Thursday, December 10, 2009

Xom: Curse of an Intergalactic Vampire Hunter

Xom. Meet the spur of the moment joke idea that turned into years of Hell. I have tried to remove myself from its power but I keep getting drawn back in. Xom began a long time ago as a very simple idea, basically a monster who fights vampires.

Not the loftiest of themes and one of my "lower tier" projects, nonetheless it struck a chord within me. It was partly influenced by comic books as well as a film which I had heard about many years ago but never seen until the early 2000s, that centered on a vampire hunter and his hunchback assistant. I wasn't impressed by the direction the movie took and started to think about monstrous vampire hunters again. The idea of a knight-like vampire hunter from space and his robot assistant came about as a joke, but the more I thought about it, the more it intrigued me.
I had planned to do something with it as a self-published comic book, but I had many other things in the works so it wasn't a high priority. I did a concept painting for it, and planned to make a small sculpture, but grew tired of it due to the ornamental armor that I felt the character should have(partly because I was unnerved by the thought of sculpting something with a machined look), which would depict all the alien vampires he had encountered on various planets. It was just too much work although I started to make one. A few years later I met someone who was making very low budget films as direct to dvd releases. I had been interested in filmmaking for a long time but various circumstances forced me to abandon the pursuit after a couple of short films and an aborted feature length silent movie project. During a meeting he saw the concept art for Xom and suggested I turn it into a movie proposal. I thought he was crazy, for I knew the amount of work required. Just designing the costume for Xom would be a monumental task. It would take millions.

However, a few months later I found myself thinking about filmmaking and the digital tools that were becoming available which solved many of the problems I had encountered years before with traditional film. I pondered what sort of project I could do. I initially thought about doing an eyewitness video version of War of the Worlds, but a major studio motion picture was announced the very same day I had settled on it, and the field became crowded. So I looked to Xom. I envisioned it as a very low budget B movie, although more creative options appeared as I learned more about computer graphics.

Later on I began to ask myself why I chose to start something as HUGE in scale as this? I had never made a suit of armor before but I knew I could do it. It was if I were possessed. I have never worked so hard or had such energy to persevere. And for 3 years I worked steadily to prepare the required materials, props, costumes, pre-production paper work, everything I could think of and do all by myself to bring this project to life. Along the way I had some highs, many lows, fatigue, exhaustion, mental and physical collapse, toxic burns, as well as dealing with a great number of unpleasant people(the few nice ones know who they are). I did accomplish the creative goals I needed to achieve--the costume was complete--with the engraved armor I had found too much work to do in 1/6th scale but for some reason found myself determined to build in life size! I had a robot prop with a somewhat functional rotating head to serve as his robot assistant and stand in reference for a computer model. I had the entire script storyboarded in colour-some 300 pages.
Shot list, script breakdown, I was as prepared as I could be.
There was only one problem, I was working alone. I did not have people who could help behind the scenes as either on set moral support or co-planner. This turned out to be the death blow for the project. I could design a costume with over 1000 figures carved into it, I could make robots and vampire masks and all sorts of things that few others could do as well under the circumstances, but what others took for granted, namely friends, I did not have locally.

I was forced to try strangers, and I fielded hundreds of people and interviewed some, but no success.

It became unbelievably frustrating. And without that help, the film could not easily proceed.  Someone with more production experience had commented that if I didnt find help, I would come to hate the project-and at that point I truly did. I wanted to hurdle the helmet across the room and smash it to pieces.

The Xom costume is literally, a big problem--because it requires finding someone who is close to the height of the mannequin I built it on, around 6'7(I wanted him to be imposing).

But I just cant give up on Xom so easily. I have looked at filming something else, but in the end I always come back to this. It remains the only project that I am compelled enough to attempt at this stage(especially if I must work alone). I am working to finish the computer model of the character(very tedious due to the armor detailing) so I can use that instead of requiring someone to wear the costume(the less you need from others, the better, I have come to believe).

In the end I may just use the model towards a comic book format as originally intended. At some point I should feel I have done enough and can put it aside completely to concentrate on the other things I am interested in.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Straight to the head: Restoring an angel sculpture

Here is the angel piece I mentioned previously. This sculpture was from 1995. It actually came into being in a fit of anger. I had met a guy who felt my sculpting ability would be good in the home decor and garden world-although I had no interest in that sort of thing. The main trouble with that type of sculpture for me is that pieces are meant to blend into an environment, and I prefer things that stick out and draw attention. I never enjoyed the work. He had convinced me to do a couple of things for this market-but his mold making ability was poor, and the pieces ended up ruined. So I told him to vanish from my premises forever(he didnt) and decided to attempt a sculpture that I would do the mold for myself. So I decided on this. Not sure why--I think I wanted to test different kinds of sculptural themes--cherubish children were popular so I added a couple in to the space left vacant between the wings. A few years later I saw a photo of a small sculpture that was almost the same in post and concept(minus the children). I assume both I and the other artist saw the same source of inspiration(probably a painting).

It is a heavy piece and takes a lot of hydrostone to make. I have sold a few of them, but it just isn't practical due to the size and weight. I tried using epoxy clay to make a lightweight press of the sculpture-it worked better than I had hoped.

I planned to coat it with resin to give it a glossy look--but there was a chemical reaction with the paint and the faces of the man and woman were ruined. So I had to cut them out and replace with new heads that I created by doing another clay press.

I had to cut out the bad heads.

And put in the replacements.

I have to add some more clay and smooth it out so it appears seamless. Soon.

finished repair:

Monday, December 7, 2009

K G's Art and Fantasy: first post

Hello. This blog will cover my various art endeavors and replace a website I had for ten years(RIP). I expect to detail my progress with sculpture, painting, writing and computer graphics/animation, as well as film projects and whatever else comes to mind. I reside in British Columbia, Canada in a city/town near the US border. It is nice but dull. I find this place toxic in some ways. In fact I wish I was born elsewhere. Not sure where but not here.
My art work is an attempt to enliven things although I keep a low profile and rarely show my work around(not by choice much of the time, just not easy to find venues for it due to a variety of reasons). Making money from it when I can is nice too.
I'll post a bit of work related images.

The first is a photo of a 16mm stop motion animation experiment i did in the early 90s(not my first but one of the earliest). Its about 3 seconds in duration. I havent attempted to post a video of it-although it might be interesting since it was made before computer graphics was available and used a few layers of glass to create a fire effect--with tiny light bulbs int he head and chest to make it glow like fire. Since then I have worked on doing the same with computer graphics.

The second image is a model of an angel I did in clay around the same time. It was made of roma plastilina and around 9 inches tall. After that I started to think about making keepsake figures instead of focusing on puppets designed for animation.

The third picture is my first surviving sculpture I did as a home decor type item(although I hate home decor). I made it in 1995 and still have the mold for it. It took 2 months to sculpt. It is called the "Heavenly Guardians" although I cant remember if I named it or someone else. A former employer took a second generation mold of it and was selling copies without my permission, but he kicked the bucket and the mold was passed into the hands of others. I told them not to sell it. Hopefully their mold will rot and I wont have to think about it anymore. I dont love the piece, but dont like others copying it without my permission. I recently made a casting of it in lightweight epoxy(the previous ones were hydrostone). I will post a pic when its finished.

I have also done some painting. Here is an acrylic angel painting I did a few years ago.

And here is an image from my first computer animation experiment.

I did it this past January. It is 20 seconds long. I have a youtube link for it but the URL keeps changing. This was the last known link for it.