A Change in the Weather

I don’t know how it may be for you, but where we live, the weather has been doing its springtime-schizophrenic-thing with great abandon this year! (I went camping with my son’s scout troop 2 weeks ago and froze all night long; now I can’t sleep in my own bed without the overhead fan spinning away.)

Thinking on these thermal vacillations  suggested an interesting detail to share with you: during my oft-referred to visit at Castle Gaiman, a roofing company happened to be effecting some repairs with a specialized truck that featured a platform attached to a crane/boom arm that could extend all the way to the top of the house (I believe they called it a “cherry picker”). With Neil’s kind permission, I had the operator take me up so I could shoot references photographs from a unique vantage point. I’m not gonna lie — it was a blast to ride in, and also an unexpected treat to experience high-altitude views of the house and property.

Photo by: Cat Mihos

One of the details I was excited to see in person was the distinctive weather-vane that adorns the tower at the front of the house.


Although interesting in its own right, I wasn’t as keen about the design as I had anticipated. After reviewing the photos later, I still felt a bit disenchanted, and decided my Castle Gaiman would need to have something a little more…spooky.

So, I approached my friend, the talented designer-illustrator Dave Laub, and asked if he could take the basic idea and give it his customary Laub-ification treatment; here’s what he came up with:


Pretty cool, right? :) Needless to say, I was thrilled, so the design was given to master-sculptor Ryan Peterson, who translated Dave’s 2D concept into an actual 3D model. (For a more detailed explanation of this process and some examples of how it works, you can watch — or perhaps re-watch — this videoblog on Digital Sculpture & Design.)

You may be asking at this point: so, why all the fuss? The next time you are watching a movie, you might notice that alongside the shots you would normally expect to see, like close-ups when people are talking to each other, or establishing shots of locations that let you know where the next scenes are going to take place, etc., there are other, less obvious elements used to help move the story along. One of these cinematic devices is called a transition, which does exactly what it sounds like: helps the viewer make a transition from one place (or idea, or emotion) to another without getting confused feeling jarred out of the moment. I wanted to feature the weather-vane in a close up to serve as a transition point in the film, both visually and tonally; take a look:

Change-in-the-Weather_01aIt’s at this juncture in the story where bad things begin to occur, and which seem to be somehow connected to the Black Cat. I’m hopeful that this imagery won’t feel too “on-the-nose” to viewers, but will impart a subtle sense of foreboding.

Well that’s all for now; have a tremendous week! (And keep an eye out for those sudden storms…)


About Xtopher

Director of The Price, and Owner/Creative Director of Silver Fish Creative, LLC.
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20 Responses to A Change in the Weather

  1. That’s an extremely Gaiman-esque design, very well done. The moon is an extra nice touch. Thanks again for the blog posts. These really do make my day.

  2. Jordi Kroon says:

    That is such a cool little detail, the weathervane. I think you’re really on the right track by basing it as much as possible on Neil Gaiman’s actual house, but changing it to better fit the style of the short story.

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Jordi — it is really compelling as an artist to take-in all of the real world stuff and have a chance to play around with it!

  3. Josh Catone says:

    So many posts the past few days! It’s an embarrassment of riches, but you’re setting a dangerous precedent for yourself, my friend. 😉

    I always love reading these. I can’t wait to see the finished film (except, really, I can wait — I will happily wait for as long as you say you need to get it right).

    • Xtopher says:

      I don’t know if I’d call it an “embarrassment of riches” Josh, but I am very happy you are getting something positive from my ramblings. 😉

  4. Stephanie Harper says:

    Oh dear, now I REALLY want that weathervane for my own house!

  5. Jon Schjelderup says:

    Hey, I know all about springtime schizophrenic weather, I live in the middle of Norway! Woke up to a nice white blanket of snow today, and it’s still coming down. Yay, spring!

    Anyway, absolutely LOVE the weathervane design!

  6. Naka Ishii says:

    It’s a wonderful Gaimanesque visual detail, as I would expect! But something about it seemed wrong to me. I had to google it – according to this site: http://www.denninger.com/whatis.htm, weather vane designs need to have two features:
    1.) The ornament must have unequal area on either side of center.
    2.) The ornament must have equal mass on either side of center.

    Of course, your weather vane never has actual wind, so it’s not crucial for your purposes! But someone who knows how they work would probably also notice this. Sorry to be picayune!

    • Naka Ishii says:

      Hmm, on second thought, perhaps it would work if the sun and star on the “arrow” shaft have sufficiently unequal area, which, on the 2D design it looks like they do. My apologies for a hasty judgement!

      • Xtopher says:

        No worries Naka; I was very flattered that you would take time to consider the merits of the design so thoroughly! :) (Nice reference too!)

  7. aeddubh says:

    Adding a raven into a scene is always stylish. 😉

  8. dwayne franklin says:

    i love the weather vain, it seems to me like a char in it self. way to go guys keep up the hard work i know you and the team have been through a lot i feel like yaw are family to me and i bet everybody elese who read your post, @_@

  9. Trina says:

    Crows and ravens are my all-time favorite bird, and (unsurprisingly) Dream’s raven Matthew is one of my favorite Sandman characters. I absolutely LOVE THIS detail.

    • Xtopher says:

      I thought it was appropriate as well, and was quite pleased with how it turned out; thanks again, Trina!

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