hot stuff: production blog 



dex giese

semester two
the formality of this production blog made it harder for me to keep up with it, so this is just gonna be! a ~hot~ mess :) 




WEEK ONE: REGROUPING


HERE WE GO!


so first things first retiming my animatic, i think that a lot of the feedback i got last semester was things were too long and unclear. main goal for this week is getting a finalized animatic to show to darren + lorelei!


QUICK NOTES
updates on production package: 
i HAVE the money to start producing act two! i’m starting with act two 

ddm grant -

** reask lorelei about who is the one that i need to reach out to about confetti in the grad screening

confetti: first contact would be facilities, jci -> group that organizes grad
    lorelei getting back to me on this

could i get a ddm grant for that? for the community event? and use it to pay for the confetti + launching apparatus
- probably not
- hire a bunch of third years to chuck confetti down in buckets

film wise:
*** cut confetti door explosion, wait until the finale
- other themes that could relate to doors 
teach more about what the doors are by having her start to use them right away - the doors are where she gains her visual treatment of herself

- paparazzi doors radically changes her outfits

WEEKLY TASKS

- project regrouping
- plan a + b
- watch videos for lorelei
- readings for MHIS

PLAN A
plan a is to make all three sets in live action, doing as much in camera as possible. 





PLAN B
plan b is to do act one and three digitally, and composite them on top. the fork in the road where i’ve established needing to fully commit to one path is during reading break, if all sets are built by the end of reading break then i am good and should definitely have time to rehearse and shoot in the space! if sets are taking longer than that, we have issues + i’ll be switching to plan b.

PLAN C
worst comes to worst i do have several experimental films written that i could throw together for a grad screening and then finish up my film after i graduate. but, i dont want to do this and i don’t want to push off finishing hot stuff bc it’ll eat into my time to make hot sauce robber and the sizzle reel that i want to make.
 
PROJECT REGROUPING

reworking act two
since act two is the big hitter act, i’m reworking a ton. in total time, i cut off three minutes from my film making it closer to 4 minutes long rather than a 7 minute saga. lots of dialogue was cut, and then also looping choruses and lyrical runs were reduced to the parts that match more with the story.

for the confetti, to save it for just the finale,

FILMS FOR THIS WEEKFERAL
A wild boy is found in the woods by a solitary hunter and brought back to civilization. Alienated by a strange new environment, the boy tries to adapt by using the same strategies that kept him safe in the forest.
  • GORGEOUS animation (3D but composited 2D? or just straight gorgeously rendered 2D i can’t tell) but the bubbliness of all of the movement while it’s also kept so like, precise and neat and smooth? love it.
  • general theme of forced adaptation of someone by removing them from the surroundings they’re comfortable with?
  • ngl the ending confused me here’s what i think i got
    • reverting to coping mechanisms that worked in the past → rejecting conformity → self acceptance → prosperity
    • is the ending like? also accepting individualism and that you are an outcast? like, beginning is them trying to bond and find a tribe with a wolf pack + is taken in by humans, the rapid changes between form show like, acceptance in being raised by all these different creatures and entering life as yourself rather than just mirroring those around you?

AIKANE
Aikāne, created by Hawai'i-based filmmakers Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson and animated by Daniel Sousa, is a universal queer love story rooted in native Hawaiian Tradition. The short film follows two queer lovers — a warrior and his shape-shifting advisor — as they battle colonial evil.
  • i’ve seen this film before!! cannot for the life of me remember where
  • wwyd if your gay lover was also a squid
  • ugh the part of them swimming around in the ocean togehter turning into squids always makes me cry i am obsessed

KAPEMAHU
  • this style of rendering is just so crunchy and gorgeous i love it so much
  • it has to be 3D right?? with elements of 2D mixed in too?
  • ugh just once again gorgeous film and great like storytelling i didnt really need to read the captions at all to understand what was going on. just love films that transcend language.



 

WEEK TWO: MATERIALS + BUDGETS

  • assemble budget for film
  •  act 2: production breakdown (half done? just finish it)
    • assemble home depot cart
    • setup delivery date (early next week? will the snow be gone by then?)
    • assemble amazon cart

so for act two, i could’ve ordered a lot fewer pieces of wood, but the maximum size for the elevators was eight feet so i had to stick with only 8 foot long pieces + will have lots more offcuts. but whatever. materials are coming on wednesday next week!


BUDGET



here’s a wip budget, there are going to be additional costs as this doesnt account for puppets, but i’m actually way under budget right now as i originally saved ~$500 per set, so things are looking good! 

the materials that are bolded i’ve already gotten, and i’m just waiting on the delivery of the larger raw materials that i couldn’t fit in my car.


PRODUCTION CALCULATION

for hot stuff,
there are three (four) sets that need to be built, five puppets. i’m also going to break this down by act because i think that makes the most sense for live action, and the organization of these tasks are categorized on the longer weekly schedule.

act one:

set:
  • set 1a [easy]
  • set 1b (transformed 1a) [medium]

props:
  • iv bag [easy]
  • hospital table [medium]
  • hospital bed [hard]
  • tooth lamp [medium]
  • flower clock [done - already have]
  • flamingo [done]

puppets:
  • marina
  • dentists (x2)
  • pam
  • marina

additional animation:
  • stop motion: tooth circling [easy shot]


act two

set:
  • hallway [hard]

props:
  • clothes [easy]
  • shopping bags [easy]
  • paparazzi cameras [medium]
  • paparazzi heads [medium]

puppets:
  • marina [reused]
    • several costume changes: 7 outfits in this scene
      • large wedding dress most notable
  • dentists [reused]

additional animation:
  • ceiling!!
    • ceiling closed [easy]
    • ceiling opening [easy]
    • ceiling snakes [medium]
    • vfx overlays [medium]


act three

set:
  • mouth [medium hard]
    • teeth [hard]

props:
  • sledgehammer [easy]
  • giant gloved hands [medium]
  • smaller gloved hands [easy]

puppets:
  • marina [reused]
    • 2 costume changes - 2 outfits

additional animation
  • teeth flying out of frame [easy]
  • additional sparkly vfx [medium]

i have until reading week ends to make all of my sets and puppets.

13 plot-relevant props

12 teeth

4 sets

materials are arriving on wednesday, the 24th of january!

i need to make 3-6 props per week to stay on track.

for act two, i need to assemble one wall per day to stay on the right path.

for act one, i’m reusing the walls from act two after filming + i’m going to plaster over one of the doorframes to make it a flat wall. that needs to be done the weekend after filming set 2, to give enough time for me to repaint + decorate before filming act one.

for act three, i’m going to be making the teeth along with the puppets, and then after make the gums so i can make sure they all fit in the mouth.



IDEA ON HOW TO MAKE THE TEETH:
BUY A THING OF SPRAY INSULATION. SPRAY IT INTO A BUCKET W MOLD RELEASE TO GET A SOLID CHUNK. CARVE, COVER IN PLASTER, SAND.

- mold release
- add a contact point to be able to attach the teeth to the form
- figure out an organization method for props and costumes, and easy to access for shooting


*** do shooting script + schedule breakdown :) 



WEEK THREE: BUILDING BEGINS

materials have arrived!

 


included in this photo: flower pot, dentist tools, moustache (w/ hair), + dentist foam body

SHOOTING SCRIPT - V1this is all super sketchy, but i’ll be digitizing it and breaking down the shoot days + which shots can be done consecutively + which ones need to be done seperately due to setups + moving camera


q: is it a requirement to have the title at the beginning? i think it flows better if it’s at the end - star wipe fade out and then BAM HOT STUFF fills screen



designs for teeth garlands (act 1, set 1b) 

SHOOTING SCRIPT - V2

i refined everything and made it all digital, and added all the neccesary information regarding sound, puppets, props, additional animation, and the story.


theatre layout

testing out scale and making sure things fit before assembling the walls

WEEK FOUR: SET 2!!


wall one out of six done!
the one issue i see is that a lot of the boards were pretty warped, i made sure that the bottom + sides were all straight, and used extra clamps to keep everything square while i screwed everything in!

the walls are lighter than i was expecting, obviously that’ll change once i add the skins on them as the hardboard is pretty heavy + large, but i’m able to lift + move the frames on my own!


i also prepped the foam for all of my puppets! sonia and marina don’t have foam shoulders, i’m going to make stuffed bodies/for marina i think her fur will be enough volume by itself! i noted this in my production blog at some point in the past but the best glue that i’ve found for foam is this E6000 spray adhesive


all six wall frames are done!
i’m gonna do a test assembly tomorrow to guesstimate some camera angles,
i wanted to do it but i just didn’t have the hands

also, my fur arrived!! 


the colors for marina and sonia are more similar than they looked online, but honestly it works in my opinion as they are siblings + they’ll have drastically different hair + different eye colors so i think they’ll be visually different enough. also sonia’s fur is a little more... raggedy? than marina’s is? which gives a different visual look as well

also, getting back on top of communication, people i need to chat* w:
- nicole ✔
- tia  ✔
- dylan ✔
- marcin
- matt
- bryan ✔
- andy ✔
- lucia ✔
- alex ✔

* i need to flesh out my shooting schedule before i can contact most of these people so i know shooting days and call times, but i want to do a camera blocking test before that so i know a general time frame of what i’m working with

POSTER/PRESS KIT for my poster, i’m taking a ton of inspiration from the muppets mayhem vinyl that was released last year for the new muppet show on disney+ ! it’s very groovy and i love the rendering style of the puppets + think a tooth themed version would be neat :) i’ll also prob pull some inspiration from the donna summer vinyl too :) 



TRAILER/TWO SHOT
for my trailer, i’m not sure how i want to frame it at the moment? i don’t want to reveal the mind space in the trailer but also i think the hook of the film is sort of this transformation etherial space that she enters? this is the general idea i had. 

**lorelei suggested taking the two shot/trailer off my plate until after i have things shot, so thats what i’m gonna do!


cam spraypainted these petals for the flower lamps! the paper is a little flimsy, lorelei suggested using more cardboard underneath as a “under flower” + having it spread out the petals more + sandwich them outward 

WEEK FIVE: MORE AND MORE

hallway assembly is under way!! i just have to skin the rest of the boards, and then i’ll be good to paint!

feat. helper cam
skin!

the hallway in itself is honestly pretty sturdy, i can lean my full weight on all sides of it and it’ll stay up and together! it wobbles a bit, but once i add the cross supports on the bottoms i think a lot of that wobble will go away. and either way, for shooting i don’t think that there will be *too* much pressure on the walls to stay up, as it kinda just has to stand there. the only major visual tell would be the wobble when doors are opening!



PUPPETS



the puppets are beginning to puppet! i’m really excited about how they’re coming out, the fur is almost too beautiful that it makes me not want to put hair on their heads (but i think i have to, without it it’s a little too oscar the grouch?). i honestly have never had more fun making something than the puppets and this set. 

i carved all their heads and shoulders, i ran out of foam by the time that i made it to the dentist’s heads, but since they’re just cylinders i’m gonna see if i can use a different material just so i don’t have to buy more foam!

i did have a bit of difficulty attatching the fur to some of the foam w/ hot glue, just because of how well the fur insulated the heat that it stayed hot Forever. but after a while i was able to get everything looking smooth and fluffy! + i just have to shave them down a bit so there’s not too much insanity and extra fluff.

felt sick on thursday, so taking my rest day today + coming in on saturday instead :)


the camera that i’ve been filming all this behind the scenes video on is a insta360 go 3, and it has a 180º fisheye viewing angle, but then later through the software you’re able to keyframe and change the framing of the clip in their editing software! and also change it from ultrawide -> linear FOV.


it doesn’t look perfect, but also the left is a export of the raw photo + the right is a compressed jpg (bc the export in raw was too big for the blog), which i think is what’s making the quality differ that much.

my original plan was to use it for behind the scenes footage of the shooting process, but i think i might actually mount it just below the main camera to get backup footage? and then i’d have more flexibility for in case i need to slightly reframe shots in post, or even do more creative camera movements after the fact

WOMEN IN ANIMATION GRANT
it’s been a rollercoaster of a day! i won! or so i thought?


they sent out all the winning emails to the wrong people. i did not win.

PRESS KIT  Title: Hot Stuff
Director: Dex Giese
Year Completed: 2024

Duration:
~5:00
Genre: Musical Comedy
Country of Production:
Canada
Media: Live Action Puppets, Mixed Media

Synopsis: After a traumatizing dental related injury, a cheery young girl has to escape the dentists trying to fix her teeth.
*authors note: do i want to use Marina’s full name as the character’s name? its just been a fun inside lore that this is a real person + (kinda) real story to the people who know. it feels weird to introduce the character without saying her full name but i think i always just imagined her name was marina like zendaya or beyonce
**authors note 2: i also just don’t really like this synopsis but i dont know how much lore i want to give? i need to sit down and sometime fully write down where the line between public and private information lives 4 me

cut out name - find neutral

Screening Formats

Movie Formats: Quicktime, H264
Compression: Apple Pro Res, H264
Frame Ratio: 16:9
Screen Resolution: HD 1080P, HD 4K
Audio: Stereo 48kHz, 24-bit


Contact Information:

Contact: Dex Giese
Mailing Address: Denver, CO, USA
Email: dexgiese@gmail.com

Production Credits:

FILM BY DEX GIESE


MAIN VOICE CAST
MARINA – MARINA SANTOS
SONIA – SONIA SANTOS
PAM – PAM SANTOS
DENTISTS – BRYAN GIESE

PUPPETEERS
MARINA – DEX GIESE
PAM - DEX GIESE
SONIA - DEX GIESE / ANDY GOMEZ VARGAS
DENTISTS – ANDY GOMEZ VARGAS + LUCIA CHIO

SET PRODUCTION
ART DIRECTOR – DEX GIESE
ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR – CAMERON KLETKE

TINY TEETH TEAM
  • VALERIE (? LN)
  • FRANCISCO DEL BUEY
  • LUCIA CHIO
  • CAMERON KLETKE
  • ANDY GOMEZ VARGAS
  • NICOLE KERSHAW

MANUAL LABOR
  • CAMERON KLETKE
  • STEFAN GIBSON
  • ANDY GOMEZ VARGAS

ACT 1B MASKS
  • TIA (? LN)
  • ARANZA (?LN)

STOP MOTION ANIMATION
  • DEX GIESE
  • CAMERON KLETKE
  • MIA MILARDO

CONFETTI TEAM
  • CLAIRE ARTS
  • VICKY (? LN)

SPECIAL THANKS
  • LORELEI PEPI
  • MARTIN ROSE
  • GIL GOLETSKI
  • AIMEE + BRYAN GIESE
  • DONNA SUMMER
  • TESS (? LN)
  • LORIEN ALLEN

Artist Statement:

My creative work is embedded in maximizing  immersive joy, with the creation of unique experiences for those who experience it. Physicality of media performance has always inspired me, and in an increasingly digital age I’m compelled all the more to make my work feel tangible by combining stop motion, live action, digital animation/illustration, and great music. I want it to feel as if it‘s crawling out of the screen and into the theatre, emanating a sense of magic that reminds audiences of the brightness of childhood joy seen through the lens of adulthood.

** reframe to hot stguff specifcic
* MORE ACTIVE VOICE
** assume audiece is more general, n
Biography:

Dex Giese was born in Denver, Colorado and has since moved to Vancouver to study 2D + Experimental animation at Emily Carr University. Their practice has a throughline of maximalist joy, and it shines through regardless of medium. Dex’s first* film “The Variety Show” (2023) previewed a theroetical mixed media TV show, utilizing small scale 3d printed/hand made stop motion, under the camera visual effects, and digital backgrounds to establish a cohesive scenic landscape. Their grad film, Hot Stuff, was a jump into the deep end of set design and live action puppetry which jumped off the screens and into the hearts of those in the theatre.**

*authors note. would i say second? TVS was my third year film, but i did EFPN in 2022 but it was more of a microfilm.
**authors note 2. i do not like this sentence. change it eventually

PRODUCTION STILLS + POSTER TBD


WEEK SIX: PUPPETTTTTS

i finished marina’s body! just needs arms, which im thinking are going to be detatchable bc she also will have a live hand in the finale to make my life easier 

also, i made this annotated version of my animatic that my sound designer dylan can use!
 just so the info that is in my shooting script + animatic can be seen at the same time.




i havent been able to sleep at night, so i’ve been taking the time to get some background assets that i’ll need later :) 
here’s the space background for when the ceiling first opens up :) 
after a couple of failed attempts, i got what i was looking for!


too realistic? also not enough movement
too smooth + too many effects layers (slow render)
too fast + the worms are too visible
also too much static
too warm but
right track


my inspiration for the stars is this collage i made the other week, the motion blur is the only thing i’ll probably tone down! but i want them to be multicolor and kinda etherial. 



i love how warbly it is and how the stars are so crunchy? it gives off old television vibes which is kinda what i’m going for so that’s cool. it was also super easy - i just used a particle generator in after effects + made one star using three layers of looping texture. i used a wiggle script to make all the layers wobble around on held keyframes + added a ton of noise and grain to every step of the process :) 

back on the walls, they’re coming along!


the joints are getting a little weird because the seams + the joining tape wrinkling (it might be a skill issue, but i don’t think i have enough time to perfect the technique to make it look seamless!). so i am considering pivoting to having a line of trim across the seam as well, which will make it blend better i think?

im not sure how much it reads on camera, on my tests on my phone i do see it! but i’m gonna paint the walls pink and then see how bad it goes. 


i like this color story too!
getting paint mañana >:)

i also set up the google folders to share audio files between my voice actors and my sound artist!


WEEK SEVEN: FINISHING SETS

lets gooo!!!! i’m doing the finishing touches on the hallway set, and things are going well! i’m waiting till closer to shooting to put the plaster seams on, but other than that everything is going smoothly :) 




CREDITS PREP

testing out some fonts!

i love the “film by” font, but don’t love the style of the name - the serifs are too much
i really liked this font style, but the further away you get it gets infinitely harder to read. it’s too illegible for small credits
.
this is what i landed on!

final fonts
header: altivo black
body: ruddy regular
(both are adobe fonts)


i’m having cam do all of my headers using oil pastel, so i had to create some templates for her to trace.




since i want the scale of the pastel to change, but the font scale to stay the same, i’ve created a after effects document to re-align all the shots and make the fonts the same size. i based it on the “special thanks” font size, as that’s the smallest size text that i used in the scene. i’ll use the rulers to align everything and make sure they’re a consistent size. 



my sound designer got back to me with a wip version of the audio! it’s not perfect, but some of the parts are Great + i sent off my feedback for the first version :) 


(the best part is at 2:36 - esp if you need music to dance to) 

WEEK EIGHT: 2 SHOT
this week was getting a lot of my background animation done so i would have something to put in the 2-shot. i made a little plasticine snake and shot it swimming in circles on a bluescreen! i used the macro camera lens to try and get as much detail as possible, which i think worked. it looks so crisppppppp and soft and edible i love it. 

one comment on this one is the final snake is moving on a different frame interval than the other ones, and it gives a weird jumping effect. in the final version i’ll pick one, either have more snakes on alternate intervals or ALL the same intervals.


this is just a render test that i did specifically for the 2 shot, the final arc will have the snakes come on screen and then loop in place so it forms that larger ceiling above the hallway. i built all the after effects projects intentionally so that i can quickly update the individual snakes and it’ll carry over to all of them, which makes my life a million times easier for compositing everything!

raw snake!
color key!
lumetri color is only on some, gives the variety in snake colors + it’s just playing w/ shadows and saturation
final comp has a curves adjustment to increase overall saturation

in the process of arranging all of the different snakes i accidentally overlapped them to form a big spiral, so i used that for my other 2 shot. it’s not going to be in the film in the state that it is (i added some extra camera movements to keep composition looking good through the clip),  but it does look nice.



im really happy that i decided to make the film in 4k rather than 1080P, i can always do 1080P exports of the larger files but having such large files has really come in handy when i’m compositing - for example the background is on a 600% scale in the beginning of this shot and it’s *just* starting to look a little artifact-y because the raw file is 8K. with files this big, i build my after effects projects in a way that allows me to quickly swap in proxies and edit using proxies. but yeah! 

 

im looooving this dust and fuzz that stuck to the clay, i wasnt expecting to like it as much but i think it just gives a little more texture? there was a large speck of dust on it that was messing w/ the color key, so i did go in PS and edit that out. but again easy peezy to replace the raw animation precomp and it immediately updates all the other comps! also the shine on the clay reflecting off the fingerprints in the clay is so beautiful 

WEEK NINE: FINALIZING THINGS


i forgot i had this camera lens filter from my great uncle’s film camera setup!
i’m going to use it on a couple shots to add some more fun effects + b-roll :)


<3 home depot run


SONIA AND MARINA ARE VISITING!!

while they’re here we got our audio recording done for the dialogue portions, + they helped me paint the walls! 





HEADSHOT + FAMILY PHOTO


SCRATCH AUDIO - SECOND PASS

WEEK TEN: THINGS
finished marina’s puppet and shot the first of the close up shots on marina’s face! 


tia’s props are done + delivered - need to shoot them still



WEEK ELEVEN: COLA FRESCO
had to finish the shot for andy’s film!



it only took like a day to fully animate, but i got injured on friday + i wasn’t able to work
 on things other than digital stuff over the weekend.

sketch v1
sketch v2


had a meeting w/ my cinematographer about how to add visual interest to different parts, she had some great ideas that wouldnt take too long to film! the main notes are 
- establishing shot for the first act in the hospital room
(also for the first act, we talked more about the light in the room and i’m gonna reshoot with a more sterile light)
- show the “live view” of the paparazzi cameras shaking around and have flashes of light blinding the camera

audio v2



WEEKLY BLOCKING:

week one (1.9)
project regrouping
ddm grant

week two (1.16)
order materials
budgets
puppets


week three (1.23)
props act 1 + 2
puppets

week four (1.30)
props act 3
set act 2 + 1b

week five (2.06)

press kit prep

camera tests


week six (2.13)

shooting prep

title and credits - mia or cam
set wrap up
press kit

reading break
wrap up sets! ready to shoot!

week seven (2.27)
shooting act 1a
final touches act 1b
act 3 set

week eight (3.05)
shooting act 1b
assemble act 2

week nine (3.12)
shooting act 2
final touches act 3
** soni + marini visiting

week ten (3.19)
shooting act 3
** driving soni + marini to seattle : 3.19

week eleven (3.26)
animation act 2
final edits

week twelve (4.02)
editing

FINAL EDIT (4.14)




CATEGORIES:

THE DARK WEB

THE FUSE BOX

STORY + CHARACTER DEV.




semester one
these links have broken... i will fix it (eventually)



01 SUMMER PREP + WEEK ONE

this week:
- finish up animatic
- establish visual rules + language for my film
- develop look inspo
- refine pitch presentation

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02 WEEK TWO

this week:
- creative flow assignment
- flow + self management assignment
- camera room setup (1/2)

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03 WEEK THREE

this week:
- story dynamics
- project profile
- animatic sound rough cut
- networking conversations

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04 WEEK FOUR

this week:
- puppet blocking 
- material research

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05 WEEK FIVE

this week:
- budgeting
- expense vocabulary
- 24 hour animation challenge

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06 WEEK SIX  

this week
- burnout
- reading week

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07 WEEK SEVEN

this week:
- get back in the game


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08 WEEK EIGHT

this week:
- establish a plan for the rest of the semester


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09 WEEK NINE

this week:



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10 WEEK TEN

this week:
- get back in the game


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11 WEEK ELEVEN

this week:
- get back in the game


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12 WEEK TWELVE

this week:
- get back in the game


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