The Secret Item

(This post references iSundae II: Attack of the Cones, part 5. You may want to view the movie before reading this post.)

Have you ever been bored and brilliant in the space of a minute? You’re sitting there, minding your own business, and suddenly lightning strikes. A large part of the iSundae II script came about in that way. The whole concept of Fonsuger being after something, and what that something was came out of a bored doodle during a movie discussion. And Reyshar’s hat.

I stopped and looked down at the paper. Now, that prop looked cool. How could we fit it into the movie? And the piece on top . . . where have I seen that shape before? “Hey,” I said, “What if the thing Fonsuger is after has something to do with the first movie? Relating back to why Reyshar wore that weird helmet thing.” The idea took fire and we soon found ourselves with a slidey-puzzle box that contained something that could make you immune to being utterly vaporized. Granted, the “relating back to Reyshar” part changed a bit in the finished movie. We didn’t explain that what was in the box was kept in the point on Reyshar’s helmet, but the general idea mushroomed out of that.

With the storyline in place, I was assigned the task of coming up the visual side of the prop. What would a medieval slidey-puzzle box look like? So many possibilities! Thankfully, on the original doodle page, along with a snail wearing sunglasses, was a pretty good concept sketch of what the box would look like. Tall, thin, pointy top a la Reyshar’s helmet. The concept for what was inside the box was there too, but I’m not going to give that away.

The next task was to find a giant slidey-puzzle to stick on the front. Big slidey puzzles are hard to come by! We finally found a four pack of small ones in the party favors section of Party City. I took them home and disassembled them, then reassembled them into a bigger puzzle.

The Secret Item itself is, of course, cardboard. I also used a plastic spring, a pebble, and one of the empty slidey-puzzle backs. Pebbles make great push buttons if you use the right shape.

I put the whole thing together and gave it a few coats of paint, during which I also managed to effectively adhere the puzzle pieces to each other. We solved that problem with a razor blade and some patience.

It was time to film! We mixed the puzzle pieces up and set to work. As the movie progresses, and Fonsuger gets closer and closer to solving the puzzle, we had to show the puzzle slowly coming together. Why we didn’t think to film it backwards is beyond me. Trying to solve a 40+ piece slidey-puzzle so we can film the next scene is so tedious! Finally, we cheated. I took the entire puzzle out of its holder and put it back in correctly. It took time, and we had a couple close shaves with losing pieces, but it worked.

And then another problem rose up and made us kick ourselves. Due to some special effects that had to be added later, and the lack of any sort of marks on the Secret Item, motion tracking became a pain. Dark paint, dark room, how are we supposed to know which way the item is moving? Thankfully, our wonderful special effects guys made it work. And Fonsuger came one step closer to the discovery…

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3 comments on “The Secret Item

  1. heheh! This is awesome! I never knew how you did all these effects and such. Keep it up, Ferns. 🙂 Sorry, I can’t remember everyone else’s names, but you’ve all made some really fun movies to watch. ^.^

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