Saturday, December 19, 2009

Neil Gaiman in Winnipeg!

Whoot! I took an evening off Tuesday to go to the Neil Gaiman signing/reading at the mall. They'd won a contest based on a Halloween party, and you'd never realize how popular he is until you walk into a mall with a line already snaking through it!

My friend Vanessa and I went, go there around 4:30, checked our coats in the mall and got in line. At 5 they let us into the store (closed ahead of time to set up) and found a spot. I brought my Coraline Box, and bought a copy of 'The Graveyard Book'. Very crowded - he signed for 869 people -- this is on a day that meant facing -40 temperatures just to get there!

Around 6pm he came out, talked about the contest and the round setup of the area (he rotated periodically), did a reading from 'Odd and the Frost Giants' and answered some fan questions. Very entertaining all around! Then, the signing line started. Wow. We were divided into 7 quadrants (not sure how that math works!) and given numbers. Everyone under 12 went first, which is good since the signing went until 1:30am. We were section 3, and the mall had closed by the time we got into line. Probably 2 hours standing, following a winding path through the store. Great advertising - we spent quite awhile looking at those shelves! Aside from the standing (and lack of foresight to bring food!) it really was fun - we had some great conversations with the people around us. Like minded people make for great fun, especially when the tired-hungry-sleep-deprviation humour starts kicking in!

Getting the box signed was really cool - he asked what my site was, and if I'd played with the arms at all (I have!) and thanked me for promoting the movie. Overall super cool! Got home around 12:30 - my friend and I both staggered through work the next day, but was well worth it!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Have to admit -35C weather is a great motivation to stay inside and get some work done!Henry's graveyard of burnt out bulbs surround the ceiling light...

There's some crazy dust on the lens, seems to jump around a bit sometimes, and the dust blower did nothing - any suggestions? I'll probably stop by the camera shop tomorrow to see what I can find.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blew a fuse!

A few quick shots finished before I blew a mini-fuse in my lighting kit:

Fortunately I was able to pick up a new fuse in the city, but it took out my mini-light string and a bit of my momentum with it. I've got it back up and running now, replacement mini-lights are slightly different, hopefully it'll still flow! This weekend should finish up the burnt out bulb sequence, which is exciting, fun, and sad too - I really enjoyed playing with such a limited light source. Also a bit intimidating - the first shot up with the normal lighting setup is one of the most complicated ones in the film. Many elements to keep track of, as well as a moving camera.

Should be fun though - strangely my process has really changed during this film. During Judder I was OBSESSED with X-sheets - had to use them to keep track of the kids moving at different framerates - but I was trying to mark out everything, when I thought a leg should land, when an arm would stop moving... it got pretty obsessive. This film it's all much more intuitive, and Dragon is a huge help with the different playback options! It's really about thinking how I want elements to move, checking where they are in their arc, and trying to force myself to do longer holds then I ever think is necessary (4 frames seems like a long time until it's playing back!) But I'm finding the intuitive way much more enjoyable and better results - should be interesting to see how it plays out with the complicated stuff!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Searching in the dark

Actually pretty happy with this shot which is a nice change from wanting to reshoot so much! I just passed the 1 min mark, and am really enjoying animating!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A few Stills

With the replacement lights set up, I can return to filming Henry dealing with his burnt out light. These little things make lighting really fun.
And a still from a scene shot a few days ago; Henry with his music box (potters circling a vase/pot)
Backing up files I found this - my attempt at traditional animation, using a homemade light table then scanning the images in. (Blink and it's over!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Slacker Henry

The computer is back from the shop! They never did find out what was wrong, so I bought this guy :A tv tuner that works as an analog/digital converter for my camera - it's cheaper than the heavy duty options, but better reviewed then the cheapie converters. Should work out well.

Working with Dragon is amazing, love it! It just feels more intuitative - I still want to get a small monitor (shockingly hard to find) to keep near the set to watch feedback on.

Hmm based on this clip I think I put too much Slacker in Henry's Silicone (bad bad pun, bad me!)

Thanks so much for the comments - you guys/gals/stop mo puppets are keeping me motivated and going!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

First Shots and Technical Glitches

Filming has begun! Still hampered by the technical issues - the main computer is still in the shop, and the older one isn't up to running Dragon, so it'll be nice once I get the new setup up and running.

In the meantime I started filming.

The main room light has burnt out; Henry pulls down some Christmas lights he'd strung up in his room so that he can light his way to find a new bulb and fix the main light. Ironically, the Christmas lights burnt out just after this scene. I'll film other scenes while waiting for the replacement, but thought I'd post this one for now.

(edit - looks like it's playing a bit choppy, hopefully it'll play properly!)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Finishing Details

Henry's bed in the semi-attached room on the set. Some mini-ceramics lining the walls. There's a great trick to making them - use the cheap white Sculpey (very important to use it and not Super Sculpey) bake, then use a bit of matte gel or light paint and powder with embossing powder. Put in the oven on broil for a few min (watching very closely). The powder melts and takes on a ceramic-glaze look, and the Sculpey browns.
Henry's a bit obsessive over keeping his mugs in the right spot.
The trees are going feral in his paintings, crawling onto the walls.
All the clutter is glued or museum-wax'd down. Such a different scale -bottom shelf is the girl puppet from Judder.

A few things slowing me down - the computer's AV in suddenly stopped working, so it's in the shop being diagnosed, which means no live feed from the camera - so filming begins with the old computer and camera if necessary! Tonight I sleep, for tomorrow I film!

Monday, October 5, 2009


I still need to fix up the chest block and the foam on the main body, but I couldn't resist!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Stainless Steel Pre-drilled Balls

I've posted this on the forums and thought I'd post here as well;

Awhile ago I bought some stainless steel balls, meant for jewelery purposes, predrilled and tapped. I thought of using them for a ball and socket armature, but haven't had a chance to try them out yet, and won't for awhile. They were wholesale, so I've got a ton of them kicking around - so, if anyone would like some to try out, just let me know and I'll mail them out. No worries about postage or anything like that - more people experimenting with different mediums is always good!

They're 6mm and 4mm, predrilled, though I've no idea what hole or tap size. If you'd like some just send me an email with your address and I'll ship them off!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Smile, Henry

Show the nice people your new teeth.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Henry's Studio

A few notes - the lighting is just a quick setup while the final version is in the mail, along with the baseboards! The camera is just on a small lazy-susan sort of deal, but will be using the Manfrotto for the animation's moves. It's a bit dark - might try re-uploading a brighter version in the morning, but I'm off to bed!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A few more pics

A few more (larger) pictures of Henry - I initially planned on making 3 casts of the head for safety's sake, but since the head rigging became much more simplified (just a jaw bone) I'm wondering if one will suffice.
Henry, posing with the backside of a canvas.

If you click on the image below to enlarge it - the light really catches the texture on the silicone. It's going to be fun to light (or a headache, will find out which!)

Translucence shows in the cheekbone - Henry looking contemplative.
Eyelashes might need some trimming based on this one.
Showing off his plugs..

Henry got plugs!

Henry gets hair! Using a bamboo/silk blend yarn (untwisted and pulled apart) and a punch - a very small sewing needle with the end of the eye cut off to make a mini U shape that pushes the thread into the silicone, held in a mini grip I got from Animate Clay with a set of Delrin eyes.

Easier to punch the hair in while it's long and trim down...
Leading to some fun hair styles before it's barber time.
And looking more the respectable aged artist he's supposed to be. Once the hair is finished I'll go back and add a few more skin highlights, once I see how it all interacts. He's getting closer to his big film role!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Walls up and papered

Eeks! Somehow it's been another month since I posted - been working away busily. We finally got a break in the weather (most rain I can remember) and I was able to get some more set pieces chopped up - the walls are now up and wallpapered! Some overlaps for removable walls that'll be tacked down during filming. Baseboards and a bit of finishing touches on the floor are next. Over half the paintings are done, and all but a mini fridge and heater are built. It's getting closer!
It's a great motivator to see it all coming together, each day I can't wait to add more and get even closer to starting filming date - which'll mean many more well-lit (forgive the flash lighting here) updates and clips, can't wait!!!

Monday, July 20, 2009


After many discarded castings figuring out how to get the armature to register properly in those little fingers, I have finished my first arm! Aluminum wire armature wrapped in thread, silicone arm and paints.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Henry has an arm! Still needs to be trimmed, and now that I'm more confident with painting inside the mold I might write this one off as a test. But I love this stuff! It's got this great feel to it and can do a complete fold at the elbow without any problem or distortion at all. I ran out of time with the armature so I'm chalking the wooden experiments up to experience, and am going with wire wrapped in thread.

It's been a whole month since I last posted which is a bit scary! In the time during I lost a week to some sort of cold/flu, but have been making progress... The main newness is a new scroll saw! New to me - bought it from someone who bought it used 40 years ago. So it's got a history of lasting! This is Henry's giant art unit - the two side pieces will hinge open revealing all the shelves stuffed with paper and tubes of paint.Some more scroll-saw fun - a mail-desk (still needs full length legs) and a little dresser, awaiting knobs.
This was made for me - Henry's bedframe! Instead of a mattress he'll have a quilt tied to the posts like a hammock. The quilt pieces are painted up and ready to sew.
Henry's skull - he has a removable armature wire lower jaw. The holes were originally for small wires to manipulate the mouth but it's so small I'll probably keep it very simple and push it a bit further in TVPaint afterwards.

Some paint bottles for that big unit - I made some out of Sculpey, cast them in DragonSkin, and have been making plaster copies - 50 so far. After casting in Silicone I can't think of anything else I prefer! It's amazing stuff for making molds.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Set progress and updates...

The set is up! Though it'll need some structural reinforcements - had to bring it in before it was ready to avoid a series of rain-storms lately, soon as we get a nice few days it'll be fixed up. This is the flooring so far; the wood is from a bamboo rug from JYSK that's been sanded down, cut to size and stained (rest to be stained tomorrow). The set is 5' across and has one extra room at the back still to be added on.
1 lb of Sculpey to make this tile piece!
Mostly out of focus, but along the lines of some of the shots in terms of perspective to the set.
Henry now has hands!! Which is good since...
He also has gloves. Just set on top since the clay is still quite squishy, will be able to put it on properly once the silicone version is cast.
His other glove (mis-matched) is also quite worn out - the fraying is knitted in by dropping and adding stitches. Can't sew this one shut until it's right on the hand with all those loopy bits.
And his first painting - there will be visible cross-hairs over it as it hangs in replacement of a window.
Some lightbulbs - still need to make the boxes for them. These will all be burnt-out ones (42 in total) and will be airbrushed greyer.
The gray on the floors is just some slip, I'll wipe it back until I get the levels right. Pretty behind schedule, but it's slowly coming together!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I had a great chance to try out the airbrush - painting a mural for a new library opening up in Dugald, MB. This one measured about 5' across - it was alot of fun trying out the airbrush on the book and worm.Now heading out to Dugald means seeing... the Praries. This one was taken just beyond the perimeter. It's crazy how fast you can be surrounded by one massive field...

Normally I'm not much inspired by the praries, and always find it exciting to go some place with hills, let alone mountains! But this trip came at just the right time - figuring out what Henry's paintings will look like. I shot about 300 pics through 3 trips out there, and will be using them as the basis for compositions of Henry's painting - happy to be inspired!
Henry is a painter, an artist... though he hasn't really done anything in a long while. This is about to change. Here are his canvasses - currently 30 plus some stretcher frames, will see if I need more once the set is up. Some will be painted right from the get go and others done during the animation - but I'm waiting to see how they look in the set before painting them. There are 2 stains of wood, and differently primed canvasses;
Adding the mini staples (some back, some side) took about 1/2 hr per canvas - each is made out of jewellery wire and had to be bent to shape and holes punched in the canvas frame.
And this is the floorplan for Henry's studio, very excited! The set room was re-cleaned tonight and set building starts tomorrow. Since storyboards are finished I mapped out each shot - each layer of gray is what that shot sees, so the darker the area, the more popular it will be. The set is 5' across and will break away in a few places for access, with all removable walls.