The Imp is in the process of having the seams cleaned up so no picture yet, but here's the progress on the background painting for the new animation. I went more realistic so the puppet wouldn't look so out of place.
I've been sculpting away at the Imp, as well as a new character for a new animation. Currently untitled, it's going to be a lot of fun to work on. It's an idea I've wanted to make for years. An old discarded puppet/creature sits in an attic, locked into place and staring at this painting (heavy Van Gogh influence in the painting). In his mind the character comes to life, and it evolves into a power struggle between the two. I've never thought of a way to do it before - it involved massive sets and props. So - I've decided to do it as a stage production (in stop mo). The lead puppet (sculpt below) and characters dressed in black puppeteering the main elements. It lets me tell a bigger story without needing a big team to do it. And I can focus on movement!
Here's the preliminary sculpts of the Imp (waiting to hear back from the director before continuing on). He'll have little wings which'll be really fun to animate. There'll be two but since it's greenscreened we'll film one, mod him up a bit, then film as the second one. He's a little too friendly in these pics, need to devil him up a little bit!
I just finished putting together my 2010 demo reel:
Up next - Imp puppet! The head is sculpted and the body will soon follow - the temptation is to try casting silicone into a silicone mold! A little risky if the release doesn't work but would love to try silicone molds.
Been keeping busy! I have some a new puppet (photo soon, just seaming some edges) and while Soma Foama is tricky to work with (very fast cure time) the lightness and feel of the puppet is amazing - so soft and flexible.
Which is great.... as I have my first puppet & animation commission! It's for an independent film and will be a small devilish imp - will be my first character with wings and I can't wait! It might even be shot on film which I've always wanted to try - though if I use a webcam as live assist I can still get away with using Dragon ;)
I've been also practicing on the scroll saw, and made a few geeky puzzles:
Zombie bookmarks: And a puzzle from a photograph of my friends son. A fun way to make things and get much better for cutting new props!
I really do - tried animating to sound for the first time today and it's a blast! It really guides movements and has a great feel when animating, really enjoyable. Another test with the ballet puppet and a slight costume change. Final version will have that sheet in the back ironed! And those sunflowers glued down a bit more.
Ages without posting! Real world events (job issues) caused alot of stress and got in the way of animating! The nerve. But is all now resolved and I'm taking some time off to focus on animation - the goal is to get a job related to this! We'll see how it goes, all I can do is try to get better at what I do and go from there.
On that note, a short test with the ballet puppet:
Ain't he a pretty flower - once I finish up the costume (and re-make one missing eye) he'll be good to go! And a quick puppet still in the seaming stage - I wanted to make a little gag I thought of and thought doing an extra walk couldn't hurt a demo reel. He's only 6 1/2" tall but the ball & socket armature (armaverse) is so nice to work with! The arms/hands are wire replacing the thicker ball joints that were originally part of the armature.
Seams on the jeans are done, rest still needs some finishing.
So - mold is made (check out here to see a great tutorial by Nick Hilligoss for making far better molds than the one seen here!) And the armature is fit to it. 1/16th armature wire, 4 strands. Next the wire is tied together using embroidery cotton (have quite a bit kicking around). I much prefer armatures this way - no twisting the wires together - it has a very nice feel to it. I also don't use epoxy for bones - I use a small piece of cheapie stainless steel wire, bent a few times for strength, then lash that on in place to act as bones. (Mentioned a few years ago on SMA) It's cheaper, faster than waiting for epoxy, allows very thin limbs, and puts little strain on the joint as there's not one little spot that takes all the pressure. I did this for the bones on Henry and he lasted an 8 min film without breaking (admittedly he was a pretty mellow/non-jumping around character)
Next is the skull. I used some clay to create a space for the silicone, then clay for the eyes as well to create a gap. I used Sculpey Light for the skull. It didn't want to come out cleanly at first so I lined the cavity with plastic wrap so it could remove nicely for baking. Very simple skull with movable jaw, and decently light. Here's a bit of cushion foam to bulk out the large belly. There's a wire going through the stomach as well to keep it from moving too much when animating. Very roughed-in shape - the silicone still fills a 1/4" gap or so. Here's the first casting, a fail. I used Monster Makers Med. Flesh Tone pigment to tint the silicone before pouring it which works great, and a small container will last forever. I hadn't put enough silicone in the mold and ended up with large empty pockets on the back of the casting. The shiny bit on the back is from a failed attempt to fill the cavities - any silicone against the plaster will come out with a matte finish but left on it's on it's quite shiny. Here's casting attempt 2 with the first layers of paint. I picked up some Speedball water-soluble block printing ink which is fantastic! Highly recommend it. Just mix a little into a bit of silicone and paint on - and $20-ish gets you 1.25 liq. oz. of 6 different colours each which should last a few dozen puppets. Here he is in his tutu - just need to clean up some loose threads on the inside. It's a thin veil-like fabric with quite a few coats of a fabric-stiffener on it. He still needs a few more coats of paint, a final coat to remove shininess, gloves (to look like flower petals) and some nice ballet slippers and he'll be ready to go! I hope to have some animation tests up by the end of the week. It's a very quick cheapie puppet, but I can't want to animate!
"Light" if officially finished! I'll be photographing all the props, getting my website up and running, and posting some behind-the-scenes shots soon...
In the meantime, begin the new project! I decided to celebrate finishing by spending May making a 10 sec spot for SMA as was mentioned on the site. Since it's for the internet I'll be documenting every stage of it here.
4 puppets - 3 background dancers and 1 lead. The background dancers are quite awful, and bring the whole thing crashing down around them. Oh, and they're monsters. Wearing tutu's, and dressed like flowers.
Here's the two sculpts underway - I've been working on them whenever the computer was busy saving, loading, or exporting, to keep myself busy.
Editing has begun! I've finished 10 of the 35 shots that need some form of editing - the majority of it is deflicker (pale walls really catch the light!) and some rig removal and 2D effects added in. It's going pretty quickly so far.
I'm posting a video on editing a rig out of one shot - normally I'd take a blank frame at the beginning or end of the animation, line it up, then erase out the rig revealing the normal background behind. But this shot had tiny amounts of camera shift and a little flicker, which is a real hassle when the background's blurry. So I created a half frame then did a loose rotoscope of Henry to make it match. (If I'd roto'd out the rig it would cause an outline showing the difference, but since Henry is moving, any slight changes aren't as visible)
So we've got the original file, the roto'd layer, and the final composite.
Filming has officially wrapped! I've been shooting like crazy the last few weeks and finished the last shot tonight - bringing the film length to just over 8 min (before end credits)
I'd love to say it's a breather to have finished filming, but I have 2 weeks left for alot of editing and effects before it has to be all wrapped up. Still, I'm excited!
I'm going to photograph all the props and get a website up and running with a demo reel (try to get myself out there a bit) The reel should include a few scenes from this piece I haven't posted which is going to be fun - looking forward to sharing them.
I reached 6:05 tonight. I think, with the long weekend, and if I don't take any days off and get home straight from work, etc - that I can finish filming a week Sunday. So close! Then get the final time-locked piece to audio - amazingly fortunate to have Brett McCoy and Don Carlson working on the audio. (Brett did a beautiful job on "Judder"!) while I spend the last 3 weeks deflickering, effects, etc. Crazy to think that in a month a piece I've spent the last year on will be wrapped up.
A few new stills - I kept them high-rez - that silicone picks up texture so well, I love how it catches the light. As much as I wanted a more articulated face, I'm finding the limitations really push me to figure out the body language instead which helps me think in terms of his mental/emotional state for the shot - hopefully some of that will come through!
Just completed some easier shots in a row which brings the film length to 5:11! 23 shots left to go, with a crazy filming/editing/finishing schedule to end at the end of April. Who needs sleep!
Originally I'd wanted to do the facial animation with the puppet itself, but size and time conspired against me, so I'm using TVPaint for blinks/eyes scrunched shut. Here's the original image, editing, and composite. (Great way to improve painting skills!)
This glove is approx 1" long - done on 00 needles, knitted with silk thread (the tears were all built into the glove design, not sure I'm brave enough to fray them afterwards!) I'm really enjoying how the camera picks up the stitches.
And.... I'm now proudly sitting at 3:11. Still a ways to go but filming is picking up - camera is set up for tomorrow's shooting, finding that's a good way to end a day. Progress!
I make puppets who make shadow puppets... where does the cycle end?! (final version will have a bit of a pause in the middle of the clip there... hopefully it reads? I'm a little too close to it all to tell sometimes)
Had a great Christmas and few days off of work, and been animating!After transferring images from the camera, I load the whole sequence into TVPaint, create a small file, and play through it to find the sequences and frames I'm using. I thought the whole sequence made for a pretty entertaining play through!
This does give away some terrible cheats - the rig is made from Helping Hands linked together, which proved too weak so it's wrapped in armature wire, glued to a piece of wood and weighted by a clamp. (Take a pic of the set without it at the end, and it's very easy to edit out). Same cheat for editing a book that gets kicked - animate only the book itself by just holding it in place. Later cut it out and super-impose it on the scene. Sneaky, not at all elegant, but it works.