Wednesday, December 10, 2008

tales of woe

I can't say that everything went wrong with the shoot today. At the least, the rain held off until nightfall, and I got at least half of the shots I had indended to get. Plus, at least maybe having horrible luck for this end credits shoot means that I'll have good luck for the shoot in January that constitutes the bulk of my film. But seriously, after today I almost feel like never shooting anything outside of the animation studio.

My turn towards misfortune started yesterday night. At 11pm, Dorian (who I had enlisted as my assitant for the shoot) had a long way to go on his big final essay that was due for a class the next day at 4pm. Since my shoot time overlapped with essential writing time, I suggested I try to find someone else so he didn't have to me with me on the shoot for that long. That proved entirely unfruitful, as not too many people are available on a weekday morning/afternoon with almost no notice. The problem is, it is physically impossible for me to shoot my stopmotion chunk with only one person.

Fast forwarding to the next morning, the first immediate challenge was the lack of snow. As mentioned in the entry below, I had decided the night before that I would use my own, darker-coloured bike rather than the light-coloured bike offered to me by Dawn since the snow looked like it was there to stay. However it rained all night and by the morning the grass was as green as ever. That wasn't a huge setback, it just meant that I would have a darker bike on a dark background, which probably wouldn't be too big a problem. I enlisted Dorian to help me bring everything over (fortuately my shoot site was only a few blocks from my house), and set to work getting ready to start filming. Dorian had to go work on his essay for a bit, so I figured I'd hope that one of the people I had emailed might show up. Unfortunately no one did, so I tried to see if I could set up the shot myself. The wind was ridiculously crazy, and not only kept tipping the bike over, but broke the kite dowel as it crashed into a tree (we were able to fix it with tape). 

The worst result of the whole endeavour was a combination of the wind's strength, me forgetting that the tripod only needs the spacers on pavement, and my foolishly leaving the camera to go over to the bike to try and right it. Just like that, with a huge gust of wind, the tripod toppled over and the camera hit the mud. I ran back and picked it up -- it was a really soft surface so I figured it couldn't have been damaged, but when I looked through the viewfinder it was a bit askew. Figuring that something had just been a bit jostled, I tried to see if it was something I could fix, but I couldn't see what was causing it, so I figured I'd head down to AFCOOP and ask Al if he was around. 

The problem then was that I had too much equipment to carry by myself, and no one else there to watch it for me. I paced around in desperation for half an hour, watched everyone at the CBC building file out for a fire alarm, then back in...Dorian still wasn't back and no one else had showed up. Finally I flagged down a really nice random person walking down the street and asked if I could use their cellphone. The guy's name was Lucas and he thankfully obliged, so I was able to get Dorian to rush over to watch the stuff while I went to AFCOOP. 

I showed the camera to Chris at AFCOOP who informed me that not only was the viewfinder screwed up and would have to be fixed by Al at a later date (though Chris did try), but there was a chip in the prism  at the front, which is not reparable and really bad news, since they'll have to try and find a replacement from a broken down bolex or else have me buy them a whole new camera if that doesn't work. Needless to say, it was an emotional time, and I really appreciated how nice Chris was about it even though I had really screwed up and was taking up a lot of his time (not to mention limiting camera options for all the other OMF participants and AFCOOP members, taking up tons of Al's time as well and generally making things difficult for everyone). Chris got me set up with a new camera and I headed out to shoot -- Ralph came by to do some photo-doc and Dorian helped me out with getting some of the main shots done, but eventually they both had to leave and I was back to square one. I huddled on the hill for an hour or so hoping someone else might show up (since I couldn't do anything at all because of course after the accident I wasn't about to leave the camera for one second), but eventually headed home to send out another round of emails. No one was able to make it, so I headed out again and got a static shot of the bike and some unsuccessful kite shot attempts in before heading back to unload my film and return my equipment. 

So that was my first stopmotion shoot, and I have no idea how the footage will turn out. The exposure is really wonky because during the times I was actually able to shoot the sun kept moving in and out from behind various clouds, I'm afraid the kite shots won't turn out very well at all, and really the main thing is that I may have ruined one of AFCOOP's three Bolex cameras. Suffice it to say, it was pretty horrible. Let's hope the Oxberry shoot next month goes a LOT smoother.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008


Some character sketches for Kate. I am moving slowly with animation, but I'm confident that I'll have everything drawn by the beginning of February (which is when they're sending the film to the lab to be processed, so I have to have it all shot by then). I haven't been very good at logging my progress here, so I'm doing a bit of catchup.

Last week I went and took some location scouting photos on Citadel Hill in preparation for my stopmotion shots, trying to figure out where roughly I could get the best sky and hill without anything else in the background. Here's some random photos from that journey.

Of course, this being Nova Scotia, we got a dump of snow yesterday, so the location will look rather different for the film itself. I had been going to use the bike of Dawn (a fellow OMF'er), which she had generously offered to let me use, but as of today I will be going with my own bike, flat tires and all, since it's a darker colour and will stand out better against the snow.

Another thing that happened recently in regards to the film which is most wonderful news is that in my quest to find a kite to use in the film that was the "classic diamond" shape, I came across, the site of Bill Wilson, a local kite afficianado. Not only did Bill help me find places to look for the kites, when they didn't have exactly what I needed, he custom-made an eddy kite (the name of the diamond kite pattern) for the film. It is completely wonderful and exactly what I needed!
My shoot is tomorrow and I picked up my equipment today -- lugging the old wooden camera stand down the street I started getting really excited -- this is it! I hopefully will post more in regards to how the shoot went later on this week.