Stop Motion Animation Forum Archive











Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-05 03:41:16

Roll out the barrels...

Ok guys, I'm looking for some ideas here. I want to make a bunch of barrles to dress the shipboard set for my Ahab film. So far, I've done everything with real materials, and I'd like to go with wood for this, but I was wondering if anyone has any ideas for a simple way to make them? I've considered turning down some barrel shapes using my drill press as a makeshift lathe and then scoring lines into them and adding brass bands, and even trying to cut balsa wood into actual slats to strap together ( I doubt I could make a decent barrel that way though). But I would consider making them from something else and then giving them a faux wood finish. Like maybe sculpting one and making a latex mold and rotocasting (via the slow hand method) with resin, thickened with enough filler to make it syrupy so it doesn't just run out of the mold? I think there's the seed of a good idea in there, but I haven't nailed it yet. And of course, if I could think of a decent method for it, I could make just some barrel-fronts, for putting in stacks, and then a few complete barrels. Anxiously Awaiting Advice :P

Posted by catizone, on 2003-06-05 05:36:18

I'd probably go with a mold and castings if I had many to do. Maybe run the mold seam between two "slats" so it can be easily cut off with an angled exacto, and thus hidden. best, Rick

Posted by Antony, on 2003-06-09 07:18:09

Strider I remembered I had that plaster turning technique in a book called "creating special effects for film & TV here it is. The text as follows: Plaster Turning Freshly mixed plaster of paris hardens within a few minutes and during that time it is possible to model it into regular shapes by pouring and turning. This is useful for producing cylindrical or spherical items without the use of a lathe. Horizontal method A horizontal spindle on which has been securely fastened some anchoring material (such as cloth or bandage) is laid in two vee-shaped stocks. A shaped metal profile is then fixed in a suitable position (angled so that wet plaster will run back from its edge) and the plaster is poured onto the spindle while it is slowly rotated. As the wet plaster builds up it is scraped away by the profile, producing a smooth and uniform item. This method is useful for making master items for the moulding or vacuum--forming processes. Vertical method Where large and heavy amounts of plaster are involved it is not so easy to use the rotating spindle method. An alternative is to perform the action vertically, with a rotating profile working around a static amount of plaster. A vertically-mounted tube fitted firmly to a baseboard acts as a centre point. In this is placed a rod, to the top end of which is attached the profile. The plaster is poured onto the baseboard while the profile is slowly rotated, forming the object from the bottom upward. In both these methods fluid plaster cleared away by the profile can be scooped up and re-poured over the article. Where very large amounts of plaster are being used it is necessary to stop the operation from time to time and mix fresh plaster. At this stage all dried swarf should be cleared away. When large articles are being made the centre mass can be built up with pieces of expanded polystyrene or other coarse filler material, using the plaster only for the outer layer. With the vertical method female shapes can be turned if a strong supporting. outer wall is made to accommodate the plaster. Turning must be done carefully because the fluid material runs to the bottom and has to be scooped out as the work progresses. Hope it helps Antony

Posted by trikfx, on 2003-06-05 07:41:28

Hey There Strider, No Lathe? It's too bad you don't have a lathe (even an itty-bitty one), because it's pretty easy to set it up to quickly make your barrels out of wood (or dense rigid foam). But since you don't, and you seem to have come a long way with your casting skills, I would second Rick's advice. I can't say it will be as much fun though...:( Trikfx

Posted by Stix, on 2003-06-05 07:53:25

Maybe Micro-Mark has a small low cost lathe.

Posted by Antony, on 2003-06-05 08:26:06

You can get really thin strips of various types of woods from suppliers of model wooden ship kits. You could stick these to foam or airdried or oven baked clay. You could also try some suppliers of wood veneers that would be available in larger sheets. Hey Strider, I live right near a small maritime museum and you would love one of their exhibits. Its a exquisitely carved bone square-rigger made by a French prisoner of war during the Napoleonic times. Probably put together in the bowels of some rat infested hulk. I reckon there's a good story there... :) Antony

Posted by jim danforth, on 2003-06-05 10:43:49

STRIDER: I don't know what scale your puppets are. If they're very small, I've seen stock barrels in miniature shops. If they're larger, here's a trick Marcel Delgado showed me: Make a template of the NEGATIVE profile of your barrel shape. The template can be shim metal or thin abs plastic. Attach a vertical rod to a board. Make the rod much taller than your barrel will be. From brass tubing large enough to just fit over the rod, cut a length of tubing equal in length to the height of your barrel. Slip this section of tubing over the rod and glue it or solder it to the rod and anchor a washer on top of it. Put clay over the rod/tube assembly until you have a shape slightly larger than your intended barrel. Slip another length of the tubing down over the rod. It will stop when it hits the washer. Anchor the template to the top section of rod with epoxy or solder. Rotate the template around the clay to get your barrel shape. You can also use palster instead of clay, but then you must wait until the plaster is almost set, then work quickly to scrape the form with the template. Once you have one barrel, you can make molds and cast more. Since I dislike extra steps, I would probably just sculpt a barrel in super sculpey, cook it, use a file and sandpaper to get it into a final shape, then make a mold. Just a bit of trivia: The basic form for the large ice cream cone on top of the miniature Stuff stand in "The Stuff" was made using the template rotator system. Jim

Posted by 1, on 2003-06-05 14:59:51

Hey Mike, Oddly enough I was shown some real wooden barrels that they sell at the craft store Michaels. They were pretty nice sized, a few inches tall or so. You should see if you can find them in your local store - I think they all sell the same stuff. Marc Visit:

Posted by Nick H, on 2003-06-05 17:43:24

Jim's mention of a negative template reminded me that I've used this method, it's an old plasterer's trick. The main difference is I've always done it horizontally. You need to make a box with no top or bottom, and a couple of U shaped cuts in the top edges, one each end. You lay a length of dowel across the top, resting in those U's, with a crank handle at one end, to turn the dowel. You need a couple of bits of wood screwed on to stop the dowel lifting out of the U cuts. Then you need a negative metal template of the profile, backed by plywood with the same profile but slightly larger, so there is 1/4" of the metal overhanging the plywood. This template goes horizontally on the top of the box. Stick a nail into the middle of the dowel and wrap a bit of plaster with burlap or plaster bandage around, so you've got the start of the plaster buildup and it won't slip when the dowel turns. (Using a tube the length of the barrel that can be removed is probably better, saves cutting the dowell afterwards.) Then you build up the shape of the barrel with plaster until it reaches the metal template, turning the crank, and the template scrapes away the excess. (As the plaster builds up on top of the template you'll have to lift it off and wipe it, then put it back in position.)As it thickens, you add new fresh plaster until all the gaps and holes are filled and you have a solid plaster barrel shape. I used this method to turn up rocket nose cones and vase shapes. (The same template method is used to make straight mouldings by running the template along a guide rail on a bench top, or moulded archways by attaching the template to a stick fixed to a pivot point, and moving it over the plaster in a curved path.) I don't know how easy it is to picture this with just words.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-06 01:28:39

Wow, you guys are awesome! :P Yeah, I can completely understand your method Nick, and Jim's as well. I was thinking about trying to use the turntable base from my mixmaster like a potters wheel for something similar. Well, with so many alternatives (plus some that turned up in my private message box, thanks JPolachi!) I should be able to do this. I'll definitely check at Michaels though, because I would like to have a few half-barrels here and there. Oh, as for scale, since my puppets stand about seven or eight inches tall, it would need to be about the size of a soda can. I really should see about getting a lathe, at least a wood turning lathe, especially since I'm basically setting out to build a ship, or at least a few shipboard sets. Strange... I pictured this film being really surreal and expressionistic, like a Quay film, but as I go, it's looking a lot more realistic. The clip I shot the other night of Ahab on a gently rocking deck (actually my work table) looks almost completely realistic. His legs are short, like a Trnka puppet, and his arms are long and he has these big hands, but in closeup, from the waist up, edge lit against a dark background, you can squint your eyes and he almost looks like a real person. Oh well, I'm sure that effect won't hold up when you can see those arms and legs! (I wonder how many people have complained before that their stop motion puppets look too realistic?) Antony, that exhibit sounds fantastic! I've been gathering internet reference material on whaling and sailing, etc, mostly old engravings and the like, and I really love that kind of stuff. I'm planning to compile some of it into a little montage for the beginning of the film, starting with ships at sea and moving onto whaling scenes, ending with some violent and bloody scenes of whales destroying ships. I've also downloaded some great old maps that I want to print out and 'antique', then hang them on the walls in Ahabs chamber. Oh, hey, I need to post a picture of the harpoons I've been making... these things are awesome! Be back in a jif....

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-06 01:46:05

Ok, here they are.. the first two, made from paintbrush handles (gives them a certain artistic elegance) and brazed steel (armature stock, actually):

Posted by 1, on 2003-06-06 02:14:17

Hey Mike, The barrels I saw at Michaels were about three inches tall, so it sounds like they would be way to short. But - there is this one toy called "a barrel of monkeys". It's just a kids toy that is literally a barrel filled with plastic monkeys. It might be a good size to use since the barrel is about the size of a soda can. Marc Visit:

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-06 02:21:20

Hey, good idea! I remember playing that game... I don't remember how realistic the barrel looked though. Maybe I could pick one up off ebay for a good price just to see.

Posted by Nick H, on 2003-06-06 02:55:22

I've seen various plastic toy barrels too, and they can come up better than you'd think with a good paint job. Or you can buy one, and make a mould of it, if you find one that suits. Off topic a bit Strider, but if you need to do a constant rocking motion, think about attaching your puppet to a deck piece that is hinged on one side. On the other side, a plywood disk is attached to a length of dowel (with some kind of support), but off centre, and the side of the deck furthest from the hinge rests on it. If you turn that dowel in even increments, the off-centre disk will raise and lower the set, with a slight change of angle, very smoothly. You don't have to change direction, or ease off the amount of the move as you approach the top or bottom, the off centre disk will do all that for you, you just keep turning it the same amount each frame in the same direction. I'm sure you could rig this in less than a day. (I had to animate turtle flippers going up and down, and wished I had something like this.) It should leave more brain cells free for the actual character animation. Nice harpoons. And I've always liked the Ahab character. This could be really good!

Posted by jim danforth, on 2003-06-06 11:10:58

STRIDER: Great harpoons!!! Jim

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-07 00:11:16

Thanks guys (as my head slowly shrinks back to its normal size!:P ) Nick, that's a great idea about the rocking set, I'll have to think about that. I don't know how extensively I would need to use the rocking motion, if it would look strange to use it in some shots and not others, but that would certainly simplify matters. Maybe I'll rig up a small test version and try it out. I orderd the DVD of the Gregory Peck version of Moby dick, and I've been re-reading the book, and I have decided to redo that steel peg leg. (Hmm... did I already say this in here?) His leg is supposed to be made of ivory cut from a whale's jawbone, which is entirely too symbolic to pass up. Also, a point that Boy Oyng mentioned a while back.... rather conveniently, Ahab had a few holes drilled in the deck that he would stick his peg into for support. How great is that... built in tie-downs! I agree with you Nick... this really is starting to look cool. It's taking me by surprize. I wonder where it's all headed? I only wish I could settle on a storyline now! :'(

Posted by 1, on 2003-06-07 02:42:08

This looks, Like a good barrel on ebay. It's vintage, so that might be what you need to go for: Marc Visit:

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-08 04:36:10

Wow Marc... thanks for doing the legwork on this! That barrel looks pretty good, aside from the way the wood slats don't ,match up when they pass under the hoops, but probably they can be rotated so they do (or I could cut it apart and make 'em match up!). But unfortunately, at 10" tall, it's too big, unless I would want to havr some sort of giant barrel. Apparently this is what's called a "Giant Barrel o Monkeys" according to the auction listing. I remember a much smaller one, about half that, which would be perfect. (Or maybe my memory is playing tricks on me?) I also want to make some lanterns out of copper or brass, and then I'll start working on barrels. I'll keep an eye out on ebay, and maybe search the web for miniature shops selling them, but most likely I'll make my own. I spent today making four more harpoons, now I have six. They'll look really great stacked together in a corner (or maybe standing in a half-barrel).

Posted by 1, on 2003-06-08 06:02:01

Hey Mike, Not a problem. I have to make some barrels for my Zombie Pirates film, so it's good practice. Your harpoons look really good by the way! Marc Visit:

Posted by Nick H, on 2003-06-08 19:59:26

I've got several kerosine type lanterns that started life as bronze coloured pencil sharpeners, but they suit 1/6th or 1/5th scale so may be too large for you. I havw a funny feeling there is one smaller one, maybe 1/8th scale, amongst my small props, I'll have a look, If it's what you need I could send it. Weird about those mismatched barrel staves, but like you said, fixable.

Posted by RodW, on 2003-06-08 21:57:01

Hi guys Barrels?...I'd go for doing things by halves;-) Make half a barrel (solid) out of clay, plastercine or polymer clay. Get proportions right before doing wooden slats. Three pins or needles fixed close together on a stick (like a tiny fork) make a perfect tool for scratching wood grain texture. Any clay will 'bur' (little balls) when scratched, let it dry a bit before brushing off burs. Add thin clay strips to form the metal hoops last of all. Lay the barrel down and take a plaser mould (instructions on request)Remove clay half barrel and you are left with a plaser 'spig mold'. You can then press out (with clay) as many half barrels as you like. Use 'slip'(creamy clay) to join them up. The time spent making mold and cleaning up the seams is nowhere near the time spent making barrels 'one off'. Advantage is you can cut, shape and paint up barrels any way you like..even have them hollow and open for things to go in and out of. Any one who can make a harpoon can make a sprig mould ;-) Hope this adds to the confusion of options;-) Rod.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-09 00:44:05

Nick: Thanks for the offer. I want to make them myself though. This will be another first for me... I've never worked with sheet brass or copper before. I'm learning so much doing this. I have a book called The Complete Metalsmith that shows some good techniques. That's where I learned how to make the little rings on the harpoons. It was so simple... all you do is wrap some 1/16" drill stock around something the right size (I used one of my tiedown screws) like a spring, then cut a straight line with the dremel down the center and voila... a whole bunch of identical rings. You just have to flatten them out with pliers. Rod: Adding to the confusion... but then confusion is a good thing. I'd rather have too many techniques to coose from than none at all. I'll definitely consider it. I just looked at your site... some very nice work. That stuff would look great animated. I only hope my shipboard sets look half as good as yours do! (That's something I have some apprehension about actually).

Posted by RodW, on 2003-06-09 01:22:17

Dear Mike Thanks. Don't be apprehensive....Drink a lot of rum, "Arrrr Jim Lad" a lot, tape you Parrot firmly to your shoulder and go for it:7 All the best. Rod.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-09 02:48:10

LOL um, well, actually you've got the wrong peg-legged sea captain there, but it's pretty close. And I don't know if massive rum consumption is a good idea before making props (especially if it involves using a saw or drill). But it sounds like the right attitude. :-)

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-10 00:20:02

Thanks Antony. That diagram even shows a barrel being made! These methods are pretty close to the techniques desribed on page 1 by Nick and Jim, only done in plaster, and with drawings. What a great support group you guys are! If I'm not able to make good barrels after all this informatrion, I'll turn in my Knights of Collossus Isle commemorative gold-plated surface gauge and become a janitorial engineer.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-11 03:00:49

I've been thinking on this, and especially after looking at the little scene I did of Ahab on the bobbing deck of the Pequod (;-) ) I have reached the conclusion that i really want to make these barrels from wood. Everything else is from the actual material (except I didn't fashion Ahab from human flesh, though I'm not at all sure that's what he was made from in the book, more likely it was whale blubber and ivory). Now, if I CAN'T make decent barrels from wood, then I'll move on to some other technique. But here is what I was thinking..... I COULD try to use my drill press as a lathe, but as JPolachi posted recently, that would put too much sideways stress on the spindle bearings and might ruin it. I could also get a lathe and fashion them from a solid piece of wood. But first I think I'll try this. If you look down at a barrel, you can imagine a pie chart drawn on it. Let's say it's a solid wooden barrel. Now cut it apart on those lines, so you have a series of wedges. There are various ways I could try to do this, including actually trying to make a bunch of wedges like those i just described. But that would be difficult. I wonder if I could make just the outermost part of each wedge, by cutting a curve into the edge of a piece of wood (and an identical inner curve) and then using a disc sander to bevel the edges in. Or it might be better to bevel the edges first, then cut the curve into it. That way I would be able to see the angles of the bevel cuts better. I don't know if I described it very well, but I think this would simplify the process of finding the curves and angles needed. I thought about trying to bend strips of wood, but the problem there is that you can't just use straight edges.... you need them to taper in at just the right angle (imagine cutting a globe apart and then laying the pieces flat... they're like slices of orange rind. It's not just an angle, but a curving angle). By using the wedge technique, I think I could eliminate the need to figure these curving angles. Well, I really don't expect any magic answers here, I'm basically just talking this out to try to get it straight in my head. At any rate, even for this technique i would need to buy a disc sander, but that's something I plan to do anyway, one of those combination belt/disc sanders you see for $79.00 in the Harbor Freight catalogs all the time.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-11 04:10:49

A good deal of web searching turned up almost no miniature barrels available ready-made. The best candidate was a coffee company that selld their special blend in replicas of the actual barrels the beans are transported in. They look good (need sanding and staining, and probably the bands would need to be replaced) but they cost $33 apiece! Too steep, and I had to give up coffee a while back because my kidneys didn't like it anymore. So I got back to thinking..... That method I posted above sounds like a lot of trouble, and might not even work. But I would settle for resin castings (or maybe even plaster) with strips of wood veneer on them. (unless some of you want to buy some coffee and donate the barrels to me! :P )

Posted by Antony, on 2003-06-11 06:16:44

How about getting some oven bake clay and make your rough barrel shape. Bake it then cover it with plastic rap, aluminium foil or something else like stretchy cloth, plastic, paper etc. Say you used foil wrapped well around the barrel and nicely smoothed out you could then get a marker and draw the wooden planks on. The foil could then be cut along the lines but not the whole length of the barrel. In the middle the planks could remain attached to each other. Detach the foil and then you would have a template for tracing out onto a sheet of thin wood or thick cardboard. It would be then up to you if you wanted to keep the planks joined around the middle or cut them up individually. Antony

Posted by 1, on 2003-06-11 06:41:39

Here's a brain storm. Maybe you can do the plaster route but then buy some wood vaneer's from a wood shop. Then you could cut strips and attach them to the plaster barrel shape. This gives you both the shape, and the use of real wood. You could even hollow out the barrel and glue strips to the inside, and make a circular top cover out of wood. I think if you have to go such a distance to use real wood by using a lathe or cutting wedges, you are definitely going about things the hardest way possible. Marc Visit:

Posted by Strider, on 2003-06-12 05:02:54

Antony: A little while after posting last night, I thought of the same thing, only I was planning to use masking tape for the pattern. And Marc, some good thoughts. I also thought of trying to put veneer on the inside. That's when I decided that I was still getting too tricky about it. As it stands now, I'm probably going to make one from super sculpey and just make some resin castings. Resin takes oil paint really well, and I can probably make it look just like wood.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-07-23 05:59:11

Well, over the last two nights I made my prototype barrel, which is now immersed in a big cup of silicone slowly setting up (I hope anyway). Here's how I finally did it: I started with a thick cardboard tube, that Smallparts sent me some metal stock in. I had to put it in a miterbox to cut it at a good 90 degree angle. My first freehand attempt made for a really lopsided shape. Anyway, I then wrapped a LOT of duct tape around the middle to build it up to the right thickness. After that, I switched to electric tape (because it's not as wide) to taper the ends away from the middle. I ended up layering the whole thing with electrical tape and got it really nice and smooth, built to very nearly the right shape. Then I cut two discs from some thick insulating foam (with paper facing on both sides) that fit tightly inside, and glued them in place for the ends. I decided the surface was too slick to put clay on, so I covered it with carpenter's wood glue and laid some cheesecloth over it to provide some good grip. Over that I used magic sculpt and just rolled it on a board to get the form right. It came out a bit lumpy, but really a lot better than I thought it would. I tried to press the edge of a long steel spatula into it to make the stave-joints, but I had to roll it on the board again to repair the slightly lopsided shape, and they got sort of twisted, so I smoothed them out and let the magic sculpt set up. Then, tonight, I worked on it for a while with a big hand file, which left a nice woodgrain-like texture, and then I stood up my drill press vise next to it and used the edge as a guide to draw nice straight lines down the sides with a sharpie marker. I used the vise because it's made at a 90 degree angle, and I knew it would be straight. I tried it first just holding a piece of wood beside the barrel as a guide, but the lines weren't vertical enough. THEN, I used the vise again to just hold the sharpie steady at a fixed height (adjustable, because I used the vise jaw) and I turned the barrel to mark the bands for the hoops. It worked beautifully. Even just with lines drawn on it like this, it was looking like a barrel. Then I used the edge of a small file to cut narrow slots along the vertical lines. For the hoops, I found two rubber bands the right size and glued them in place along the lines I had drawn. I also then sealed the joints where I had glued the foam discs in, so no silicone can get inside. Finally I cut off the very tip of a small plastic cap that was the right size to represent a cork, and glued it to the side. Now I'm just waiting for the silicone to set up, and hoping it does, because I'm not sure I mixed it well enough. I THOUGHT I did, I mixed for three minutes or so, until the color was all evened out and I couldn't see any streaks, and then went for about another minute, until my arm was ready to fall off. But as I was pouring, toward the bottom, I ran into a lot of darker blue stuff, which was somewhat mixed, but not completely. It seems like it's setting up alright in the mixing cup though, so I have hope. My plan (assuming the mold sets up right, or if not, then I need to clean it off and get more silicone and do it again) is to mix up some resin with some filler in it so it is thick enough, then pour some in the mold and slowly roll it around on the floor for twenty minutes until it sets up. That will give me a nice hollow casting. Oh, as for the mold, I just did a simple pour without any dividing walls, and I plan to cut it open down one side only and then fit it back into the cup as a case mold.

Posted by Antony, on 2003-07-23 09:21:51

Get a faster urethane resin. They are easy to mix and some set up in approx 4mins. Something like Synair's por-a-kast Mk2 has a pot life of 2-3 mins, pours like water, swill it around in your closed mould, and in 5 mins you have a curing piece. In 15-20 min your piece can be de-moulded. Antony

Posted by nobledesign, on 2007-08-30 16:56:49

I read it all, these were the days, eh? I can't believe you've all been smarty-panting here since 2001?! Wow. Well, thank God for the Diagram, because just trying to visualize the techniques described gave me a HEADACHE! But at least I know how to make my barrel now, thanks all. "Looking down a barrel" LOL

Posted by 1, on 2003-07-23 10:31:16

Hey Mike, Have faith, your mold should be ok. Put it next to a lamp light and let it sit one more night if you feel a little nervous. It always does the trick for me and I haven't lost a mold yet. The trick though next time is to pour the mix into another clean cup and re-stir that a little more. Marc Visit:

Posted by Strider, on 2003-07-24 00:04:30

SUCCESS!! :P The silicone set up perfectly. It was a quick-cure type, sets up in 4 hours. Antony, I use the same type of resin you mentioned, but I mix in a lot of filler (Urefill2) which thickens it, allowing it to stick to the sides better and not run out every seam like water, AND it slows the cure time. When I said twenty minutes, I was thinking of my last piece, which was done with bronze powder. For that I used a lot more powder, and it did take about twenty minutes, but last night I poured my first barrel, and it set up rock hard in five minutes. Personally, I like the fact that it takes a little longer, because it gives you more time to fill the mold carefully and you don't get into that panicky state wondering if you'll get it all poured before it sets in the cup! Thank you all once again for all the help and ideas... when I have a few more barrels cast and painted up I'll post a picture.

Posted by Nick H, on 2003-07-24 03:57:35

Good to hear it worked out. Amazing how many different ways there are to make the same thing.

Posted by Antony, on 2003-07-24 07:02:25

If you are using Synair urethane resin they also make a 3.5min pot life version called Por-A-Kast Mk3 and a 15 min pot version guessed it Mk15. Metal powders tend to speed up the cure of urethane resin with the heat retention. Some people also cool down their raw resins in a fridge to slow the cure when mixed. Antony

Posted by Strider, on 2003-07-24 07:27:29

Strange... every time I've used any kind of filler, it slows the cure time down, including metal powder. For me, a 3 minute cure resin with filler mixed in is perfect, because I also like the thicker nature of it. It flows like syrup and doesn't come pouring out every seam line the way unfilled resin can do. My molds don't tend to be perfect, and I used to lose a lot of resin that way. Plus the filler saves me a lot of money on resin. I also found that, after a few barrels when I got "zoned in" on just how much of everything to use, including brown pigment (I'm using a clear resin made for pigmenting, but the white filler powder requires more pigment to tint) it makes for a very woodlike look, and it's lighter than straight resin. So I'm definitely a confirmed 'resin-filler', but i do appreciate the advice. :) I now have 11 barrels that just need a little cleanup and some staining with oil paint, and then I'll paint the bands with some metallic floquil. I guess about 9 more will do it. I want to give the impression of a lot of barrels of whale oil in the hold. I'm thinking behind the front rows I can use half-barrels.... that way I get twice as many. All you'll be able to see of each is the top anyway.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-07-29 06:11:20

Ok, it's about time I actually "roll out the barrels"..... The funny thing is, my camera doesn't have good enough resolution to show how good they really look! The staining technique with oil paints works so beautifully on this resin, especially with the filler in it. The close-up detail is amazing... but none of it shows up! AAARRGHHH!! Now I KNOW I need to get a better camera!

Posted by Marc Spess, on 2003-07-29 10:48:33

Looks good Mike, Even with the low quality picture you can tell they are well done! Marc Visit:

Posted by jim danforth, on 2003-07-29 11:46:09

MIKE (STRIDER): Excellent! Question: Will there be a Moby whale in your film? Jim

Posted by David Rosler, on 2003-07-29 14:36:02

Terrific! (I got to see a bit of Strider's scene moving on the figure with a bobbing camera motion, and we have a new starewicz on the horizon, people. While the shot was simple, it was also simply outstanding, and as far up the ladder as a puppet film can get in terms of artistic integrity for a simple shot. I was drawn into the atmosphere and hooked immediately). However, I hope it doesn't take as long to make as Starewicz took with the Tale of the Fox! :-) Great, great work, Mike. Just terrific.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-07-29 17:51:53

:P ...I'm blushin' ! About a stop-Moby, my original plan was to never show it, in fact I wasn't going to show water at all, just darkness around the ship as if it's floating in the void. But everything is changing as I go, and my formerly Quaystyle film is turning into a much more classical Trnka-style vision. I think what I might do is make a SECTION of the whale.... he is after all the personification of mystery and fate, so shouldn't be done as a simple puppet. But all this is still up in the air, and as things progress I'll make those decisions. One scene I'm really looking forward to is the "Nantucket Sleighride", which is when a small whaling boat is attached by the harpoon rope to the injured whale and it submerges and drags them headlong all around the surface, sometimes pulling them under with him.

Posted by Anderson, on 2003-07-29 22:37:37

Mike: Thanks for sharing that photo from your film. It looks great. Have you started animating? Here in Connecticut where I live, they have an old whaling village called Mystic Seaport, you would love it there, all kinds of whaling artifacts to study. Hey perhaps you should contact their marketing department to see if there is any interest in the type of film your doing. Just a thought. Dan

Posted by Nick H, on 2003-07-29 22:52:28

Great pic Strider! I'm not all that excited by the barrels in themselves, however well done they are just props, but the whole look of the shot: set, character, costume, lighting, that's what gets me in! Keep at it!

Posted by Strider, on 2003-07-30 02:31:52

Dan: I haven't done any animation yet, aside from an 11 second test. I want to finish the puppet before I do any more... if you notice the barrel in front of him, it's to hide the fact that from the waist down he doesn't look so good. I haven't made his boot yet, or his peg-leg, and the pants I made are from a red leather glove... so he sort of looks like one of the village people! I plan to get another glove... brown or grey, and re-do them. Oh, also his hands both broke off. I'll make new ones with square brass tubing inside. Mystic Seaport..... sounds great. I've been doing a lot of web-surfing, looking up nautical instruments and diagrams of whaling ships etc. I love the way all that stuff looks. Nick: I agree.... I really like the setup of that picture. Very German Expressionist. I guess it's the influence from watching Faust and The Golem. I hope the film looks as good! One great thing about props like barrels..... they're large, simple forms with an elegance and a repetitive shape, and by arranging them on the set you can do all sorts of things with space and volume, and shadows as well. It really makes a space interesting.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-07-30 08:23:36

Dan... nice idea about contacting Mystic Seaport. As tempting as that is, I won't do it, except maybe after the film is done. I feel like this needs to be completely a labor of love, done exactly the way I think it should be, with no deadlines, no input..... nothing resembling corporate sponsorship. Partly because I'm learning as I go... so far just about everything has been a first for me. I need to be able to take my time and let ideas grow at their own pace. It wouldn't really bother me if it takes as long as Tale of the Fox (I'm actually not sure how long that took) so long as it remains what I want it to be. No compromises. I don't have the money or expertise to put into it, so the only thing I can really give it is all the time it takes. I feel like the independent filmmaker equivalent of Ray's tortoise, just plodding along. :)

Posted by jim danforth, on 2003-07-30 10:32:51

STRIDER: Nantucket Sleighride!? You're a braver man than I am. Jim

Posted by Anderson, on 2003-07-30 15:03:42

Mike: As far as Mystic Seaport, I had it in my mind too that you would finish your film at your own pace and way and when it's done send them a tape if they are interested. Good Luck Dan

Posted by Strider, on 2003-07-30 23:27:28

Jim: Probably more foolish than brave... because I don't really know what I'm getting myself into. But again, I'm still leaning toward not showing water... just darkness under the boat. It would basically just be the boat on some sort of jointed rod with the oarsmen and the harpooneer, and the rope dissapearing into the darkness. Not sure just how it would work, of course I'd need to experiment a bit first. Im picturing scenes like that being done sort of the way they would for a play, or maybe the way Barry would do them. (Of course, I'm no Barry Purves, but what better footsteps to follow in?) Dan: I thought that might be what you meant, but I'm just paranoid of anything that reeks of sponsorship! :D

Posted by jim danforth, on 2003-07-31 12:12:06

STRIDER: Have you seen Fellini's CASSANOVA? Black water. Jim

Posted by Nick H, on 2003-07-31 18:49:07

Was that the scene where the water was covered in black plastic, which followed the motion of the waves but gave it a completely unreal look? That image has stuck with me for years, but I wasn't certain that was the film. I seem to remember a rowboat, but you wouldn't see the oars actually dipping into the water. In a stop motion context, I'd look at rigging eccentric disks under the the plastic, to create wave action as they turned. Dik Jarman, an Australian animator, created a film called Dad's Clock in which the skeletal frame of a boat moved in a sea of parallel strips of wood. They were maybe 1" square and 3 feet long, with 1" gaps between them, and moved in a wave motion. The ship was also made of 1" strips, which fitted in the gaps, so the ship seemed to sit in the waves. The wave motion, and the rising and falling of the ship, were beautifully done. These sorts of approaches, of giving the sea a presence but not attempting to imitate reality, would probably suit Ahab.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-07-31 23:58:18

Ok, I hadn't really thought about just how complex this shot would be, but when Jim expressed concern, I knew I must be missing something, so I started to think about it. It could easily be a nightmare shot.... because you've got six oarsmaen (or is it 8, I need to check) plus the harpooneer at the helm and someone else standing at the back spurring everyone on (don't know what he'd be called, but it would be Ahab). Here's what I was planning to do..... All the oarsmen are attached to their benches and their arms attached to the oars. The arm joints are loose, and the waist too, so it can swivel. Originally I thought I could just move the oars and it would pull the oarsmen with them, but that wouldn't work, because it needs to look like they're pulling the oars, so their backs need to move before their arms do. SO.... each oarsman needs to have a rod running up through a hole under his bench into his torso, and the rods all go down beneath the boat and are jointed onto a plank or something, so they all move in unison when I move it. All the oars are attached to another one, or probably the left oars to one and the right oars to another. That way I can move them all pretty easily (I hope anyway) and just need to really animate their heads and Ahab. This would work (I hope) UNTIL the actual sleighride begins... that's when they all ship oars and probably grab onto the gunwhales and hang on for dear life! Again though, it wouldn't require a lot of animation of individual characters, just one waving an arm now and then. I need to try a small version, to see if I can make all these rods and levers work. About doing water... I was picturing nothing at all there, the bottom of the boat just dissapearing into shadow, and the oars too. I could achieve part of this effect by lighting, but maybe it will need a little assist in photoshop. I might also mess around with some sort of 'optical illusion' effect, like Trnka used in Prince Bajaja. One thing I definitely DON'T want is anything that looks like it was done with a computer. I hate seeing those effects in a puppetfilm. It's fine to use a computer, but you need to remain true to the visual purity of the medium. It's funny... my original intent was for this to just be maybe a five minute film, taking place entirely aboard the ship. And it might end up going back to that, depending on how my tests go for the whaleboat shots.

Posted by David Rosler, on 2003-08-01 02:59:13

A suggestion about the approach to the film. You have a dynamite atmosphere going on with that style and sepia look and all. How about if you play up the SOUND alot, using sound effects almost as precisely as a music score..... the shadows on the deck dip and weave suggesting a strong motion of the boat on the water, and we only see the oarsman's SHADOWS rowing. In other words, the ONLY character you see in anything OTHER than shadow is Ahab, and if sound and cinema are played right, in my opinion his look could carry the film, but you'd need to do alot of expressionistic shadow work. Now, Mike, all that expressionistic use of sound and shadow is something you'll just HATE (he he), but it could work, particularly for contrast when each scene has been continually tweaked with animated shadow taking up this and that preportion of any shot, and then when we hear the thunderous whale it's shadow envelops the entire scene. For perspective, think Trinka meets Lotte Reiniger as inspired by Nosferatu. Just a theatrical suggestion.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-08-01 03:55:45

Good stuff David.... Very much in line with my own thinking. I definitely do want to have some shots where you only see Ahab, but for the long shots, where you actually see the boat skipping along the surface of the (invisible) ocean, I'll need to have actual oarsmen. I might need to make small puppets, because otherwise the whole whale boat will be about two feet long or so, and I wouldn't have enough room on the set to give the right illusion of motion. Wow, this keeps getting more complicated. Now I need to make smaller versions of 8 puppets? That in itself wouldn't be so bad, but making all the clothes...... Ok, come to think of it, in Ahab's boat he had a crew of cannibals who remained hidden below decks until the moment Moby was spotted, then burst forth and leapt into his specially outfitted (for a peg-legged captain) boat. Their clothing could consist of scarves and bracelets. This is actually one of the more interesting things about the Gregory Peck movie.... I think Huston did a remarkably good job of capturing the dark brooding atmosphere, and got across the intent of Melville's text brilliantly, but he entirely left out the stowaway cannibal crew and the most interesting and menacing character, the pagan leader and harpooneer of Ahab's handpicked crew, Fedallah, who served as a dark doppleganger for him. At the end of the movie, when Ahab dies tangled in the ropes on Moby's flank, that was actually supposed to be Fedallah. For influences, actually I'm thinking Trnka and Murnau, but NOT Nosferatu. I was unimpressed with it. I hope to AVOID stiff, wooden acting and flat, undynamic scenes. I think Nosferatu suffered from being shot on location, where as Murnau reached a brilliant level of expressionism in Faust, done entirely on sets.

Posted by David Rosler, on 2003-08-01 05:37:53

I was trying to think of a stylistic way of approach it so you aren't fine-tuning figures for the next year :-) If you only show the figures in the long shot rowing, they could even be tiny clay ones, albiet carefully handled, or sculpy parts connected with clay, but only for long shots. You kinow what might work, though it sounds insanely ecceentric? IRIS shots. It's been a long time since anyone successfully used that old silent film convention. And title cards? With the style of your film, how cool would that be? (Sorry. Me just having fun)

Posted by Strider, on 2003-08-01 06:27:28

Hmmm.... not sure what an iris shot is.... Title cards would fit in nicely, wouldn't they? Or maybe some calligraphy, like someone writing a letter or reading one or something. I would like to have narration, done preferrably (of course) by a well-versed actor with stage skills. It wouldn't be Ahab, I'm planning to tell it through the point of view of one of the doomed sailors. Not Ishmael, who was the narrator of the book and sole survivor of the wreck of the Pequod. It can have a different tone if told from the perspective of one who is about to die. And after thinking about these whale boat shots, I'm really leaning back toward my original concept of a short tale told entirely aboard the ship. I entertained fantasies of also doing a sequence showing the stripping of a whale, the way Melville described it so beautifully. That was one of the things I loved about the book, but was impossible to get across right in a film version without making it sixteen hours long; all the description of daily life aboard a whaling ship. But it would be great to see at least this part. Brief description..... Since a sperm whale is bigger than the ship, it is tied alongside to float in the water, with sharks ripping chunks of blubber from it constantly and gulls and albatross attacking it from the air. (I wouldn't even attempt birds... but maybe sharks, since I think this whole sequence is nothing but an elaborate fantasy on my part....). One of the harpooneers drops onto the whales back with a whaling spade, a long spade kept razor sharp for the purpose, and cuts a hole through the blubber just behind one of the fins. A rope is lowered from a block and tackle located high in the rigging, with a big hook that is passed through the hole, and the sailors start ratcheting it upward, keeping constant tension on it as the harpooneer begins to slice a long spiral cut all the way around the whale, the way you skin an apple in one big spiral cut. The whale is attached in such a way that it can spin in the water, so the blubber comes off in one long piece that is lifted slowly up to the highest part of the main mast. When the block and tackle reaches its highest point, the blubber is cut and the procedure started again, because there is just too much blubber to get in one go. Anyway, from the top of the mast, the strip of blubber is then lowered through a big hatch in the deck down into the hold, where sailors cut it into pieces with more whaling spades or huge swordlike blades made for the purpose. There are a lot of specialized blades on a whaling ship, and they're HUGE! After this, the pieces of blubber are cooked down into oil in the tryworks, which are big brick ovens built amidships right on the deck. Then the oil is packed into the many empty barrels brought along for the purpose. It's like one big mobile processing plant, entirely self sufficient, carrying enough food and water to remain afloat without ever touching port for three years. And of course, byproducts of the whale were used for just about everything aboard the ship. In an age when the world was lit entirely by whale oil and it sold for a premium, a whaling ship carried a ridiculous excess of the finest oil available! Here is an excerpt from the book, with a brief intro that i got from another website that describes one of the most potent visual images imaginable.... "In the following passage from 'The Try-Works', the 'white bone' is the play of the waves at the prow of the boat, the 'savages' are everyone - the non-white harpooners (Ahab's troubleshooter Parsee, Fedallah, and his eerie squad) plus the rest of the 'cannibal' crew, led by their Captain; the corpse is that of a whale killed a few hours earlier by Stubb, the Second Mate who, in giving chase, had abandoned Ahab's cross-racial double, Pip the cabin-boy, to his madness in the middle of the ocean: As the wind howled on, and the sea leaped, and the ship groaned and dived, and yet steadfastly shot her red hell further and further into the blackness of the sea and the night, and scornfully champed the white bone in her mouth, and viciously spat round her on all sides; then the rushing Pequod, freighted with savages, and laden with fire, and burning a corpse, and plunging into that blackness of darkness, seemed the material counterpart of her monomaniac commander's soul." This is another scene I would love to capture, but might be beyond my current abilities. It would only work really if I could do the whale-stripping sequence before it. And that one would be reeeeealy tricky. I suppose i could use some gelatine or foam latex for the blubber. It would be cool if I could show it actually melting down into oil. I guess that wouldn't be too hard. But the whole thing with the block and tackle going way up into the rigging and the whale spinning as the blubber rolls off.... I don't know about all that! I think it must remain a dream, and I will do the film the way I originally envisioned it. But I will definitely keep thinking on it, and if I think I can pull it off.... :P

Posted by Strider, on 2003-08-01 07:55:11

Just found the ultimate resource for information about whaling. If anyone, like me, is captivated by this stuff, check out some of the various blades and implements you can find here:

Posted by David Rosler, on 2003-08-01 09:13:17

I love your description of "Moby Dick, The $200 Million Dollar motion Picture" :-P An iris shot, used in the silent days, is when the screen is mostly black and there's an open little circle, usually a close-up on the actor. A common term, "iris out", is when they used to close down the picture with that same convention. In your film you could put all this together. You could have a close up of Ahab in the right corner, for instance, framed by an iris, with a caligraphic title card making up the rest of the shot, florid white script on black, shot through diffusion to give it a hazy, old time look. Mmmmmmmm. Could be the animation equivelant of a double hot fudge sundae.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-08-01 10:25:54

Thanks for the explanation. Yeah, that would be cool. An iris shot... maybe blurred around the edges. ... a 'whale's eye view'? ;-)

Posted by David Rosler, on 2003-08-01 21:10:54

"... a 'whale's eye view'?" You know, you may have something there. If you were to establish the Iris shots as part of the story telling convention, and then mimic it toward the end very directly, with Ahab "reflected" in the eye of the whale, it has all sorts of suggestive narrantive possibilities, including suggesting the whale as the co-author, or shifting the first-person perspective at the end to make a point.(well, it is a PUPPET film, right?) Regardless of my feelings about statements required for the definition of art, some interesting staements, or better yet, suggestions, could be made manipulating the conventions that way.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-08-01 23:59:26

Ok, I've thought about it all day, and here's how I';m going to do it... Forget the Nantucket sleighride and the blubber stripping sequence. If I try to shoot all that, it becomes an action/adventure story, and I get hung up in all kinds of tricky effects that will make my life difficult when I should be concentrating on simpler animation and storytelling in order to learn my chops. So I go back to the original concept... a tale told completely in the confines of the ship with only human characters. I MIGHT still try to include a scene in the hold with the 'blanket' of blubber being lowered through the hatch and the men cutting it up with boarding knives and mincing knives. Interesting.... they would cut it into thin slices to increase the surface area to facilitate boiling out the oil, while leaving it attached along the skin edge, making what they called 'bible leaves'. Anyway... the focus is now on simple dramatic performance and on staging/lighting etc. Very Barry Purves (but no nudity!). For inspiration I'm thinking of a few movies based on plays, in particular since I learned the moive Attack (Jack Palance and Eddie Albert WW2 movie that I mentioned under Silent Movie Recommendations) was based on a play. That explains the unusual form of it.... I only caught the last 20 minutes or so, but it was a group of US soldiers hiding out in the shelled remains of a building in Germany while German tanks rolled along the street right outside. They had to remain in hiding, and were dealing with terrible internal problems brought on by their incompetent captain (Eddie Albert) who constantly sends them into unsurvivable situations. I said that Palance played a sadistic captain, but that's wrong. I managed to tape some of it and when I re-watched it, he's actually a scary but very right-minded soldier who stands up against the weak captain. I misunderstood a few remarks the soldiers directed against Eddie Albert and thought they were directed at Palance. In the end, one of them kills Albert, and they all have to deal with the guilt. It's excellent drama, and serves as a fantastic template to build my tale on. I ordered the DVD, and this is the movie I plan to dissect as professor Boy Oyng suggested for study purposes.

Posted by Strider, on 2003-08-06 07:23:56

Update..... I now have my focus for the film, I know how I'm going to do it. I knew I wanted to show a small part of the Moby Dick story, from a different characters' viewpoint, but I didn't know whose. So I went through and just started thinking about which characters I want to include. When I got to the ships carpenter, I knew I had my narrator. He's actually THE most interesting character, except for Ahab and maybe Queequeg the cannibal harpooneer. To understand how perfectly suited he is as a narrator, you must first get a picture of just how important a ships carpenter was on a whaling voyage. The ship would sojourn for three years without ever putting in at any port, so if something needed fixing, he was the one who did it. He actually had a forge built right on the deck, and served as blacksmith, carpenter, surgeon and dentist. He would straighten harpoon shafts after they had been used... they invariably get bent like corkscrews. He would also forge the heads for harpoons and lances, and sharpen the various knives used in cutting up the whales, and fix whaling boat hulls and build barrels and make coffins (well, ok, rare, but Queequeg did have one constructed for himself). He would also set broken bones and pull teeth, and possibly even cut hair and give shaves. What a great opportunity.... what a great perspective he has on the voyage.... seeing everything after it's broken and repairing it. Each item tells part of the whole story. In fact, at one point in the book, Ahab comes to him with a sack full of horseshoe nails he wants forged into a harpoon shaft, and a bunch of sonlingen steel razors to be made into the head, and asks him "Carpenter, can you fix ANY rent?". The carpenter looks at his scarred face, thinks about his tormented soul, and replies "All save one". I was at a standstill as far as the story until I thought of this... now my mind is racing with ideas. I also want to report my progress on the barrels front. I made 19 from the original mold, and decided I needed about 50 to fill the space designated for the hold set, so I glued six together into a stack and made a big latex mold of the whole stack, open at the back. Now I'm casting them in 6-packs! It ends up wasting a lot less resin actually. The mold isn't real good, and they come out a little funky, but these will form the back rows, and I'll be putting good ones in front to hide any weird spots.

Posted by Eric Scott, on 2003-12-06 20:31:55

STRIDER: How's it going you old salty sea dawg! :7 I don't know if you've seen this yet or not, but I just picked up the latest issue of Amazing Figure Modeler (Issue 28) and found an article on a miniature model based on ol' Herman's book. Here's a few pics for ya. Note: the images below are used without permission and for "educational" and "inspirational" purposes only! (and the resolution is kinda crappy too)

Posted by Strider, on 2003-12-06 23:37:58

Wow... nice! :9 Man, just looking at those scenes makes me want to animate them! I wonder if the whale models are the same one that you sent me pics of before? I think it was a very large scale vinyl kit. Man, my subscription to AFM must have run out.... it's been awhile since I got an issue. Wonder how many I missed? I should pop over to the website and fill out my collection. As for my film, I just came from another thread (Where do animators get ideas, or something like that) where I gave an update. I guess i ought to do that here, since this thread is where I've been talking about that project. I'll cut and paste that post in here, so anybody who already read it can just stop now: "I just wanted to actually go all the way through the process of making a film, from designing and fabricating puppets and making sets and props, to scripting and animating and editing. And it's not coming out exactly as I imagined it. What I'm finding is that everything is looking too realistic. I wish my puppets were more stylized, with bigger heads and short legs, sort of like a Trnka or a Rankin Bass puppet (not quite that stylized). I also wish my setpieces and props were a little more twisted and exaggerated. And even though I designed the set before making it, it came out exactly the opposite of everything I want to do.... basically it's a flat rectangular wall set parallel to the camera plane, with simple blocklike forms all set at right angles. About as visually boring as you can get, and this after looking at all those awesome expressionist sets in Faust! The reason it came out like this is because I based my designs on a very pedestrian reading of the book and the description of the blacksmith's area behind the Tryworks on the deck of the Pequod. The Tryworks is a huge brick oven where the whale flesh is rendered into oil, so I imagine it as a large rectangular brick box. And of course, when I was building it, I hit on the idea of using a cardboard box to build the oven around, so that helped to turn it into a boring, flat-sided shape. It's like a comedy of errors in set design. BUT, I'm glad I did it. It proved to me that, in spite of all the great design I have floating around in my head, it's very easy to fall into the traps of oversimplification and boring design. I still plan to shoot some tests and just get some experience at animating on this set, but I'm going to do a redesign. And it's all going to start with some more stylized and exaggerated puppets. But the important thing is, because I Just Started, I now have a much better idea of what I need to change and how to change it. " ...And that's where I stand right now. I'm going to put that boring, boxy set up and just start shooting, get some experience at walking puppets around and trying to get them to perform. It'll still be another month before I get the lens and power supply for my Hitachi HV-C20, so I'll just use the trusty old Unibrain and not worry about depth of field or good optics. Hopefully when I do get the Hitachi set up, I'll have better puppets and sets ready, and know a few things about animating.

Posted by Eric Scott, on 2003-12-07 00:15:56

Ricard Kuchita sculpted the whales from balsa wood (painted and resined). The figures were military figures he re-worked with epoxy and Winsor & Newton oil paints. He described using insect pins for the eyes (I guess he paints them and then inserts them into the figures somehow). I believe everything is in 1/32nd scale. Glad to hear you're making progress even if not quite how you intended. I can't wait to see the images the Hitachi puts out. Good luck! Eric

Posted by Strider, on 2003-12-07 00:35:21

"I can't wait to see the images the Hitachi puts out." heh, me too. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, hoping there are no dead pixels or anything. I bought it as is, untested. I won't even know how well it works (IF it works) until I get a lens and a power supply for it. I consider it a gamble, and hey, I got the camera for $300.00, about a tenth of actual cost .

Posted by teabgs, on 2003-12-07 08:54:11

hey Strider: I just read through (skimmed through) this entire thread. so, if I missed it my bad....otherwise, did you ever make a decision about the water? I dont know what kinda of software you know, but you could do some cool stylized stuff for water in a computer. Also, you don't have to show ALL the water, but what if you just had splashes against the side of the ship , and a wake...and the rest is black? I think that'd be pretty visually interesting. Sorry if this point doesnt matter any more.

Posted by Eric Scott, on 2003-12-07 10:56:27

I've got a lot of water planned for my first film (99% of the story takes place at sea) and I've been thinking about using CG for some of the effects like you described above. CG would come in handy for those fine sprays of mist and quick splashes. Another alternative I was considering was to simply shoot your model ship in real water (Gerry Anderson style) and then fade from one frame to the next. Similar to Harryhausen's technique with the facial expressions on one of his early films (I think Hansel and Gretel). This would give you a somewhat stylized transition in wave movement. I haven't tried it yet but I would imagine it would look pretty interesting. For the miniatures above, Envirotex Lite was used for water. Apparently, you mix it up as a 50/50 ratio and stir it for six minutes and then pour into layers no deeper than 1/4 inch. I suppose you could do this as a cycle of replacement waves with some careful planning. The wave peaks were made with Devcon 5 Minute Epoxy and dry brushed with gloss white. Envirotex Lite: Devcon 5 Minute Epoxy:

Posted by Strider, on 2003-12-07 23:01:18

Thanks Jason and Eric. I appreciate the ideas, but so far, I'm planning to not show any water at all. I've decided against doing any shots in the small whale boats (take a look at those crowded compositions in the models Eric posted... just thinking about trying to animate all those people jammed into that tight space gives me a headache) and I've pretty much decided on a 5 or 6 minute length for the film, so all the shots will be either on the deck, in a cabin, or in the hold, and I'm thinking some shots of the whale underwater. So, the only way the surface would even be visible is over the rail in some of the deck shots, and in order to get a sense of the ship as a microcosm I'm setting all the scenes at night. I want the sea and sky to both be black, though if that doesn't look right, I might go with a misty grey. I'm going to experiment with some lighting effects to represent reflections of the waves on the ship. I only want to suggest the presence of the sea through reflections and sound. Basically I want to present the impression that the ship is floating through space, no longer associated with this earth.

Posted by exit_44, on 2003-12-08 07:41:07

Hey Mike, The Pics you shared so far really look way cool, also the harpoons etc. Great work, can´t wait to see more ! keep us up to date (I know you will ; ) Greetings, Jürgen

Posted by Nick H, on 2003-12-08 16:32:07

Hi Mike, With the character design, I think you are very much on the right track. I understand about the straight rectangular shapes in the set though. I have the same problem with design, I keep slipping back into the semi-realistic. I was planning this wonky city, but now realize it probably has to be straight and rectangular to contrast with the twisted natural forms of the rainforest it is in conflict with. Damn! It's easier to build straight, and there's more chance to reuse some of my existing buildings, but I wanted more of a style change. I've got the same problem sculpting my characters. I wanted a new look, but most of the faces I've sculpted could fit into my previous films. I'm still working on that one. I've never seen a trying oven, but I picture something like the bottle shaped brick kilns I've seen, which would be more interesting than a rectangle. (I'd be tempted, even if it's not authentic.) And inside a sailing ship there's a curve to the hull that helps you know it's a ship interior. Things like the windows at the stern, where the captain's cabin usually is, are not straight up and down. They lean out, they taper, they form a curve across the stern. So even before you stylize, you've got the beginnings of a slightly out-of-square world. The skewed shapes flow very naturally out of some of the shapes already there, they just need a little exaggeration. I would hate to see you lose the look that you imagined. Of course, it's easy for me to say!

Posted by Strider, on 2003-12-09 00:04:15

" I picture something like the bottle shaped brick kilns I've seen, which would be more interesting than a rectangle" Hey.... yeeeaaaahhhh! :7 Now THERE'S an idea. I looked through the movie (the Gregory Peck one) and I don't think they ever really showed the tryworks clearly. They did show Perth's forge (Perth is the blacksmith's name) and it was a tiny little round metal foldaway deal that sort of looks like a little barbeque grill. That's actually how it was described in the book, as a portable forge lashed against the back of the triworks somehow, but I wanted a big heavy one made of stone with a copper hood. There's just something I really like about the idea of a wooden ship carrying around these magnificently heavy piles of brick and stone. Only on a whaling ship. I hadn't really thought about the leaning walls for the deckhouse or anything... but of course the rail is a long curved shape, and the walls of some of the rooms in the hold would be shaped by the hull. Thanks for all the ideas. Basically the only part of the deck I was planning to make was the area behind the triworks, where Perth's forge and the (unnamed) carpenter's station are side by side. But I guess right behind them would be the deckhouse, though my shooting plan would put that out of sight behind the camera. I do plan to have the bottom of one of the masts right between them, and framing the top of the scene would be a... um, is it called a spar? The big beam attached to the sails. I would have a dirty white sail wrapped around it (furled?). I also have a big piece of burlap that I would love to have folded up and laying around like a piece of netting, but with the realism of everythoing else, it wouldn't look right. I do love the natural, rough look of it, and I especially like the idea that while people would recognize it as burlap, if I had everything as stylized as I would like, it would also read as fishing net. I'm starting to think that slight stylization is more difficult than extreme stylization, like the look of Krysar. When you're going all out like that and all the sets are built in forced perspective and everything is carved from foam in that heavy handed cubist technique, I would think there wouldn't be as much of a problem (assuming of course that it's something you as an artist are comfortable with). But when you're only trying to stylize slightly, and there's a lot of almost realistic stuff included, it's easy to get sucked into the realism trap. "I was planning this wonky city, but now realize it probably has to be straight and rectangular to contrast with the twisted natural forms of the rainforest it is in conflict with." Not necessarily. Think about those wonderful writhing walls in Der Golem. They're twisted and skewed, not a whole lot (not as much as Krysar for instance) but enough. If you have the Kino DVD, there are some illustrations shown from an old edition of an illustrated book that they took their design from. And while there is a wonky quality to everything, it is definitely architectural as opposed to organic (but with a slightly organic feel to it). I think twisting vines and trees could read a lot more rounded and organic, and there would still be pelnty of contrast. And of course you would have the contrast of stone and brick against wood and vegetation.

Posted by Boy Oyng, on 2003-12-10 21:44:26

Hey Mike, My curiosity got tickled, so here are a few images of tryworks I found... You've probably seen plenty of these already. Also, there's a good whaling museum in New Bedford with a website: I've been to this museum... Them thar harpoons is wicked looking! One idea occurs to me. What if you set a lot of the action at night or dusk or in fog? Atmosphere, interesting lighting, no visible water. And Nick... while I'm thinking about everybody else's project but my own. Could you "stylize" in the reverse direction for your city? Instead of wonky, take it to the level of a paranoid Mies van der Rohe: razor edges and glass? B

Posted by Strider, on 2003-12-11 00:29:15

Thanks B.O. (um, can I call you B.O.? No, ok then, sorry ;-) ) Yeah, I've seen all those images before, except I think for the first one. But I saw another ship model, that someone had converted into the Pequod, with basically the same tryworks, just a big rectangular pile of bricks. That's what I was basing mine on. As far as shooting night shots... I'm thinking the whole film will take place on one night, just a half hour or so (of film time, not real time) and be entirely character driven..... mostly close ups of faces and hands working. I guess the boxy background doesn't matter so much in that kind of scenario, since it will just be partially visible in the background.

Posted by Eric Scott, on 2003-12-11 09:01:46

Shooting at night, I think you've got a wonderful opportunity to create some interesting lighting effects as well with just the glow and flicker of flames from the tryworks. The design of your Ahab puppet will look great in these conditions. Just by changing the lighting, you can evoke quite a mood or expression on that face. The sails lit from underneath, stars overhead . . . oh, sorry just dreaming. :7

Posted by egendron, on 2007-09-03 12:13:01

strider is Ahab gonna be b/w or sepia like the walk tests I've seen? if so, why not just use carboard and paint? I did so for a moonshine still barrel and it loox fine. will try and post a pic.

Posted by Strider, on 2007-09-03 22:23:39

Hey Ed - I actually have about 20 barrels now, all cast in resin and painted up - they look almost completely real! I still have them packed in a bax, and boxes with some of the other props - and one day I will bust it all out and make [i][b]the Ahab film!!! [/b][/i]

Posted by Brian_M_Prosser, on 2008-07-26 09:34:02

[div class="dcquote"][strong]Quote[/strong] > Hey Ed - (^prosser aka Edwound Wisent (^ uh hmmn? ((^ notes from far past fer me there eh? how'djye knew?! > I actually have about 20 barrels now, > all cast in resin and painted up - > they look almost completely real! (^ so send a few off to seamus. let them be used to stor snatched kids in: maybe one in the wine cellar or pickle barrel could be used as an entrance to an underground holding bin for kids forced to squash grapes and soak cucumbers for a child snatching slave labor master? > I still have them packed in a box, (^ oh come now.. can't hand off a batch? you still have the mold? > and boxes with some of the other props - > and one day I will bust it all out and make [i][b]the Ahab film!!!
(^ or.. assaSinbad's 9th symphenomenony hAYE nonninonny?? [/b][/i] [/div] (^ branch out!sWINGit! boppettybob popswooshy! (^ USe yOUR eWEs!

Posted by Strider, on 2008-07-26 22:57:56

Oh man.... I pretty much cast until the mold was a ragged scrap of rubber... in fact I was holding it together with duct tape for the last few castings!!! I really don't want to deplete my supply before I even start filming! I can look at every one of those barrels and remember the crisis that created it.... rushed panic as the resin tried to set up before I was through mixing and pouring... in some cases running out before the mold was completely full and trying desperately to turn it over and make the last little bit run into the gap.... sometimes it didn't work and I had to mix up a batch of epoxy putty to fill those holes. Then the patching up and seaming, the painting and detailing.... no, I can't part with any of these pieces of my flesh and sweat and soul before I make the movie. What I'm sharing here is the knowledge and info. And not just for Nofby, for anybody who might be able to make use of it. The technique would work for a lot more than just barrels. I know a lot of people won't bother looking into the old threads.... most seem to just pop in and ask questions without even checking whether they've been asked before (most have, and been answered over and over). So from time to time, whenever a good excuse comes up, I like to pull out one of these old threads and blow the dust off it.