Creaturiste's Laboratory

Techniques, works in progress, and everything that doesn't fit in the portfolio. Comments and questions are encouraged, custom orders are welcome!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Carving DVD Review

Today  I received the Ray Villafane pumpkin carving DVD, and it is a very good learning tool!
Here's my review.

In brief:
Highly recommended for the lesson contents and ease of understanding.
Disappointed by the image quality and lack of true bonus features.

In detail:

The lessons are very clear, and they are classified by complexity levels.

It was filmed with two or three different cameras, so one can appreciate the steps better and with more clarity. Ray narrates live as he sculpts, so it feels like he's there in the room with you, coaching you every step of the way.  The pace is probably a bit fast for some beginners, but hey, this is a video, and it can be paused and replayed.

I'm very glad that I got this, and viewing it as I was working it has already helped me with my carving skills, and not just for pumpkins carving. These skills are transferable!

There are disappointments however.
The video quality is not impressive.
It feels dated, as if it had been filmed in the 1980s, and transferred to DVD recently, without much remastering. It does the job for learning the steps, but even using my computer's DVD player software's advanced image enhancing features, and tweaking the options, the image details and colors are lot less alive than they could be. It looked a lot better on the television, however, so you should not worry too much about it if it's your main viewing option.  But considering this was made this or last month, I was expecting a video quality that's a bit brighter, sharper, and more alive.

They mentioned bonus materials, but compared to most other DVD tutorials I've bought, it's not cutting it in that department. The bonus lessons are about how to make hands out of pumpkin vines and wire, and how to carve stitches. I'd consider these as integral parts of the main content, as necessity more than bonus. I'd have been angry if I had had decided to go with the downloadable version (I very nearly did, but learned it was in MOV format, which does not do well on my computer system), which does not contain the instructions for those two steps. Considering there is plenty of space on two DVD disks,  I was hoping for at least a photo gallery section and some high def video footage of the best pieces in Ray's collection. Maybe even featuring the TV and web interviews Ray has done over the years.  Arguably, there is a photo gallery, but it's a part of the intro, is only a few seconds long  and shows less then the Facebook page's photo section.  The Time lapse videos are very fast, and only appear at the end of each lesson. I'd have loved to see the progress slower, to really appreciate it, and have access to each sculpture's timelapse video on the main menu. Hopefully, there will be some better bonuses in the future, and I hope they will make it available for free to people who ordered the first batch.

If you are not in a hurry, I'd wait a bit before ordering. They might make a better batch of DVD, as this one was rushed so people could get it before this Halloween. Right now there is a video section missing on how to choose one's pumpkins, and I noticed some editing errors. The missing info on pumpkin selection can be found as one illustration in the photo section on the Facebook fanpage.

I still recommend this!
The disappointments do not remove the high quality of the actual main content, I'm still very glad I got the DVD for my ongoing training, but the package would have felt a lot more special with better image quality, with bonus features to watch and show to people, all in one place, instead of having to go online and checkout his sites.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Halloween 2011

My Halloween activities have increased this year.   Moan is my personal costume. I went with creepy this year, as opposed to my usual fun/slightly spooky looks. I went out with it three times. Today I went downtown, and I got a lot of the kind of responses I was looking for. Smiles, startled screams, and even a store manager having to follow me around, and admitting it to me, as my costume really worried him.
On my way back to my bicycle, I went in to say thanks to my new optometrist and her staff for the glasses I got a few weeks ago, and I got an amazing response from her assistant. She was laughing uncontrollably!
My friend's annual Halloween party doesn't happen this year, so I'm looking for another event in Montreal.
So far, no luck. Public events are mostly about themes I can't relate to, such as the usual drunken vulgar pimp & hoe scene...

The pumpkin is my first carved in 3D, following methods I gathered from looking at the works and videos by Ray Villafane, of Villafane Studios. Look at his Facebook fanpage, it's full of amazing photos and info!
I ordered his Pumpkin Carving DVD, but haven't received it yet. I KNOW my carving will get better when I see more of his methods.  I intend to carve as many pumpkins as my time will allow me until the season is over. After that, I'll turn to other root vegetables. It's great practice for my overall subtractive carving skills, and I love the feel/texture/challenge of it. This makes me feel confident that I will be able to carve wooden puppet heads and masks to my liking, soon. Likeness of specific subjects is to come later, but at first I'll be happy to be able to improvise creatures like I am able to do on pumpkins.

Added: my second and third carved pumpkins:

Carla the Vampire has been sold as a Halloween decoration for a party this week-end. Second pumpkin I sell this week, thanks to my friend Daniel, who cut a deal with a pumpkin seller, who got impressed with our carvings.

Two more pumpkins were carved today, October 28th.  Might be my last this year. We'll see how the schedule goes.