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Hey Guys,

So, don’t have too much time to post, but I thought I would post some pictures of the finished puppet and set. I am very, very pleased with how everything turned out and it was a great group effort to get to this place. This has been a great and intense process and I am so happy with how things are turning out. More later, but here are these images for now:

Where the idea for Harold began.

And where he ended up.

So, this is the long and exhausting run to the finish line. We still have an enormous amount of work to do, but I still am holding some hope that we will be able to get everything done on time. We have his set completed other than some minor details, the main puppet is just about finished and we are just about ready to animate. Matt Emmons built us our ball and socket armature, which saved Andrea and me a ton of time and frustration. It looks really good and I am very excited to get to animate with a soundly constructed puppet as compared to the relatively flimsy and delicate wire armatures I have used up to this point.

I have spent the entire weekend punching body hair into the puppet’s head, arms and legs. This has to be one of the weirder things I have done and I can guarantee I was the only person up at 10am on Ohio University’s campus Friday morning punching leg hair into a fat man’s silicone leg. And, well, if I wasn’t the only one, I would like to meet the other person so we could chat about it.

Well, anyway, I should be getting back to work but I will leave you with some pictures of our partially completed puppet and his hairy legs:

More later.

Andrea's genius VHS tapes, complete with faded label, adorable cigarette butts, and of course, the obligatory pill bottle, alien and UFO.

A penny for scale. I love my little peppermints.

Andrea found a coaster perfect for the TV tray table. She also constructed that lamp that actually lights up.

 

 

So, I apologize for the huge amount of time in between this post and the last one. After Treeshaker, I remember saying “why didn’t we keep up the blog more? We should be better about that next time.” Well, I remember now: it is really hard. But, I will try to keep this up as we skedaddle to the end of the quarter.

Since the last post, a lot has happened. Animator Justin Kohn visited from San Francisco for a week and it was just the most refreshing and inspiring week we’ve had all quarter. I think the visit was timed perfectly as all of us were just beginning the process of animating. The three groups of students had done at least primary animation tests and I had just finished my first shot (the shot posted below). We were able to learn so much in this short period of time, and I was completely reminded of why I am doing this and what I love about it. It was great.

Besides that, I have just been busy animating. I have a handful of shots completed: some dumbbell curls, side stretches and other sorts of warm ups. I was just about to animate some squats, but the lead puppet’s hand snapped off at the wrist. Great. I think this is the main drawback to working with puppets instead of humans. Human wrists don’t just snap. That just doesn’t really happen. But that is my reality. I have lost hours remaking her hand. But in the end, I knew that this was an obstacle we accepted when we chose to use wire armatures and her hands were starting to look really rough anyway. So, as soon as I finish writing this I will be back to work.

Production on the main living room set is going fabulously. In just a bit I will post some pictures of the details of the set: VHS tapes, pill bottles, peppermints, working lamps, cigarettes, french fries, you name it. Our studio has become a little workshop of elves making various accessories and props that will fill our couch potato’s depressing home. I’m really excited.

Anyway, hold tight for photos, they will be up later today. Wish us luck.

love,

Sam

So, here is a teeny tiny bit of animation to share with you. This is first thing I have animated since last spring, so I’m a bit rusty, but this clip will show you how our puppets, set, lighting and everything came together. I’m really pleased with the quality of the colors- how muted and pastel they are, it is really the look we were going for. Anyway, enjoy:

love,

sam

So, other than the fact that I am very relieved to hear that Punxsutawny Phil did not see his shadow this morning, I am relieved to say that I have made some good progress on the heads of the puppets. I might have mentioned that I decided to do a re-sculpt of the aerobic girl heads, I was really unsatisfied with them and they had the wrong expression. So, I back tracked and redid the heads, re made the molds, re poured and spent last night and this morning coming up with a new strategy of attaching the hair to their silicone scalps. Two words have saved my life : Felting. Needle. It’s the most perfect tool! It is not quite as sturdy as hand threading the locks, as Andrea did last year, but takes literally only a fifth of the time. It is also easier to get full coverage. I have to admit that I think I am most excited for punching the hair into our main character’s legs and chest. I have some good sick black, curly hair that will do the trick. And with my felting needle? It will be great.

Andrea is also chugging away at the costumes. They’re looking really good and I can’t wait to see them finished. Below are some pictures of our progress on the aerobic girl puppet (she has no coloration yet, after some makeup she will look much more vibrant) as well as some images of Andrea’s costume making process, just to give you an idea of the colors, patterns and styles she is working with. Enjoy!

Thanks and more soon!

Sam

P.S- Please keep the donations coming!! It means so much to us! And thank you thank you thank you to all of you who have already been so generous!

You can make donations here: http://www.indiegogo.com/Nite-Sweat?a=78487&i=addr

Our puppets can actually stand upright now! Andrea just finished their feet, made out of plumber’s epoxy putty (a rather toxic smelling, but incredibly useful material that looks something like one of those cowtail candy bars). It feels good to see the three puppets standing in their formation, it makes it much easier to imagine how all of this will come together. I finished building up their bodies after much trial and error, surprise, surprise. I found a great method of cutting strips of a mattress pad, and stretching and wrapping them around the limbs, much like a mummy. It looks pretty great and is really sturdy. Meanwhile, Andrea has started in on the costumes – she found a great, tacky prom dress to cut apart for their purple leggings and a rather creepy floral.. smock..? for their leotards. Soon our puppets will transform from wire mummies to aerobic super stars.

On another note, we are rapidly spending down all of our funds. Bringing an extra eleven people onto this project is spreading our budget very thin and we will not have enough money as it is to see this project through. This is where I come to all of you for help. We have a website where you can donate any amount that you feel you could spare to our cause. There is no minimum, but those who donate $25 will get a copy of our movie when it is complete and those who donate $50 will get a copy of this project as well as our first project, The Treeshaker’s Worry. So, if there is any cent you can spare, please send it our way!

You can donate here : http://www.indiegogo.com/Nite-Sweat

Love,

Sam

Andrea and I have been pushing through production of all of our puppets. Somehow I grossly underestimated the work it would take to make four, full sized silicone puppets and armatures. Last year, we had two and it took a ton of time so I should have known what was coming when I doubled the number of puppets to be produced. Not to mention, this year it is up to Andrea and I to do all parts of the process and much of this is very new to us. Last year, Matt (who co-directed The Treeshaker’s Worry) made the armatures while I handled the molds but now Andrea and I have had to team up to figure out everything ourselves. I must say that I am proud of what we have pulled off so far, as failure ridden as the process has been.

At the end of the day today, I poured what I hope will be a successful pour of a hand for one of our puppets. I know that it sounds simple and I am sure that it would be for some, however, the size of the hand and how tightly the armature fits within this makes it a pretty tough thing to do successfully. I had the the thought today that painting on the first layers of silicone in the mold and then letting those layers set up completely before laying the armature within it would ensure no part of the armature would be visible or sticking out. So that’s what I tried but we won’t know if it worked until tomorrow morning and we pull the mold apart. FINGERS CROSSED, knock wood, all of that. This is the most drawn out trial and error experimentation I have ever done. But, as the title of this post reminds me, the process is the point.

Good things: Nathan is making good progress on our two sets, including an adorable apartment door complete with mail slot and peep hole (pictures to come). Andrea secured a second computer from the @lab, which will allow the students working with us to animate their pieces on a separate station. Also on a high note, animator Justin Kohn will be coming to Ohio University the first weekend in February and will be running various workshops and doing a presentation/question and answer session one night during the week. This is an incredible opportunity and I will be sure to keep everyone posted on details about his visit. When I know the date of his presentation, I will let all of you know and anyone who is interested in coming to his workshops, please just let me know! We want to make the most of his time here, so the more the merrier.

Considering I am writing this to postpone studying for a financial management test I have in the morning, I will wrap it up now. But progress is slow and steady, good things are happening often enough, and if you want more information of Justin Kohn’s visit, please just let me know. Pictures soon!

-Sam

So having finished a marathon weekend of trial and error, which was greatly a weekend of error, Andrea and I had a few successes. We are in the mold making process and this is a very time consuming, precise and tricky part of production made even more difficult by a few factors: 1.) Andrea and I are what I would label as “messers”, and it takes everything we have to not “mess” with the molds before they are completely set up. This is a lesson that has now been cemented into our minds, though, and I don’t see this being a problem anymore. 2.) we are trying to make silicone molds for silicone puppets. This is very tricky because the silicone wants to adhere to itself, so without proper application of a release agent, a spray that creates a barrier on the surface of the silicone so that it will not fuse with the new silicone, there is the potential of ruining your mold as well as what you were pouring into it.

So failure after failure, Andrea and I finally got things together last night and have many of our molds underway. That means pouring them tonight and having puppets sometime this week! Next battle: ball and socket armature.. We’ll keep you posted.

-Sam