Tuesday, 20 December 2016

What If? Metropolis, Production artist

What If? Metropolis, Reflective Statement

Taking up this second project has proven difficult, especially when looking at the technical requirements shown by Maya. Looking back upon the 'Invisible Cities' project I have found that my confidence using Adobe Photoshop as a less conventional art tool has gone up. Visually conceptualising the city has also proven long and difficult but rather fulfilling as assets were brought together for one shot. Overall I have found that my weakest point in this project is my technical proficiency with Maya. As a result I must make it my goal to improve upon this issue resolving problems with texturing and modelling.

Suspiria - Film Review

fig.1 film poster

Directed by Dario Argento, ‘Suspiria’ is a 1977 Italian horror film that consists of rather disturbing scenes for the time of its conception. “It naturally follows that Argento's true strength as a filmmaker is his direction of murder scenes, and the occult deaths presented here are among the bloodiest and hardest to take in horror history” (Firsching, R. 1997). In a combination of notable technical aspects of the film ‘Suspiria’ has become a well-known piece of work within the film industry. Described as a master piece by some the film has been considered as a cult classic using elements of design within sound, set and lighting to bring out the fear factor in the film.

The film follows the protagonist Suzy Bannion, a ballet student who has just arrived at a dance school in Freiburg, Germany. From this point a number of strange events occur including the death of several students, maggots falling through the ceiling and tales of witches. In the end Suzy kills the queen witch and escapes the academy along with the violence that followed it.

Firstly, focusing upon ‘Suspira’s’ art direction, Argento has chosen to takes up a far more abstract point of view upon its lighting and set design. “Bright blues and deep reds and sickly yellows invade the frame, creeping in from around corners, shining through curtains, and bouncing off walls from light sources that simply cannot exist”(Hall, J. 2016), as stated by Hall the lights that produced both in position and colour are unnatural and describe an unrealistic scene. Instead this acts as a device that provokes a specific thought or feeling within the viewer. In times of danger red is used hinting towards the hazard around the corner being one of the more common colours used during run time. Green is also used in addition to the colours mentioned above, although used in a different manor with the intend of signifying an imminent death however its rare appearance means that it is something that truly alerts the audience. 

These brighter, primary colours are married with sets filled with translucent material, glass or reflective surfaces ultimately leading to more beautiful shots. Despite the striking nature of the obscure lights merging into the darkness the lights still led to the horror nature of the film. As the colours are changed subtly with the set the audience will notice these little changes that would put them on guard with expectation of the following events. 

fig.2 corridor lit red

Another layer adding to the suspense and tension of the film is the pacing. Slow and expressive the murders and deaths are carried out over a number of minutes while the malicious chase before hands lasts even longer. Running and fighting for their lives the viewer is given the conception that some of these characters will survive. However over time it soon becomes a question of when. It is the suspense of not knowing the exact moment when a character will be killed off and how that holds the audience’s attention.

In all ‘Suspiria’ can be regarded as both a beautiful and suspenseful horror film that is capable of gripping on to its viewers. 


French, P. (2010) Classic DVD; Suspiria

Firsching, R. (1997) Suspiria

Hall, J. (2016) Why 'Susipira' is the Craziest, Most Colourful Bad Dream You'll Ever Watch

Illustration list

fig.1 Website
http://images.moviepostershop.com/suspiria-movie-poster-1977-1000436044.jpg (accessed 19/12/16)

fig.2 Website
https://www.acheronbooks.com/img/cms/Suspiria/Suspiria5.jpg (accessed 19/12/16)

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Artist toolkit - flash, Four Legged Walk Cycle (09/12/16)

For Friday's lesson the class was required to create a walk cycle for a four legged creature. This was done with a more festive theme in mind. The chosen animal was a wolf going at a leisurely pace. The final GIF shown has a slightly higher frame rate in mind but still contains the required walk cycle. 

Final wolf animation
The base model for the wolf was taken from a template of a four legged animal, the rest of frames for the cycle was completed through guess work. After this process was completed the body was drawn into place using the reference.

drawing template for wolf

Final frames for wolf in motion
Adding scene and snow

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Artist Toolkit - Life Drawing (07/12/16)

Despite lacking a life model for the lesson we were still capable of producing some drawings. This was done by observing stills from Hitchcock's film, 'The birds'.

Composed drawing

Artist Toolkit - Maya, Lighting (05/12/16)

For this Maya task we were informed and instructed on how to create effective lighting to match the time of the day. The sky and the house were rendered separately in order to produce separate layers allowing for the layers to be complied in Photoshop.
Final image rendered for day scene
The first render has been created with a day scene in mind, below the angle of the lights and colour have been changed in order to better fit a sun set scene.

Adjusted image for a more rosy sunset scene

Monday, 5 December 2016

Artist toolkit - flash, Jumping and Throwing (02/12/16)

For this week's Adobe flash animation the class was asked to record two actions, one of us throwing an object and another one of us jumping. The reasoning for this was to use these videos as reference to help build anticipation in our animations.
Jumping animation

Throwing animation

Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Shining - Film Review

The Shining film review

fig.1 film poster

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 'The Shinning' is a 1980 British-American film focusing on themes of loneliness and isolation. As expected from a Kubrick film there is strong use of the rule of thirds amongst other devices, both old and new. The resulting product has created a lasting impression on popular culture retaining the same value in cinema today as it did in the 90s.

Based upon Stephen King’s 1997 novel under the same name, ‘The Shining’s’ plot follows a family of three as they move into a hotel for the course of several months. During this time the father, Jack Torrance slowly becomes more unstable, acting more aggressively towards his family. This results in the attempted murder of his child, Danny and his wife, Wendy. Fortunately the two escapes with Jack freezing to death. The film ends on a photograph featuring jack dated 1921.

One reoccurring theme that appears in Kubrick’s work is the effective use of suspense to hold the audience’s attention. The ‘The Shining’ proves especially effective in this area as the film falls within the psychological horror film genre. Despite being tame in comparison to the horror films produced in this day and age ‘The Shining’ remains culturally relevant retaining the same appeal it had during the day of its release. This can be attributed to its use of more practical effects and camera work which can be exhibited in the elevator scene.

fig.2 elevator scene creating use practical effects
Regarding how the ‘The Shining’ was filmed, Kubrick had decided to use a gimbal in order to stabilize the camera for far smoother tracking shots. A notable example of the use of this relatively new technology is when the camera is tracking Danny as he rides his tricycle through the halls.
“There's pure inspiration simply in the scene in which young Danny (Danny Lloyd) rides his tricycle around the endless corridors, the wheels thundering on the wooden floor, then suddenly quiet over the carpets” (Bradshaw, 2012)

This scene proves especially effective as the tracking for the camera has a far more spectral feel tracing the steps of the boy as if the point of view is hovering with Danny. The use of this more ‘spectral’ tracking shot means that we are limited in the way we see round corners and hallways. In this case the visual is married with more obscure yet striking sound design. The silence only acts as a reminder of the lack of people in these open halls only to be broken by presence of the small family. This concept is mirrored throughout the film with a lack of music or background noise in certain scenes. Examples includes jack throwing his baseball and his use with a type writer.
“Then they're alone, and a routine begins: Jack sits at a typewriter in the great hall, pounding relentlessly at his typewriter” (Ebert, 2006)

Not only does Kubrick make effective use of silence but also uses of a rather memorable sound track. These pieces tend to be more simple consisting of fewer instruments and obscure noises matching the lonely nature of the hotel. Assisted by the timing the sound is brought together with the shots to hint towards the viewer of the sense of an impending fate. Despite the lack of true horror factors the film retains a large amount of suspense through these components.

As always with Kubrick’s films the ending remains unclear and ambiguous with the antagonist being displayed in the old photograph. Paired with the previous events it is uncertain whether or not the story being told is from a reliable source. As stated by Ebert, ““The Shining" challenges us to decide: Who is the reliable observer? Whose idea of events can we trust?” (Ebert, 2006). With this the ending remains open for interpretation and as such have been received in various ways. ‘The Shining’ is not a simple a film that is seen and enjoyed but requires more intelligent thought. As shown by the documentary ‘Room 237’ many individual theories have been spawned from this single film.

It is never clarified if the following events are due to isolation and madness or more super natural causes. Despite this the film remains as an example of effective camera work, sound design and timing, leaving a lasting impression on pop culture.  

Illustration List

fig.1, Website
http://thefoxisblack.com/blogimages//saul-bass-the-shining-film-poster-1.jpg (accessed 03/12/16)
fig.2, Website
http://65.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m067y75GXP1rnn734o1_500.jpg (accessed 03/12/16)


Bradshaw, Peter (2012) The Shining - Review
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/nov/01/the-shining-review (accessed 03/12/16)
Ebert, Roger (2006) The Shining
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-shining-1980 (accessed 03/12/16)

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Artist Toolkit - Life Drawing (23/11/16)

warm up sketch

capturing movement of 5 poses

Artist toolkit - flash, Silly Walk (25/11/16)

Silly walk cycle

Creating the frames for the cycle

Repulsion - Film Review

Repulsion Film Review

fig.1 Film poster 

Directed by Roman Polanski, ‘Repulsion’ is a 1965 British horror film that follows a virgin who is afraid of contact with the opposite sex. Regarded as “one of Roman Polanski's most brilliant films” (Bradshaw, 2013), ‘Repulsion’ has a blend of both disturbing story writing and notable camera work. Being the first of the three films from Polanski’s “Apartment Trilogy” (with the other two being ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ (1968) and ‘The Tenant’ (1976),) the majority of the film takes place in an apartment building which is utilised by Polanski to create effective scenes.

The story features a young woman, Carol Ledoux, who is living with her sister during the 60s. Afraid of intimacy Carol’s state of mind begins to deteriorate as her anchor, the sister leaves to go on holiday. Eventually this leads to a spiral of madness ending with the killing of two men and Carol being left in a catatonic state.

Firstly focusing on the protagonist herself Carol, who is played by Catherine Deneuve, is placed in an odd situation. The main character could be described as a sexually appealing woman as she attracts the gaze of men around her however for the protagonist, who has extreme androphobia this acts as a curse. As a result this creates a rather empathic character who is struggling to deal men during a time of sexual uprising. It is thanks to both actor and director that the audience is drawn to Carol’s side despite the horrific actions that are committed by the character. It is difficult to decide whether or not Carol truly is the protagonist towards the end of the film.  

Observing the character in context it appears that Carol was destined to fail, signified from the start she is an outsider or foreigner. This can be accepted in both ability to function within society and terms of family origins. In relation to Polanski he himself is an outsider coming in from a foreign country. It can be implied that Polanski portrays some of his own feelings into this character.

Polanski uses a mix of several different devices to being out Carol’s insanity making it clear for the audience to understand in a visual manor. One of the signs that appears is the twisted perception of the rooms giving a sense of unease that can be attributed to the camera work as the once familiar bathroom becomes cold and strange. Polanski continues to add rather unnerving scenes including that of violent delusions showing Carol being raped. What makes these scenes particularly effective is the sound design. Rather than using the sounds of struggle all noise is exempt apart from the lone ticking of a clock. Portrayed in near silence the audience has only the disturbing imagery to focus on. In the background the ticking adds tension forcing the viewers to count every second. Strange imagery continues to appear with bizarre organic walls, dark figures appearing in mirrors, hands bursting out from the wall and groping carol and large cracks forming in the walls. All signs indicating the breakdown of Carol’s psyche.

fig.2 Cracks forming in the wall

Adding to the sense of fall from reality and lack of rational thinking is the devices used by Polanski to hint towards the passing of time. “Polanski also dresses the film with pertinent details that further exemplify both Carol’s madness and the aching passage of time: Potatoes sprout in the kitchen, meat (rabbit meat, no less) rots on a plate and eventually collects flies” (Morgan, 2011), with the audience subtly hinted towards the passing of time one begins to wonder how much has truly pasted leaving feelings of doubt and insecurity.

While effective as a psychological horror film, Polanski has also highlighted the uncertain nature of psychological illnesses. Created during the 70s, schizophrenia had yet to be understood despite this ‘Repulsion’ gives an accurate depiction of the illness for the time. The penultimate scene that is shown acts as a metaphor regarding the lack of knowledge or inability to appropriately deal with schizophrenic patients. Ultimately Polanski leaves the audience with an unnerving feeling, misplaced feelings for a violent character and insight into a psychologically disturbed mind.

Illustration list

fig.1, website
http://images.moviepostershop.com/repulsion-movie-poster-1965-1010434006.jpg (accessed 26/11/16)
fig.2, website
https://lefthandhorror.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/repulsion6.png (accessed 26/11/16)


Bradshaw, Peter (2013) Repulsion - Review
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/jan/03/repulsion-review (accessed 26/11/16)
Morgan, Kim (2011) Roman Polanski Understands Women: Repulsion
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kim-morgan/roman-polanski-understand_b_301292.html (accessed 26/11/16)

Black Narcissus - Film Review

Film Review-Black Narcissus

fig.1 Film Poster
‘Black Narcissus’ is a 1947 film, directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger which is based upon Rumer Godden’s 1939 novel with the following name. While the film can be acknowledged for many attributes from the juxtaposing set design to symbolism the most notable feature is the use of techniques to form awe inspiring shots.

The story revolves around a convent of nuns who have been sent by their order to perform charity work for the local people of the Himalayas. To help set up the school and hospital the local British agent, Mr Dean, is sent to assist the group. With the involvement of the local people and remote location the nuns slowly lose sight of their true aim and path with God.  Dean’s influence on the group eventually leads to the death of one of the nuns, Sister Ruth, leading Sister Clodagh and the rest of the group to leave the Himalayas.

Firstly, looking at the technical elements of the film one of the most notable features is the use of camera tricks to flesh out the scene. Despite being set in the Himalayas the film was captured and completed in England. To achieve one of the most effective shots (fig.1) a matte painting is used to acquire an in depth and rather believable illusion. It is only on closer inspection that one can see through the painting giving a sense of grandeur and space in combination with the well placed camera angle.
fig.2 cliff scene

fig.3 before matte painting

Civilized, worldly, daring and obliquely discreet in conveying the gradual disintegration of the nuns’ psyches” (Haver, 1998), another notable factor within ‘Black Narcissus’ is the underlying theme of the film. As the nuns set out to complete the task that has been given to them difficulties begin to  arise with increasing sexual tension adding to the friction between the Sisters. Both Powell and Pressburger make great use of symbolism throughout the film, some more subtle than others they all relate to the inner demons that the Sisters collectively carry.  

With the use of Technicolor the matte paintings are brought to life and only enhance the symbolism in a range of hues. An effective scene that highlights both the use of colour and symbolism is the application of lipstick by Sister Ruth. “An unsurpassed showcase for the possibilities of Technicolor — heightens the very meaning of the story, as a slash of red lipstick clashes with the bleached white” (Thomas, 2005), with lipstick being used to attract another by highlighting one’s sexual appeal the action of reddening the lips indicates Ruth’s loss of control over her sexual desires. Not only does the use of colour draw the viewer’s attention to the character but also portrays the clash between the path of God and inner desire. At one end Ruth stands in her dress that describes her figure while Clodagh stands in her baggier white nun tunic. While never directly stated being only hinted at, the true nature of the film becomes clear, “It's holiness against the libido, civility against the wild, control vs. desire.” (Mirasol, 2010).

fig.4 application of lipstick

The symbolism goes on with one of the Sisters planting flowers rather than vegetables. As the flowers bloom a colourful display of nature is shown, one that is purely for the act of reproduction juxtaposing the purpose of the vegetables which is solely for consumption. When interpreting the scene for what is there one can see a nun losing herself to the beauty of nature forgetting about purpose and reason. Another interpretation is that with the flowers in full bloom she is losing herself to lust.

In the end Powell and Pressburger’s film, ‘Black Narcissus’ is one that indirectly provokes thought about the balance of ‘control and desire’. At the same time it also displays a large range of technical marvels to accompany these concepts leading to a visually appealing piece. 

Illustration list

fig.1, Website
http://assets.flicks.co.nz/images/movies/poster/70/70afbf2259b4449d8ae1429e054df1b1_500x735.jpg (accessed 26/11/16)
fig.2, Website
https://filmgrab.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/22-cliff.png?w=768 (accessed 26/11/16)
fig.3, Website
https://67.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_lz246wiYpN1qzdvhio1_500.jpg (accessed 26/11/16)
fig.4, Website
https://bsagmanli.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/1940s-lipstick-kathleen-byron-in-black-narcissusa-300x225.jpg (accessed 26/11/16)


Haver, Ronald (1998) Black Narcissus
https://www.criterion.com/current/posts/870-black-narcissus (accessed 26/11/16)
http://www.rogerebert.com/far-flung-correspondents/black-narcissus-which-electrified-scorsese (accessed 26/11/16)
Thomas, William (2005) Black Narcissus Review
http://www.empireonline.com/movies/black-narcissus/review/ (accessed 26/11/16)

Friday, 25 November 2016

Artist Toolkit - After Effects, Savanna Panorama Animation (25/11/16)

For the Adobe After Effects lesson the class was taught how to utilize the layers of an Adobe Photoshop file to create a series of moving images. The series of layers was firstly created in Photoshop portraying a savanna scene. The file was brought into After Effects before being treated as a 3D image to add depth. 
Final layers composed on top of each other
Savanna panorama layers
The final animation that was created consists of the panning camera giving a shadow puppet feel with the still giraffes and grass. To add to the shot a high exposure layer was used and adjusted throughout the 7 seconds. 

Monday, 21 November 2016

What If Metropolis, Travelogue (Revision No.1)

Travelogue-Veteris (artist: Peter Voulkos)

Those not local to Veteris would be given a single indication that they were within bounds of the city. A lone arch stood at least 10 metres tall made of stone. Oddly shaped it give a small insight into Veteris’ more ‘obscure’ architecture. Beside this gate there were no walls, it simply stood as a reminder for any passer-by of the city’s unique mind set on design.

Never static, ever building, ever changing and never afraid to stray from what has already been accepted; Veteris was a different kind of place. The biggest influence that the people have held in their hearts was their collective living space.

After the joining of two families both groups would follow the tradition of constructing a new home. This was done by taking apart their own homes and bringing in the combined materials forming a new structure. Over time the living space would grow larger, stretching towards the sky.
Upon closer inspection the tall buildings appear to be formed from multiple shapes. Intricate layers folding into each other, curved walls revolving around the base and sporadic shapes sprouting out from the ground, each part carefully balanced contributing to the building.

It was over time the people forgot how their skyscrapers, their houses and their homes looked like. Eventually the conventional, conforming buildings began to fade away with time. The architecture changed yet no one noticed. Families took great pride in the formation of their new homes pushing the design in both function and aesthetics. With the households living within close proximity of each other one can only admire at their neighbour’s construct. Each rebuilding led to a revised structure, improving from the previous one, improving the city as a whole.

Resulting in the culmination of the years gone by and reshaping of the city, no home was the same. This was not taking into account of the individual changes made by those who lived inside. With the buildings being made from the same material throughout the entire width it makes it difficult to differentiate between the functional and atheistic layers. It was the small differences that would describe the family who lived inside. Despite this one rule always stood true in Veteris’ society, the larger the building the bigger the family and thus the more power they held.  

Connecting all the buildings were bridges carrying flowing water. Bound to every building, these aqueducts act as the main source of income with goods being imported and exported between the surrounding cities. Goods come from outside to the largest of the buildings before having a portion sent to next biggest buildings. This would continue until the smallest of families received what was need. As the littlest of families are unable to take part in the trade they contribute through other means preparing food, crafting clothes, providing medical care and so on. Without each other both the largest and smallest of the families would suffer. Not only did these aqueducts bring in necessities for living but also connected the collective families.   

It was for this reason the tall structures not only acted as a home for families but also as a way of living, providing the much need food, water and essentials. Each ‘house’ connected to another through one form or another, rely upon another. The flowing water moving goods also serving as a form of transportation between houses with as many boats carrying people as there were commodities.

Even with the designs forming wild and constructive shapes advancing the form there were still limitations. One such limitation was the material that was available from the previous houses. As a result the new age designs juxtaposed the material that was used in conjunction.  The varying angles that the layers draw from are crafted from reconstituted materials that have been adhered to each other using different techniques. All structures are of the same worn, dense sturdy and bone like material. Never the less the walls have stood the ages always proving its worth when needed withstanding the rain, wind and storms.

Alongside the buildings, tall structures protruded from the ground. Often found in the same style as that of the building they stood by, chains of lamps would be hung. Others would draw themselves higher in order to hold up the aqueducts. Laced around the angular paths of the city one’s eye would be easily drawn up to meet the man-made objects above them. Much like the inhabited structures the material appeared to be of a solid material, worn away by the time. Sturdy enough to be held in the patterned brick pavements yet well balanced, these lamps lit the city for all to see at night. 

What If Metropolis, thumbnails 110-153 (20/11/16)

no. 110-115 building
no. 116-121 building

no. 122-127

no. 128-129 framing shot

no. 130-131 framing shot

no. 132-133 framing shot

no.134-153 lamp post design

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Artist Toolkit - Maya, Alley Part 1 (18/11/16)

The Maya set desgin task required the class to model an alleyway with the orthographic images already provided. The first component to be modelled was the walls of the alley way including the window and arch.
Alleyway with poster on the wall
This was followed by the lamp post which is to modelled in an individual scene and added at a later date.

Modelled lamp post carrying the inititals A & P
Finally the crates were modelled but only a small section. This was to ease texturing as the part could be replicated to form a complete crate. 

Corner section of the box, ready to be modelled and textured

Artist Toolkit - Flash, Running Man (18/11/16)

Following on from last week's exercise the class explored the movement required to create a running animation. This action was completed within 7 frames from point of contact to taking off. In comparison to the walk cycle the total time to animate was far shorter. Despite this reduction in frames I found the task far more difficult having fewer frames to smooth and perfect the animation.
Template and frame count for the 7 beat cycle

As a result of having a too shallow curve the cycle is not dramatic enough when accentuating the movement of running.
Finished running man