Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Silly Asses

"Silly Asses" was adapted from a short story by Isaac Asimov published initially in Future Science Fiction, # 35, 1958. It has slipped into the public domain since, and I thought it would make a short, fun project for my YouTube channel. All of the story is there, basically. I have changed parts of the text that work better as imagery on film.

There are two main characters in the story. Let's start with this one, which I call "Shrimp Guy."

His most distinguishing feature is probably his head. It's actually the nose section of a different puppet made for a different project. Way back in 2014 I was involved in the pre-production for a rock opera adaptation of H P Lovecraft's "The Dreams In the Witchhouse." The monster designs were made by my DeviantArt buddy King OvRats and I was responsible for translating his drawings into puppets. We put quite a bit of work into the project, but nothing came of it in the end. I finished one of the puppets, but I haven't used it for any of my own films. I still have the mold made from the nose and thought I could at least put that to good use.

Here's my original sculpture for the nose, one of the first I made in Monster Clay. Turned upside down it would be used as the head of Shrimp Guy. If you want to read the full story of the Witchhouse project, or as far as it got you can read all about it HERE.

I cast the headpiece in tinted latex, making it as pink as I could. The inside of this latex skin was lined with a latex/cotton mix to make it sturdy and to make it hold its shape. I also added thermoplastic to create a sort of skull inside it. The thermoplastic also worked as an attachment for the two eyestalks and the pincer-like mouth of the character. The body is a paper ball covered with thermoplastic. Tail, arms, and legs were made from aluminum wires wrapped in soft yarn dabbed with tinted latex. The limbs don't have any "bones" in them. They're jointless and move about very much like the limbs of cartoon characters in old animated films using the so-called "rubber hose" animation style. The claws on the feet are also latex cast in an old plaster mold for horns and such, made many years ago.

A bit of polyurethane foam padding puts more flesh on the torso and tail. The skin textures are latex casts made from molds for older puppet projects. The combination of textures and latex casts is a real mishmash.

Here the puppet has gotten its base coat of pink paint, which is made from tinted latex. Detailing with acrylic airbrush paints now awaits. 

Here's the finished puppet. The eyes are photoshop print-outs stuck to the backside of clear acrylic domes. These domes as well as the transparent glue used on them were bought from a local scrapbooking shop. 
The device he's holding is a plastic cast taken from a silicone mold made over a model kit part. I think it's a motor part or some kind of hatch from a Klingon ship.

Now for Shrimp Guy's impatient boss. He's actually an older puppet used once for a film called "Beans." I touched up the puppet a bit and added a chest plate made from latex and silver paint. He also got plasticene eyebrows and a plasticene lower lip and teeth, so I could animate him talking and add a few bewildered expressions to his face. It's cartoon acting of the lowest order. You can read all bout how this puppet was made and the "Beans" project HERE:

The Galactic Federation planet is populated with many alien races, some of which are briefly glimpsed in one shot as they're walking past the "camera" in a corridor. For this, I only used old puppets from various projects, and I also stuck an old toy robot in there - an R2-D2 knockoff bought for me at the end of the 1970s. The city and its densely trafficked skies are a blend of CG stock footage and CG stock images, animated by me in layers in After Effects. 

The same goes for the office of the boss. I found a few CG images of a spaceship interior on Depositphotos.com and adapted them in Photoshop, changing the perspectives and adding or removing details. The computer graphics floating around the room were also stock media found of Videoblocks and Videohive, and again adapted in After Effects to suit my needs. I did the voices for both characters, and my Italian friend Marco Zanelli provided the trippy music.

I really like Sci-Fi, probably more so than fantasy, so I'm planning on doing more projects in that genre.