The Gauntlet, The Standfast, and the Intuos

I built this abomination in order to do some paint-on-glass work for Plus et Plus. This was my second time doing something for them with this medium, unfortunately it turns out they didn't need much of it.

The Gauntlet:

Canon EOS SLR (in this case a 20D) controlled via DSC plugin for Framethief 2.19 mounted to c-stand via superclamp. Panasonic HVX (or summat) on a tripod for lo-res playback. A few units from a light kit. A desk lamp. 2 pieces of plexi, 1 opaque white, 1 opaque black, cut to size at T and T plastics, 315 Church St. just up from Canal. Then lots of acrylic pumped full of retardant and stored in squirt bottles. For those of you paying attention, yes, due to the use of opaque plexi this is a top- (or front-)lit rig.

I've never really had this much trouble from a setup. Some of it was my fault, some of it was the fault of the studio in charge of the equipment, and some of it was just plain bad luck. My Mac died on day 3 and had to be replaced- The DSC plugin for FT is crummy and doesn't support newer cameras, so when we wanted to switch to an EOS 5D that held a Zeiss 80mm Macro lens, it wouldn't work. So we put the lens on the 20D- which wouldn't work. Evidently the lens and the body wouldn't be friends and upon any attempt to take a picture, a big "Err 001" sign would flash in the EOS LED, then the whole camera would lock up.... On and on like this for days, every day.

These are just a few tests I did one day, then the client cut all my paint-on-glass stuff. I was all pumped to do some moving Turner-like fog, but evidently they misunderstood what "paint-on-glass" animation is. So, again, I never got to take the stuff past simple one-off tests. It seems that just when I'm ready to get rolling with this stuff, I get cut off. Grr.

The 1080p versions are a bit more eye-candy lookin', but they're still just tests. I will say this: I'm strongly considering picking up Dragon Stop Motion for my stand alone P.o.G. rig. Framethief works for pencil testing, and I own a commercial license for it. Still, DragonSM works the same way but with a better interface and more support for various models of SLR cameras, and in some cases allows for viewfinder preview without an additional firewire video source. This cuts out a whole fileset and piece of gear so I'm considering taking the plunge. Not to mention they aren't charging an exorbitant amount for their software, something I truly appreciate these days.

The Standfast:
Now that I have my own camera stand, I could theoretically get some non-drying sculpty and do some stop motion films with no added setup. Oh, I forgot to mention. My lovely, fantastic, amazing cousins donated an old camera stand to my efforts. It's a CS-5 TestRite. No more jury-rigged tripods.

And, for my christmas present to myself, a brand-spanking new Wacom Intuos 4. Cost: Relative. Size: Medium. Impact: Huge. After years of gifted graphires and hand-me-down tablets, I had to take the plunge and get a pro model.

Next post will be about this feature film that I'm cutting on contract. It's nearing completion, I'm just waiting on some pickups. After this job, I'm not taking any more contract work until my film is complete.


Ladies and Gentlemen, the Boarding Process is Complete

No posts A lull.  Quite the opposite.  I've been meaning to finally announce it but haven't had the time:  Storyboards are finished, and the animatic along with them.  The film grew quite a bit, and when people hear the final running time they seem surprised.  Maybe even a bit wary.  I assure you, it moves very quickly and the run time doesn't feel long.  Trust me, I loathe nothing more than a short that overstays its welcome.  I sincerely appreciate, probably more than most, a short that holds itself to under or around ten minutes.  But gods, this thing got epic.  The story is almost worth blowing up into a feature.  With much effort, I've paced it out quite deliberately so that the run time doesn't feel long at all.

A quick statsheet before all-out breakdowns and budget revision begins:


  • 527 shots.
  • 29 minutes and 37 seconds give or take a few credits and thanks.
  • 5 paint-on-glass sequences interspersed with the traditional 2D.
  • Opening sequence covers social change over many centuries of history in 1:48 seconds.

Backstory: History as Truth and Symbol

  • Main character first appears at shot 22, almost 2 full minutes into the film- and isn't seen in full, in daylight until shot 58, the first few seconds of minute 4.
  • First elephant fight sequence from 7:18 to 8:40.
  • Only ONE dissolve to relocate/pass time, and it's a match move.  There are 3 more dissolve transitions in place, but they are to denote when 2d gives way to paint-on-glass in the animatic.  All other necessary transitions are done through an original visual or audio cue.
  • 10 Distinct, remarkable *NOMS*  ...For some reason, food became a motif all its own.

 NOM #3

So I'd love to say that I'm starting animation yesterday, but as it turns out there have been several welcome contract jobs of late.  So, I've been slammed with other people's projects.  My next post will be covering my second attempt at a paint-on-glass rig, a pile of gear I arranged for recent work in NYC on a MAC cosmetics corporate and online promo for their Spring 2010 line.  Unfortunately, they cut most of my paint animation- it turned into more of a photography job.  But that doesn't mean I didn't abscond with photos of the rig and the few animation tests that I'll post here soon.

Battered Diplomats

My most recent gig is finishing editor for a local SC feature by Skellenger Films, "More Than Diamonds."  At the moment I'm working through several difficulties to migrate all the footage to my edit bay- the largest of which seems to be the strange tendency of the SONY EX1 to shoot .MP4 extension files that feature the MPEG-2 video codec shell called MPGV.  It seems Apple and Quicktime don't like this new devilry.  Oh, tech.  How often I loathe thee.

Until the next.