CosBlog #44: The Zelda Project Lost Woods Shoot

by Meagan Marie on Feb 04, 2011 at 05:30 AM

This week’s CosBlog highlights one of the most impressive costuming projects I’ve ever come across – both in scope and presentation. The members of The Zelda Project are longtime franchise fans dedicated to recreating the world of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in meticulous detail. The ongoing project requires the talents of not only costumers, but clothing designers, prop makers, makeup artists, photographers, and more. Read on for a project overview – narrated by cast and crew member Adella – and a look at the first TZP set, detailing the adventures of Link and Saria in The Lost Woods. I'll be sure to feature TZP again when they debut their next set of photos!

Who: The Characters
The Zelda Project is a collaborative effort in order to create scenes including as many characters from the game Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as we can get! The only character we will obviously be including in every photoshoot will be Link, since as a player he is the main character who interacts with all of these other characters. In our first photoshoot, the characters that we decided for this shoot were Saria and Link. Saria is the Sage of Forest and Link's childhood best friend. The photoshoot is mainly focused around Saria.

Saria is an unknown age, but her outward appearance is that of a 9 or 10 year old girl. The choice to do this photoshoot prior to any others was due to the fact that our Saria model, Alondra, is 9 years old, and we wanted to catch her at the relative age that the character she is portraying is supposed to physically appear. Her race, the Kokiri, are eternal children living within a hidden village inside of a place called The Lost Woods. Saria is the matriarch of their village, and much to the jealousy of some of the others, Link is her favorite. We wanted to portray Saria in a way that expressed wisdom and age, despite the youthful countenance. You often see her giggling and smiling in the game, but there is a mystery and sadness about her as well. She has no ability to "grow up" as other species are capable of, and she is the sage of Forest. Our take on her character, is that she is a fae being thousands of years old who is as close to nature and the forest as she is to her fellow Kokiri. 

Alondra portrayed Saria in this manner to perfection, with ethereal haunting gazes and mature eyes on an innocent face. It was a great combination. However, we struggled with the lighting we were given, due to the darkness of the forest, so what photos we did have of her smiling in certain shots were not usable. That, and Alondra herself was missing a front tooth and was very shy to give us a toothless smile!

Why: The Decision
The inspiration for TZP began back in 2003. I made my first Malon costume, and my friend Nessa wanted to be Ruto. We geeked out about the idea of doing an Ocarina of Time group someday but at the time we were both in that cosplay stage where we wanted to make a billion costumes and had lists a mile long of ideas. We also didn't know which one of our friends to cast, and so we just let the idea bloom in our heads for a while. Fast forward to 2005, my friend Joellen debuted her costume as Princess Zelda from Twilight Princess. I was shocked to see what a dead ringer she was for the character, and immediately went into fangirl mode once again. Funny enough, Joellen also had the same idea to make a large Ocarina of Time group! We vowed that we would do it someday, and then got swept up in our own little projects. 

In 2008, Joellen and I began talking again about doing the idea of a group, but we had lost a lot of interest in wearing costumes in the stressful environment of conventions, and liked the more controlled environment of photoshoots. To us, photoshoots were more enjoyable because we did not have to worry about the discomfort of milling our way through crowds, the possibility of our hard work getting damaged, or the lack of nice locations where we could take pictures to document our creations. We could choose the places where we wanted to take the photos, and in that way we could better bring to life the world that the character lives in that we are trying to portray. So then, we decided that our Zelda group should be based on photoshoots, rather than just running around a convention. We of course didn't rule out the idea of taking our group to a convention once the costumes were completed, but we weren't going to worry about stressful con deadlines!

After we finished geeking out, I inquired to Joellen's favorite photographer Indigo, whose work I had always admired! Indigo was truly the last piece to the puzzle as to how to get the project off the ground. With his talent, passion, and dedication to the project, we've had nothing but good experiences being creative thus far. Our desire to share with everyone else these fun and exciting ideas and images we have in our heads is overwhelming, and I can't wait for everyone to see what we have in store!
What: The Process
Now if we are talking in hours, Saria was about 24 hours of work. It took three months however, because her model lived in Las Vegas so there was quite a lot of mailing fit samples back and forth to make sure I had the right fit for her jumper. The fabric I bought for the jumper was a gorgeous pima cotton sweater knit that I used the reverse side of to give it a very textured look. I wanted the sweater knit so that it appeared hand knitted. It was very expensive and I bought the last of the yardage that the store had, which wasn't much. It was hand-dyed in a beer brewing pot to be the color I wanted, and then the undershirt turtle neck was a 5x7 rib knit that I found at Mood Fabrics thanks to my friend Space Invader! She was a boon to me for helping me find that fabric.

Link was a far more difficult task. We went round and round about what kind of fabric to use on his tunic because we wanted something stiff, but the concept artwork for his character had the fabric draping in such a way that only a certain kind of fabric could achieve that. All in all, our decisions were inconclusive, so we chose for the green tunic a rayon spandex jersey in order for it to cling to his body and drape as it did in the official art (we also referenced Soul Calibur II and fan art.) Link's costume we planned on distressing, but we left all of the distressing off of it in the initial shoot, because in the "time frame" of the game Ocarina of Time, Link has just emerged from the Temple of Time and his clothing is still very new. As the shoots go on, we plan on aging his costume further. The leather for his costume, and the materials for the props (sword and shield) by far was the most expensive asset. All you see on his costume is all real leather, which was terrible for me to sew, having never done so before! 

The part of the costume that gave us the most grief, however, were the ears. We went through more liquid latex than we want to admit, having never done anything like what we were doing before, until our friend Aaron suggested we use Smooth-on Dragon skin. That ended up working considerably well, and we were quite happy with the results! 

Overall, the total price of both Saria and Link's costumes was quite costly. The most difficult task I should say, was the cost of everything itself.
Where and When: The Debut
The photos were shot in Jedidiah National Forest in Northern California. The location was actually chosen because we were struggling with a place that we really wanted to shoot at, but they charged overbearingly ridiculous prices to shoot there, and by luck my roommate at the time happened to be going on a hiking trip with his family to Jedidiah Forest. I lent him my camera while he went there, and when he returned we all delighted that that was where we would shoot. It was perfect! I am only sad that the various unforeseen mishaps which caused us to have to wrap the shoot early hindered us from getting some of the better shots that we had been planning on.


Credits/Links: The Team

Sarah Quillian (a.k.a. "Adella")
Costume Designer/Director

JoEllen Elam (a.k.a. "Lillyxandra")

Alondra C
Saria Model

Anthony Beaston (a.k.a. "Lune")
Link Model

SeptemberSky (a.k.a. "Bratty")
Assistant Photographer/Videographer

Evan James
Assistant Videographer

Indigo Verse (a.k.a. "Indi")

Photographer/Videographer - We're currently in serious need of assistance with this website. - Indigo's vimeo  - There is not much on here yet! - Indigo's photography blog and site - My rarely updated cosplay site! - Joellen's site - Aaron's (the propmaster) website!

The Gallery

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