Sunday, May 7, 2023

Yum, Yum, Said the Moon

When YouTube started marketing its YouTube shorts as an alternative (and a rival) to TikTok, a lot of people jumped at making very short content in a standing format. There were promises of funds handed out to YouTubers trying out the format, and it seemed the concept gained popularity among watchers. For a weak moment, I considered what I could bring to the table, and thought up a few story ideas adapted for this new format. However, after doing a poll among my own watchers, as well as doing a bit of research among YouTubers trying out making shorts, I decided that it probably wasn't for me. Instead, I simply made shorter-than-usual youtube videos, and they seem to have been well received.

"Yum, Yum Said the Moon" is the first of these shorts-wannabees. The story is childishly simple: A jogger is eaten by a creepy man in the moon. The setting is a bit of nighttime landscape in the countryside, and it never changes during the run of the short film. The setting is a photo adjusted in Photoshop to suit my needs for the film.

Let's go over to the evil moon, the only puppet in the film. I should warn anyone with Trypophobia (a phobia of holes) that you should probably stop reading now since the moon is covered with tiny craters.

This is the main sculpture of the moon, made with medium-grade Monster Clay. I actually sculpted both sides of the face but only covered this side with craters, wrinkles, and other small details. I knew I'd only shoot the moon from this side, so no need to spend time detailing both.

I used simple hobby plaster to create a mold around the sculpture. Four layers of tinted latex created a flexible face.

For the crater-marked skin of the rest of the puppet, I sculpted an oval filled with craters on a flat piece of clay.

Again, hobby plaster was used to make a simple skin texture mold.

And again, a few layers of tinted latex created bits of skin that could then be attached to the body of the puppet.

The moon only has one eye on the side shown to the camera. It's a plastic pearl painted with acrylic airbrush colors and sealed with clear varnish. Here it's placed in a matrix of silicone paste, which allows the eye to be swiveled around by putting a needle in the "pupil" and turning it.

Here the moon has been padded with soft polyurethane foam. Under the foam, there's a 2 mm aluminum wire running through the puppet all the way out into the horns. This is so the moon can curl up and grab its prey with the points of the horns. There's also a 1,5 mm aluminum wire circling the jaw, so the moon can talk and chew.

Here's the moon with patches of pock-market latex skin covering all of the foam padding.

I should also add that a threaded 3M nut is placed at the back, joined with the main 2 mm aluminum wire. This is so I can attach the puppet to a ball-and-socket flying rig, holding the moon aloft.

The puppet is painted by dry brushing tinted latex onto it using sponges, and applying the paint in thin layers. The teeth are made from tissue paper dipped in latex and rolled into pointy shapes with my fingers.

The puppet was animated against my puppet stage green screen backdrop, with green screen tape covering up the flying rig.

The jogger assaulted by the moon is a looped digital animation of a man running in a tracksuit.  I simply keyframed him being grabbed by the stop-motion moon and sped up his movement to look like desperate leg-kicking as he was eaten. When the moon licks its mouth I used a bit of pink oil-based clay bought in a toy shop.

So that was "Yum, Yum, Said the Moon", a short bit of silliness. But, it's been surprisingly well received. One viewer commented: "Now THIS is the kind of surreal and niche horror I admire so often!" I can't ask for a better reaction than that.