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

Watercolour – Meadow Pipit

I’m so glad I took the time to make a new bracket for my drawing surface – thermoplastic split pins and wooden battens mean it’s a lot easier to prop on papers of various sizes for painting. They’re very unobtrusive, so I don’t bang my arm on them, and secure yet easy to move.

Not entirely happy with the background (hence the crops), but I do love playing watercolour.

Based on an image from the Radnor Bird Blog, found via a Google image search.

Google pannier

Well, the gorgeous pannier in the shop looked like being over £120, so I decided to make do and modify… I took a Google Science Fair 2011 tote, and with a few tweaks turned it into a lightweight almost-free pannier bag.

The main changes have been to insert a bamboo strut to brace the top and U-shaped bamboo strip to shape the side, then darting the bottom to ensure there are no excess corners to flop about and get caught in the spokes. A pair of clipped straps for holding everything in, a shoulder strap for hauling it about, and thermoplastic clips to attach it to the bike, and I’m pretty pleased with it! Time for a test run…