Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Year in triptychs

1 Year3 pics for each month
A few words
Click to Biggify

January 2009
Digging for Sandcrabs right before the wave comes in.
Frozen Yogurt dripping down sunburnt arms.
Dancing on the top of Topanga Canyon.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I almost forgot!

I almost forgot to mention that "Everything" is online now for the masses. It is in that lovely cruddy Youtube quality, and looks like a lot of frames got cut out in the downgrade from full to small quality, but enjoy none the less!


My Interview for DPI Magazine

So much has happened in the last few months that I feel like I have been neglecting this blog.

I will explain further down below, but for now I wanted to post up the Interview I did for the Taiwanese magazine, DPI magazine.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Busy Bee

I feel like I dropped off the blogplanet a wee bit. I have been super busy both interning at Buddy System Studios, and working on this commissioned wedding bit I will explain below.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


I am the new intern at Buddy System Studios, which is a place full of awesomeness and stop motion goodness.

I know it seems like it's been awhile since I posted any progress on the music video, and that's because it's basically done but I can't post the final version here. You will have to wait until the band puts it up online, when I will promptly publish a link to take you all to see it.

Friday, July 24, 2009

final day of animating

I am on my last day of animating! I can't believe how quickly this project has come along... it wasn't even a thought a month and a half ago. 3/4 is done being edited and color corrected. I will have a first cut up for approval in a few days. Til then, here are a couple stills.

The last week has also been really lucky regarding what I am gonna do next. I will have a couple pages of interview and pictures for DPI Magazine(a taiwanese publication that looks really neato), I have an interview on tuesday for an internship at a lovely little stop motion studio here in LA, and a few people have contacted me that are interested in possibly working on commissions. I say "interested" and "possibly" because I never like to get too excited about things that aren't in writing, but I had a few interested groups so maybe at least one will pan out. We will see.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Bubblegum and Lip synching and Color Correction, oh my!

Only one more week of animation left. I can't believe how quick this project has flown by. I have never done a project with this much to do in such a short amount of time. Yesterday alone I animated 30 seconds. I didn't have to, but I was on a bit of a role.

Some more stills....

Once I cluttered up her apartment with all the assorted goodies I made and acquired from ebay, I was highly pleased with the outcome.

You can't tell in this picture... but when the camera rack focuses onto Isadora stirring something in a pitcher, you can see all the cool kitchen stuff I got on ebay. there is even a miniature working cheese grater!

String man is about to pull out the gum,

a little example of some of the post production before and after work...

I do quite a bit in After effects with my footage, I usually add all of my practical light sources like lamps and suns etc... using the "generate, light rays" in after effects. It is a fabulous little effect that is so customizable, and even refracts light on items within the image as they move. Really sophisticated effect. You can see it here in use by the lamp and the sunlight from the window. I also use desaturate and curves in color correction a lot.

Here I add light rays to the objects in the background to give a glow, and I adjusted the Curves to give the image the "tealish, red, and yellow" hues I picked out for the film.

I used a new technique today when animating to get light on the puppet faces without putting a light below them... for a nice soft bounce of light on their faces, I put a paper towel down on the set floor, it bounced light nicely.

I am always open to questions on after effects if anyone needs any help.

And here is a tad little bit more animation... some lip-synching! I have actually never done much lip synching before, so it's been a really fun experience. The pig did a line in Siberian Farmland, but I am doing a few lines this time around in both stop motion and traditional form. This isn't entirely done yet, since I am adding the mouths in after effects, I have to move the mouths around while his head moves. It's not perfect yet, needs a bit of tweaking. I am really happy with how the gum flops around though! I apologize again for the cruddy, washed out internet quality.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

buttons and paper dolls

I don't remember if I mentioned before, but in the "floor sequences", that Isadora creates for String man there are paper cut out versions of them that move around to create the memory sequence from their past. These will blur out, then blur back in with the real memory and real 3d puppets.

Ryan gently pointed out while we were shooting that it looks like Isadora is doing the "soulja boy" dance. You have no idea until you see the video. Either that or the Hula, but Soulja boy is much more funny.

Um... yes, that is a mouth in the floor made out of a wad of gum. Yes, it sings. And Yes, it spits out a bunch of stuff when it is done singing. It's made out of Sculpy actually, which I had to put in the fridge so it wouldn't melt to itself so quickly with the hot lights.

The gum is one of those weird things String man finds in a jar on her side table. He takes it out, gets it all stuck on his hands and then drops it on the ground, where it rollspast the carpet and forms into a snail, slugs along to this one spot, and then forms a mouth.

a really bad Flash picture of the paper puppet next to Isadora.

string man's puppet. I'll have to take a pic of the back of the paper puppets to show how I connected them together in a way that was animateable. I drew and water colored them on watercolor paper, cut them out, reinforced them with cardboard from a Cereal box, then glued and taped rubber bands onto them at the joints.

In the end of the memory sequence in the flower field, string man kisses Isadora, only to find that he gets stuck to her lips with this blasted gum(a symbol throughout the video of things that just won't go away... and one of the lyrics in the song), and that the gum lips are attached to a pile of stuff, no longer Isadora(Howard's idea!) It transitions back to the paper puppets on the floor, and that's what you see here.

The last shot in the video. After String Man takes her back to the flower field, in the last 4 seconds of the song after the last line is sung, the image transitions back to the paper puppets on the floor, who float up off screen. All the items on the ground scatter off screen. She lets go of the flower as they float away and te flower tumbles off screen last.

I am alllllll done with the floor animation, now onto the real puppets.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Good morning

I woke up this morning to a lovely e-mail from Chris Walsh, a teacher at Sheridan College, telling me he was going to write a little blurb about my blog and my work on his animation blog. You can see it if you go here http://walsh-o-matic.blogspot.com/2009/07/curious-spoon.html

Ever since I started blogging my production work, I have really enjoyed making more connections with animators. It doesn't seem such a lonely place anymore! Without further ado, I give you the first 7 seconds... I know the very end is a tad offbeat, I have since fixed it, just haven't exported it. I have just started noticing this minor sound effect in the background of Howard's song that sounds like scissors cutting, pay attention for it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

First stills

Started shooting, and while I can't put any footage up yet, I thought I would just give a couple stills from the opening shot. I must be off to continue!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Set Progress

I am almost done with the sets. There are only two of them this time, but the apartment set is very detailed so it is taking me a bunch of time to do. I am still waiting on some miniature items to arrive from ebay(cork bottle jars and a small persian rug as well as some other accessories). I have finished all the main pieces, so now I just need to clutter it up and fill it with piles of stuff.

This is the main part of the flower field, I painted brown paint, then hot glued all these flowers in. This is where the main action will take place, but there will be more grass and flowers surrounding this board that will have lots of real wheatgrass that goes into the horizon.

the backdrop. Originally I wanted it all yellow, like in that painting that inspired the feeling and colors of the video, but now I think I want a light blending of teal in it as well to bring the teal into the sky. More of a teal tint to an orangy yellow sunset sky.

Great little aside... I have massive amounts of this pink, firm, yet spongey, foam that I got for free when I bought an old 1990's Super Soaker on Amazon Marketplace last month. It was used instead of packing peanuts. each block is about 1"x 4" x 2" , so I have used it in several instances to glue together and carve into things. Here I am using it in conjunction with cardboard to make a couch.

Before I hot glued the hardwood floor panels, I spray glued a piece of thick paper to the wood table. I did this so I can reuse the wood table in the future, but still have the set floor sturdily joined to the table..

the flowers before I added brown paint. If I was smart I would have painted it first. I somehow thought once I glued the grass down I wouldn't see blaring white. Ah the things you learn.

hardwood floor. Now to make these floors, I went to the habitat for humanity re-store store and bought some wood blinds for 3 dollars. they were easy to cut up into smaller pieces and I kept some of them whole to make the close up floor. I stained them a darker brown.

The close up floor. Looks black in this pic, but it's brown

Cheap baseboard and wall molding? Buy a bunch of plastic frames at the 99 cent store and cut them up.

I just plopped him down to see what it would look like. I definitely would not have the lighting be so flat in the real video.

drove my car around the corner to an overgrown sidewalk and did a little weeding. I have a bag full of this stuff which I am hot glueing between the fake flowers and on the ground so it looks less manicured and more wild.

The apartment is coming along, still needs more stuff, it is too clean rigt now.

I bought a little baggy full of little animals, spray painted them gold and am putting them around the room.

Here is a more concrete plot to the video (Howard, this can still be changed within the parameters of the sets if you want within the next week, so if you want to add some specific moment or other in here, mention it now :)

The video starts out in a close up aerial shot of empty hardwood floors, a bunch of items(buttons, paper, pens, tissue etc) come together to formulate a picture of the string man's face, the image turns into a real life image of him sitting on the couch of Isadora's abode. You see he is surrounded by all of her oddball things(golden rabbit statues, string of pearls hanging from the ceiling, piles of collections and papers). He looks a little uncomfortable and concerned looking at all of the items. Isadora, across the room getting them a snack from the kitchen. While I imagine that they have been together for a long time, this is the first time he has been to her apartment in a long long time, if ever.

Isadora notices that String man is looking out of place and this is when she grabs the pile of items from the table and leads string man to the empty spot on the floor. When the items formulate the image of them in the meadow of flowers, it is a memory of the time that they first met - Isadora was picking flowers and String man was playing his guitar. Isadora is wearing her teal skirt to signify that it is a different time, and of course everything is a little extra saturated in her memory. They seem really happy.
The final image of them transitions back into the collage of items on the floor. Isadora's hand reaches out and grabs a crusty, dried up flower from the pile and holds it close to her. Even though it's just a flower, it means a lot to her as a memory of a time she really cherished.

String man, while understanding the importance, thinks that she's gone a bit overboard to the point where she isn't embracing the moment because she is too concerned with collecting her memories and putting them on a pedestal.

He tries to take the flower from her to have a moment with her but she is too occupied with her things and feels hurt that he doesn't seem to understand. After looking around a little more he goes over to her and ask to take her hand. He ties some fabric across her eyes and leads her off screen.

The next shot is a close up of her face with the blindfold, we see his hands remove the blind fold and her eyes light up, pulling out we see that he has taken her back to the flower field that they first met in. She, begins to look around the field and begins to pick a flower when String man stops her, pulls her to him - wanting her to spend the moment with him and not trying to collect more tokens. For the first time in the video since the memory she really looks at him.

And that's how it ends. They way I figure it, him taking her to the field is his way of meeting her halfway in appreciating the sentimental value of her memories, but he just wants her to remember that she needs to live in the moment. It's a bit of a problem that I deal with myself... being a photographer I obsessively take pictures of things, worried that one day I will forget something, but sometimes I live a whole day or event behind the lens and forget to actually enjoy it.

Within the main plot, there will be several times where we ct back to the spot on the floor where all sorts of items will come to life and dance around on the floor, corresponding to the items mentioned in the lyrics that he finds throughout the apartment.

Off I go!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

She's almost done

The puppet is almost done.

To make the hair: First I rolled out a bunch of the yarn, folded it over a bunch of times in the length I wanted her hair to be, held together the folds on one end with sewing thread, then threaded it through once through the latex on her head. I did this three times with equal bunches of hair and then glue it all down to her head with gorilla glue. I know that must be impossible to imagine from my description, but it really was much better than how I did the hair on the other puppet last time. I am going to be putting her hair into the two buns I described n the other post, but if I had want movable hair I could imagine that I would easily be able to weave thin wire throughout her hair easily with the thickness and curliness of the yarn.

Her eyes were made from sculpy(a mix of the pearly off white and the regular white), which I rolled out into ovals, made a hole with a sewing needle, and baked in the oven. When they were cool, I printed out some varying iris images from the internet and modge podged on the ones I liked. To give them a nice realistic shine, I paint a little nail polish on them before popping them into her head.

The background in these images is the wallpaper that I made for her apartment. I took some images of striped wallpaper off the internet, then mixed a couple types and changed the colors to fit the color I wanted in Photoshop. The yellow flowers in the background are the flowers I will creating a whole meadow out of for the memory sequence. I recently finished up the precise moment by moment plans for the film and will go over that a bit in my next post.

I have two sets to build this week... Her apartment and the field of yellow flowers. I will also be making another outfit for her that is primarily made of teals for the memory sequence in the flower meadow. I should be animating by the end of the week!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hello my little Poppets

It's been a very busy week. I had to hit the ground running since I am going to be doing this music video in 2 months. I like a bit of a challenge :)

Only one new puppet for this video, since it focuses on the relationship of String Man from the last video, and the new female character in this video... for all intents and purposes let's call her Isadora, Dora for short.

As I said before I want her to look like a fusion of circus/flapper/chinadoll/ballerina. She was actually really fun to sculpt and clothe. I finished the clothing last night and baked her eyes in the oven(not seen yet). Her hair will be two messy buns made out of this crimped black knitting yarn I found at JoAnn's... you'll see. In the drawing she appears to hair 4 buns all over her head.. I was just trying different locations for the buns.. I decided on the lower two. One large one by the nape of her neck below her ear, and one smaller one above and slightly behind her other ear. On the small one I will put a little colorful cloth flower thing.
She has no eyes or hair in any of these pictures. Patience my precious!

Here we go! I will be finishing her up today, and making the sets this week.

As usual, I don't spend much time on sketches for my stop motion... just the general idea...

like before, sculpted the heads from oil based clay... I find it helpful to do a basic sculpt with my fingers with it at room temperature... then put in in the fridge over night and sculpt the details with my tools when it is harder.

the mold, thats a water based clay at the base, then her, then some PAM before I layed in the plaster. That box is made from a trashbag box.

To save time, I only did a good 5 or 6 paperthin layers of Castin Craft liquid latex this time(since it takes so long to dry in the mold(assuming it's because the plaster side doesn't get air to dry faster) this actually proved a bit more taxing because the face was so flimsy that when I filled it with the insulation foam, her face puckered and wrinkled when the foam dried completely. I had to do a bit of plastic surgery to remove her face, paint in a layer of Gorilla Glue to make a skull, then glue it back onto her head

this time around I didn't use foam on my bodies, It was a lot quicker and cheaper to simply wrap her body in pantyhose.

Latex build up on arms and legs, this is her with the foam insulation drying onto the wire of her neck. I also want to note that to do the insulation foam head, it was important to have her neck ONLY 2 twisted 1/16th wires. I tried with 3 this time to strengthen her neck and spine, but her neck wasn't turning smoothly when the foam dried(too much resistance). I simply cut out a wire on the neck part and reglue her head into the foam with gorilla glue.

String man had a body transplant... Because I didn't know he was going to be in more than one video, I didn't make his spine strong enough to withstand such use. I gave him a new stronger spine made out of a stronger wire, wrapped with a smaller wire. Same goes for his left leg. is right leg is 4 pieces of 1/16th aluminum wire wrapped.
Also this time, instead up using balsa wood for the chest and hips, I used plumbers putty. It's stronger and saved time even though it is more expensive.

and a little bonus photo from Siberian that I found. It shows the humorously haphazard setup I used to do the octopus legs coming out of the pig's mouth.