Sunday, July 19, 2015

Introducing Dominic (Taeyang Ni-Ya)

I adopted this boy from a seller on Facebook last week.  

Taeyang Ni-Ya: My first second-hand doll
Although I was interested in a few of the Nightmare Taeyang dolls when they first came out, I didn't buy them before they sold out, and I thought that was the end of that.  Then this guy came up for adoption on a Facebook group I'm on.  I didn't have money in my doll-buying account when he first came up, but when the end of the month came, and my account had a bit of money earmarked for doll-spending, he was still available, so I got him!

Dominic has a pretty dramatic look
His first owner re-chipped his eyes and gave him the most beautiful purple eyes I've ever seen!  At first, I thought they were a little creepy, but when I saw them in real life, I really loved them.

Lots of attitude!
His stock outfit is pretty impressive!
He has the most amazing outfit.  Don't expect to see him out of it... unless it's on the bedroom floor of one of my Pullips!

Here is a video that shows him in detail:

Monday, July 13, 2015

BTS Count on Me and how I do my Pic-Fic story

So, like many people out there, I have this story floating around inside my head.  And it wants to get out.  Pretty badly.  I've thought of writing it out, but firstly, I don't think it's good enough to warrant that much "work", and secondly, I don't want to do anything that might feel like "work" in my spare time.  So it's been floating around up there, pretty much since the day I got my Bloody Red Hood Pullip (I think it was January of 2014).  I never imagined I would be the kind of doll collector who had characters, personalities, and a storyline for her dolls.  I thought I'd be more of the dress-and-display kind of collector.  But here I am with this story, and it keeps becoming more and more elaborate as time goes by.
Jax is not taking sides!
Jax: Don't look at me.  I was dead before the story even began!
I also never thought I would enjoy photography as much as I have since I started doll photography.  I used to want to poke my eyes out with a fork if S. tried to talk to me about shutter speed, aperture, and lighting... but now I consider it a puzzle I have to solve to capture the emotion I'm looking for in a scene.
Balance, posture, hair, clothes, lighting, angle... so many pieces to the puzzle!
So if we put the story with the emerging love of photography, we've got ourselves a little pic-fic!  Because my long-time unfulfilled dream is to be a filmmaker, video seemed to be a logical medium for telling my stories.  What I like about making these music videos is that the music (either the lyrics or the mood of the song, or both) tells part of the story for me, and I don't have to fiddle around with words.  My original goal was to make the entire storyline unfold in these music videos, but I realize now that I need some dialogue to move the story along and to help develop the characters.
Photos and music can tell a lot of the story... but not all of it.
So after a long delay, I completed Episode 3: Count on Me today, and it feels good to have the story ready to move on.  I have the story mapped out in an app called A Novel Idea, which allows me to keep track of characters and scenes, and my story can go in a few different directions from here (I can go backwards or forward, but within those 2 general directions, there are a few different story arcs to explore).  My next phase is one of may favourites- the listening to music everyday on the radio with an ear for my next song.
These 4 friends can count on each other
Ok, that's a wrap, ladies.  Thanks for coming out.  See you next episode.
Getting ready for a photoshoot like yesterday's backyard woods shoot for my Count On Me video takes a lot of preparation.  Because I had to style my dolls for their ongoing roles and because I want them to have a relatively consistent look throughout, it actually took me a few weeks from conception (usually conception starts with hearing a song and recognizing it as being a good vessel to carry the next part of my story) to shooting.  I had to get new eye chips and wigs for Nikki, Rae, and Suri; new bodies for everyone (I ran out of steam and didn't put Ally's on her for the Count on Me video); and come up with looks for each character.  I had the song choice solidified and timed out on paper for about 3 weeks, so it was mostly waiting for stuff to arrive from all over the world and getting the time to do some plastic surgery on my dolls.

After a few weeks of waiting and chipping away at styling my dolls, this weekend, I realized I was finally ready to shoot!  So Sunday morning I carefully packed my dolls into a reusable Stampin' Up! shopping bag, and headed out to my backyard, a.k., the "woods" of Woodside.

5 dolls in a bag. Everyone keep your hands to yourself!
Ok everyone, keep their hands to themselves!
I have a video about what I pack for outdoor doll photography, so I won't get into the details here.  But I will say that I've learned to bring shoes in a separate ziplock baggie, and to put them on the doll at the last minute before shooting, then remove before I change locations.  Pullip shoes (not so much the boots) are notorious for being miles too big for her feet and so far I've been lucky to have always been able to retrieve all my lost shoes.  I don't want to tempt fate.

The other thing I've learned is to wear a pair of foam gardening knee pads.  Because these knees survived the rollerskating craze of the 70's and 80's and I need them to last me a few more years.  This time I'm bringing a few flashes and stands with me as well as my regular gear.  Oh, and bug spray.  Lots and lots of bug spray (and I check myself for ticks when I'm done- we have lots of deer living around us).
Lyla: can I come too?
No, Lyla, you can't come on the photoshoot! (don't worry, she gets plenty of attention from the camera- she has her own Instagram account!)

When I get outside, I look for locations that have enough space to get my body and equipment in place, but not so clear that there is nothing to lean the dolls against.  It's one thing to get a single pulp balanced to stand outside in the potential wind... it's a completely different task to try to get multiple dolls standing at once without some type of propping.  One I get the dolls positioned I cut away any brush that gets in the way of the camera and the dolls, or that looks distracting in the photo.

This is my Voice Activated Lightstand (VAL).  He prefers I call him Scott.
That flash Scott is carrying with the yellow gel on it gives my dolls that sun-kissed look in the photo below:
4 friends take a walk in the woods
We placed the yellow gel flash above and behind the dolls
Without flash
The same photo without the extra flash looks a lot flatter.

This is what happens when you spend an hour and a half lying and kneeling on the ground in the woods.
After 90 minutes in the woods with Scott, I had 105 photos, 37 of which were decent (that number would be a lot smaller if Scott had't come along- he has a real eye for this stuff).  Sixteen of those made it into verse one of the song, accounting for a whopping 45 seconds of video!

All that for 45 seconds
90 minutes of photoshoot time=45 seconds of final product.
I shot the rest of the photos indoors.  The chorus photos were shot in Scott's studio area, with decorations from my dining room, and wooden numbers from Michael's (which i painted a few weeks ago).

BTS indoor photoshoot with numbers
These 4 friends can count on each other
Here is the photo I was setting up in the above BTS shot.
I didn't take BTS shots of the other 2 scenes in the video.  I do have a blog post that shows my interchangeable doll room set, which is what I used for the remaining scenes.  I went back to the Love Don't Die video (Episode 2) to check the details of Suri's living room for the movie scene.  The photos are so dark for that scene that I didn't put them on my flickr, so you'll have to check out the Count On Me video (Episode 3) to see those shots.  I am disappointed that I couldn't get the video portions to match with the still photos in that segment.  My video camera has auto-exposure and I forgot to turn it off.  I spent a lot of time trying to get the lighting to look like the light was coming from the tiny Hello Kitty TV, and then the video portion messes it all up.  But I was glad to get the photo of Jax to be noticeable (at least I THINK it's noticeable) because it ties this episode into the previous episodes and reminds us Suri has been mourning the death of Jax.  I want the viewer to deduct that meeting the girls of Woodside represents a turning point in her healing.

Which leads me to the bridge of the song, which shows Suri getting her makeover with Suzette.  I didn't put anything on the walls (they are my own craft room walls) but I'm glad I could make the American Girl vanity and salon chair to work for this scene.  It saved me a bunch of work McGyvering some type of bathroom scene.

Suri is ready for a new look

Between Vendettina's cape and my kids' AG accessories, I was able to set up a decent bathroom/home salon scene in no time.  The Rement scissors and other props don't look terribly out of scale with the vanity.

So that's it for this BTS post.  I make these mostly for my own reference, but if anyone happens upon this post, I hope you glean a bit of usefulness out of it!

Suri meets new friends (Secrets of Woodside)

I finally completed Episode 3 of The Secrets of Woodside:

(check out the tabs above for all the episodes and more information about the story)

This was really fun to make and came together much easier than my first 2 Pullip music videos.  Notice that I said "easier" not "quicker."  These are time-hungry little monsters!  There are a few things I'm not happy with, but I had to let them go and post it.  Hopefully my videos and photography will improve with time.  Not all episodes will be music videos, but I really enjoy this format, so many of them will be.

I thought I would post some of my favourite pics from the episode as well as a few BTS shots and info for future reference.

First, some photos in the woods:

Suri out for a walk in the woods
I didn't realize how lovely Suri's new eye chips look with her stock wig until I saw this pic.

4 friends take a walk in the woods
Shooting multiple dolls in a single shot is not my favourite activity.  Shooting multiple dolls in the woods with bugs crawling all over you, is definitely not my favourite!  In my desperation to get Ally to stand, I leaned her on a branch and made it look like she was trying to climb over it.  Poor Ally is not the most coordinated girl.  

Nikki and Rae in the woods
This is my first mother-daughter shot of Nikki and Rae.  I love their new wigs and eye chips!
Nikki and Rae in the woods
The look so sweet reaching for each others' hands.  I hope Nikki is enjoying this time with Rae... I feel an angsty adolescence coming around the bend for little Rae!

These next photos are not the greatest but I thought they'd be fun to feature here on the blog:

Suri is ready for a new look
Ready for a new look
I wanted Suri to have a makeover in the story.  Not only because I have a new wig for her, but because meeting the Woodside girls represents a turning point in her healing.  My daughter's American Girl Vanity worked fine as a prop, as long as I had the dolls on very tall stools!

Suzette: leave it all to me!
"Don't worry, Suri, I know just the right new look for you!"
You can't see much of it, but Suri is reclined in an American Girl salon chair.  I'm actually holding Suzette's legs with one hand while I take the photo with my other hand!
Waiting for the colour to set
Dal Vendettina loaned us her cape for the photo shoot.
Suri takes in her new look
Our first glimpse of Suri's new hair comes from her own perspective.  What do you think?  Does she look pleased with it?
What's the verdict, Suri?
I hope I don't regret those beautiful curls!  They look like a lot of maintenance, but so far, they are soft and smooth.
Finally, I'll post some random fun shots from the chorus of the song. Since this post is extremely photo heavy already, I'll save my BTS shots and reminders to myself for next time in a separate post.

new friends
Suri and Nikki
Ally and Suzette are roommates
Wait, wait- everyone move around!
Wait!  You're in the wrong order again!
When you get 4 dolls all lines up and looking at the camera, and no one's heads are flopping, and no hands are on backwards, you don't care about the order of the numbers!

Piggy Back Ride
Mother daughter hugs!  Hang on tight to her, Nikki, they grow up fast!
Piggy Back Ride
Almost too old for piggy back rides!
Nikki looking gorgeous
Nikki's looking sharp today!