Thursday, June 30, 2011

Connect to the Pulse

Dear Reader,

At last there's a way for you to stay alerted to seismic changes in the world of The Squirrel King.

You can still enjoy the daily dig through the dirt with the Aliens, in search of water, salty or otherwise, but now you can also sign up for our mailing list and sleep soundly in the knowledge that we'll let you know when big things happen!

Simply click the "Tune In" tab above and sign on :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Brick Building

Dear Reader,

Thanks to the many suggestions for brick courtyards! After a scouting trip yesterday, I believe we've now found the perfect solution.

As you can see, even without the benefits of set-dressing in the form of windows, a door, or a drainpipe, the aliens already look like they are well off the ground, scaling a wall! I can't wait to put our lead and an overweight Cat Burglar high off the ground :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recycled Trees and Treehouse

Dear Reader,

The Squirrel King props' life-cycle continued yesterday when Alien One re-appropriated a cardboard tree for her pipe-cleaner fairies. First, a shell swing was added, and then the plans grew quite fantastical.

Construction is well underway on a tree-house for said fairies (stay tuned for more pics).

I'm not sure where this fits into our digital series, but it is summer holidays after all and there will have to be some play in amongst the serious business of set-building :)

Construction will no doubt continue through the week, but like all good fairy-tales, we finished the day by riding off into the sunset - that's Alien Two, showing her one-handed prowess!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer Solstice Mayhem


Dear Reader,

What a weekend! After an inauspicious attempt to locate the Caliente hot springs in the Santa Barbara hills - this image fairly accurately encapsulates the mood after two hours of winding roads and no bubbling baths - we retreated to Santa Barbara proper, where, as luck would have it, we happened upon the summer solstice parade!




Fantastic floats, and a carnival of character gave way to wildlife on the streets ...


.. yes, the aliens are marveling at a live parrot.





In the end though, we simply had to find water. And when we did, Alien One celebrated in her favored fashion, leaping for joy!

Thoroughly rejuvenated, we're now ready to get to some serious building!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Friday, June 24, 2011

In Search of a Brick Courtyard

Dear Reader,

We're in search of a Brick Courtyard that we can shoot from above. If anyone knows of one please send me a note. We want to shoot the side of Ed's house in the same fashion that Part 6 of my references was done.

To do this we need a brick courtyard in which the bricks looks something like the side of a building when viewed from above (as in this pic). Of course we'll add our own windows and doors and trimmings. All we need is a flat surface of bricks and preferably somewhere above it to set up a camera (like a balcony).

Thanks for any leads you might have.

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

PS in the interim, I must carefully monitor Alien One who has taken up use of an Exacto Knife!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Robin's Bookshelf


Dear Reader,

It started with some strips of cardboard from the packaging of the Aliens' new bed (heaven help us if we have to reshoot any Alien spaceship interiors - but does anyone want a sturdy wooden bunk bed?).


As for Robin's shelves; half a dozen coats of papier mache later, we're now ready to attack them with pink paint! Robin's room is going to look spectacular, and this item of funky furniture is going to be one of the centerpieces.


In the meantime (while the last layer of papier mache dries), summer break is now in full swing with both Aliens out of school ... the trebled workforce is going to need more tasks :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Inspiration: (from the Aliens)

Dear Reader,

We often look far and wide for inspiration, only to find it's actually sitting right underneath our noses. Yesterday was one of those experiences for me when down at a local park I was delighted by the Aliens.

You too might enjoy :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

video
video

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Learning to Fly

Dear Reader,

For many years the Trouble and Strife has been coaxing her babies into the air ...


Indeed, long-term fans of The Squirrel King may recall Alien One's first inkling at flight (left).




And of course Alien Two has been practicing her own technique for a while.













To really bring the dream to life, however, we need some accoutrements. Beaks, wings and tail-feathers.


Yesterday Alien Two and I started on the body and wings. Here's a couple of shots of our fledgling efforts.

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Weekend Competition


Dear Reader,

After a little combined ping-pong/badminton tournament over the weekend (Squirrel King-style leader-board), the Aliens recharged their batteries with some quality hot chocolates at Kreation Cafe.



Now with Alien One off to school for her last couple of days before summer break, Alien Two and I are getting back to the serious business of bird costumes. Stay tuned for a world of color :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Young Poet

Dear Reader,

Yesterday, Alien One brought home some luminous literary highlights. Her teacher, Anne Carey, assures me it was all her own work, but I'm throwing out a big thanks for the wonderful year's tutelage.

Without further ado, here are the delightful gems.

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Milk to Butter

Milk in a jug
Shake shake shake
Coming to an end
With a buttery
Taste. Still the
Color of milk.





The Sugar Garden

Sweet peas, sweet peas, they
Smell so good. Minty
Sugar sweet purple
Like the dark night
Sky and the white
In the middle like
The moon and stars.


Lemon Light

A lemon makes me think
Of Lightning or sun that
Shines on me
All day long
And makes
Me have a
Warm feeling
Inside




Red Like Love

A Strawberry reminds
Me of a red shooting
Star or blossoms of red
That bloom all spring long or
Beautiful flowers like love.






A World of Gray

I think of a rock
As a miniature moon
Or a world
With no color
But gray and
It makes me
Feel like a fence
With no feelings.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Inspiration: (the boundaries of stop motion)

Dear Reader,

I love this video for the way it pushes the boundaries of stop motion animation and cartoon, and all on such a grand scale.



I'm not really sure how to incorporate the ideas into The Squirrel King, but I keep cogitating.

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Expressing the Unexpressible


Dear Reader,

Day One of Alien Two's summer vacation and she's helping me decipher the Aliens' more inscrutable dialogue. Thank heavens for a resident linguistic expert :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Parkour Squirrels

Dear Reader,

I'm very pleased to report that the Parkour Flipbook reference from the end of May is melding to our own universe! Our expert animator, Rayshell, is now well on her way to delivering squirrels and a raging torrent of water!



Of course in true Squirrel King style, ours will be a little more colorful than the black and white line drawings of the reference material :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Powering Up For Interpretation

Dear Reader,

Today is another big day! We're taking full advantage of the beautifully soft light that the theatrically named "June-Gloom" offers (Santa Monica Junes are infamously overcast, though not wet) and shooting the subtitles for the Aliens' dialogue.

To power up for the task Alien Two focused on a big bowl of strawberries and blueberries, scarfing what she could before Alien One returned:

video


Fortunately, Santa Monica, like Down Under, is a land of plenty.

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Monday, June 13, 2011

References: Part 6 (Morning Elegance)

Dear Reader,

Here's a beautiful music video by Oren Lavie with a technique that simply calls out to be used in The Squirrel King. Termed "stop motion from above", it's a neat way of defying gravity, something we'll be wanting to do in later climbing scenes.



Jan von Holleben also has a slew of great fanciful examples, often with kids, on his site.

Hope you enjoy as much as I did.

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Friday, June 10, 2011

In the Light of Day

After the great night shoot on Wednesday, we decided to shoot a day scene with the same set. So yesterday morning I returned to our makeshift studio where in the light of day I found myself staring at ... the wrong sky.



A quick trip later to fetch our trusty blue backdrop (previously utilized as the walls of the Alien nursery) ..






.. and some help from the Aliens themselves, and we were ready for action!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

PS The Aliens' youthful predilection for pulling things down turned out to be a boon when it came to striking the set :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Yesterday's Chaos

Dear Reader,

I picked up the assistants yesterday ... and they fell asleep!

Fortunately, Matthew, our rock star composer, whose backyard we were shooting in, jumped behind the lens.






When darkness fell, greatness rose. Stay tuned for some frame grabs, but for now it's back for some day shots of the rolling hills.


Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


Dear Reader,

Construction of the township is underway!

No time to stay and chin-wag. It's off to pick up the Aliens :)

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Moving an Entire Township

Dear Reader,

Today we shoot another scene! But first that means loading the prop van (aka the Mango Goddess) and moving the props.

It's a bit squishy, but somehow Alien One and I managed to get most of it in!



Stay tuned through the day and I'll try to post some images of the town coming together.

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Score Suggestions

Dear Reader,

I've had a few amazing score suggestions over the last couple of days and just wanted to share two of the highlights with you. First up is Linsey Pollak, a creative Aussie who uses all manner of household elements to make music. Here's a sample I'm particularly taken with:



And here is one from the Vegetable Orchestra that shows some of their instrument construction process:



I'm liking percussive sounds right now! We just need some sort of catchy beat or tune.

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Locked Box

Dear Reader,

While last week concluded with a little Bergamot Station inspiration (seen here with Alien Two admiring some modern art), this week starts with two mysterious questions:

1) What is inside this locked box?







and, 2) Who is the dastardly devil with the loppers?

Stay tuned for answers as we shoot another scene later this week!

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

PS I'm casting around for some ideas for score if anyone wants to toss some references into the ring :)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Pre-Plumage

Dear Reader,

With the skins on the busts, it's time to think about plumage, and so Alien One and I have set to work cutting feathers :)











Head, tail and wings are still in the design phase.

Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Inspiration: (tricks with two wheels)

Dear Reader,

Inspiration is a funny thing that can come from many varied venues. One ripe source is any combination of amazing technical skill with risk. The following clip certainly fits that bill.



So inspiring was that clip, that it stuck with Alien One over a year. Yesterday, closely shadowed by Alien Two, she took the next step in her own two-wheeled growth: stairs!

video


Chin chin
Ruthless Whims

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Chicken Wire Fitting

Dear Reader,

This morning, The Great Gatsby met with a chicken wire fitting.


















Obviously the edges need to be taped for comfort, but I think we're pretty close to an underlying structure. Indeed with some luck we'll be ready for some feathering action by the end of the day :)

Wings and tail-feathers are still all concept, so stay tuned.

Chin chin
Ruhtless Whims