding some hidden support to him, she just would not stay up. I ended up dragging over my surface gauge and adding a little Su-support using armature wire which had to be photoshopped out.

I wanted the jewel on the key to glow ever-so-slightly, especially in Herbie's hand. I achieved this by layering a copy of the clip on top of itself. I put a cookie-cutter effect on it, putting a feathered circle around the jewel, then amped the contrast and put a glow on it. In a longer clip, I couldve even key-framed the intensity of the glow so that it appeared to shimmer. Hard to explain but here's a pic....

This is the first time I've tackled anything really 'action-y', fast-paced, and I definitely let the music guide me, based most of my timing on it in fact. I used a yardstick to gauge the light that I moved at the end of the alley, particularly effective on the long shot, the Dutch angle. The whole shebang was lit with miniature lights, I ended up getting a few more sets at clearance from the Christmas village reject bin, hooray for me. Its a hell of a lot easier to move puppet-sized lights around, just inches from the set, to try different setups, than it is to move people-sized lighting. Worked for this scene, dark and moody. For the blood on the cobbles, I just painted that right on with crimson acrylic paint, made sure to go over the whole thing on every frame so it would stay 'wet'.

Hmmmmm.......I know there's more but I think I'm out of gas for now :) Questions? Ask away, always!


Unearthed - Part One

Here it is folks, the opening of the new short. I've got lots to blog about but......too sleepy now..........so go........watch and enjoy!

Unearthed - Part One from Ubatuber on Vimeo.


Quis Separabit

I finished up filming the last scene for the alley clip today, but I still have some editing and fx work to do, and I have to work tonight, so look for it tomorrow (possibly later tonight if I'm not too beat).
In the meantime, I've got a special offer for you, dear reader! A couple of months ago I was approached by a writer in Dublin named Brian Showers. He is on the cusp of releasing a book of gothic fiction, The Bleeding Horse, and asked me to illustrate one of his stories, "Quis Separabit", for a promotional chapbook. Over the course of a month I created seven pen & ink drawings for the mini-book, and just after Christmas, I received a box in the mail containing stacks of "Quis Separabit", hot off the presses and beautifully hand-crafted. If you are interested in reading a fantastic gothic ghost story written by Mr. Showers, illustrated by yours truly, just send your name and address to ubatuber@yahoo.com and I'll pop one in the mail for you! And be sure to search out a copy of his book when it is released! Check his site for updates: BrianJShowers.com


Carnival Time!

While most of the country is winding down from the holidays, here in Nola we're perking up for Mardi Gras. Today I bought our first king cake, a carnival tradition. Inside the cake is hidden a tiny plastic baby, and custom states that whoever "gets the baby" has to buy the next cake. Its basically like a giant (15", sometimes larger) cinnamon roll, covered in icing and colored sugar, sometimes powdered, sometimes sprinkles, depending on where you get it from. This one is apple-filled, mmmmmmmmmmm....and I guarantee it'll be gone in a couple of days :).....All of the local bakeries and grocery stores will carry them until the season is over. Mardi Gras Day is Feb. 5 this year, always 47 days before Easter, originally a chance to be gluttonous before abstaining for Lent. It is the only entertainment venue in the world where the stars foot the bill and the audience gets a free ride. By law, parades cannot be corporately sponsored and the krewes that ride the floats are set up as nonprofit organizations, fundraising for money. There is also no governing authority to license products, no official Mardi Gras t-shirt or poster. Like Christmas or Halloween, it belongs to everyone. And although it has earned a reputation for raunchy displays, mostly due to tourists drinking too much and getting caught up in the atmosphere on Bourbon Street, it is actually a very family-friendly event.

Today I have off of work, and plan to spend it animating, finishing up the alley clip so I can move on to the cafe scene. Hopefully later today you'll be able to watch the clip, I've been holding out b/c I want to post it in its entirety. I struggled this week with the rig for Su's airborn yank (she tries to run and Herbie grabs her train and pulls her to him). Finally got something set up to work and then when I was editing the footage, photoshopping out the rig, I realized.....the light changes in every frame just about (parades pass at the end of the alley....its subtle but its there)....so when I went to erase the rig, I couldn't work from the clean plate I had taken, b/c of the changing lighting....had to sort of piece together bits of background by layering several frames on top of each other and erasing.....it turned out ok.....just ok, but live and learn...I'm moving on....
Here's a little bit of greenscreen serendipity......in this shot, Herbie stoops to grab Su's train.....in the background, a Mardi Gras reveler (basic Barbi-style dolls that I suited up) and a greenscreen......when I layered in the float footage, a real waving arm lined up perfectly with one of the dolls, creating a fantastic illusion....only visible for a second....heres a screen...


Unearthed - Filming Begins!

Happy New Year all!

Well, you're probably wondering where my big Dec StopMoShorts.com haiku entry is? Still in my hard drive unfortunately...I planned on finishing up the opening of the short, Su's alley murder, but got hung up on a shot involving a rig that wouldn't cooperate...so after three days of intense animation, I finally crashed last night with only 3 scenes left to film....bit of a let down but I'm trying to focus on the bright side, which is......50 seconds of Unearthed is in the can! Enjoy a few screen caps, clips coming soon....