Thursday, October 31, 2019

Baba Yaga's Hut part 2

After a bit of a hiatus, I return to finish my summary on the making of "Baba Yaga's Hut". I'm taking for granted that you've seen the film by now, so I'm not including a link to the YouTube video. Let's jump into the making of the film's actual star -Baba Yaga herself!

More than anything else I was inspired by Ivan Bilibin's rendition of the character, but at the same time, I wanted something more earthy and shabby, something that you absolutely wouldn't want invading your private space.

 Baba Yaga is essentially one of the classic mythical "hag" characters in folklore. She's often depicted as a monstrous old woman (she eats people for Pete's sake), but sometimes she can also be a powerful ally to the hero of the story. I went for trying to create a witch/hag that wasn't too cartoony, but not too realistic either. The only part of the character that was sculpted was the head down to the breasts. I used my trusty Monster Clay and tiny loop tools.

This sculpture was, of course, replicated as a latex skin from a dental plaster mold.

 To make the arms as thin and sinewy as possible I used cotton dabbed with latex instead of polyurethane foam. The yellow bits around the elbows are very thin foam, though. The eyes are plastic pearls and the tooth is made from cotton and latex.

 The rest of the body was padded with bits of soft foam. Since she would be wearing clothes of some sort I didn't bother that much with the details.

Her exposed skin was created with thin bits of latex cast in a wrinkly skin texture mold. The puppet is painted with tinted latex. I found that I didn't have to apply any airbrush work.

 Baba Yaga's hair is simple crepĂ© hair, i e sheep's wool. It's attached to the puppet with liquid latex. I attached thin aluminum wires to her scalp, so I could entangle them in the hair and make the hair possible to animate. To cover up the aluminum wires I didn't cover them at all, but threaded tiny acrylic pearls onto them, making them look like jewelry.

Some earrings were also made from thin wires and clamped down around the latex ears.

The finished Baba Yaga has clothes made from scraps of cloth. Her bone necklace was made from yarn dipped in latex. Leatherwork worn by her was made in latex cast in plaster molds from tiny clay sculptures. Her knives are made from Super Sculpy and hardened in my kitchen oven. Her sharp nails are bits of toilet paper dabbed with latex and cut into appropriate shapes. I mostly used liquid latex as a bonding agent to hold together her ensemble.

Baba Yaga gets around in a flying pestle, and she uses a broom and a mortar to propel her through the air. The broom is a stick I found in my garden and the bristles on the broom are yarn dipped in latex.

 The mortar is two wooden dowels glued into each other. The prop was painted with PAX paint (acrylic paint mixed with Prosaide glue).

The pestle was created from a cardboard cone used to hold yarn. I cut the cone around the middle and used the widest part.

 The bottom needed to be very strong, as it would hold the puppet aloft when it was animated flying around. The pestle would be attached to a flying rig, so I needed an attachment point at the bottom of it. I save all kinds of strange things I find, so among my collection of various bits of scrap, I found a very thick plastic lid. Into this, I drilled out a hole into which I could attach a wing nut. To make the nut really, REALLY stick I used a mix of super glue and baking soda on both sides of the lid.

The lid was stuck to the bottom of the cardboard cone with hot glue. The whole contraption was then painted with the same PAX paint mix as the mortar.

The puppet uses one more prop in the animation and that is a big ladle/siv, which was made from a very thin wooden dowel and some hand sculpted thermoplastic. She's using it in a scene where her dinner to be disagrees with her. That's my chubby arm reaching out of the pot.

Apart from me (or my arm) there are a few real people making an appearance in the film. I've probably had more questions about who the girl is in the film, than about anything else. I don't know who she is, apart from being possibly a Polish model. She appears in a bunch of stock footage clips I downloaded from, where I have a subscription. I thought linking a few of them together would create a nice framing narrative. The other people seen in my film are also from Videoblocks clips.

 I had to do very little editing on these clips. One thing I did do for the shots of the girl by the river was to cover up modern houses glimpsed on the other side of the water by using a smoke effect to create a layer of "fog" in After Effects.

Lastly, I want to do a shout out for the narrator of the film, the talented Libby Grant, a British actress who also does voiceover work. I'll most likely contact her again for future work, as I think her contribution adds quite a bit to the film.