Friday, June 06, 2008


Going back to talk about projects I missed...

Last year I got an email from Craig Mullins of UNFILMABLE.COM (one of my favorite websites, devoted to Lovecraftian cinema) introducing me to a creative & driven young director named David Schmidt, who heads the Chicago-based SWORD & CLOAK PRODUCTIONS. David and his colleagues were finishing up on his second feature film, the Lovecraft-inspired HOUSE OF BLACK WINGS, a wonderfully creepy tale set in an old hotel infested with "Dreamfeeders"--strange, insect-like creatures that feed on people's subconsciouses. David asked if I'd be interested in creating a stop-motion shot of a Dreamfeeder for a sequence in the film.

David, you had me at "strange, insect-like creatures"...

It was interesting that this came along after I had done the fly puppets for the COMFORT DRAG video, since I was going to be using the same bug-making techniques again, only on a fantastical kind of animal.
I ended up making a wire armature and using Magic Sculpt for the legs and carapace--the long drying time makes it possible to sculpt in nice details and insert individual nylon hairs. The puppet was fully poseable with a segmented body, antennae and a couple of whiplike tails. I don't mind telling you, the damn thing creeps me out...
The Dreamfeeder was lit with one 60-watt bulb bounced off a small, adjustable mirror that could be animated like a flashlight beam. We talked out the blocking of the shot, and I filmed it in one, ten-hour session.
I'm really excited to see the finished film...'until then, here's the super-creepy trailer:


Blogger Shelley Noble said...

Nice creature creation, Michael! It looks just right. Legs Magic Sculpt, but body and wings are?...

12:39 AM  
Blogger Michael Granberry said...

Hey, Shells!! And THANK YOU I knew I was forgetting something! The upper body segments (head & thorax) were Magic Sculpt detail over steel epoxy "hubs" that held all those legs and pincers in place. The center had to be strong to hold all those legs securely...I was going to do six legs but thought that looked too normal, so I went with eight. I did a search on "flying arachnid" and, mercifully, nothing came up. The lower half of the body was an articulated tail armature made of Super-Sculpey and wire covered over with foam tape--a kind of thin, spongy sports wrap--glued into place and then painted over with a mixture of latex and paint, and finished off with bits of fake fur.

I'm pretty proud of the wings. The director, David, said he wanted them to look kind of like old parchment. I cut the wing shapes out of steel mesh and covered them with brown wrapping paper (which I'd crumpled up over and over til it was really soft) using spray adhesive to attach the paper to the mesh. Then I folded the paper-covered mesh into what i thought the wings would look like in a resting position. I took a small syringe filled with Fabri-Tac (a fabric glue) and squirted out lines of the glue along the "ribs" of each wing, to build them up a little. Once all the glue was dry I painted everything to match and viola--

11:17 AM  
Blogger Shelley Noble said...

Very nicely done! Thanks for the juicy details! I especially like the legs and those chilling pincers, yee.

12:33 PM  
Blogger jriggity said...

COOL BUG dood!

you are definately Dr. Bizzycakes!!


4:43 PM  
Blogger handmadeheroes said...

wow michael!

that is some awesome puppetry!

love the details.



3:32 PM  
Blogger Ryan McCulloch said...

Man, that bug is scary as crap! Great job, wish it was in the trailer. Bet it will be awesome when it's movin' around.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Michael Granberry said...

Thanks for all the comments, friends! Yes, this was an fascinating challenge and hopefully it will look great cut into the finished film!

10:42 AM  
Blogger UbaTuber said...

INCREDIBLE job, man, I love this puppet! Be sure to let us know when the film is available...

12:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

great looking insect puppet. very creepy and very well done.

12:03 AM  
Anonymous grant said...

the bug looks good! i'm looking forward to seeing all these projects you have been working on...including the new ambersons when it is finished.

7:27 PM  

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