one more year to go !!
January 9th and we have done our first shot of the year and in our new shed! It feels really good. Everything is working well which suprised us after it had all been stored away for months. We do have a problem with power fluxuations but we are getting a variac which should help. It seems only to be a problem when the air con goes in and out. Impossible to shoot without it as the heat rises to over 40 degrees with the lights and equipment on. We decided to shoot anyway as we have flashing lights in the scene so it may not be noticed and we know we just have to shoot to finish. Can't explain how it feels to be back shoioting at home, it is weird after all these years of regimently getting up and off to work (animating) then finish whenever and off back home to render the shot work it into the offline edit off to bed and repeat. It has been strange over the last few months we have had to do so much physical work like digging concreting etc to get the shed built etc so we can get back to animating. We are really feeling the leg strain on the concrete again and we have to work on getting back the stamina of long shots things like that. But it does feel good!!
FEBRUARY - MARCH
(58 minutes - 46 seconds)
We are 58min 46 seconds - and excited about reaching 60 min!! S O O N. For this next scene we have introduced the same lighting we had used in ROCKY if you want to see (click on Julie Pitts - Miles Blow above then click on Filmography then click on Rocky) We had always intended to use this lighting for this scene but it looks better than we had expected. We have been changing the lighting for each new scene as we go along and in the last shots we used 4 300w studio lights and shot with the aperature closed. We had previously used small desk lamps with the aperature open and the studio had to be dark and our eyes were starting to suffer but the lighting looked much better. Using the large studio lights meant we could have a lighter studio which worked for a while especially through the time when we were changing studio address etc but there was less interesting lighting effects we could do and it looked a little flatter which is something we have always tried to get a way from.
For this scene other than using small cans we have three lights sets up which we call "flicker boys" they are made of a round cut crinkle glass which has another smaller piece behind it which we move frame by frame over each other, it has a light and a magnifying glass which concentrate on the movement. What we get is lighting similar to the reflection coming off water. The scene we are doing we have the boy and girl followed by the animals walking down deeper into the caves. The lighting really helps with keeping it alive and us as well as each shot is taking days to do. These are longer shots with one being over 30 sec.
We had made a tight scehdule to keep us on track to finish this year but we are already 1 month behind as we had a couple of other jobs to do for money. We are still using the original nikon D70 with the spy camera mount, we have often thought what the new Nikon would be like with the live feed but want to see how long this camera will last! and it might be risky to change cameras now.
We have ironed out the fluxuation problems with the variac. We seemed to have ironed out our collaborative problems which has been nagging us for the last couple of years (we think it definately was taking on big jobs that just sucked our creativity and time and left us with some money but a hole in our work) animating is now less stressfull everything seems less stressfull we have networked our computer from the shed, we have a monitor that we got from the dump shop ( a sony trinatron that we paid $10.00 for and works beautifully) this monitor seems to show a more acurate image (unlike lcd screens that the blacks are just so black), we have time for movies at night, we are getting back a rythmn.
the variac we have been using to keep the voltage around 230v per shot.
APRIL - MAY
We have hit the 60 minutes now this is very exciting for us!!! After 6 years this seems not like very much but when we broke it down daily it sounded a little better. This means we only have 15 minutes to go and the shooting of the beginning and the end coming up soon. It feels like a end is coming after all but the solitary confinement seems to be playing with our mentality as time still has a weird effect on us and think nothing of answering an email we meant to do 2 years ago!!. Along with this excitement was of course a dissapointment, our first electricity bill since we had been using the air con at home - it was very bad so we are back to shooting in the shed with the doors shut - it is a bit stuffy but if we have two hour stints and a then a break it is not so bad. Winter is coming up so it will be much better then. All is going well we have the ups and downs and find it hard to talk about anything here that we have not said before! We want to keep the website going and we will soon have some of the latest photos up.
Working really well have moved through past the 61 minutes now. Animating all of the characters in this one scene we are doing now. We are back in the caravan where we spent almost a year animating back in 2007. It is a lot of fun doing this animating. We are not sure what is happening next and seems a lot more spontanious than what we have been doing for a while. For the first times we are also shooting out of sequence which is a little confusing with all of these little puppets and their gear. Will get those photos up soon!!
click above for latest timelapse shot
Moving along having fun making stuff to try and make the shots work. Below some images of the the latest shots and some of the tangles we get ourselves into with cords...hate cords!!! We had a shot where the kids look through a sunlight in the top of a caravan. We found one of those magnifyers that is usee to read a newspaper- it was a round one -the image looks pretty cool. (bottom three images)
Nikon is still going strong and just done 128,000 frames and have been using the Zigview s2 to look at the loop for these shots - pretty dark but seems top be working ok for these.
Also using the dolly and crane for a few of the latest shots - bit rusty but still works!!
It seems we were a little too optimistic thinking our camera would last us to the end of the film- it just stopped in mid shot one day with a bit of a burnt smell soming out of the usb port and even though the shutter was still actuating it wasn't taking photos and nothing was showing up on the menu screen or the computer. The little lcd on the top of the camera was still working. After the shock of this we thought we would just finish the film on the backup D70S. While continuing with the animation we started looking at the Nikon and Canon cameras with live view. We had always wonderered what it would be like to use this feature. After a while of wondering if we were best to stick with the Nikon or go the ever favourable Canon - we went with a Nikon D90 with LIVE VIEW and what were we thinking all this time animating without live view (but there was no live years 6 years ago when we started). We had been using the zigview with a black and white image for so long now and it is hard to believe how good it is with the coloured image with the live view. It makes setting the shot up so much easier. It is still only standard def on the Nikon but it is more than adequate for us. One of the main things is that the framing is acurate.
We also changed to Animator HD Pro which works similar to the Animator DV simple that we had been using, but the Pro has a few cool things like full res playback of hi def footage and it captures the nikon raw files. We used to use the nikon capture program to capture nef frames seperately while previewing a (extremely) low res image coming from the zigview. Gregory at Animator DV did some great tech support for us adding 6 figures for a frame count which was good seeing we are up to 138000 frames. Also we are liking how it can automatically double the frames if we want to take two frame per frame. This is saving time and shutter life. The program also offers an awesome rendering function so after we have animated the shot it renders out to any format we want. So we are now able to render out to DV with burnt in frame numbers so we can keep track. We used to have to render out in after effects which took ages.
66 MINUTES and we have just had some camera problems! The Nikon does overheat in live view. We had mounted a fan just on the side of the camera to cool it down while shooting. We noticed a few weeks ago the camera would loose contact with the computer around the 20th shot. It then started to go very dark in live view and it fixed itself on and off until today when it just continued to be dark. We thought it was the extended usb cable and replaced it but it was still doing it. It seemed every time we put it back on the tripod it would happen again. We would take the camera off and it would come back. After a day of trying to work this out we have decided it must be an interference with the arm that the fan is mounted on which must be acting like a antanea down the leg of the tripod?? sounds weird but once we moved the fan away it worked again.
some of our lates shots with the new rotating lights which still gives the same shimmering water effect but seems to be more eficient than the glass ones we had been using. The boat is quite big and we are running out of room.
We are slowing down a bit, either it is the end of the year or we have been sidetracked with building robots for Full Metal Carnage a type robot wars coming up in Brisbane on the 27-28th November. Ah the guilt we know we should be shooting every day but..........
We are pretty happy with the way things are going, only the one big set to build which will be used for the beginning and the end - so it really is looking like a finish for us next year. We anticipated the film to be around the 75 minute so it is cool thinking only about 10 more minutes to go. We will probably finish the animating around March - May and then lots of pick ups, sound recording and lots of editing. Then ?? It is kind of exciting and even though we were thinking of doing "Eel" next and we had been looking forward to working with a "live" cast of people, we just thought na its got to be another stop-motion animation!
We had a big break over December did a couple of shots but got very sidetracked with the robot building. The Full Metal Carnage was a really awesome event. It was held at the edge which is a part of the Brisbane State Library and was by the river, so a great venue as well. We met some great peoples and had some really cool battles, We learnt a lot and are now totally hooked. We thought "could this be a hobby?" "a sport?" we are not sure but it has been really good for us, but of course it doesnt outway the guilt of not animating.
Here are some links to our first Full Metal Carnage.