"THE EMACULATION" (The Prescriptures card for SubGenius INWO)
The diorama depicts "Bob" Dobbs at the precise moment of his Emaculation, which occured in 1953 while he was repairing a home made television set of his own design. In one timeless, blinding instantaneous flash, he saw JHVH-1, Who poured into "Bob's" brainpan the entire past and future history of the SubGenius People, including the vision of X-Day 1998. This fanciful illustration depicts "the Dimensional Doorway" cracking open behind "Bob" as Escape Vessels and Cherubic Sex Goddesses revolve around him... and as the puddle in which he had been standing expands into a seemingly limitless sea of Light and Truth, illuminated by the All Seeing Eye of G'bl(censored).
This is by far the most complicated stop motion tabletop set I have ever built. I'm about halfway through the animation of the 25 second loop... each frame takes about 10 minutes to shoot, since each of the models has to be individually manipulated (usually both rotated and inched forward, and the humanoid figures are all "dancing"). And, each frame has to be shot FOUR TIMES!
This frame, # 275d, is a final composite from all four camera passes. This is the first time I ever composited four exactly matching sections of an animation shot. It went surprisingly smoothly. The reason that each frame has to be shot 4 different ways is simply that I only have two human figure armatures besides the main "Bob" model's armature. I can't make the ball and socket skeletons myself so I'm limited to those two jointed figures at a time. I wanted 6 figures in this scene (plus an extra version of the upper right quadrant with a SPACE background)... that meant I had to animate 4 different scenes in the same otherwise unchanged set: one pass with the Fist and the "Pipe-Boat Lady in the Bubble"; a second pass with the lady dressed up with a plastic spiral headress (from an old Jetsons space car model kit!) and joined by her thin sister, hanging from flying rigs behind the Dobbs model; and a third pass, with the two lady models stripped of their previous foam rubber shape and now in the foreground, cast inside a much more "mutated" mold. Then (fourth pass) all the models were left hanging exactly in place while the background tank set was drained and moved aside, and replaced with the space backdrop and planets models for that one last extra special effect.
Needless to say, the flying saucer models had to go ALL FOUR TIMES through their exact same moves (rotation and circular movement plus some up and down -- like a crazy merry-go-round). I don't have motion control equipment so I had to keep careful notes and change all the settings and adjust all the models by hand, just right for each frame.
I am shooting this with a borrowed 1959 spring-wound 35mm hand held Mitchell war camera, and my old Photoflood light set from high school days! The camera itself does not move in this shot, only the models.
I am compositing the four shots into one in the optical printer the old fashioned way, with a series of hand rotoscoped mattes which divvy the scene up into four interlocking quadrants. So far, it is working beautifully... you can't see the seams at all. ONE SLIP UP, however, and I'll have to reshoot the ENTIRE THING... let's hope I don't leave a wrench in the set on the VERY LAST FRAME!!
I don't know why this "Fat Sex Goddess" model kept growing a little "dick"! I cast it 4 separate times but each time that little bump artifact was produced, some weird suction of the mold...? Anyway, I decided it was "meant to be" and left it there.
I love the way the chromed rubber skin looks on this gal. That metallic glaze is expensive, and the models start to show the creases and get dull after about 5 seconds worth of frames, and you constantly have to fight "chrome rot" (caused by sweat from the animator's fingertips) but it's worth it for the photographic effect.
The Goddess Cherub model is only about 2 feet high. In this extreme close-up, if you look closely you can see the nylon monofilament used to hold up the saucer model that's hanging next to her. Some of the saucers were borrowed from a local fx guy and are made of the old plastic, and thus heavy... this particular saucer came crashing down twice when the fishing wires knots stretched and broke.
Needless to say, the Goddess figurines are even heavier, with their metal armatures, but for some reason their weight distribution didn't stress the hanging support rig like the saucers did. Maybe I was just lucky.
Also, I have only blown 4 bulbs so far in the shooting -- knock on wood!
The Space Dobbshead is carved from styrofoam, then "smoothed" with a blowtorch. and painted. This one was a thankfully light prop. Of course, it WOULD be the only one that didn't have to MOVE constantly.
Some kind of persistent "mold" or tarnish keeps growing on the skin of the leg of this model, and I decided it looks kinda cool and have decided to keep it! In the footage, you can actually "see" the stuff grow!
Getting the video picture onto that free-hanging TV set, without the VCR or cords showing, was no mean trick! I won't tell you how I did it. I will tell you that I LUCKILY remembered to switch to the over-30 degree shutter before filming! Otherwise it would have flickered like crazy. As it is, it flickers JUST ENOUGH! (It is after all supposed to be a BROKEN TV that "Bob" was REPAIRING -- thus the upside down picture, flicker, snow etc.!)
I was just testing this "deformed Dobbs" wax model, which I had originally made in a misguided stab at creating a ghostly "nental ife" for the Dobbs in the Emaculation scene. I had been hankering to see what this weird donated laser gas device would do, so I turned that on, jumped away from the set, and shot this picture before the room filled up with laser gas -- and then immediately turned on the ceiling fan, full blast and opened all the windows. Made for a GREAT effect, but I'm lucky I didn't set the kitchen on fire.
A close-up of a cool-looking mold culture we found growing in the old AntiDobbshead mask mold.
A mold within a mold, you might say!
I call these two pardners "Gila Mom Man and her smooth little baby, Gila Button Head." "Baby" is done with Cel-U-Clay and "Ma" is (obviously) done via judicious arrangement of Magic Growing Moon Crystals. Dr. Howll Robins created the original Reptilian AntiBob face.
Paul Mavrides mangled my holy illustration of the X Day Saucer Landing Strip by yanking down Dobbs' pants and making him pee, right in front of the Sex Goddess and her Escape Saucer, which now (in this new context) looks startled, rather than merely menacing and Cyclopian.
In my original stick figure drawing of this idea, I put a dotted line to indicate that the Dobbs figure was urinating. I dropped that idea because it was in poor taste, and, worse, not entirely doctrinal. Mavrides never saw that original sketch; and yet he too envisioned Dobbs as PEEING at this critical juncture in the Destiny of the Universe.
A close shot of the freshly cast and painted Twisted Space Babe models, before getting their plastic helmets.
About halfway through the filming, I had to take these models down, peel open their skin and foam "meat," and TIGHTEN ALL THEIR BALL AND SOCKET JOINTS, because they get too loose to hold position after awhile... you go to move an arm a half inch forward, and it not only moves forward, it then comes loose and just FLOPS -- and THEN where are you? UP JOINT-TIGHTENING CREEK, that's where.
This a production still of the full daytime set in all its glory, with the water tank filled and all of the models displayed at once. At least once a day, one of the saucers would break loose from the flying rig and fall into the water.
We are shooting this with real water underneath the stop-motion models because we want that weird looking effect that you get with stop-motion water (or for that matter, time-lapse footage of waves). We also shot a continuous shot of the water in real-time (and 64 fps slow motion), to use as a lower frame component element JUST IN CASE the time-lapse-water-effect looks like crap.
I suppose we COULD do the water in computer animation, but that would probably look REALLY fake.
The big chrome Pointing Fist was the most problematic model to deal with. It didn't have to move, aside from a very slight, slow bobbing motion, but it weighed a TON and had to be hauled up and down on chains... by relatively tiny increments (3 inches per frame). The pulley and cranks system I rigged to do this took a five man crew a whole day to build.
The same models, photographed in FLAT WHITE LIGHT (no gels, no fog, no haze no NOTHIN'), hanging in front of the space backdrop.
The space backdrop was done the same way as in time immemorial, same as when I was 12.... giant sheets of tinfoil spray painted flat black, with pinholes and pencil holes punched through it, and a bright light shing through the pinholes from behind. And some beach balls repainted as planets. (I used to use cotton wads for "starry nebullae" when I was a child filmmaker, but I forewent that one, this time around.)
BORDERS BY IrREV. FRIDAY JONES