How Did You Come Up With That?! - e.05: Eggstravaganza
Hi Friends! Welcome back to a brand new episode of How Did You Come Up With That!? - a series where we walk you through the art direction of one of our shoots.
(The photo series is at the bottom of the page!)
Earlier this year we started what we've taken to calling our "Content Bible" - a cloud document where we drop our photo ideas as they occur to us, revisiting the document periodically and refining the ideas. It means, hopefully, that we're never stuck and we've always got photo ideas to pull from.
Early on, Alex dropped in a picture of a soft-boiled egg with soldiers. It was a food his grandmother made for him whenever he stayed with her as a child. It's very nostalgic; everyone loves a soft-boiled egg and soldiers. It's a big hug from grandma.
He had this big diner scene idea to go with it, that would be a lot of work and fairly costly. Prince's Money Don't Grow on Trees droned inside my skull.
Baby, oh, money don't grow on
Money don't, money don't, money don't grow on trees
Money don't, money don't grow on trees, yeah, grow on trees
Money don't, money don't grow on trees, grow on trees
That's true, you know. It doesn't. So we shelved the idea until we could figure out something a little smaller.
So a month ago, revisiting our "Content Bible", I saw the image again and thought of toy soldiers, the little green army men like the ones in Toy Story.
Soft-boiled egg and soldiers?
My first thought was to have them look like they were literally baked in the loaf, which we couldn't do, obviously (plastic melts, you see). Alex thought of using a soldier-shaped cookie cutter and having the toast itself be in the shape of little soldiers. Excellent! But, looking for soldier-shaped cookie cutters, they weren't very good and they lacked detail and the results kind of looked like blob men. They were humanoid, but there was little detail to distinguish them as soldiers.
In the end we, uh, put the toy soldiers on top of the bread slices. We pushed them into the bread before toasting to create little cavities for the soldiers to fit into, and look more like they were a part of it. We bought five loaves of bread, in a variety of colours and thicknesses to test which would be best.
We are nothing if not thorough.
I can tell you, unequivocally, that Wonder White is the best for having toy soldiers stuck into it: it leaves the deepest, most detailed imprint.
Now you know...
Once toasted, we laid the toy soldiers into their little imprints. Now, looking at the final image, it just looks like the soldiers have been placed on top of each piece. It was an utterly pointless exercise. Utterly pointless. But sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles.
Pondering the army men, I thought it would be fun to incorporate other elements of toys or games into the photo series. For one reason or another I thought of scrambled eggs with Scrabble tiles jammed into it. And then the pun hit me. Scrabbled eggs. By God, it would be worth it for the pun alone.
Now we had two egg-themed ideas, and it seemed like eggs had got to be the central thing. We were gonna go egg-heavy. We'd need the third image to be egg-focused as well. But what's another fun thing to do with eggs?
"Cloud eggs." That looked interesting. I gave it a red hot go.
Not bad. Not bad at all. Surprisingly easy to make. But a little too cute.
So we thought about it, and we thought about it some more, and in the end the third idea was cannibalised from another idea that we'd had in January but didn't do. Last Australia Day we thought of doing a photo of a guy at the beach - bare-chested, with a great big beer belly, and wearing an Australia flag as a cape, and badly sunburnt, with tan lines in the shape of a singlet; as though he had removed the singlet after he got sunburnt. So we decided to go that route and do a guy who's been burnt to a crisp. And he's eating bacon and eggs and toast that have been burnt to a crisp. Get it?
It seems like this month we were into skin and skin texture as we thought of this image around the time we were conceptualising "The Sun Gods" which you have, of course, already seen.
Having just done the fake skin wrinkles for "The Sun Gods", this went a little more smoothly. Here we applied wood glue to the skin in patches, waited for them to dry and peeled them off. Then we reapplied these dried patches of "skin" to Alex's arms (the re-application done to approximate the effect of skin peeling). Then we applied a sunburn-orange SFX make-up over the top (making sure to include a watch tan), and plucked at the middle of the "skin" patches with tweezers, putting little holes and tears in them, to try to further mimic peeling skin. It ain't perfect, but it looks pretty good. I mean, it makes me want to give the poor bugger some aloe vera gel.
For the table layout I wanted to design it like it was one table, with the family seated around it. We briefly discussed doing it to look like three separate dining tables - three separate characters in three separate homes - but decided to make it a family breakfast and maintain the style across the three photos. Which I think ended up making each image more interesting and developed a larger sense of a story.
For the table itself we used a gold curtain we had as the table cloth. We wanted the table top to look a little retro and maybe a little silly, so we picked up a plastic table protector to put on top. A homage to the very finest in home styling of the '60s and '70s.
Finally, for the sunlight-through-a-window look we decided to fire a bare flash into a mirror that we'd taped with duct tape in a window grid, rather than do it with a gobo, to try to better recreate any distortion or imperfections that you might see in sunlight coming through a real window. It took a little wangling of the light and mirror to get the right angle of incidence - a bit of a pain in the neck - but we are now fully accredited geometers.
We have a behind-the-scenes video of this shoot which you can watch here:
We post a new blog weekly and you can keep updated by following us @threebentlegs as I'm usually promoting our blogs and work over there.
See you in our next one!