Peter: Just a final thank you again to Big Irv’s and everyone who came – great time had by all! I’m posting the program below and encourage you to look up your favorite films/filmmakers to learn more! Most of the shorts can be found somewhere or other online, so relive and share the love!
Peter: It’s here! My title sequence for the “Salty Toons” animation show at Big Irv’s Gallery, which I curated and hosted this past weekend. I was so excited to create something that emulated the dark and gritty tone of the films that were screened, and to have a chance to do some mixed media stop-motion photography (it’s been 5 years since my last stop-mo film!). This was also the first time I used DragonFrame software and shot with a DSLR camera (courtesy of Andy London) which made everything beautiful – make sure to set the Vimeo player to HD resolution!
And since I always enjoy looking back on the process of making a film and seeing the similarities and differences between original ideas and final result I thought I’d post some storyboards, sketches and behind the scenes photos from the 2 weeks of start to finish production.
Below are the original boards, which include an alternate beginning involving making popcorn on top of the salt-machine (boards #1-8). I decided to scrap this portion when I realized the story was more about the journey of the salty mixture:
(click to enlarge)
Here are some early concept sketches of the salt machine and basement set (as well as the film’s well-worn supplies list). I usual do more sketching for films but my schedule was so tight on this that I ended up running with most of my initial ideas:
Below is the basement set before the dead plants and dirt floor were added. While there are lots of little details included that may not completely register to the viewer in the brief moments they’re on screen, I do think they subconsciously get recognized and contribute to an overall reality. Plus the more detailed the set, the easier it was for me to feel inspired and immersed in the environment while shooting:
Set lighting is VERY important (as is a good camera). I used regular 40w party bulbs and desk lamps, nothing fancy, but I spent a LOT of time readjusting and getting the lighting right. I was heavily inspired by Italian horror director Dario Argento‘s older films which were often bathed in over the top technicolor lighting. Just check out the before and after difference:
The room where I shot everything was a mess of homemade solutions to get the desired results on screen – you can see I put a blue t-shirt over my globe light to add some cooler toned diffused ambiance, and I separated the colored lightbulbs on top of the set with cardboard beer cases to keep the colors from bleeding together and to help define them better in-camera. I don’t think you’d ever know that looking at the final shot:
Lastly, I went back over some of the footage and animated flames and flowing salt goop by hand (frame by frame) using Flash. After I roughed out the animation, everything was cleaned up and then composited onto the original footage using After Effects:
Finally, all that was left was the sound design – which can really make or break a film. I set the tone with this great version of “In the Hall of the Mountain King” by Trent Reznor that had a lot of distortion and electronic interference, which suited the style of the footage really well and helped set an audio direction. Having a partner who is a professional film sound designer was also pretty helpful. We sat down together and figured out ways to include subtle sound effects that complimented and integrated with the soundtrack. There’s a lot of film projectors, record players, television tubes, static and even some deer rutting calls and a cash register!
And so that’s how I made a 1 minute film in 2 weeks! Looking back on it, it was a lot of work but extremely fun and gratifying. Now I can’t wait to start something new!
Hey everyone! Big Irv’s gallery has invited me to host a FREE feature length showcase of my favorite dark, bizarre and award-winning animated short films as part of their Sunday movie nights program on April 7th, 7pm at 381 Hooper St, Brooklyn NY.
For one night only, come witness a selection (from past and present) of killer animation styles and warped content including drugs, sex and varying degrees of mental insanity. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wish you didn’t bring Grandma.
Featuring films by:
Twins Are Weird
and many, many more!!
Did I mention it’s FREE? Some filmmakers will be in attendance for a post screening Q&A. Mature language, violence and sexuality throughout. Don’t bring Grandma. Seriously. Unless she’s really, really cool.
Peter: With the “Too Art for TV 6” gallery show concluded, I thought I’d post my two pieces here for anyone who couldn’t make it – with both the before and after “red decoder” effect as seen through red glasses provided at the exhibit.
Phantasmagoria I (frame not shown)
Phantasmagoria II (frame not shown)