It has been a bit since an update for The Lighthouse Keeper. I have been continuing to film scenes during the early hours of the morning and after a failed attempt at butchering some fake tea lights I caved and found a better alternative for the protagonists all important emblem of caged light. Shadow puppet animation is a completely new realm for me and with it comes a slew of hurdles to overcome but experimenting and noticing the techniques of how light affects shadows is a really fulfilling. Here is some screenshots of some filmed scenes, more to come.
The Lighthouse Keeper – Animated Short Progress #1
This weeks kick about over on Red’s Kingdom revolves around the life and times of German animator Lotte Reinager who was the pioneer of shadow puppet animation. The responses from all the creatives offer an eclectic bunch of contributions to feast your eyes on. When doing research for the Howard Sooley – Prospect Cottage prompt I came across the inspiring work of Reinager and since then I have been busy cutting, gluing and making for a shadow puppet animated short entitled The Lighthouse Keeper which centres around the peculiar landscape of Dungeness and a couple of burley blokes. Creating something for the sake of creating and figuring out the hurdles and bumps is what proves most enjoyable about delving into a fresh medium that I have yet to attempt. The stage is now set, the characters are ready to move, the lights are on and with it the sheer joy of seeing the cutout shapes and silhouettes lit up ablaze brings a smile to my face that makes the absolute bomb site of my shrinking bedroom all worth it.
I am sharing the majority of the cut out shapes, the stage and silhouettes that will feature in the film as well as some lighting and staging tests that feature the main protagonist. I will be showcasing all the nitty and gritty process here, things that worked, things that didn’t and how I plan on animating elements that would require more than just my two hands.
Fundus Photography – Kick About #30
This weeks kick about over on Reds Kingdom revolves around Fundus Photography. When looking up images of fundus photography I was reminded of Olafur Eliasson and his otherworldly The Weather Project, but also the people that got to experience such an event. With all this in mind I have been yearning to do some digital painting as it has felt like yonks ago since I have held my wacom pen and got lost in some jazz music while painting away. I envisioned a blazing sun from a planet where the sun fills the air in a misty orange hue – a sprawling metropolis materialised with vivacious characters and stories between them, feeling so close but far away. It was a thoroughly enjoyable prompt to flex those digital painting muscles again.
Painting with Light – Ghosts #1
While experimenting with the use of objects for painting with light (one being a food strainer which ultimately was a massive fail), I continued to rummage through our overloaded store room where all the amazon boxes and no longer needed shite is kept, searching for more things to encase with light. I did however come across a mannequin torso that belongs to my roommates girlfriend – a fashion student. I previously bought LED strips that were far too bright to give the impression I wanted, but I thought covering the majority of its shining output could work in my favour.
The mannequin has a hole through its body where you can attach a pole so that you can hang the mannequin and alter the garments with ease, I was able to stuff the LED lights into the mannequin through this hole and even though it is covered in thick styrofoam the mannequin was now lit up like a freakish beacon effigy. I wanted to showcase the fact the mannequin doesn’t have a head so I stuck a fake tea light into its neck stump to add dramatic effect like some sort of headless banshee and attached a see through curtain to its diaphragm for some flowy movement. There is something about long exposure painting with light that feels as though you are capturing something that isn’t there but at the same time could be, some sort of residue spectres that reside in different frequencies and are only captured through means the naked eye can’t see, so it seemed fitting to try and capture some ghosts.
The mannequin in question minus the ghostly movement and before the tea light was added.
The Moon Did Not Answer – Kick About #29
This weeks kick about over on Reds Kingdom where artists from all across the lands provide a creative response is an exert from Haruki Murakamis 1Q84 where he describes the transcendent moon as a perceptive but mute watcher over the earth and all it encompasses.
I feel like with the words of Murakami, the moon has an element of ominous brooding and a spark of stoicism at remembering what used to be. The light I am capturing with these long exposure shots, which rim the highlights of ornate wood panelling and makes the hard wood floor sing with colour, makes me wonder who used to reside in this old house previously? Who wandered through the hallways? Who ran their fingers along the wood panels? Who tended to the rose gardens? Who hung up all the photos that still have a small circular imprint on the ancient stained walls? I imagine the original family in black and white or faded sepia, posed on an old chaise lounge, looking dapper but serious.
This old creaky house with its not so glamorous leaks and constantly breaking faucets still has so much charm to it, bursting with history as high as its ceilings. The mammoth floors above us are now converted into flats, but one wonders how it all looked in its original form? How would the moon have shone into those vast rooms above me? I can only fantasise.
The process of producing these photos was relatively simple. I used long exposure photography to take the initial photographs (seen below) – curbing my preference for large swings of a light source, instead opting for a central steady point so that the light source would not bleed out from where the moon would be placed. From the Scientific Visualization Studio site I downloaded a HD colour and displacement map of the moon which I then plugged into a simple sphere within Maya so that I could get some nice renders of the moon with depth and texture. I then plopped the renders of the moon on top of the long exposure shots and edited to my hearts content so that the makeshift moon look as though it is the original light source.
The Green Glider – Animated Short Update
It has been far too long since I have updated here the goings of The Green Glider Animated Short. Truth be told the rigging and skinning process of making an animated character move is a big ugly obstacle and the part of the pipeline that definitely is not my favourite, however it must be done! I had the usual array of fuck ups when rigging and skinning the main protagonist of the animated short – Ash. Pose space deformers would mess up out of the blue making it so that poor Ash would have tumours growing out of his asscheeks and elbows or one of the lovely glitches of Ash’s whole face sliding down his jowls in attempt to put him (or me) out of misery.
I am not out of the blue with the rigging and skinning process just yet, I have Ash’s body rigged and skinned and now it is onto the face. Just the sheer idea of seeing the multicoloured floating shapes hovering around Ash and knowing that he is able to move within the greyness of Maya is exciting. I can almost taste the much more enjoyable animation process in the near horizon and can’t wait to bring some life to his pasty face.
Howard Sooley: Prospect Cottage
When viewing Howard Sooley’s Prospect Cottage for the most recent Kick About I was instantly drawn to the opening images of the lighthouse and the water, the way those clips moved – like old pixelation animation. I wanted to create a moving story revolving around the landscape of Dungeness and all its quirky unique characteristics, I also just really wanted to make something with my hands. I have fashioned a shadow puppet theatre out of old cardboard, a large picture less frame and some grease proof paper so that I can bring to life cuttings of the characters and all the little things that make Dungeness so intriguing. While I don’t have the film to show just yet, I do have the storyboard.
With the recent first birthday of the fortnightly Kick About over on Reds Kingdom I noticed I have a few prompts that haven’t been uploaded here on Gentle Giant, so I will be resolving that in the coming weeks. This prompt being of Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950) being one of them and one of my favourite responses thus far.
“I knew exactly what I was going to create when I seen the new prompt for this weeks kick about, It was the night before my birthday and I was sitting out in the tiny garden in my previous London apartment, I was drinking red wine and smoking a cigarette and frankly, was feeling rather shit. Not sure if it was the birthday blues or if was a amalgamation of other things but my neighbours behind my house were having a party; they recently installed some outside lighting which surrounded their roomy garden in a blazing warm hue that lit up the brick of their apartment like a beacon in the night.
In my garden there is a full length mirror that is perched against a rickety garden shed that is full of art supplies and spiders. The light from the neighbours garden was reflecting brilliantly against the mirror – it looked otherworldly placed against the black shed and darkness of my garden, like the light didn’t belong in the darkness. I thought to myself “I wish that that was a fucking portal so I could step through, leave this place and see some happy faces”. The neighbours next door continued to dance and sing into the night.”
The Kick-About #26 ‘52.1429’ — Red’s Kingdom
Welcome to this first anniversary edition of The Kick-About, a fortnightly blog-based creative challenge in which artists of all stripes come together to present work in response to a given prompt. I asked contributors to choose a favourite work of their own from the previous twenty-five editions so I could celebrate them all together here.The Kick-About #26 ‘52.1429’ — Red’s Kingdom
A trip down memory lane with this weeks Kick About showing the favourite creations from artists thus far!
Pools: Experiments that didn’t make the cut
I completely forgot about these experiments that never seen the light of day when creating the pools film. I thought about possibly interspersing short elements of treetops that I filmed and have these otherworldly orbs float amongst and behind the tree trunks to encapsulate and cocoon the texture, colours and nature with the forestry into mini universes. These orbs were created by using the filmed footage from the Pools film and turning it into image sequences and applying them to spheres within Maya, then adding lots of depth to them by applying bump and displacement maps. Displacement and bump maps basically calculate the white and black of texture maps within a 3D space and in turn raise or decrease the geometry to extrude and add depth, without these maps the sphere would have been a basic sphere. As I was editing the pools film I knew they weren’t going to make the cut and it was best to leave it be. Still enjoyable to play around with though! Especially with its uncertainty and since the filmed footage is basically plugged into the spheres and changes frame by frame it would have been really interesting to see what happens when finished rendering I can imagine those water ripples causing Synesthesia like effects. Maybe something will happen with them in the future, even to just full-fill my curiosity…