First Kimono

Forgot to put Ariel’s finished first costume. Prospero playing the Samisen.

Costume Change

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:

KABUKI WIGS

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!

 

Sculpting/Armatures

I made the armatures out of aluminium wire and milliput. Thicker wire for the spine and two strands of thinner wire twisted for the arms. Then I bound the parts together. This was the best method, both Darryl and Steve both suggested to go about things in this way rather than going for a very expensive and heavy armature kit (or the flimsy thing i made first!) The college shop is marvellously well stocked and really cheap for these things. I also went to Tiranti on warren Street (a sculpture supplies store) and the London Graphic Centre.

After some trouble with fimo I opted for plasticine heads and hands that I re-sculpted and updated the design from the first versions. Prosperos eyes are now beads and Ariel just has heavy eyelids instead of eyes. Anyway, I’ve learnt so much about puppet making that I had no idea about before, I’m sure if I did another stop-motion project I’d know how to go about it, having made mistakes. One thing with stop-motion is you just have to spend some money on the necessary bits and bobs, I tried to avoid doing that at first, bad idea! if you want them to move. What about the actual stop-motion animation? That’s the next adventure…

Ariel’s head is more feminine than the previous one and not as grotesque as before. In this photo it looks rather like a Peruvian mummy… especially when I add the proper hair!

Prospero’s head. So he’s a pale grey, I added in some elements of the Tanuki, a raccoon-dog native to japan. He’s now a horse-goat-dog-raccoon with the body of a man.

Sadayakko

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!

 

Sewing the Kimonos

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:

Maquette

I’ve been working on the puppets all week and also going to the theatre, so there’s lots to catch up on! I’ll begin in order, with the puppet maquettes I made last week. I tried to make the bodies from wire mesh and that wasn’t really strong enough. But this is what the first one looked like. It was useful for testing the size and shape for the kneeling Prospero puppet, the the knees broke after a few movements and the wire I used for the arms was far too stiff.

Pleasure Dome & The Crit

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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!

Prospero Head

Prospero prototype head in plasticine. I put on some curly goat horns, but the finished puppet will have twigs for longer antlers. I’m not happy with the eyes, they’re too big. I prefer the designs I did for him with beady black eyes. And of course his hair and beard are missing!