Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Steven Lowry is My God Now

Today was another round of shooting the Scarecrow puppet, again reasonably successful, and more of the same, really. So in an effort to not bore the few readers I've got, I figured we'd shake it up a little today. Here's a video of Steve's crowning achievement. If he does nothing else with his life, at least he's got this.

And they said it couldn't be done. But this is take one, shot one of the day. And he nailed it. We'll be back tomorrow with a write-up and some photos, Scarecrow's maybe going to get stranded at sea...

Monday, June 25, 2012

It's Not That Easy Being Green

Well, we did it. Today we put our new Scarecrow rig to the test and attempted to gather actual footage for the film. Went mostly pretty okay. Before we could begin, we had to transfer all our equipment and props to the current location we're using to film in. We needed Scarecrow to get there in one piece, and he's sort of... like a person... So he rode like a person.
As of today, the director has officially served as chauffer to the... lead... puppet...
Steve arrived shortly after us, and we finished setting up the screen, markers, lights, etc. All that ready, it was time for Steve to begrudgingly don his fluorescent attire. The chromakey suit he could handle himself, though he needed his squires to help him get into the catcher's gear. And also to attach the small dummy to his stomach...
Nothing to see here, just a couple of guys doing... y'know... guy stuff. In a garage.
Filming was mostly successful and mostly noneventful, which makes for a not so amazing write-up. The rig actually functioned exactly as it was supposed to, with very little protest. In fact, it was much more precise and maneuverable than the old version, allowing Steve to perform in ways he couldn't have before. Which, given that we were shooting his very first scene and first time off the pole, led to a lot of drunken wobbling. And much laughter from Sean and myself.
And no laughter from Steve's chiropractor.
Since we're going through in a mostly chronological fashion, we also switched it up quite a bit, and broke free from the walking rig for a number of shots. We did some close-ups of him on the pole, including flashbacks, and also the scene where Dorothy and Scarecrow sit down for a spell. And some other weirdly specific actions.
You guys all totally remember the Mexican hat dance scene in the book, right?
We managed to burn through a little over ten script pages today, which we felt pretty good about. The redone rig rendered this a sort of experimental day, and we got through a bit more than we were expecting to. I've sent some footage away to Drew to make sure I'm not leaving nasty messes that will have to be cleaned up later, and we're good to go for continued shooting tomorrow.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Social Norm

Another day another... random smattering of things to do. We started by heading out to see one of our favorite people; the Czar of Zombie, Norman Rowe. It's great to get over to Norm's because not only is he a totally awesome, pleasant individual, but also there is nowhere else where I get to take pictures of stuff like this;
Gotta have somewhere to hang your coat...
Can always count on Norm to have some weird stuff just sitting around. Anyway, we popped over to get a look at the head sculpt he had going of the Wicked Witch of the East. He wanted to get our thoughts on the sculpt, specifically the ears, and also talk teeth with us a bit. As always, Sean and I were totally satisfied with what he had and where he was planning to take it. We chatted with him for a bit, laid out our intentions for the scene and the character, and we all seem pretty definitely on the same page.
Oh wow, the ear I specifically mentioned is actually on the other side of the head. Good picture selection, Clayton.
On our way back we stopped off at the home of the Yaglas, some folks Sean was introduced to through Lloyd, back when he started looking for a period building for the Gale farmhouse. Lloyd knew that the Yaglas had some historical buildings on their property, and thought they might be worth checking out. Sean had gone over a while back and decided that they weren't right for the Kansas Farmhouse. But maybe still of some use.

The place is a little wealthy for a poor Kansas farmer, but perhaps not for our friend Boq. Sean took me over so I could get a look at it and we could decide together. We're still talking about it and thinking it over, and we'd have to work out exact details with the Yaglas. It's got a nice look to it, though the red doors are not ideal. And we'd obviously have to take some stuff out temporarily and bring some of our own set dressings in. More on that as it develops, maybe I guess.
We're gonna leave the air conditioner, because Boq is hella wealthy and works for a witch.
Once we got back home it was time to put the finishing touches on our new Scarecrow rig. We dragged it all out into the yard to give it a green chemical bath. We had bought two cans of green spray-paint yesterday, thinking we'd have more than enough to finish the whole rig, plus maybe some left over besides. Remember how things went too smoothly yesterday when we built the thing? Well we finally hit our one snag. The fabric bits of the sport gear didn't want to take the paint, even though the plastic responded quite favorably.
Almost as well as Sean's face responded to that Muskrat.
We burned through our two cans pretty quickly and had to run out for six more. Which we also used up entirely. Turns out the only way to make that fabric green was to soak it with paint until it could no longer absorb it. So about 15 coats later and that's all done and green as you please. Luckily for us we don't have to meet any health and safety standards. Steve will probably be fine...

Costuming With an Edge

Um... So THIS is awkward. We um... We never announced that we had cast somebody to play Boq. And also this guy's family will be Boq's family. And we cast them a while ago. Boq-man, Wesley Edge, is even on our IMDb page. So yeah... There's this guy named Wesley Edge who is Boq. And he and his family came over today. For costume measurements.
Sean suggested I caption this "Edward Scissorpants." I couldn't come up with anything better, and I thought maybe our shared disdain for Sean could bring us all closer together.
Which meant we needed to have somebody there who knew how to measure for costumes. Luckily we had Kitty Taylor, our current costumer, on hand to be that person. She's been working for us for a little while, and has done an amazing job on a Wicked Witch of the East costume. She also knows what ruching is, so y'know... there's that.
Plus she's super good at making sure I don't get her face on camera.
There was much measuring of heads and waists and L-shaped arms, and then Kitty and the Edges receded into the horizon. At which point Sean and I turned our focus to our dear old friend Chester. You saw Steve humiliating himself in the brand new chroma key suit we bought for him. Well the new jim-jams wouldn't be half so slick without a new puppet rig to match.

Sean had the splendid idea to purchase some catcher's gear, which we would modify for this purpose. And by modify I pretty much mean destroy. This is why we can't have nice things. Not without attaching puppets to them, anyway.
Sean's low-rent Iron Man costume stands in Stark contrast to his high-rent facial hair.
We spent much of the afternoon shaming Yogi Berra, though the rig actually went together ridiculously smoothly. Sean and I were half expecting the house to collapse in on us or something and crush our legs and also the puppet. Because nothing ever goes as well as this had. But we had instead even MORE good luck when Steve called up and said he was on his way over.

With Steve on hand we got to properly finish up the rig, measuring out a few final pieces to attach the feet. It turned out to be surprisingly comfortable, and with a now complete rig (save the fluorescent green paint job) we got to do two of our favorite things; 1.) Dress Steve up in silly things.
Sorry ladies, he's actually taken. And I think Steve might have a girlfriend too.
And 2.) Strap a tiny little demon to his chest.
He brought that helmet from home. I think his parents maybe make him wear it.
And 3.) Be startled every time we walked into the room and forgot Chester was there. Dude's a skulker.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

And That's Why Wolverine Wears Leather in the Movies

Whoopsie. No updates for multiple days? Sorry to the few who missed this. My computer was in a box. And then it was in a car. But now it's in Virginia on a table and I'm typing on it as we... Well, as I speak, but not as you read. But I am here in Virginia with it, arrived last night at eleven.

And me being here means we're starting to do stuff. Though we kept it light today to ease me into it because I'm a lazy jerk. First we went to Lloyd's so I could see the farmhouse building for myself.

I know people complained about the bridge of the Abrams' Enterprise being too high tech, but I think they've been a little extreme in addressing that criticism for the sequel.
And also this happened:

When you key out the green all that remains is the empty shell of a broken man...

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

Um... So oh my God, there are wolves, you guys.
And they sure look like they're about to fight all over something.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

Occasionally I'll be talking about this project for the first time with somebody who has not read the book, and they will inevitably ask me, "Wizard of Oz, huh? What was wrong with the old movie?" To which I will always respond, "In the book there is a scene where the Tin Man uses his axe to FIGHT A PACK OF ACTUAL WOLVES."

Now unfortunately for book fans, we cut the bees and the Winkie soldiers, just for issues of pacing. And you've seen by now that Sean moved the crows to the river sequence to up the jeopardy. Hopefully we make up for these omissions and restructures by having Lion get in on the wolf action and having a scene where a rusty robot and a massive lion fight and kill wolves...

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

God damn am I a hack.
And not the cool nineties type of hacking, either. I can't type NEARLY that fast.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

Haven't had a status update in a while. This shot represents scene 64 in its entirety. Brief little moment of menace.

This puts us on page 77 (out of 119). We're through nine days of Dorothy photography, and sort of on a second day for the Witch. You may recall we didn't have a hugely productive first day there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

In the script Sean said, "somewhere, a rooster crows." Obviously a nod to Baum, but it implies that the rooster is off-screen. I wanted him ON that screen.
Took me forever to think up a shot that wasn't the "crow close-up on one side of frame, sun in the background on the other" shot. Maybe there's a reason that's the shot that gets used all the time and this... isn't...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

Goodness, it seems as though it's all Lord of the Rings "homages" from here on out...

Oh well. We had a good run, didn't we?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

Who doesn't love a good "gearing up for battle" sequence?

Me, actually. But the next shot is something of a punchline, so it works pretty well.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

And finally the Lion gets a turn. Does anybody remember the show Encounters With The Unexplained?

Nobody could purr about spontaneous combustion quite like Jerry Orbach could...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

And now it's Woodman's turn. No 10/10 hottie for THIS guy, though. It's all about the terrible beast.

Five limbs is a weird number of limbs. Five works better for eyes.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

And the storyboards are back, just in time to see Scarecrow get his at the hands of The Great Oz.

Could somebody turn the light on in there? Jeez. I can barely even see the total babe on the throne.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Lux Capacitor

The time has come once again for me to ramble into your eyes by way of computerized text. This is what you've done, twenty-first century technology. Look at it. LOOK AT IT!!!

Consider this something of a "state of the union" address, but for something far less important than the union. Unless you're one of our non-American readers, then maybe it's more important than the union. I don't know, does every other country still hate us? Sound off in the comments below and our drones will be by shortly to... take your... information.

As I alluded to earlier, Sean and I are gearing up for the summer. On the 18th of this month I'll be once more making the treacherous journey south to the grand state of Virginia. Dorothy thought hammerheads and jerky trees were bad? She should try the Jersey turnpike sometime... And you have to pay through the nose to drive on that thing... I'll take sarcastic knickknacks any day.

The primary purpose of the summer is a little photography, hopefully our last. You all remember when we recently announced Wiley would be playing that Toto character, and he represents one of our main concerns for the summer. Second only to Scarecrow, in fact. That's right friends, the lovable Steven T. Lowry will be suiting up once again for some zany Scarecrow antics. Only this time we'll have an upgraded puppet rig and an actual chromakey suit. He'll still look like a jackass, but... a SVELTE one.

Though the old look did a lot for his credibility with the "creepy sex cult" demographic.
But it's not all dogs and hay. This isn't my childhood we're talking about, here. We'll also be filling in the odd little gap here and there, picking up some characters and locales we haven't gotten just yet. The most exciting of these bits, for me at least, is the Kansas farmhouse and its inhabitants.

Ever since we decided that we wanted to go this stylized route with our visuals, Sean and I have been adamant that we wanted to do Kansas as real as possible, for the contrast. Consider it our sepia to color transition, I guess. We want to establish our film firmly in the real world so that things don't start to get crazy until after the tornado, as it should be. And my buddy Sean's managed to track down for us a very lovely little one-room building of the period.

It's our responsibility to inform Randy Quaid that he'll have to find someplace else to live.
I say lovely, but y'know... it's supposed to look beaten and run-down. These aren't wealthy folks, and they live in a tough area. As you can see, the place needs to be spruced up a touch regardless. In exchange for cleaning it out we get to do pretty much whatever we want to the thing. It's perfect for our purposes, and I'm quite excited that I get to do the Western sequence I always wanted. There are some other cool things coming up for the summer too, and expect Sean to do a site update when some bios and pictures come in.

But that's all in the future! Let's talk PRESENT, baby. Or at least the quite recent past. Remember that concept scene stuff we showed you on the 200th post? We're a bunch of perfectionists over here, and we're still polishing it up. The release rapidly approaches though, and hopefully it's worth the wait. Towards the pursuit of that perfection, this week I got to work with a delightful fellow named Lux Angel.

Some of you may remember that at one time there was a composer on our crew page. And you may have noticed that he's been absent for some time. I won't name names, but we had a fellow on board, and he did the music for our teaser trailer, and also did a pass at the concept scene. We were generally happy with parts of it, but there was a breakdown of communications that occurred and we were forced to let the guy go before any revisions could take place.

Pictured: A dramatic reenactment.
The music you heard in that 200th post snippet was the first draft I refer to, and we were never really happy with it. Sean and I had resigned ourselves to releasing the sequence with that score, in hopes of replacing it with something better on the final film. But I recently decided that I wanted new music over the material, to give it the best possible chance of success.

Enter the aforementioned Angel. Lux Angel, I mean. He had actually sent us an e-mail expressing his interest way back in 2009, shortly after we had decided to go with that other pretty reckless fellow. I'm an e-mail hoarder, and I remembered liking the samples he sent, so he was the first person I went for. Luckily for me, he was available, and agreeable, and he just... did it.

He started with a twenty second "audition" to make sure we were a good fit. Seemed to be, so we moved forward. He and I had a grand 90 minute instant message session discussing what we wanted the sound to be, and he went off and did it in record time. I actually just got the music yesterday, and talked to him earlier today about a few minor changes, and I already have those new files in my possession. He's an extremely talented guy, and also courteous, intuitive, and timely. It was an absolute pleasure to work with him on this.

That's the exact same snippet you saw before (which is still rough, by the way), but with the new music in place. It's slightly out of sync, because that version is a bit trimmed down from the final, but you get the idea. Sean and I are totally in love with the way the whole score came out, and what it adds to the sequence. We didn't push Lux for a commitment to do the whole film, but the working relationship seemed positive, and he's at least open to talking about it when the time comes.

And that's about it, as far as what's going on at the moment. Drew continues to improve those concept scene effects in ways I couldn't have imagined, and I'm finishing up those damned storyboards you keep seeing, so we'll know what the hell we're shooting this summer. Oh, and I'm also working on something I'm not ready to tell you about just yet. Because I don't have friends or hobbies.

Who needs friends or hobbies when you have a Dutch termite farm?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

Look at this stunning artwork! Let's forget about this live-action malarky and just do a motion comic using my fantastic storyboard panels...

Before you tell me that my drawings are horrible and that would be an awful idea and a terrible movie... First of all; ouch. Why so mean, mean guy? Second of all, I agree. Third of all... Does Blogger keep moving the "add selected" button on the photo interface, or do I just keep forgetting that they moved it a week or so ago?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

I'm surprised my pens still work after drawing this sequence.
June is upon us, which means Sean and I are working to ready ourselves for a summer of... finishing our movie, hopefully. Which in turn means I will actually have some stuff I can talk about, and there will be some actual entries. Plus hopefully some other cool things. We'll continue the storyboards to fill the gaps, but keep an eye out for a journal entry later this week.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

Dorothy's a pretty bold little girl. I definitely wouldn't go in there.

Look how dark it is in there. It's just black. There could be bugs.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Storyboard Panel of the Day

I'm glad Sean decided to keep these four scenes, where we get to see what the characters do when they're separated from each other and trying to pass the night. We saw a bit of Dorothy's in one of the raw frames, so I've skipped that. Instead here's Scarecrow's, which is probably my favorite.

That's a pretty big spider. Maybe he ought to call Lion in there to fight it...