Monday, April 27, 2009

One week to go

We had a quick meeting with the cast last night, minus one. It was just to get everyone together, a lot didn't know each other so it was good to get everyone acquainted.

Also got the cast done of John's face, I'll be sculpting that today most likely. It's been a hectic couple weeks, as you might recall if you've been following this, so hectic in fact I had to go to the hospital yesterday - apparently I'm suffering from exhaustion. Stress related and very much work related. So I have to quiet things down, the timing is good though. So I'm taking time off working for other people and just doing Cronus and my own stuff for right now.

Otherwise things are going really well. We should have the office all put together by week's end.

In the meantime here's a shot of the cast, minus Adrian Mears. And minus their demon prosthetics.

From left to right: Pete Muprhy, Kier Kenny, Natasha Kudashkina, Draper Bulger and John MacDonald.

Overall I think it's a pretty good looking cast, other then Draper I've never worked extensively with these folks before. I've worked with Pete on a couple of his projects and had him in the first feature I made, The Supposed Prophets, but only as a minor character.

And the room they're in is the newly painted office set.

Should be good.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Very minor update.

The paint job on the office set is finally finished. It took so long because I had too much going on the last couple weeks to really stick at for any period of time and just dropped by and did an hour here and there. So that's done, we'll be moving the props and whatnot in this week.

The costumes are pretty much taken care of I think. Just a few minor things to check - I'm meeting with all the actors on Sunday on the location and they'll be in costume. Any changes will be pretty quickly made since we start shooting on May 3rd.

One major change, and this has yet to be confirmed, we're moving our one location, outside of the current building we're shooting all our other scenes in, into the same building as well. As I was leaving today I took a bit of a look around the main entrance and noticed just how much like the Havilland Club it looked like. It'll have to be cleaned and dressed a bit, but it does save me a rental cost and trying to book it for the exact date we need to shoot.

I'll have to light it and give a look on camera after the meeting on Sunday.

The prosthetics are nearly all completed. The Bofa and Lilith ones are finished, I need to make one or two more depending. Cronus is sculpted and the molds are ready to go, I'll be running a batch of foam tomorrow and we'll see how that turns out. The prosthetic for the character of the Thug should be good to go early in the week. It'll be a bit of a busy week with 3 deadlines converging. I'm not look forward to it.

And depending on how things go, we might see a trailer for Cronus up by first week of May. It's just a matter of how rushed things feel with the shoot. Consolidating our locations into one building has made it somewhat easier already.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Things are getting a little hectic

The last couple days, and most likely the next two weeks, have been pretty damned hectic. I've been juggling 3, at times 4 or 5 projects. The main 3 have nearly the same deadline...I've no idea how I managed that.

In any case, they're all coming together, although a little slowly.

I managed to get another prosthetic made, came out pretty good. I had a hard time decided what I wanted it to look like, so I'm sort of on the fence about the final product.

Another sculpt destroyed for a mold.

And the final product.

I decided since I had so much left over the first time I ran a batch of foam, that I'd just make another Bofa prosthetic.

It came out okay, but the tips of the horns are funky...

I'm not sure what caused Bofa's case of funky horns. Odd that for all the blathering folks do online about how to do this stuff and all their words of warning - not one (that I've ever come across) ever mentioned what happens what a batch of foam goes wrong. Is it this? I mean, that's definitely wrong, but the number of things that could go wrong in the process it'd be nice to know what common mistakes can be made - I seriously doubt whatever caused this is outside of the norm.

What I did differently was let this one sit for a coupe hours while the first one baked, I've only got a small oven so one at a time for now. Was it that? Was it because it cooked for too long? Another thing I've never heard anyone caution against and what the results might be.

I think the oven was a little hot since the molds cracked, not enough to ruin them at least.

Anyway, kind of annoys me with so many people impressed with their skills at doing this have never taken the time to actually describe the results of what can happen if something goes wrong. There's only a fairly small number so cataloging the results wouldn't be that big of a deal. I'm not expert, otherwise I'd do it myself.

Anyway, while someone who knows more then me ponders this, I'll move on.

Props! I finally got a couple minor office props in for Cronus. While they're not an "Oh my god, those are so awesome I'm going blind because I'll never see such wonders again!" sort of thing, they are pretty cool - because they're real antiques. Not replicas.

I got them pretty cheap at a place out west called They have some cool stuff, mostly kitchenwares.

We should be finishing up the paint job on the office set tomorrow and over the next two weeks we'll be getting things set up. I'll have some photographic evidence to prove it later.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

How's this for crazy sounding...

We worked on the office set for Cronus today, we got it all prepped and a first coat of paint on there. It's looking so much better. But before we went to paint, we were sort of killing time, Draper and I went to Cash Converters for a second (if you don't know what that is, it's just a 2nd hand/pawn shop sort of place) and guess what I found there?

My video camera that had been stolen back on Dec, 2006. I was pretty sure it was mine since I think Pete Murphy and I were the only two on PEI who had a Canon GL1 and Pete's camera is at my place. I took a look at it and it had the battery release broken, just like mine did. So I called the cops, got the serial number all sorted out and whatnot and yes, it was mine. I even know, although I'm not sure if I'm supposed to, the name of the person, and their address, who brought it in.

Now I don't know if this person was the one who actually stole it, or if she (yes it was a she) just happened to eventually come into possession of it somehow along the line. For all I know this person may have come into legitimate possession of it somehow (as legitimate as it can be at least when dealing with stolen goods) and upon realizing it didn't actually work - decided to pawn it off.

I was told she didn't actually pawn it though, it was simply on loan - she traded it for cash, and then supposedly was going to come back and pick it, effectively buying it back for the same price plus interest. If that makes sense. What makes it seem a little more odd is that she put it on loan for only $80...A camera originally worth $3700 and a Firestore drive for $1000, she only wanted $80. Seems desperate to me, regardless how clueless she was the camera's actual worth.

And luckily, this person was obviously so broke - or useless - she couldn't even afford to pay back $80. Or she was well aware it was no good and was thinking $80 was better then nothing. And actually the camera works perfectly fine, if you know what you're doing. This person wasn't that smart. In any case, she she let it go for so long, it went out on the shelf and there I found it.

So, I got my camera back. I've moved on from it, I don't really need it anymore. It is nice to have it resolved and hopefully whoever stole it, be the idiot who put it on loan for $80 or not, gets caught.

Otherwise, Cronus is moving along quite well by the way.

I'm still debating if I should post the supposed thief's name here, just to see if anyone local who reads this might know something she otherwise might not be inclined to tell the police once they question her.

UPDATE: Okay, part of me sort of feels bad for calling this person an idiot and whatnot. The more I think of it, it just doesn't make any sense and I'm starting to believe she might not even have had a clue about where the camera came from or anything.

But she is still an idiot for selling it for $80. That insult I will stand by.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lilth Prosthetic

Just a quick update on the prosthetic situation. This is my 2nd attempt at sculpting the prosthetic for the character of Lilith, again for Cronus. The original one I never took any photos of because I really just didn't like it once I saw it done. It had a brow ridge with small under, that looked like they were under the skin - and if it sounds kinda cool, it wasn't. Really.

I cranked this one out last night and worked on it more this morning. It's not perfect, I had a hard time because I confined myself to not using horns on this forehead since both Cronus and Bofa had very prominent horns - seemed redundant to do it again with Lilith.

I'll most likely do the negative mold of this tonight and hopefully do another batch of latex this week. I'm also thinking I might create some cheek scales on her ask well. They'll be pretty simple, somthing like Mystique from X-Men.

I have some props arriving this week, a few things being fabricated and I'll contruct it myself and hopefully we'll have the office set painted and cleaned up by this weekend. And we'll be moving stuff in over the next couple weekd after that.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Prosthetic Awesomeness.

The day is finally here and thankfully no one died. I managed to make my first prosthetic. I'd been reading so much about how finicky this process is and how touchy the material itself can be. One article I read actually make a joke about it not working because you might be wearing the wrong colour socks. This didn't fill me with much confidence.

I'd had so many problem in the beginning, and that was the easy stuff. I thought for sure this would be a disaster that would ultimately cause the entire island to be evacuated and quarantined for years to come.

I read over the instructions a dozen times, walked through it all in my head. I read horror stories online about the process and some success stories, as well as other step by step instructions. It seemed easy, not simple - but easy. Just do what the words on the page said to do and when they said to do it.

I even had my girlfriend, Kim, read it over as she was assisting me. All she really had to do was help keep track of the timing, since it's incredibly important.

And I thought for sure it would be a disaster when I couldn't even get a stupid strap used to hold the mold together to work. I mean, it's a strap - how complicated could it be? No one else could figure it out properly either - luckily it wasn't needed anyway.

So did it work? Yes. It worked PERFECTLY. Not one hitch, nothing. It was a little messy - but if I've learned one thing, it's that if you spill something that ultimately hardens, thickens or changes into a state that is way less messy - leave it. Don't try to clean it up, you'll just make it worse.

Nearly last minute I snagged a little countertop convection oven. I'd been agonizing over how I was going to bake this thing, and in the end read enough that pointed to the direction of a convection oven I decided it was the best way to go. And it turned out the one I got was on sale $60 cheaper then advertised.

So here's my awesome setup - all you folks out there wondering how complicated this is, it doesn't have to be. I'm sure it helps and I'm sure there's many different things I might've done wrong...but it worked, so I don't care for the moment.

I had the doors open and a fan blowing all the stank out. This stuff reeks of ammonia while it's mixing - at least they say it does, I barely smelled anything. But I had a mask on so that's probably why.
And here's the spill. Rather then trying to wipe it up, I just left it and in about 15 minutes it just peeled up in one damp, rubbery blob.

And here's the oven, very professional looking setup here, huh? Again, it worked, so I don't care.
And then out popped my first prosthetic. This is for the character of Bofa, the demon crime lord, for The Monkey Rodeo: Cronus, who will be played by Pete Murphy.

So that's it. It worked, all the work, all the experiments and money spent all paid off. Whether it was just luck or it's not as hard as they say, I managed to create my own, custom prosthetic. And the best part is - it actually fits both me and Draper as well. So I'm thinking when I do get around to starting up my own prosthetic shop, this bad boy might just be for sale.

More to come over the next week. I'll be sculpting Natasha's and Draper's this week. And hopefully I'll get to meet my last actor and get him on the go soon as well.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Bofa Prosthetic Update

I pried the molds apart last night, cleaned them all up and was pretty impressed. The molds looks good - not visually, they're a little sloppy around the edges - but they should work perfectly.

This is the pile of clay chunks that was left of the sculpt after I pulled the molds apart. Kinda sad to see something you worked on for so long get destroyed, that's how the process works though.

And here's the finished, cleaned molds. They fit together really well without any clunking around - which can damage them of course.

So the next thing is to test it. I'll need to get more gelatin though. I'm pretty sure it'll work just fine, although I am a little concerned about getting the foam into the horns. That's going to be tricky.

Otherwise, I'm just waiting for some props to arrive and hopefully we'll be painting the office set next week and moving things in over the course of the month until we're ready to shoot. So far the office is shaping up really well, although only on paper at this point - we've yet to really start work on the actual set.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

All UltraCal-ed Out

Today I did a cast of Draper's face finally. We hope to be doing his chin and his hands tomorrow - the character of Cronus has a lot of prosthetics.

So far so good. As with most things, you get better with experience. I'm starting to learn better how all the different materials act and how to work with them. The alginate is one major component that I think I've gotten the hang of. the UltraCal is still a bit of a work in progress, but it's coming along pretty well I think.

The mold came out pretty good.

Should work just find.

I finally got around to creating the negative mold of Pete's Bofa prosthetic. If you'd seen the images of the original sculpt, you can see there was a lot added around the outside. It's basically to help define the edges of the final prosthetic when you're demolding it. Around that there's some grey clay, I just used that to build up the negative mold.

It's pretty much just a lump here. I won't know for another hour or so if it worked out. I could probably crack it open now, but I figured I'd leave it and make doubly sure it'll work. My problem last time was that the negative mold broke in places at this point, making it useless.

So, I'll find out tomorrow how this bad boy turned out. I might make a test version in that crappy homemade foamed gelatin just to make sure it'll look alright. Let's hope for the best.

Monday, April 06, 2009

More Pre-Prosthetic stuff

I got another mold made of another actor, Natasha. This time I used a new alginate, the hardest part of this whole process is becoming familiar with how all these materials work. I'm pretty sure I've said that before. I guess it works the same way with almost any material that goes from a powder form, has to be mixed with water and eventually sets or cures - water temperature is a huge deal.

The warmer the water, the faster it cures. Last night I was expecting the alginate to take about 15-20 minutes - it took about 3. Luckily it covered enough to get the mold I needed.

I'll start working on sculpting the prosthetic soon, I'll also finish up the horned one from awhile ago and get it ready for a negative mold. I'm hoping to actually do a run of latex this weekend - part of me is not looking forward to this. I've heard so much can go wrong with this stage, I almost don't even want to try just to avoid disaster - but there's only one way to find out for sure.

Bofa's horns. The sculpt is done,
I just need to finish it up the
make the negative mold.

The new alginate is pink.
And absorbs eyeliner really well
from the looks of it.

I thought it'd pulled all her eyelashes out at first.
I was kinda horrified when I first saw this as it came off.

I would've like to have a bigger
mold to work with, but the alginate
set way too fast - still, this should
work just fine.

So that's it for now. I'm hoping to get Draper's done this week now that Pete's and Natasha's are almost taken care of. Then it's just John.

We'll also be working on creating the office set over the next month, if it comes out half as good as it look in my head - it's going to be awesome. There will be pictures.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

New camera and other stuff

The last couple days have been pretty busy, with all my various projects and work. I’ve been kinda concerned that Cronus might end getting pushed back because of some minor issues with the office fight scene.

Originally we’d planned to make out own breakaway furniture. While that was a good idea, it meant the furniture was no good for the previous scenes, we would have to be careful around the stuff to make sure it held up long enough to be destroyed. Plus there was the added time and money needed to get the supplies, have them delivered, make and test everything. That began to seem like less of a good idea to me.

So we’re going to attempt to do this with real furniture, pre-broken right before the scene. That allows use to really use it in the previous scenes and not have to hide certain things in the fight scene. Plus the time and money it saves is a huge load off my mind. Odd that it’d be cheaper to just buy a desk and chop it in half, then to construct one from styrofoam – maybe it’s not odd, seems that way to me though.

And there’s the added fact that both the fake and real desk will break the same way, so why bother using the fake.

Did some costume work today, that’s going really well. I thought I’d have to get a suit tailored for Natasha, playing the character of Lilith, but instead we found a really cheap but awesome looking trench coat at The Greenman (I figured I’d give them a plug since they have awesome stuff and are really affordable). Anyway, we were all much happier with the new costume idea for her then the suit we originally had and it looks way more stereotypical for the genre.

I’ve finally gotten my new video camera. That’s pretty awesome news in itself. Although I have to learn a new way to edit, although in time I’m sure I can wrap my head around it. Once the footage shot, it doesn’t matter what happens – my filming process won’t change, just the editing.

Having just said that about the filming process, the new camera is great in low-light situations. All the reviews I read complained about how crappy it was, well truth be told most cameras are crappy in low light – I’m not sure why they decided to pick on this aspect when I’m beyond impressed.

I guess it all depend on what you’re used to. I read complaints about the manual focus being nearly useless – a matter of opinion, it’s not really as easy to use as I’m sure most people would like, but it does work really well. Guess it all in how you look at it.

I guess that’s pretty much it. I’ve sussed out all the stuff I need for the office set, that’s our main one anyway. It should look great, we’re going to do a major photo shoot with it it with all the actors in costume before we destroy it too. The fight scene will be the last thing shot I think.

I’m also just waiting on more supplies for the prosthetic stuff, I’m hoping to have them mostly ready to do a run of foam latex by end of next week. So stay tuned for either good news or bad news.