Friday, January 16, 2009

Night moves

Moving into tech week, for any production, can be physically testing. But when you are working on your fourth consecutive day in sub-freezing temperatures, with your kids at home because they are either sick or their schools are closed – and your wife’s car won’t start because like so many of us, it doesn’t like to freeze …

Well. Last night was not the night I would have chosen to meet Josh and Cat at 10.30 pm for some work on the show. But I did. And here’s the why:

Pengo is an illustrator and cartoonist, that’s his employment (not mine, not this Pengo, the Pengo in the play.) In the scene You Got Me Sprung (2003) he invites a young woman he knows to model for him. What follows is a stream-of-consciousness monologue while Pengo sketches. What he is sketching will appear on a projection screen behind him.

Last Sunday, when I was out of town, Josh and Cat got together for a trial run. It was an experiment for all of us, and Josh posted the video for me to see while I was still in VT. Now granted, the resolution from the YouTube image and my wife’s laptop combined made for a less-than-impressive image. However, I was concerned about a couple of things, including the camera being hand-held, and Cat’s use of light pencils.

Don’t get me wrong, what Cat drew was beautiful, but between the whiteness of the paper and the brightness of the lights and the cruel nature of video, it just didn’t come through well.

Josh was trying to do close-ups, and emphasize detail … but what I wanted was the time it takes for the entire sketch to be drawn to be condensed to 1 min. 45 sec. – the time it takes for me to say the monologue. And so the camera was just moving all over the place, like a fly trying to land.

Using a tripod, we will (hopefully) have a static view of the pad, and the image will come into view, with Cat’s hand flying all over the place so fast you don’t really see it – just the picture. That is the plan.

Now, Cat usually uses a mechanical pencil, and for this run I asked her to use a wooden pencil, a softer, darker pencil. She was game, though she made several remarks about how odd it felt and that she was more comfortable with her own pencils. The first two renderings she made she was not happy with.

However, that changed. Her third rendering was quite striking, but even then she pressed on to make a fourth. And that one, I believe, is our keeper. I am glad she stuck with the softer pencils, and I am looking forward to how they turn out on video.

Got to bed at 1.00 am. But it was worth it.

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