Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Well, the liquid latex works. The 'whole head impression' thing ain't so great, however. To get it off, I just peeled it off inside out. After taking a test cast of the inside, I found that taking it off had creased it. It also isn't thick enough to hold its shape on its own. If I made it thick enough to do that, I doubt i'd be able to take it off.

So, i'm going to do liquid latex impression in two separate halves, and then try to marry the two resulting latex halves together by painting the seams with more liquid latex. Should work.

I'm also going to make the impression super-ass thick. I'm going to buy a big enough container of the stuff that I can just dip it in everytime I want to put a new coat on. Should be really fast to do.

I'm also fairly sure i'm going to redo the clay head. It's just not quite big enough, and it's bugging me. Should be fairly easy the third time around though. It's not too discouraging; it's always better once you've had a practice run. And I would have been bummed if the key piece of sculpure for the film, that's going to get the most screen time, wasn't as good as it could have been. After all, it's only about 10-16 hours of work in a project involving hundreds and hundreds of hours of work.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It seems that it was a good idea to do Cornelisz's head and armature first; he's got a beard, and a great deal of his head is covered by a hat. So it's comparatively easy to cover up suckage.

I've also solved another problem; up to now, i've been endeavoring to cast the heads in two separate halves - that means that i'll end up with a prominent line where the two halves meet on the finished thing. Not a problem for this head, as the beard covers it. But none of the other characters have beards.

I've found that I can cover the entire head with liquid latex (thereby taking the impression with one piece only), and then peel the whole thing off inside out.
I think i've solved the problem; what i've been looking for is a flexible material that I can use to take an impression of the clay head; flexible so that I can remove it even with the undercuts (if I cast it in plaster, it would get stuck). I just used the same liquid latex.

The stuff has different working properties than I thought; I applied very thick poured-on coats, and dried them partially with a hair dryer. Then I put more on. That is to say, I was able to build up a very thick layer in one evening. When I was making the rubber mask for my previous failed attempt, I was putting on very thin coats and letting it dry for half a day. You can really go hard with the stuff, and it will still cure & dry evenly.

So now i've got a complete rubber mould of the head. I'm going to take a test cast of the face area with alginate to make sure the details transferred correctly. Then i'm going to make the rubber mask, by pouring latex inside the other one, swishing it around, and draining out the excess.

Boy, i'm getting pretty sick of this crap. I'd like to begin making a film already.

Monday, November 24, 2008

It sort of worked. The liquid latex captured the detail very well, and it's suprisingly durable.
But the goddamn alginate shrunk over the week that I was applying coats of latex. The final rubber mask was about 2/3 the size of the original. Which means it didn't work.
Jesus, i'm just trying to take an impression of the front side of a clay head. It's taking up alot of time and money. Shit.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I'm doing some ambitious stuff with this film; it feels like the real challenge is to get all the stuff built, and working properly. Including the greenscreen composite stuff.

Doing the actual shooting doesn't seem intimidating at all by comparison. I feel like i'll be able to knock off shots very quickly.
Discovered something else about alginate; i've noticed that little thin pieces of the stuff lying around my table are turning white and becoming brittle; that means that the stuff has a limited life. Once it dries out, it's toast. Though I guess I could keep it in a tupperware container with some water. Like tofu.

I put the first coat of liquid latex on my alginate impression. The alginate is still sweating a bit. I hope it doesn't interfere with the drying of the latex. I did a test already to see if it would work, and it did. But these hunks of alginate contain alot more water than my test peices.

I bought a couple different brands of liquid latex - turns out they vary quite a bit. One is thick, one is very watery. They both have their uses.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Top picture is the head after the last pour. I found that using alginate on bare clay causes lifting of the clay, and can damage fine edges. Two very thin coats of lacquer fixed that.
After inumerable tests, I finally figured out how to get rid of the fucking bubbles. And yes, that's what type of bubbles they are. I tried a thinner mixture, more mixing, pouring water into the alginate and vise versa, but nothing made any difference. Then I noticed that when I peeled the alginate out of the mixing containers, the undersides were smooth. So, I epoxied a piece of wood onto the clay bust (see second from top photo) and put the sucker in upside down. After pouring in the alginate, I heaved the head up and down like a plunger for a good while.
And it worked! Finally. I can get on to the next step, making a rubber mask out of liquid latex from the alginate.

Here's what I mean by 'sweating'; after 24 hours, the alginate is still soaking wet and slimy-ass. The solution was just to use heat; a blow dryer, specifically. I'm sure it'd dry on its own eventually, but would probably take a week.

This here is pour number one, the failed pour. The wood brace is to hold the head in place, so it doesn't fall over within the mould while i'm tapping the thing against the table (trying to remove bubbles).
Here's some technical stuff, in case someone reading this is going to do the same thing, and doesn't want to repeat the expensive mistakes.
The interior dimensions of the above mould is about 5"x4". The alginate came in 1 lb bags (about 30$). A 1lb bag would do two + of the above pours.
The ratio I used was 1 part alginate to 1.16 water. It was a little thick; about the minumum amount of water I would use. Specifically, I used 650ml alginate to 750ml water (cold). Then I mixed the hell out of it with an electric mixer.
I took some pictures, but I don't got om with me. Just boring old words.

The alginate is giving me grief. I did a whole bunch of expensive tests (alginate ain't cheap), to determine the working properties of this thing. Then I made a little box with the clay head inside, and poured off mould number one. The stuff didn't quite make it into a few crevices, and I haven't figured out how to get the air bubbles out of the stuff. So the surface of the resulting mould is pock marked with holes. I'm going to try again today; gonna try mixing the alginate powder into water, and not the other way around. I'm also going to try making it much thinner, so it won't hold the bubbles.

The other problem with the stuff; the thing won't stop 'sweating'; it's been overnight with the first mould, and it still feels wet and slimy. I expect that the sogginess will interfere with the liquid latex that I intend to pour in there.

This casting is also leaving the clay bust a little worse for wear. I'm going to coat it with lacquer today as well, to prevent re-wetting of the clay.

I hate casting stuff.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Something fills a little off with my clay head. When I stick it on top the armature, it just don't feel quite right. Might be a little small. I did a quick photoshop, and it seemed to be right, scale-wise. I'm going to do a more particular photoshop test (pasting a picture of the armature and the head over a human silhouette) with exact proportions. I really hope I didn't fuck it up to the extent that I have to make a new head. If it is a little screwed, i'm hoping I can fix it with facial hair and the hat; I could imply a larger forehead with the hat.

Otherwise, today is going to be making little liquid latex samples for tests. And hopefully casting the clay head with alginate, and starting the buildup for the finished product.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My current phase of production, i.e. 'tooling' for making miniature articulated animatable heads is going to be the technically hardest part of this project, by a pretty wide margin. But all the steps/techniques i've attempted so far have worked, which is nice.

I intend to lay out all my steps with details; maybe somebody reading this someday will benefit from what i've learned.

Now that i've got an un-sucky head, i'm going to cast the whole thing in alginate (fast setting dentist's moulding material). I'm going to do a test first to see how it reacts with unsealed clay - whether or or not it damages or contaminated the surface. May have to use a mould release.

Having covered the whole thing, i'm going to cut the hardened alginate into two halves, making the cut on a line that will be covered with facial hair on the finished product.

Then i'm going to build my rubber mask with liquid latex. The test was successful; I wasn't impressed at first - the shit seemed to be about as strong as rubber cement and very delicate. After you get multiple coats on though, it becomes suprisingly tough and flexible.

The next hard part will come after that; i'm going to have to find a way to cast the inside of the resulting mask with hard resin. The hard resin will be my basis for the 'robotics', which i'll be hacking and sawing etc.

Monday, November 10, 2008

I photoshopped another snapshot of the clay head into one of the HDR set shots. I finally have at least an indication at what this film is going to look like. I think it's cool. And the light matching might not be as hard as I anticipated. Of course, a shot like this would be in the easier category. 

Friday, November 07, 2008

I've been sanding the thing lots, with fine sandpaper. Ain't doing alot, but it's doing something. Cleaned up a few areas. There's a few shots where the camera gets really close into the face. Has to look good that close.
Cornelisz (this guy) is going to pretty easy to animate, facially. His whole movie is that he doesn't care about nuthin' but his painting. So most of the time, he'll just make his impassive lip-curl squiny-face. Kind of a Clint Eastwood spaghetti western type of thing. No talking, all squinting.

How the ass am I gonna make my head? What i'd like to do is take a negative cast of my Cornelisz bust, then pour an alginate-like material in it, with an inner head mechanism inside. Foam latex would be the way to do this, but I don't know anything about it or where to get it. Will have to do some research. It even occured to me to use alginate, but it's probably too fragile for that.

I've been experiementing with liquid latex (multiple coats brushed on, air dry) but it's taking forever just to find out if it's gonna work or not. And it seems pretty breakable. Maybe itll get stronger when it's thick.
I photoshopped on beard, and made the colour a bit skin-tone-ish. It's fun to do.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

A couple of the photos of this 'ere head i've made look eerily like me. One is quite creepy.

There's a theory out there that the making of every film mirrors the film itself. I hope not. This shit ain't exactly Bambi.

Now that i've got a 90% suck-free head, i've got to turn it into a lightweight, articulated head that can make facial expressions, and junk. How? Not totally sure yet. I'm going to use science, and willpower.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Dear adoring public;

For the next couple of days, i'm doing wee tests with materials; liquid latex, resin, etc. To see how much flex they have, drying times, etc. It's pretty dull, so there's not much to look at.

I'm still waiting for Corn Dog's head to be dry enough to sand. Because i'm so smarty-pants, I know not to put it in the oven to make it dry. I discovered a while ago that that makes the object explode into a bunch of clay shrapnel.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I photoshopped on some fur and hat-ish shapes. Not bad. The bottom image is a bit screwy- high res fancy photo vs. grainy snapshot. But it's fun to see what a final shot might look like.

That's it; no more wet clay working. I'm gonna let the sumbitch dry out now. I'll be doing some more detailing when it's dry - sanding and whatnot. I'm not finishing that sort of work now - everytime I touch the thing, it gets scratched, junk stuck in it, etc.

The thing fell over twice, and smashed the nose up. The first time it was fine, cause I had to rework the thing anyways. But the second time was a bit counter-productive.

The thing is improving slowly. Well, not slowly at all really; i'll work for 15 minutes and then find an excuse to stop. Working on it is like holding my breath. But it ain't too bad. It's looking more and more like the character I picture in my head. I extended the chin, and worked on the mouth a little.
These here are the best pictures; some of them looked pretty D-. Thanks to my handy storyboard, I know that some of the key shots will have this head filling the frame, with lighting coming from below (Halloween style). The head definately doesn't get a passing grade from that angle with that lighting.
He's also looking a little too well-fed. Going to make him a little more wiry looking.
Ears are going to be attached after the fact; they'll probably screw up my casting if I do them now. And I can hide the joins with hair.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

One thing I have to watch out for; HDR (high dynamic range) photography will take a pretty smooth, even looking surface, and make it look textured as hell. So Cornelisz's face might end up looking like tree bark if I don't watch out. That may be desirable, but I still should have control over the thing. No excuses. None of that doing random stuff and then saying 'oooh, it looks arty' bullshit.

I tossed a little photoshopping on one of the pics to see how Cornelisz would look with his beard, chops, and crazy-ass hat. I'm going to be able to hide alot of suckage with those things. He's looking a little piggish.

My end goal is to make him a little more vulture-like. My model is my friend Jim Laing.

The Weekend to End Suckiness

I've finally got over the hurdle; i've managed to make something that I don't want to smash. The 'Kevin Nash' press mold worked pretty good - the press mold impression produced was far from perfect, but it gave me enough of a foundation to work around (proper human proportions) that I wasn't floundering around, not getting anywhere. It's still pretty rough, and I haven't devoted any attention to the mouth yet. But the light is at the end of the suck tunnel.

It became clear pretty quickly that I wasn't sucessfully making this thing look like Johannes, who is a young guy of around 16 - it was coming out a bit mean-looking. So I said to hell with plan 'A', and decided to make this character Cornelisz (the bad painter) instead. It may be a mistake - the idea was to make the first armature a character with minimal screen time, as a 'practice' armature to work out the kinks. So maybe i'm making a mistake. Screw it, i'm doing it.

I'm also intentionally going for a pretty realistic look - not terribly stylized in the facial proportions. I'm trying to make the overall appearance more eerie by it's closeness to reality, but neccessary degree of removal from it.
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