We are finally back animating - the new sets took a lot longer than we had expected. Lots of little fiddling about to get it all to work. We did our first shot yesterday - 20 seconds which involved, flashing coloured lights (manually changed every 6 frames) a pull focus over 98 frames (see exclusive photo of "the wheel of Warwick" made especially for the shot), 1 prop continuously bopping up and down, two moving puppets (one walking again) and rocks falling. The whole shed was cut in half and one person could only work at one end and the other at the other end. There were lengthy walkways from one set to the other for perspective shots, this made the whole process difficult and it was a dark shot and one bump of anything and we would have had to do it again. We managed to get it all done and as usual previewed it as soon as we got back home and were left staring at the screen wondering if it worked or not - so went to bed. Next morning watched it again and were excited now with what we saw. (what is that ? high expectations or something? we haven't figured that out yet) It was a hard shot with all the different things that had to be done it's hard to keep focus and with only the two of us sometimes it is all lost when the madness gets hold.
Technically all is still working well, the pull focus shot took a lot of working out. The first test were a bit of a wobble but we think that was blast from the air conditioner's fan or just bad moving. The D70 is still a wonder to us and we are wondering what it would be like to have another set up like a second camera ...mmmm interesting.
"Wheel of Warwick"
FEBRUARY - MARCH 2005
Things have been moving really well since January. The puppets have stopped walking and the shots are getting more exciting to do. With the added character and more interaction we seem to be getting more shots in and they don't seem to be as painfull to do. The large scale sets have turned into a small interior so lighting is a lot more creative and fun to do. We are using small mirror reflectors above upturned desk lamps which are giving nice shafts of light.
All the equipment has been working well. We are using the old sony hi8 as a split these days as the spy camera gets to be a bit of a pain in dark light. The camera is still performing really well. We had a bit of a problem with the nikon capture program. We kept getting these error messages, and if we had taken the frames and had started to move the puppets and it stopped capturing we would have to move the puppets back to their original position. We connected speakers to the computer and turned it up very loud so we could actually hear a sound when it came up with the error message (a loud bau-bauuu) We think we have solved the problem by taking off Windows XP and replacing it with Windows 98, we have had no trouble since.
A PUPPET TRAGEDY
Girl - the female puppet who after two broken groins, one broken ankle and two broken knees and 2minutes of sickeningly painfull animating and then finally a complete bottom half replacement and a further 2 more minutes of animating - had to be totally replaced
(except she kept her original head).
But this was not the tragedy
- this was -
Thinking the wire was breaking because we were using boat building epoxy adhesive to keep the wire in the aluminium tubing, we thought if we used silicon instead it would not put as much stress on the wire. So we completely did a new armature using the silicon and replaced the puppets clothing (craft glue is good as it peels off with isopropyl alcohol ) - a perfect replacement.
The silicon acts like a bouncing ball - so instead of being able to move the puppet in nice smooth movements it just bounces back into place - it is horrible and unfortunately she has to continue to be animated until we have the time to replace her again.
SO DON'T DO THIS IT IS TRULY HORRIBLE
We are looking forward to reaching the edited 10 minutes (even through we have done around 15 minutes of footage) I guess when you see the two figures it looks like you are serious.
We are onto our next two hardrives - we have filled two 160gig hardrives (one a direct copy). And are keeping up the dvd backups. So all is looking good, we are very focused at the moment, the weather is cooling down a bit at nights.
Still looking at a laptop and Motu Traveller for the sound (24bit 48khz) and surround sound. But that is all ahead of us at the moment - we have to keep focus on the the animating and when we are around the 30 minute mark with only another 40 to go we will have to think seriously about the storage, sound, online and eventual transfer to 35mm.
When we have to have a break the only thing we want to do is watch films, so we thought we would add a film of the month after each update. This month the best film(s) were Death in Venice director, Luchino Visconti and Julien Donkey Boy director, harmony korine
12 minutes 45 seconds
Not much time free to update the website. We have been really trying to push ourselves and are managing to do some quite lengthy shots . All has been running smooth. We have got more footage than what we had planned for at this time in the script. Three minutes ahead which is good and means at the end we will be able to really tighten up the editing.
Have been playing around with sound, recording into a laptop. This seems to be working well but have a long way to go before we know what software we will be using.
Saw an interesting video on William Kentridge who inspired us enough to get through the last two gruelling days of hard animation.
Not much to say - tired and exhausted - but hardrive prices are dropping yipee!!!! which makes our 5 tb for rendering look a little more promising!!!!!!
SO DOES THIS GUY !!!
Trit makes an appearance
Well film wise, we have managed to fit in a few odd films - we really enjoyed Team America Director Trey Parker, and Mike Leigh's, High Hopes and Fox and Friends-Director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, but film of the month goes to Shaun of the Dead - Director - Edgar Wright.
JUNE - JULY 2005
16 minutes 45 seconds
Still pushing ourselves hard over the last month and have reached almost 17 minutes. This is looking serious and believable. Technically we were having problems with the Nikon capture program and were scared to do the firmware update ourselves. We thought we would lose the camera settings if we did the update and had it in our minds that with the next big set change we would do the update then. But after some terrible days of losing camera connection (sometimes four times within a 6 second shot) we decided to go to a authorized Nikon service centre and get the update done there.
WELL that was about two weeks ago and we have not had one problem since. It has really helped to speed up the animation as we don't have to wait to see if it will stuff up and no redoing shots!!! and our settings were saved. So it was a really good thing to do.
Somethng interesting we have not mentioned before that we had to work out with the spy camera we have been using as our video split. Because we are shooting long exposures with the Nikon (around one second) there is not enough light for the spy camera to see anything through the viewfinder, especially if the Nikon's aperture is stopped down. We built two light switches on the side of our computer trolly one to turn on a light that is bright enough for the spy camera (75watt bulb) to see and one to turn off the tv monitor which often reflects light on the set. So we turn on the light to animate by and then after we have animated we take a frame on our looping computer - turn off both monitor and light and take a frame on the Nikon computer. Hey it all works for us and if the shot is 800 frames those switches get turned off and on 800 times. Surprisingly the finished shot is flicker free.
While we are talking about flicker problems we thought we would mention and idea we have had about different kinds of lights. One thing we have noticed was that when we use a tungsten bulb of any kind we get light fluctuations. We have done a few tests with this and it does seem to make a difference. We 99% of the time use small 12volt 20wat/50wat halogen desk lamps which we cannibalize to suit us. With these lights we have not had any exposure fluctuations.
We have been in the same set now for 6 months and with trying to do a shot everyday we have noticed a few things have happened.
We do arrive at our shed now and sit in the car for a bit longer each day and look at the sky and the birds.
There is a slight fear set in of going in
Dont let the blue sky fool you there is evil in
We are about 6 shots off the set changing so we are trying to hang in the sanity department.
No times to watch films of late but we thought we would mention our 61 hours of music we have in media player that has been cranking now for 12 months
SWANS-SMOG-TISM (PROBABLY ACCOUNTING FOR 40 HOURS)
WESLEY WILLIS-THE CURE-BUTTERFINGERS-DEAD MILKMEN-JOY DIVISION-DIRTY THREE-NICK CAVE-THE REELS-MORRISSEY-MERCURY REV-BARRY WHITE-MAGNETIC FIELDS-DEAD CAN DANCE-ANGELS OF LIGHT-MIKE OLDFIELD
AUGUST - SEPTEMBER - OCTOBER 2005
there has had to be time to grieve.
FOR YOU GWENDOLWYN - JULES' MUM 10.10.23 - 25.09.05
Ok camera problems the analogue output from the camera is scrambled and we are unable to light the shots as well as we have been because we usually light our shots while previewing from the camera's tv output. We got around this by shooting straight into the computer and previewing it from Edius timeline out through firewire to the TV - BUT this has its problems!!!! Especially when we had the widescreen framing set up on the TV. We have been waiting on a part for almost 8 weeks now and it still hasn't come from WHEREVER in the world it is supposed to come from. WE DESPERATELY NEED ANOTHER CAMERA - seeing there is another stop frame feature out there done on a CANON wouldn't it be nice to see NIKON getting up there with a donation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TO US - Hell why not we are in need!!
Anyway we have had a slow crawl to 18 minutes 30 seconds.
Everything else has been going well. We have had another change in sets and are now working from the exterior to the interior, which is great and means for the first time we have two sets going at once. We had to buy more lighting and have melted one of those already.
We have seen some of the footage on a high def monitor and were amazed at the detail of the images.
We also have decided to save and buy a Mbox 2 Pro Tools LE for the sound - this has been a huge research nto the decision making to find a suitable sound recording, mixing, editing and synching solution as we need 24 bit 48khz recording. The LE project will open in a Pro tools HD suite further down the track. Recording sound has always been problematic for us, our first films were done dragging an old Sony 6000 hi 8 camera around (the camera never worked but the sound did) we then got a mini disc recorder, but never really liked the sound we got and had to edit out pinging sounds ( it always sounded digital) Because the sounds in all our films have been very important to the narrative we have always done it ourselves, collecting interesting sounds we hear and have always utilized our voices either slowing them down to 10% as background droans or speeding them up and layering them under other sounds. We went to see Fantomas a little while ago thankyou to Damien and Clint, it was very inspiring to see and hear them in action. We unfortunately missed Smog.
Huge set changes are coming up for us we will be clearing the two we have to make probably the largest one yet and the most exciting. We are hoping to shoot all of this next part through some sort of distorted glass or something. We remember reading up on the shooting of "28 Days Later" when they shot some of that through an old front loading washing machine door!!! So we are on the lookout for something that will give us the look we want.
We managed to see the touring European Masters recently - wow Werner Herzog, Emir Kusturica, Michael Haneke. Lars Von Trier -unfortunately missed Ken Loach - of all these amazing films the boxing arse scene in Life is a Miracle keeps popping up in our conversation - we don't know why.
Being big fans of Alejandro Jodorowsky we acquired Santa Sangre recently and have only just watched the documentary that goes with it. Our belief that there is nobody out there that makes films like his has now turned to there just could be nobody out there anything like him, he is amazing .
NOVEMBER - DECEMBER 2005
24 minutes 24 seconds
We have had all sorts of things going on over the last few months. Firstly our major problem was the camera which started to blink a green light and shut down. The first time it happened it came back to life and we managed to get another 6 weeks out of it before it happened again and then it just stopped working altogether. We read on Nikon Advisory that some D70's had a circuit board that unfortunately worked it self lose or something like that. Nikon have recognized this as a problem and they fix it at no cost. So we put our camera into ANDERSON CAMERA REPAIRS here in Brisbane to be fixed. Meanwhile to see us through a time without the camera Nikon Australia came to our rescue with a sponsorship of a camera. Thanks to Andersons who fixed our original camera very quickly, did a sensor clean and we finally got the analogue output fixed as well. We are very grateful to Nikon Australia as this means if something does go wrong we have a back up camera now. We're continuing to use the original camera which has now clocked 55.789 frames.
Another very interesting observation. We changed our loop monitor to a lcd screen. This is viewed constantly while animating. We did a series of shots in a two week period shooting daily. I (Jules) started to get headaches and a black frame started to appear in my eyes just happening for no reason like a black moment (better explanation - instead of seeing anything -it was black for what seemed possibly a frame in my vision and this was happening totally away from the shed. Scary I know. I was noticing that also that animating was becoming increasingly more difficult. I then started to notice that it just seemed slow and because we had recently changed our animating loop program I blamed that, so we changed once again to another program. This did not help. So we bought a monitor splitter so we could have two monitor's (one back where all the computers sit and one for the animator to use to see the loop) this seemed ok until we turned on the computers next morning after we installed it and one of the monitors blew. The problems being our graphics card has got the two outputs but we don't have and can't find anywhere the plug for the other output ) so we have the splittter cable that sends the one signal out to the two monitors. We replaced that monitor and now surprisingly have gone back to the original animating loop program, no headaches or black frames and it seems to be flowing nicely. We realize now that it could have been the refresh rate 60 htz on the LCD (but secretly I think they are evil and never want to see one again and I warn anyone doing stop frame not to use one!!)
We now have a Hall of Lame ( that shows all of our lame inventions, ideas etc) and a Wall of Shame (things we are just ashamed of doing or putting up with). Scratchings and words are appearing over our space and it is starting to look like prisoners are kept there.
LATEST MEMBER FOR THE WALL OF SHAME
A puppet tie down used for several months as is (the nuts worked themselves loose so the wood turns as well) why would we continue using it? Why?
We are nearly 25 minutes into the film and are still excited about this.
What is keeping us going is the knowledge that 30 minutes is getting closer and surely when we hit that we are serious !!!
Also we are constantly planning our next film "EEL" about a giant killer eel who for no reason other that a disturbance in his yearly mating migration from Africa to a little stream at Beenleigh, where, after this long journey and battle of swimming upstream gets caught by a eel farmer. He then sets out on a path of destruction and kills and eats small children, innocent adults and fishermen. This film will have lots of blood, hardly any content and will be shot with LIVE PEOPLE (our friends if we have any left ) puppet animation for the attack scenes and will be shot in
This is Our dream.
Working on "Shifty Boy" a distorted lens adapter that we will be using for the next scene after this . We are coming up with some cool distortions on tests, but still getting a good image. We are using a Canon wide angle adaptor designed for a movie camera mounted into a frame that will be able to be adjusted frame by frame.
The puppets are just holding out. We have a complete puppet and costume change at about 28 minutes, so we are trying to see them through to that, patching up broken knees and cracking skin. We're trying to push through this last few minutes in this one set that we have been in for over a year. We are madly trying to get the new puppets made and dressed and the new sets on the way while we are still trying to animate. We are averaging around 12 hours a day and at the moment that is just about every day in a row. Today is a day to catch up on everything day.
We have managed to get in a few films, oooooh just had to watch a few Robert Bresson's just to be grounded and remember what it is all about. Also rewatched The Damned and the Leopard - Visconti, The Servant - Joseph Losey, and some new ones Napoleon Dynamite-Jared Hess, Dirty Shame- John Waters - out of the newies all good, but we have to say that all were surpassed by Freddy Got Fingered by Tom Green, just loved this film.
LCD Screen on top of shamefull milk crate
Now replaced with a crt monitor (which fell and cracked and still works, after being placed on top of the shameful milk crate that was balancing on a shameful makeshift swivel chair) Now proudly on top of "Forever Boy" our newest member of the Hall of Lame. Called Forever Boy because we get all of our offcut wood out of the bin in our complex where a furniture company throws out odd bits (so we wait just before the rubbish truck comes and RAID.