Bar

May 9, 2015

 

I'm not very good at naming things.

 

My senior film Bar is, so far in my short career and relatively short life, my largest and most representative project yet.  For better or worse, I own this film completely, from concept to fabrication to animation. It's been screened at several national and international festivals, and more importantly, it won me an award for "Weirdest Film" at the SCAD graduation showcase.  Writing this long after finishing, I have a lot of retrospective feelings, both positive and negative, that I'll try to leave out of my account.

 

The concept stage was far and away the most difficult part, as it often is.  I have an unhealthy obsession with neon lights.  I'll get that out of the way early.  After I imagined a neon light in the middle of the woods, I knew I was never going to move on.  However, that single image is obviously not enough to sustain an entire short film, and I got stuck building a world around it.  The other guiding inspiration was something that I would describe as "breathing" photographs and paintings.  Still pictures alone are very capable of telling a story, but just adding a tiny bit of movement to them increases the immersion immensely.  There's a bit too much going on in Bar for it to be considered a breathing photograph, but the concept heavily informed the pacing and staging in every shot.

 

Because the film is still screening at festivals, it is not yet available publicly online.  I hope to put it on the site soon, but in the meantime, I'll have to provide a synopsis.  A cold and weary traveler, clothed in many layers, stumbles upon a bar in the middle of the woods.  In doing so, he awkwardly interrupts the nightlife of the forest creatures.
 

On to the fabrication:

 

The traveler puppet was the one capable of the most articulation, as required by the story.  I had used and experimented with ball and socket armatures before, but this is the first time I purpose built one for a film.

 

 

I apologize for the blurry image.  As he's all bundled up, he's built sort of like a turtle.  His back is rigid, and his arms jut out awkwardly from the front of his body.  I soldered together some square tubing for the rigid body sections.  The rods and ball-bearings are actually barbells intended for body piercings.  I had some sandwich plates from an armature kit I had in middle school, so I borrowed and adapted those for use in this armature.

 

 

Despite the distinct shapes, all four animal puppets were made using the same basic method.  Not needing to move around much, I used simple wire armatures and a fairly bulky foam build up method.

 

 

Deer:

 

 

 Bear:

 

 

Rabbit:

 

 

Owl:

 

 

The core of almost every set element was carved insulation foam that was painted and dressed with either model foliage or real, preserved moss.

 

 

 

I soldered the sign together from sheet metal, then I ran battery-operated LED wire to simulate the effect of neon tubes.  Although the light looked very cool, it had to be amplified with another light to reach the required brightness.

 

 

 

 

Hopefully, most of these photos were mostly self-explanatory, but if they weren't (or you have other questions), feel free to email me.  Thanks for reading!

 

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