Part 11

After all that hard work and dedication, the film is finally completed. Murphy’s law kicked in on the final day before it was due, of course. Many lights burnt out, a fuse blew out, I nearly burned down the kitchen… oh it was a wonderful thing. One after another. Anyway, here you have it–a few screenshots of the film. The film will be shown during Animation Finals at San Francisco State University. It’s open to the public on the 16th of May at 3pm in the Coppola Theatre. Section H-6, in the Fine Arts building on the first floor. All is welcome!

Tada! Now you really want to come out and see it after these awesome screenshots!


Part 10

I’m on my last stretch as Thursday draws near. It’s 4:15am and I just finished painting my tabletop and making the stethoscope and makeshift knife. I have much troubles with Miette’s head as her head always slides off the wire. After every scene, I have to re-attach her head. It’s a painstaking process and All I’m hoping for is that her head doesn’t snap off on this last shot. There will be no way for me to recover it if it does. This is pretty much how I’ve been feeling lately… zombie-esque. Hopefully she’ll be all dry and ready to go by tomorrow afternoon.

Tonight, Mitch helped me take my whole park scene apart and we were in the backyard scrubbing flocking from the set at 9pm. It was super-cold out by that time. The turf didn’t take as long as I thought it would to come off and I was thinking about placing carpet in the place of the turf, but I’m not sure if that’s now very necessary at all. I almost wished I kept the turf on in case I needed to re-shoot anything.

Yesterday I bought that wood to put the table together and last night was a bit hellish with the table thing because 1. my screws were far too long, 2. the holes I was drilling for the screws were too short, but I couldn’t drill any further 3. drilling things without proper tools and stuff can prove to be really, really difficult. I can’t wait to have a studio to work on this stuff. After a while of tooling around, I got the legs to stand. I grabbed some paint from my random “stuff” box and painted it this pinkish color.

I think this is a poor representation of the table coloring. No matter, it’s completed.

I’ve fashioned a stethoscope using armature wire (for great versatility in animating and bending) and magicsculpt, which I’ll paint later to make it look more stethy. It’s really a shame I didn’t get pictures of us tearing down the set. The winds were high and the turf was everywhere. I’ll have to say that Mitch was a trooper. Turf in eye != fun. Seriously.

This is exactly what my life feels like right now… disconnected.

I consulted my final scene with Nathan and we went through so many things. I’m glad I have very cinematic friends. Tomorrow will be my true test, since I have to drive down to Santa Clara to give Dave his light set back for a few hours… only when I can get back into the city will I be able to start shooting. I’ll need to have everything ready so that this will be smooth sailing. I’d like to get some sleep tomorrow night, though there are a bunch of rather tricky shots I’ll need to go through with this one. Wish me luck!

Part 8

Slowly, but surely, the pieces are coming together. There’s going to be a lot of sleepless nights, this being one of them. My vocabulary is dropping, but my persistence to finish is on the rise. I’ve got a few days to complete at least the picture portion of the film. I’ll be up bright and early to finish the park scenes then start on the last scene, which is actually a scene somewhat in the middle. No matter, I have to tear everything down and rebuild. Nadira’s going to help me with the process. Thank goodness she’s off the next few days.

Newspaper trees for my recycled forest.

So a few days ago, I was sitting on the bus, fashioning my dead bird puppet. I take out the huge coil of wire I have from my purse and start bending and twisting it to form this bird. I start stuffing it with green foam to bulk it out and I take pieces of felt and start hacking away at corners to make a shape of a bird (sort of).

Wire Armature for Crow

Wire Armature and bulking out for cardinal (I know it doesn’t look like much now!)

Here’s where the “winging it” part comes in. I cut a rectangular piece of felt out and cut two slits for the wings to go through.

Now it’s starting to look more bird-like with the bulking and the hood.

Oh ye of little faith. Voila! My bird! I even painted the little feetsies.

Oh photobooth, how I love you and your timed goodness. However will I get shots such as this without you?


Part 7

So here we have it. Going on the last stretches as I ask my boss to take a few days to work from home. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it has helped. What I’ve accomplished thus far… I had to move the set from one place to another part of the room, I painted my clouds (which I’m not entirely satisfied with), and I pretty much finished tacking the bench to the set, as well as finished creating all my newspaper trees. I really think I finally have enough to make it look "parkish". Though, as my friend Mike O. points out, I think the park grass might need to be greener… in which case I’ll have to make another trip to the Hobby Co. to get more "grass". He also pointed out that I should probably add a few bushes for scenery. Not a bad idea at all, now that I think about it.

Final Shot of Park

Part 6

There isn’t much of an update, but I’ll go over everything that’s new. I went to Joann’s to get some more fabric for potential sunsets/skies/wallpaper. It was nice out the past few days, so I decided to work outside. I was trying to figure out how to put the bench together. First I measured how big I wanted the bench to be and how I wanted it to look… though I guess that’s really not too hard since it’s just a bench. So more unsafe sawing practices, since I just don’t have a proper place to work. My sister’s friend, Patrick also helped me with the sawing of the bench stuff. I think because he felt bad I was moving so slowly, but it was really hot that morning and oh man, I was not a happy Amy.

Instead, I walked myself to the local Ace Hardware store and tried to figure out what I was going to use to hold the bench together.  I knew I needed screws and bolts. I wanted to have a look of raised screws, so I got the ones that were rounded at the tops and asked the guy over the counter what would work well. He tried to inform me of those little L guys, but I told him that I wanted the back part of the bench to not go flush with the seat. He then showed me these pipe holder things. I have no idea what they’re called, but they hold a pipe in place and looks sort of like a Ω shape. So I’m in the front of the house with all my stuff, trying to bend one end of this sucker straight to put under the bench. I asked Peter to come over to give me the charger to his drill (since the battery was going rather low and slow) and he helped me bend out the metal. I felt like such a weakling. Dang so weak.

He’s clearly stronger than I am.

That’s the kinda shape it took me forever to form and him ten seconds to create. I really need to work out s’more.

So I drilled some holes in the bench and just put the screws in, screwed in the nuts and painted it white. I was thinking either white or green, but I thought green might blend too much with the ground and whatnot, so I wanted the white. I should probably dirty it up or something to make it look “aged”. Here’s a few pictures of the bench. That’s all I’ve got in me to post. Pictures of the bird will come soon, as well as the whole park bench (with legs on the set).


Bottom. See what a great job that bending was? Crapdonkey it took me forever to do that. Thanks Peter!

And I asked Nadira to help me take pictures of the sunset from her window. I needed some reference shots for mine.

I bought some orange fabric for a sunset, but now that I’m looking at this, I should have got a pinker sky and just colored it orange. We’ll see how it goes. I’m still unsure how I’m going to have the sun come from the back. Oh the details I’m afraid of dealing with. We’ll see what happens as it happens. Back to work. I really love this. If it weren’t for the crazy-close deadline, this would possibly be much more awesome. I already have some ideas for some cool projects after school. I’ll keep you guys updated on anything and feedback is always welcome.

Part 5

The filming started Monday, but really ended on Wednesday. I’ve found a lot of technical problems with my current setup and didn’t realize how difficult this was going to end. First, the three point lighting took several hours to set up. At first it was too blue, then too red, then all these other colors that didn’t match what I was going for. I wanted a sunset that looked convincing enough. I used several filters to get the colors I wanted and left the sky blue because… well, when sunsets are in front of you, the sky behind you is still blue. It worked out in the long run. Monday was full of lighting tests with the camera. Whilst animating, it’s much better to work alone for me because of the completely cramped up style I have to work. You can see the picture below that I don’t have much room to move around… yes, that is a bed frame you see the light set in. I had to move the mattress to the hallway and kick my poor sister out of her room. What a trooper for the love of animation!

The problems I came across whilst animating:
     1. Make sure the camera battery is fully charged–I only had one battery to shoot. Luckily, the battery has a very long lifespan.
     2. Check each shot for clarity–the viewfinder/playback mode is rather small, so I had to upload all pictures to the computer so the pictures aren’t fuzzy.
     3. Get plenty of rest before doing this stuff. It’s really not good for your back, eyes, nor sanity.

Tuesday I start animating with this tree in the foreground. I thought it would make it more interesting for different depths of field, but I couldn’t be any more wrong about the whole bit. I animated about 5 seconds of it, played it back on my computer and realized how poppy the animation seemed because of it. The tree was far too distracting for anyone to have been able to concentrate on what she was doing and her quirks. Clearly, I was wrong about the visual aspect.

The final animating comes on Wednesday. I’m not sure how I felt about the animation, but I got a lot of tips from Martha (my teacher) that made me feel tons better. I added a few cutaway/closeup shots that made the biggest difference in the world. We’ll see how it plays out in the end. Overall, I’m satisfied with the way my shots are looking visually. I think Miette is completely darling!

Part 4

And the animating begins. Before animation, however…

To make the sets, I bought some turf in various different grass, earth and soil colors. I’m animating the graveyard scene first, so I’ve worked on that set first. My old graveyard (picture 1) didn’t work out to my favor, so I had to redo it. I had to kick my sister out of her room (sorry Nance!), since her room has no windows in it… perfect for stop motion animation!

First and foremost, I had to go to Home Depot to get some wood for my set. I buy the 8’x4′ piece, not realizing that it probably wouldn’t fit in my dinky Jetta. Long story short, I had to go back and have it resliced to fit in my car. I get it home and have to start turfing and flocking. I grab my friend and he starts helping me document the whole thing (thanks Eric)! I use some turf in colors green grass, soil, earth, and some other colors I can’t think of right now. It’s good to buy several sheets of the turf and use spray glue to keep everything on. Spray glue was my friend… and I think I had flocking and glue in my nose and lungs by the end of these days, but oh well!  

**Good tip: Next time, I’ll spray paint the wood a dark color as to have it covered before I use the turf. I’ve probably spent a few hundred dollars on turf alone.

I love you, spray glue.

So now I have to get into the business of sawing a few beams for my background sky. I’ve decided to use a cotton blue sheet and stapling it to some beams, then painting it over to get a beautiful sky.

Do not saw anything without protective gear or while wearing flats. Not recommended nor advised.

Do not drill indoors, either. Not wise.

Stapling the cotton on the boards.

Steaming the fabric to get all the wrinkles out.

Dance when you paint. I swear it’s soothing and calming!


Part 2

I really need to post more often than once a month. Anyway, I’ve finished the doll, I’ve built part of my graveyard set. Luckily, I’ve had some help in that department all thanks to Eric (a previous animation student). As you can see, I decided to leave out the hoodie and made an overcoat instead.

The doll is made of armature wire, felt, foam, super sculpey, doll eyes, eyelashes, fabric, magic sculpt and a lot of love.

I sculpted the head out of pure super sculpey and black sculpey III. Her lips and cheeks were rouged with pink blush makeup. I’m sure I could have used paint or something along the lines, but I really don’t know anything about painting and when I tried doing anything with painting her face, it came out frightening. I’ll leave it to the pros.

Her eyes came from Kemper Dolls and they’re the all natural round plastic eyes, in which they have various different colors and sizes. Make sure you know the size you’d like for your puppet. The unfortunate part about getting doll eyes from here is that they have this little nub in the back, which you have to take a dremel to cut it short, then sand it off smooth. The eyes aren’t perfectly round, mind you, so you must make sure that the eye sockets are big enough to move the eye if you have eye movement.

Her frame is made of aluminum wire with Magic Sculpt around the torso and hips, arms and legs, dried to harden. I sculpted her fingers and magic sculpted them to her arms and started to sew the underwear (made of cotton) and tutu (of tulle) on her permanently. Her gingham skirt was also sewn on top of the tutu and undies, which is also just your average cotton fabric. I started to sew her felted jacket on top of her, but her body looked really hunched and dented, so I added some green foam padding under the jacket to her body to give her some depth.

I made her a scarf out of felt with a little whale on it. Inside is a piece of mesh wiring so I can pose it to make it look like it’s blowing in the wind, if needed. Though I managed to lose her pigtails somewhere, so I’ll have to remake those.