Starting the year right



Piles of Pigs

I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions. Two weeks into the new year, most of them are already forgotten. And if something is worth committing to, why should it wait until the first of the year to get started? That said, I will go out on a limb and make one resolution. We're going to finish and he puffed (our version of The Three Little Pigs, which was started as a project). We've been working on it steadily since the project got funded, and we've learned quite a bit along the way.

One of our greatest accomplishments so far on this project has been development of the characters. We didn't realize how hard this was going to be. Our past storybook characters only had to appear in a single panel. In a full storybook containing lots of repetition, there's a need to show the same characters in many different ways. Balloons aren't the easiest medium to use when subtle variation is needed. Adding to the challenge of getting lots of different expressions on the faces of the pigs, there are three brothers that had to have similar and yet distinctive looks. It took a lot of time to pull this off, but we're glad to have worked through most of it. The rest seems (almost) like smooth sailing from here on out.

Now that the December holidays are over and the kids are back in school, it's time to get back on track. To get all of you as excited about the book as we are, we thought we'd share one more image from the story.

Behind the scenes of our holiday card

A couple of weeks ago I posted the video holiday card that we worked on with Thanks to all of you that shared it. We were quite proud of our work. Of course, Cathy Stratton, the video producer, gets all the credit for the amazing video. We concentrated on what we know how to do - balloons and illustration, and were quite happy to have someone else worry about the presentation of this one. We've put out a number of videos of our own, but they pale in comparison to what Cathy was able to do with our work.

When I posted that video, my goal was to get it out as fast as possible in order to still be able to call it a holiday card. Now that things are a little calmer, I wanted to take a bit of time to share some behind the scenes images of the project. A look at some of the pics in the gallery below show it going from a concept sketch to the final piece.

Some interesting (I think) notes regarding the video:

  • As always with balloons, the scene had to be done quickly. The sculpture was done in two very long days.
  • It took quite a few takes to get the balloons flying through the air at the start and end of the video to look just right. What you're seeing in the video is the ceiling of our studio as balloons were gently tossed from two ladders. Jen stood on one ladder while I was on another releasing them over poor Cathy who was lying on the floor with a camera pointed up. We had to slow down the balloons themselves in order to make it work. We did that by inflating the balloons with some helium. We didn't use enough helium for them to float. We only used enough for them to fall slower than normal. A different amount of helium in each balloon meant they fell at different rates.
  • A challenge for us has always been lighting our photos. But we can do it because we set a scene, point a camera, and capture a particular spot in the studio that we've lit well, and a specific moment in time. Working with ongoing video for two days meant that we had to get consistent lighting throughout the studio. This, among other things, slowed dwon the construction of the sculpture quite a bit.
  • Working in front of a video camera was interesting. We have lots of experience in front of cameras. We do time lapse videos all the time. TV interviews are short. Someone capturing the entire build process of a piece was different. Always making sure the camera caught the interesting bits of the construction was important, and therefore also took time. It wasn't a bad thing. It just changed the way we had to work. Somehow we imagined that we'd just do our thing, and this person that never saw us work before was going to magically know what to look for and record.

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In case you missed the video, here it is:


Commercial illustration

I mentioned last month that we had done work for the Celebrate Bandra Festival in Mumbai, India. The images below show the finished pieces that were used to promote the event. The campaign was created by Ogilvy & Mather and sponsored by Vodafone.

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Upcoming events

There's a lot coming up in the next few weeks. I hope to see some of you at the upcoming events.

  • Friday, Jan 7, 5-9 PM - First Friday at the Hungerford. As usual, the first Friday of the month is open studio time in the Hungerford (1115 E Main St, Rochester, NY). Crocus Clay, across the hall from us, is doing their Winter Soup(er) Benefit. It's a great fundraiser. Buy a handmade bowl and get a meal with it. All proceeds go to Healthy Sisters. If you come for First Friday, please watch where you park. If our lot is full, you can park at the credit union and Vietnam Vets thrift store. Parking is not permitted in front of the deli or too close to the railroad tracks. Cars will be towed and those of us in the Hungerford have no power to prevent that.
  • Wednesday, Jan 18, 6:00-8:30 PM - Balloon jam in our studio. While this is mostly local balloon artists gathering to have fun and share ideas, it's open to anyone that wants to get their hands on balloons and try stuff out. Feel free to pop in for a few minutes or the whole time. We always love to see new faces. There's no cost to hang out with us.
  • Jan 25-29, Mystic, CT - Clown Jamboree. Clowns, balloon artists, and other family entertainers can attend this event to improve skills and network. I'll be teaching a full day of balloon classes on Jan 24 as a kick off to the event. There are a few slots still open. We'd love to pack the place.