APRIL 2011

APRIL 2011

Postby Barry » Fri Apr 01, 2011 10:31 pm

April 1st 2011
Too emersed in tchaikovsky to notice any April Fools' first hand but I did like the finding of Puccini's lost opera, set in australia, featuring a soprano role called Kylea.

So yes the first week of filming, and we started on time, and have managed to get out a rather amazing 55 seconds. One day was rather lost as we did an epic wide shot with a lot of walking and rather busy acting, but it was too dark - just as well as said acting was a bit fussy. We've sorted this out and the reshoot was much better. I'm learning about the puppet, and which angles he looks his best. The hat, a rather heavy prop, looks magnificent on him, and I was rather reluctant to lose it, but it was necessary as it shaded his eyes, and I could not get to the pin pricks in his pupils and was loose, but worn at a jaunty angle, he looked very rakish. And today I did the shot where he put down his cane (likewise effective visually but a bum to animate) and remove his hat. I didn't want him to stoop to the floor but a clever bit of mime and it looks very convincing. An interesting shot that deviated from the board, and gave perhaps rather too much significant to the props. All very nice but then I think I ruined a long fourteen second shot by a terrible walk out of shot. Aaargh - walking in close up, not easy. Actually I have done a lot of walking so far in the shot, and he is blessed with beautiful long legs, and a stride reads very effectively, especially in long shot, where the increments are so small.

It is looking stunning, and working perfectly to the melancholy music, but the duff walk tonight rather through me, and jsut a few frames cause me, as usual, to doubt everything I have ever done and the very nature of animation. Yes that old chestnut - but maybe it just comes down to the fact that at this schedule I simply cannot get the standard and complexity or clarity of movement I would like - or maybe stop motion cannot provide that and I should be working in ballet - or more likely I'm just not capable of that movement.

Justin and joe have worked enormously hard under less than ideal circumstances in so many ways. One day we were joined by Alex for some works experience....he drew the short straw with some barsheeting. BUT, inspite of the circumstances, the pressure, the tiny budget, the quirks of my house, the quirks of me, the lack of equipment, the lack of decent wages we seem to be producing something rather beautiful so far.

And I have managed to squeeze in a bit of teaching, though not enough work on High Society.
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Re: APRIL 2011

Postby Barry » Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:09 pm

April 8th 2011

The end of the second week of shooting tchaikovsky and we have been very productive - though it is certainly is taking it's toll. We have got nearly two minutes - one shot has a bit of flicker, and I get a bit disappointed with every unexpected twitch which is a hazard of stop motion. I would love to eradicate all this but with this schedule, and shooting in my house, we can't hang around or have the facilities to get it as perfect as I would like. We do tend to watch the cutting copy on the screen from a distance of just a few inches, scrutinising every frame....and some frames do not bear such scrutiny, but taken as a film, it's working very well. Today we shot the first big image, and it looks great and very striking. One thing I am having problems with is the barsheeting...well the time it takes for a start, and I'm not sure I can distinguish every not on my limited software. I've done some piano playing today and it seems to work but much of it is guess work and a bit of maths. I would like to get it absolutely right though. I'm enjoying it all - it's all the other stuff that is not getting my attention that's aggravating and casuing much tension. Simply, I can't catch up. But darn, we have some good images.
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Re: APRIL 2011

Postby Barry » Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:12 pm

April 15th 2011

A tough week but much of my own making. Whilst shooting a very heavy film did I really need to direct and design a big musical - no, but I wanted to, and I did commit long before the film was finalised, and with a lot of juggling, late hours, gicing up other things such as eating and swimming, I can do it. That would be all well and good, but it does not help me whne half the cast do not turn up. Some have valid excuses but really if you can't make the rehearsals you shouldn't be doing the show frankly. It's so, well, so unprofessional. I've had three rehearsals this week and they have been a bit of a joke really. Some good work done but not enough.

This has not got in the way of the film which has motored on nicely. We did a very nice hands on in front of the camera effect that may have a few people wondering how that was done. Very satisfying. But then I have to do a reshoot, only three seconds, for some detail I nearly got right but didn't quite - and many of the audience will have picked up on it. I know this is not a historical documentary but this detail I should have thought through. So a reshoot will have to be done next week, but oddly it has had a devestating effect on me, and rather knocked my confidence. I did two shots today - one of a walk that was a little wobbly, and then a shot of Tchaikovsky walking past the camera onto his podium and turning 270 degrees to start playing hte piano. Try as I might the puppet just stayed a lump of silicon and cloth, and I could not get him to his focus mark. I tried again making it simpler and didn't get through the shot, and suddenly everything in my head started to fall to pieces. Every film has one of these moments - something deceptively simple and I just could not do it. I was worried that he was, when walking past the camera for so long, out of focus and then he seemed to be all back and no front. I'll pull myself together over the weekend, but it was not great animation. I'm breathless from it all as I am just ahead of myself and there is so much still to sort out, and the barsheeting......aaargh! But getting the detail wrong upset me, and made me nervous in case people start to see this as a documentary rather than an elegy or fantasia upon a theme. Still we have done some good shots.

Among all this was no teaching but I did do a big talk in Bradford College - a bit of a mad race over there and then back for filming and then rehearsing. I'm enjoying being back at the theatre again, and I enjoyed the production of Abandoment this week, and we are already getting excited about some plays from next season (and there's a part I would kill to act), but I simply don't have time enough.

All this and many other things - no swimming and no late night DVD's certainly no sitting doing nothing.
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Re: APRIL 2011

Postby Barry » Fri Apr 22, 2011 10:34 pm

April 22nd 2011

Crikey it's quiet in here.....any chat very welcome, guys.

Anyway here we are on day 20 of shooting Tchaikovksy, and we have three minutes and ten seconds - that's about nine and a half seconds a day - not that we should measure by the footage shot, but we are working to a relentless schedule. Sometimes I worry that I lean on this tough schedule too heavily as an excuse for allowing some less impressive animation through. I hope not. I would love a more relaxed schedule, well not relaxed but a schedule that would allow me to finesse and correct and plan and improve. At the moment I do what happens and go with it. We did have a reshoot this week but that was for technical reasons. Tchaikovsky has given me a few surprises along the way and some good ones at that. I did one shot of him spinning across the whole set to a piece of Nutcracker and it looks so natural, but that belies the sheer hard work. Wide shots are definitely an animators friend as animation looks so much better as the increments are so small relative to the screen. Of course as he span he did not leave the ground as I neither have the time for rigs nor the budget for rig removal, but with a bit of cunning deception he looks quite fleet of foot. I did an impressive piece of piano playing today with the puppet - something I could certainly not do in real life. Aren't I lucky to have worked with the likes of Shakespeare, Verdi and Tchaikovsky.

It certainly has been a hard week, and fresh financial disasters have greeted me, and though the debtors prison doesn't seem far fetched, i will go there with a good slection of cakes that have been provided by various people this week. Thanks guys. Two students, May and Ash, came for a day each and were enormously useful - especially as they came armed with buns and easter eggs. Is it an animators luck to be beyond broke?

I am literally on days ahead of myself on both the film, and the rehearsals for High Society. Panic just a breath away.
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Re: APRIL 2011

Postby Barry » Fri Apr 29, 2011 11:16 pm

April 29th 2011

Crikey, what a week, a week of ups and downs. However cynical I might have become, I did so enjoy the Royal Wedding today. Beautifully staged managed theatre, with a great cast who seem to mean it. A thoroughly good natured warm extravagant event. Obviously a tragic shadow hung over it, but it was a great day. Well done. I was filming as it happened and had to keep sneaking out of the studio to watch the key moments. I'm not sure Joe shared my enthusiasm, though Justin was sat glued.

Of my week, the financial side of things has just got worse, the car has gone as well which will make things rather impractical. In a nutshell I can simply not afford to keep going, but keep going one must. Terrible times and I don't know how soon or even how I can recover. But these worries are affecting my work sadly which I hate. I had a bit of a melt down on set on thursday. I was in such a state about things, that my hands were just producing rubbish. The most essential quality for animation is concentration, and I couldn't concentrate, fretting about what could happen and the appalling state I am in. It was not a particularly hard shot......it was tchaikovsky dancing, and the day before I had done an epic shot of him waltzing all ober the set. this was just a few steps, in a tighter shot which was part of the problem, but I kept starting again and again, and I was falling to pieces. This is when I needed to be recorded or filmed as some real insights into the fragility of the creative process would have been seen. Frankly I was in a mess, and trying not to show it as we had a student with us, and I certainly did not want to show any chinks in the armour there, but actually the armour just fell to pieces. I got the shot done and it was OK, but not brilliant. The next shot was fine. I think part of the problem is that I just have so many other things to do, things that would usually be done, on a film with a larger budget, by other team members, and this prevents me from actually thinking through my shot till I have my hands round the puppet. And then panic seeps in. Having time to think, by myself, is a bit rare at the moment. However, we have produced some mighty fine work this week, and in spite of dramas by the end of shooting today, which was a short day, we had four minutes finished. Four minutes in five weeks is not bad. I'm particularly pleased with a shot of Tchaikovsky taking a real rose out of a photographic image. An unavoidable blemish gavies it something rather special. I'm really getting to know the puppet now.....his left leg is less fun to animate for some reason, and he definitely has certain angles when he looks even more beautiful. I did get a bit of a shock once this week when I caught him seemingly looking right back at me. His eyes were so focused and his attitude suggested his attention was caught. Exciting and disturbing.

And High Society is slowly taking shape - slowly. It will sound good even if the action on stage is a little haphazard and erratic.

But oh give me a decent wage!
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