Sunday, September 30, 2012
I have an alcove in my bedroom that's just about the right size for the cockpit, so all I need to do is turn the end of it green. Fluorescent posterboard from CVS, taped together and supported with foam core struts, makes a dandy green screen:
Or possibly a hang glider. Unless I've reinvented baseball.
Then I sketched out the cockpit window struts on graph paper, pinned it to foam core, and began cutting out window panels:
Once I had my cockpit miniature, I set it up with my camera and a black background and shot a few seconds of footage to test the concept:
Finally, I shot the back of my head against the green screen, and combined the footage in iMovie:
And there I am in the cockpit, with Tom Servo (actual height: 4") saying hi from outside! For the scene itself, I'm going to have to pay more attention to relative scale and lining up the footage — my head's too big, and in the wrong place. But for a ten-minute test shot, I'm pretty pleased with how well it worked.
That was all last night. This afternoon I took another trip to Blick to get materials for the Boba Fett costume, which is already coming together. His dented helmet is staring at me from the coffee table, waiting for the weather to brighten up so I can give it a coat of paint.
Thursday, September 27, 2012
I knew the chest plate would be easier than the mask, so I started there. It's just a cross pattée of black foam core scored, folded, and glued to make the base, then a few scraps of white foam core for the buttons and lights. I used blue and red markers to color the buttons and a silver oil-based Sharpie paint pen for the box details. (I love those metallic paint pens.)
I really had no idea how to approach the detailed origami piecework involved in making Vader's mask, but I knew I wanted to incorporate a broken pair of sunglasses I had lying around, so I measured them, drew them on graph paper, and sketched around them until I had something that looked plausible. Then I made a mold of my lower face in aluminum foil and pulled some estimates about angles and distances out of my butt (keeping in mind that someone else would end up wearing the costume). I held the partially completed mask to my face at each intermediate stage, coming close to putting out an eye with the pins I was using to hold the joins until the glue set. Here's the final mask, with ribbons for wearing:
And here's the full look, with cloak, black shirt, zentai hood, and biking gloves:
(It turns out it's quite difficult to take a picture of yourself with an iPad while looking through a black z-hood and a pair of polarized sunglasses. This is as good as we're going to see until someone else puts on the costume.)I think the mask looks more accurate off than on; I'm seeing a little Tusken Raider, a little Baron Karza, a little Doctor Doom in the finished product. But it's recognizably Vader, provided you don't hold it up next to a movie still. I toyed with a lamp shade for the helmet and cowl, but I don't think I'll be able to get it to work in the time remaining. The hood of the cloak is perfectly serviceable, Kendra's needling notwithstanding.
It's going to be a claustrophobic, legally-blind kind of shoot for my Vader, but she'll sure look good.
The last remaining big build is Boba Fett. Ten days to principal photography!
Monday, September 24, 2012
That's the beauty shot above, all smooth and gleaming white. Unfortunately, it'll actually be shot from this angle:
Then, tonight, I put together model #2: a one-inch Millennium Falcon. The tiny sensor dish is the top layer of paper on the foam core, cut free and flipped up.
Last night, I made a list of everything I have left to do before filming: Vader's costume, Boba Fett's costume, the green screen cockpit windows, a couple of screen tests, and a few other lesser bits and pieces. I found some of the necessary elements at a thrift store today, including a fetching blue turtleneck for Boba. At a party tonight, I think I completed casting. Principal photography will be Sunday the 7th, with VF/X a couple of days before that, which gives me a little less than two weeks to get everything together. Delivery on the 11th!
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Next I move on to the EXT: SPACE shots, which means constructing a miniature Millennium Falcon and Star Destroyer, a few asteroids, and a clean black stage. Also possibly Silly String, fingers crossed.
Monday, September 17, 2012
The pink circles on his forehead aren't acne — they're paint shields. After I'm done spraying, I'll peel them off, and hopefully the plastic beneath will still be clear. Then I can stick an LED inside his head and make them glow, just like the real IG-88 (seen here waving from big IG-88's shoulder).
If you look closely, you'll see a white rod running up through his head. That's a puppeteer's control rod:
I also picked up some green posterboard for use as a green screen (!). I spent some time last night playing around with iMovie's green screen function, and found it blessedly easy to use. I know I'll use it for the starfield outside the Falcon's cockpit; I'm not yet sure about the two EXT: SPACE shots.
This continues to be wildly euphoric.
Friday, September 14, 2012
But this isn't about that. This is about Empire Uncut, and the scene I have thirty days to film.
Star Wars: Uncut chopped Star Wars into about 800 fifteen-second chunks, then handed them out to amateur filmmakers to recreate. Which they did, using action figures, Lego minifigs, computer animation, traditional animation, pencil sketches, cats, dogs, ferrets, terrible costumes, excellent costumes, excellent terrible costumes, puppets, adorable children, greenscreening, machinima, rotoscoping, repurposed footage, shop vacs, stop motion, fast motion, slow motion, no motion, instant messaging, an Oscar statuette, a hamburger, and My Little Ponies. Then they stuck them all back together and added John Williams's soundtrack back in. I saw the final result at the Brattle Theater in June, and it was joyous and jubliant and ridiculous. (If you want to watch it, it's on the internets.)
I couldn't resist signing up for the sequel, which is why I have
I've never filmed anything before, so I expect this to go extremely well. If you feel like signing up for a scene of your own, or watching the chunks as they're uploaded, go here: http://www.starwarsuncut.com/empire.