Updated: Aug 14, 2019
It has been a long time since I did an update of my 2 minute film. This has been due to prioritising and focusing on producing work for the NHS until May, and since the completion of the NHS project, I have been entirely focusing on producing my film while balancing moving house and having a job. These aren't excuses, simply explanations.
Instead of making many individual posts about different parts of production and post-production, I'm going to do one large one as I have now completed the project. I may not have been updating my blog, but I have continued to take pictures of my process and issues I have come across during.
My last post was about my armature, so I will continue from were I left off.
Once I had cut the metal pieces and the K&N to the desired shapes and sizes, I soldered them together to create strong armature pieces. Using 0.45mm double cotton covered tinned copper wire and 0.71mm aluminium wire, I twisted and shaped into the shape for my puppets hands.
Using 2mm aluminium wire, I twisted two long pieces together with a clamp and drill, creating a clean twist to the whole wire. I then estimated the lengths of wire I needed for the spine, arms and legs of my armature as I had not made the cast yet to be more accurate.
After I made my cast I realised that the metal pieces I had cut for my armature wouldn't fit inside the cast, so I made new pieces. At this time I was at home and not able to come into university, so I used a clean tin to cut the shapes of the chest plate and the waist plate, and epoxy to glue the K&S pieces to them. I then threaded the twisted wire through the appropriate pieces of K&S to form the arms, spine and legs.
I didn't glue the spine to the waist as I wanted to keep the torso and the legs separate to make life easier. While my torso would be cooking I would still be able to make the pants of my character and then simply slot and glue them together after.
After I did my first foam latex test, the armature fell apart as I worried that it would. The oven had melted the epoxy and the K&S and wire for the arms had completely come apart.
I was able to come into uni to cut and solder a new chest plate and waist plate that survived the oven in my final foam latex piece.
Glueing the waist and the spine together didn't work as I expected. I accidentally cut the spine too short before I put it in the foam latex, and once I did that I couldn't afford to go back and make a new one. I tried to solve this by using two pieces of K&S that fit into one another swell as the K&S on the was it plate. This worked for a time, but the wire spine wasn't long enough for the K&S to fit comfortable and maintain a strong structure. Ultimately, I used a joint from the armature kit and tightened the screws in order to make the waist and spine fit together and maintain strength.
During production, the torso became incredible wobbly at the joint making walking cycles incredibly difficult. In the future I can't afford to be careless with what I cut and when. I need to make sure that I leave excess pieces until I am 100% sure that it is what I need to do as the consequences effect the entire process.
I sculpted my puppet in three parts and them put them together and smoothed of the points at which they joined.
I first made the head using a picture of my Grandad, the inspiration for the film. Making sure to keep strong facial feature such as his nose, strong jaw line and his receding hair line. Second, I sculpted the hands. Finally, I sculpted the torso as my character wears a tank top. While speaking to Steven Dee, he advised that I put my individual parts together into one sculpture and make a single cast because the tank top would not hide the seams of the separate sculpts.
Two Part Plaster Mould
When I completed my sculpture, I went to the ceramics to make my cast. Liam came into uni to help me as I had not used plaster before. He advised me on what to do at each stage as I wanted to do everything myself to learn the process.
First, I used clay to build upto half of the sculpt for my two part mould. Then using wooden pieces, I bordered the sculpt and the clay and secured the wood with more clay on the outside joints. I smoothed the clay around my sculpt at half way in order to make a smooth side to the first part of the mould. I made two holes using the blunt end of a paint brush in order to make guides for the mould.
Using arodite powder and water, I used the guide to mix the plaster fully in the right proportions. Using the mixture in the ceramics room, I slathered my model and the clay before pouring into the mould so that when the clay solution hardened it would easily come apart. I left the solution for a day, and then repeated the process on the opposite side after removing the excess clay and adding more mixture to the plaster and model.
When I started to separate the two parts of plaster, I found it incredibly difficult as I wasn't strong enough or patient enough to do it gently.
Going against the advise from Liam, I asked Paul in the workshop to help me, and he used a chisel to separate the two pieces. This broke the plaster containing the upper body into two pieces going along the upper shoulders. I was disappointed in myself, but just had to deal with it and glued them back together using epoxy resin.
Using some washing up liquid and a paint brush, I tried my best to clean all the remaining clay from the cast. I used water at first not realising that it would sink into the plaster so quickly and make the mould moist and difficult to cook with.
With Steven Dee and Kenny in Masters, we tested several different release agents as the monster foam latex kit didn't come with any. We used vaseline, a release silicon spray, and the same mixture from ceramics that I used when I made my two part plaster mould.
To test the release agents, neither me or Kenny wanted to risk our own moulds, so we took some single piece moulds from ceramics (with permission) covered the interior with the respective 'agent' and poured the foam latex (mixed according to Ste's guide) into the moulds. We then left the moulds in the over for the rest of the day, and I returned the day after to see the results.
The foam latex with the ceramics mixture was very difficult to pull off and left a lot of residue on the mould itself. The foam model was ripped showing that the mixture wasn't a suitable replacement.
The silicon spray mould came out incredibly easily, although in hind sight I'm not sure if it was because of the shape of the mould being very smooth, or the spray entirely.
The vaseline worked mostly, with only a few bits sticking to the plaster moulds.
When I did my first foam latex model, I knew that I had done the mixture wrong as I accidentally poured too much of one agent into the mining bowl. When speaking to Mike he said that the first foam latex mould from a newly made two piece plaster mould would pull out out all the bits and pieces that cleaning couldn't do. I felt more confident after this conversation.
The foam latex model came out as I expected, full of holes and completely mixed wrong. Thankfully it did in fact pull a lot of bits of clay and dust I wasn't able to clean out. Sadly, my patience wore out during while i was opening the mould, and the small piece that originally broke, broke again. I glued the three pieces of the mould back together and did another foam latex batch.
I decided that if the seams of the break were too obvious, I would colour them as scars as it now went across the shoulders and neck of the model.
I did two more batched of foam latex before I successfully got a texture which I liked, swell as replacing the armature.
Painting The Model
Using liquid latex and various colours of ink, I mixed several colours for the models hair, eyebrows, skin and lips. I cut up a kitchen sponge to apply to liquid latex to the model in an even coat.
For the hair, I used masking tape to line the hairline along the face so that the dark brown wouldn't go onto the neck and face. I then put the tape along the hairline above the hair to paint the face. To do the eyebrows and lips I used a paint brush to dab the latex on.
To get a more realistic colouring for the cheeks and parts of the arms, I mixed a lighter shade of the skin colour and used it to highlight the cheeks and under the arms. I then mixed a darker colour to give the model the effect of a tan on his forehead, shoulders and forearms. I repeated painting the different colours in different orders to get an effect that I was happy with.
Clothings and Shoes
For the clothes, I got a bright orange top and a grey baby grow from a local charity shop.
From the top I cut out a simple shape for the pants of my puppet using the legs of my armature as a guide to the length and width. I had to make several sets of pants during production to get the right size and shape for the character. From the baby grow, I cut a rough outline for a tank top, which again I had to repeat multiple times to get the right size for my puppet.
The shoes for my character are made out of super sculpy which I baked in the oven to harden. I moulded them around the feet of my armature, so that the metal plates would be visible at the bottom so that the magnets would still work well during filming.