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Posted by JeNnDyLyOn, on 2011-02-01 01:02:15

Pickets & Pumpkins

Hey all :) I just wanted to describe a set and see if it my method of making it would be at all plausible. Okay, so I'm working on a Halloween-themed music video, based on a song that I learned when I was in kindergarten. In it, I'm going to have pumpkins sitting on a gate and in my mind, the gate was always a picket. However, pumpkins can't sit on pickets fences, without the boards going through them or something. However, I was wondering if it'd work if I were to make the pickets look flat from the front when actually, they'd be thick so that the pumpkins can sit on them for the animation process. The pumpkins I plan to make will be generic Halloween-looking ones in different shapes and I will be constructing them out of clay. I'll be painting the background, installing a light for the full moon, animating witches flying across the background, have leaves blowing in the wind, clouds blowing across the moon, the fence (built out of wood) and of course the pumpkins (complete with litup insides, if I can make it happen) :)

Posted by Nick H, on 2011-02-01 02:00:45

Mmmm.... In practical terms you could have the fence deeper than it looks so the pumpkins have something to sit on, but you also need the audience to believe they would sit there on the fence. Some thoughts: *You could impale each pumpkin on a picket, rather than just balance it on top. *There could be a post every so often, with a flat top on it. Provided the pumpkins don't need to be too close together. I've seen picket fences like that, sometimes the posts have a round pointed finial sticking up, sometimes a flat top just a little higher than the pickets in between. *It could be a wall with a wider top (which is not what you wanted). Pumpkins - I made a Fimo head over polystyrene foam once, and when I baked it, the styrene disappeared, leaving a hollow Fimo head. Oops! But that could be quite good for the pumpkins, making them in an orange polymer clay that would be hollow to put a light inside. Alternatively, slush cast them in liquid latex in a plaster mould, so they would forma a thin hollow skin. That would have the translucency for the light to glow through. Not sure about the polymer clay, it might if you used "transparent" mixed with orange. Strider knows all about pumpkin animation! :7 I think he used plasticine.

Posted by JeNnDyLyOn, on 2011-02-01 12:46:39

Ah I see what you're saying! I've seen those, too actually so I think today I'll make a rough sketch of what you're talking about and see how that can be constructed. At the end of the video, the pumpkins roll off of the fence :) Whether they're going to wind up rolling frontward, backward or to the side, I haven't quite determined yet. But regardless, there has to be flat tops to this fence, like you said. For a fence that's part picket, it might be better (and more realistic) for the pumpkins to roll forward or backward. For the lights, since I'm sure I can't use real candlelight with the plasticine, I remember seeing these at a work party http://www.partylightsite.com/userimages/floralyte-submersible_led-lights.jpg Perhaps if I could find the yellow/orange versions of these lights and model the pumpkins around them, I can make something work. The question at that point I think would be how to get the candlelight-flickering effect. I'll do some more digging around the msg board for that and other alternatives :) I like the idea with the liquid latex/plaster mold and will check out Strider's work to study his pumpkins :) Thanks, again, Nick!

Posted by Nick H, on 2011-02-01 22:22:46

If you can run the light bulbs from a transformer instead of a battery, you could plug that into a dimmer switch and vary the voltage to get flicker. (Does that work with LEDs? Haven't tried those yet.) If you don't find yellow lights, just scrunch up some yellow cellophane to put around them. Or, if you can find some transparent stain glass paint at an arts & craft store, you can paint the lightbulb with it. Actually, in a music video - it could be cool if the pumpkins all rolled sideways, along the fence! All going left, then all going right, like a chorus line... :7 I was forgetting it was a music video and thinking too literally - the pumpkins can do anything they want to, realism probably isn't a major issue.

Posted by JeNnDyLyOn, on 2011-02-02 14:50:11

Hi Nick :) When you say "transformer", do you mean something like this http://www.amazon.com/Hera-3-Light-Transformer-SET2LEDWH-WW/dp/B000OZH464 or this? http://factoidz.com/images/user/transformer-grounded.jpg I apologize for asking such a simple question. I just saw something neat about stained glass paint! I think I'll experiment with that :D And about the pumpkins rolling, I've been thinking about it and I think I prefer them rolling off to the side as well XD Unless I plan to make splattering noises at the end of the video when they fall off the fence XD The side-rolling may be a bit more challenging, due to the picket as well as the flat surface but hey, I'm up to it!

Posted by JeNnDyLyOn, on 2011-02-02 15:02:12

I also came across this from another forum where the question was asked by someone else, [i]"One way you might try the flickering look of a fire is to do a simple light shadow trick. It involves cutting up some orange, red, and yellow light gels and gluing them together in a random pattern. Then this light gel can be hung in front of your light and moved slightly for every new frame of animation. I havent tried it but it might look pretty neat. I still don't know how Ray Harryhausen did it in his Medusa sequence. It is probably the best stop motion fire lighting you can ever find."[/i] However, for a simple small light inside of a pumpkin, this method won't be necessary. However, for a later project, I DO plan on having a headless horseman throw a flaming pumpkin at the camera so that fiery lighting will be necessary then ;)

Posted by Jim Aupperle, on 2011-02-02 18:32:39

[div class="dcquote"][strong]Quote[/strong] "One way you might try the flickering look of a fire is to do a simple light shadow trick. It involves cutting up some orange, red, and yellow light gels and gluing them together in a random pattern. Then this light gel can be hung in front of your light and moved slightly for every new frame of animation. [/div] That sounds something like what we had for a fire flicker effect on ROBOCOP 2. The color gels were attached to a rotating plastic wheel that was placed in front of the light and that wheel was just animated going around frame by frame. Jim Aupperle

Posted by grecodan, on 2011-02-02 21:57:17

[div class="dcquote"][strong]Quote[/strong] I still don't know how Ray Harryhausen did it in his Medusa sequence. It is probably the best stop motion fire lighting you can ever find." [/div] On page 74 of "Ray Harryhausen, a Life in Pictures", there's a photo showing Ray animating Medusa. Visible to the left, and noted in the caption, is a large plastic disk with various pieces of colored gels placed willy-nilly on it. By rotating the disk, Ray created the flickering fire effect on the Medusa model. Sometimes the simple methods work the best.

Posted by Nick H, on 2011-02-03 08:57:26

I've used pieces of coloured gel or cellophane, place on a pinspot which was under the set, pointing up, to put light into a fireplace. I didn't have a wheel to turn, I just took one piece off and put on another, then 2 at once, then none, to vary the light. A wheel would be easier. That seemed a bit fiddly to do inside a model pumpkin, too easy to bump it while changing the bit of gel. I have a few 12 volt, 50 watt downlight kits, which come with a small transformer, and cost around $10 these days. I also bought some very small light globes of lower wattage - some as little as 3 watts - but making sure they were all 12 volts. That way one of those transformers could run one or several of them. A little plug-in dimmer switch from Ikea can vary the voltage going into the transformer. I haven't needed to use these tiny lights since the LED lights started replacing most of those small lights. I don't know what voltage the LEDs are. Christmas tree lights that run on mains power could plug directly into the dimmer, I think... I used a string of Xmas tree lights on my movie theatre set but didn't need to dim them, I'd have to check to see if that actually works. Trouble is you don't want all the pumpkins flickering in unison so you would need several dimmers. Some flicker could be added in post production, by selecting the pumpkin and altering the brightness, frame by frame. I use Photoshop or TV Paint. There is a flickering lantern in the very first shot here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qtOsLAnv7go There is a 12 volt globe, with a wire going down to a 12 volt transformer. I added a glow around the lamp in post to get a slightly foggy feel, but I don't remember if the flicker was done in post by varying the brightness of that glow, or if I ran the transformer through a dimmer so the light flickered already.