Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Oh Well- set construction

Initially, I had planned to make both of my sets prior to animating, then alternate between them to tackle the most difficult scenes first in the hopes of prolonging the usability of my puppet.

As I ran further behind schedule however due to unforeseen problems, this soon became impractical. I have found myself adapting my schedule so much to work around various difficulties that some work on my sets was ultimately unnecessary. I constructed two base boards to begin with, at different sizes to accommodate different scenes. One consisted of a long ‘cracked earth’ set, which Walter walks upon. The second set follows the same design but is a little shorter- the set upon which the rocky cliff and well sit. Having filmed all scenes requiring my first set before having made the second set, however, I was able to simply cut the first board shorter and build the well and rocks on top. This saved me the time of painting the floor on the second board- which had previously taken the better part of one day.

At the time of writing this, with my second set finally complete, I have now completed the fabrication stage of my SS2 project, and for the remainder of my time I will be using my evenings for postproduction on my completed shots.

The Well

The well was tricky as it needed thickness and detail on the inside as well as the outside, given that we view the inside when seeing the pot being winched out. I had hoped to base the model around a pre-existing supporting structure, such as a plant pot or something similar, but had no luck finding anything a suitable size. In the end, I formulated a fully handmade design.

The main ‘tube’ of the well was created with wire mesh, wrapped into a cylinder. I then cut it into strips, roughly 2” in width, down to just beyond the midpoint. These strips were easy to fold inwards and bend to create the lip of the well and the smaller inside cylinder (accounting for the well’s approximately 2cm thickness). The strips were taped back together on the inside, and the walls were stuffed with scrunched up newspaper for support. 

The stone details were created with sections of corrugated card, glued to the surface, with a top layer of paper mache sealing all the gaps, smoothening the edges/corners and giving an authentic texture. The stone details were carefully created to be correct on both the inside and outside (in that the cement lines match up). As you can see from the images, the outside details only extended half way down the cylinder, yet covered the entire inside- this is because the full length of the well was needed for the extreme low angle ‘pot winching’ shot. Beyond this, only the above-ground well was needed, so I was able to cut off the excess and attach the model to my set (images later).

I painted the stonework with acrylic paints, using a sponge to achieve a realistic dappled surface:

The branch supports for the well were in fact carefully chosen twigs! These were intentionally weathered, chipped and coloured to resemble old dry wooden branches. Finally, the rope details were simply brown string glued into place.

Filming the pot winch scene required the full length of the well. This was difficult to do, as the well needed to be suspended upright, with a camera underneath looking up vertically, with a lit green screen over the top!


The rocks were a big undertaking, as they are actually very big. I bulked out the shape with large balls of newspaper, taped loosely into place against my set floor and a backing board added to support the structure.

Akin to the stone texturing of my well, the rocks were given a coating with paper mache, this time with tissue paper as well as newspaper as this was better for smoothening the shape whilst retaining form and details.

Once dry, the rocks were painted with acrylics, using a sponge once again for believable mottled highlights. 

The set in action:

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