Oh, sigh. Ok...
Well, FAWM is over. Did I make my goal? Nope. I have lyrics written for a bunch, but no music. I am so used to placing my own lyrics in existing songs I have issues thinking of my own melody. If you go through several of your favorite songs, you may notice that the lyrics scan to more than one of the melodies. My issue is I hear an already existing melody that the words can scan to. And there usually are a few choices. But it was a good experiment. I enjoyed it, and learned a bunch. Still working on getting a few demos recorded to post here. Once I get them done I will put them here.
So yesterday I was dealing with migrainy goodness. That meant doing anything was out. When I got to the point where the pain was alleviated but the rest of the symptoms were still lingering (except light sensitivity), I sat and read a new book I got. this book is all about using the iPad for stop motion animation. I learned something I should have picked up on by now. I can trigger the iPad camera from my blue tooth keyboard. Duh! Of course! If I do it in Osnap, I use the volume button. If I do it in iStop Motion I use the play button at the top of the keyboard. It works. So today my plan is to play around with it, and see if it helps the smoothness any. I also am having issues with the stabilization of the iPad. I made the frame to place in on that screws on top of my tripod. It wobbles. Noy a ton, but enough to be an issue. Part of the tripod broke, so I decided I would just glue down the parts I want to be less wobbly. The point was to make something that I could remove from the tripod, but as it is broken in ways that will not support a camera, I would have to purchase a new one eventually anyway.
So I glued all the parts down that needed to be, and as soon as it all dries I will see what I can produce. The goal is to have a short video done by the end of the day. We shall see what I can accomplish.
So, although I am currently busy, I have decided I wanted to join this thing called February Album Writing Month, or FAWM for short. The idea is to sign up and write 14 songs in 28 days. I learned of this little event through the filk group Debs & Errol
when I was at Orycon in November. It seems a good way to kick myself out of the doldrums I have been in lately. As a test, I have created a Soundcloud account, and I want to see how easy it is to embed songs here. So here is a test of the Eleanor Broadcasting System. This song is one I wrote, but the recording isn't a great one. It was done at a practice for Orycon with the Eugenics. On guitar are Dave Rogers and Andrew Ross. They also join me on the chorus, somewhat. So here goes nothing....
So...did you hear it? Did it work? I hope so. I plan to get better recordings of this eventually. And all my other songs.
BTW...FUC stands for FAWM Ukelele Club.
Ah, I love a good Eddie Izzard refferance early in the morning. Er, in the mid afternoon. :P
I have dropped the ball with blogging again. Quelle suprise. It has been a busy month, with a lot of changes coming down the pipe, both good and bad. Job change is happening. I am happy about that. More income will mean more money to put into videos. I may actually get to buy a new camera that will actually work instead of trying to continually use my iPad. I did an experiment the other day with my new Tardis toy. It was pretty bad. Very, very grainy to begin with, then got worse when I uploaded it.
Pretty damn bad. A good camera will alleviate this. I would hope. I am looking into investing in an actual stop mo software, such as Stop Motion Pro or Dragon Motion. I need to look into whether I need a separate video editor outside of the specialized stop motion software. I would hope not. but you never know.
The podcast is coming along nicely. the first one should drop around March 5th. That will give me time to finish the branding and website for it. Maybe get it listed places. Working hard on making that a reality.
Sorry for the drive by posting. Will write more later.
Ok...so maybe not that...yet.
Working on the steampunk video still. Working on building everything still. Been fighting sickness and fatigue, so not as far along as I should be. I will post pictures when I get to a more completed point. Need to finish the puppets. I still haven't made any of the sets. I am feeling behind and crunched. Realize it is my own doing.
Also working on getting the new podcast set up. I put out an ad on Craigslist for a co host. Have gotten some replies. I need to find a good place to do auditions. Here is not a good place. I have several episodes outlined, a site to put them on. Need to decide on final format. Need to make intro/outro music. Need to finish designing the website. I can't wait to do it though. It is going to be so fun. Oh! I also need a good title.
I got a mini TARDIS from Think Geek. It is just the right size for my little monster/soldier guys. It is very difficult to resist the urge to animate it. Before the end of the day there may be a new short video to post....depends on how responsible I decide to be.
So time has marched forward, and so has my progress....a little anyway. I now have my storyline for the steampunk video all lined out. I have my characters developed. I have designed the world in which they will live. I am kind of excited about it. This is going to be fun, once I get past the hard parts.
I decided I want the exterior of the houses to all be stone, with stone garden walls, etc. I envision this place to be like one the planned garden cities in England of the late 19th and early 20th century. If I am going to do this I need to find a good way to replicate a lot of walls. I do not sculpt well. I am not going to rely on someone with sculpting skills to have time available for this. So I took a trip to the Eugene Toy & Hobby to see waht they had. I found these retaining wall sections for model train sets. They will work wonderfully. I just can't afford to buy all I need. They were $11 for a set of 3. I have liquid latex. I have lots and lots of cheap plaster. I thought hey, why not make my own molds of these wall sections and then I can make all I need cheaply.
Latex mold making is not as easy as they make it look. they didn't turn out very well. I got sick from all the latex fumes. And the ones that did work didn't actually produce a working model. Even though the molds really did not shrink (I can fit the original in without stretching it), the casting is a good inch smaller than the original. I need to figure out why. I also had a hard time getting that first layer to dry properly. The side touching the original wall piece never dried properly no matter how long I left it before I did the second layer. The thing is, when you do a second layer, you can't wait too long or the layers don't adhere to each other properly. Then there were the issues with making the mother molds. Latex is thin and does not hold it's shape. This is ideal for peeling it off the original...not so for holding the casting material in the right shape. So you make a mother mold out of plaster. After the last layer has dried you cover it in plaster. Let it sit until set and voila you have a good solid base for the latex mold that will still allow for you to peel the latex off the casting without breaking it. my issue...the plaster kept crumbling. I followed the directions on how to mix it. I let it sit for hours. the ambient room temp was 70. The stupid things just kept crumbling. I finally got a few that will work, though I really need to figure out how to solve the mysterious shrinking casting issue.
Here be the picture evidence. The yellow one on the left is the first one that worked. the one at the top is the second one, though you can tell it stuck to the original and destroyed some of the detail. The one in the middle is the original, and to the right is the casting. Sad, sad, sad.
I guess I am failing in whole new ways. That is ok. I am learning, and each one gets better. I just don't have a lot of time. I wanted to get the video done in time to submit it to the Pacific Northwest Animation festival as well, but that is not going to happen. The deadline for that is Dec 31. It is already the 11th. I will be lucky if I can get the sets built by then.
I also had a brilliant idea to use those poseable wooden artists manquins as the armatures for the puppets. I figured out how to get the hands to work, I just got to figure out how to build up the head and face. The advantage is there are more natural articulation points, and they are already built up to natural human proportions. I will still work on learning how to make my own, but to try to facilitate this video that is what I am trying.
Because I don't have a lot of good clamping tools for delicate cutting, I used a Dremmel with the sanding wheel to grind the hands down to where they are more normal shape. The dots are the places I will be gluing twisted florist wire. I will then wrap them all in paper sports tape and paint them. Then I need to decide how I am going to anchor them. Do I want to continue the magnet method, or do I want to drill holes and destroy my set table to try screw anchors? I am leaning toward the magnets. Less permanent damage. And I don't have to go buy sturdier foam for the base. I don't think I could get that locally. Disadvantage of living in a small town.
And that is as far as I have gotten. The molds alone took 3 days. This is a long slow process. I am impatient. I want to be animating. However, this time I want better puppets and sets. I want this one to be really cool.
I am also looking into renting office space. As long as I keep it under $300 and utilities included I may be able to do it. I would be sacrificing saving any money for deposits for my own place to live, but it would be easier for everyone else to help out if I had a place other than just a bedroom for us to work. It feels weird, and frankly no one really wants to do that, as much as they want to work on this. Sigh. It always comes down to money, doesn't it. Well, if I can get to a place where my animations look more professional maybe I can get a few commissions, maybe start at least having it pay for itself. that would make it tons easier.
Anyway, if you are reading this and have an inkling of why my molds are giving me grief, feel free to either comment or email me. I was planning on having people over to help make castings, but I have to have enough molds for more than just one person to use.
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....