Giant in a Jar “Souvenir” – Making of #2 – The Props

Previous to my last post now that I knew the print was a fail and that I would rely on the edit to superimpose my head in the jar I started setting up the scene with the manner of props. I relied on a bunch of different things to achieve the final output, to get the jars filled with vivid colour like that of an alchemists apothecary I used yellow and red food colouring, a few drops was all that was needed to turn the clear water into a garish blood and greenish goo. I also used a trick I knew from creating my own halloween costumes as a young lad that was obsessed with zombies by combining corn syrup with red food colouring to make a blood like consistency as well as water colour paint for some different coloured jars and a tattered wig.

Lighting the scene was extremely important as I wanted it to reflect the coloured lighting seen in many horror and slasher films. I relied on bicycle lamps, head lamps and little fairy lights that were the saving grace that I bought for the upcoming short film – The Lighthouse Keeper. the lights were hidden behind the jars and behind angles behind the camera, the same red gel and crumpled it over one of the head lamps to give the a more reddish hue. I accidentally broke the main head jar a few weeks ago and it actually worked out in my favour as it was leaking the entire time but it added more of a theatrical sheen to the gloss of the table top which meant that the light bounced off the surface more.

One of my desks that usually contains most of my plants has a little hole in it – I would assume for cables and wires, I wanted to take advantage of this and place a light underneath the hole so that it projected though the largest head jar and light it up from underneath, with initial tests I had to put the timer of my camera on to ten seconds and quickly duck under the desk and hold the light up to get it just right However, I did manage to eventually wedge the light in between a wooden slat so that I didn’t have to stick my lanky self under the desk which was a win in itself, here is a not so glamours behind the scenes look at what that looked like.

The scene was now set, One of the most enjoyable aspects was experimenting with the lighting and placing the jars in places that reflected and bounced the light, all the while taking a plethora of photos from a range of angles.

Giant in a Jar “Souvenir” – Making of #1 – The Head

Previous to my last post with this weeks prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “Souvenir” here I document the process of achieving such a grisly scene with my mug in a jar and various stumps and limbs being plopped into fluids as a cute keepsake. There is a lot of smoke and mirrors that has gone into creating the scene which I will get into, but first it needs to be explained the trials and tribulations of inserting my head into the jar in the first place. Because I didn’t want to rely too heavily on the edit, I decided to shoot the photos of me for the head with the red coming from dramatic lighting rather than editing. I simply tied a red gel cellophane sheet around one of my standing lamps to turn my room into a makeshift darkroom and continued to make myself look hideous by pulling faces all the while smushing my face against the glass of a picture frame to get the perfect ghastly shot and mimic as if my head was pressed against the inside of the jar. It was tricky at times because I had to angle the glass correctly so that the viewfinder and various screens and lamps would not obstruct the shot of my face and end up having to edit those reflections out. Here are some photos that did and didn’t make the cut. Enjoy.

For anyone that is reading this that isn’t familiar with 3D texture unwrapping, basically I used one of the above photos as the “centre piece” and then in photoshop I stitched together a left side and a separate right side shot of my head into one merged image. I did this so that when I printed the resulting image out it could be physically bended in a cylindrical curved shape and placed into the jar and behave like a real head.

I created an edit of the red to give the option of a sickly yellow and green.

However, my roommates printer started to run out of ink while printing and the A4 paper was too small, the ears and side of my head also needed be closer to the middle and I wasn’t going to use all his printer ink on my printing out my face. To alleviate the paper turning to mush inside the jar I was going to carefully stick strips of sellotape across the page to seal it in, although I kind of liked the thought of seeing what it would look like disintegrating. I knew I could get the results I wanted by manipulating the head photos in photoshop on top of the plate image of the scene and not have to print anything out but I wanted to give a whirl to the print out method.. and maybe pull a prank or two…

In the next post on Gentle Giant I will go into detail about the plethora of props used for the final scenes. Stay tuned.

“Souvenir” – Giant in a Jar

With this weeks prompt over on Red’s Kingdom being “Souvenir I don’t know about anyone else but I have felt a shift in the air with things starting to feel more autumnal and I always connect this time of year with the cosiest of films. I may have been watching too many of the horror and slasher type, but with this prompt my head went straight to the macabre. There was lots of trickery and doing and trying with this project, I will be sharing all the fun revolving around the in’s and out’s of how I got the resulting photographs up to this point in the coming days. Stay tuned.

Pools – The Human Environment Care Film Festival (HECFF)

Some great news today – Pools created in response to the Kick about on Reds Kingdom has been nominated in the Human-Environment category with The International Human Environment Care Film Festival in the Heart Of Pickering, Canada. The International Human Environment Care Film Festival has a special interest and preference in submissions that speak about the conservation of our planet as it reads “it is our belief nature is the mother of life, and its importance is undeniable. We wish to watch more films commemorating the value of the environment and nature. Films that speak on behalf of nature. Today environmental protection is the biggest challenge of humankind and we hope films can contribute to this challenge.”

Pools was discovered deep with the caverns of the forestry in Ireland where it was filmed and I may not be done with the footage and photography just yet, a recent wave of inspiration ignites the feeling of diving back in..

Painting With Light – Synesthesia #7

This weeks kick about over on Red’s Kingdom is the illuminating Lights by Marie Menken. I decided to share the last few bunch of long exposure painting with light experiments shot a while back, situated in one of the turrets of our house and framed with its long theatrical curtains. Sadly the owner of this room haphazardly ripped the curtains down and with it a lot of its impact so I am glad I made use of it before it became occupied.

Pools – 7th Siding Festival of Film

Some good news today – Pools created in response to the Kick about on Reds Kingdom has been nominated in the experimental category and will be screened with 7th Siding Festival of Film. The 7th Siding Festival of Film has a special interest and preference in submissions that are ‘Rural’ and or remotely produced locations outside of urban centre’s. Films are exhibited in 4 venues in Creston, including the single screen art deco style Tivoli Theatre first opened in November 1938!

The Lighthouse Keeper – Animated Short Progress #2

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.

Painting With Light – Synesthesia #6

Some further experiments of light painting photography taken from a while back. Situated in the middle arch of the high vaulted ceilings within our house, I like this spot a lot. I love how the arch frames the pool of light and how a sliver of light rims the skirting boards. I must admit while taking these photos it is easy to get spooked as the only light source was my makeshift bicycle light from which the light painting is born and while peering into the long pitch black corridors made it feel like at times I may not be alone, which only adds to the experience.

“Work from Home” – Photography Contest

I usually do not share photos of myself here but I wanted to share this photo for a competition entitled “People at work” with Art Full Frame. The Contest description reads as “During this year due to the pandemic everything has changed, our habits, our way of approaching life and our way of working.People across the globe are trying to get back to normal. We are gradually taking back possession of our lives with many of us going back their work place.

Many have converted their homes into offices, whilst others have been forced to change their working practices to accommodate the new Covid safe procedures. Just to mention a few with restaurants, shops and personal care. Some have even had to start all over again, whilst for others nothing has changed. With this photo contest we invite you to capture People at Work, before, during or after the pandemic. It is not important when the photos were taken, what we are interested in is looking at the world through your eyes.”

Inspired by the twisted landscapes of Alice in Wonderland and campy colourful slasher film posters my submission is a very tongue & cheek satirical view on the work from home aspect that has been implemented into many of our lives because of Covid -19. There has been times where my own home has felt like the enemy, times where I feel smothered by the four walls where I spend most days and where I could feel like my lanky limbs could burst through its fixtures at any moment. On numerous occasions I have felt like a digital detox is certainly needed – from the browsers and zoom calls, the terms, keywords and overabundant hypertext. I know a lot of us have felt like this, although many would wear a professional bravado when plugged in through zoom calls and meetings. But what goes on behind the screens? Are they wearing pants?

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.