For a while now I have been promising an update on my animation puppet building, so here it is. It is photo heavy. I apologize, but that is the best way to show you what is going on. I have been experimenting with
how to build puppets so I can improve my animations. As fun and cute they are as is, I am limited on what I can do by the materials I am using. Previously I talked about my first puppet.
I wasn't happy with the hands, so I also rebuilt the hands with a different technique
. I was not really happy with the eyes, nor was I happy with the way the hair turned out. I used the same body, and rebuilt the head to do some experimenting. I found some googly eye tacks at the local Hiron's drug store. Here is how the new head looked with the googly eyes:
Looks kind of silly, but a bit cute. Didn't turn out too badly. Next problem to solve was hair. I had a heck of a time figuring that out. Here is the hilarious first try:
That did not work for me. Also had issues getting more than just the top of the head covered. So I headed to the local Joann Fabrics to find fuzzy fabric. I found a couple of types. My first attempt was aweful. I couldn't get it to sit right, so I decided to cut a piece for the crown, then strips to fill the rest out. Here is just the corwn and the rest of it:
That worked much, much better. Interesting swirling going on because of the way the fur was attached to the base.
Next project was to build up the chest and cloth him. I built the chest up with cushion foam. Then I cut and sewed felt for a shirt. It was harder than I thought, though I shouldn't have been surprised, given how much I suck at sewing. I then cut the bottom off the legs of a pair of jeans and sewed them into tubes for pants. Pics:
Just getting the clothes on made the whole thing fall apart, so next I gotta figure out how to keep that from happening. I love this guy. I think it is going to work fine.
Next project I need to work on is the video for the steampunk film festival. I think that if I can get a good enough animation I may be able to also submit it to the Northwest Film Festival.
It has been such a busy week. I have been working on animating. I plan on sharinf pictures and thoughts on the process, but right now I am SO tired and need desperately to nap. I will post when I have more energy.
I will, however, take the time to share with you my new video. It is not great, but it isn't bad. I ran out of time to do proper audio dialog and sound mixing, so I went with the silent movie approach.
Also reworked my second animation ever. It is pretty bad. There was a lot more to it, but I cut it down for your sanity and mine. It was part of a series of animations I did about the Tardis taking time to have adventures without the Doctor. The sound is a little off, but I will fix it later.
So there ya go. Will talk about animating next post.
Well, we shall see if it keeps the title this time.
I have been working on hard on my new puppets. I have a ton of pictures to post, but art the moment I am on a train on my way home from Orycon, using my hot spot wifi and my iPad to post really quickly. Not conducive to posting pictures.
Orycon was a blast! I was on several panels about filmmaking and music. I did a concert with the Eugenics, which was great aside from the asthma attack I had on the midle o one of m solo songs. I met lots of create, wonderful people. I got to filk again, and was starting to shed my shyness by the last open filk. I was on a panel witha guy who organized the 50th anniversary Doctor Who mini con they are doing in Portland on Nov. 23rd. I was invited to go sing some Doctor filk there. That is exciting. I met some people from Eugene who want to get into filmmaking. A lot fo people I met gave me festivals and showcases geared toward animation. I have decided I need to get more serious about my stop mo. I need to find another source of income so I can fund my expensive stop mo habit. I need to find myself workshop space. I need to find myself people to help me out. I tried that once for the web series, but without money or a place to build we quickly came to a standstill. If I am going to get this going, I NEED to get space to build. Space others can also work in. Space they can work in when I am not there. Once I get that it will be easier to organize help.
My goals are:
1. Clean up my TARDIS video to submit for the Doctor Who mini con.
2. Create a 3-10 minute stop mo to submit to the Northwest Animation Film Festival. Deadline for submssion is Dec. 31st.
3. Create a 3-10 minute short for the Steampunk Film Festival in February. I have no idea when the submission deadline is for this. It takes place Valentine's weekend.
4. 3-10 minute short to submit to the Fandance film festival at Norwescon. I think dedline is march 1st.
5. 3-10 minute live action short to submit to hellbender media as comensation for the intern program I did with them at Norwescon last year.
6. The Webseries....no deadline, though if I can get at least 1 episode done I may be able to submit it somewhere.
I need to figure out how I am going to get all this done. My first move should be finding a whorkshop. Next move should be contacting people who were interested in the past and gathering a group together to get these done.
Ok...I am on the train and it really is starting to give me a headache to read. I am on the upper level, which is way shakier than a lower deck seat.
If you are reading this and feel like you can help out, either with finding whorkshop space or people or resources, PLEASE contact me. :)
So this last weekend I decided to work more on the new puppet. I don't like the way her hands turned out. They are ugly and impractical. So I set about to try to make something more useful. I think I have a good start on it.
Here is the new design. It is florist wire, folded and twisted on itself and reinforces with extra firm Sculpy. It didn't turn out too badly. In the future I need to remember to make the palm part smaller in proportion to the fingers. I think I also maybe should double up on the wire. It feels a bit frail. It was easier to wrangle into that position than the 16 gage, though.
I made a mixture of liquid latex, Terracotta Hell paint and a little bit of water. I used it and some cotton to build up the fingers. then I dipped the whole thing in the latex mixture.
I think I am on the right track. I don't like the way they look, but it was my first time trying it and I had no idea what I was doing. The middle fingers are way, way too big, and the pinky fingers look like penises. I need to figure out a better way to build up the fingers, I think.
So now they are ll dry, I decided to play around with animating them. I can't use them for my puppet anyway, as they are WAY too big. I also was thinking it was a good way to test durability. It was. The paint chipped away in some places. the fingers flattened out. they still look ok, but as they are not usable for a big project. I was given some foam I am going to use to build up her torso. Maybe they will work for fingers too.
Anyway, here is the resulting video:
Not great quality...I know. I was using a new app called Osnap. It works pretty good, and the video on my iPad is excellent. Once I uploaded it the quality went to shit. I need to learn how to fix that. I was hoping to be able to use Osnap for regular animating. However, if I can't get good quality I may have to look elsewhere.
So...notes for next pair...
1. Use something easier to manipulate to build up fingers. Something that won't flatten when pinched.
2. Don't make fingers look like penises.
3. Get rid of bubbles in latex so paint doesn't chip off.
4. Make them in proportion to the puppet.
That last one is hard. I have never been good at judging quantity, whether it is how many of something I need, or size. I think I can get something useable though.
So...been a while, time for the ol update. I have been busy. I watched a video by Doctor Puppet on You tube about how she made her Doctor Who stop motion show Doctor Puppet.
I have been very jealous of her, cause 1. she got a Doctor Who stop mo in before I did and 2. She is REALLY really good at it. Much better than me. Of course, she is a professional, has has formal training, and knows what she is doing, but hey, that is where I want to be SO badly. Anyway, she posted a video on how she constructed the Doctor puppet. I have watched many, many armature construction videos, but hers made the most sense to me.
So I decided to give it a whirl. I really want some more videos done before I attend and do panels at Orycon. As my iPad camera does not do macro well, I need bigger puppets if I am going to use it as my camera until I can afford a new one. So I guess the worse that can happen is I fail miserably. And I didn't. Kind of. Her construction technique involved epoxy putty, wire, square brass tubing of 2 sizes that nest into each other, extra firm Sculpy, and foam.
So she made her head out of an aluminum foil ball covered in Sculpy, with a piece of the larger square brass tubing in the bottom to allow for the neck to be placed in it. This is my version here. She did not put any "bones" on her armature, but I know my limitations. I think I need them to help keep the joints bending at a natural place. I made them out of Sculpy too.
While those were baking I made the chest and torso. She made those out of epoxy putty with pieces of the larger square brass tubing for the neck, arms, waist and legs. I ran out of epoxy putty after the torso, so I used the extra firm Sculpy. Probably not a good idea, but I plan on getting more for the next one, so I will do it all out of epoxy putty then. I just couldn't find more within walking distance, and didn't feel up to traipsing around town on the bus for it.
Next I painted the head. I did not realize I got enamel paint. It is a bit shiny. But it looked good after I was done. I got some matte acrylic paint to use for the next one. If I really want to try animating with this one I can use face powder to cut down on the shine.
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So....here she is partially done. The chest is on backwards, but you get the idea. I put pices of the smaller square brass tubing on the ends of the arms and legs, and I took a piece of twisted wire and glued more brass to it to use as a waist. I want her to be able to bend in a realistic way.
Next step was to glue hair on the head. I went down to the local Hirons and bought a $5 fake mullet wig. Very cheesy, not easy to work with. I couldn't find rubber cement like she suggested, so I decided to use contact cement. For the record, these are not the same thing. For one thing, contact cement melts enamel paint. It melts it fast and almost back to a liquid state. This was a problem when gluing on the hair. A big one.
The hair came with some pieces serged on the ends. I decided to work with it and use the serged parts as the glue points. I also thought about how doll's hair is attached. It is usually attached in circles. I thought I would just glue a larger outer circle, then another inner smaller circle, then a smaller one until it filled the space. Along with fighting the melting enamel paint to get the hair to stay, I also had to fight the direction of the hair. It is fakey fake nylon threads. It does not want to move in a direction other than straight. I planned on gluing the stitching on inwards, then flip the hair back over it to cover it. Might have worked better if it were real hair.
Here is the gluing in progress. If you look closely at the bottom you can see it pulling up and the paint melting. I ended up letting it dry, repainting spots and touching up the loose ends with rubber cement. It turned out ok.
Here it is completed. As you can see, there are lumps in the hair cause it didn't want to bend. In my haste to fix the melting glue I also missed some coverage. But I found if I put it back in a pony tail and fiddled with it I could cover the bare spots believably. I did end up cutting about an inch off the length of the hair. I figured it would make it less heavy....pull less on those possibly weak glue points.
So next was to make hands and feet. I decided I wanted to stick with magnets for my anchor method. She uses bolts, which are fine but leave holes in the set that I haven't figured out how to get rid of. Also, I only have a flat table. It isn't practical to try to drill through the whole table. I have a couple pieces of sheet metal I intend to use for the base of my set. So when I was making the feet, I molded them out of the extra firm Scuply and made a notch in the bottom to fit the magnets. I also added a bit of brass tubing to attach it to the leg.
The hands were more difficult. I think I will try another method for the hands. It was clumsy and hard to do, and looks pretty bad. There is a tutorial on the intertubes for making stop motion puppet hands out of florist wire and liquid latex. I am going to try that next. Cause look here....this is just bad....
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The rest turned out fine, but the hands are just...not ok. I also had issue with my liquid latex. It went rancid between the time I bought it and the time I wanted to use it. It smelled really really bad and had chunks in it. I tried to use it anyway. The downside was I dropped some on my sandal. I washed it off right away, but now that sandal smells like rancid latex. I had to toss it. Could not get rid of the reek. I also bought more liquid latex.
Also...something creepy happened while I was baking the chest part. See that red thing? It looks like a heart. I did not put that there. That side was up when I baked it. It kind of showed up there. I suppose it is fine, but weird. When you burn Sculpy it turns red. But that part wasn't any higher then the rest of it. I don't know why it did it.
So next step is to find some foam and make a chest and tummy, then sew some clothes for her. I plan on cutting felt mouths that will stick on with handitak. I learned a lot from making this puppet. I will make a few more then experiment with animating them.
I plan on going to get more epoxy putty and seeing if that makes a difference. I also plan on getting real hair hair extensions to use for the hair on the next one, see if it helps.
And last but not least, this is my new toy. It is a cabasa. For our Orycon concert we are doing a filk to In the Summertime, a Mungo Jerry song. I was having issues getting a good rhythm with the skull shakers for that one, so when I found this online for cheap I snatched it up. We have a rehearsal tomorrow. I will see how well it works then.
Okey dokey, that was my little experiment. Still working on it. Feel free to throw suggestions my way for how to make this puppet work better. I think I am well on my way finally to doing real stop mo.
Now I just need a camera....
There has been a lot of dialog lately about sci fi conventions. This, in my opinion, is a good thing. We need to have more dialog. Most of us who attend conventions live in a separate world when we are not there, and as such we tend to see things through a very monocular lens. By opening up this dialog - about sexual harassment, about non accommodation for alter abled, about sexism inherent in the genre, anything - we are allowing others to see our world as we see it. It allows others a chance to see a side they might not otherwise experience. I love seeing all this go on. There are many points of view that I had never even thought of considering. Not because I am narrow minded or think my world is the only one that exists....more because I had not had occasion to encounter them. Reading these discussions - the good, the bad and the ugly - has effectively broadened my horizons and has enabled me to adjust my opinions to suite reality, instead of my illusions.
As much of this dialog has been negative, I have had to sit back for a minute and move away from the chatter, insults, supportive gestures, etc and remind myself why I love to go to conventions in the first place.
And I do love going to cons. I live in a world of non-geeks. I think a lot of us do. At my work, I am the only IT person. I am the only IT person among a lot of social workers. This means that not only do they not get my references, they don't understand the way I think. Reactions to my personality are sometimes negative, sometimes tolerant. I am alone.
The majority of my friends are either not in the same city as me, or we don't get to visit frequently enough due to time schedules, health issues, money issues, etc. So a lot of times I come home and sit alone, watching videos and working on a project or practicing. Or sleeping, if I have had a bad day. But my point is I don't get that validation of my existence outside work either. I leave work feeling like I am not normal, and even with a chat online or two I still don't get the person to person interaction.
When I get to go to conventions, everything changes. I am surrounded by people who think like me. I am surrounded by wonderful creative people, all showing off their work and making references to things I am totally into. When I open my mouth I do not feel like I am speaking in a foreign language. For example: this last Rustycon in Seattle. I was in an elevator getting ready to go down to hospitality. I was a booth minion and I was fetching nourishment to be distributed. Several people joined me. One woman said "down please". Of course I could not help myself. I went into the schpiel from Labyrinth. Everyone in the elevator joined in, laughed and chatted with me on the way down. In mundania that would have gotten me strange looks, backing away and quite possibly an empty elevator. I felt I could be myself. And myself was not a weird anomaly. I can use big words. Make puns. Play games. Yes, I spend a lot of my time in the game room. I have always been treated respectfully, invited to join in games, and felt comfortable asking people to join mine. I have not had the chance to go to big cons yet, but at the smaller ones I have been to I as a female am in the minority. And this has never been an issue. I get to play, I get to be myself, win-win.
And costumes! I love dressing up. As a partially-formerly SCAdian I love to put on clothes that have no place in regular life. I love creating pieces that look right (even though I can't sew worth crap). I love to oo and ah over other people's costumes and ask questions about how they solved issues I am currently trying to overcome. I love learning about new characters I have not read about yet, and getting people to explain the universe thier character is from. Sometimes I dress up to go to movies. I dressed up in a pleated skirt, white shirt, college graduation gown and Griffindor tie for all the Harry Potter Movies. I wore a cotehardie to see Kingdom of Heaven. But for some reason it isn't the same. You don't get the fun interaction with creative people you get at cons.
What is my point with all this? Well, I guess there isn't one. In the midst of all the hubbub I wanted to remind myself why sci fi conventions are worth the growing pains we are experiencing. Yes, I do seem them as growing pains. And they are causing some nasty mudslinging to happen. But, god I LOVE being a geek! I love hanging out with other geeks. It is worth it if the discussions and ugliness end up with an even BETTER con experience than is already available. It is worth it if in the end everyone is welcome and respected, everyone has a voice, and everyone gets to have fun. I would LOVE for have everyone's con experience to be as great as mine is. THAT should be the goal everyone is working towards.
I hope it is.
I really need to get creative with my titles. :P It has only been a week and half, but I thought I would post anyway. Just kidding. I am trying to be better at keeping up with this thing. It feels like it has been months, though the calendar says it hasn't been. I really had fun playing with the Dremmel. I haven't taken it out for anything else yet. I am itching to, but I am worried about using it when I don't need to and killing a project that would have otherwise been fine.
I have been writing, but haven't really finished anything. This week we have had issues at work with the servers, issues at home with an injured ankle, and emotional issues dealing with this time of year. Also, someone in France has decided to usem y debit card number to try to purchase Formula One tickets (of all the fucking things), so they had to close down my debit card. My plan for this weekend was to price out alginate and get it ordered. Nope. I cannot do anything online now. Grrr argh. At least my new bank had the courtesy to call me first. They gave me a chance to get cash before they closed for the weekend. And they also replaced the money and flagged my card number. That is much better than what my previous bank did. My previous bank let the bastards clear out my account completely, from clear across the country, minutes after I used it here, so clearly it WASN'T ME. I had to jump through a ton of hoops to get it cncelled, a ton of hoops to get my money back, I had to threaten to sue in order to get my legally mandated 45 day credit until it was cleared up. I had to send a police report 4 times before they acknowledged they recieved it. At least this time the transaction was flagged, they saw it was from another country, and called me right away.
But I digress....I am good at that. :) Now that my ankle is doing a bit better and I am a bit more mobile, i will et going on it all again. I shot some footage a few weeks ago with my iPad. I am not happy with it, but I am trying to work with it. Main issue....the damn autofocus. Even after I have put it in focus lock it still kept refocusing. This is why I need a good camera damn it. I am getting tired of this crap. Makes it hard to get anything done. I have been playing around with the pictures in Pinnacle on my iPad. Not much help, but I think if I futz with it a bit more I may make something workable out of it. I tried transferring the pictures to my computer and working with them there. Every one of them were blurry. How the hell did it lose quality? All I did was copy them over. There are 400 some odd pictures. I guess I could try to email each one to myself. Or I could just say screw it and see what I can do in the ipad. Unless one of you wants to spring for a brand new camera? Yeah, didn't think so. I am also feeling jealous. Last fall a girl did an awesome Doctor Who stop mo, in the style of the old Rankin Bass Rudolph stop mos. it was very well done. And I am green with envy, cause I want to do THAT. And if I had money for the equipment I need, I could. I don't begrudge her the props. Cause she totally deserves them. I just want to be there too, and I am not yet.
Ok...enough of the whining. Time to get back to work.
Ok...so the last couple of days I have been working on my iPad frame. I got a hold of a Dremmel tool and was able to cut the slit in the middle. I learned a bit about cutting PVC. Of course I followed all the safety procedures. I wore a mask and safety glasses. I opened all the windows and turned on a fan. I wore protective clothing. That was a big deal as I hate wearing extraneous clothing while building things. I like a close fitting tank top and a pair of comfy but not too roomy shorts when I work. That way I am comfortable abd don't risk getting pieces of clothing in the way.....ie in glue, under my cutting tool, knocking over things in my set, etc. Though Dremmels work very well, the one I used overheated quickly and I had to stop every few minutes or I couldn't handle it. The Dremmel would also stop if I hit a harder spot. I realize this is probably a safety feature, but it is damned annoying. The best way to cut PVC with a Dremmel, in case you were wondering, is to make several medium speed passes at it. It is better to go from right to left, as the other way when you hit the end of what you are cutting the Dremmel goes flying off to the right. As I am pretty sure that could end badly, moving the other direction seems wiser. Also...PVC doesn't just knock out when you get close to the end. You have to cut it the whole way through before it'll move. Not like wood at ALL.
So now that I know, I probably will never work with PVC again. But it is mostly finished now.
I am finding it difficult to get the foam insulation to stay on the inside edges. I have yet to decide if that means i need to glue it in with better glue or if I need to find a better padding medium. I also need to glue down the nut that is currently holding the screw from the tripod in place. I plan to sand down the corners and paint it with black spray paint. The kind made for covering plastic furniture. So that project is almost done. Action shot:
I also think I need to figure out how to make the iPad sit higher in the frame. I was relying on the insulation to do that. Maybe it still will.
I feel a bit more accomplished now. I love working with ny hands. The Dremmel is a blast. Now I am going to have to find other projects to use it for.
It has been a while. I have worked on several things between then and now.
I did manage to cut the pieces for my iPad frame. However I am still trying to figure out how to cut the slit in the middle so I have a place for the iPad to sit. Hacksaw worked for the 45 degree angle cuts on the ends, but not so practical for the middle part. I am still problem solving that issue. I really want to get that one solved soon so I can get back to animating.
I did take a stab at making the foundations for the Ood and Vastra masks. I failed. Failed miserably. For one, I did it just after I had a root canal done, so the left side of my face was swollen. I also realized that when doing this myself, I had to move my face up and down to see what I was doing with the plaster fabric strips, which created pockets in the plaster every time I moved. It will not work for a foundation at all. Here is a bad pic of me with the mask:
I apparently didn't put enough vaseline on my face, as plaster stuck everywhere. It is right now resting on one of the foam heads I bought waiting for a purpose. The first night after I did this I totally freaked myself out by waking up with my face right next to it. Looking around, the other foam heads I bought were at random places around the room, lit up by the street lights. Looked like there were floating heads around my room. Scared the crap out of myself. And made myself laugh.So, anyway, as that didn't really work out, I have thought it over and have decided to price out alginate. It is a gooey substance that when set brings out details, but is rubbery so can peel off. You then fill with plaster to make a lifemodel of your head. I am thinking making two of those might be an easier route to take. I just need to make sure I have a real baldcap (the plasticwrap one I tried previously was shit) and a person to smear me with alginate.
And I need to find out if the cost is in my price range. On another note, I am making a comic book. I have written the first script and sent it off. It is a practice script to make sure the artist and I are in sync and on the same page. More like a development script. I have the storyline all written out, I just need to scriptify it. It is kind of fun. Yes, I realize I already have a bajillion projects on the table. But this one kind of struck me as fun, so I took it on too. And really, it has sparked my writing brain into production again. Now I feel motivated to finish the other writing projects I have started. So I guess it has had a purpose. I am also working on learning songs for OryCon. I have joined a filk group. If you don't know what filk is, you can go here.
I have a few songs about Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Beer in the Pants, Gandhi, etc to learn before Nov. 7th. Though this is fun, it is a lot of work. I am excited to perform again. It has been a while. Ok, I suppose this post was mainly about accountability, which is one of the reasons I started this thing.
This post is going to be another vomit post. I have been thinking a lot about the difference between self esteem and self delusion.
How does one honestly assess their own talents without being either too self critical or completely delusional?
When I was in elementary school, the world was in the throws of the "tell all kids they're wonderful so we don't hurt thier feelings" phase. Everyone won, everyone got ribbons, everyone was praised. At home my mother hardly had anything good to say about me. I think she thought she was helping, but I rarely heard anything encouraging from her. Confronted with both extremes, it was hard to believe either were true. It was impossible to get a true picture of myself. I learned that when people say anything to me about me, whether it be good or bad, they are most likely blowing smoke up my skirt and that opinion could not to be trusted. I could never find that balance, because I never had a person who I could trust to give me an honest to god opinion: one that mattered and that I could believe.
I still struggle with that. I love my friends dearly, but I find it hard to trust when they say what I have created is good, because I always suspect they are just being nice. I look at my videos and think "Well, it's not Aardman quality". I see the flutteriness. I see the edge of scenery and the mysterious moving objects. I see my attempts at humor and think no one else finds them nearly as funny as I do. I read my writing and see how not Neil Gaiman I am. Or Amy Berg. Or Jane Espenson. I keep doing because I love doing it all. I have a deep down hope that something in that pile of muck is worth the space it is taking up and the time I spent on it.
Right now I am struggling again with my self image. I want to see myself as I am, warts and all, good and bad, and come out confident and happy with what I see. Am I wasting my time with all the crap I create? I love to create. I LOVE to create. It makes me deliriously happy, giddy even, when I make something. But what if I will never be good at anything? What if I am deluding myself into thinking I have a chance at being on par with Aardman, Gaiman, Berg et all? Or does that even matter? Should I be showing the world the humble progress so far, or should I be hiding my shame?
We are constantly being told not to base our self worth or our self image on what other people think of us. But how do you create an accurate image of yourself if you don't, at least to some degree? How do you see yourself if you are not allowed to look at the image that is reflected back at you?
How did you create your self image, and how has it effected what you do with your life?