February 28, 2013

That is what I was thinking...

This is Lindsay Sorrel, another artist working in one of the plus+15 windows during this CAOS project. I decided to update some of my website, I put a new cover image and a news item for the NUDE drawing show I am in this week-end. Brianbatista.com
I finished all the horse model shots so now he is in the last frame position and back in the window until the end of the month. We had to use a larger part of the day yesterday shooting some segments for the crowd sourcing project for matching funds on Calgary YYC. Visit and share this page: http://www.investyyc.com/projects/view/71
Inside my tiny space I set up this little area in front of the green screen to do the interview. The video will be posted on the above linked page. I did 50 other things from reporting and doing the paperwork necessary for this project to getting supplies and teaching canvas building and prep drawing to aboriginal youth as part of an after school program I am doing with USAY (Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth).
Far from burning out, I am excited to be starting in on an entirely new scenes this morning.  Before I do, I can revel in the sheer amount of accomplishments I achieved yesterday while I warm up my creative engines.

Thanks for reading and following me on this journey.

February 27, 2013

Sneak peek - Toward Post production

You can get a sneak peek and even get a credit in my movie. Here's how....
Here is a quickly chroma keyed horse. I need to hand erase the posts in each and every frame then drop in my background effects, do editing and sound on my piece. If you read an earlier post you will have seen a bit of what I'm up to with backgrounds and special effects, this thing is going to be a monster in the edit suite. Come down and visit me in the UAS +15 Window Gallery and see how my stop-motion animation is made!

Click here to help!

More reason to support "In the Beginning...."

Calgary YYC will match funds we raise for the project, if you donate on our crown sourcing site you will not only help me to get my post production done, but you will also support three other great animation by 3 more artists.

Get your name as a credit for your support on my film here.

Do it now! 


February 26, 2013

Its hot in here

......this tiny little space has no fresh moving air and it really heats up during my animation sessions.

Epcor centre for the Performing Arts - UAS +15 Window Space Gallery
Here is the powerbar I've had from my dad since I was a young boy. I had to rig an ingenious set up in this small space. I used an old Ikea curtain rod attached to the ceiling as a bar for the green screen and lighting, as well I have this power box and the cables tucked neatly away near the ceiling space.

Here is the hanging when I first got into the space. Lots has changed as I progress after the first month of production on this project. Almost at the half way point already.

 Here you can see the horse I am working on in front of the green screen backdrop.
This moody pic I title: "Silence of the phant"
Here is a view from outside my fish bowl. The monitor in the middle shows a live feed from my laptop while I am working and shows my frame by frame process as well as the exposure sheet. I do this when the black curtain is closed and you cant see what is going on. I need the black curtain so that I don't get florescent light spilling in from the hallway compromising the image quality.

February 22, 2013

Shooting special effects

This was a fun but of experimentation.
If you can believe it I did this by squirting ink into a fish tank and then layering it in After Effects.
The devil is in the details. I layered it and darkened the blacks using curves. Then I added a luma key to drop out the black entirely. The ink was originally red and blue. I added a couple of keyframes using the change colour to effect to make it more dynamic. Near the end those effects are entirely playing with the light on set.
I borrowed and cleaned this cracked fish tank Ray had laying around. It needed a bit of love and a really good scrubbing. Then eventually I took multiple trips back and forth to the sink to fill it with super ice cold water and some bleach.
I made sure I had everything I needed close at hand. I set it up in front of the big black backdrop I previously painted. I put some buckets under the folding table to fortify it in case it collapsed under the weight of the water. I had extra towels ready since it leaks a bit. I set up my Canon DSLR to take HD video and got deeper than my elbows into the special effects photography.
To light particles in air or water you must have a hard light source coming from the rear. This is 3/4 cross lit from the back at a high angle. When I get my camera set up just right you cant tell it is a tank full of water. I'm not going to give away everything I shot or how it will be used yet until my project is further along. A guy's got to keep some mystery :)
Needless to say, I am very happy with how it turned out, it went better than I expected though it took a lot longer than I anticipated. This is the part that really slows down the process, filling and draining the big tank of water. I'm glad I selected the smaller tank. The bigger one would have taken forever to fill and drain. I still have to shoot another session with this set up in the next few weeks for some additional elements like smoke and fire. I cant wait.

February 20, 2013

Testing my lenses

I wanted to get a sense of what the three lenses I currently have form my Canon T3i are capable of. My T3i DSLR does not use a "full frame" sensor. That means I have some cropping or what they refer to as a multiplier. I think its about 1.5.This means my 50 mm. lens will behave on this camera body more like a 75mm lens on a full sized sensor camera.
I wanted to get a sense of focal length and cropping on the composition. I left the camera on the tripod in a fixed position. I focused on a piece of paper hung in the same position in each shot to see how each lens with different focal lengths focuses. I set up my camera on the very busy side wall of the class room at Quickdraw Animation Society.
We will start with my zoom lens that came with the camera when I bought it. It is an 18-55mm lens. This is zoomed out at the furthest out setting (Z 18) in order to see what the largest field of view is.  There is a bit of blurring at both front and back objects.
Next, I zoom in with the 18-55 mm. (Z 35) to create a medium shot with this lens. The background is more blurred and seems truncated in space.
Here is the 18-55 mm. (Z 55) zoomed in all the way. The frame is a fraction of what it was when it was zoomed out.
My 50mm. lens is my prime. It has a fixed focal length and does not zoom.It is a similar framing size as the 18-55 mm allt he way zoomed in. However the depth of field blurring is far more pronounced. This is a better choice when I want to blow/blur out the background in a shot at this focal sdistance.
Finally the 40 mm. pancake lens. It has a much wider field of view. It is rather close to the 'medium shot" of the 18-55 mm but has a lot more blurring in the background.

Background prep for special effects

I spent my entire long week-end in the studio working on some new stuff. It was exciting to be trying this new technique out.
 I rolled out some Canvas for the backdrop.
 I stapled it tight to the wall and began painting it flat black.
I set up a table in front of the painted black drop to place a fish tank for some of the effects shots.
AT the far end of the canvas I shot the paint being applied to the surface. I set up time lapse photography on my computer and began having fun making a lot of drippy messiness. This is the end result of the messy process. On the screen it will look like a painting coming to life over a short period of time. I will use this as some texture on some of my layers.

February 18, 2013

Slap some paint on it

I worked in my studio slapping some paint on some of the props I will be using in my animation residency project.
You may remember the elephant from a previous post, well he got his tusks, toe nails and eyes treated with silver leaf for starters.
I rubbed some black all over him and then covered him in copper again but much more loosely.
Once you pour the ammonia over the copper not much seems to happen, it just looks wet.
A minute later it starts to patina and looks like this.
This patina is very fragile and I learned through trial and error you cant really put a protective coating over it without jeopardizing the integrity of the material sadly. it has to be brittle to stay beautiful. Hopefully it doesn't degrade too much while shooting.
I also brought in the pair of mannequin hands for a pink palm treatment. They will get another coat and detailing soon enough.
I also used the same colour on the bottom of the foot.
And did a first coat on the nails. The paint wears off nicely through movement making them look aged and chipped, just the look I am usually after.

February 17, 2013

Horsing around

To my amazement I am renewed with vigor with my project and super stoked about the gear and Dragonframe capture program. I spent some time re-arranging my set up and took a bunch of stuff out of the space and to the studio for painting.
Here is as empty as it will be for the month this long week-end as I spruce up items in the studio to be returned tomorrow and revamped for the CAOS media Release on Tuesday morning.
I was horsing around, got a few hundred out of 666 frames shot of the horse walking. The space gets really hot with the lights and I shut it down for the evening taking the majority of the gear with me to set up in the studio to work on the effects shots this long week-end.
I snuck in a quick visit to the Telus Spark science centre for some inspiration. First to visit my pal Ola as she hosted a felting creature event in the exhibition hall, so cool. The show is all about animatronic effects for Hollywood. Fitting/good timing for my project. There was an original 1930's Willis H. O'Brein stop motion armature on display. DINORIFIC!

February 15, 2013


Not the skin thickening disease........ something much nicer.
The transformation of my elephant mannequin.
Here is the little guy after assembly. He has a dark brown wooden finish and is fairly glossy. I animated him  doing a walk first on 2's then I turned off the front light and allowed him to become a moving silhouette on 1's.
I covered him in a copper acrylic paint. I allowed the texture of my rapid brush lines to remain. I didn't even sand him first since any damage that lifts the paint will reveal the undercoat in an interesting way. Shiney!
I quickly put on a thin second coat of copper and while it was still tacky I dripped over a blue  patina solution made of ammonia which instantly aged the copper.
I did some touch ups and another patina treatment. As it dried it was gritty and chalky and I felt it necessary to put a protective coating on it so that it doesn't wear off too quickly during my handling for my animation.
The coating may protect it but it did change the look quite a bit. It appeared to eat through in some areas giving it a deeper look and texture. I am pretty happy with how it is looking. I think I am going to silver leaf the tusks before I carry onto the next stage. And rub in some blacks to pop some of the crevices. I also re-attached the tail using a bent sewing pin. I intend on painting in the eyes in yellow and using plasticine disks on top so that he can look around.

February 14, 2013

Moving in to the window box

 I was awarded a Calgary Cultural Capital of Canada 2012 Artist in Residency.  It is part of the Calgary Animated Objects Society (CAOS) festival line up. I am in the Untitled Arts Society +15 Gallery window space in the Epcor Centre for Performing Arts in a make shift animation studio working on a new piece.
Here is the fish bowl as I just start moving my gear in.
And more stuff still. Lots of wood going into the window display.
I hung a big black out drape to control the light from spilling in. As well, I put up some Tibetan flags for cheer and a bit of diffusion.
Here are some of the wooden mannikins I intend on bringing to life using stop motion animation techniques.
Here is the shot from my Grandpa chair inside the box setting a focal length on my elephant.
More to come as the residency progresses :)


February 13, 2013

Plasticine recipe

Here it is for those who want it, my DIY plasticine recipe.

What you will need:

-A big pot to mix it all in over heat since you need to liquify the wax and petroleum jelly. 
-Gloves and safety equipment. It's your house and your skin.This stuff is hot and may splatter and is flamable so be weary. 
-I also wear glasses, but safety glasses might help in case of hot oil/wax spashes.
-A kitchen scale to measure out the ingredients. 
-A spoon to do the mixing, long handle one works best. It should be sturdy as the mixture becomes stiff and will bend even the metal ones. 
-Containers to pour the finished product in to cool. 
-Good ventilation or a dust mask since you probably don't want any of the greasy fumes and powdered dirt coating your lungs. 
Now for the ingredients:

4 lbs. of wax (I used a blend of mycrocrystaline wax and sculpting wax)
10 lbs. of fine grain Ball clay
750 ml of mineral oil
2 lbs of petroleum jelly (approx. 3 containers full)

This is what 10 lbs. of the clay powder looks like ready to go.

Here's the method, I like to have everything ready to go before I begin, like an good cook. I made two batches one after the other. The first batch was great. I cleaned out the container and made a second batch right afterward. *The second batch had more clay added to have a finer grain option.
Get the pot on the stove and melt the wax.
 If mixing waxes give it a really good stir to blend them together once liquid.
Then add the goopy jelly and stir until it melts into the wax.
Wear gloves here, its hot grease and if it splatters you may regret it. The mineral oil is already a liquid and doesn't need any heating so I add it at now.
Gently add no more than a quarter of the ball clay to the liquid and give it a good stir until it is smooth making sure you have no clumps.
Add more of the dirt, it will start thickening up so you need to keep stirring it.
When I add the clay it sits on top, scoop deep and circulate from the hot bottom and it will belnd much easier.
Add the final bit of clay and it will be really thick. Keep it on the heat to help it along as you stir it until well mized.
Scoop it out of the hot pot and into a bucket to cool.
Batch 1 is done and its as smooth as cream cheese when it is still warm.
Cleanliness is next to godliness, so clean up while it is still hot, it will be much easier.
I made a second batch and topped up the first bucket and filled a second. This site makes me one happy artist!

If you have any other questions feel free to give me a shout and I'll help you out.

Ciao for now!