Thursday, 27 September 2012

Macro Lens and Snow White

I've been trying out the new macro lens on the DSLR and so far it's alright for photography but I have yet to try using it for filming.
Problem is it takes photos so close that I lose any perspective in the image and it's realllly shallow.... so I'm not certain it'll work out that well for Myrtle. Fine for other work, but I want deeper focus in the scenes in my short and I'm just finding this lens to be a tad limiting. I know we're working with miniatures here but I can barely pull back and I think we're just too damn close.

Anyway, I already had a sort-of-Snow White-inspired scene set up for another project, so yesterday I decided it would be a place to start using the lens. Hence all these poison pie baking scenes I thought I'd share. Many were taken without the macro though! 

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Fairytale Ivory and Bats the size of Bumble Bees...

By 'fairytale ivory' I do of course mean unicorn horns. No magical beasts harmed in the making of these props.

Some of these bats pictured below are actually a tad smaller than bumble bees. All are downy with fur and have great little faces. Needed to fill a bat tower for a particular scene in Myrtle. Aside from horns and bats (which I'll share better photos of soon when they're entirely finished) I've been doing brooms, baskets and candles.

Getting bored of seeing stills? Yeah, me too. I'm going to do some tests with new macro lens, motion control camera slider etc at the weekend and share here if I get a chance. 

Here's a glimpse into my workspace for the time being. ;)

Monday, 24 September 2012

Standing on the backs of Giants

As the 12th century philosopher Bernard of Chartres put it, "nos esse quasi nanos, gigantium humeris insidentes, ut possimus plura eis et remotiora videre, non utique proprii visus acumine, aut eminentia corporis, sed quia in altum subvenimur et extollimur magnitudine gigantea."

...translated from Latin...
"We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size. "

It's often misquoted as 'standing on the back of genius'. Today would have been Jim Henson's birthday. He was one of my major influences - the genius I stand on the back of, the great inspiration in my life.
He was the reason I looked for fairies in the copse behind my house and water nymphs in the river Thames... the reason I built a cardboard cinema when I was 9 to show the films I'd written, the reason I chose a film degree at university... and finally an inspiration behind my own fairytale book and TV series ('The Hidden World' - in progress).

Influenced and inspired by such works as 'The Storyteller', 'The Labyrinth', 'The Dark Crystal', 'Dinosaurs'... my aim has always been to do great things within entertainment. To create worlds and stories which are fantastical, enchanting and unique. Take a look at the pictures below; the Jim Henson influence is definitely there in my work!

Happy Birthday Jim.

By the way, the above image of goblins from The Labyrinth was a drawing of mine using watercolour pencils when I was 19. It did it for fun in my dorm room at uni when I should have been focusing on an essay. ;)
Below are images from my own project 'The Hidden World' and images from Jim Henson's work with Jim himself grouped in with The Dark Crystal pictures...

See more images of my concept artwork here and more sculptures here.

Monday, 10 September 2012

My Sketchbook - Designing Miniature Sets

As many of my readers are aware, I am living in New Zealand at the moment, working full-time as a miniaturist with my own business - Pixie Dust Miniatures - which supplies miniature scale set pieces for films and music videos and scale miniatures for collectors all over the world. When I'm not dealing with admin for my company or indeed working through commissions, I work on my first short film - 'Myrtle the Witch' (more posts about this here). The sets are built in one inch scale (12 times smaller than real life), as are the handsculpted clay characters, and the rest is being done with a little visual effects magic.

I dug out some of my notebooks from my suitcase as I am starting on Myrtle's kitchen this week. I'll be making it in sections so we can get the camera in there and I'll be working in MDF, foam-core, clay and other mixed media. It'll be pretty cool - can't wait to make some headway!
Decided to share some of my earlier designs - they're seriously rough though. I am able to do super detailed beautiful pencil sketches... but when I get really excited about simply getting a design down on paper right away, this is what you get. Better (more finished) artwork will be shared soon.... ;)

If you can tell from my rough drawings (including a bird's eye view angle below), Myrtle lives in a roundhouse a little like the ones my ancestors built in Iron Age Britain before the ruddy Romans came along. It's in a forest and built among trees, with many of the trees weaving into her home and incorporated as furniture. Don't know much about roundhouses? Then I suggest you acquaint yourself with the works of the devastatingly gorgeous and fantastic Neil Oliver (sigh) and find out more. Really quite fascinating.

Oh, and in other news, I got a (custom made) motion control camera slider over the weekend.... damn exciting... already done some tests shooting miniatures - may share some in a few days.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Poison, Rain and Dire Straits

Bolted out of bed early after 4 hours sleep and I feel damnably awake - you'd think I add speed to my tea. Up to my elbows in clay since 8 am and working through commissions fast so I can focus on 'Myrtle'....

Over the weekend I got a little work done on it. Made poison pies (plus extras arranged on slate boards for collectors) and tested (played with) new tools (toys) such as a brilliant dremel kit with more attachments than Inspector Gadget. I also met Alan Lee over at the Weta Cave.... Wasn't star-struck any of the times I met James Cameron, but I meet Alan Lee and forget my name halfway through introducing myself.

Being British, the weather has to get a mention and here in Wellington New Zealand it's been wetter than a mermaid's brassiere. The wind's terrific as well - my apartment's been swaying back and forth, outer glass doors shattered in the wind and water's splashed up through the sinks and onto the walls. I just had to take some photos, and I've put them below comparing a picture of my balcony the day I moved in (July - which was winter here) with a snap of my balcony on Saturday (September - technically spring!)
Still, it's kind of exciting and loud weather like this legitimizes me playing Dire Straits at an unreasonable volume ;)

Wet and Windy Wellington.... (click on an image to enlarge)

Sunny winter................................................................Wet, wet, wet spring.... ;)

Friday, 7 September 2012

Magic Mushrooms and Concept Art Classes...

Been a great and amazingly productive week (or few weeks) over in my miniature filmic world. I started the week by attending a Concept Design Workshop here in Wellington which was taught by talented professionals working at Weta Workshop. It was eye-opening to see how talented most of my classmates were - some shockingly good stuff, although I found myself asking how many movies really call for this many aliens (aliens seemed to be the predominant theme in everyone's portfolio).

The class really was intended for people who want to work with Z-Brush and Photoshop to create concept designs (and I'm more of a hands-on paintbrush or clay type of girl) so I definitely took more from the class I attended back in LA taught by Jordu Schell. If anyone's in LA and wants to work in concept design / special effects, or even if you don't - take Jordu's class. He showed us hands-on amazing techniques for sculpting, drawing and maquettes - you can find his website here.

So here's some works in progress for my short film - 'Myrtle the Witch'. I've also been baking miniature clay tiles to lay flooring, baking clay bricks and cementing them to miniature towers.... this miniature world is really coming together.

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