Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Probably won't be be posting as much junk in the next while; alot of what i'm doing is a repetition of old stuff - not breaking much new ground. Like armatures, body mass, etc.

Day 3 of my 9-day work binge. Last two days weren't very productive at all, really. I forgot that i'm never productive when i'm poor. It's hard making a huge film and making a living on the side.

But i'm working on puppets Henry Ford style - assembly line fashion. The armatures sure are easy to make - not much more left on the two i'm working on. The body mass will take longer, but the process is pretty nailed down now. So should go fast. The robot heads take the longest - they involve alot of small tasks, and waiting in between (for various things to dry). The plan is to go back to the costumes/armatures during those down times. For the previous puppet, I did jack during the down time, as it weren't fun at all and I was happy to stop.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Finally plucked off the old screwy eyebrow, and put on two new ones. Was pretty awkward business. But I got it done. There's just a few tedious chores left to do - no fun.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just a couple more pictures.

About to start my 9-day work marathon. Let's see how much I can get done.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Turned out it was the shoulder flares that were screwing up my junk. That, combined with the lens foreshortening of the photography I was doing. I took em off, and he looks way more natural now. He's going to need a little flare, to cover up the shoulder joint. But they're going to be more restrained. He doesn't look as cool in the wide shot, but screw it. This angle is more important.
I finally got around to fixing the eyes - it was a bit nerve wracking. It would have been a disaster if I had made a mess of it. It didn't go smoothly, but there's a bit improvement (see top, unfixed, photo, compared to bottom two). I'm glad I did it. This medium shot you see is going to be the most-seen shot of the whole film. Now it looks like something I can get behind. I've been avoiding side-angle shots, as the eye area wasn't seated properly onto the eye balls. So you'd see little holes around the eyes which looked fake-ass. But now he's good to go.
It the top shot, he looks like a dumb mule. In the bottom two, he looks like Mr. Evil, ready to cook up some evil stew.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

But it's still fun anyways. Wouldn't be nearly as rewarding if there weren't hard problems to solve. Got nine days off in a row coming up - gonna try and make huge progress. I'm already thinking of many ways I can cut corners. There's a character in the first scene - a guy with his arms tied back - who doesn't do squat, and he's only in about 4-5 shots. He's going to have a similiar build to the Lord William - so I'm going to build that armature, and just make a different (very simple) costume, and a non-animatable head.

There's something bugging me with the thing - he looks fine in the full body shot, and he looks fine to the naked eye (as opposed to the camera). But when I take a picture of just the upper torso, something feels wrong. It's not bad, but this is the angle and puppet that's going to get the most screen time in the whole film. So it's going to bug the crap out of me every time I see it. So I have to fix it. Luckily, it's just a matter of altering bodymass, which is fast and easy to do. I'm having a hard time pining down what the trouble is (see second from top photo with all the photoshopping going on). It seems that his chest isn't wide enough. But when I fix it in photoshop, it doesn't feel like the problem is solved. One of my earlier pictures (top photo, left hand side) feels just right. Hard to figure out why - nothing has changed. It might be because you can't see the outline of his chest. But I think it's more than that. The goofy shoulder flares might be making the shoulders too straight-across-looking.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Started on the hat today - fun. There's thin brass strips inside the brim so's I can bend it how I like.

Otherwise, almost done. It was pretty fun and didn't take too long - been about 2 1/2 weeks for the costume, working part-time, and with quite a few redos. There's still a few things bugging me - the body mass ain't quite right. Gonna make his butt bigger. And maybe widen the chest a little.

Made the boots. It was a bloody awkward business; it's impossible to get leather to bend smoothly at that scale. I ended up by just covering up the glitches with leather strips. There are tightening bolts for the armature ball in there - the leather strap and buckle covers up the access flaps. Didn't turn out super great, but more than good enough for their purpose.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Did a pretty important thing today; I have taken next to no sideview pictures of the thing. That's cause it looked wrong-ass. I added a large amount of bulk to the waist, to fatten him up. It immediately felt more real, and correct.

In other news, exciting stuff is happening. We've got a workspace - an office/studio in Chinatown. The power there sucks, but Mike Addison (post guy/editor, etc.) is having it fixed. And Dave Sikma (DOP) is going out and buying all sorts of nifty lighting gear. And everybody's getting pretty pumped to start filming. It's nice to have the old crew back together, and excited for a film.

There's been all sorts of talk about how we're going to do the filming. It's going to be pretty fancy pants. A typical set up will have: the character suspended in mid-air with a rod coming out the back (a' la 'Nightmare Before Christmas', a great way to animate without having the character actually support its own weight all the time), a greenscreen, all sorts of wacky rods and lights, me with a Mac laptop (coming in the mail) running 'Dragon' stop motion software, Dave running around with a lightmetre, and Mike A. on his huge mega-powered giant-screen Mac cranking the shit through AE. Should be fun.
I'm at that stage with this thing where i'm working alot, but nothing much seems to be changing. Getting lots done, but alot of it is just little chores that aren't apparent. Made some pants and underpants. I wanted them pretty tight, but I was having issues with the knee bend- there had to be alot of extra fabric to allow them to flex. So I figured out a way to do it; elastic clothing hem material. When the leg is straightened, the elastic pulls em back up, nice and tight.

It's nice to have an idea, and have it work the first time.

The costume stuff has turned out to be pretty fun. I was a bit worried, as i'm not much of a seamstress, or seamer, or whatever. But things are going pretty gravy.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Almost done. The sleeves were a real pain; i've got quite the pile of half-done failed versions. They still aren't as good as my initial accidental mockup (I used a failed poofy pant leg). Oh well. They'll have to remain a golden dream of poofy sleeves that never were.

Been going on a bit of a tangent with the costume. I like it better than my initial design, though. That's the neat thing about doing pretty much everything - you can go off and go wherever your fancy takes you. If I had people working under me, they'd have to follow set plans/designs, regardless of their capacity to improvise. Or maybe not.

I still suck at sewing. It's been pretty much all glue.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Here's another look at that nifty 'high dynamic range' photography. Photo on the left is the middle of three exposures, photo on the right is resulting HDR photo. Much more greasy and gnarly.

Gonna redo the sleeves. They're too poofy and pirate-y. I don't mind them, but I made an earlier mock-up (left photo) that had a real sweet 'bloom' to it. Gets poofy, but only in the middle. Observe the superiority of poofiness of left hand photo to right hand photo.

With the magic of obsessive-compulsiveness, I can make it happen!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Almost there. Got some staining to do, sleeves to fix, pants, darkening, and padding to add. But almost there.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Cornelisz is looking a bit haute couture.

The costume is coming along pretty quickly; it hasn't been easy, but there haven't been any major stumbling blocks or issues. Which is nice for a change. Might even finish it in the next few days. Which means i'll have a whole puppet done, whoopee. I'm backing off on the period-osity with the costume. I tried a few real specific embellishments, and they turned me off.

Should be able to start staining and mucking up his coat pretty soon. That'll be fun. Going to be pretty dark overall - lots of dirt, grease, and earthtones. To match his habitation.

Friday, March 06, 2009

In progress. I'm gluing fabric on to a leather backing - makes it nice and stiff. This is still pretty unfinished, uncoloured. But it;s coming along fairly quickly. Almost got a puppet! His outfit is going to be a real dirty old patched relic. Like it used to be aniced coat, but now its decayed. Also going to put lots of gold lace on it, but stained dark and threadbare.

Its a visual metaphor, kids!
Its not easy, but its working. A pic from earlier today; my rough colour plan.

I've got loads of reference pictures from all my research. Coming in very handy. Even had a pattern for the type of coat that I want. In this picture, i'm photoshopping it to scale.
Loads and loads of HDR fabric tests. Different combinations, different staining, etc.

I photoshopped me up a final costume design. It's crude, but it's my favorite way. Separate all the parts into layers, and adjust the colours.

Turns out I may be able to use leather after all. It does have it's advantages. The stiffness is actually going to be helpful.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Learned lots today; HDR and fabric doesn't get along very well. Natural fibers are the worst - the weave becomes emphasized to a huge degree, and really wrecks the illusion of scale. My initial idea was kind of a greasy leather thing - that's out. Leather doesn't make sharp enough folds, and it's obvious it's leather. Which wrecks the illusion.

Suprisingly, it's synthetic fibers which work best. Fibers with an extremely tiny weave, but not shiny.

I'm off to the fabric store tommorrow morning, armed with dozens of HDR fabric test shots.

The eyebrow is sucking somewhat - gotta fix it. Other than that, that's pretty much it. No more head stuff. The hair was easier than I thought. I did a bit of a botch job, but it looks alright in the pictures. Now it's on to the costume.

So close to being able to shoot, i'm drooling.
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