Wei Calendar "Making Of"

FINALLY, an excuse to do PICTURES again!!! (see big picture at bottom of page)

Princess Wei and I have been working on this project a little bit every day for about TWO WEEKS, and it finally culminated in this shooting session. You cannot imagine how difficult it was to get all of these pyrotechnical special effects to happen right, all at the same time!

This is for the Official SubGenius Connietite XXX-Day Year 2000-2001 Calendar. Actually, I suppose the correct Conneitite spelling would be "the Official SubGenius Connieite XXX-Day Year 2000-2001 Calendar." Sister Decadence, Magdalen and other Jezebels and Temptresses of the Dallasian Clenches are pursuing this sexy project. Each month from July to July will be represented by a snazzy color shot of various femalien SubGenius babes.

Personally, were I producing this sexist calendar, I would feature SubGenius babes of other species -- a she-Yeti and a prairie squid at LEAST. And I would be sure to get some ESPECIALLY weird looking Yetinsyny in it. The Connietites involved in THIS one are all "human looking babes" even by many HUMAN standards. Basically it's the "X-Day Girls" as one might call 'em -- Magdalen, Nickie Deathchick, Rev. Susie the Floozy, Sister Decadence, IrRev. Friday Jones, Popess Lilith, someone else, etc. (Yes, semi-nekkid pictures of my ex-wife. Hmmph.) I would have included some FAT ones.

Anyway, although all these graphics are SUPPOSED to be secret until their XXX-Day premiere, Sister Decadence kindly gave me permission to release this one as a preview. I really want to use it for XXX-Day p.r., since we ended up putting so much work into it.


The only elements of this image that are computer-enhanced "electronic special visual effects" are the yellow glow around the Princess, and her LEFT helmet-horn light. OBVIOUSLY, THAT light bulb could not POSSIBLY have really been lit during the shooting session, because as everyone knows, when the OTHER helmet horn of Princess Wei R. Doe lights up, that will trigger the Time of Their Arisal... which (needless to say) MUST BE FORESTALLED until after 7-7-00 (7 am EST)!!! I used Knoll Lens Flare Pro for that left helmet horn bulb.

The toughest part turned out to be finding a soundstage type facility in Cleveland that we could afford. We finally located an abandoned theater that had suitably strong girders and enough electrical power. We (and the hired crew -- I won't go into that!!) tried a couple of different ways to make the space look like OUTER space, and after many expensive trials we went with the tried and true method: huge sheets of tinfoil, hung from the ceiling, painted dull black, with PINHOLES and PENCIL holes punched in it, and bright arc lights behind it shining through, to represent stars.

The fanciful planets were easy -- merely dressed-up beach balls and the like, covered with little plaster craters and hand-painted. HANGING them was the tough part, as the plaster makes 'em weigh a TON. We had to use 40-guage fishing wire, triangulated, to support them, and then we had to paint THAT black.

The Spooky Dobbshead, hell, that was nothing but one of the plastic Halloween Dobbshead masks that somebody stepped on and accidentally flattened! The trick on THAT prop was to keep it from swinging in the wind at just the wrong moment.

We had several of the "saucers" built especially for this, all of them one half of lifesize scale, for realism. (I wish I had thought of using "forced perspective" before we had those made! We COULD have had them APPEAR to be disappearing off into the distance, simply by making them increasingly SMALLER rather than using full sized saucer models and a 300 foot sound stage painted black!!)

Many of the saucers will be all too familiar to some of you -- yes, they're just the Funway saucer collection, re-used -- but at least we REPAINTED them!

Some of the saucer models were so heavy that, rather than hang them by wires, we bolted them atop metal pylons (painted black with their own "star lights" attached).

The camera was a Hasselblad 10"x12" plate negative camera afixed to a cherry picker platform. I operated the camera and directed the action from there, about 25 feet up.

Last Saturday, once everything was in place, Princess Wei donned her Queen of the UFOs uniform and Sacred Helmet, and bravely allowed coarse hired coomoners to strap her into the $5,000 RENTED FLYING RIG, trucked in from Chicago.

I have worked with actors in flying rigs before -- not ME in the flying rig, THEM -- and believe you me, it is HELL for them. There is NO WAY to keep the straps (which have to be fairly small and inconspicuous for obvious reasons) from biting into tender flesh. And you have to hang there for HOURS. Let's not even go into the "restroom break" problem.

It was serious Texan-torture for DEVO when we put them through that "floating rock star balloon boys" routine in the "ARE YOU EXPERIENCED" video, and all they did was get bobbed slowly up and down. We wanted Princess Wei to look like she was FLYING FULL SPEED RIGHT UP TOWARDS THE CAMERA, in outer space, with the wind blowing her hair, so of course we did 59 takes, with the flying-rig-boom-men flinging her wildly across 180 degrees of the huge soud stage, so fast that she'd sometimes get slung out sideways, completely horizontal, by centrifugal force; a couple of times she crashed helmet-first into the bank of 1,000-watt light stands just behind the camera-cherry-picker. If I hadn't have ducked, WITH the camera, she would have knocked us right off the cherry picker during that one take.In fact, at one point she got wrapped tightly all the way around the cherry picker gantry arm just BELOW the camera, and it took 5 guys half an hour to get her unwrapped.

In hindsight, we could have saved a lot of time and effort just by putting a fan on the camera platform and leaving her stationary in front of it, with the wind from the FAN blowing her hair giving the APPEARANCE of fast motion. Ah, but then we wouldn't have gotten that perfect blur that you only get from real motion and a slow shutter (1/30 sec at f 8). Throughout this whole ordeal, the Princess was UNBELIEVABLY graceful and uncomplaining, never once showing even the slightest impatience. She only had to have her make-up retouched ONCE. I guess it's true that real princesses don't sweat.

And then there was the problem of getting the huge (24') Van der Graff generator and the U.S. Army Static Electricity generators to all work together in sync, wired through the flying harness support cables and into her uniform, WHILE Princess Wei was being flung wildly through the air right at the camera, and also while not electrocuting her. It takes a LOT of juice to get those sparks bright enough to show up on ASA 200 film, but any MORE than that and you fry the actor you're trying to light up. They used expensive special effects in that movie SHOCKER, but we had to do it the old Universal Studios monster movie way, with enormous noisy gas-powered generators and an expensive life insurance policy.

Princess Wei said that far from hurting her, having those 220,000 volts channeled through her "... gave me a pretty good buzz!" Even after we successfully got the shot and the requisite five "safety takes", and she was unstrapped from the flying rig, she insisted on keeping the static electricity machine running and hooked up to her uniform until everybody had to lock up the building and leave.


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