Monday, June 29, 2009

Too much to do, too little time.

I'm taking stock of just what's left to do for Sunday's first shoot on Bimbo Zombie Killers! (and trying to ignore the fact that it could very well rain and I've rushed for nothing). I've got both Draper and Ritchie's costumes to scuff up, not too much just in a few places. I'm also going to stain them to make them look a little too well worn and too often worn. That should only take a couple hours.

A bit of a preview of Jeb.

I've got 8 jugs in various states of readiness, that's going along pretty well so far. I'm hoping the foam I ordered will be here tomorrow, each just takes about 2 1/2 hours from mixing up to demolding, I can only do one at a time and I should be able to get about 10 out of what I ordered. Plus I need time to clean them up, prime them and finally paint them. That'll be at least 2 days work.

I also had to rethink the mold a little bit, usually you'd put a board over the opening, blot it into place with a could holes for expansion. I didn't have the time or money at first and that resulted in a little more work with trimming the excess foam off and using paper mache to cover up the porous area.

The annoying thing about using expanding foam to make prop duplicates is that it takes awhile to get the amount just right. I was using what I'll call a marine grade version of the stuff (since it came from a marine supply store and called flotation foam) and I wasted enough to make a couple of the jugs. I eventually got the amount fairly close.

I had a little bit of another called Foam-It (a safer, rigid version of Flex Foam-It that I used to make the axe) and it said it would expand to 10 times it's volume. I measured the mold, it'll hold about 20 cups of liquid. So I'm assuming my math isn't that bad, but I figured 2 cups of the Foam-It would do it. Does that seem right?

That's a lot of foam.

Apparently I'm wrong and I wasted enough of the material to have made another jug. I really hate wasting this stuff. The Foam-It cost about the same as the flotation foam and I got almost 10 from it, whereas I got only 1 from the Foam-It. Mind you, the Foam-It is much easier to handle, mind you the quality doesn't seem that much better.

Ah well.

I'm also hoping to get to make the negative mold of Draper's blow out eye tonight as well - it has nothing to do with the eyeball prop, it's just a prosthetic (the latex kit for which should arrive tomorrow as well). That won't take too long, an hour or so and making the prosthetic itself only half an hour and then it goes into the oven.

I then need to do some test with pre-gluing the prosthetic. I saw it on the instructional video that came with the original kit. They applied the pros-aide (the adhesive they use, not spirit gum - this stuff is way better) and powered it so it so it could be handled and dried the glue up. Then you just wet it a bit and it reactivates the glue so I don't have to mess around with it on the day of the shoot too much.

And I need to start in on the blood soon. I'm estimating about 30-40 litres should about do it. And that's for the estimated 50 people, if more show up, I doubt I'll have enough. and I still have to make more for the July 12th shoot and for any special effects shots I do.

Other then that I need to go over the shot list, I need to contact the folks down at the park and make sure the electric outlets are turned on so I'm not running to the clubhouse the recharge every couple hours.

I think that's it...I really don't know at this point, I'm kind of just running and not thinking. With all the planning though, if the weather stay decent this is going to be a good shoot. I even have a sort of 2nd Unit Director/CameraPerson on this shoot to do the crowd stuff while I work with the leads on makeup and running through scenes. The camera's easy to use so I'm not worried about that at all.

And now to fight evil and eat leftover birthday Ice Cream Cake.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Jugs, jugs, jugs!

I made the first copy yesterday, had to trim off a lot of excess material and it turned out not too bad. They're going to be made with a 2 part expanding urethane foam, it's really messy to work with until you really get used to it. It expands a lot, so it's tricky finding just the right amount to you don't end up wasting a lot of it.

Here's the original and the first unpainted copy.

I used a 2lb foam, that basically means that for every square foot of material it weighs 2 pounds. The more it weighs, the denser the material and the less brittle it is because the cell structure is finer. I was worried this stuff would be a little brittle, but the mold works really well releasing the copy so not a lot of pressure is put it on it. And I think the larger the object the less brittle it is.

I reckon I can get a few more out of the stuff I stil have, I would love to have about 20 of them. Right now I'm burning through a quart kit of the stuff, the next up from that would be a 2 gallon kit - I think it'd do it.

There's a few weak spots here and there on them, so I'll probably do a light coat of paper mache over those areas and on the bottom of them. The edges have a bit of a skin, but when I hack off the excess from the bottom it exposes the cells and is pretty porous looking. It should also give it a little strength.

Last week things kind of began falling apart just a little, luckily everything's coming back together even better. I mentioned the last blog I had to replace one of my cast, she had a work schedule conflict, I have that all wrapped up now. I really hate replacing actors, no because it's a pain in the ass, but because I always feel sort of bad when you have to tell someone they're replaced and you don't need them anymore. She was pretty understanding though, it wasn't like there was much either of us could do. She had to work, I had 50 extras organized the same day with week to go before the shoot - there's not much room for any other options.

I also have more foam latex on the way for a small prosthetic, it's not supposed to arrive until July 2nd, which is a Thursday so it's cutting a little close.

Well, I'm off to fight evil - and by fight evil I mean make more jugs.

Monday, June 22, 2009

There will be BLOOD!

Things are starting to shape up last minute. All that's really left to worry about with Bimbo Zombie Killers! are the extras prop jugs and the fake blood. Although there was a last minute cast change when one of my actors dropped out due to a work conflict. I think it's taken care of now and we got ourselves a new actor in less then 24 hours.

Otherwise, the weapon props are all taken care of now, that's a bit of a relief. The casting is done, locations are sewn up - we even got a location I wrote out because I thought it would be too hard to find, but I had to look no further then my lead actor's back yard. We needed a shine shack, we now have a shine shack. I just need to talk with a fellow who own the property we're shooting at on July 12th and I think we're good to go.

Here's the zombie killing arsenal.

And I finally got the eyeball prop made. It's far from perfect, this foam isn't cut out for small items, it's surface is too porous and the prop itself is too small. The material works best in a larger quantity, better chemical reaction. But it's good enough. Worse come to worse, I can do a CG eyeball if this doesn't cut it.

The costumes are mostly sorted out now, aside from two of the actors - I'm hoping it gets done in time. Still a few minor details here and there.

And the most important thing, the blood. I did a lot of testing, but I've finally got pretty much what I want. I just need to start making jugs of the stuff.

I got the supplies for making the jug copies, I spent yesterday evening and this morning getting it all ready and even got my first jug made. To save money on the mold I made what's called a glove mold, instead of a huge block of silicone I just use a kind that you more or less paint on in layers, then make a support shell for it and there you. I make it sound simple, it's far from simple.
This is just a shot of the shim, basically when you make a 2 part mold you need to have a temporary wall to represent where the edge will be. Sort of.
I did one, I don't have a picture of it yet, but it did turn out alright even with the lighter, more brittle foam. I should be able to get maybe 5 or 6 more from the amount that I have.

And of course, Maddy was extraordinarily helpful in all this.

Otherwise, I've been slowly plugging away at Cronus this week, only a small number of FX shots left, the hardest are pretty much done. Then it's onto recording the new audio for everyone. The process I'm using seems to work pretty well, I hope it stays that way.

So far, so good. I'm just hoping the weather holds out.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Finished Axe

Pretty much done. I might do a little more detailing, not sure yet. There's a spot where there should be a label or something, I might paint that in.

The Eyeball

The smallest, most insignificant prop is giving me the most trouble. An eyeball. I modeled one from clay, made an UltraCal mold, turned out good, tried using it with Flex Foam-It, ruined the mold. I think I mentioned that before.

So I tried another yesterday, I was a little worried I'd have to order more silicone just for this, I really wasn't interested in spending the money on it right now, luckily I had enough of the regular stuff and the silicone used for doing lifecasts, called Body Double. I really don't care for the Body Double since it so messy, but it worked for this to finish off the mold.

I think it turned out alright, the sculpt broke demolding it, but that was to be expected. I let it sit overnight and I tried another run of the Flex Foam-It this morning, we'll see how it turns out in a few hours.

The original one, now ruined. Too bad, it wasn't bad looking at all.

I didn't have it in me to spend as much time on the 2nd version since really this thing will be small on the screen and be in there less the 5 seconds.

Once it's sculpted, this is all you need.

I had to suspend the eyeball in the cup in order to encapsulate it totally in the silicone.

And here it is...not terribly impressive looking is it? It should be good once it's painted, it just looks like a random lump with a small crud trail right now.

It's really light and pretty tough and flexible, which is great since it has to be very lightly glued, or stuck someway, to someone's forehead yet still be able to be flicked off with little effort. This should do it just fine.

Maybe today or tomorrow I will get around the sculpting the only prosthetic for this movie, a blow out eyesocket - has nothing to do with this eye oddly enough.

That's it, back to fighting evil for a bit, until it gives up and goes home.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

17 day to go

For every little bit of progress, something else falls apart on this project. Nothing serious, just a little frustrating every once in awhile.

Luckily, as of today I've finally confirmed my cast.

DALLAS: Heather Panton
JESSIE: Leah Quimby
SALLY: EmilyAnne Fullerton
JEB: Draper Bulger
WILKINS: Ritchie Simpson.

A couple new folks I've never worked with, but everyone seems pretty into it - based on email impressions only, I've yet to meet everyone in person.

On the falling apart side of things, it's props and FX. I spent the day yesterday working on an eyeball prop, I got it molded, turned out great. I thought it'd be a little cheaper to use the Flex Foam-It since I have so much left, rather then ordering in some new foam latex...I was wrong and I ruined the mold. The Flex Foam-It really doesn't like, or I guess really likes, the UltraCal mold. I must've just lucked out it didn't adhere to the axe mold like it did to this one.

So I have to model another one and mold it in something else. More expense then I was hoping for, but so far the movie's been pretty cheap to make. Also, I've been pretty lucky to have found a few really good suppliers of the materials I use here in Canada, so they'll arrive faster and cheaper - that's pretty good.

That's it for now. I'm hoping to do some costume shopping next week and should hopefully have all the new supplies in by end of next week as well.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Less then 3 weeks to go.

20 days before the first shoot for Bimbo Zombie Killers! and there's still a lot to be done. Luckily most of the casting has been taken care of, just have to confirm and meet with a couple people but we should be alright there within the week hopefully.

On the prop side of things, I'm hoping to get a good run at it this week. The axe is done, still needs painting. I have a shotgun and still waiting on a handgun (both are just air guns). I've sussed out the casting materials for the jugs and hopefully I can order them this week or early next if all goes well. Then it's just a matter of settling on a decent material to make the copies.

I have a couple prosthetics to make, hoping to get to them later today. A blown out eye socket, a gory arm wound and an eyeball. The arm wound is going to be the hardest depending how it's shot because I want to have it torn open and I'm really not sure if I can do it live, or with a cut. We'll see, I have yet to storyboard that scene.

Locations are nearly all sorted out, I'm hoping to scout out the last one today and check on the Victoria Park situation as well.

Other then that, I'll be testing out some fake blood recipes and doing some CG blood splatter tests. I'm going with CG splatter because it's cheaper, faster,cleaner and easier to set up properly and all that good stuff.

And I did one more script revision before I settled into storyboarding, which is going well and pretty quick. I'm not planning on shooting this fancy it's going to be pretty simple. I've isolated all my zombie horde shots so I'm assured to get at least those done on the first day of shooting and we'll see what happens from there. I just hope the weather works out.

So far I've only got about 30 or so rednecks recruited - out of almost 300 invited to the shoot. So far 70 not attending and about 60 maybes and the rest are ignoring it. Not looking great, but I can deal with it if those that said they'll be there show up. Anything less then 25 is a huge letdown.

That's it for now, off to fight zombie evil.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Fake Axe

This was written over the course of 3 days, from
Friday afternoon to Sunday morning.

I'm sort of writing this as I'm working on it, so it might seem a little disjointed and whatnot.

The idea behind this is that I wanted something else besides guns for one of the girls in Bimbo Zombie Killers! to use. And something relatively safe and easy to handle. So I decided to try to make my own fake axe, much like the weapons I used for the big medieval battle scene in Malice. Problems was I had no idea how to do it.

I eventually found on a website that I get most of the molding materials a step by step set of pictures showing how these weapons are made - more or less. They left out a few details I think in order to protect some trade secrets or something, I don't know. Overall I figured this looked like something I could do.

And nearly the same time I managed to suss out the materials needed as well, so it seems like it was coming together really well. I even managed to get a decent, but cheap, airbrush so I could paint the thing (it needs special paint, same as ones used on fabrics I guess). So I was all set.

The first problem was how to mold it, as I'm learning these materials are not cheap. It would've cost me about $200 just to make the mold - which would've been fine if I had to make several duplicates. My budget didn't really allow for it, so I figured I could just use the massive pile of UltraCal 30 that I have.

It seemed to work alright, I've got one side of the mold made right now. Demolding the axe was a huge pain in the ass and damaged the mold in a few places, but it should be easy to clean up. That's the next part.


Well, that wasn't easy at all. The problem here, and I knew this before I started I was just hoping I could do it, is that the mold and the object are rigid - this never makes for a great combo. Had I modeled the axe in clay, I probably would've had a much better result. I just didn't have enough on hand and was a little impatient, it's still an option though.

Having said that, I did get it to work alright, there's some problem spots where the mold broke away in a couple tight areas. That was to be expected and should mess up the final product too much. I'm hoping I can trim away any excess material.

Next step is making sure when I do the 2nd part, there's no obvious undercuts, otherwise the axe get locked into the 2nd half of the mold. Looks like there might be a bit of a problem there, but I'll try to fix that first.

Meanwhile I've got the fiberglass rod for the center of the axe ready - although it's going to be tricky since the handle has a bit of a curve to it.


And I've done my first test with the Flex Foam-It, as it's called. So far it seems to be great, although what oozes out of the mold is rather disturbing looking. Kinda like a little brain. It takes about 2 hours to demold so I'm just waiting for about another hour before I can see how well it worked. Luckily, it slides right off the silicone mold - however, the axe mold isn't silicone as you might recall.

The Flex Foam-It Voodoo Spirit Bomb was a success. I noticed that the excess material, that oozed out of the mold, had a much thicker, tougher skin then what came out of the mold. It demolded incredibly well too, it actually just slide out with very little effort, almost none in fact.

The Flex Foam-It one is in the yellowish one in the middle.

So that's looking promising. Right now I've got the 2nd mold of the axe done, just giving it some time to fully harden before I begin the painful task of trying to pull it from the mold and see just how horrible it is. I'm going to leave it for another hour or so.


It came out not too bad, there was a bit of a struggle at first and I really thought a whole chunk of the mold was just going to break right off, but it didn't. In fact the 2nd half turned out much better then the first.

I'm taking a break and I'll clean the mold up later. I might actually get around to pouring the Flex Foam-It tonight and just leaving it overnight and if all goes well I'll have myself a rubber axe in the morning.

I just poured the stuff into the mold. I'm not entirely confident this will work. It's not a huge mold, but I didn't get much of the liquid in before it started foaming and it became impossible to keep filling it. The good news is I don't think it takes much of this stuff to go a very long way so I can try again if this doesn't work. I think there's definitely a technique to it that I'm not sure of just yet. I'll find out in the morning I guess.

Very professional looking.

I guess I was wrong, that stuff works brilliantly. I used way too much, I wasted quite a bit, I kinda wish I had another mold ready that could've been filled - doesn't even matter what it was, just so I didn't end up with a cup fill of wasted material. Funny, I originally only intended to use half the amount, and that's pretty much exactly what I would've needed.

It was a little tricky to demold - it's pretty grippy to most surfaces. Looks alright though. The blade of the axe is a little floppy because there's no support and very little material it being so thin. But otherwise I'd say with worked alright. I now have a safe, lightweight rubber axe. Needs to have some excess trimmed away, that's about it.

Now I just have to paint it. I got an airbrush a couple weeks ago knowing I'd have to do this eventually. I'll probably take a stab it later today, I'm kinda not tin the mood since I have to do a few tests first and probably need more another air canister for the brush - I don't have an actual compressor just yet.

So there you go, that wasn't too bad at all. Aside from already having the UltraCal 30, I bough the axe - $25, the fiberglass rod - $7 and the Flex-Foam-It - $45 ($60 with shipping). Not too bad. Next up, the moonshine jugs. I will defintely need silicone to mold those bad boys, but not too much probably. We'll see how it goes when I can afford to get more in.

UPDATE, June15th, 2010:  I've noticed this page of the blog alone has well over a thousand hits from folks looking to make or buy foam axes. This wasn't meant as a tutorial, because it's not done properly, but should someone stumble upon this and have questions, by all means feel free to email me and ask me something - I might be able help, you never know.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Foamy urethane goodness or not.

This is where I really have no idea what the hell I'm going and I'm really cutting it close, too close.

For Bimbo Zombie Killers! I needed jugs...moonshine jugs I mean. And lots of them. Only 3 have to work, and I've got those - now I just need to figure out a way to make copies. Fast, cheap and simple copies.

The mold was no problem, I've plenty of good ideas there. the only thing I could come up with for a reproduction material was some kind of expanding foam.

There's a, I guess what you'd call, "artist grade" version of the stuff, expensive as hell though. So after a lot of searching I managed to find something sort of local and supposedly pretty similar. I'm not really familiar with the stuff, so I can't make any educated assumptions at all here.

Tonight I gave it a try, using the Voodoo Spirit Bomb mold. It's small, has some fine details so I figured if it worked here it can repro the jugs just fine. Well, I can't say my first test have me overly excited.

you can see here how much the foam has expanded out of the mold. This was 2 tablespoons of the stuff, and it ended up filling about the equivalent of 3 cups approximately. That's pretty impressive and you can demold it almost right away.
Here's where the problems set in though. The stuff is brittle, really brittle. It's a flotation foam, so it's filled with bubbles. I just thought it'd be a little tougher though. Some chunks broke off when I demolded them - however, it's a pretty tight mold so that could have a lot to do with it.

You can see here the first one on the left is my first attempt, it was pretty ugly. The middle one is my second attempt. I used way less, about 6 mL in total, I actually used an eyedropper I used that little and it expanded by and inch or so out of the mold. The last is the original, cast in plaster - you can see the difference.

I'm still not entirely convinced this is the way to go. I'm debating about a hard shell, made of non-foam urethane filling it with this stuff - I could even use that spray in crap you can get at HomeDepot - that'd work just fine too as filler.

It's looking like there's no easy way of doing this, at least no cheap way of doing this. A pint kit of the urethane is about $30, I've no idea how far that'll go mind you. I'm hoping I can do this for around $200 - the mold alone is going to cost me about $60. We'll see I guess.

I'm looking at the calendar and realizing just how close to out first shooting date we are and very little is done. Hopefully I'll be able to get the axe made this weekend.

Pre Zombie Killing

In some ways Bimbo Zombie Killers! has been easier to figure out then other projects, and in other ways it becoming a little problematic.

The locations are nearly all taken care of, which also solved the transportation problem. I'm shooting in Victoria Park, so no need to bus everyone out of town. Plus, given that I'm not getting the number of people that I wanted having a smaller enclosed space will make the smaller crowd look a little larger...I hope.

This will probably slightly offend anyone who falls into the category of people I'm about to talk about, so be prepared if you think it might be you - you do deserve it kind of. Over the years I've had so many people ask me to put them in a movie, most of the time it comes out "So, when are you going to put me in a movie?" Which I think is a little rude, especially when I either hardly know them or sometimes not at all.

So pretty much all those people have been asked, about 10% have actually agreed, 20% said no and the rest are just saying maybe or haven't even responded. Unless you finally end up coming to the shoot, I really don't ever want to hear you ask me ever again.

Otherwise, casting is still stumbling along slowly. Considering we shoot in less then 4 weeks, this isn't a good thing. I'm hoping we can take care of it in the next week.

The prop building is coming along, although nothing has been done yet, a lot of the details are slowly being worked out at least. It'll be close, but I think it should work out.

And the fake blood. I've been going on about finding just the right recipe and avoiding the sticky syrupy kind - looks like that's about all that's going to work.

I haven't tested any of the special effects I'm going to use yet either. Pretty soon though, I'm hoping.

Otherwise I'm still plugging away slowly at Cronus and Malice, when I can get a peaceful moment - right now sitting at the computer half my time is spent pulling kitten claws from various part of me.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Not much news, just working away.

Been working away on the visual effects shots for both Malice and Cronus. So far so good. The FX for Cronus are proving to be a little trickier then I'd thought, although the worst of them is almost over.

Got some new stuff on the way for making some foam jugs as well as a foam axe. The jugs will be harder, whereas the axe will be much like the one we used in the big fight scene for Malice last summer.

And in non-movie related stuff...
I picked her up at Pets Unlimited on Friday afternoon, took me awhile to decide what to name her - I went with Madchen, but I'm just calling her Maddy. She's about 7 weeks old. I'd forgotten how hyper and excitable kittens were - at least she pretty much sleeps through the night.

My other cat, Mulder, isn't too thrilled but she's getting used to her.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Before and Aftermath

I've finally found the time to start working on Malice again. It's slow going, especially since my entire workflow has been rearranged so things are a little wonky getting back into it.

I'm starting right at the beginning and working my way through, scene by scene. The first scene is the medieval fight scene between Dunham and the Beast, or Draper and myself.

I've spent the last couple days working on this one major shot an was so impressed, I thought I'd share it with you. It's made from about 20 different elements and was pretty tricky keeping it all straight, but here it is.

It's not perfect, the perspective is a little off. It's only on screen for 3 seconds, so if you complain - make sure you can do way better.