As much as I would like to tell you the end of “Love and Afterlove” story, I have to delay the pleasure. The production of the film consumes all of my time at the moment. The winning choice of how to spend the free 5 minutes I have – to clip the nails or write the blog – goes to painting the pictures that I hope to auction off at the fundraising event on April 28th that Robin Hayes so lovingly and skillfully is putting together.
The fundraising efforts have actually distracted me from working on the film for the last 3 weeks. After Noella put the project on IndieGoGo there are always emails to answer, goodies to ship, PR strategies to think of. In despair I am cutting that all off for the next 3 weeks to work on the film, to make sure I still know what’s important (making the film is).
Miraculously, with all the fundraising fury I managed to make one very important set – the little sandy hill on top of which three structures stand – the house, the barn, the turpentine factory. The hill is surrounded by a pine tree forest and below it a shallow river runs. The set it important because that is where film’s main character Anna gets imprisoned (metaphorically) for some 20 years. The Russians take over the land, then the Germans, partisans hiding in the forest come to the house to demand food, then Germans are chased away and Russians take the land back. Historic events mixed with individual’s aspiration to survive.
Again, as inexpert in lighting as quite a few 2D animators, I had to ask Sturgis Warner to help me with that. Theater and lighting go hand in hand.
– I need day. So that Anna can bring 40 buckets of water from the river to 4 cows, – I asked.
Sturgis came and he gave me day:
– And now I need night – for partisans. They only move around at night, – I asked.
Sturgis fidgeted with the Impact lights and several filters, till he found the night:
Sturgis didn’t have much to work with, 2 Impact light (which I recommend) and a few old clip-on lights that he sometimes propped against my perfume bottles or peanut butter jars. He was surprised that such basic shoe string operation still made good pictures.
– I guess the rigs don’t matter if camera likes the light, – he concluded.
Here’s his night lighting set from afar:
He also filled the room and bed (where Anna sleeps with her husband when the partisans come back and knock on their window) with moonlight:
Then I dreamed up a shot where the husband sits on the bed and looks at his wife by the window. The focus would change, like in live action films, from foreground to background. The problem shooting the focus change in stop motion was that I would have to mark the focus change on the lens in increments so small I wouldn’t be able to see them, even if I saw them with a magnifying glass my fingers would have to be so small and sensitive that I would have to borrow the fingers from a rat.
So, after scratching my head for a shortcut solution (am big on shortcuts, look, I shoot on 4’s, that’s the most brilliant shortcut for low budget independent animators) I came up with doing focus change digitally.
I put the camera on tripod, and shot two pictures. First one with bed in focus:
I put both pictures in After Effects and dissolved one into another. Voila – the change of focus! and no pain. The characters are drawn on top of the pictures and After Effects Gaussian blur is applied to them when they are out of focus. Takes 5 minutes to do it. No rat fingers required.
I did the same for the hill set. This forest spirit walks to the edge of forest and stops by the pine tree. Foreground is in focus because that’s where in-focus character is:
Notice, how light changed?
Well, that will be another topic – the flickering of camera (set to total manual!) when you do stop motion zoom. Drives me crazy. If you have a stop motion advise for me, I’ll take it any time. In exchange for an advise on love matters.
Now I am off to clipping my fingernails, they got stuck in the keyboard a couple of times. Time to separate.