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.
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.
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. More later.
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?
So the creative bug had been biting me pretty hard lately. I really want to do some cool stuff, though I know a lot of it I just will need to learn how to do and it will be crap. I made a list of everything I want to do, and looking at it (it is pretty long) I think I am going to need to make a plan if I am ever going to get any of it done.
Warning: LONG post! Lots of bullshit! A bunch of pics! Feel free to read or skip as appropriate.
First thing, I have been working on a new stop mo. My camera has pretty much crapped out on me, so I am going to have to figure out how to do it without the camera. I have my iPad. I have figured out how to get pics from my iPad to my computer. I have found a few camera control apps for the iPad, though nothing that lets me control the focus the way I want. Also I need to anchor that sucker down somehow so it doesn't look like my characters are in an earthquake all the time.
So I have designed a frame thing that is made of PVC piping and foam insulation tape. I had planned on cutting the PVC with my hacksaw and mitre box. The box is missing. I packed them together, because I usually do not use either one by themselves. One of these days I will either go get another one or find a friend who has power tools to help me cut them at a 45 degree angle and cut a slot in the top for the foam insulation and a place to rest the iPad. Then I will drill a 1/4inch hole in the bottom for mounting to the tripod platform. Project number one. :)
So last weekend I helped a friend move. As per usual she wanted to get rid of stuff, and as per usual I accommodated her and took it off her hands. The first thing was this awesome globe thing that lights up.
Now I have to figure out how to costume this bad boy. I can't sew, and I have other sewing projects I want to do. So I will need to find a place to find South Korean looking jackets and grey slacks. And of course the mask. I HAVE to take a shot at making a mask of that face. I have no mask making experience. I do have liquid latex. I have been looking online and if I do it in 3 pieces I may actually be able to pull it off. One piece for the face, another piece for the tentacles, and a final piece for the head. I am currently researching the cost of latex foam. I also need to get myself a few styrofoam heads to use as bases. I think I would make a thin latex mask for the face, a molded latex foam for the head, then attach the tentacles to a large mesh frame that attaches to the mask. that will make it easier to breath. It would also be awesome if I can find a cheap voice modulator.
On the latex mask front, I decided if I am going to do an Ood, I also need to make a Vastra mask.
This is Madame Vastra (picture property of BBC and Doctor Who). She is strong and beautiful and a warrior and everything I wish I could be. She is one of my favorite fictional characters ever. She is married to Jenny, the lady behind her in this picture. If you don't watch any other Doctor Who, it is worth watching the episodes she is in just to bask is this dazzling character. I have been waiting out the last few years of less than stellar storylines and Moffet's version of Psych! and a Doctor who doesn't really feel like the Doctor, but her alone has made this wait worth it. As masks go, this one looks like the most comfortable one to wear for long periods at a time. I would do her Victorian outfits, though. She has some gorgeous black dresses I really want. Though, my next project could conceivably be used for her character.
I also got a green leather coat. It is HUGE. It is very 80's. The shoulder pads are gone, but thiey have left thier mark in the shoulders of this coat. there is enough leather fabric in that coat to make a steampunky vest or two. A vest that would go with the brown leather coat I found last winter. It would also go with the Vastra mask. I also want to sew some aviator pants to use with steampunk.
I want this look, pants boots and all. Except I want to make them black. These pants could go with steampunk and Vastra.
I also was given several sets of vampire fangs. So....I can do regular vampire, steampunk vampire, or vampire Silurian (Vastra is a Silurian). OR Vampire Steampunk Silurian! Oh this is going to be awesome. :)
I can't sew worth a damn, so I will have to find someone to supervise.
So the list....
Not in priority order...
1. Latex Ood mask
2. Latex Madame Vastra mask
3. Build a more interactable stop mo set
4.Leather steampunk vest or two, depending
5.iPad frame with foam insulation
6.Button over aviator pants
8.Crochet sweater and vests out of mounds of yarn I have laying around
9.Spin the fleece I have sitting around
10.Play with armatures and different materials to decide on puppets for stop mo.
11. Finish all writing projects (web series, 10 minute short, play, novel)
12.Finish filming current stop mo
I once told someone I am never bored. If I had a bajillion dollars, I would have plenty to do. They didn't believe me. :)
So now I have to decide what needs to be done with each of these projects, when I want to have them done by, and what I need in order to finish them. Then I will make a general plan to get them done.
Working, I suppose. I am so far behind. I wasn't feel great for a while, then I procrastinted, so I most likely won't have anything done for Fandance. I am still going to try, but I am sooooooo far behind. I did not stick to my timetable at all. I also changed ideas midstream. That is a very bad idea. I still want to do my original idea. I have sets built and have done test dequences and stuff. But I wrote a filk to Princess fo the Night by Saxon. It is Doctor Who themed. So now I am leaning toward a music video for that. I want to do both, but reality tells me that both won't be completed in time. I need to stop being so indecisive. So now I am sitting in a pizza place forcing myself to plan and design, after which I will go home and build. And record the song. I ended up needing to take my uke in for a tune up. It wouldn't stay in tune for more than a few chords. Makes it difficult to record a song when your instrument won't stay in tune for the whole song. It is all good now. So I really need to do that today.
I also spent most of the day fueling my bad self with caffiene. Kind of over did it. My brain is kind of all over the place right now. I am hoping food will help drill down my focus a bit so I can get some stuff done.
Ok, I probably should finish eating and do some actual planning before ileave here. At least have a plan for the rest of the day.
EDIT: So I came home and worked a little bit. I have decided to dress several of my little guy as Doctors. For your edification, as well as my memory of which soldier is to get which costume, here is a labeled picture:
So the next step is to glue magnets to their feet, then figure out how to clothe the little buggers. I made the ones with plumes to Baker, as I can hide with hat and hair, and Matt Smith, for the same reason. I plan to make little glasses for Tennent and go see if I can find teeny, tiny celery for Davison.
I did not get anything recorded yet, though i did practice for a good long while tonight. My goal is to get it done tomorrow, post it to Soundcloud and then here so you can hear it. I think it is very clever, if I do say so myself. And it is fun. I just have to quit being so picky about how my uke playing sounds.
So now I need to get to bed, as I haven't been sleeping well and I need to make myself sleep tonight so i can function.
I leave you with a pic of my RPG test set:
So, remember a while back when I was posting about Chris Hardwick and the RL-RPG thing? No? Not surprised. It has been ages since I have posted about it. I haven't stopped working on it, but I really haven't been talking about it much either. One of the goals I set for myself was to write and learn how to perform as a storyteller. I have spent a lot of time listening to other storytellers and analyzing their styles. I have worked on writing out several stories. Now I have decided to move on to the next step. I have contacted Kevin Allison from the Risk! Podcast to negotiate one-on-one sessions. The price isn't too bad. I have decided I can afford 2 sessions a month. That will give me time to polish between sessions. Now that I have started the processes, I am a tad freaked out. This shit just wandered into real territory. I will be investing money into getting better at it. Someone else will be listening to my story and telling me what they think. I can no longer hide safely behind my computer, wondering if I could have been or what I could have done. I will have to shove myself out of my comfort zone, out of the little self-coddling cacoon of safety I created for myself while I was feeling it out. I will have to put aside my feelings of self doubt. I will have to stop fearing the possibility I will fail hard, and know that when I fail hard I will have someone to help keep me from failing so hard the next time. it is scary and exciting all at the same time.
I miss the stage. I used to love performing. I still feel at home just standing on a stage. When standing on a stage, my instinct is not to go "oh my god, people are looking at me" but to go "I need to do something". For too long I have let fear take over that rush I get when I am actually on stage. That self doubt that crept in there when I was dealing with abusive situations and difficult people has made it hard to get back to a place where a stage is a stage, and what matters is the performance, not the person. Performing is fun. It is a huge adrenaline rush. Yes, for me performing is a selfish thing. I like to give people a good show, but the rush you get when you have been practicing hard, and the performance is going well, and there is good energy coming from the audience, and you feel it and it feeds your energy, and you finish with a huge applause and this symbiotic energy that doesn't go away for hours, sometimes days. It is the best kind of high. It was the kind of high I thrived on in high school.
So I did a little playing, and found some interesting things. No, I wouldn't recommend always using iPad apps for stop motion. Seems stupid if you have the money for the real deal compiler software and real equipment. I don't. I have had problems getting After Effects to work, Windows Movie Maker goes in and out of utility, and pretty much everything else out there requires you to be able to capture directly to computer and my point n shoot doesn't allow that.
So now that I have the iPad that was first prize for the Literary Platform Douglas Adams Animation contest, I thought I would research the feasibility of using the iPad. I do not have a Mac computer, so that has been my first hurdle to jump. Apparently they do not play well together. After several tried I finally got the pictures I took with the iPad onto my Windows machine. If I can ever get the software to work for me, that might be doable. At first I was having problems with the camera. Remember, this was made to be idiot proof, which means very little control. I learned a few things about how to get it to work right.
1. Use a LOT of light. The controls are really shitty, so if you want a clear picture you need lots and lots of light. Even if you think you have enough light, add more. The camera seems to work better with excess light than with not enough. Grainy pictures that aren't as crisp as you want them will be the result if you don't.
2. Even when using Focus Lock, double check to make sure focus hasn't changed. If you tap and hold your finger in a particular spot, it will lock focus on that spot and it is supposed to keep focus on the spot until you move it. Well, in the we-know-better-than-you vein, it doesn't always stay in focus lock. From time to time it does the face scan thing, which removes focus lock if the focus isn't focused on what it thinks is a face. This annoys me. I have not found a way to turn the face recognition off yet. That may come, but for now there doesn't seem a way around it, so you have to constantly check to make sure your focus lock is where you want it to be.
3. Keep fingers away from the lens. I know this seems a simple and obvious thing, but when you are dealing with smalls sets as I am and have to keep the camera close in, sometimes I can't help but get my hands or fingers too close to the lens, which breaks the focus lock and readjusts it to the closest thing - me. That shouldn't happen with focus lock, but it is happening just about every picture.
Ok, so now I have figured out how to get the camera to sort of work. Lets talk about the apps I tried out. Most of the animation apps were not for stop motion. They were for drawn animation. I found 3 apps that actually fit the criteria and also didn't require me to buy the full version for a Mac in order to use it. I tried out iMotion HD, StopAnimator and StoMo. I have no idea who created these apps. I am not promoting any of them particularly. I am just comparing them. Remember as I go through these that I am looking to do good quality videos. All three of these would be good if you are a kid and only want to play with stop motion. Someone who is an expert in stop motion and is very skilled at the craft may be able to do a better job than I did. But for what it is worth, here is how it all shook out.
iMotion - This one isn't too bad. It does have an onion skin option, which I like. You can also do time lapse with this app. I haven't tried it yet. Seems interesting. Doesn't do stop mo though, so I will leave that for later. First thing I noticed is you have absolutely no control over the camera. You can't set focus lock, you can't zoom in, you can't do anything. This is fine if you are working in a big set, I guess, but in these small sets it is a pain in the ass. The focus is so not consistent it makes me want to scream. Also, when exporting the video you do not get to choose the frame rate of the exported video. You can choose it in the app, but it ignores your choice when exporting.
Here's the short sample video I did:
Besides being fluttery, which seems to be my issue not the app's, it is way faster than it should be. If you slow it down to the speed it was supposed to be, you can see the focus changing. Annoying!
StopAnimator- This one also doesn't allow for any type of camera control. It also doesn't have any onion skin capability. You don't have any type of frame rate control either. The one good thing about this app is if you set some things in the camera mode, it will hold on to them - though focus lock is not one of them. But if you zoom in via camera then switch apps you can be zoomed in for this app. When watching this one, notice that even though I did not move the camera in any way nor did I set a zoom or unset a zoom, the views are very very different.
Here's this one:
This one at least stayed at a good frame rate. You can see the focus changing. It is infinitely annoying.
StoMo - This has the most controls inside the app of all of them. It keeps track of the number of frames you have taken, it allows you to shoot more than one scene and label them. It also gives you control over how dark the previous image is when using onion skinning and lets you control the fram rate. You can play it back at several frame rates to see which one works best. It is also the only one that allows you to edit individual frames. The biggest problems with this app is again you have no control over the camera and the image you get isn't exactly the image you see in the preview. It isn't always as focused as the actual picture is, so you have no idea what exactly the end result will be. It also has some lag and responsiveness issues.
Notice how much further away it looks than the other videos. I did not move the camera, play with the zoom, nor did I have any type of control over that. The frames in the app look closer to what you see in the other video than to what you see in this video. It also continuously refocuses, and as you can't really tell under the onion skinning and blurriness, I couldn't fix it. That frustrates me as well.
So, I suppose in conclusion I don't really think any of these will work for what I do. There may be more that I have missed. The search feature isn't exactly precise in the app store. There may be ways to work around these flaws. And one day I may have the patience to figure them out. For now, though, it doesn't work. I have limited energy at the moment, so I need to find one thing that I like and really concentrate on learning it. Once I settle onto what "it" is.
Oh...and none of the apps allow you to add audio. You have to find a separate application to do that. That is annoying as hell as well.
Another day of writing. I am housesitting this weekend starting last night, so I thought this would be a great weekend to sequester myself with my computer and write. I have a lot of writing to do. However, now I am here I am having a hard time motivating myself to get started. It's not like I don't want to write. I love writing. As hard as it is, and even with how much I struggle with getting it just right, I love it. This whole frustrating, maddening, wonderful process I call stop motion is love worthy. I admit, no job I have ever had has made me as happy. Or as frustrated. And yet, in spite of the frustration, I still want to do it. I have not the feeling of "Fuck it!" and the urge to walk away, kicking everyone in face as I do so. The frustration does not make me mad. As much as I want to have an income, after experiencing this, I don't want to go back to crappy day-to-day stuff. I am still looking and will take what I can get, but I am realizing more and more that I need to get my butt in gear and figure out a way to make THIS my job. I need to find someone who can help me figure out what is crap and what is good, so I can improve faster.
I feel stupid just figuring out what I want to be when I grow up at age 37. I wish I had figured my life out sooner. Looking back on my life, I don't think I could have. I went from one abusive situation to another. I wasted my 20's on an abusive man who wasn't worth my time, and wasted most of my 30's getting away from the shit he lay on me. Only now am I realizing what I can do, and what makes me happy. Only now can I look at what I do and see the good as well as the bad. I guess I am getting to a point in my life where I really am getting too old for other people's shit, and their negativity no longer completely shuts me down. Granted, I have a long way to go before the fear monster sitting on my shoulder dies. He may never die completely. But it feels good to look back on something I made, even if there are flaws that need to be corrected, and be excited and happy with what I see. It feels good to make myself laugh. It makes me feel like running around yelling "Look what I did!" like a five year old.
Actually, I take that back. I am not just discovering now what I want to be when I grow up. I am only now rediscovering what I wanted to be from a young age. When I was in elementary school I used to write little stories all the time. I used to amuse my teachers with them. One of them even encouraged me to submit one of my stories to the district wide writer's conference. Somewhere there is a published volume of elementary school kid's stories from 1984, and one of mine is in there. I believe it was a story about a witch. I LOVED melodramas, and as an extension British pantos. One summer I wrote a melodrama, and I roped my siblings and my cousins into performing it for all the adults. I think I was 10 at the time. When I was a teenager I wrote books to take with me babysitting. I had what I called my babysitting bag. I found that although kids had books and toys and videos at their houses, usually they had played them all to death and didn't really want to do any of that stuff. So in my bag I put a bag of chocolate chips with which to make cookies, a jump rope, paper and colored pencils, dress up clothes and cheap McDonald's toys. And, of course books. My mom wouldn't let me take our books out of the house, so I wrote my own and my best friend illustrated them. We made several for my bag and several for hers. So what happened? Several things. There are circumstances I don't want to bore you with, but mainly the end result was me giving up on myself. I honestly thought that the best I could do was be someone's wife and raise kids. (The ironic thing is I still don't have any kids) That I was too stupid and incompetent to be creative. That my ideas were cliche and stupid. And it has just taken me this long to wade through all the bullshit and realize what I have known all along.....that I can do this, and whether or not I am good enough at it NOW for people to pay me for it, it makes me happy. "It" being stop motion animation, storytelling, writing, comedy....anything and everything that I have been working on the last year to keep myself sane.
Because in the end, all THAT, is what makes me happy and sane.
Well, look at that. I think I just knocked my motivation loose. See ya either when the weekend is over or when I hit another rough patch. Enjoy your weekend. :)
BIG SIGH. I think I have a good draft of my first episode. For the series I am going to do. I am kind of excited. This is fun. There is probably a lot that needs to be done to modify it, but I like it how it is. I would love to have people read it and give me feedback, but I am not ready to make it public for everyone. If you want to read it and give me your opinion, go to the contact form and send me a request. I will send you the private link to it and you can let me know how bad it stinks.
As is evidenced by my fragmented sentences and half formed ideas, my brain is fried. It has been fun, but a challenging fun. I know what I want to do for the second episode already, so tomorrow will be fleshing out episode 2. It would be nice if I could finish it tomorrow, but I don't see that happening. Sometimes it takes me longer than I like to get me into writing mode. I have to get past the "Oh my god what if it blows" wall that my brain throws up every time I try to write. I am hoping the more I do this the easier it will get to tear that wall down and start something. The fact that I got through it, whether it is trash or treasure, makes me so happy at this moment.
I finally stopped playing around and just sat down and wrote. It is amazing how fast it goes when you stop procrastinating and just do it. There are 6 short scenes, 8 pages of dialog, so approximately 7-8 minutes of video.
I didn't name the characters, just put in a placeholders for the names. I did put some action in, but not much. My plan now is to break down each scene into what I would like to actually see in the scenes. Then I will decide approximately how long I want each scene to be, and maybe get some better descriptions written down for the voice actors. And, well, name the characters.
Then I get to look for voice actors. The way it is written now I will need 3 girls and 1 guy or 2 girls and 2 guys.
I am kind of excited. It is coming together. This is fun, when I actually stop getting in my own way. The last scene is based on a comment I made on a The Bloggess blog post. She was talking about taxidermied squirrels. She mentioned a squirrel phone cover. My comment was about using that to scare off bad dates. And now that concept will be personified in stop motion form. I have no idea how I will make it happen, but I will. I am excited about the challenge.
I also have looked around at other video contests. I am considering finding one to work towards. I don't know. Maybe I should wait and see how the Douglas Adams contest goes. I think if I start doing video contests on a regular basis I need to learn how to make my own puppets. I can't just keep submitting the same toys to a bunch of different contests. Maybe I will take a little time out today to play with that concept. I have armature wire. I don't have a history of being good at sculpting though. Frankly, I am shit at it. But I can build them up with foam and figure out something else for the heads. Maybe I will make one for each and just paper mouths with different positions to approximate dialog. I don't know.
SIGH (but a happy one)
Eleanor is an aspiring writer, stop motion animator, crafter, musician, and anything else shiney that might cross her path. She is a geek, nerd, and all around weird person.
If you feel like contributing to help me upgrade equipment or pay for building supplies, feel free to click this button. Anything you contribute is appreciated muchly.