Monday, July 2, 2012

Basting the Puppeteer

So that was interesting. We did some stuff I was eager to tell you folks about, and yet there hasn't been a peep here for days. Wednesday and Thursday I was too busy actually doing the things I wanted to tell you about to tell you about them. Friday night I was backing up the day's footage and planning for a post on Saturday, but the power went out mid-back-up. It only just came back a few hours ago. No power meant the computers and internet were depressingly non-functional.
But it's okay, because so was every other thing.
But enough with the excuses. Now it's time to actually talk about what I wanted to talk about; finishing Scarecrow photography. While we had the Scarecrow puppet on "set" with Mare for eyelines, and even had instances where it was slightly puppeteered, we had not perfected our rig at that time. And there just wasn't room for Mare and the puppet and also the human man he was strapped to to be on the screen together.
Even the puppet's hat gave up and committed suicide halfway through our one and only attempt at this.
So the Scarecrow we captured with Dorothy was fairly lifeless, relegated to mostly close-ups and mid-shots on what we call the "standing rig." There were also no tracking markers on the face, which would lead to much post-production misery. This is what necessitated the additional Scarecrow photography which took place last week. Replacing the eyeline element with something more animated, and capturing actions we just couldn't do with previous incarnations of the puppet rig.

Due to the demands of Steve's job, we knew we had to wrap up with Scarecrow within a week. We had scheduled and planned for six days, and the first two were spent working at a pace that reflected that. On day three we learned that we were going to have to cut it a day short, which meant really ramping up into overdrive to finish in five days. To put that into perspective, it took us fourteen days to film with Mare. While Dorothy's in the film more than Scarecrow is, he's a pretty close second.
Beaten for screen-time, but unmatched when it comes to Christ impressions.
Given the lack of power in the area on Saturday, it was actually quite fortunate that we had to step it up and finish early. Had we been relying on that sixth day, we wouldn't have finished with Scarecrow last week, and Steve would already be back at work today. It was hard on all of us, but most especially Steve. Doing 8:00-6:00 days in some cases, and working in 100 degree weather. That's wearing a skin-tight bodysuit that is super-effective at trapping body heat, catcher's gear crusty with ten cans worth of spraypaint, and a bag of hay the size and shape of a small child.
It may not be a union gig, but we still allowed the two of them a shared period of rest.
Steve's best friend during the week was Norm's garage fan. Due to our time constraints he could only get fully out of the suit a couple of times each day, so most of his breaks were taken with the puppet and full gear still strapped to him. He'd carefully shuffle himself over to his chair, and Sean the fanboy would position the fan for maximum cooling effect.
The fan being the only way Chromakey Steve and "maximum cool" could ever even approach the same zip code.
The crazy bastard pushed through it, though, and we actually made it through the whole script. Five majorly hot days, two trips into the forest for sticks and vines, three Lowe's runs, two late-night rounds of puppet modification, and thirty-seven Ben Folds' cover of Sleazy sing-alongs later, it is done. And Chester is more or less dead from all the abuse.
RIP Chester. Causing grown men to question the sanity of their life choices, 2009-2012.
We were meant to have filmed with Wiley yesterday and today, but unfortunately the power situation put the kibosh on that. We're working to reschedule, and as ever I'll keep you guys posted, barring any natural disasters.

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