Sunday, November 11, 2012

Why I've Been Silent for the Past Week

Hey Kids!

So, for the past week things fell silent at Phantom Harbor, mainly because I spent that time at the University of Virginia.  I had been invited by the Stan Winston School of Character Arts to participate in a three day workshop called "The Art of the Moving Creature."  I accompanied Matt Winston, SWSCA creative director/photographer John Ales, and my good friend, colleague, and incredible fabricator, Ted Haines.

Earlier this year, the 25 students from the Architecture, Fine Arts, and Drama Departments made prototype creatures out of plastic bags and chicken wire in preparation of building giant puppets for a "Monster Parade" in April of 2013!  This leg of the trip the objective was simple...challenging, but simple...Create a "finished" creature, based on one of the students designs, and have it camera ready in only three days.

After reviewing all of the students' designs, we settled on a centipede-type creature they called "Leggy-Breed".  Yes, we all knew that creating a 30 foot long, 15 foot tall creature would be nearly impossible for a three day build, but we also saw the potential of teaching the students how to fabricate sections that they could replicate after our workshop.  A plan was put into place, materials were purchased and the SWSCA representatives soon found themselves on a plane heading to Virginia.

During the flight, Ted and I had a heart-to-heart about what we thought we could ACTUALLY accomplish in such a short amount of time. If we got a head, body section and one pair of legs, we felt that we would have done our jobs and we'd put the students on a path that they could continue in our absence.  Boy, did we underestimate these students.

The traveling to and from Virginia could be a blog post in itself, but let us just cut to the chase.  The faculty, led by Steven Warner (Drama Dept.), Melissa Goldman (Architecture Dept.) and Eric Schmidt (Fine Arts Dept.) joined the 25 hand-picked students in the realization of the goal.  I could attempt to describe every incredible day, but I'll let the pictures speak for themselves:
Eric Schmidt rolls adhesive onto foam boards that will be glued together for carving giant insect legs.
Melissa Goldman, Matt Winston, Mathew Gordon, and Nathan Wiser carve a prototype leg in styrofoam.
Ted Haines demonstrates the finer points of foam fabrication to Lauren Shell while Brooks Beverstock and Evan Howell work on creature eyes.
Mark Gartzman and Vincente Arroyo install the PVC understructure into the main body section.
A row of carved legs await paint.
Once all of the legs were painted, the students turned their attention to...

...painting the body (Mark looks a bit lost here - maybe he was concerned about the creature's head)
Austin Manning installs the eyes while Lauren Chilton finishes the painting.
While the head was being completed, the puppeteers rehearsed with the body and then...
....they stormed the campus!!!
You can see the creature in action as it was featured in a local newscast here!

The bottom line is that I was VERY impressed with this group.  They did a heck of a job in what turned out to be about 2 1/2 days of building.  We instructors left them confidently; they know what they have to do to make the remainder of the creatures for their parade and they know it will only happen if they remain the well-oiled machine they were this past week.  I hope I can get back there next April to witness the spectacle in person.  I couldn't be prouder of them all.

Until next time, I'll see you at the Harbor!

Shannon Shea


Mr. Chicken said...

Cool! Lucky kids!

Tracy F. Shea said...

Amazing to think that all of that was completed in 2 1/2 days. Inspiring what can get done when there is cooperation. Great work!