T is for Tokophobia

DSC_2154So here’s a short flick from the diseased minds of James Pearcey and Russ Would of Ne’er Do Well Films, the guys behind To My Mother and Father.

I swear I didn’t come up with the idea for this, however whenever James wants to abuse a foetus I’m the guy he comes to.  In fact this was quite an attractive project as it gave me the opportunity to not only make a small rubber puppet (pictured to the left) but also to work on some After Effects shots.

The foetus/embryo/whatever it is was sculpted in chavant oil clay and I then made a small plaster mold.  It was cast in TinSil from Mouldlife and painted with their silicon pigments.

The After Effects shots weren’t too demanding luckily – they wanted to start on an extreme close up of a pregnancy test and then pull back to a wide shot at the beginning of the film and then zoom back in at the end of the film.  The zoom in was initially going to be to a piece of thread but was later changed to a puddle of blood.

I motion tracked the pregnancy test and added a red solid onto the pregnancy test within After Effects.  I then used a virtual camera to zoom in and out.  The end shot was stationary so that was very simple zoom in, again with a 3D camera.

Halfway through it turned out we were going to be shooting on 16mm and Stephen Murphy (who also worked on To My Mother and Father) would be the DP which was exciting as it’s given the film a very professional look.  It also meant I got the opportunity to work with some .dpx files which are a series of still frames taken from a digital scan of the film print rather than simple DV.  This is something I’ve not worked with before so it was a good experience and After Effects handled everything perfectly which was great although file sizes can get abit humongous.

So here’s the film.  I should warn you it’s pretty strong stuff (Tokophobia is a fear of becoming pregnant), but bare in mind it’s designed to push your buttons and freak you out.  To give it some context, this has been entered into the ABC’s of Death film competition so you’re not going to get a rom com and please do give it a vote here.

Hmmmmm, rubbery.

I’ve done the first cast from the werewolf mould. I’ve previously only made pour and injection moulds, this time round I’m pasting the silicon into the mould as the silicon I’m using (Tinsil) has a thixotropic agent which you can use to thicken it up enough to make it brushable. This was then backed up with a layer of fibre glass to support it.

Brushing in the silicon has led to more air bubbles than usual, but that’s not too difficult to fix – as this is a tin based silicon I can use silicon bathroom sealant to fill in the gaps as it’ll bond to it.

I may do another cast and be a little more careful this time round though. I’ve also found you can make the silicon really stretchy by adding an equal amount of ‘deadener’ so that might be worth a go.

More werewolf stuff

Couple of bits.  I’ve actually taken a slight break from doing the werwolves as I’ve been ebaying a load of stuff so I could buy a new camera to shoot the final vid on.

That’s all done now and I’m the proud owner of a Nikon D90 which (for all you cameraphiles out there) is a digital SLR which also shoots 720p vid. The advantage of this over a regular camcorder is you can use your SLR lenses to get some excellent video effects. Here’s some test vid using an f1.8/35mm lens.

I’m also starting to make the molds now- partly because I’ve run out of clay halfway through building the old man so I need the clay from the werewolf sculpt.

Here’re some pics of the old man:

And here’re some pics of the molds:

I’m laminating the plaster with glass fibre to give it some structural strength.

0.L.Droid almost finished!

DSC_0938 (4)Been filming my ‘short’ Oldroid video.  I had only intended it to be a minute or so long, it’s getting on for about five minutes now!  I’ve done an arm for the Oldroid which he’s been lacking up to now.  This was sculpted in chavant and I decided to do a quick mold with plaster as I didn’t want to spend too much time screwing around with it, however as it turns out using plaster worked out really well as chavant doesn’t stick to plaster.  Having spent ages recently cleaning chavant out of fibre glass molds this is abit of a revelation.  Even better, platsil also doesn’t stick to plaster either.  Awesome.

I was worrying that I’d made the hand abit too big after all that, however I’ve found that if you have the camera above the model it looks OK (phew).

Also had abit of a problem painting the platsil – as it’s platinum based rubber rather than tin based my bathroom sealant / oil paint/ white spirit method won;t adhere to it.  I’ll have  to have abit more of an experiment with that one.

Anyway, just doing the sound effects then the video should be done, wahoo!


DSC_0520Slowly getting close to filming my 0.LDroid.  As well as building the background character 5.L.Droid (or something) I’ve also been giving some thought to a set of sorts.  Rather than building a complete set I’m going to be filming this against a black background with some minimal set details in the background.  I can then fill in the surrounding  black edges of the image with some details, perhaps warehouse walls or similar.  It should be relatively straightforward to do this by overlaying .pngs with some transparency over the image.  I don’t want to do anything too detailed, but rather give the impression of the surrounding environment.  I want it to be quite dark and ominous.

To this end I’m going to be purchasing a black background.  You can get a 6m x 3m backdrop for about £40 off ebay.  I already have the stand so that should be more than enough.  I can trim it to size (6m x 3m is way too big).  I’m also going to be getting some gels (transparent coloured sheets to change the colour of the lights).

The horror film I did recently really showed me the value of good lighting.  I didn’t really consider the effects I did for that project my best work (I didn’t think they were bad, but they’re not amongst my favourites) however having them lit and shot by a professional DSC_0436crew really elevated them to look much better than they otherwise would.  Check out this still by the DOP Stephen Murphy.  Looks fantastic.

Something that also really demonstrated this to me was a video by a very nice chap I met working on the film named Dominic Hailstone.  The video’s called The Eel and is absolutely incredible, especially considering this was all done DSC_0509with puppets and animation with no CGI involved.  Dominic is doing a short piece for the horror film  so I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he comes up with.

All this has made me realise the problems with my previous projects; the lighting and camera work has never been very good.  In my defence, the FX are my focus and I’ve never really learnt much in the way of lighting or camera work, only what I’ve had to out of necessity, however done properly they really do add so much to a project, so I’m determined to try. I usually just stick a light on it, make sure I can see it and crack on.  Bit more thought on this aspect of the video this time round I think!

The pictures dotted about this article are my initial attempts.  They were done with a simple red cloth chucked over the spot light I was using.  I also used a blue LED torch to highlight the puppets face to make it stand out.  I’m hoping for some slightly better shots once I’ve actually got hold of some less improvised kit!

For the ‘set’ I decided to incorporate the mold that I used to make the puppets into the film.  The idea is that it’s a machine that produced copies of the droid.  In a very real way, it is.


I have another motive for taking these pics; my brother (coincidentally as it happens) has almost finished writing his steampunk inspired album ‘Spinning the Compass‘.   He’s nicked a pic for the cover of the album so I figured I’d do some slightly better ones he can use (these aren’t them though, so don’t nick these just yet Tom!).  I’ll also likely be using some of his music for the vid.