June 10, 2012

Gardens of Miranda Episode 1

At long last, after 3 years of work, Episode 1 of Gardens of Miranda is finished. I spent the first year writing, designing and constructing models, props and puppets, followed by 2 years of animation.

Shooting this proved to be a true learning process and I'm looking forward to putting all of it to use on episodes 2 and 3, which I expect to average around 2 minutes in length. There was a lot of exposition to work into episode 1, something that won't be as true for successive installments, so the pacing will pick up and include more characters and action sequences and a darker tone overall.

Episode 1 Image Gallery

Here's a selection of photos showing set-ups and lighting in the shots where FE discovers the Redhead in the tree-tops. The tree crotch is hollow and is comprised of a resin skin applied over a cardboard and paper substructure. Despite my efforts at keeping it light-weight, at roughly 4.5 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide, it was bulky and awkward to handle and to stabilize for filming. I've since devised a more manageable alternative for shots like this.

Jack Pure-Folly. I wanted this character to be large enough to allow for some intricate surface detail and to be able to sustain a convincing close-up. I also wanted to use ball-joints instead of wire for his fingers because I didn't want to deal with replacing broken finger wires in the middle of a shot. These requirements resulted in my building a 17" tall puppet.

The Redhead, the subject of Jack and FEs field study. A colony of these elephant-sized creatures lives in the tops of the trees, which are actually colossal succulents with huge liquid-filled leaves and soft spongy bark.

This 18" tall model has a cast resin head and a foam latex body, built up directly over the armature and covered with a latex skin. Lionel Orozco's Kong armature provided a basis for the Redhead model. To save time, I decided to reconfigure Lionel's beautiful ape skeleton.

I removed the hands, feet and skull and replaced them with newly made, suitably alien parts, made a new hip girdle in the style of my earlier ribcage for Kong and added a tail and a tie-down point in the upper back. The hands and feet have tie-down holes too, but I figured it might be useful to add another larger one in the back to allow the option of attaching a Manfrotto camera arm for use as a heavy-duty support rig.