Category Archives: Set Building

Inside the Nest

mate-in-nest

The puppet lounges under her crocheted blanket inside of the completed nest.

The red nests in the trees on the meadow set have been constructed to be seen from the outside only. I also plan to have intimate shots of the main characters inside of their nest so I created a new nest interior with an open side. Using the existing nests as a reference point I wove together sticks with wire to form the frame and splayed out the sides to help avoid seeing any edges in the shots. Next I covered the inside in air drying clay. This clay cracks when it dries, so I filled the cracks with spackle and then painted the nest red.

nest-reference

Reference photo of the existing nest in the meadow set.

nest-weaving-sticks

The first step is to weave the foundation out of sticks and wire. Photo by Adam Hoffsette.

nest-starting-clay

After the framework is woven with the wire and sticks, it is filled in with more sticks that are secured with hot glue. You also see the start of the clay layer in this photo. Photo by Adam Hoffsette.

nest-full

A puppet in the completed nest with the green screen backdrop. Most shots will be completely inside of the nest. I have the green screen set up for the few that will show the meadow tree tops and other characters peering into the nest.

Advertisements

Building the Shore of the Sand Sea: Part Three

Screen Shot 2016-11-13 at 7.25.34 PM.pngThe shore of the sand sea is complete and animation has begun! The wave generating mechanism is working as I had hoped it would. It keeps the sand sea in the background moving. The waves crashing on the rocks in the foreground are animated with a variety of brushes, including a dusting brush used for drafting, a two inch paintbrush and a soft broom. Continue reading to learn how the wave generator was made.

wave-generator-mechanics

Four rows of plated steel slotted angles holding 1/8th inch threaded rod tipped with plastic have been installed under the perforated metal tables using 1/4 inch threaded rod. These can now be raised and lowered incrementally to animate the waves in the sand. Photo by Adam Hoffsette

wave-generator-all-levels

photo by Adam Hoffsette

wave-generator-metal-plates

From the top you can see the plastic shapes that will make the waves. Photo by Adam Hoffsette

fabric

The perforated metal tables are then covered with cloth that has been dyed to blend with the sand. Photo by Adam Hoffsette

adding-sand

Sand is poured onto the cloth.

smoothing-sand

The set is so large, I had to climb onto the table to smooth the sand in the center. Photo by Adam Hoffsette

sss-lighting-set-up-front

Here you see the lighting setup. 500 watt bulbs are bounced off of a sheet of foam core and grey paper stapled to the ceiling to throw diffused light onto the set. The pebbles that were sifted out of the sand were used to make DIY sandbags for stabilizing the light stands. Photo by Adam Hoffsette

lighing-behind

For lighting the translum backdrop, one LED flood light shines up through crumpled tracing paper to create a cloudy look. Photo by Adam Hoffsette

 

Building the Shore of the Sand Sea: Part Two

painted-rocks

Work continues on the shore of the sand sea. The tables are finished and the rocks and beach are complete. The large rocks are made of high density foam from Van Dyke’s Taxidermy Supply. They have been carved and painted with black paint. I laid out a path of drywall screws for my puppet’s magnetic feet to cling to and then covered all of the surfaces with black tissue paper from Dick Blick Art Materials. The rock surfaces were then painted using a sea sponge and grey acrylic paint to give the final textured effect.

working-on-rocks

The foam rocks are secured to the plywood bases with glue and nails. Photo by Emma Charles.

screws-in-rock

The drywall screws form a path in the foam rock for the magnetic puppet feet.

metal-underlay

Metal for the puppets to walk on is attached to the flat base before it is covered with tissue paper. Photo by Adam Hoffsette.

rocks-in-progress

Gift wrapping tissue paper is not recommended for this technique. We tried it after running out of the paper from Blick’s and it ended up looking like wadded up trash bags because it wouldn’t dissolve into a paper paste as needed. It did work well for forming some of the landscape though. Photo by Adam Hoffsette.

papering-in-progress

The rock surface is created using black tissue paper and glue mixed with water. Photo by Adam Hoffsette.

Screen Shot 2016-10-26 at 1.35.09 PM.png

Click to see a short papering demonstration where a blend of Elmer’s glue and water is brushed onto the paper with a stiff paint brush. The brush is mashed into the paper at the edges to dissolve it so they will blend with other layers. Filmed by Adam Hoffsette.

test_0002

The rock surfaces are all covered in tissue paper.

sponge-painting

Painting rock texture with light grey paint and a natural sponge.

Building the Shore of the Sand Sea

I am building the shore of the sand sea here in my Kansas City studio with the help of my two interns, Emma Charles and Adam Hoffsette. We had our first work day on Sunday and I am amazed at how much we accomplished together. And as an added bonus for the blog, they are both better about remembering to document what we are doing than I am.

Here is a sketch of the shore of the sand sea:

sand-sea-shore

The One stands at the shore of the sand sea.

Detail sketches of the wave generator and set construction plans:

We’ve been working hard to get all of this built and tested. Three tables will support five 24″ x 48″ sheets of perforated steel. This perforated steel is great stuff! It will work for both magnet foot anchors and T-nut foot anchors as well as for my crazy wave generator idea. The only down side is the cost. My generous Patreon supporters are helping to cover part of that. Thank you! I ordered the sheets from OnlineMetals.com.

Photos of us at work:

We tested my wave generator idea and I am very happy with the results. It worked a lot like I had planned and we made some important adjustments to the initial idea. Now I need to buy a lot of little bits of hardware to make it full sized! Note: The cherry print fabric will not be used in the final version. It just happened to be what I had on hand for testing. The final fabric will be the same color as the sand. Emma shot some photos and video of the tests and I edited those together to make a record of our session:

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 5.27.17 PM

We put spackle on the foam rocks that I had carved and painted the black undercoat. My next step with the rocks is to dry brush grey over that.

I purchased 500 lbs of paver sand to use for the sea of sand in May, hoping that it would be dried out by now. That was not the case so Emma spread it out on a cloth in the studio to dry so we can sift out the pebbles. My dog came downstairs to snoop around and decided the sand must be a little bit of outdoors brought inside just for her. She loved it so much she peed on it! I shooed her away quickly and removed the soiled sand.