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A Clockwork sci-fi film of forbidden love and revenge, inspired by a 19th-century Lord Byron poem and told in hybrid puppet animation
A Clockwork sci-fi film of forbidden love and revenge, inspired by a 19th-century Lord Byron poem and told in hybrid puppet animation
333 backers pledged $29,370 to help bring this project to life.

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A new year, new perspective, fresh start!

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Hello backers!

I hope everyone is getting a strong start to the new year! Post-production continues with "Monster" and I have some news to share - but in order to do that, I need to wind the gears back to end of Sept last year and a really great animation festival...

...You may remember I was invited to Best of ANNY in New York City. There I shared some of what we've been developing with the facial motion capture for "Monster". Here's a pic from that panel on Puppetry and Motion-capture in Animation: 

Sam tells panel about facial motion capture in the film.
Sam tells panel about facial motion capture in the film.

Two things came out of this panel: 

1) From the questions from the audience and moderator, I realized just how much excitement there was around this (rather) NUTTY idea we've been developing of taking a person's facial performance and splicing it on to a puppet! and 2) There was a person in the audience who was developing the SAME IDEA halfway around the world! 

The first bit gave me fresh resolve to delve more in to facial motion capture and the second bit actually gave me the means. The fellow in the audience, Peter Spence, is a visual effects artist in Oslo (originally from Bristol, UK), and he's been looking for ways to develop an effective pipeline for putting faces on non-human/inanimate objects. The last film he'd worked on was placing a talking face on a magic twig and the integration was SEAMLESS! 

We talked right after the panel for two hours + and decided then and there that we needed to combine forces! So for the past few months and through the holidays (and fires on my end and blizzards on his!), we discussed software, hardware and workflow that would get us to where we wanted to go.

Today, we took a big first step out of the world of concept and in to the world of making it happen! Bringing back my actor, co-producer and friend Sumiko Braun (who voices Sky), we went back in to the script and re-recorded her lines PLUS all of her facial expressions. Here are some pics:

Helmet rig and camera - just for our special mo-cap system!
Helmet rig and camera - just for our special mo-cap system!

Along with shooting what was originally scripted, we also shot various facial expressions and new material for the film. It was a fun and exciting day - and great to really get DEEP back in to the project to make it better!

Making faces!
Making faces!

The technology has come a long way since we set out on this journey. Back then there were big set backs. First, the studio that was helping us closed shop. THEN the camera and software I invested Kickstarter money in was bought by Apple and discontinued! I'll admit, it was discouraging. 

But now, a few years later, and the tracking system is mostly markerless instead of the awkward glue-on balls (dots on Sumiko's face are for reference for lens correction only), the camera rig mobile instead of a studio with staff and overhead, and the whole system lightweight and portable! I'm excited to revisit, relearn and reapply all of this collective knowledge to bringing YOU a richer and unique indie film.

I'll continue sharing news as we develop this tech and push to complete the short film, a project that has taught me much about patience, set backs, sharing, and amazing surprises. I appreciate all the creative energy along the way and new faces with fresh ideas. AND I THANK YOU, the backers, for sticking with this project and being patient so we can reach the finish line together.

Best wishes and big goals in 2018!

- Sam, director of "Monster of the Sky"

New York City for ANNY Best Of Festival!

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Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal

Hello backers and friends! I wanted to let you know I am in New York City this weekend to talk about the digital facial tracking innovations we are using in "Monster of the Sky." 

I am participating in this weekend's ANNY Best Of Fest - check out event details here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/anny-best-of-fest-sept-29-30-2017-12pm-10pm-two-days-of-events-tickets-33179314222

The panel is called "Puppetry and Motion-Capture in Animation" and I'll be showing some clips of tests we've been using for the Sky character's speaking parts in the short film that YOU'VE helped to fund.

Festival starts today! 

Thank you all again for backing "Monster of the Sky",

Sam, director 

Progress on Monster of the Sky

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Hello backers! Thank you for sticking with the project and your patience. We've received some recent inquiries and thought it was best to reach out to all of you with an update.

"Monster of the Sky" is in post-production. It takes time to key and rotoscope these shots (approx 150 total shots), but we are working on them. Here are some recent shots from the second scene - Climbing the Tower:

 

 

 

 

 

Note the beautiful clockwork wasteland background by Nick Sullo, who also worked on Sam's feature film "Yamasong: March of the Hollows."  

Believe us, we plan to share this world with you, our backers. We are in the thick of post-production now and working away to make this a reality!

P.S. One bit of business - associate producers level and up: An email was sent asking for photos so we can sculpt your statue rewards, but we haven't received all the responses yet. Please send your photos so we can be sure to give you the cameo as part of your reward.

Moving Forward & MAFFY Festival

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Hi all! 

It's been a while and we know many of may want to know what's happening with "Monster of the Sky" and related news:

As of last month, Sam finished directing "Yamasong: March of the Hollows" - it is now in the hands of his producers who are shopping it around (fingers crossed 2017 is a BIG year for this film's release!). 

Making the feature "Yamasong: March of the Hollows" was an amazing experience working with Dark Dunes Productions, founded by one of our own "Monster" backers Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki!  Sam is hoping to bring everything he learned from that experience to finishing "Monster of the Sky".

Now Sam is working with two "Yamasong" VFX artists to create digital backgrounds and visual effects for "Monster" shots! Sam is also working on sculptures of our backers who paid for their likenesses to appear in the short film...

Speaking of which, Sam was at Monterey Bay Area Festival of Film for Youth (MAFFY) last week and did a Paperclay sculpture demo and After Effects VFX talk for "Monster of the Sky." It was a great audience of eager college animation students - now inspired to take a second look at puppets and how to use them in their art!

And as always, thank you again for supporting "Monster of the Sky"!

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUR PROGRESS: Editorial moving along nicely

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Hello clockwork fantasy friends!

We are moving along in editorial with our friend Margaret Lily Andres! She has helped tighten up all the footage we shot into a compact, visually fantastic 7-8 minute short film/music video, all to the driving music of Stereo Alchemy and the hauntingly, ethereal voice of Melissa Kaplan. 

We follow the mystery of the woman Sky (Sumiko Braun) trapped in a space rock and her memory pulled from the remains by a bug probe - pulling us into a flashback of the birth of a goddess from the ruins of a "demolished world". We follow her from her poisoning to her rebirth at the hands of clockwork ghosts to her final flight to meet her murderer face to face. This is "Monster of the Sky!" 

Below are screen shots of the current edit and a bonus time-lapse clip shot on our last day in Portland - featuring our amazing Gear Palace and Flying Mansion - built by our amazing set builder Charles Daniels. Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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