Friday, December 31, 2010

The latest movie poster

It's been quite a holiday season. Between all the weekend traveling we've done (Yosemite, Vegas and a family cruise) and a family crisis that popped up the weekend we were going to be visiting China, I haven't had a lot of time to work on the film.

I have got a rough edit of the Flashback, which looks pretty good, although I need a couple of cutaways that I just didn't plan for. I'll be using our neighbors kid to shoot the pickups- fortunately, just some hands holding the rocket ship and pointing at stuff in the book. I'll also be fabricating a fireplace shot to indicate a younger Farnsworth and possibly his wife.

One thing that came up that was pretty cool- I had this good closeup of Jake, although during his line he kept looking at me instead of Alexia. So I brought the shot into AE, tracked and matted his eyes out, and then replaced his real eyes with a painting I made and jiggered them over just a touch and voila, he was looking in the right place.

Another thing that came up- Too much dialogue. As usual. I tend to have diarrhea of the mouth when it comes to dialogue, and in the editing process, cut a lot of it out. I'm also going to have some visual stuff going on so I might be able to lose the cards in a few places.

Regardless, here's the latest movie poster that shows my costume off. It's pretty cool- I've even lost a little weight.

I hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

And here are the actors!

 This is Alexia Van Den Bosch, playing Fanny. She's adorable.

 Here's Jake Dowling as Jack. I actually got the suspenders in the wrong size and we were trying to make `em work. Alas, young Mulvey had to do without. He ended up looking perfect for the part!
 And here's the two of them on the set. (Our bed.) In reality, there'd be a lot of shadows everywhere but I wanted to make sure everyone was visible. The lighting situation was perfect as we just used the overhead can lights which evened everything out. When this gets edited and finaled, it will probably be darker.
 Here's another view. My bedroom just wasn't that large. If I had a bigger budget, we'd be doing this in a huge room with a huge fireplace, but on a shoestring we had to make due with some flickering Ikea torches and a lot of imagination.

 Jake wanted a funny picture towards the end of the day.
Everyone was getting tired by 4:30. I like this picture because everyone looks exhausted. Or bored. That's Karen in the back, there. I don't actually have any good pictures of her- Her eyes were closed in every picture but this one.

Props for the shoot!

Here's my spread Friday night. Blimp/spaceship- mostly done. Book? Not even started.
Here's some of the props in their "native" environment. Mad scientist blocks, a toy fishing boat I picked up last May in Greece, a Primer and a Battledore from the eighteen thirties... Once the kids were added, it started looking crowded!
This is the book that has young Mulvey entranced at age eight- the thing that is going to inspire him for the rest of his life. I made it out of cardboard. What's really cool is that Jules Verne mentions a bunch of scholars, priests and writers that wrote about travels to the Moon and back before anyone really applied science to the problem. I used illustrations from Cyrano de Bergeracs story about the Moon, Edgar Allen Poe's tale of moon travel and a score of others. The results were pretty amazing.

I'm not sure if they even had a book like this in 1851.
This is the rocket ship that Fanny found so inspiring. 5$ bird house from Michaels, with a bunch of rivets to add a little foreshadowing.
This lantern was made from CB2's gear candle holder. We found these cheap wall sconces at Lowe's, pulled out the wiring and hot glued the gear onto it. Then we added the glass cups. Wow. Too bad you can't really see them in the shoot.
And here's the final blimp toy. Since the birdhouses were pretty cheap, I bought a damaged one as well. I ripped off the nose, sanded a part of the rim down so it could lock on to the back and then I made the gondola out of some thin wood sidings, balsa accents, wagon wheels I found at Kit Craft and rivets. Lots and lots of the little buggers.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The shoot worked out great!

Having never worked with kids before, it was pretty challenging... Especially near the end as both eight year olds were rapidly approaching their tolerance levels as the last shots were being recorded.

Nevertheless, they were awesome. It was a fun day and for all that, I'm glad it's over.

I'm snookered.

I'll post pictures and whatnot as I get them!

Rehearsals went well...

Everyone arrived about 10:15. It took a little while for the kids shyness to wear off, but after a while the performances we were getting were great. Cut some stuff out of the dialogue (haha silent film) to make it easier on them, and got some great ideas for some camera angles.

The props turned out really well, although I over-engineered the book so it wouldn't fall apart and now it doesn't open all the way. *sigh*

Have plenty of duct tape to mount the tripod to the ladder, though!

This is fun!

We'll start shooting after lunch. Everyone is on break now.

Friday, November 26, 2010

One more day until the shoot!

Been driving about like a madman getting stuff we need.

Props are done, except for Mulveys Moon Book. I found tons of great pre Civil War era illustrations of the moon and its creatures which Mulvey leafs through before he disassembles his blimp. Which looks awesome, BTW.

Tomorrow we prep the room for shooting, I need to get the picture of the president printed and finish off the book. Then we'll be ready!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


As you can probably guess with this show, costumes are pretty important.
I wanted to give a shout out to the people I am purchasing costumes from.

First, there's my favorite, the Gentlemens Emporium. They are reasonably priced and their selection is topnotch. All of my main characters are wearing the costumes I purchased here. Their selection of Victorian, Edwardian and western clothing are amazing.

Next on the list is Fall Creek Sutlery. These guys went above and beyond to make sure young Mulvey's clothes got here before Thanksgiving. They specialize in Civil War era outfits and props. Awesome.

Originals by Kay covered younger kids clothing and Kay was really helpful in getting my costume pieces to me in a timely fashion. Her womens Civil War era dresses are absolutely beautiful. And compared to other places, her prices are reasonable.

Monday, November 22, 2010

I just received the first part of Jake's costume...

...And the second part should be arriving tomorrow.

Everything is on schedule!

If the second half of Jake's costume arrives tomorrow, we're a go for shooting on Sunday.
The plan is to be at my house at 10am. My friend Mark and I will be setting up the room Saturday for set dressing.

Jakes costume consists of pants, socks, shirt and bracers (suspenders) and possibly a hat.
Alexi's costume consists of a dress. If she doesn't have white leggings please let me know so that I can get some for her. (Period is not mandatory, as long as her legs are white.) Also, if you have a light colored hair ribbon, please bring that as well.

Karen's costume consists of a dress and a bonnet. If you have dark, narrow shoes, please bring those. Period isn't a must as we never really focus on your feet.

I do not have a makeup person. I do have makeup. Alexi and Jake should darken their lips a little bit and we can powder their faces to reduce glare. The lighting will be bright during the shoot, but once it goes post I will relight to make it look like candlelight during the day.

We'll rehearse for as long as we need (I'm budgeting about two hours) and then we'll start shooting. I estimate it will take about four hours, so unless I need extra coverage or something unplanned turns up, we should be wrapping no later than five.

I will provide lunch at the very least- I think a six foot sub and drinks should cover it. If we run past five I will order pizza.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Looks like the first day of filming might happen on Sunday, November 28th!

I was at a loss when all summer, I couldn't get a hold of the Dad for one of my child actors. I had told him before he went on vacation that I needed his kids clothing sizes and that I wanted to shoot over the summer. Little did I know he was embroiled in a bitter divorce and this little project of mine was not really that important in the grand scheme of the universe.

Alexi's Mom turned out to be a savior. Her daughter plays with a boy down the street named Jake and they share the acting bug. Voila! Young Mulvey. To make things even better, we'll be shooting the scene (if all schedules line up!) in two weeks.

I have two weeks to recreate 1851 in my bedroom.

Millard Filmore was president, the war between the states was ten years away and a young inventor dreamed of going to the moon while his playmate had distinct opinions on the politics between girls and boys.

This is going to be amazing.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And now for something completely different.

With these early presidents, it's all about the hair. I wonder when the burrito was actually invented. This picture was done to contrast my animation supe's photoshoppery of himself as Napoleon. I have a number of new things that will be published here in a couple of days- A new flying machine, a weird electro car... But it's coming slowly.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Another piece of advertising art!

This is the advertising poster you can see from the street in the opening shot of my film. It's on a billboard and I think Dr. Grymm looks quite handsome in his brass goggles. The main logo was actually designed by Joey, and the photo was taken by the guys at Ajar Studios. I had to clean up the border and add the taglines and posterized treatment of the good Doctor.

Monday, October 4, 2010

So I cracked the script today...

I read through it and it sounds awesome. Too bad the film is silent.
I'm about halfway through writing the damned thing after a number of false starts, and I've figured out a way of getting the conversations relevant.

See, there's certain cards that need to be in place to understand what is really going on. I've written those things in red.

The rest is merely argument or discussion that my actors will convey using body language and over-emphasized facial acting. I even want the mustache twirling going on.  What's pretty neat is that once the shooting script is done, I'll actually have all the dialogue cards ready to go, and the storyboarding will fall into place.

Heck, most of the boards are already drawn. Although I will have to change them as I add or remove ideas.

I just wish I wasn't so tired.

Friday, October 1, 2010

So my primary casting is (mostly) complete!

Jack Mulvey ~ Scott Gould
Fanny Glowerston ~ Kat Steel
John Grimauld ~ Mark Adams
Lamar Farnsworth ~ James Muscarello
Baron Glowerston ~ Steve Ziolkowski
Wu ~ Chris Bowers
Doctor Grymm ~ Joey Marsocci
Nanny - Karen Bruner
Young Fanny ~ AlexiaVan den Bosch

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Movie Posters!

Here they all are. I sure hope you like them! I would love to print these out into postcards. Now remember, the guys don't have all their facial hair and Kat didn't spend a lot of time on her hair, so this is just the costumes. But I think the digital set looks pretty decent and the integration works despite my limited four light setup (and the occasional power failure!)

Let me know what you think!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Look at what we made!

Most of the actors for my film came over on Wednesday evening- It was a last minute thing and I almost forgot to tell Scott that it was on! Nevertheless, everyone put on their costumes and I have to say, wow. What great casting. The group got along well, and looked amazing. Kat fell right into the role of suffragette and her facial expressions were grand. Scott looked every bit the narcissistic playboy inventor and Mark was fantastically funny as the guy who carries things for Mulvey. And James hair made a surprise appearance. But he looked suitably nasty.

More pictures to come!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Victorian Prosthetic

My friend Pam (who happens to be a dialect coach!) sent this my way, knowing how much I would like it! Ironically, this is very similar to what I had planned for Mulvey's arm in the third act, although mine was more brass and hardwood. But I like this a LOT.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I know you guys are probably sick of this view..

But things have been winding down at work, and while I still have to be there, I now have a little time on the side to make my digital set pieces look really nice. So, you'll notice the new crates. Doctor Grymm Laboratories has provided the gravity retardants, the aether manipulators and the blasting caps. The barrels contain gunpowder, cavorite, saltpeter and methyl nitrate. There's a travel poster on the wall, and I've done my best to simulate bright daylight streaming from above. What do you think?

More to come!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Some beautiful period accessories for my film!

While I have been drifting in the white noise of overtime, my friend Karen has been knitting up a storm of Victorian era awesomeness. This is called a misers purse- a design of brilliant innovation to keep pickpockets from stealing your coin. It opens in a very unique way, with sort of a crisscross pattern that you have to pull apart and then separate the yarn in order to get at your money.

Not only is it beautiful, it's practical too.  You can see some of the other stuff she's made for Adventures in Science over at her blog!

Thanks, Karen! It looks AMAZING!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bad news, film fans.

I'm now on OT seven days a week. 10 hour weekdays, 8 hour weekends.
We're not gonna be able to shoot anything until mid November at the earliest. Which sucks, because I had two insert shots I wanted to get on film; The kids playing and Mulvey's dad drowning in the ocean during a ship wreck.

Oh well. It will happen.

One more reason I know this film of mine will work.

It's pretty wordy. But nevertheless, it's frickin' awesome. Modern camera work, contemporary scene layout and composition in a silent format. It works!

It works.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

May I present... Jack Mulvey!

Here's the tinkerer that ended the Civil War abruptly in 1863 with the invention of an aerial mortar launcher that rained destruction on the southern calvary.
He's pictured here portrayed by my friend (and actor) Scott Gould. The only thing missing in this picture is the coat- We're looking for one. Doesn't he looks awesome, though? Imagine the pockets on his vest filled with little knick knacks and doodads...

This is going to be awesome.

I want to thank Scott for coming over and trying on the clothes tonight; he's a busy man.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

I just bought the costume for young Fanny

So I think it's going to look awesome; it's a pre civil war era play dress, which is perfect for the scene. Alexia just has to wear black stockings to make this thing work. I also purchased an era specific primer, some clay marbles and something called a Battledore- sort of a hand held reference for children with letters, numbers and even has the "now I lay me down to sleep" prayer on it.

The scene has worked out even cooler than I was hoping and I only need two dialogue cards... Maybe only one if I can get my two young actors to sell the storyline. The story boards do a great job getting this action across, and the finale is quite funny.
This is a flashback to when Fanny and Mulvey were children together. Toys and school books are scattered across the bed they are playing on under the watchful eye of a nanny.
 Mulvey is trying to tell Fanny of his singular interest and dream- to get to the moon when he grows up. Fanny picks up a toy blimp while he is explaining all this and notices what she's holding.
He asks for it, she gives it to him and he pulls off the gondola... Indicating that it is now a rocket ship, which he enthusiastically blasts off and flies around.
Fanny is now totally captivated, clapping her hands and laughing. She finally tells him that she wants to go too, when Mulvey shatters the mood by laughing at her, and saying "Don't be silly. Science is for boys!"
At which point she promptly decks him.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Here's a brief glimpse into the Steampunk Bizarre

I shot this video while I was at the show. I apologize that it's the same music as the other one, but for some reason the new music I put on, while not copywritten per se, was rejected and the soundtrack muted.

Oh well. This is really cool.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Herman I. Copperthaite introduces Adventures in Science!

Here it is. Remember, we made this entire thing in less than eight days (five of which I was working so I couldn't spend that much time on it!) All in all, I think it is pretty impressive, and I hope that you also get a laugh or two while watching!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Final poster... All aboard!

I thought I would post the final version of my advertising poster. I switched out the M's for G's (Mark convinced me that Glowerston would never allow Mulvey to admit authorship publicly...) and everyone liked the leafy things on the sides. At the show, I printed out 20 4x6 on really nice card stock and I actually sold five! (Six, if you count the guy who just walked away with one, but that's not really a sale...) One visitor actually bought the framed version I made to advertise them. (I made a matte out of leather and it looked pretty neat!)

If you want one, drop me a line and I'll try and get it to you!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

All the hats arrived.

Most of the costumes are here and Kat Steele has already started getting hers to fit properly. She looks awesome, as does Mark. But yeah. The hats make the man (or woman) as they say and in our case, they look smashing.

All done for now...

The props done. The poster's done. And finally, in a little over eight days I pulled thirty greenscreen keys and rendered out two hires renders of the Hypatia and the loading dock that looked fantastic.

The dvd went out this morning, winging its way to Connecticut. Final length? Six minutes.

Six minutes of cheese, that had my wife laughing out loud at my hammy acting. It was great.

So now I feel empty inside.

But not really.
I'm done.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Well, it's late, but...

Looks like everything is on track for the Steampunk Bizarre. I printed out those posters (an 11x17 version for framing, and 19 6x8 postcards for purchase) and they look fantastic. The only thing left is for me to edit a sort of "making of" video that will be eternally looping behind some of the props.

Originally, it was just going to be the story reel and some art sort of stuck together.

But as a test, I decided to make a three minute intro to everything with the fictitious producer, Herman Ivey Copperthwaite. He's something of an idiot.

I donned part of some costumes I had lying about, trimmed my facial hair into something ridonkulous and put on some makeup, then hopped in front of my camera for the better part of four hours. We shot everything I needed.

I imported all that footage, and by eleven Friday night had a pretty funny six minute piece, complete with dialogue cards (it is silent, after all)! I was down in San Diego seeing King Lear at the Old Globe on Saturday, but on my return I printed out the posters, framed `em and then got started on making keys and putting Herman into some old movie studio pictures I found.

I've done five in about four hours. And, they look pretty good. This was sort of the proving ground for Adventures in Science, and it's going to work. Hopefully my story is compelling enough.

I'll post the finished result once the Bizarre is over.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

All aboard the Hypatia!

Well, it's finished, more or less. I am still debating about the leafy things going up the sides there, and I'm also thinking about moving the Glowerston coat of arms down where the GAS logo is at the bottom so the whole thing is balanced better.

Nevertheless, these will be for sale at the Steampunk Bizarre in larger scale. I'm actually quite happy with most of this; I haven't really done any printworthy art since I was in my early twenties (ironically, Joey helped me out there, too!).

The Hypatia looks great (IMHO!) and I think I've succeeded with the Victorian ad quality; the red white and blue coloring of the type is just patriotic enough. (Glowerston wears patriotism on his sleeve- think Halliburton and you know what I'm going for.)

Any opinions you have are, as always, most welcome!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Costumes are here!

I have just received four of the five main costumes. Still need hats. Now I have the costumes ready for Fanny, Mulvey, Grimmauld and Glowerston. The remaining costumes are for Farnsworth, Wu and everybody else. Must call the actor for Wu.

I would love to get my five major characters together for a costume fitting. I will be emailing everyone to see when a good day might be.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mulvey's Lunar Oxygen Rebreather (or... The Tube)

One of the things that was suggested in early versions of the script was for Mulvey to be doing something (anything) while Grimmauld was arguing with him. I heard the same kind of comment from several people so I decided to introduce Mulvey's intent to go to the Moon here.

He's trying to build a device that will allow him to breathe on the lunar surface. Most of the Victorians had mixed ideas about what mysteries the Moon was hiding and a big one was whether there was an atmosphere or not. In Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon, the French Adventurer Michel Ardan plans to travel aboard the projectile and, upon arrival, wants to hunt for whatever game might be found there. In  Around the Moon, one of the men aboard the capsule fancies seeing buildings of some kind on the dark side of the Moon. For my story, Mulvey and Grimmauld actually do land on the Moon, and they do need these tanks. I wanted something similar to the tanks in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

I drew an early storyboard that illustrated some kind of tube like device with a light on it, but of course I would have to build it. And what I discovered was that my initial drawing wasn't really detailed enough to look physically interesting.
So I did a better, bigger sketch of it but that still didn't really work out, as it still looked like a tube. In fact, Teresa frequently asked while I was building the damned thing "So how is your tube doing, honey?" which had implications I wasn't sure I wanted to answer.
What it came down to is improvisation while I was building. So under the tutelage of Dr. Grymm, I finished it up and while it still looks like a tube, it also looks like it does something.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Exciting News!

Hey guys. Sorry it's been like a month or two since the last update.

I've been sick as a dog for the last week and a half (since returning from Europe!) and despite that, have some interesting stuff that will be going up on the blog by the end of the week.

One of the most exciting things that's happening right now is that a good friend of mine who's pretty much embedded in the Steampunk movement is putting on an art show out in Connecticut. In addition to his day job, Joe builds props for movies, designs puppets for plays, illustrates graphically and somewhere in there has the time to curate the Steampunk Bizarre.

This year he asked me to be a part of it.

So despite being sick, I've been madly scrambling to get `er done. My biggest fear is disappointing my friend with substandard stuff (you should see some of the real artists who are contributing to the show! Amazing!) so I've been working my butt off to make some good art.

I'll be contributing some props and miniatures from AIS as well as putting together a DVD with the completed story reel, some tests I've been doing and I'll be selling a poster advertising the Glowerston Steamaeroship Hypatia.

It will be inspiring and fun and I'll be able to hang with some really cool people.

Come back on Friday. I should have some interesting things to post then!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The HPLHS has a new film coming out.

It looks great- Very high production value... I can't wait to see this in October.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Moving forwards...

Sorry for the vacuum over the last month and a half- I've been working lots of OT.

Consequently, I'm behind on the script polishing and the board drawing and I still haven't had time to order costumes and build the two props necessary for the shoot. I would like to get all of this organized and put together and get everyone together for costuming and some test shoots- I now have the ability to track camera moves which solves some of the main issues I was worried about since for the Prologue, it's all greenscreen shoots with a couple of exceptions (the kids will be shot on a practical set) and I would like to get some of the closeups against a flat.

For those of you unfamiliar with this project, it's an alternative 1870 after the civil war. I'm doing the Prologue first, followed by the three chapters (acts) that tell the story of an inventor trying to overcome obstacles the villains keep throwing in his way. The reason I'm doing this is for three reasons; cost (this is a shoestring project and spreading it out over four separate but related stories makes it easier on my checkbook), feasibility (is doing an epic, feature length silent film something people are interested in seeing? A ten minute prologue that sets it in motion will answer that) and finally intrinsic value (it's just as easy to make something bad as it is to make something great. Doing this first film that's half as long as the other chapters and being able to finish it in a reasonable time should answer *that*)

The shoot will take two weekends, but not everyone will need to be there for the whole shebang. I will put together a schedule as we get closer to it. I will also be updating the blog with all this information.

Right now, after May 7th I will be on vacation for two weeks. I would like to be done with the script, story reel and props by May 31, with a potential first shoot weekend on June 5.

I already have some of your costume sizes, but I only have Scott's hat size. Everyone in my late 1800's had either a flying machine or a ether powered car and a hat. Please send me your hat size and clothes sizes if you haven't done so already. I would also like to put your websites on my blog if you have them.

I've also mentioned barter- I can't pay you guys very much, but if you need a logo design or a 3d model or prop I will be happy to do that for you. Also, for the costumes I have to buy, those will belong to you after the shoots are done. I will also do craft service on the days of the shoot.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

First of the street vehicles...

This is the steam powered streetcar, provided by the Boston Horseless Transportation Company. I found some great street car reference and built the main vehicle, and then added a steam pump and furnace. This thing would be great in the Boston winters, although I imagine the front of the car would be very cold. During the summer, though? Even though it's outside, it would still be running in the high nineties.

And don't even think about how heavy that back end is... Just imagine they counterbalance it with weight in the front.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Remember that matte painting I was working on back in the when?

You know the one I made back in October?
Here it is all bright and shiny and... moving. It needs a lot of work, but I think I am pretty happy just because it worked.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Hypatia Animation Test

Weird. I guess Google Video is no longer accepting video so now all these tests I do have to be copied over to youtube first.

This was a fast, throwaway test to see what this thing looks like in motion. There will be another one shortly, with motion blur and a more appropriate film look. I'm pretty satisfied with this, though- I think it looks heavy. It's flying a little fast and the props could certainly go faster, and it needs much more rigging, but yeah.

It's cool.

I'm hovering around seven minutes a frame for this, once I render in HD that will quadruple, I think.

Well, guys? What do you think?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Hypatia is almost done!

So there it is. There are three things that still need to be done. The Rubens paintings need to fit in there better, so I will be upgrading the textures on it. Also, the front armour needs some rivets, so that's another texture map issue. And the last thing is rigging. You can see I started to put in the cables, but there needs to be a lot more.
You can see the paintings better here. Overall, I'm very happy with it. It feels quintessentially steampunk and that's all I really care about. Let me know what you think!