Setting Up Krampus

I thought I could get a little short done for Christmas but found myself rushing through it all a bit too much, so i decided to take it slower.  Krampus is still coming, about 15 seconds are filmed so stay tuned.  In the meantime, let me talk about my new favorite quickie set material.  Scrapbook paper!  I used it for the "wallpaper" on this set and love the look of it.  It comes in 12"x12" sheets, thousands of colors and patterns, fairly cheap (49 cents a sheet for this one).  Also, the little girl puppets in this short were designed to be practice for animating Nola - upholstry foam buildup bodies with clay faces.  They are so small that it has been difficult to animate the faces (Nola is larger), but still good practice.  I like to think of them as Nola's cousins...



Krampus is Furry

Adding craft store fur to Krampus by snipping off strips, backing with latex, and applying to pup.  Gonna trim it all up nice when I have enough built up.


Krampus is Coming...

Searching for Krampus cards, I realized how much my Nawlins Devil looks like the Christmas beast.....stay tuned ;)


Monster Month - Oh, Did I forget to mention...

....his eyes glow in darkness or at certain moments of demony rage...heres my first test with glow sticks...

And here's the final, a mini string of LED lights trimmed down to four bulbs, worked up inside the foam and armature of the head.  They're a bit brighter than I was going for so I think I will try tinting the back of the eye beads with some acrylics to diffuse their inner glow.  Also, the battery pack is a problem, need to learn how to extend their little wires so its out of camera range.


Monster Month - Painted Devil

I worked in layers of acrylic paints as usual with this pup, though I tried a new material which I wasn't too happy with. To make my "PAX" paint I ordered a non-tacky prosaide to add to my acrylics. The paintjob is always very important to me (probably because I started out as a painter) and I always hated dulling down my colors with cornstarch to kill the stickiness of the paint. With the non-tack I didnt have to dust the puppet. However, the finish of the paint is rather glossy, giving the pup a bit of shine which I think may create issues when filming, so I may end up having to dust him anyway. Also, the non-tacky additive apparently isnt as flexible as the regular version, because I added the usual amount to my paint and it is still cracking at the bendiest joints (hips, elbows, knees) so I will be doing lots of tiny touchups between frames. I tried to link to the product on Monster Makers but could not find it, I guess I wasnt the only one with complaints...

I started out with layers of brown and purple, slowly building to a truer devil red, with golden highlights...really proud of the hands on this guy...animation tests coming soon ::::)


Monster Month Interrupted by Adorable Monster Face

My boy Roman, when asked to make a vampire face for our annual Halloween card.
Coat by Captain Hook.


Monster Month - Ready for Paint...

Heres the little guy with his bone talons sculpted on....

And here he is with his bone talons removed, armature reconfigured (clipped, new wire wound into old, new epoxy clay) to make his hands...

I made a few changes pretty late in the game here, i just couldn't get a handle on the talon idea.  Just didnt look or feel right to me, so I decided to go with demony hands/claws.  I also trimmed his devil tail to something a bit more nubby, and added a couple of little fangs...

He's ready for painting...


Monster Month - Foamtastic

I unfortunately didnt get any pics of the armature or the molding process, but I did cast this guy in foam.  His armature is basically wire/epoxy clay, though I did tweak it a bit to allow the addition of horns/talons/tail.  I wrapped lengths of the armature wire around threaded scrapbook page extenders. and then sculpted the horns/talons directly onto the screws that fit, so they could simply be screwed into the armature.

The foam pup cast with a massive air bubble in his rear bumper, which ended up working out well b/c I had to add a screw for the tail, which is just armature wire wrapped around, twisted, and coated in latex.

I tried out several varieties of horn before settling on these, made of air dry clay, screwed into their posts, and filled in/coated with rubber latex.



Monster Month - Sculpted

Here is the sculpt as it was at molding time.  This little beastie went through several changes and back during the process, when I cast him I intended to have large sort of bone talons instead of hands.


Monster Month - Developing the Sculpt

Defining him a bit more.  Added two crowns on his head for future horn placement.  I created his horns with an air dry clay and planned to add them later, after foaming and seaming, also to cut down on size of sculpt.  Trimmed down his waist a bit.


Monster Month - Animating Baked

Here are some pixilated tests for the "baking" section early in the short.  I'm not sure if this is technically considered pixilation, since there are no humans physically in the shot (maybe its time-lapse?), but I do plan on injecting a healthy dose of pixilation.  I've left the details of the ending largely open until I can get some filming done and have experience with the technique.  I have a feeling the possibilities will be limitless and I want to make sure to take advantage.

baking tests from Ubatuber on Vimeo.


Monster Month - Beginning the Sculpt...

This is the first time I have had to brace a sculpt while working on it.  Because of the size I wanted him to be to interact with a human, I wouldn't be able to fit him in my toaster oven, so I had to sculpt him semi-crouching and needed extra support on his rear bumper to keep him from toppling over.


This is the first pic I took of him.  Hooves.  Did I mention Pan-legs? His nose is a little too bat-like, I end up going with something more ape-like, but you'll see :) Stay tuned...


Monster Month - My Process

My process when working on a film is pretty laid back.  The script is not written in traditional script fashion since I am the filmmaker, writing, directing, producing, creating, editing, all me.  So my pre-production work is done in me-shorthand. Often scribbled notes in a sketchbook (I have one for each film).  My storyboards are very rough, just enough to register a visual cue with me, or reference something in my notes elsewhere.

Here is an image from my sketchbook for "Unearthed", storyboards for the 2-D animated sequence that I haven't started on yet. 
I had a few solid ideas for the Monster Month short from the beginning. I knew I wanted the monster to be a sort of classic devil. I knew it would climb out of a hole in the back yard. I started writing a script and sculpting the devil concurrently. ( No sketches for the devil, I just dove in, having an admittedly hazy vision of the lil guy in my mind's eye already.)  I had to wrangle together more of a script for this one though, since I will be working with an actor(s) for the first time.  Still not in traditional format, but more coherent than my shorthand :)  Here is the beginning of the short...
*telephone rings*
“Hey dad. Did you get my text?”
(fade in from black)

Sunny morning, birds chirping. Camera positioned on the floor next to the bed. We see Girl’s socked feet, and behind them under the bed. Girl is putting shoes on and talking to her father on her cell. We only hear her end of the conversation.

“Yeah.” “Yes!” “No, it’s HUGE! It was just there this morning, and Sal was going crazy all night…”

Girl gets up and walks through house as she talks, through the living room, kitchen…

“No, dad, its like the size of my car!” “I am not exaggerating, would you just come over?”
Girl exit’s the house, working her way around the side of the house to the yard.

“I know.” “I know!” “I have a lot to do for tomorrow night too! I havent even started baking yet, its just…”

Girl enters yard and stops short.
“No! No, the cakes will be done, but…”

*augh* Girl is frustrated, dad has hung up.

“…the hole…”

birds eye pov revealing a massive, bottomless sink hole in Girl’s yard.
Cut to: later that evening
Girl is baking. Quick shots -- Mixer. Filling wrapper. Oven flaring on. Piping frosting.

Girl is tired, its late now and the kitchen is a mess, flour and powdered sugar everywhere
. She starts to clean up, putting dishes in the sink, cleaning the mixer & counter, and listens to a news broadcast talking about the sinkholes popping up all over town. Girl enters living room to watch the television broadcast. Sinkholes on the news. By a levee, the cathedral, the streetcar line, superdome. A cameraman is peering into one of the holes - zoom into the image of the hole and fade to darkness.

Creature-cam: outside from the hole looking up to the house, then running/bounding to the crawlspace under the house...


Happy Monster Month!!!

Its October again! Time for Monster Month! This year I will be sharing my progress on a new monster puppet. I've been working on him on and off since August, but have been saving up posts so that I could bombard you with monster fun all month long :) My goal is to have some kind of short done at the end of the month using the puppet.
Lets start by talking about my inspirations for this short. I have always loved, and been terrified by, tiny monsters. The three that came to mind immediately when I decided to do this were: the troll from "Cat's Eye", the minions from "The Gate", and my favorite, the Zuni doll from "Trilogy of Terror". I chose to create something in that vein, a person terrorized by a small creature. Person, live action. Creature, stopmotion. One of the challenges I have set for myself is to use as few composites as possible. This means when the puppet runs across my floor, I will actually animate him running across my floor. If an actor is in shot, they will be pixellated. Possibly the entire short will be pixellated (stopmotion with live actors instead of inanimate objects).
Here are a few clips from the inspirational films :)

*** ***


Nola Strolls...

A new little clip.  Wasn't happy with the scarf, difficult to animate this version that I made a few years ago with much less experience.  It was way to stiff (wire mesh covered in layers of liquid latex).  Otherwise an enjoyable little clip to shoot, especially with the front end of a streetcar handy!  I love my little cards at the start, Ubatuber Shorts and "Starring Nola"...I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot of those title cards :)

Nola & The Streetcar from Ubatuber on Vimeo.


Streetcar Gremlins 3-D Wall Art

Been working the past month or so on a sculpture inspired by my Streetcar Gremlins painting :) I've
always wanted to turn the Nola Legends paintings into 3-D wall art, creating puppets that I could potentially animate also. I sculpted one generic gremlin body, made a flexible silicone mold of it, then poured in melted clay and pulled out 5 little clay duplicates that I could then "edit"...bigger nose here, hairy cheeks there, bigger grin here, etc. Then I took my five little monsters and made one Ultracal mold. Two foam latex runs later I have ten little gremlins, ready to be painted and glued/pinned down with my battle-damaged streetcar pieces. The floor of the piece was made using the cobblestonme street that I built for the opening of Unearthed.  Added little chips of plexiglass, resin puddles, and bits of streetcar wood and gears strewn about.

I put the gremlin mold safely away and plan to cast gremlin puppets for an episode of my post-Jenny Greenteeth project, a 'sitcom' about a family of vampires. So we will eventually get to see the beasts in motion, but it wont be for a looong while :)

Before I assembled the "sculpt" (I have to come up with a name for this art), I did a quick little animation with Nola and the streetcar front :)  Its not great but I think I can tweak it a bit to make it more entertaining.  Editing this week sometime...


Rebel Yell

This week marks a huge milestone for Ubatuber Productions and "Jenny Greenteeth". For the past six years I have been animating on this sturdy and dependable giant dinosaur of a camera:

Now I'll be using this:

Canon Rebel T2i with Nikon lenses, so far I've got a micro Nikkor 55mm and I'm on the lookout for a reasonably priced 24 or 28mm wideangle.  I'll have to finish Unearthed with the old cam, but once I finish that (this year? I think so...) I can start plugging away at Jenny Greenteeth full time, with an appropriately awesome camera :)

Nola, all freshened up and ready for an animation test, hopefully tonight if there are no techie snafus with StopMotionPro...


I'm an Animator in Reel Life...

Just finished and uploaded a new animation reel. My first edit was almost 4 minutes long, but I chopped it down to 3. It could probably be made even more concise, but I've spent a few days on it and decided to move on. Sometimes you just have to say "Its done!"
I'm very proud, watching this. Seeing how far I've come and looking towards the (very green toothed) future :) Thank you for making the journey with me!


Is it almost March already??

I've added a view of my twitter feed over on the right of the screen, and also a window for window shopping at my Etsy store, which should be down at the bottom of the page.  It occurred to me yesterday that I haven't made a new Reel since 2008, so I started working on an up-to-date one last night.

A few weeks ago I put together a little animation of Doug Jones ("Hellboy", "Pans Labytrinth", "Buffy", three of my favorite things).  I met him at New Orleans Comicon last month and can't say enough nice things about him.  He was a real sweetheart, and a pleasure to talk to.  I bought a copy of his new book, "Mime Very Own Book", a hilariously irreverent photo book of mime satire, and was excited to see a little mime flipbook in one corner.  So I scanned and animated it  :)


Happy 2012!

*whew*  Sorry I haven't posted in so long!  Its been a busy couple of months for me.  Let me catch you up...
I am really proud of this drawing of a bit of wrought iron in Lafayette Cemetery, I used a reference photo that was blurry at the edges and decided to try to capture that blurriness in spots by smudging the charcoal, a nice effect...

Around midway through November, I signed up for a spot in an arts and crafts show.  Once I was officially invited to participate, the month that followed was pretty much a non-stop factory of crafty goodness.  I made tons of hand-painted magnets and ornaments, learned how to cast soap to make streetcar soaps (more coming next year, I have tons of ideas now that I know how to do it...) and created new charcoal art and paintings that I could peddle :)  All with a local flair, New-Orleans themed.

The show was extremely successful for me, I made enough money to give Roman an awesome Christmas, and look forward to participating again next year!

Next came two weeks of Christmas crafting for family gifting.  Every year I gather all of the memory cards from family members and edit together about an hour of footage of everyone, videos & photo slideshows.  Christmas, birthdays, events, funny little vignettes, all compiled on a dvd and given as gifts.  That takes a ridiculous amount of time, but I always manage to finish burning disks late Christmas Eve!

And now I'm back....sort of....all that crafting has created piles of stuff in my studio that needs to be cleaned up.  I can't even get to my sets for "Unearthed".  Cleaning it all is like staring at the rings on the stump of some gigantor tree, each layer of "mess" tells a different story, a snippet of the last couple of months of labors of love.  Once that is all cleaned up, I'm back at it.  I'm probably going to put away the marionette for a bit to refocus on animation, because thats where my mind is right now...