Film Challenge – Lead Time

Another short film created under ludicrous conditions by the Tortoisebutler crew. This time I contributed props (including the robot’s bite-down charging plug) and the heads up display that shows us the world from our diminutive robot’s point of view.

The biggest part of the build, though, was the creation of the beast itself: to transform our fantastically physical actor Jinny into a threatening, alien creature that would spring from the darkness and attack our hapless protagonist.

“Let’s do a simple film challenge this year” they said, “Let’s make something simple, light on the FX”… so we wrote a script with a monster. Oh, and we needed to build it in a few hours, using only what we’d brought with us.

Magda’s fantastic body (and head!) stocking gave us a perfect starting point for the transformation, dehumanising Jinny and forming n overlay to attach things to our poor actor.

Given the pale colour of the body stocking, we sketched a sinewy, insectile, carapaced creature that would almost glow in the dark. It needed to be a clear threat, so we armed it with six scything claws, a weird pointy mandible, and spines on head, elbows, and anywhere else that felt like a good idea.

Most of this was accomplished with thermoplastic pierced through the bodystocking or attached to it with double-sided sticky tape. Thermoplastic is my go-to material for creating structural elements on the fly. With some hot water it’s sculptable, it’s springy enough to be safe and tough enough to stand up to rough treatment.

Once our beast was assembled it looked a bit blank, without much secondary movement for our super slo-mo camera. Materials Magda came up trumps again though, with some fantastic long-haired fabric I’ve not seen the like of before. Hooking it through the stocking around the spines gave us a really disturbing ‘hairy insect’ effect and great flowing motion.

The finishing touch was to mix fistfuls of black and red acrylic paints with hair gel, and plaster the hair up into a stiff mane. Strategically applied paint dirtied up our monster even more, and encrusted the claws with ‘gore’ from the struggles of past victims. The pale theme made it stand out starkly, especially when light glowed through the thermoplastic weapons.

Jinny endured so much being our human mannequin in a freezing hall, but I love the hideous and unusual monstrosity we created.

Magda shared a couple of awesome picture sets from the filming here and here, and you can read another crew member’s blog post here.

Photo Credit – TortoiseButler

Deep sea mermaid – version 2

This is an upgrade of my deep sea mermaid costume which I put together for a victoriana-inspired costumed club night a few years ago.
This version takes the original concept, but instead of the boiling hot corset, floor-length fishtail skirt with petticoat, and knee-high New Rock boots combo, I put together a matching outfit that was a bit more comfortable and cool.
I also went for a scarier tone, combining the anglerfish style glowing lure with thin thermoplastic teeth and boldly creepy face-paint – more suitable for a dark and noisy environment, and way more fun to wear. This is definitely a costume I’ll continue to develop, as my prop-making skills evolve. I will probably remake the glowing jellyfish umbrella some time too, because that was beyond awesome and I really miss it.

Costume Antlers Pictorial

I decided I fancied wearing a pair of antlers at a recent event. Here are a few pictures of the process from a foam pool noodle to a wearable set of prongs. I regret painting them gold (mostly an accident!), and if I remake them I’ll take the opportunity to make them more realistically thin, but they’re still eminently wearable.

Brollies and vikings and dragons, Oh My…

I’ve fallen in with a bad crowd – light entertainers! I’m helping out a little with props for their party in the woods at the weekend, with a viking theme!

I’ve aided with some figureheads for ‘viking longtents’, will be cranking out some banners later, and have been working today on a dragon costume. My housemates were chucking out some old skate helmets, so I’ve taken the hard foam core, added some umbrella-ribs and wire, stuck it all together with gallons of hot glue, then bridged the frame panels of craft foam to flesh it out. I added on a lightweight plastic tablecloth for the body, and I’ve just papier mâché’d over it, using a mixture of water, pva and acrylic paints to add a bit of a tint. I can’t wait to see how it looks when it’s dry!

The notion is to fix a powerful torch under the lower jaw, then chase people around the woods – if you’re illuminated, you’re scorched out of the game! I might have to counterweight the back of the helm to keep it stable, but for now, enjoy some dragon building pics :D

Creature eyes

Eyes for stuffed creatures, in the absence of useful supply shops: resin domes, metallic and black varnishes, and thermoplastic settings. The edges incorporate small holes for sewing the eye to a backing, rather than the more traditional post fixing, due to the size of the eyes. Astonishingly bright and life-like in person, and look great from a range of angles.

Mixed media creature

Hand-puppet antlered beast, combining soft and sculpted elements into creature construction.

The eyes are made from lenses salvaged from DVD drives, with backs delicately painted with metallic orange varnishes, then embedded into oven-hardening clay. The ears and antlers are attached separately through the fur.