Term 2: 3rd May - 25th June 

Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8

 

Legend:

To help save on words and time!

Working Question

Health and Safety

Experimenting/problem solving 

Key Takeaways

Week 1: 3rd-7th May

 

Wānanga 

Why me, why here, why now?

What a week! Such an intense time for many reasons. I learned a lot of things about viewing the world through a cultural lens, and the importance of active listening. The phrase that struck me most was "Why me, why here, why now?" - i.e. think before you speak, are you the one who should be taking up this space right now?

This week also gave me a greater awareness of those of us who are having difficulties with the sensory intensity of some of the school practices. I spoke to a few people who I noticed were struggling, and we started meeting at lunches to develop a proposal to take to the school to help foster more inclusive practices. 

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Week 2: 10th-14th May

 

Creating Miniatures

Let the hunt begin...

From now on we're all on the lookout for materials - usually things that look like other things (i.e. broccoli flowers look a bit like coral, and matchsticks can look like chair legs) to help save us time and money when creating things. We searched through some of the storage spaces for pieces of scenery from a EPT, and anything else that could  be useful. I am very excited to be learning these techniques, as physical effects have always interested me, and constructing miniature landscapes is something that has interested me for a while. 

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Ancient Statues

We were tasked with creating statues of varying sizes to help create forced perspective in the miniatures. We drew on photos of ancient statues to inspire our designs.

Our steps are as follows:

1 - Create the armature by drilling a hole in a piece of wood for the base, and threading through wire or screwing in a pole/rod (if you're going a large upright statue, mine were all either small enough to stand on their own/be wedged upright in the sand, or designed to look like they had fallen over the ages). 

2 - Create an alfoil base (this should be compressed firmly and shaped to your chosen design. 

3 - Use airdry clay to cover the alfoil, bulking it up where it needs larger details (i.e. arms, facial structures, muscles etc.) 

4 - Smooth your surface using water and/or a small rake tool. 

5 - Use a fine tool to etch in details such as eyes/mouth, or runes/patterns. You may need to follow along with a wet brush to smooth the grooves so they don't look too rough. 

6 - Use an alfoil ball and/or trimmed down chip brush to create a rocky texture. 

 

Advanced Painting Techniques

Nailing that last 10%

During out workshop with Therese Eberhard we were given the opportunity to further advance our painting techniques by refining our helmets. She walked us through the basics of creating different effects (seeding/dusting up the corners of rooms, creating paint hangers by applying wax, wet talc, or clay to sections of a surface before painting), and some of the techniques more specific to our individual helmets. She advised us to play around with different paints/shellacs. 

I experimented with the merits of squirting paints vs flicking them vs brushing them vs sponging them, and all the fun effects you can get by dry brushing or applying a solvent (water or metho) to make the colours run or sink into the details. I enjoyed using a mix of metho-based paints, water based paints, and shellac to create different effects. Most of the time it was a matter of playing around on the surface to see what works and what doesn't. 

My key Takeaways:

My biggest takeaway was the importance of having reference images - even if you think you know what you are doing. Having something to glance at can keep you focused and on track. Another important piece of advice was about taking a step back and looking at your work from afar so you don't get lost in the details. 

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Working Question

How do I fight smarter, not harder?

This industry is all about making amazing stuff in the fastest, most affordable way possible. There are all sorts of techniques designed to make processes like texturing, painting, or general manufacture faster and more efficient. These skills are incredibly important to develop, and that is the first part of this working question. But can they be transferred to other areas of life too?

 

Part of my feedback last term was centered around learning to not overdo things. I know I could consistently write a two thousand word essay on every week of class... but I shouldn't. Because no one wants to read it. And because there are more important things I should be doing with my time. I need to learn to do the bare minimum, instead of pushing myself to the extreme. 

I've always had difficulty with accepting anything less than the best. I get 93% on an assignment, and all I see is the missing 7%. This is an incredibly unhealthy attitude that I have been rewarded for most of my life. I know I can achieve high marks, but I know it will cost me in other areas. I need to learn to objectively prioritise and focus my efforts on areas that are truly going to matter in the long run.

I shall learn to be brief, she says, then immediately writes three paragraphs on why *facepalm*.

Week 3: 17th-21st May

 

Turned to Stone

Insert witty Medusa quip. 

Using some of the techniques we were shown by Therese, I set to work making our miniature statues look like they were made of stone. The techniques I used are:

- Sealing them with __

- Doing a wash of metho-based paint wash to capture the details. 

- Flicking a combination of water-based and metho-based paints with a toothbrush. 

- Applying washes of watered-down water-based paint to create shadows and deepen troublesome details. 

- Attempting to create shellac blooming by applying clear shellac then water - unfortunately this technique doesn't work as well in the cold, apparently. 

I tried to keep in mind how they would look in black and white, so used my phone camera to check intermittently. 

 

Styrofoam Rocks

Or How to Carve a City

Knives are fun! And because I wasn't feeling comfortable with the safety of the hot knife carving, I was given the option to use my tajima to carve styrofoam rocks. We realised pretty quickly that we were going to need A LOT of them! 

The tajima didn't slow me down too much for most rocks, but it was a bit slower for the largest of the rocks, and less precise on the smaller ones. There are definitely benefits to the hot knife.

My key takeaways:

I can't help but feel a little self conscious about not wanting to use the hot knife, but I steadfastly believe that health should come first. In this industry it is easy to put the wellbeing of workers (mental and physical) aside in the name of the speedy progress, but that isn't how it should be. Proper safety measures are more important than fast results. We are often told not to feel pressured to work in an unsafe environment, so I am making an effort to stand by what I believe to be right. If I am given evidence that the processes are safe, then I am happy to work - otherwise, I would like to find alternative methods. No one should have to sacrifice their health for a deadline. 

Health and Safety (Tajima edition): 

- Extend the blade just far enough to cut a decent slice, but not so far that it could wobble or loose strength! 

- Always cut away from yourself and be mindful of your fingers!

- Wear a face mask so you don't breath in dust or small pieces of styrofoam! 

 

Tentacle Monster

Because every good film needs one!

This one is taking me out of my comfort zone a little, but that's half the fun! ...right?

Here are our steps:

- Cut a piece of wood (150x150mm).

- Mark and drill a hole in the center (drill press to make it more accurate).

- Select a straight piece of bamboo (or as straight as you can).

- Drill into both ends of the bamboo and add glue. 

- Insert wire into one end.

- Insert a screw through the hole in the wood and into the bamboo, locking it in place. 

- Cover it in alfoil, building it up to form the shape of the tentacle. 

Sculpting was broken down into these further steps: 

- Melt the plasticine in an oven (low temperature, around 30 degrees, though our oven is fairly inaccurate so all I know for sure is that it was under 50 degrees). 

- Coat the alfoil with clay and smooth with your fingers. 

- Go over the surface with a small rake tool to disrupt the surface, then go over again with the back of the tool to smooth it out. 

- Create balls of clay, then press and smooth them onto the surface to create suckers. Beware of undercuts. 

- Smooth out the surface again.

- Go through with an avocado and a fine, ball-tipped sculpting tool to texture the surface. If you have time, or are getting trenches, use gladwrap as a buffer between your tool and clay. 

- Texture the suckers with the ball-tipped sculpting tool. 

Health and Safety:

- Melted clay is hot and sticky. Beware. 

- Bowl fresh from oven is also hot. Use a cloth to hold it. Do not grab it with your bare hands and run like a bat out of hell across the room, trying not to drop it or trip over anyone else on your way. 

- I had a slight allergic reaction to milliput, which was thankfully resolved with an antihistamine. I was later asked to use this material again, which I do not feel especially comfortable doing if I can help it. 

Problem Solving:

- The metal wire at the end of the bamboo wasn't especially fond of the idea of sticking in place. It wobbled, cracking the clay, and eventually I decided to cut my losses and pull it out. I asked for advice on what material could be used to secure it, and ultimately went with milliput (after carving grooves in the metal, which will hopefully help it stay secure. Time will tell whether this method was successful.

- The clay itself was a bit softer than I would have preferred, and is easily marked by fingers when being touched. A medium or hard (or medium hard mix, ideally), would have been preferable, especially in the next stage... To be continued...

Week 4: 24th-28th May

 

Skeletal Remains

Or how to turn a human and a t-rex into a sea monster.

We considered a couple of different materials for this project:

- Alfoil - wrong texture, not enough detail.

- Alfoil + air dry clay - too brittle 

- Alfoil + texture agent - not enough time

- Alfoil + paper magiclay - not enough time

Thankfully, someone remembered we had a skeleton in our closet. Soon enough, it was laying in pieces on the floor. I had to problem solve a bit to get it apart. I used a combination of screwdriver, impact driver, pliers, an adjustable wrench, and a bit of brute force. 

Relevance to Working Question:

Instead of hand-sculpting each bone, we were able to find a pre-made skeleton at no extra cost to create the same effect in a much shorter time! 

Unfortunately, we soon discovered that the material the skeleton is made from does not like glue. We tried:

- Latex

- Hot glue

- PVA

- Ados 

- Wire 

- String

I spent most of the day problem solving, so was a little disappointed when in the end it was decided we should simply scatter the bones along the sea floor. 

We also worked on a landscape for the corpse to lie in. We used a piece of foam rock from storage (which required some gluing back together with expanding foam and skewers). It may need to be built up to help secure the bones and look more underwater-y.  

To help make the t-rex skull look more like natural bone, we used a heat gun to soften the plastic and flatten it slightly, then gave it spray to help the paint adhere to the plastic. Next, I went through with some off-white acrylic paint to create a surface colour, then used a mix of wood stain and acrylic paint to highlight the details. I played around with staining and wiping off, drybrushing, and blending with a brush. 

Health and Safety:

Wire is very stabby, especially when freshly cut. Beware your fingers. 

 

Casting and Molding

Two part tentacle mold

Moldmaking really stresses me out, but it is something that I need to be able to do. 

Steps: 

- The tentacle was released with stoner spray to help maintain the details.

- We clamped the moldbox together, and sealed the wood with vaseline. 

- We then mixed and poured two batches of slightly runny ultracal 30. 

- When the ultracal began to harden, we created keys for the second part to fit into. 

- Once it was set, we added a layer of vaseline to the ultracal and gave it an extra coat of stoner spray to prevent the top from locking. 

- We then poured the top layer of ultracal 30, and allowed it to set. 

Problem Solving:

- Because I hadn't pre-drilled holes to screw the tentacle base into the rest of the box, we decided it would be easier to clamp the box together. This also provided a more overall pressure, and easier removal later. 

- We allowed the ultracal to set a little too much before adding the keys. To try and save them, we drilled into the semi-set material. Upon later assessment, these keys were deemed to risky as they were deep, thin, and had slight undercuts. As such, we decided to fill them with a small amount of ultracal and use our fingers to shape shallower keys. 

- After pouring the second layer, we were asked to fill it up to the level of the box. I was a little worried about the capture coat shifting and damaging the impression, so we decided to wait for it to dry a little, then add a layer of ultracal-shaped hessian to help strengthen the mold (and demonstrate the technique to a curious classmate). Hopefully the additional weight won't have caused problems with the layer beneath. 

Health and Safety: 

- Wear a respirator when working with powdered ultracal 30. 

- Wear a respirator and use the extraction booth when spraying stoner spray release. 

- The mold is heavy, and should be lifted by two people. 

My key Takeaways: 

I find molding and casting incredibly stressful, yet it seems there is a discrepancy between my confidence levels and my skills. I discovered throughout this process that I know more than I thought I did, and had a couple of transferable skills which I was able to demonstrate to others. I'm not confident in the results, and would have much preferred to be working under someone who had more extensive experience in moldmaking than I.

Week 5: 31st May-4th June

 

Running Silicone 

I wish it would just run away. 

*insert screaming here* 

Mold Prep:

- Clean out the excess plasticine with a wooden tool so as to not scratch the mold. 

- Use lighter fluid to clean out the remnants of the clay. 

- Use rice (or weigh the clay if your sculpt was solid) to determine how much silicone you need. 

- Release the mold with stoner spray, j-wax, or vaseline. 

- Clamp the mold. 

Steps (Attempt #1) 

- Mix the silicone.

- Tint the silicone (black acrylic paint).

- Pour the silicone.

- Plug the bleeder with a piece of hot glue molded to fit the bleeder.

- Shift the mold into the drying cupboard (wedged at an angle).

- Watch the silicone seep out all over the bottom of the drying cupboard.

- Leave your peer with a hairdryer so they can attempt to force dry the leakage before you lose your entire tentacle. You now owe them a life debt.

- Scream. 

Steps (Attempt #2)

-Plug the bleeder with plasticine and fill with quick-set plastic. 

- Tape up your mold with approximately all the tape. 

- Mix the silicone.

- Tint the silicone (black acrylic paint).

- Pour the silicone.

- Plug the bleeder with a piece of hot glue molded to fit the bleeder.

- Shift the mold into the drying cupboard (wedged at an angle).

- Congratulations. It's still leaking, but it's the best you're gonna get. 

- Sigh. 

Rinse and repeat. 

Problem Solving:

- Huh. Turns out shitty Chinese silicone that expired in 2017 isn't the best material... and won't set outside of the drying cupboard. 

- The tentacle doesn't fit upright in the drying cupboard. 

- Propped at an angle, the top of the tentacle will be slanted and the bleeder is exposed

- The bleeder will leak unless plugged.

- You can't plug the bleeder with just plasticine in a drying cupboard. It will melt out.

- Guess who flooded the drying cupboard with silicone!

Health and Safety: 

- Mold is heavy. Use two people to lift. 

- When using fast cast plastic, wear skin, eye, and breathing protection. 

- No matter how tasty they look, do not lick the silicone tentacles.

My key Takeaways: 

*more internal screaming* 

- Pry points would have made the mold easier to open

- Measure everything before committing to mold size (so it wouldn't have had to be propped at an angle)

- Don't use silicone that expired in 2017 

- If in doubt, ask an expert.

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Week 6: 7th-11th June

 

Adding Depth

The magic of stains and drybrushing

Steps: 

- Apply base coat to surface 

- Apply stain or wash to add depth and shadows (wipe away excess with cloth)

- Dry brush highlights. 

Problem Solving:

- Make sure brush isn't too wet when dry brushing, or it will defeat the purpose. 

Health and Safety: 

- Don't lick the paint? 

My key Takeaways: 

This is a very quick and easy way to bring out texture quickly and effectively! 

 

Green Screen Paint

It's not easy being green 

Steps: 

- Grab green paint

- Apply green paint with a brush

- Clean up brush

Problem Solving:

- A couple of coats may be required to get even coverage 

- Use a smaller brush for more control (i.e. around the base of the bathysphere) 

Health and Safety: 

- Seriously. Don't lick the paint. 

My key Takeaways: 

Uh... it's a pretty green? I guess? 

Also it's worth propping things up in a way that won't disturb the paint. Any spots can be patched up in the next coat. 

 

Mini Beanstalks

Communication is Key

Steps: 

- Cut a length of wire

- Impale foam of varying sizes on the wire, thinner at one end, thicker on the other

- Use spray foam to stick it all together and add texture

Problem Solving:

- Wet spray foam is sticky, so can't be put on the ground to dry; however, one of the ends of the beanstalk can be impaled into a foam block to keep it upright, or you can lean it against something as long as the surface isn't covered in foam. 

Health and Safety: 

- Avoid cutting fingers with tajima

- Avoid breathing in bits of foam 

- Use gloves and respirator with spray foam, and use in a well ventilated area

My key Takeaways: 

SO turns out two teams of us began work on this at the same time... so we ended up making more than we intended. Communication at the beginning would have prevented this. 

 

Tendon Landscape

Toothbrushes are good.

Steps: 

- Grab a light watered-down paint and a dark watered-down paint. 

- Have a light toothbrush (or trimmed toothbrush) and a dark one. 

- Flick. And flick. And flick some more. 

Problem Solving:

-Hard to reach angles are hard to reach. Look at things from every angle. 

Health and Safety: 

- Don't lick the paint.

- Or flick it in your eye. 

- Or anyone else's. 

- Please. 

My key Takeaways: 

Uh... yep. This is a thing. It takes a while, but it is worth it. 

Week 7: 14th-18th June

 

Shoot Week

The wonders of compositing and greenscreens! 

Roles I Undertook:

- Lighting

- Camera

- Set Dressing

- Art Department

- Projection

- Slating (and notetaking) 

Camera and Set dressing were my favourites. 

Things I learned:

- You can hold an entire set together with plinths and skewers. 

- Panning = moving camera side to side 

- Tilting = moving camera up and down

- Many hands make light work - too many hands make hard work. 

- You can spend days making a prop only to have it replaced by something that took five minutes

- Fringing on the camera makes focus pulling easier. 

- A split is a type of monitor. 

- Make suggestions, but don't get too attached. 

- Precise notes save more time than they take to write

Problem Solving:

- Glasses cases and gaffer tape are great for holding projectors at the right angle

- If your projectors break, you can create ripples with foil and light.  

- Light stands taped to the foil make for a portable lighting rig that requires less effort from the user. 

- A metal bolt can replace a piece of bamboo as the pivot point for a rotating platform if it breaks. 

Health and Safety: 

- Trip hazards are everywhere - step mindfully and tape down anything that poses a risk. 

- Use sandbags to stabilise tall structures. 

- When working with rock dust, wear a respirator (even if people mock you for it)

My key Takeaways: 

- It is easier to shoot a set without living things or complex effects. 

- Teamwork is vital. 

- **Calling out misogyny is a frustrating but worthwhile endeavour. You can spot a misogynist (especially a well-intentioned one) by trying to do literally anything that takes more than a second. That simmering rage you feel as they step in to take the job away from you (or explain something you already knew) is a good sign you've found one.

- Well-intentioned misogyny is still misogyny

- Establishing a common language or key phrases aids in expediency. 

** To be clear, I have spoken with the culprit and he has agreed to work on it. It's likely a cultural thing, but that does not make it okay. It is an ongoing issue - one that I can't imagine will go away any time soon. I can take a lot, but there comes a time where I will call things out. That's the only way things will ever change.  

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Reflection

Insert Witty Subtitle

Working Question:

"How do I fight smarter, not harder?"

I've tried to cover most of this in the colour-coded content of the workbook, but I'll break it down here just because!

Techniques (where we opted for one technique over another to save time and/or achieve better results):

- Dry-brushing, spritzing, staining, and flicking to cover more area without spending ages on the details. 

- Using a pre-made skeleton instead of sculpting individual bones. 

- Tinting silicone instead of just painting it. 

- The molding and casting process in general. 

- Using an avocado for skin texture. 

- Melting plasticine to make it easier to add bulk instead of kneading it by hand. 

Workbook: 

- Dot points and colour coding

- Increased use of pictures 

- Writing it once a week instead of daily

- I mean look at this thing! It's like half the size of the last one!  

 

Teamwork:

As a whole, we are bonding well as a team. We each have our own experiences and styles of interacting that bring their own perks and challenges - the more we get to know each other, the easier it is to work as a team. I had some issues with certain people's attitudes towards women, and found myself in a situation more than once where I had to call it out. This was an uncomfortable position to be in, but well-intentioned misogyny is still misogyny. Other people in the class had also mentioned it, and some were finding it quite challenging. After I spoke with him, to my great astonishment, the person admitted he hasn't handled things as well as he would liked, thanked me for calling him out, and agreed to work on it. I'm both relieved and surprised by this outcome, and I hope that it lasts. 

 

Health and Safety: 

There were several very concerning incidents this term. I was not involved in all of them, so I will not go into great detail. 

- Inadequate information, PPE, and facilities for heat-cutting styrofoam.

- People not given proper instructions on how to use resin, leading them to do so without adequate PPE. 

- Metal powders used without adequate PPE. 

- Inadequate knowledge and action around PPE protocols and requirements with different materials. 

The culture of the class - if not the school - is somewhat loose in terms of protocols and practices. Many people would rather get things done quickly than safely, and it often feels like you are being judged for being the one to call things out or exercise proper precautions. 

What I think I did well:

I stood up for myself a lot this term. It was exhausting. I helped to highlight issues around sensory accessibility and trigger warnings which have lead to meaningful change (breakout rooms and mandatory trigger warnings*). I also called out the misogynistic behaviour of classmates - I was not the only one who was suffering from it. I also did my best to point out health and safety issues as I saw them, though this seemed to annoy my classmates more than anything. 

*UPDATE from FWD week: I didn't change sh*t. But I tried to. And hopefully that counts for something. 

It was not my intention to come in as a warrior or a problem child; however, I have a pretty intense sense of right and wrong, and a low tolerance for injustice. I like to think this is a good thing, even if it is draining for me and annoying to others... Because unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not. 

I also managed to hide the turtle, Alistair, in an unspecified number of shots. And now everytime you go to edit something there'll be this niggling feeling in the back of your mind; is there a turtle hidden in this shot?

 

And that is something I am quite proud of. 

What I could Improve on: 

Well, like I said, I felt like a bit of a pain in the ass for some people this term. I found myself constantly advocating and pushing for things... which achieved very little and left me drained, and more than a little sassy at times. I don't quite regret it, but it is something I am aware of. 

And finally, a visual representation of how we are all feeling right about now...