Friday, May 25, 2012

It's All In The Details

Click this pic to enlarge.

Today's topic is creating visual interest and richness through detail. This image is from the set of our upcoming project (news flash- this project is NOT about zombies. Shocking, I know).

The road is a sheet of white plastic (you can see at the bottom of the image where the paint runs out- don't worry that won't be on camera). The sidewalk is hardboard. The building's stone and brick elements are pink foam. The doorway is a combo of foam core and illustration board. All held together with hot glue.

In other words- the materials are very humble. It's the effort put into what is done with the materials that makes it fly. A picture is worth a thousand million words (or something like that), so by studying this image carefully, you can learn a lot about how to achieve similar effects. But I will say:

Photo reference at the start, keep that in your mind... then go your own way. Check back with photos later, or when in doubt. Take direction from that. Then carry on in your own mind's eye of what you are going for. Too much adherence to a photo will only result in, well, photo realism.

Textures and finishes are key. Always remember it's the last layer on something that the camera sees.

Build colours and textures up, by starting dark as a base.

Don't be afraid to be a bit bold with colour- check out how nice the blue door works with the brick. 

Dry brushing means DRY BRUSHING. A really dry brush, with very little paint. VERY LITTLE PAINT. And you need contrast in brightness between the undercoat and the coat you are dry brushing, to get a nice effect.

"Flicking" paint as the the last addition to a paint job is awesome. You can see it here especially on the road and sidewalk.  It looks cool (the tiny round shapes offer a great but subtle contrast to the bigger square shapes that are the bg), and for some reason it feels really satisfying to basically "splatter" something you've worked so long on! A final way to show the piece who's boss? Win-win.

We directed our intern, Jason Burch,  to go for a "cartoony but realistic" look as he crafted this. By that we meant realistic proportions, details, materials (meaning stone should look like stone), and realistic finishes... but let it be fun at the same time, maybe a little "balloony" (meaning a certain bit of puffy to the shapes), let it be fun, with nice energy, and let the colours (while staying realistic) "pop" a bit.

He nailed it. We love it, it's going to look great on camera, and it's now served as a nice little teaching tool. Win-win!

Friday, May 18, 2012

How To Make A Simple Silicone Mould

Mould Star 15 is a nice general use silicone. Follow instructions carefully. The RICE is used to for when you need to test volumes of material (silicone or plastic). For example, if you are trying to figure out how much silicone you need to make a mould, you can cover the object you want to  mould with rice, then pour the rice out and measure how much rice it took. Then use that volume to figure out how much silicone you need to mix. You can also do this when you have a mould, and want to know how much plastic to mix. **This is a great way to make sure you aren't wasting materials, which can get expensive over time. Just make sure you've shaken out all the rice before making a mould or pouring in plastic!

Work on a piece of clean, smooth, hard board. Cut dam pieces out of foamcore. Hot glue the pieces into a frame. Make sure there are no holes for the silicone to run out. Just use lots of hot glue for this. You can also always pack a bit clay on the outside of the mould, if you notice it is leaking.

The dam height is about 1 inch higher than the logo being moulded, so as to not waste silicone. By the way, the original sculpt is from Super Sculpy (use the grey stuff if you can find it, the peach stuff sucks). It was glued down with a bit of hot glue but not much, because you need to pop the sculpt off later.

With the silicone mixed, start with a detailed coat, being sure to cover all bits with silicone.

The further away you are as you pour, the better. This allows for any bubbles to pop as it makes its way down. Pour carefully and slowly, keeping the silicone in one place and letting it fill up.

You now have an above ground swimming pool. Set the mould somewhere level, and where you can leave it undisturbed while it dries. Bubbles will rise up, pop them by blowing on them with a straw. Don't inhale. No need to put this in a vacuum pot, provided you follow the instructions carefully. After it is dry (follow the instructions), break off the dam walls, use a long blade to carefully cut under sculpt to separate it all from the board. Carefully start peeling the mould off from the sculpt. There you go! Start with something simple, and small, with no undercuts. Don't expect the first one to turn out great, but learn from it, and try it again. If you have to.

You will then be able to pour liquid plastic or plaster into the mould, and make cast after cast. Use a bit of baby powder in the mould to help it release nicely from your casts. This cast is plastic, and is tinted with a green "black light" paint, that glows like crazy under the right light. So you can have lots of fun making coloured casts. As for the zombie, he's a Mad Lab employee who was happy to help us out on the photo shoot.Thanks to the incredibly talented DANIEL BAKER, master of all things monster-making,  for schooling Mad Lab (so that Mad Lab can pass it along to YOU, dear reader).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Springtime Zombie on FANGORIA

As a small company that is just starting out, we're working extremely hard to not only make great animation, but to get noticed for doing it.That's why we're so happy to have FANGORIA Magazine giving us a premiere for our latest film, Springtime Zombie.

Fangoria (in case you don't know) is the longest running horror magazine out there. These days its cover reads "The First In Fright Since 1979". To save you counting that one out on your own fingers and toes, as well as your nearest neighbour, that's 33 years of horror movie madness. That covers such epic moments in film history as Alien, Friday 13th, Halloween,  Nightmare on Elm Street (the originals, as well as the sequels), George Romero's classics...and that's just to name a few biggies.

The mag is legendary for horror fans the world over, and you'd have a hard time  finding a single sci-fi, horror, or special effects/make-up professional working today that hasn't been deeply influenced by the crazy madness that flows through Fangoria's pages. And that includes Geri and Chris of Mad Lab.

So to be not only profiled by them but to have our humble short premiered on their site is a huge honour for us. Fangoria was not only the first to show off our latest, but they also offered us great press about our company and what we are all about.

We'd like to thank Fangoria, and specifically Chris Alexander (Editor) for the support and encouragement. This kind of coverage from an institute like Fangoria is proof that the magazine cares not only about the big franchises and multi-million dollar blockbusters, but it also loves the upstart fiends, as they claw and scratch their way to reach the surface- fiends like the gore-soaked weirdos at Mad Lab Productions.

You can read the great article and watch our new film HERE.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

New Zombie Animation This Week!

Hey, blog updates are only supposed to be on Fridays, what gives?! All we can say is "Life is full of happy surprises." And this update couldn't wait till next Friday!

So far, we've been posting content on our YouTube channel that has been seen pretty widely in festivals, and online.

But coming this week to our channel is our newest and absolutely "world premiere status" ultra-short film. It's called SPRINGTIME ZOMBIE. No one has seen this film yet. So it's exciting to be getting ready to release it.

Our past zombie films were kept off-line, and released via traditional film festivals, for about half a year BEFORE posting online. It was a way to keep the content exclusive so festivals would like it. But it seems festivals aren't too concerned if something has already played online, as long as its good quality. And how can you deny the attraction of suddenly having the huge audience that is THE INTERNET primed and ready to see your new content? As content producers that want large audiences, it just makes sense.

The plan is to still submit our films to festivals. Having your work shown to real live audiences, to get real live reactions (and laughs!) is a rush you can't replace, no matter how many people watch something online. And festivals are a fantastic way to build community amongst genre fans. So we'll still be hitting festivals with SPRINGTIME ZOMBIE, and maybe you will to see it on a big screen somewhere over the next year. 

But the reality for this film is this: next week (follow our FB page and Twitter feed for ultra current updates), we will be premiering our next film, exclusively online, for Mad Lab fans every where.

We're hoping you like, and we're hoping you offer comments on our YouTube page. That helps us get noticed even more. And please subscribe to our channel as well. That helps us prove we have fans that want to watch us on a regular basis. And that's good for business.

Updates to follow!

Got To Love Fridays!

Thanks for checking back on our blog.

Our other pages (Facebook and Twitter) are great for short and fast updates, but there's nothing like a cozy blog to really let us relax into a detailed (and at times wildly self-indulgent) posting.

 It's a place where we'll be able to do more "behind the scenes" stuff of our productions, and climb upon the occasional soap box to rant a bit about this or that. The plan, loyal Mad Lab reader, is to update this blog no less than once a week. And in general, that will be on FRIDAYS. Not Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays... but FRIDAYS. And not on the weekend. FRIDAYS. Got it? Good!

So why this Sunday morning update?

Because this is the internet, and there ARE no rules. Get used to it.

 No seriously, most updates will be on Fridays.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Little Aluminum Pieces

Aluminum is a great material. It's basically like a really, REALLY hard wood. You can work it with basic hand tools, and basic power tools, into custom shapes that are very strong. Then you can "tap" it, which means "put screw threads into it", so that you can connect puppet parts. Now, if a puppet part breaks, you can replace just that ONE broken part.

For anyone serious about making their own armatures, aluminum is a good material to focus on. You can get very good, durable, effective armatures (the block kind), but you don't need massive equipment or super specialized training.

These are bits for our current stop motion project. They came out pretty sweet.

We'll be posting in more detail about the project as time goes on, so be sure to check back.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Production Begins

We've started work on a new stop motion project. Today was spent getting the crew together, getting storyboards up, and generally game planning. It's a small project, but with a bigger crew than we've used before, so that's exciting.

We'll reveal more as time goes on. And we'll be posting photos and update blurbs here (and on FB, Twitter, and YouTube) as time goes on.

Check back soon for more updates...