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Thursday, November 24, 2011

This site has moved!


Hey internet! I've gone and done upgraded.

Update your bookmarks to www.MatthewElium.com to keep up with my shenanigans, 'cause this site will no longer be updated.

Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Cardboard Golden Gate

That's riiiiight! It's time for another Johnny Walnut music video, and you know what that means. Cardboard. Lots and lots of cardboard. This time, the video will be shot using an ambitious style of mixed media stop motion, lead by a team of cardboard artists, awesome animators, and an army of paper cutting interns. I've taken my place among the build team as cardboard alchemist, transmuting corrugated sheets into worlds.

For the first shot, they needed a bridge. The Golden Gate bridge in fact.
I asked, "How big?"
They said, "As big as you think it needs to be."

Hoo boy...


I started by doing some a little research and some math. The scale of the animated actors on average was 1/2 inch, meaning for every foot in real life would be 1/2 an inch in the model. I quickly realized that if I was going to do an accurate scale of the Golden Gate, even at 1/64th scale, it would end up being longer than the building we were shooting in. So I had to get creative.

I would have to use an optical technique called forced perspective to create the illusion that the model bridge was longer than it actually was. I would make the tower closest to the camera at a 1/64th scale, and the tower farthest away at a smaller 1/128th scale, and then connect them with a bridge span that tapered from one end to the other.

I started with a simple setup to get the basic idea in my head, with some help from Iron Man standing in where the animated character will be in the final shot.


I concluded that 16 feet was the right length, and the relative height between 1/64th scale, and 1/128th scale was enough to complete the illusion. What followed was more math than I care to relive.

I started with the main tower, which in reality measures 500 feet from roadway to the top. Check here for more nifty facts and numbers.

Yes there is a little satellite dish on the top. No it doesn't get HBO, only this guy.

Next came the first three foot section of road, sidewalk, and the little criss-crossy bits under the span. I'm sure there are very technical terms for all of these things, but my engineering degree is written on a piece of cardboard with a sharpie. All I know is I had to cut out a rediculous amount of triangles.

Street lamps. Lots and lots of street lamps.

Then it was time to do the same thing... only smaller!

Aww, they're friends!

After mini tower was done, I was faced with the next challenge. The span. The roadway had to start at 6 inches wide at the front where the big tower started, and taper down 3 at the end to meet up with the small tower. With the help of a chalk line I managed to get a general guide of where to cut.


The next part was really boring, there was a lot of cardboard cutting. Just picture it through montage.

Another challenge to this whole piece was I needed to design in to separate into sections so I could fit it into my car for transport. But before moving it to the set, I had to take it outside to impress the neighbors.

What's that Mr. Jenkins? Oh I'm just test driving my new bridge.

I also made a little viewing window to see what the final shot might look like.

After the bridge safely made the journey to set it was time for it to get painted, strung up with lights like a Christmas tree, and ready for it's debut.

Buildin' bridges! Thanks to Laura Valladao for the sweet pic.

This is only the first set of many for this video. More to come.

Be sure to check Flickr for other tidbits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewelium/

Monday, April 4, 2011

Embrace Your Vices - Hero Props

When making low budget movies it's a constant struggle to avoid logos and brands of existing products. Everything these days seems to be a walking advertisement for something. So I always enjoy it when a director puts in the extra effort into the details, and makes the products in their film unique and part of the world they are creating.

First things first: this film needed booze. My custom bottle labels have been popular among film-folks and gift-givers alike, so I've pretty much got my system down to a science. The trick of course is finding the right bottle. Luckily I have a "cool bottle" shelf in my workshop, right underneath the "boxes filled with small things I don't know what they do" ledge.

From old to new in seconds, that's the power of Oxyclean!

Handy Tip:
Never underestimate the possibility to screw up simple things.
Always print two of each label.

Next on the list were cigarettes.

Now I'm probably the last person to know anything about cigarettes, and I can't stand smoking for plenty of reasons. But there is one thing I now can't deny... cigarette packaging is wicked cool. Seriously. I'd never touched a pack in my life before this project so I had no idea, but these things have had the ever-living-daylights designed out of them! Up to the pop-top box and down to the shiny branded foil on the inside. Cinematically awesome.

So after I had had my first smoke shop experience (the guy gave me a funny look when I had to keep checking my list to remember what brands and numbers I was supposed to be getting. I know, I'm a nerd) it was time to get down to business.

Since I was short on time I decided not to do this from scratch, but instead just modify some existing packs. Also, this way all them would be full.

Ha HA! Take that movies, I'm a Blog!
I don't have to worry about showing brands.


For the most part the director let my imagination run wild, but he did have some specific design and style elements he wanted incorporated in the branding. Menthol or not, length, box size... I had no idea there were this many options!

Useing the powers of my constant nemesis, mathematics, I reverse engineered the various boxes and created a template in Photoshop and designed the brands. I decided to do a couple test boxes with papercaft before I did any modifying.

Don't worry, we can rebuild him. Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.

After the final designs were approved by the director and art director, the designs were printed onto sticky paper and cut.

Then it on to the nail biting process of putting it all together. Because I wanted it to be as seamless as possible the label was only cut into two parts. Once I started, there was no going back.

Phew, only four more to go.

In conclusion: had a blast designing these. Definitely hope I get to do more in the future.


Be sure to check out the Flickr Photostream to see more detail shots! : http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewelium/

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sampling - Title Prop

Oh it's back to production. Got a slew of film props and a sets in the works.

First in line is a special hero prop for a friend shooting a short in LA. The idea is cool, instead of having a text overly, the title will be displayed via this prop in the scene.

I began by hunting around for an old fashioned-ish tin. With more time I would have found something more like an old lunchbox with a handle, but while at a craft store I spotted some glue with a nifty looking container.

Awesome, no wrinkles!

Next it was art time.

The prop needed to feature a rather sexy nurse, winking coyly at the viewer, holding a sample cup. The director wanted the art to be reminiscent of classic 40's style pin-up girls. You know, when the luscious ladies were painted by dudes using oil on canvas instead of airbrushing pictures in the computer. Well, unfortunately I didn't have the bad-ass-ery to do this with oil, so I did the next best thing, broke out the tablet and used Photoshop to paint our sexy medical technician.

Then it was time to print it out on a some sticky paper, cut it to size, and paste it to the tin. It's now en-route to LA to be a star!


Be sure to check the Flickr for more art stuff: www.flickr.com/photos/matthewelium/

Friday, March 18, 2011

Get These Stencils Started

Yep, it's stencil time. Again!

Recently I was contracted to do some promotional material, and in the process ended up creating a stencil for the main image. Since stencils are pretty much addictive, I decided to keep going (even stenciled something for my delightful valentine)

For this round I decided to keep to the basics and get a little more practice with the just process itself. I'm still using the fricking cheapest poster paper on the planet for the actual layers (what? I'm cheap! Now I can spend more money on hot glue and toaster strudels) At some point I'm definitely going to try plastic Mylar sheets, when I get around to drawing something I feel like is worth spending to extra Lincolns on.

Stencil time. #11 blade please nurse.

"I'm a business man, I do business!"

In the past, the spray painting process involved a lot of scavenged masking tape to hold down the stencil, prayer, and a similar amount of cursing. Thanks to a little investigation I discovered a product actually existed that would solve ease my woes. Krylon Easy-Tack, a re-positional adhesive in spray form! Booya. (thank you scrapbookers) It's not perfect, and has its own quirks but so far it has helped me get much cleaner lines and use a lot less expletives.

Base layer for "The Man Who Wasn't There With Bird"

Since I seem to have the insatiable urge to involve cardboard into everything I do, I started experimenting with multi-layered prints as well. Okay so the "multi" may be overstating it at the moment, but I definitely intend to take this to the next level in future pieces. Right now these are more like "reliefs".

Ha, suck it Real-D. These suckers don't NEED glasses.

Two flavors, regular and cardboard. Both are tasty.

Final pictures down below. If this rain decides to stop soaking my cardboard supply I'll start making larger stuff, with more layers!
"A Man Who Wasn't There"

"Deer Business""Sacred Cow"
"Bateman"

Be sure to sniff around my Flickr for archived thingy-ma-whatsits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewelium/

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Harmony Doodles

Being bedridden has seriously put a cramp in my style, and after about a week my sanity has started to get tested. Books have been read, netflix have been watched, and all the usual internet haunts were losing their magic.

In a benevolent effort to relieve my boredom, my girlfriend told me about this amazing little site. It's a super simple browser based art program called Harmony. The best way I've heard it described is an "auto-tune for drawing" and I'm pretty much hooked.

At first I started just playing around on my macbook trackpad, memorized by the way the lines interacted with each other. My first creation started out to be a woman's face, but through the process of clumsy finger-painting it somehow ended up as Abe Lincoln.

Excuse me mam, you have some president on your face.

I quickly broke down and busted out the tablet, because this was way too cool. Craggy serious faces turned out to be super fun.

It's time to kick ass, and chew bubblegum... and I'm all outta gum.

Magic apple, tasty.

Go to hell Tiberius. I'm a Virgo, not a sodding octopus.

A lot of the fun of this program is it's simplicity, and strict rules of use. As far as I can tell there is no undo function, which actually is awesome. It forces me to suck it up and just go for it!

Iiiii'm too sexy for clean lines, too sexy for clean lines...



My favorite brush by far has been "Chrome". It's nicely balanced, easy to get intense chunks of black, while still maintaining sensitivity to make light brushy bits. I'm hoping this will finally start helping me get back into practice, and also let me explore the weirder part of my brain.

Caution: mouth cave. Brush gently.

Overwatch reporting, ready to commence suppression.

Grim.

The party ain't started till the Lion gets there.

I'll post more if any other cool things come along.

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthewelium/