Spaceships, Monsters, and Cardboard

This has been a really productive week filming "The Spaceman". I spent a lot of my time putting the finishing touches on the spaceship miniature using cardboard, model car pieces, cut up photographs of cardboard, and 3D printed pieces as well. I then animated the spaceship with lights flickering and movement against a green screen using Dragonframe stop motion software and a drum cymbal stand as a rig (these really come in handy). 

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Using a GoPro camera and a handmade vortex tunnel out of foam core, black sheets, and fishing wire, I created the effect of flying through a space vortex. This was then composited with my stop-motion spaceship footage. I manipulated additional movement of the ship in After Effects in order to make it even more convincing.

I also began animating the monster puppet that will fight with Jordan Funk later in the film. It took some practice before I got an idea for the character but I finally found a feel and rhythm to his personality. Animating his eyeballs is my favorite part so far. 

DAY 11: "The Spaceman"

This week has been a slow crawl but we are making progress. Below you will see the spaceship miniature we are using for exterior shots. I still have to attach photorealistic cardboard textures to the scale of the ship. Today I added internal LED lights and have worked out how I will rig it while filming against green screen.

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Below is the animatronic tentacle we are building to match the stop-motion puppet. It is still in the testing phases and when finished will be twice the length. We will wrap it with a black and white striped skin and pull it with levers off camera as it attacks Jordan. This is a crucial element in bridging the live-action and stop-motion elements. Four cables will be used to pull the tentacle in all directions.

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We also just started figuring out a series of complicated stop-motion shots that involve flying through a vortex. We intend to use a black light and layering digital FX on top. This will also be a composite shot where you will see the spaceship flying inside with Jordan.

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DAY 6: "The Spaceman"

I am 99% done with the spaceship cockpit for this months shoot. Tonight I did my final lighting tests and everything is exceeding my expectations. I couldn't have done this without the help of Jay Darden, Dan Reinhard, Jordan Funk and the scraps of old displays from a corporate retailer that will remain nameless for now ( You know who you are). 

I also spent a lot of time this week watching some amazing sci-fi movies and behind the scenes documentaries that have already inspired me to finish a couple difficult transitions I couldn't quite figure out. I intend to use as many practical FX in this movie as possible and can't wait to start filming again. 

Check out these lighting test shots: