JULY 2011

JULY 2011

Postby Barry » Sat Jul 02, 2011 9:49 pm

July 2nd 2011

Oh wouldnt it be great if making an animated movie was simply about standing in front of a hot camera, wagglingy your dolly and hoping to tell the best story you can. Sadly the reality, on such low budgets, and with me in somewhat reduced circumstances, is very different. All the admin and planning and homework I have to do is one thing, but recieiving the money from Western Union (sorry, we don't have any cash, or sorry we've lost our password, or sorry you can try another branch......no, I'm sorry, Western Union, what is the point of your existence as a money transfer agent when you have no money to transfer?) has been a major event this week, consuming so much time. So many little things have got in the way of filming this week, just the smallest thing that a studio would take for granted, and if one thing is going to get me stressed is anything that stops me filming. And this week many things have stopped me film and I am very very stressed.

I'm also aware of coming to the end of the film, and that our little, and it is little, crew, will be split up now. Fourteen weeks together has been pretty intense, and for all my grumbles, I think we have produced something pretty extraordinary. Certainly something that belies our budget, schedule and facilities, and that's thanks to the crew above and beyond the call of duty. Not one of us has been on even minimum wage so I can only thank them for the long long long hours. It will be a fine looking film, and it will actually be very emotional though I am not sure I can define what that emotion is - Tchaikovsky certainly acknowledges his achievement. But I am quite moved myself just watching it, but am slightly frustrated now as I want to clean it all up, and get rid of the mistakes and glitches. Reshoots would be glorious but a total luxury - though I fear some of the spontaneity of the scenes would be lost. However hopefully I can squeeze in three reshoots for shots that don't work as clearly as they might, or for which I can improve the continuity.

I wish there was a tape recorder inside my head as I am filming, as for all the possibly astute writings in my two books, the clarity I have in my head as I animate frustrates me as I want to write about that. About just how a movement works. Oh it would be very anal and detailed. Maybe I should do a DVD. Forget the whole nonsense about 'you move it a bit at a time', let's get down to the real nitty gritty. Mind you that is so arrogant of me as some of tchaikovsky, and all my films actually is very ropey, but some is half decent. I keep having aspirations of ballet, but oddly, and this is ignoring the sheer technique and time necessary, some heavily artificial movements would jsut not work with puppets. I watch so much dance, and wonder how that would translate. Animation will always look like animation because of its fragmented technique, but we have to work within those confines. I'm perhaps frustrated that my attempts of ballet movement with Tchaikovsky have been limited to a lot of arm wafting, and I would love him to do a grande jetee but that might break what has gone before, and could I actually carry it off with conviction. I've been having very deep thoguhts about the very nature of movement. I like to think my business is movement, but certainly not up there with ballet. That we can get meaningful movement out of a puppet is an achievement - that we can sometimes do beautiful interesting movement is amazing. I'd like the facilities and schedule - hell budget, to be able to push what is capable with a puppet. In all my films i have only been able to scratch the veneer.
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Re: JULY 2011

Postby Peter » Sun Jul 03, 2011 9:40 am

С Днем Рождения - Пётр Ильич Чайковский (Happy Birthday from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky!)
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Re: JULY 2011

Postby Barry » Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:29 pm

July 9th 2011 - I think.

Thank you Peter and Pytor, it was indeed my birthday, but sadly nothing distinguished the day - except the weather. I'm blessed having a birthday in summer. Actually this was the first birthday I have spent in this country for a good while I think. My 50th yes, but I have usually been in Turin doing a week long animation course....but Italy is of course suffering cutbacks and the course vanished, and a most agreeable and financially beneficial week faded.

And so we have finished filming, with just two short reshoots squeezed in at the end, just to make things a bit clearer. I still have a way to go with the post production shared between London and Moscow, but that's the filming. I have enjoyed it enormously but have found it harder than ever, with just so much to do outside of the actual filming. Just having the necessary time to think through a shot has been darn nigh on impossible. The bar sheets have taken up most of my time, and learning the piano for what probably amounts to about five minutes of actual piano playing. Yes the whole music aspect has been exhausting, simply as we have had no-one to do the barsheets, and the musical score has only been an approximation of what was actually played. This rather did my head in, but I came away, as always, with an increased love for Tchaikovsky and his music. To some extent when working on the barsheets I had to rely on understanding the structure of the music, the patterns, and then relying on some sort of mathematics.

There is some animation that works beautifully - I'm still not satisfied with any of the numerous, oh so numerous walks, he did right across the set. Oddly, he seemed to have one foot that just did not magnetise as well as the other, or maybe it was just never flat enough. He had a forward hinge I believe, but not one that allowed for any sideways tilt. This made him unsteady on his feet. For his final apotheosis with the large swan I did think to have him jump up and hover in front of the swan, something that could easily happen with animation, but I couldn't break the physics of his world, the world I had established. If I had done this earlier, and let the audience know what to expect, maybe, but suddenly at the end to defy gravity might have destroyed what I had set up, or perhaps it would have been a spinetingling moment. I'll never know. Except instinct is a strong guide. And recovering from such an event would be dramatically difficult. If I could have left him floating in the air that might have worked, but I needed Tchaikovsky to walk out of the door as he walked in at the beginning.....damn structuralist! And perhaps some of the dance allusions to Swan Lake may not have been clear but there's definitely a mixture of piano playing, conducting, acting and ballet going on somehwere. From such limited facial mechanics I think I have managed to get a good range of expressions. There are some moments that I want to extend in post, but even after thirty three years of animating, getting the timing spot on is not a given. I rather rushed a crucial moment of Tchaikovsky finally wearing the much vaunted rose, but then I found a look as he walked away that really was so poignant and seemed to express the whole film in one look....i will try to make more of this in post. But generally I am happy with it so far. It certainly makes for some darn fine emotive stills.
With the dwindling amount of time spent on bar sheets I started an irritating habit of beginning to watch epics, and then not quite seeing them through. This week saw me watching the first 90 minutes of Lawrence of Arabia, Sahara, and Mutiny on the Bounty. Hopefully I will get back to see the final half.
So the lights have been switched off and I have to try to get the house back to some sort of order. Joe has gone and Justin will come and collect all the equipment, and that camararderie will have gone. And little Bob, the visiting studio cat will miss the attention. Joe and I celebrated with a take away pizza and a class of cold cider. A classy wrap party for two of us.
I shall need to give my back time to recover from this onslaught as well, and maybe start getting to bed before 1.30 now. Tchaikovsky himself did very well, considering the physicality I put him through. He may not have left the ground for even one frame, but he collapsed against the wall, he collapsed into the snow, he nearly through himself out of the set, he conducted, he played the piano, he shrunk from nymphomaniacs, he cuddled his friend Bob, and ran round that set, and much more, and all he suffered really was one broken finger and one thumb, and a tiny tiny nick in his eye - too much of an onslaught from my toothpick. His clothes still look great, though the ivory waistcoat, after some 18000 frames of me touching him, is less than pristine, and the blackwrap lining his flapping jacket has lost its flap, and one shoe has lost some of its leather.....but not a bad list of damages after such a one man show/epic. I think there is probably just ten or so seconds in which he does not appear.
But I won't to hurry on and do the post production. Not quite as easy as that. Watch this space.
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Re: JULY 2011

Postby Barry » Tue Jul 19, 2011 10:31 pm

July 19th I guess.

A manic crazy ten days, so this will have to be a quick precis....actually I am sat on the floor in a cooridor in a hotel in a house once lived in by Dame Edith Evans. This is the only place I can get wi-fi. But when last I wrote, the film had just wrapped, and that does seem quite a while ago. It took two long days to clear the studio, but the set is still standign there lookign magnificent, but a little sad. And daylight flooded the room for the first time in four months. I was running round like a headless chicken trying to catch up with life and get some order back into the house. One sunny afternoon I did manage some most enjoyable life drawing with a chum - oh how terrible am I. The faces just disappear and I tend to draw what is behind and using those shapes and textures to define the body in front as an excuse for bad drawing.
But I had not really got my breath back before Amanda and Peter were over, and we were heading down to my graduation in Stoke. Jo and Mandy also came, and the sun shone on us, and I rather enjoyed wearing a spectacular red gown and floppy hat. For some reason I can carry off a hat, even a floppy one with a tassle. And so I am a Doctor, but I confess I think I rather misconstrued the significance of the event. I assumed there would be a dozen or so Dcotorates to be done, but no, just me, walking next to the Chancellor and behind mace bearers. I fear my humble but rather sincerely felt speech was a little inadequate for the import of the afternoon. Jokes seemed inapropriate and quotes a bit glib. But we were so well looked after and beautiful gardens. A magnificent day actually, and I was very moved. I did laugh somewhat at me standing there having the official photo with the Chancellor and other dignitaries clutching my degree - well actually it was a piece of white drainpipe with a ribbon around it.
Fish and chips and champagne finished off that day nicely, and then next Amanda and peter and I were blown along the beach at Crosby very much enjoying the Antony Gormley figures in the sand again. The psectacle never fails to move me.
Then we had a rather magnificent day with our cousins, boating on the thames in splendid luxury. Fantastic.
I'd only been to the cinema to see my chum Paul's film, The Devil's Rock, except it got interrupted by Bridesmaids bursting onto the screen. But the film is one hell of an achievement.
And today I am now in london begining the post production on Tchaikovsky - darn there's a lot to do with only the two of us, but already it is looking amazing.
And tonight I went to see Betty blue Eyes and loved it.
Yes a frantic week and a half.
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Re: JULY 2011

Postby Barry » Sun Jul 24, 2011 10:48 am

July 24th 2011

And so thanks to Peter for a bigger, clearer website and I will be able to add more goodies, so hopefully we can get more people chatting away on here.

I'm back in manchester and feeling rather drained after four days on the post production on Tchaikovsky. Not just that really but the whole process of living and travelling in london in London is draining. I stayed in a hotel full of character (and stairs). Dame edith Evans had lived there, and Ian Fleming across the road. Mind you I can't imagine Edith Evans being quite so nimble up those stairs. I was in the attic.

Away from the work I managed to be vaguely social spending some snatched moments with Paul catchign up with his feature; with Vicky catching up with her LA trip to meet Kate and Wills (and a rather famous actor who tried to be most indelicate!); with Simon and much chat about shows past and Joan Greenwood; and with Noel, Ernest, Toshi, and the enthusiastic American lady in the hotel. And the American father in the hotel whose daughter was musing that there was nowhere in America where they spoke as nicely as me. Ah well.

And Tchaikovsky, well the picture is almost done, bar addign a few gold frames, and trying to match the colours. But snow is now falling, rose petals fluttering down, a few glitches sorted out, various shots have been reframed allowing a bit more intimacy with Pyotr, forgotten pencils removed from the set, missing frames restored, mixes added. Everyone who has passed has commented on how beautifully it is lit - thanks Joe and Justin. And the film races along. Can't wait to add sound effects.

And so I endured the friday night train journey back to Manchester and met with an empty house, and with a big question mark over what happens next. I did actually allow myself to sit and do nothing........that was odd, and I'm not sure I enjoyed that. I need to get my teeth into things straight away - after a good hoover.
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Re: JULY 2011

Postby Barry » Sat Jul 30, 2011 11:30 pm

July 30th 2011

An odd week really, and it has raced by, and I confess to a bit of a slump. After the manic manic last four months, suddenly I have nothing concrete to be doing, other than catching up ( a lot of that), and I rather fell to pieces a bit, at one stage going to bed at four in the afternoon on a real downer, and waking up at eight, and genuinely not being sure whether it was the evening or the next morning. having worked out it was the evening, and treated myself to a comfort movie (Earth vs the flyng saucers) I went back to bed and slept a further twelve hours.

However Bruce in London has been working on the picture of tchaikovsky, I've been battling with technology trying to get my Russian Visa( I'm losing so far), and have been talking about far off projects. However before all that i have to go to Budapest out of the blue suddenly on monday, just for three days to do a workshop. By the time I've paid for the taxi and such, that's the rather small fee gone. It is such a shame these days that work does not automatically equal pay.

However it is all about to get busy. This is a mad week ahead with Budapest and the screenign at Somerset House, then a week at home, and finally a week in Moscow.

Had a good visit from a student who chatted for hours, and then another student friend seems to have disappeared, which is rather out of character.

And it's been sunny, so all in all things are ok.
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