Off to the studio for more today!
Forgot to put Ariel’s finished first costume. Prospero playing the Samisen.
Another day working on the puppets, padding out their bodies, affixing the heads and a bit of painting and working out Ariel’s second costume. So close to the end of the puppet making stage, tomorrow is the last day for finishing touches, before the animating finally begins!
Harpy Kimono Front:
Harpy Kimono Back:
After seeing Sadayakko’s hair I went to Screen Face, the make-up artist shop, and bought some crepe hair, it’s the stuff they use to make fake beards in theatre. I stitched a miniature skull-cap and then sewed sections of crepe hair to that. Prospero’s wig and beard are made from some fake fur I had already. Then I plan to just pin them in place.
I recalled the researched I did at the beginning of the project and I looked back at the Lion wig and costume in Kabuki. I really like the idea of referencing Kabuki’s use of wigs by giving my puppets miniature wigs rather than making it their hair.
When styling Prospero’s wig I also looked at the ‘100 day wig.’ A style of wig that shows 100 days worth of growth on a man’s head where he normally (in feudal Japan) would have shaved it. This wig is characteristic not only of villainous and untrustworthy characters, but also heroes in exile, perhaps even ship-wrecked!
Saddayakko, was a enterprising figure in Japanese theatre. She travelled the Paris, Italy and America and brought the arts of Japanese theatre and Gei to an Orientally thirsty Paris. Japonisme was big in fin-de-siecle Paris, artists including Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec and Manet were seeking inspiration from Ukiyo-e woodcuts and kimono prints that were refreshing and modern to the European eye. Naturally they were captivated by Sadayakko’s traditional Japanese performances. It was at this time that Giaccamo Puccini travelled to Milan to see her perform and shape the character of Madame Butterfly accordingly. Symbolist poet Jean Lorrain described Sadayakko as “a kind of hallucination caused by opium from the Far East. She is as elegant and gentle as Utamaro’s ukiyoe.”
The main reason I included a post about Sadayakko is this photograph of her as Ophelia that immediately inspired me to alter my Ariel puppet. I decided to give it thick, wild hair and also to resculpt the eyes as heavy down-cast eyelids.
Below Sadayakko impresses the Parisians in 1900, with her on-stage costume changes!
Next I began sewing the Kimonos. This is Ariel’s first kimono. What I really enjoyed about this part was how the subtle prints on the fabric became really bold when made in to miniature clothes. The great thing about making puppets on a budget is how the certain material limitations produce interesting results, sometimes not being able to have fabric exactly as I drew improved the design as I was making them. This is one of the reasons I wanted to make puppets and spend a good amount of time on their fabrication. My backstitch has improved tremendously, just don’t look too closely!
First part of Prospero’s Haori:
At the animatic crit I got some really useful feedback. Everyone seems to be saying that the whole animation needs to be more dramatic, more explicit. Especially at the point of Ariel’s transformation. This is great because I completely agree, I felt the same way when I played back the finished animatic. The more recent Medea inspired character designs will also fit with this, showing a more obvious shift in costume than I managed to express in my first animatic. In fact there were quite a few things I really didn’t convey in the story boards, for example the sets, the shift in costume and the double exposures that were really important. I think I just needed a lot more detail and more panels, so the idea was clearer. Good practice though! I’m going to work on the improved one today.
I want to add lighting effects and stronger camera angles, and possibly even limit the back drops to plain black, and have a single sliding one when the moon appears at the end. Looking at Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome [above] is really helpful for inspiring visual drama; the ornate style of opera combined with the makeshift aesthetic of renegade filmmaking, the extreme coloured lighting with the context suggested by a few props.
Roll on some operatic melodrama!
I’ve been sculpting a prototype head and hands for Ariel. It looks a bit like a disembodied monster at the moment, but I’m going to put paint some make up on and add a headdress and see how “pretty” I can make it. (Actually in the Dark Phoenix saga of X-men in the 80’s the character called Caliban looked a bit like this!)
I’ve done the animatic, it came to exactly 1 minute, but there are some bits that are unclear. Especially the transformation and the moving parts of the set. I’m really looking forward to some feedback on Monday. I have developed the character design of Ariel quite a bit since doing the drawings for the storyboard. I feel that now I’ve done this, if I began the storyboard all over again it would be much better! I tried to show the costume change in a different way, but actually I think my original idea will work much better. I intended to have the costume “miraculously” transform on the stage, showing Ariel crouching down and then the outer costume pulls off in a flash of lightning! much more like the costume change in Sagi Musume.
This is Prospero striking a Mie Kabuki pose. This won’t happen in my animation as I have made him a musician rather than an actor, but I explored the possibility in a few drawings, It helped me to get to know him a bit better.
When I did these drawings I was watching Bando Tamasaburo’s dance in Wisteria Maiden. It was really helpful to try and capture Kabuki style movements for Ariel’s dance in my storyboard. The backwards bend is characteristic of Kabuki. You can see the kimono sleeves are becoming wings at the bottom.