Category Archives: behind the scenes

Finally some computer stuff

So, I have made my lists, and began my storyboards. I have used lots of pen and paper. Now it is finally time to do some computer work. I know for example that my thieves will meet up at the beginning of the film at the thieves’ guild. So, I now begin collecting images from the internet. I do some searches and find any image that might have something that could be used as inspiration for a “thieves guild” location.

thieves' guild

thieves’ guild

Any image I find online that will offer any guidance on what it would look I right click and save.

thief meeting

thief meeting

An image may show characters, or the location or may even help me figure out the camera view for the shot.

thief talk

thief talk

Once I save a few, I begin to get an idea of how it will look in my own film.



I won’t copy any of these exactly but these images will help me build sets, position the characters, and set up the camera views.



I save all the images in a folder properly named. Like for this example, I would create a folder under the main film folder, named “thieves guild”. Sometimes I collect several hundred images for a single shot, prop, or costume idea. I usually keep these forever and can always use the same images for a film later in the future. I have collected thousands and thousands of images in my time. This is an activity that is great to do when you have no sunlight to craft props or shoot any footage. This gives you stuff to do on your film while you are sitting at the computer.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

behind the scenes stuff

here are some more photos from the behind the scenes of my latest film. The film is completed and is currently with the music guy getting a musical score composed for it. Soon very soon it will be ready for release. Hang in there a little bit longer. Thanks for following along this past year as we put this film together. It means a lot to us and you adoring fans are the reason we make these films.

go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

Live action film update

So, the costume is finished and the first sword fight choreographed

To choreograph the fight scene I watched hours and hours of sword fights and stage combat videos to come up with ideas. Finally I found a site that listed 3 of the greatest choreographed sword fights from old movies. Surprisingly in the list was the Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker light saber duel when Darth cuts off Luke’s hand. So, I decided to use that as a basis for my fight. I wrote down every beat in the fight scene, every attack and every parry. It is written almost like a musical composition. It has three distinct parts to it. Part 1 is Luke attacking but Vader just defending, testing Luke to see his skill level. Part 2 is pretty even offense and defense as Vader steps up the pressure. Part 3 Vader goes all out and goes really physical and loses the finesse. These three parts work great to really build the tension and excitement.

So, anyway, I copied down every beat and wrote my own medieval moves to fit the beats.

So, we practiced the first part until we had it down pretty well. We packed up all the parts and headed to the location.

Within 20 minutes of being onsite the police showed up. We had to move all our stuff to another location across the street. Eventually we began filming. My idea was to have a stand in actor do the creature’s sword part and fight against me. That way I would get to really hit a real sword and a have a real target. I thought I would erase the actor later and leave the sword and then just animate the puppet to match the sword. Here is the first test.

so…I took the video home and plugged it into After Effects and erased the person and left the sword. The problem was it left a shadowy effect around the actor.

So, I took another clip and erased the sword completely but still the shadowy effect is still there. So, now I think I may have to do something different. Harryhausen practiced the sword fights and then had the actors mime it out with nothing there. I may have to go back and reshoot and do it that way.

Will keep you updated.

Oh, we ran into several issues while onsite, including my prosthetic nose and chin kept falling off. I have to figure out a fix for that. May have to buy some real Prosaide.

On the side I am still creating the puppet armature.


Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

underwater film photos

I haven’t updated for awhile but the underwater film is still slowly progressing. Here are some screen captures from animation clips.











go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

some still shots from fish film

here are a few still shots taken from the animation shots from my fish film.

This one has the flying rig removed.

The straight rod above the fish is a threaded rod/flying rig.







I needed more light so I put a homemade barn door on track light head. The shield prevent the light from casting shadows from my body on the set. It is just scrap wood screwed to the ceiling.

The bottom piece is adjustable to contain the excess light.


So far, I have shot about 600 frames. Holidays have slowed the progress some.


Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

some other fish armatures

I also made a lionfish and a seahorse puppet for the fish film. Just basic wire armature for the seahorse.

Hot melt glue for the bones. Cushion foam to build up muscles.


This the is lionfish armature. I drew the fish to scale. Cut a MDF block for the body, drilled some holes for wires. Hot melt glued the wires in place. And glued in a square brass K/S tube for the flying rig.




This shows the flying rig holding the fish.

Cover the whole thing with dabbed on black and white latex.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

Making a fish puppet

This is what I did to form a fish puppet for my new film.

I took a square piece of K/S brass and soldered to rod with a ball end. I put this in a ball and socket joint. I glued the square brass in a piece of mdf that was shaped like a fish head.

I made a wire armature for the shrimp.

Wrap the ball and socket joint with bandage foam.

This shows the rig that fits in the square brass tube to hold the fish up.

The brass tube will sit in the fish and hold it up. I will put the threaded rod in hole in the overhead with a nut holding it up. I can turn the rod to move the fish up or down. Every turn of the rod will move the entire rig up or down in height.

The nut and washer will hold the rod from slipping through the hole above the set. Turn the rod and the rig rises or lowers.

All of the larger fish or creatures in the film will use this same square tubing set up so I can swap the puppets in and out and use the same rig. I will attach the threaded rod overhead the set in a rig that slides back and forth across  the set. It will probably just move by eye without a geared or threaded pull system. I will rely on the video assist to determine how far to move the rig.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

Beginning of the underwater film

So, the throne room film is complete and is now on my youtube channel. It is called “Shear Fear”.

So, now it is time to begin a new film. This one takes place underwater on a tiny little reef. The main characters will be seahorses, hermit crabs, fish and shrimp.

This is how I began to form the reef set. I took some styrofoam and began to add some shape to the set. I cut some small pieces of foam on the bandsaw and glued together around a semi-circle to form this red coral.

I brushed several layers of paint on until I was happy with the color.

Add some more foam for the reef walls.

Fill the gaps in with some foam insulation.

Wrap some wires together and make some branches.

Wrap the branches with some thin foam.

Keep wrapping to form the coral branches.

I used thread to hold the foam in place until it could be covered later. I also hot melt glued some edges down.

This is bandage wrap. Athletes use it under their boxing gloves.

Almost finished wrapped.

Dap liquid latex (Mold Builder Latex) that has been tinted green on to the foam wrap.

Apply many coats until you reach the desired finish. Two corals done, maybe 15 more to do.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

behind the scenes photos of throne room

here are some random behind the scene shots of the throne room film including some of the set being taken apart after the last shot.

The camera rig that I moved where I needed it to the get the shot.

The final shot with a group photo of the cast.

Lighting effects with homemade barn doors and diffusers.

Taking the set apart after the final shot.

Breaking down the stairs and the railing.

Props go in a box for future use.

The beginning of the exterior set. Paper mache and styrofoam.

Where the magic happens.

One little corner of my bedroom.

Waiting for their scene.

Handpainted floor with a million tiedown holes.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.

Some more exterior set photos

I have been absent for awhile now but I have been busy working on the throne room film. Here are more photos of the exterior set of the throne room film. This is the set outside waiting for nightfall.

The rig at the top is a flying rig that will move the gliders along the set. The three small things in the middle of the below photo are the gliders. Notice also the new wooden camera rig I use to hold my camera. It slides up and down, tilts up and down, and twists side to side. Knobs on the side tighten the rig in one place. A bolt tightens the twisting motion. My webcam is hot melt glued to the top of the digital camera.

Here is a better view of the camera rig.

Below are the three gliders in place.

This is a wider view.

It is all paper mache and paint, and will be shot all after sunset.

The tiny gliders.

The gliders will be pulled along with a threaded rod and a wingnut.

The busy background will be digitally painted out.

Go ahead, make a mess, have some fun.