Daughter of Godcast 169 Goosh the Clay

Dan Kelly, Shri Fugi Spilt and this is the Daughter of Godcast Season 4 Choice, Epsiode 169 Goosh the Clay. I have some ideas to mull over and tease out clarity on, so this episode is sort of a free wheeling dialogue between me and me. Climb inside my brain, fasten your safety harness and let's take a spin around the block.

Best Interface

I have buckets of Chavant Clay modeling up at the workshop, left over from the witch's penis hat exhibit I built for the Dennos Museum Center eons ago. That clay is patiently waiting to be brought back to life with stop frame animation and twisted into asteroid scapes. Clay is a physical thing that we can shape into other physical things, the bigger the shaping the more of our bodies we use. Sculpting with clay fully activates our optimal interface.

 

Interface? I'm talking about the interface between self and other, the simulated split essential to an experience of duality, Theme Park Earth 101. There's supposedly us and not us. Our bodies are the blurry in between, the shortest distance between self and other, our best interface. Make love, get lost in clay, and wham, oneness.

Here's an epiphany I texted myself on 11/27/19

VFX with emphasis on practical effects.
Which means what can we do in RL (with our hands) that can be optimal(ly) combined with VFX? What is the best of both worlds? How can this be about making things with our optimal interface - bodies, hands and eyes - combined with computer techniques for the most virtuosic explorations and realization of creative vision.

The early years of DOG involved a lot of screen staring - on the computer, running all kinds of software, not moving very much. I like computers, but I also really like being in my body and eventually the imbalance was unsustainable. In 2009 I had effectively dropped DOG to sail Around Lake Michigan, which was a way more embodied project. Pushing the edge of embodiment actually - sailing 100s of miles on open water, camping, extensively documenting myself and other interesting people. After Hello World sprained her hull and my laptop got drowned, I was feeling equal parts bummed and relieved. An intense embodiment!

Fast forward to December 1, 2019. Turning DOG into a feature required new scenes. Breaking my arm last spring fucked the summer production schedule, so I've been squeaking what I needed right up until the snow showed up last Sunday. There's still a little more to get, we'll keep squeaking as weather permits. Meanwhile...

Getting excited for VFX with a few refresher tutorials and lectures on the interwebs. I am reminded what an auspicious and fun time this is for geeky artists. Blender, the open source 3D application has become very robust and easier to use. Speaking of 3D, Houdini is super intriguing. Other AI boosted software like Topaz enables unprecedented miracles. For instance, my marginal HD movie can be boosted to 4K without degradation with about a month of 24/7 processing on my MacPro. That might sound like a lot of rendering, but back in the 90s and Strata 3D a week of rendering was nothing special.

Balance

Again, there's a balance to be found and struck. What's that look like?

Embodiment in movie making involves pointing cameras and microphones at the real world - not only actors, animals, trees, forests, snow...  but also miniatures, models, pyrotechnics, puppets, swirls of paint on canvas, pencil sketches on paper and clay!

After grabbing the real world, the disembodiment begins - serious screen staring. Real world images (actually image sequences) are combined with other real world images or machine assisted images in a process called compositing, which happens in software like Adobe After Effects or the Foundry's Nuke. Then the composited image sequences are edited together into the final movie, I started out in Apple's Final Cut Pro and have been using Adobe Premiere the last few years.

The desire to get away from screens inspired my decision in 2016 to trade 3D software for miniatures to create mega props like derelict tanks, extraordinary rendition shipping containers and rogue AI drones. Fortunately Greg and Albert from the Great Lakes Scale Modelers Club were available to build, which was a huge coup for the project. We now have about 20 hyper realistic miniature props ready to weather and photograph. There are also fantastic full size props that Melonie whipped up for Gerry's cabin, and Jil's posable Uncle Joe doll. Because we brought on artists who aren't computer geeks, there now exists amazing sources for images that didn't require me to stare at screens AND more cool stuff got done because more people got involved.

I am super excited about what's possible with the latest software, but I also know that excessive disembodiment risks catastrophic loss of motivation. I want to keep the movie making real as much as possible.

Keeping It Real

The Box scene is another opportunity to keep it real. We need to develop the imagery she displays on her sides, her style of communication. I've invited two visual artists pals - Melonie Steffes (yep, she's a handy gal) and Joe Cissell, the fire artist from the People's Poetry Slam scene we shot last March.

Joe and Melonie have a smidge of software competancy - Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I'm bringing them on for their wild ideas and image making, not for their computer chops.

Collaboration

how do we optimally collaborate?

  • a vision clearly articulated
  • more clarity as we go
  • consistent weekly meetings
  • lively communication - ideas back and forth

should I encourage other artists to be more relevant to VFX?

  • proposing an artistic development rate
  • this goes along with a budget for materials and resources
  • what's worth learning? what do we each want?
  • What would our own art school look like? Can we help each other achieve our dreams?

how can this collaboration drive inspiration all around?

  • more of what we are already doing
  • transition to art integrity as income, a shared theme
  • fun together
  • make progress, notice progress
  • we know what results and completion look like

Me, I want...

I want so much, my desires are off the leash now. That's another feature of these episodes, me translating into words, audio, video - my knowings and desires. In context of this project and this collaboration with Joe and Melonie, I want...

  • feel amazing being me - me to the power of me, dualistically deployed divinity
  • embodied, play with clay
  • drawing chops expanded
  • overall understanding of what's possible in VFX
  • competency / fluency in what software specifically? Explore and identify.
  • idea feasibility tests -> proof of concept for what the movie wants -> publish -> feedback
  • an ease promoting organization of knowledge and data
  • unifying clarity and inspiration, I am my big picture
  • triumphant completion of DOG project

I think this list is the most worthy outcome of this episode. A starting place that asks to be revisited, revised and re-articulated. A declaration of desire for this chapter of my life, unifying all the projects in process. Remind myself what the adventure is all about. The perfect place to stop, whoa Bessie!

Big Finish

That's Episode 169 Goosh the Clay, Daughter of Godcast Season 4 Choice. I'm Dan Kelly Shri Fugi Spilt, awash in salmon and lavender clouds here in Northwestern Michigan's lower pennisula, just under the skirts of Canada, not far from the Big Lake and right on the edge of Crystal Lake which in the hoary past was maybe a bay of the Big Lake. I was in Crystal Lake last night, snug in my 7 mil open cell wet suit, beaching Hobie Cats and cribs, trying not to use my broken wing for lifting and shoving. I had the hunch the lake was getting ready to lock up, so cold and still under a crescent moon. Grabbing the zinc plated pipes of the cribs or the aluminum masts of the Hobies, my gloves froze to the bare metal. Afterwards I floated face up to the night sky, buoyant and star drunk.

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