I’ve never used replacement mouths for dialogue and was surprised at how little information there was to be found regarding methods to blend facial seams. In the end I did some very basic cloning. That’s fine when the puppet is stationary but I imagine it will be a little trickier when he’s turning his head and/or walking and talking. While I’d say this test was somewhat successful I don’t foresee using this technique to any great extent on this film.
It’s not easy coming up with an original monster. I’ve been thinking about what I wanted IT to look like for awhile and because IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA inspired this film it seemed natural that an octopus would be my jumping off point. However, I wanted to stay clear of anything that looked like Davy Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean, or any version of the Kraken. I wanted to avoid anything that resembled the hundreds of concepts for H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu and I did not want an oversized crab, lobster or similar crustacean. I did want something scary. I wanted to exaggerate the overall presentation in the same way Frank Frazetta did in his artwork, and I wanted something that hinted at the Creature from the Black Lagoon. There’s very little octopus left in the final design but after several weeks this is where I landed.
I normally don’t do motion tests on my skeletons before covering them with foam rubber which is not the smartest plan I’ll admit. Because my work space and animation space are one in the same it can be a bit of a challenge to set up for animating when I’m fabricating but I really wanted to play with this armature before going any further. It’s so much easier animating when you can see all joints. I’m a bit rusty but she moves pretty well for a first attempt.
I’ve never had a four-legged co-star in one of my films. I’ve avoided them in the past because they can be a bit of a pain to animate but I needed a foil for my main character and a dog made the most sense. I don’t usually sculpt over a finished armature because I like to leave myself the option of changing my mind when it comes to scale and/or design but with this puppet, I needed to be sure the sculpt fit the skeleton. I ended up machining a lot of pieces but the final assembly feels good.
I’ve spent a lot of time this week working on IT. You have to go back to HIVE for the last time I created something that wasn’t human and all the way back to BROKEN for something you might consider a monster. I was never that good at sculpting people but repetition leads to improvement and I think I’ve gotten better. Now I’m taking everything I’ve learned over the past 6 years and applying it to this new creation. I’ll be posting a series of stills showing the evolution of the design in the coming weeks.
This puppet will be seen from behind a desk so I chose to sculpt him from the waist up. He also only appears in 3 or 4 shots. This is my way of minimizing the amount of work that needs to be done. Having said that, I like the way this sculpt turned out.
It may not be the most exciting part of the process but the first mold for DRAIN is done and it’s lovely. This is a typical 2 piece mold using Ultracal 30 plaster. While the new film may have a simpler story it still has five characters and, being who I am, I will spend as much time on the minor characters as I do on the major ones. Between the sculpting, the molding and the building of the skeletons, I expect it will be 6 months before I’m ready to cast the puppets in foam rubber.
I recently came across an interview with Steve Johnson, a special effects make-up artist who trained under Rick Baker in the 80’s. He relates a story about sculpting the monsters for Poltergeist 2, about how he used to spend a lot of time working slowly and meticulously, making sure all his work was symmetrical and perfect. H.R. Giger, the man who designed the ALIEN and on whose designs Poltergeist 2’s creatures are based on, told him he shouldn’t think so much when he sculpts, that he should just get it all down as fast as you could. Johnson now swears by this method. Far be it from me to disagree with H.R. Giger so I’m giving it a go.
I was very happy to take part in an interview series put together by the Montreal Stop Motion Festival with many of the filmmakers whose projects screened at this year’s festival.
Two and a half years is a long time, especially this past two and half years. And yet it has gone by in something of a blur here in my little workshop. I can remember just about everything about the creation of FROM HELL HE RIDES, from its humble beginnings to the exhausting finish, by far the most challenging film I’ve ever attempted. So without further adieu I present … FROM HELL HE RIDES.