Sunday, October 22, 2006

I'm digging this story quite a bit. It's short, it requires only two armatures, and a large part of the backgrounds required could be acheived with composites and CG work. I have to pass it by Mike Addison first, but I think he'll dig it.

The Third Night
I had this dream.
I was carrying a child of six on my back. I’m sure it was my child. Only, the strange thing was, before I realized it he was blind with a freshly shaven head. When I asked, “When did you lose your sight?” he replied, “What? Long ago.” There’s no doubt that voice was a child’s, but he spoke like he was an adult. Like an equal.
Green rice paddies were to the left and right. The road was narrow. The fleeting shadows of herons could be seen in the darkness.
“We’ve started toward the rice paddies, haven’t we?” he said on my back.
I turned my face to the rear and asked, “How do you know?”
“Aren’t the herons crying?” he answered.
Sure enough, when he said that, they cried out twice.
Although he was my own child, I became a little frightened. With him on my back I didn’t know what would happen from here on. I wondered if there weren’t some place I could just abandon him. When I looked out into the darkness and I could see a large forest. Just as I started to think “If over there…” a voice going “Hee hee” came from my back.
“What are you laughing at?”
He didn’t answer. All I heard was, “Father, am I heavy?”
“You’re not heavy,” I replied.
“Soon I’ll become heavy.”
I kept quiet and, with the forest as my guide, walked toward it. The road in the rice fields twisted irregularly. We couldn’t exit as easily as I had thought. After a while the path forked. I stood at the split in the road and rested.
The boy said, “There should be a stone standing here.”
Sure enough, an eight inch square stone stood about waist high. Written on the face, “Left Higakubo, Right Hottahara.” I could clearly see those red letters in spite of the darkness. They were like the red color of a newt’s belly.
“Left will be fine,” the boy ordered. When I looked left the forest was starting to cast dark shadows from the sky over our heads. I hesitated a little.
The boy added, “You don’t need to hold back.” Helplessly I started walking toward the forest. I was thinking that the boy seemed to know everything, even though he was blind. When the single road approached the forest, he said on my back, “Being blind is a real inconvenience.”
“But it’s okay, because I’m carrying you.”
“I’m sorry you have to carry me, but to be made a fool of by people won’t do. To be made a fool of by a parent, especially, won’t do.”
Somehow things had become unpleasant. I was thinking how I wanted to hurry to the forest and dispose of him, and I hurried.
“You’ll understand when we get a little farther.—it was just like this night,” he said on my back, like he was speaking to himself.
“What was?” I asked, with intensity in my voice.
“What was? You know, don’t you.” the child answered with a sneer. And then I got this feeling that I did. But clearly I didn’t know. It was just that it felt like it happened on a night like this. It felt like if I just went a little farther, I would know. Knowing would be very difficult, so while I didn’t understand I hurried to dispose of him. I had to feel relief. I hurried.
Rain had been falling for some time. Little by little the road darkened. It was almost like a dream. But this small kid was sticking to my back, and he illuminated my entire past, present and future, shining like a mirror that didn’t miss an ounce of the truth. Yet, he was my child. And he was blind. I couldn’t stand it.
“Here, here. Right at that cedar’s roots.”
I could clearly hear the kid’s voice. Unconsciously I stopped. Without noticing we had entered the forest. Just five feet in front of me was a black mass. Without a doubt, I could see it was the cedar tree the kid had spoke of.
“Father, it was at that cedar’s roots there, wasn’t it.”
Without thinking, I replied, “Yes, it was.”
“I think it was 1809, the year of the Dragon.”
Of course, I was made to think of 1809.
“From today it’s been exactly one hundred years since you killed me.”
As I heard those words, one hundred years ago, the year of the Dragon, on a dark night like this, by the roots of a cedar, the realization that I murdered a blind man abruptly burst into my mind. And as soon as I started to become aware that I was a murderer, the child on my back suddenly grew as heavy as a stone Jizo statue.


Well, it seems to be settled. The behemoth project 'The Hell Painting' is going to be put on indefinate hiatus. It doesn't mean that all the work done on it will be thrown away - I really like many elements of the story.

The plan now is to start something new, and small. I was thinking of making it an excersise in speed - let's see how fast a short stop-motion animation peice can be produced. That doesn't mean that I intend to make it shoddy, however. I just plan to move forward quickly with minimal dicking around. It will also be fun to document a project in its entirety, from conception to finish.

I'm currently working my way through a mass of short stories, mostly in the fairy/folk tale vein. I'll post a few of the contenders that i've found so far.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


We are seriously considering the idea that our project might just be too damn big.

Conservative estimates, based on myself putting in 24 hours per week, places our production completion date six years away, which has an unfortunate ring of truth. I would be thiry-three. We don't really like the sound of that. We would be pretty disappointed to put 'The Hell Painting' on indefinate hiatus, as we have quite a bit of enthusiasm for the thing. However, if we have to cut our losses, prolonging it obviously won't help.
It wouldn't mean quitting stop-motion animation, however; I would start immediate work on some sort of 1-2 set public domain fairytale piece, 2-3 armatures, no moving faces, all narration, one year ETA. But we're going to sleep on it before I smash our $2500 giant fancy dusty set.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

C R A P B O T 9 0 0 0

Here it is! It doesn't work!! Because it's a piece of crap! My initial attempt was a 'constructive learning experience'. The next one is going to better, in that it's going to work. It worked to some degree, but was just too glitchy - all the glitches were adding up, and it was a ways from being done.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Robo-Head V. 1.0 is a bust. I will post pictures of the hunk of crap, along with reasons why it failed, soon. It turns out that making an animatronic head from things you can buy at a hardware store is hard!

In the meantime, i've been sketching out a design for a new head, based on research and knowledge gained through my initial failure. So far, i've got the mechanism for eye movement designed.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


More storyboards, hooray!! These are the old version 2.0 boards, but this scene still stands as is. This is when Cornelisz stomps into the court of Lord William of Orange and demands that a carriage be burned for him - a model for his painting.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


I'm working hard on the big head. The thing really is a robot - the functions just happen to be controlled with threaded steel rods instead of electronics. Its getting more and more complicated - there's a huge nest of cables coming out the back, and quite a criss-crossing of guy wires holding the thing in place. On a project like this, there's a point where things can get so complicated and begin to affect other funtions in unpredictable ways that the whole thing ceases to work. Hopefully it won't get to that point.

I'm also working with fiberglass and resin. I had forgotten how annoying the stuff is to work with.

Total days so far on Johanne's Big Head - 5. Estimated hours spent - 30.

I'll post some pictures of the thing soon.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Here's the complete storyboard for the final scene of our film. Note: we've scrapped the monkey, because we don't like monkeys.
I've got nothing to say, beyond that i'm impatiently waiting for my three-days-off-a-week life to begin so I can really start working on this thing. I expect to have the 'robot head' up and running in very short order.

Michael Addison has been working on honing the animated storyboard for the two scenes involving our exterior studio set - after this, we'll move on to shooting reference footage for the animation, so we can cheat. We intend to rely on cheating as much as possible with the animation - its never been our strong point.
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