Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Break Update


So, I typically take the two weeks around Christmas and New Years off from work.  This year I had the crazy idea to use that time in some way that I wanted in order to be somewhat productive.  I have basically spent most of the time working on the Subject Sigma costume in one form or another.  It has been great.

I realize that not everyone may be that familiar with what I am trying to accomplish with this costume.  I actually do own the action figures, which serve as a fantastic reference, so here are a couple of pics of what I am aiming for.
27 - Goal  28 - Goal Close
I am still not 100% sure if I want to do the drill arm or not. There are plenty of other weapons in the Bioshock universe that I can play with.  I am trying to build a marionette of the Little Sister to carry on my back, and I have to say, it is getting creepier and creepier building her.

I started building the helmet some time ago, but have forgotten to upload any progress.  You’re going to get it all at once.

Subject Delta Helmet - 1Subject Delta Helmet - 2

The whole mask is built using insulation foam.  The pink is 1/2” foam and the blue is 1/4” foam.  This has the advantage of being easily carved, sanded, and bent into shapes without adding any weight.  The tape and the toothpicks are to help hold while the glue sets.

Once I had the above skeleton made, I used expanding spray foam to cover and fill in the overall shape.  I would then carve back into the foam to fine tune the shape.  Kind of like sculpting.

Subject Delta Helmet - 7Subject Delta Helmet - 8

Subject Delta Helmet - 10Subject Delta Helmet - 12

Due to the cold, I did set up a heat lamp to help dry this out.  This is what the basic shape became.  Next was the opening for the face mask.

Subject Delta Helmet - 13Subject Delta Helmet - 14

The foam does have some issues.  It is not very sturdy, doesn’t have  a smooth surface and it is not really paintable.  All this could be solved with just a few layers of fiberglass resin, but the resin will eat the foam.  Some have used a product called UreShell to coat and protect the foam.  At $85 a gallon, it is out of my budget at the moment.  I have found others that use the foam and then coat it with a few layers of Paper-Mache and then resin and paint the Mache.  So, lets give that a try, shall we?

 Subject Delta Helmet - 16Subject Delta Helmet - 18

Subject Delta Helmet - 19Subject Delta Helmet - 20

Subject Delta Helmet - 21Subject Delta Helmet - 22

Because it is barely 30 degrees and my basement is not exactly well insulated (to be fixed this summer), this part had to come upstairs to the kitchen to be done.  Also, Melinda was a HUGE help in making and applying the Mache.  It pays to have a school teacher for a wife.

I do have the camera roughed out.  It will be attached and then Mached later.

Once I get at least two layers on the helmet, I will then start adding the lights and other electronic details.

The expanding foam is a great medium.  I had earlier posted about building the skeleton of my Little Sister, but I had no idea how to cover the skeleton.  Foam to the rescue.  Spray on, let dry, carve and sand.  Adds shape and definition with little to no weight.

23 - Sister Muscle 124 - Sister Muscle 225 - Sister BodyAnd yes, I do realize it looks like guts.  This has only added to the creepy factor.

One other feature I needed to add to my Little Sister was a set of hands.  I wanted to make them articulated somehow.  The solution I came up with is by no means original, and I must give credit once again to Harrison Krix over at Volpin Props.

26 - Sister Hands

Pulling on the wires does make the fingers close.  Some of the wires did break during the process, but enough are still articulated that I am happy and don’t want to rebuild them again.

36 - Sister Built37 - Sister Arm38 - Sister Hand ClosedThe hands are attached to a dowel rod that is then inserted into the PVC with the wires routed out the elbow.  All in all creepy as heck.  Oh, and no, I have not forgotten her head or feet.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Subject Delta–Part 2–Begin the Creepy Bit

To quote another costume/replica maker, and an idol, Harrison Krix:
”The Little Sisters from Bioshock are among the creepiest characters I've ever seen in a videogame.”  I couldn’t have said it better.



A lot of the Big Daddy costumes I’ve seen have used other people as the Little Sister.  I thought about volunteering Melinda for this, but to be honest, I don’t think she could ever be creepy enough.  Plus it throws the whole scale off.  I need a Little Sister that is creepy and the right scale.  I thought about borrowing a niece or god-daughter or maybe a friends kid, but the idea of carrying them around on my back all day really didn’t appeal to me.  Plus, it is my understanding that you have to feed real children and they get really whiney when they get tired and it all just sounded like too much trouble.  The requirements then became that she had to be:
- lightweight
- able to stay up late
- not need food
- articulated
- glowing eyes
- creepy (some will come from the audio from the earlier post)
To get this, I was going to have to make something.  Off to the basement again.  This is where this is going to get strange, even for me, I went to the basement to make a creepy little girl.  *sigh*

I thought about just trying to use some sort of a large doll.  The only issues there were:
- every doll I’ve ever seen looks like a doll.  No matter what, it always looks like a doll.
- every doll I’ve ever seen creeps me out beyond belief.

To get the requirements, I started with the skeleton.  Simple half inch PCV pipe.  I cut the joints to provide room for movement and secured them with screws.  I jointed the knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows.  What I got was a really cool PVC skeleton that I will then skin with Styrofoam and carve into shape.  I’ll make her head out of the green foam used in flower arrangements.  It’s light and can be easily carved.  Then it will just be running some wires and LEDs for the eyes.  I’m hoping it turns out well and gives me the creepy factor I’m going for.  So far, it has been giving us a lot of laughs just in the whole irony of the situation.

11 - Skeleton Done12 - Skeleton Moves

Knee Joint
13 - Knee Joint
Elbow Joint
14 - Elbow Joint

Subject Delta–Part 1a

Yeah, I know part 1a is kind of lame, but it is a continuation of part one in that it involves the final work of the tanks.

Background – The game of Bioshock is set in a submerged city called Rapture.  It is a ruined city and creates one of the best atmospheres in all of video games.  Part of that atmosphere is created by the soundtrack.  You’re trapped in this ruined decaying city and the background is all this creepy happy music from the 30’s and 40’s.  Add in the moans and groans of a Big Daddy and the twisted dialog of a Little Sister, and you’ve got a great recipe for just plain eerie.  This creepy feeling is something that I wanted to try to capture with this costume.  I knew I had to work in the soundtrack somehow.

There are two official soundtracks for the Bioshock games, one for each, so the music wasn’t hard to come by.  The sounds of the Little Sisters and Big Daddies was tougher.  Fortunately, one day at Target, I found a Bioshock 2 DVD for the PC.  A little time playing with the files and I had mp3s of both characters.  Now to mixing.

I picked out some of my favorite songs that should be easily recognizable if you’ve played the game and randomly threw in Big Daddy groans and Little Sister monologues.  Personally, I think it worked.  I ended up with a 20 minute mp3 that I could play to create my own soundtrack.  Now, on to playing it with the costume.

The player was easy, I have an iPod nano that I rarely use.  It was the speakers that were throwing me.  Until I remembered that because I am a packrat, I still had the first set of computer speakers I ever bought, and they happened to be battery powered.

7 - Speakers

I was hoping they would fit in the smaller tank since the bottom of it is a drain style plug, so the grid would allow the sound to escape.  Unfortunately, they didn’t.  They do fit great in the big tank, but when it is closed, you lose most the sound.  Open, it sounds even creepier, which is just awesome.  This left me with no choice but to cut a hole in the bottom of the big tank.

8 - Speaker Home - Detail

That one fixture protruding in the tank made a great support for the speakers, by the way.

9 - Speakers in Home

10 - All Closed Up

I will be making a hole for the audio cord making sure it is completely hidden.  That will likely happen once I get the final back pack fixed for these monsters.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Subject Delta–Part 1

On the subject of costuming, I have already gotten too many ideas to work with. I want to do a v2 of my Destro mask, Subject Sigma, and now Fable 3’s King of Albion. Oh, and if Melinda decides on a costume, I’ll be making it too. Having projects running parallel like this is nice in that when I get stuck, I can switch gears to another project until I come up with a solution. It’s November right now, and I have already gotten a start on my Subject Sigma costume.

I got my new work area set up thanks to a weekend with a giant dumpster and chucking years of crap out of the basement. First thing was Subject Sigma. I actually have the Subject Delta action figure and since Delta and Sigma are from the same series of Big Daddies, I have a scale model to work off of. First thing I thought to create would be the tanks on the back. There are 4 distinct tanks, two for the re-breather, 1 for health, and one for eve.

2a -Goal - Detail

I’m trying to keep this as proportionally accurate as I can, so I am treating the action figure as though it were to scale for my height, 6 feet. Once I’ve established that, I did measurements of the tanks to come up with their sizes. Lots of tracing on paper really. I came up with the largest tank being 6 inches in diameter by 18 inches long. The smaller tank is 4 inches in diameter by 18 inches long. The angle they are mounted at makes them look different lengths, but they are actually the same. The two smaller tanks were harder to do since they needed to be clear, sealed, and later filled with red and blue liquid. So I was limited to what I could find in their diameter, but was able to get the 12 inch length set.

One trip to Lowes later and I had my supplies.

1 -Various Plumbing

I didn’t seal the two big tanks with PVC glue, simply because I knew I would need to get back into them later for other developments. Each of the large tanks also had rivet points on them. One wooden dowel rod cut into rivet size and glued on should make the desired effect.

3a - Final Group Detail

4 - Life and Adam5 - Large Rebreather6 - Small Rebreather

All in all, I am really pleased with the way the tanks have turned out. Next step will be building my Little Sister and working the audio portion of the costume.

Spiritual Leaders vs. Fame Whores

Quick break from Fable 3 and costuming for a different kind of update. If I like this, you may see more.

A friend of mine posted this article that is a response to a rather out spoken spiritual leader. This leader’s ideas are so counter to the spirituality that he claims to believe in and lead, it is outrageous. Now, I don’t mean to go off onto a rant here, but this leader is a great example of what is wrong with all spirituality today. We basically have two kinds of spiritual leaders out there. The true leaders and teachers and the fame whores.

Anyone that is truly a modern spiritual leader or teacher typically has a very full plate. They have to take time to study and research. In the area of spirituality, this is even more time consuming than anything else. They have to worry if the teachings they are reading are correct. Intensive background studies have to be done and languages learned. Then they still have to often, thoughtfully and hopefully through guidance of another and meditation, put their own personal take on the concept in order to teach it. Once that is done, they may want to spend some time on their own spiritual walk. Then they may have to work with people that look to them for leadership and guidance. Counseling people through grief, addiction, confusion, whatever. Then they have their family and all the trappings there. Some even have a regular 9 to 5 job on top of all that. These teachers and leaders have no time left to hold press conferences or write outrageous blogs.

Now, the fame whores, they’re different. No different, than any other fame whore out there, but they decided that wearing the suit of a spiritual leader or teacher would be faster and easier than releasing a sex tape, recording themselves making drunken racial slurs, or whatever the flavor is this month. They thought they could get a larger fan base quicker by preaching spirituality. Fame whore spiritualist, or FWS as I will call them now, have plenty of time on their hands. They don’t worry about correct interpretations of scriptures. They don’t worry about reading their entire spiritual book from cover to cover. They just sit down and pick and choose what they want as it fits into their own plan, much like someone at a buffet. FWS has lots of free time to hold press conferences, update blogs, market themselves, and make lots of noise. None of the trappings of a true leader or teacher apply to them, even though they wear the same coat.

Herein lays the problem. Noise = ratings = people = money. We see and hear about FWS every single day. They make the noise, they get the TV time. Right or wrong, the real leaders and teachers are too busy leading and teaching to come out and counter these FWS, and even if they had the time, it would be a dangerous thing to do. One could easily fall in love with the attention and slip into a FWS. I have done my best not to single out any spirituality here, because like rednecks, FWS are everywhere. We as spiritual followers and seekers must be ever vigilant and testing of our chosen leaders and teachers. Questioning and challenging them at every turn. If they are a true leader and teacher, they will welcome this, and we must stick with them and our job as a seeker. If they are a FWS, well, they’ll likely kick you out of the flock for any reason that comes to mind.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fable 3

So, I got Fable 3 and it has pretty much consumed my life. That and some budget issues have caused me to stop on most of the costuming. Fortunately though, I am getting through my Fable addiction and getting back to costuming and real life, sort of.
Playing Fable did inspire me for another costume idea. Along with the Bioshock costume, I will try to make a Fable 3 King of Albion costume. I will be making the crown, Mr. Stabby the sword, and the Sandgoose rifle. I know I always try to do too much at once, but that's just me.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What's Next?

The Destro and Baroness costumes were a hit. The Destro mask didn’t hold up as well as I would have liked, some paint chipping and cracks, but it did the job. Likely going to do some repair work and use it for Halloween.
Lessons learned from this costuming:
TIME. No matter how much you think you have, you need more.
No more leather or vinyl. I must have lost 5 pounds in sweat and I know I ruined two chairs from sweat leaching from me to the fabric.
The whole process of making the costume and wearing the costume is incredibly AWESOME. I can totally see how people get addicted to conventions and costuming.
What’s next?
If anyone ever sees me on XBOX Live, you’ll know I’m somewhat addicted to the game BioShock. It has great game play and a truly original and intriguing story.
There have been many people that have made successful costumes from characters in BioShock, so that’s where I’m going next.
There is a character called the Big Daddy. He is a protector of the Little Sisters. In the first game, the Daddys can be an intimidating and difficult enemy. In the second game and DLC, you play as a Big Daddy and against other Big Daddys. This one class of Big Daddy is called the Alpha Series. The two characters you play, subjects Delta and Sigma, are Alpha Series Big Daddys. My goal is an Alpha Series costume, specifically subject Sigma.
The costume will have multiple components. 4 tanks that are worn on the back (two are re-breather tanks and 2 are life and Adam tanks). Building the tanks may not be too hard, but working out the backpack portion to wear them could be. There is a deep sea dive helmet that the Daddy wears. Building that will be fun. The dive suit shouldn’t be too hard as it is really just a jump suit with some custom armor plating. The Daddy has a couple of choices of weapons. There is the iconic drill arm and in the new Minerva’s Den DLC on the XBOX, there is a new ion laser. The laser is the goal. Also, most BioShock costumes are done with two people, one as the Daddy and one as the Little Sister. In the game the Little Sister rides on the Daddy’s back. I am going to attempt to construct my own Little Sister to ride on my back. Lastly, in the games, the audio and dialog creates a very unique atmosphere. I will be attempting to wire in an audio system of some sort to play audio and dialog from the game as I walk around in the costume. So, if that works, I will have a soundtrack, periodically groan, and the Little Sister will speak. If this works, it will be amazing.
Wish me luck! I have a little less than a year to get this together. My hope is to have a prototype in place for the East Tennessee Adventure Con. I can go to that and do a test run and have time to work out bugs before Dragon*Con.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dragon*Con - What's Going On

Dragon*Con has finally published their tracks and schedule!!! As always though, with any convention, there is the "can change at any time" disclaimer. Melinda and I have been looking through it, and we may have overbooked ourselves, and it may cost us $100. If it does, oh well, it does.

Each Push Pin is a convention hotel. The little pink bed is our hotel.

The three across the top aren't bad. There is a tunnel and walkway system connecting them. The yellow for the Westin isn't bad since it's right there at our hotel. That stupid light blue pin is the trouble maker.

We've been looking through the schedule and we have some tough decisions to make, and a lot of walking to do.

Thursday - 10AM - 10PM - Preregistration pickup - Sheraton
7:30PM - 10PM - D*C Rennfest/Celtic Extravaganza - Marriott (Celtic Party)

Friday - 10AM - 11AM (all the below are from 10 to 11...too many choices)
45 Years of Jeannie - I Dream of Jeannie Panel - Hyatt
Interview with the Cast of True Blood - Hyatt
V: Aliens Among Us - Interview with the cast of the reboot of V - Marriott
Star Trek - Engage - Opening of the Star Trek Track - Sheraton
Intro to Alternative History and Steampunk 101 - Westin

Friday - 11:30AM - 12:30PM
Star Wars Costuming and Accessorizing - Marriott
What Happened to My Space Program - Panel with NASA - Hilton

Friday - 1PM -2PM
Costuming: From Concept to Working Model - Marriott
Star Trek Costuming - Sheraton

Friday - 2:30PM - 3:30PM
A Hobbits Tale - Conversation with Sean Astin - Hyatt
DS9 - Home of the Prophets - Sheraton
Meet the Stars of Star Wars - Hyatt
Weasley's Wizardry - Hyatt

Friday - 4PM - 5PM
Hydrogen Cars, Wind Farms, Ethanol, and Other Silly Ideas - Hilton
Lost in Space 45 Years - Lost in Space panel - Marriott

Friday - 5:30PM - 6:30PM
30 Years Since the Empire Stuck Back - Marriott
Simon and Kaylee Reunited - Firefly panel - Westin
D*C Opening Ceremony - Hyatt

Friday - 7PM - 8PM
Troi Unplugged - conversation with Mirina Sirtis - Sheraton

Friday 11:30PM - ??
Live Astronomy - Star Gazing with NASA - Hilton
Are you a Death Eater? - Marriott

Saturday 10AM - ??
Dragon*Con Costume Parade Down Peachtree

Saturday 11AM - 12PM
Dreaming of Jeannnie - Marriott
True & A - Q&A with True Blood - Hyatt

Saturday 1PM - 2PM
A Living Doll - Conversation with Kelly LeBrock - Marriott

Saturday 2:30PM - 3:30PM
Articulation: Objects in Motion Costuming - Marriott
TNG: Adventures in the 24th Century - Conversation with ST:TNG Cast - Sheraton

Saturday 4PM - 5PM
Firefly Guest Extravaganza - Firefly cast panel - Hyatt

Saturday 5:30PM - 6:30PM
Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow 8th Annual Fundraiser and Bake Sale - Hilton
Question for Q - Conversation with John Delancy - Sheraton
Spotlight on Adam Savage - Hyatt
The Toytastic Generation - 80s toy cartoons - Hyatt

Saturday 7PM - 8PM
Freaks and Geeks in the Potterverse - Marriott

Saturday 7PM - 9:30PM
Guest of Honor and Awards Banquet - we have tickets for this - Hyatt

Saturday 8:30PM - 10PM
Star Trek World Record Attempt - Sheraton

Saturday 10PM - ??
Last Party on Alderaan - Star Wars Party - 10PM - 2AM - Marriott
Dragon*Con After Dark - 10PM - 12AM - Hyatt
Star Trek Party - 10PM - 12AM - Sheraton

Sunday - 9:30AM - 12PM
Iron Artist - Iron Chef, but with Art - Hyatt

Sunday - 10AM - 11AM
Faith and Fantasy - GOD - God's role in SciFi - Marriott
Filling the Gaps - Prop Making - Marriott
V: Visitors Are Our Friends - Hyatt

Sunday 11:30AM - 12:30PM
An Hour with the Tams - Simon and River Tam from Firefly - Westin
Gargoyles: The Animated Series - Panel with the voice actors - Hyatt
What is the President's Plan for Our Space Program - Hilton

Sunday 1PM - 2PM
Avery Brookes Q&A - Sheraton
Sin & Salvation in Bon Temps - True Blood - Marriott
Weasley's Wizardry - Westin

Sunday 2:30PM - 3:30PM
Data from Data - Conversation with Brent Spiner - Sheraton

Sunday 4PM - 5PM
DNA Forensic Crime Investigation - Hilton
Futurama Cast Panel - Hyatt
Miss Star Trek Universe - Sheraton
Star Wars Comics and Art - Marriott

Sunday 7PM - 8PM
Race of the Tauntauns - Tauntaun sleeping bag race

Sunday 8:30PM -12:30AM
Yule Ball - Harry Potter Party

Monday 10AM - 12:30PM
Star Trek Cast Closing Ceremony

Monday 1PM - 3:30PM
Dragon*Con Has Talent - Talent Contest - Hyatt

Monday 2:30PM - 3:30PM
Turning the Pictures in Your Head Into a Roof Over it - how to make a living as an artist - Hyatt

Monday 4PM - 5PM
Closing Ceremony - Hyatt

The Mask - Part 4 - Paint

Time to prime all this mess and paint it. I've got less than 10 days now for Dragon*Con.

The primer goes on great. Let each coat dry for an hour and then apply another. 3 in total if I remember correctly. Primed the vinyl as well.

Nothing says "Obey Me" like a head on a pike. I turned this toward the door and asked Melinda to come outside. Scared her to death. I laughed.

Now for the silver paint. I have two kinds and I don't know what the difference is. I use the first kind and get two good coats. Next I take the new paint and hit it with a coat of it. This new paint has some sort of metal flakes in it. It almost feels like glitter paint. But why would Home Depot stock glitter paint without putting a warning on it. I only hit it with one coat of this and wait for Melinda to come home and deliver her opinion.

"Why is it sparkly?" -- Melinda
Ugh...I had turned Destro, the greatest weapons dealer in the world, into a freaking Twilight vampire. I never looked at it in the direct sun, but sure enough, there was glitter everywhere. Gold, silver, blue and purple sparkles all over my mask.

Fortunately, I had more of the first kind of paint, and it covered the sparkle paint very well...after two more coats. Now, with primer, I have 7 coats of paint. Time for two of clear coat and call it done.

At last, I have my mask complete. It is not perfect. I could work on this solid for a year or more and still see things wrong with it. I have no time left for my OCD. It is what it is, and I just hope someone thinks it's cool, because I do.

The lumps in the vinyl smooth out when it gets stretched over my head.

Oh, you might be wondering about now, how am I going to see out of the mask? I wear glasses and there is no room for them under there. Well, while I was building the features with the card stock, I built in a foam form around the eyes. Once everything was done, I took the lenses from an old pair of glasses and inserted them in the foam form just behind the front of the mask. As, Travis put it "you made a prescription mask?" Yup.

The glasses are there.

Modified dog collar for the bottom of the mask. Helps hold the neck in place. Cut off the original buckle and just added more velcro.