Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Harvest - the movie

I sort of experimented with shooting this piece. I wanted to see what I could do with lighting, motion and editing. The piece - being a non-kinetic work - doesn't really seem a good prospect for a movie, but I wanted to see what I could do with it. I may have to try this again with future static figures.

"Harvest" 2011 by Tom Haney from Tom Haney on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Harvest" - 2011

My latest piece is about a man trying to pick a heart out of a tree. You could say he is looking for love, or something like, that but I will leave it up to your interpretations, (as I usually do). I did a simple sketch for this back in the summer, and actually made the head in July, right before I started on the Boxcar Fair figures. Click on the images for a better view. The tree is fabricated out of branches I found on the banks of the Ohio River, near Cincinnati. The base is a piece of driftwood also found on the river, down near Evansville. All hearts were found at various antique shops. And I made the "picker" from a dowel and some wire I formed into the shape of a hand. I remember picking apples in my grandfather's backyard when I was a kid. We used a very similar device, though it was not in the shape of a hand.




The movie... watch full screen.

Thanks for looking!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It is out! "Boxcar Fair" - the video

See it here. It's been months in the making and finally it has been completed, (and the credits added to the end).

We shot the 2 1/2 minute video in one continuous take. There were SO many variables during shooting, that even the day before I wasn't sure it was even possible. The biggest problem was the High-Diver. She kept getting tangled. The solution was to eliminate 4 of her 8 strings. This limited her ability to move but we had no choice. Marionettes don't do well when you turn them upside down. And she really made this fact obvious. Also, she, and the other 2 string puppets, had 9 feet of string between them and the operator. This makes them pretty difficult to operate because much of it is done by feel. My hat's off to our puppeteers for sticking in there and getting the job done! Bravo!

Now on to the next project..........

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Production Stills from Boxcar Fair Video Shoot

Here are many great images of our video shoot last Friday, Nov. 5th, photos by Rich Addicks.

Everything came together nicely - we built the set in about a week and had 3 live performances with Little Tybee on Saturday night.

The day of the shoot we had many run-throughs and shot the video - which was one continuous 2 1/2 minute shot with no edits - about 30 times. We got our perfect shot and I will post it here soon, it's pretty amazing and the song is great too.

My hat is off to our wonderful puppeteers - Raymond Carr, Lee Bryan, Amy Rush and Mauree Culberson. Arthur Thompson also help puppeteer and was an invaluable help with building the set and making props. Paula Joerling, my wife, helped build props and was in charge of our dry ice effects. Eric Cortina supplied the decorative lights in the Fortune Teller's tent. Kerry Sisselman built all of the palm trees and Paula tweaked them. Mary Avery collected bags of leaves that Arthur crushed up and sifted - we used them for texture on the set.

Also thanks to Andrew Kornylak for his lighting and shooting skills and making it all look so beautiful. Andrew was assisted by Brett May, who also work as our dolly grip.

Thanks for all of your help!!!

An overall shot showing the 40' x 6' set, the bridge up above for the puppeteers, and the track and camera dolly.

The Explorer marionette at the beginning of the shot. The backdrop was digitally painted by Ram Bhat.

The Boxcar Fair sign with small tent in background. We sprinkled the set with ground-up leaves to add texture, and added rocks collected from right outside the studio.

The small tent. I built 2 small (3") trapeze artist figures inside that form a heart shape as the Explorer walks by. The figures were operated by strings from below, and back-lit with a small red light.

The High-diver Girl - the next character the Explorer encounters.

Me tweaking the High-diver marionette. You can see the 2 small spotlights I added to illuminate the diver.

The Anglerfish - I finished his eyes, which move, and added the light.

The sign outside the Fortune Teller's tent.

The Fortune Teller's tent - the front of it rolled up as the camera panned across it.

We used a mirror for the crystal ball. The heads turned - an improvement suggested by one of our puppeteers - and their arms were operated by rods from below. I took 3 people to operate these 2 figures.

We threw in a little pyrotechnics.

A shot of the mouse in the tent.

Detail shots of the Explorer.....

....and Fortune Teller.

The "mouse run", which is directly below the Fortune Teller's tent. This was made from plywood and foam, covered with paper mache and painted. Each cubbyhole was lit with a tiny light and propped out with my collection of stuff - keys, light bulbs, coins, bones, etc etc.

A wider shot of the scene.

The ornate Elephant.

The ending shot of the Explorer and the Elephant, and the moon.

Stay tuned for the video..........

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Video Project Live Performance...

For one night only we will have a live performance of Boxcar Fair, November 5th, Atlanta GA.
More details here .

Monday, October 3, 2011

Video Project with Little Tybee - Phase 6 - The Elephant

The last of the major marionettes for our video project.

Since the Anglerfish turned out to be so labor intensive, (nothing I do is ever easy), I decided to use a different method when building the elephant. I knew I wanted it lightweight, and after experimenting with some tape and paint finishes on styrofoam, I knew foam was the way to go. I chose aluminum tape, the kind they seal ducts with, and applied it in strips, papier mâché style.

Click on the images for a larger view.

Sculpting the foam - I used two kinds because that's what I had on hand, and the pink stuff worked better for the legs and trunk.

The head and articulated trunk pieces.

The legs covered with the aluminum tape - so shiny!

Close up of the tape pieces.

The head and trunk; after aging with raw umber paint mixed with gel medium.

The pieces aged; drying. You can see my test piece in the upper right hand corner.

The underneath, showing the axles for the legs.

All put together. I added the ears and eyes last. And next I will add all the strings.
The elephant turned out to be more of a baby elephant, which was much better for the scale we're working in, and a smaller elephant was the perfect size when paired with our Wanderer.

The "backpack" or howdah, though technically a howdah is for people and not necessarily luggage, which will be the case here.

The jhool, or textile covering adds cushioning to the howdah. And looks great.

It was suggested by Brock, my collaborator, to add some things dangling on each side and I thought, "why not just pack the elephant full of things, as if going on a journey?" I really like the idea that this may be the beginning of a journey for our characters.

As you can see, our elephant is outfitted with many accoutrements - all packed up for the journey.

More details. I really like this shot.

A front view showing the sehri, or forehead covering. I decided to have the trunk strung up underneath and not controlled by the puppeteer - though it does sway from side to side.

More details, which I think add a lot to the feeling of the piece.

Close up of the luggage etc.

Now onto the small mouse, and all the other props - especially those in the Fortune Teller's tent. And the tents. And the signs. And, and, and..........

Monday, September 19, 2011

Video Project with Little Tybee - Phase 5 - Anglerfish

This is one of those projects that sounds simple when you first approach it and turns out to be way more work than you thought. Sure most projects, or pieces, are like that but this one kicked my butt.

I dove right into making the fish, based on my full-scale drawings. I cut and bent a section of hardware cloth and tried to create the fish's shape on the fly. After a few hours of frustration, I decided I would never get the shape I was after.
I thought it would help to sculpt a small model out of foam and create a pattern from it's form. This made more sense. After creating a shape I was happy with, I made a small paper pattern, doubled it, and then blew it up on an opaque projector. I spray-mounted the full-sized pattern to the hardware cloth and proceeded to cut it out.
Cutting out the hardware cloth and stitching it back together proved to be very challenging - and painful. The sharp ends seemed to be constantly scratching and cutting my hands as I wrestled it into shape. Once that was done, I figured it would be simple to hot-glue on all the little bits of plastic paraphernalia. I underestimated the amount of stuff I needed to cover the surface and was constantly searching for more stuff to glue on. I thought it would take one day to glue all the pieces on and it ended up taking 2 and a half. I was so looking forward to painting it all one color and aging it down. Maybe I was impatient with the gluing, but it seemed to be an endless job.

Here are my in-progress pics, click them for a larger view........

The form of the anglerfish starts to take shape. I added a couple of pieces of wood to help hold the shape.

The top and bottom part of the mouth. You can also see the pink foam model I used to create the pattern.

The small paper pattern I got off the model.

Starting to cover the fish with plastic pieces, which I used to add texture.

Almost done. There's a hinge for the mouth, and the eyes will move, and the fin will flap.

All covered. I couldn't wait to cover all of this mess with one color. I figured out I used at least 500 buttons and I have no idea how many other pieces.

A close up of some of the pieces.

A small test piece I made so I could play with the color and aging.

The top piece painted. Here I'm adding the teeth which are made from a plastic milk bottle.

The bottom, with the teeth added.

The tongue, covered in a generic variety of Cheerios.

Front view of the anglerfish.

This is probably the view we'll see the anglerfish in the video.

Another view. I still have to finish the eyes and add a light out front - it is an anglerfish after all.

A close up of the pieces after painting and aging.

Now on to the tents and props for the Fortune Teller's scene.......