Wednesday, 30 March 2011

More elfin helpers

When the going gets tough, what do you do?

If you can, run to your mammy.

My mother has offered to help make sets, and I'm delighted. She's worked on many illustrious theatrical sets, mostly for puppet theatres, and I can't wait to see what she comes up with. Normally I'm very control freaky about animations and things like animation - I want to do it all, dammit! But frankly, right now I'm just very glad of the help. Maybe I can learn to love working collaboratively ...

Tuesday, 29 March 2011


Dear Tripod of Crap, I have used you to within an inch of your life and now, it seems, beyond.

One final kick, one more sheared screw, and I think I have finally finished with your fickle, undependable ways. Time for a new tripod! With a lateral arm! Bring the machines!

Monday, 28 March 2011


Ah, this is so pretty. And as it's a time-lapse it's actually really useful for noting how balloons should move in a stop-frame.


You just have to junk the odd hundred frames and chalk it up to experience ...

Fail again, fail better.



Today I'm sneaking in a few frames when I can - airborne pictures for this sequence.

At last I found a use for the burst cushion I've been holding onto for two years ...

Saturday, 26 March 2011

A day

in the shed  ...

with Cupid and Psyche fluttering round my head, Marrakesh playing and - hopefully - curtains swishing back and forth seamlessly.

With luck, I hope to make the first 100 or so frames this weekend. I've assembled scanned silk, proscenium, backdrop, props, lights, camera, laptop, music, title, and a rough plan. Now all I need is tea and time.

Off to play!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Je vous presente!

Cosmonauts - to accompany us on our animated adventures, we shall be listening to the fabulous music of ...

Escape the Clouds!

I'm delighted to have found a wonderful piece of music for the film. It was a very, very tough process, especially for someone as crap at decision making as I am. I had to choose between some beautiful songs and I'm still sorry I can't use ALL of the music suggested.

But, I am very excited to be working with this band, and now that I have a specific piece of music in mind, I'm hoping it will help propel things along a bit. It's all in the rhythm ...

Happy weekend, all.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Centre stage!

At last, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, I have chosen the music for the film.

I'll reveal all shortly ...

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Cover me!

It's gone dead quiet round here. Everyone seems to have their nose in a book ...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

My grandmother's kimono

You wouldn't believe how difficult it is to scan a fragile old silk garment. Right now boyf (the glamorous assistant that I'd somehow forgotten about) is doing something with cardboard and muttering under his breath. Could be because I've been swearing at him for the past ten minutes while he tries to hold down the slippery bits while maintaining the correct fold pattern and appropriate ratio of red silk to gold embroidery over the scanner screen for long enough that I can crank up the programme and run the scan.

We'll get there, unless the perished old thing gives way first.

Or the kimono. Har.

(And if boyf manages not to hit the 'off' button with his elbow. Again.)

Best draw a veil over the whole scene ...

Monday, 21 March 2011


This weekend I got a little time in the studio, which was fantastic. Time to play around with backdrops - Da Vinci drawings, Jules Verne theatrical illustrations, thesaurus pages and some old sketchbook pages.

This stuff is for background use - hardly noticeable, but still very important. It's all in the detail! 

More cool animation

With paper, too!

*Sigh* I wish I had nine months to spare. And a glamorous assistant.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Escape in a hot air balloon 2

Oh, sometimes I just wish I could ...

Escape in a hot air balloon

I have to admit it, I'm avoiding choosing the music for this film.

It's an absolutely essential part of the animation, makes all the difference, and will help to inform how the film is shaped.

The trouble is I am spoiled for choice. I had anticipated having trouble finding music - instead I have been deluged by high quality, fascinating and fabulous possibilities.

I've got to make a decision. But how to turn down some of the beautiful, strange, eerie and atmospheric music that has been suggested, to choose just one piece of music? I could happily use any of the music that has been volunteered.


Thursday, 17 March 2011

Elfin helpers

Really, when you're working with lots of small, fiddly delicate little pieces of things, a fifteen month year old is just a slight liability.

This morning my son helpfully took apart the basket I made yesterday.

Also, it's quite hard doing this kind of work with a Boo underfoot. Normally I'd work intensely sorry did someone say obsessively? on an animation while barely looking up to eat/converse/breathe. This time round I'm having to do furious little bursts of activity when Boo is napping.

Having said that, while looking after a Small, there are long stretches of time during which I have nothing particularly taxing to occupy my mind. These open, empty times are often when the brain unwinds and plays around and comes up with the best ideas.

Back to the drawing board.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Soft Wares and Onion Skins

Isn't Open Source the most amazing idea?

Here's some free storyboard software. I expect I shall be more likely to scribble messy notes on the back of envelopes and sellotape them to the wall, but for those who are more plugged in, it may be useful.

Meanwhile, I am searching for software that will onion skin for me. This means that if your camera is hooked up to a computer, a ghostly afterimage of the last shot remains on the screen - so that positioning the next shot is much easier. It makes for smoother animations. I haven't used it much for my own animations, being of the bootstrap and homemade type of animator, but I think it may be worth finding one for this film.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Dance of the seven veils

Oh, I want to share every little thing on this blog, I do. But then, I need to keep some things back to surprise you all with, don't I?

So some things must remain half hidden, at least for the moment. Glimpses and hints. Keep a close watch on this heart of mine ...


Just when I needed it ... who knew boyf had a secret stash of old pocketwatches in a shoebox? Cogs ahoy!

Tiny little teeth

I'm cutting out lots of these tabs at the moment. The house is sprinkled with a trail of tiny paper triangles. They are surprisingly sharp, and they get everywhere.

Monday, 14 March 2011

More steamy hearts

Clockwork Heart by *Vlahdimir on deviantART


the search for a heart

Clockwork Heart by ~LeggRoom on deviantART

Well, for inspiration for the heart I'm planning to make for the film. This is lovely, isn't it?

Book the book!

Steamlust is now available for preorder at Amazon! Quick!

Steamlust: Steampunk Erotic Romance

Squint Balloons

The balloon is a little lop sided, because I've made it half 3D, which must be a whole new classification. Yes, this film is going to be filmed in 1.5D. (Viewers will be required to wear monocles).

Anyway, the old map paper works well, I think. Back to the drawing board to work out how to make half a balloon ...

Beautiful paper

*Sobbing with Jealousy*

Saturday, 12 March 2011


... ideas at the moment. Exciting things are afoot with the music/soundtrack, of which more soon.

Meanwhile, I'm trying out different ideas, images and storylines. Once I've got something roughed out, I'll be starting on storyboards, which will be very exciting.


The glider's done. It's cute. The rigging was murder, though!

Probably because I accidentally made the small scale model, which is done to the scale of planes for the World's Smallest Aircraft Musem. The model and museum are at Fiddler's Green, a fantastic source of card models.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Note to self

Solvent-heavy adhesives do not make concentrating on intricate work very easy.

But look at the little guy in the hang glider! Look, he's flying!

Also, today I found a Siamese Grape.

You don't believe me, do you? I have picture proof. I shall share, tomorrow.

The sad tale of Otto Lilienthal

You've heard of the Wright Brothers. But spare a thought - or shed a tear - for poor forgotten Otto Lilienthal.

The first man to truly fly with wings, he studied aviation obsessively for thirty years, building prototypes with his brother Gustave.

In 1896, having finally made a power driven aeroplane, he took a flight to check his controls, but was tragically killed.

His brother was heartbroken and their aeroplane was abandoned, untested.

Today I've been working on a model of his hang glider. It's very fiddly, but I hope to finish it tonight.

And their flying machines

If you haven't yet read Janine Ashbless' fabulous erotic steampunk story, I strongly urge you to go and get a copy immediately!

Today I'm making paper aeroplanes, and as I was suddenly reminded of the story.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Oh, Captain

I'm having some trouble fitting George onto the scanner. All that rippling muscles and those hugh thighs (oh my) just CANNOT BE CONTAINED.


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Dear Universe

Please send music for my film.  I need a studio quality recording of a song - romantic, atmospheric, with lashings of accordions and violins and thrilling industrial percussion. I'd like dirty, sexy, melodic, lushly layered and deeply seductive.

Do you know someone in a steampunk band? Or any wild and raucous band, who'd like to see their song illustrated with a beautiful stop frame animation? If so, please pass this on. I'm open to all suggestions, and I can't wait to hear from you!

Thank you, clockwork gods. 

nikki dot magennis at googlemail dot com