About this project
Monster of the Sky is a stunning Clockwork puppet film inspired by a Lord Byron poem and driven by the music of Stereo Alchemy. In a futuristic world of cogs and gearwork, young Sky falls in love and is swept off to the clouds by a winged prince, only to die on her wedding day. But the story doesn't end here - resurrected by mechanical ghosts, she becomes a goddess of vengeance who sets out to find her prince again.
Will Sky get her revenge? Or will she change the course of the Clockwork Universe, defying the Fates to become her own woman, free of a past of anger and pain, finding her own redemption?
The team made it through all the puppet build and much shooting in Portland and L.A. this summer and fall, with more coming soon - all thanks to our AMAZING 333 backers on the Phase 1 Kickstarter!
Now join award-winning director Sam Koji Hale as he finishes this second film project, following 2010 Dragon*Con Independent Film Festival BEST FILM winner "Yamasong" (see the trailer below):
Kickstarter is a place where special ideas are born and take shape - something not for the big studios. We work in puppet films, and there aren't a lot of us, but there are amazing, wonderful projects, many born from Kickstarter. Here's a word of support from our friend Toby Froud, director of "Lessons Learned" (and Laika Studio artist, or you may remember him from Labyrinth, the baby in the stripey pajamas) and Kevin McTurk (award-winning director of "Narrative of Victor Karloch" and "Mill at Calder's End"):
Great Press for "Monster"!
Read all about it! Here are a few articles we wanted to share about bringing this "Monster" to life!
- GeekDad 1 - "Monster of the Sky" Preview
- GeekDad 2 - "A Closer Look at Monster of the Sky"
- Geeky Nerfherder - Kickstarter: "Monster of the Sky"
- Shooting People - Q&A with Actor Sumiko Braun
- L.A. Weekly Blog - Inside the World of L.A.'s Puppet Filmmakers
New Rewards Added!
We've expanded our reward offerings to include new color vinyl stickers, mugs and a great new "Gears" hoodie! Check the rewards in the right column for these and other FANTASTIC goods!
Now with our eyes on post-production, we hope you'll help us do something that hasn't been done before - giving puppet faces animation using real-time motion capture and digitally marrying it with the puppet bodies.
Be a part of something UNIQUE and EXCITING as we tell the tale of two tragic lovers, evoking a Dark Crystal and Avatar feel with a style all our own!
We are using this technology in a way never done before. We are pioneering motion-capture face performance on footage of puppet body performance - in some ways it's inspired by Where the Wild Things Are, where they used animation on creature costumes. We are pushing the envelope with this technology and we hope you'll kick in to help us make it happen!
Here are screen shots from the film!
We partnered with Motion Analysis Studio (located on the Jim Henson Studio lot) - a full-service motion capture studio! Their work can be seen in films like Chronicles of Riddick; I, Robot; Sid the Science Kid; Planet of the Apes and Avatar.
We scanned the Sky puppet head (at toymaker and digital scanning studio Gentle Giant) and digitally rigged it (thanks to Chewy LLC), and Motion Analysis brought her face to life, using the real-time performance of actor Sumiko Braun to drive her facial expressions.
WITH YOUR HELP, we'll be able to digitally scan and prep the 3D head of the Prince character, her lover and the other main character of the story, performed by actor Jeff Torres.
Then, with funds from this campaign, we're purchasing the program PFTrack to marry the digital faces to puppet heads seamlessly - to give our two characters facial animation for key emotional moments and dialogue.
We cannot emphasize how important this software is. It's expensive, but a key part of our project. PFTrack is industry-standard software for matching camera moves, tracking objects and specially made for tracking facial geometry. Check out how it works, and why we feel it's ideal for this project:
AND if we make it beyond our first funding goal, one STRETCH GOAL will be to do this to the whimsical, mechanical worker Squijj characters too! They are a delight - already an audience favorite! Check out this fun test of a Squijj walking!!
SKY PALACE SETS
We're also asking for your support to build two key new sets. Sky's wedding takes place in the clouds, in a fantastical gearwork palace - the story calls for a full exterior of the palace and a partial interior with stained glass, marble and fountains. We were going to do digital sets, but the sets Charles Daniels built so far were so STUNNING - textured, tangible, living in the same reality as the puppets - that we now also want to build REAL palace sets too.
Check out the concept art and pictures of Charles sets, including a new set he built for Toby Froud's Kickstarter "Lessons Learned" (which Sam is helping to produce with Heather Henson). We think you'll agree that bringing Charles back to make the palace would be funds well-spent!
REWARD ADD-ONS: If you pledge at the $25 level or higher, you will receive:
- The 2-DVD pack of "Monster of the Sky" AND "Yamasong"
- The digital download of "Monster of the Sky"
- The hi-res PDF of the 3 Concept Illustrations for the film
- The hi-res Poster for "Monster of the Sky
(Note: Any previous backers at this level also get these add-ons too!)
We're offering a whole range and mix of rewards, including some great new color vinyl stickers, an original designed Prince "Gear" t-shirt (in three colors!) and black hoodie, a Prince helmet thumb drive with films fully loaded on it, the "Making Of" Art Book and more! Check the sidebar for more details about our great rewards!
The THREE important things we're hoping to fund with your help are (A) the costs of motion-capture for puppet faces (3D scan of puppet head, rigging in Maya, costs of motion-capture recording, cleanup and purchase of PFTrack software), (B) the commission of two more sets for the Prince's sky palace and (C) paying a small team of cleanup artists to key out the greenscreen, rotoscoping, layering in characters and sets, as well as VFX.
Below is a pie chart breakdown of these expenses:
HELP US MAKE IT HAPPEN
Please join us in making this unique blend of puppetry and motion capture technology a reality - and tell an amazing, unforgettable story of the triumph of the heart over the thirst for revenge. This last clip teases the story's opening (and the film's finished look) - a mysterious helmet floats in space with clockwork moons and a rusty world below!
Risks and challenges
As we enter post-production, the risk of blending puppetry and motion-capture techniques for face performance, THEN tracking those digital faces on the puppet heads seamlessly, can be a challenge. But the risks are worth the reward of making it work! No one has combined these techniques in a film before. Our goal is to overcome the challenges to make these puppet faces come to life!
The other challenges ahead are the same as what we faced during fabrication and filming - balancing people's schedules and understanding this is an independent film. We have a fixed budget for our artists, so when a better-paying gig comes along, sometimes we have to put things on hold and wait until schedules line up, or find new artists to replace departing ones. Hopefully, you, our backers, will understand this and will stand behind "Monster of the Sky"! We have the track record and confidence that we can deliver this amazing story TO YOU!!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes, ABSOLUTELY. The Blu-Ray will include behind the scenes featurettes and Sam Koji Hale's award-winning short film "Yamasong" too!
If you pledge at the $25 level or more, you will receive ALL of the following items, PLUS your pledge:
-The 2-DVD pack of "Monster of the Sky" AND "Yamasong"
-The digital download of "Monster of the Sky"
-The hi-res PDF of the 3 Concept Illustrations for the film
-The hi-res Poster for "Monster of the Sky
This question is mainly for people new to Kickstarter. Your credit card isn't charged until the project reaches the end of the campaign. If it doesn't reach the goal, no one is charged. Your money will stay with you. The project and Kickstarter will get zero. It's an all or nothing deal!
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