SHOT 131

“Come in, Tokyo!”

This line took several back-and-forths to get right, because apparently in Korea, that line was never uttered on a playground while a male bully assaulted a young girl by twisting her nipples back and forth like radio dials. That’s probably a pure Americanism, after WWII and Tokyo Rose. But with a little coaching, we nailed Sushi’s line on exactly the eleventh take.

The blazing machine guns are a mirrored shot of a Japanese Zero fighter plane, again playing off the symmetrical nature of how men’s brains are wired to response to bare breasts.

I’ve heard some comments from friends that this scene feels “racist.” To which my response is, “Interesting. Was Roots racist?”

SHOT 129

Well here’s the money shot, as they say. Sushi playfully teases James bare-breasted, holding a platter of sushi while a squadron of Japanese Zeroes gather behind her in preparation for a strafing run at James.

Phicen’s medical grade silicone bodies come anatomically correct, but unpainted. So I stole my wife’s most extensive lipstick pen and gave Sushi the best areoles I could muster.

The sushi platter was made in Thailand with incredible detail as you can see. It’s one of the first props I acquired, and it was the inspiration for Sashimi Buffet’s nickname.

In post I had the option to stabilize the shot on either Sushi’s breasts or the food platter. Always choose breasts when facing this dilemma.

SHOT 127

Sushi puts her face diaper back on, standing in the doorway. This was actually a green screen shot. She is animated, but the wooden screen and the pink plant behind her are a handheld iPhone video shot. I love how this turned out, with the colors and the natural movement from James’ POV as he weaves and bobs.

SHOT 125

Sushi takes off her face diaper so James can see her face. I did this delicate move with a wooden skewer to slip the loops over her ears.

There’s a slight breeze in the air so I also animated her hair. Actually, you can cover up a lot of fabric and hair “boiling” during stop motion animation by simply pretending it’s windy. You learn rather quickly to turn bugs into features in this business.

SHOT 121

Okay, here we go with my first flying scene. Degree of difficulty? Yes.

The murder hornets we met in shots 105 and 107 have gotten curious while James and Sushi try to work things out.

I went through a dozen setups for this key shot, and settled on creating a bridge from my camera table to my set table using a steel yardstick. The space between those tables is where I need to maneuver in order to animate the scene.

These hornets came with stands, and the yardstick has all the inches marked off, naturally. So the goal was to make the Boss Hornet jump off the cherry tree and fly over to the Vespa for a better look.

If you look close in the bottom right shadows, the smaller hornet is already on the patio, playing with (and wearing) the hat James threw over there previously.

Okay, so how do we pull this off? Through a process called rigging and de-rigging.

First, for every shot in the sequence we take two exposures. These get put into separate timelines by the Dragonframe animation software. You can use multiple exposures for just that — typically different F-stops. Or you can use them for creating background plates for shots like this.

A background plate is an exposure that has everything except the flying object that you’re animating.

Then you take the real shot of the flying object either held up by a stand, or hanging from a string.

And finally, in Photoshop, you erase the rigging in the top layer, thereby exposing the background within the area you erased. This must be done for every affected frame, and then the video is reconstructed in Final Cut Pro from the processed frames.

And like magic, the flying hornet’s stand disappeared from the composited clip.

So for each frame, I moved the hornet’s stand by a set number of inches, easing into it from the jump-off point, then accelerating, and then slowing for an air-brake landing with wings spread.

Yes, it’s painstaking. But so is life. And the payoff was awesome, watching my wife’s jaw drop the first time she saw a buzzing, flailing piece of plastic fly across my studio. And better yet, a friend actually asked me if that was CGI (Computer-Generated Imagery)!

When the Boss Hornet lands on the Vespa, I made sure to animate the Vespa rolling back to sell the audience on the physics of the situation. I mentioned that I own an actual Vespa, so a sound effect of something hefty (like me), jostling that real scooter with a satisfying ‘clunk-clunk’ completes the illusion.

Don’t forget the power of a good sound effect!

Oh — before we leave this shot. The green screen you can see through the open door will be filled in later with a properly angled interior shot.

SHOT 117

Sushi and James have both watched his hat crash into the flower pots. This is an homage to how, in the old 007 movies, James Bond always showed off his hat-throwing skills to tease Moneypenny. But now he can’t seem to hit the broad side of a minka, let alone a coat rack.

While Sushi never seems to mind that James just used her water fountain as a urinal (perhaps because this isn’t really her house), she did just notice that James’ fly is still wide open.

Now I could have shot that from her POV but we’ve already established that James has a nice dick and there’s no need to belabor that point since we have a story to tell.

Also this is our first hint that Sushi might be — could she be? Topless. Here I use another trick from Austin Powers and the old Pink Panther movies. Over the next few shots I’ll be intentionally obstructing Sushi’s amazingly perky breasts. This trope shall be known henceforth as ‘titillation.’

SHOT 115

In this shot, Sushi is upset at coming face-to-face with a maskless stranger, but he happens to have a mask handy at the front door for such occasions — just like my wife does.

When tossing an object from one puppet to another, you can pull the old knife-throw trick used in live action shows. Here, there’s enough stiffness in the mask’s fishing line ear straps to hold it up in the air, thereby simulating centrifugal force for the fraction of a second necessary to achieve the sleight-of-hand illusion in the next shot.

(We’ll cover actual flying animation in future scenes.)

SHOT 113

James is startled in mid-pee when Sushi greets him with “Konnichiwa.”

The camera angle here is intentional. James is not only physically taller than Sushi, but we perform a tilt down in the next shot to introduce the notion that James is a misogynist, conditioned to look down on women.

That watercolor wallpaper behind the rosewood screen is a placeholder. It’s a green screen shot that will be filled with an interior shot later.

Notice Sushi’s mask, and the flowers behind her — both pink. That tree is also made in Thailand from plasticine. Meanwhile, Annette Pardini (@mydollasylum on Instagram) has made quite a few custom costume pieces for POSERS, including what I affectionately call Sushi’s “face diaper” in this scene.