Sunday, 30 November 2014

Project: The "What If" Metropolis - More Key Assets, Some Orthographs to match, and Quick Composition Ideas

Admittedly, I have been a little stuck as to how I can progress with this project. After gaining feedback from my OGR, with Phil's advice, I started to rethink the composition of my final concept piece. It was also advised to include more city into my city, so I started thinking more repetitively with the layout and buildings. It's not the best quality, but here are some rough ideas as to how I can lay out my city. Creating some orthographs actually helped me in to figuring out what to include building wise. Here's hoping I can produce some good results! 








Saturday, 29 November 2014

Film Review: Michael Powell and Emetic Pressburger's "Black Narcissus" (1947)


Figure 1. Black Narcissus Movie Poster

Subliminal messaging and a rather hectic atmosphere has never been more notable than in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s “Black Narcissus” (1947). It is a story of how five nuns travel to a mountain top village known as Mopu, located within the Himalayas, to open up a convent for the village as a school and hospital, although the old building used to house a monastery, but was originally intended to house the dead General’s concubines. 

Figure 2. Sister Ruth bathed in red light

The film displays a psychological aspect of repression, which is quite scandalous if one was to release this sort of film within the modest 1940’s. As Mark Duguid wrote, “Although the script never directly challenged the strict standards of the censors, it hardly needs saying that the repressed desires of nuns was not a common - or safe - subject for a British film in 1947.” (N/A) The village of Mopu is set high up within the mountains, so naturally the air gets thinner the more you travel up. But it has been noted that in the film, it is said a few times that “there is something in the air”, causing the nuns to experience these hormonal spasms which conjure up repressed memories of who they were before entering the sisterhood, hence the subliminal messaging. There is quite a bit of tension experienced by the characters as well as the audience, although the kind of tension the nuns experience is mostly that of an erotic nature. The story focuses on two of the nuns mainly, Sister Superior Clodagh and Sister Ruth, who appear to be effected greatly by the village atmosphere. Whilst Sister Clodagh longs for the love she once had and lost, Sister Ruth portrays that of deranged insanity, created from her inner desires which have been long bottled up due to her joining of the Order of the Servants of Mary, the catalyst of her realising here desire being that of an Englishman living within Mopu, Dean. 

Figure 3. Sister Ruth applying red lipstick

The psychological aspect of hidden desire was important to put across within this performance, as subliminal messages were cast here and there as the nuns relived past experiences in their minds. An exceptional demonstration would be that of Sister Ruth residing her role from the convent by dressing in a deep red dress, to which she then proceeded to apply lipstick in an enticing manner, as she ravishes the feeling of being able to have something touch her lips once again. Another example would be that of Sister Clodagh’s memory resurfacing of her riding a horse. Although she may miss the freedom of being able to venture out and do fun activities, this could also be a subtle way of explaining to the audience that she misses having something between her legs. Essentially, we even have hidden messages early on at the beginning of the film. It is noticeable that the house keeper of the old palace dances through each room, and then reaches a room full of bird cages. Again, this is a sort of message, a foreshadowing of how the sisters are effectively “trapped birds”. But most of the sisters cannot succumb to their desires, for most of them remain faithful to the Lord, as hard as it may be for them upon entering this setting. As Thomas Pryor has noted, “If, as it appears, the intention of Black Narcissus is to demonstrate that religious zeal is dependent on suitable climatic and social surroundings, then history has already provided the answer to this thesis.” (1947)

Figure 4. Sister Clodagh ringing the bell

Judging by this quote, it would seem that setting is a dominant feature within the plot of this story. As Joseph Jon Lanthier poetically pointed out, “The claustrophobic art direction by Alfred Junge similarly, though more violently, enforces the environment's boundaries and brings the runaway bodily needs of the sisters into sharper focus.” (2012). The term claustrophobic being used to describe an outdoors setting really emphasises how isolated the characters feel, but also expands on our view of their inner desires. It also the audience to witness the development of attitudes due to altitude. As Sister Ruth increasingly boils up from within, we see the lighting of the scene change her, as she slowly becomes bathed within the colour red. This effectively shows how she has changed, but could also be a reference to how the environment has changed her also (such as, the red lighting). The matte painting of the bell tower scene, despite not being able to shoot on location, clearly puts across how distant the nuns are from the society they originally knew, creating, again, the feeling of isolation, the individuals they can truly speak to is each other.


From stunning settings to applaud-worthy performances by the cast, Black Narcissus (1947) has given us an enjoyable experience. And although it may not be the most fast paced feature, it still sent chills down the spines of the viewer, with racy moments between characters and emotional dialogue, it is no wonder that this cinematic piece of art has captured the attention of many individuals.

Bibliography

Duguig, M. (N/A) 'Black Narcissus (1947)' (N/A) In: http://www.screenonline.org.uk (N/A) [Online] At: http://www.screenonline.org.uk/film/id/438337/ (Accessed on 29.11.14)

Pryor, T. (1947) 'MOVIE REVIEW: Black Narcissus' (14.08.1947) In: http://www.nytimes.com (1947) [Online] At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF173CE261BC4C52DFBE66838C659EDE (Accessed on 29.11.14)

Lanthier, J. (2012) 'Film Review: Black Narcissus' (30.12.12) In: http://www.slantmagazine.com/ (2012) [Online] At: http://www.slantmagazine.com/film/review/black-narcissus (Accessed on 29.11.14)

Illustrations:

Figure 1. Black Narcissus Movie Poster (1947) [Movie Poster] At: http://store.walterfilm.com/images/BlackNarcissusLC.jpg (Accessed on 29.11.14)

Figure 2. Sister Ruth bathed in red light (1947) [Movie Still] At: http://cdn.screeningfilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/blacknarcissus.jpg (Accessed on 29.11.14)

Figure 3. Sister Ruth applying red lipstick (1947) [Movie Still] At: http://www.theartsdesk.com/sites/default/files/images/stories/FILM/graham_fuller/Black_Narcissus_lipstick_scene.jpg (Accessed on 29.11.14)

Figure 4. Sister Clodagh ringing the bell (1947) [Movie Still] At: http://offscreen.com/images/Narcissus_Bell_Precipice_hires.jpg (Accessed on 29.11.14)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Film Review: Tim Burton's "Edward Scissorhands" (1990)

Figure 1. Edward Scissorhands DVD cover

Being one of his first set of most memorable films, Tim Burton’s “Edward Scissorhands” (1990) is one to be easily recognised. It all begins in a suburban town with the exaggerated appearance of the 1950’s era, with pastel coloured houses and clean cut lawns as far as you could imagine. A kind hearted Avon lady, played by Dianne Wiest, was going about her daily business, only to be lacking in selling her products. Without giving up hope, she spies a gloomy looking castle set on the mountain located at the outer edge of this town. Unfazed by it’s appearance, she proceeds to travel to said castle, only to find a mysterious being lurking within, with a ghostly white face, clad in black, and with scissors for hands. Meet Edward, played by Johnny Depp, an unfinished man created by an old scientist, who sadly died before he could complete his creation. The story then proceeds with following Edward around this suburbia and how each misfortune snowballs into one large incident towards the end.

The town is a relatively small area, where everyone knows everyone, and personal business is the talk of the town, so it’s seen to be that nothing is private and gossip gets around rather quickly. The depiction of society’s behaviour with rumours within this film is somewhat exaggerated and yet, has a sense of truth to it. As Janet Maslin evokes in her review, the story “is a tale of misunderstood gentleness and stifled creativity, of civilization's power to corrupt innocence, of a heedless beauty and a kindhearted beast.” (1990)

Figure 2. Edward Greeting the Colourful Neighbours

It is noticeable that there are many contrasting elements within “Edward Scissorhands” (1990), the most obvious being Edward himself and the colourful folk of the suburban town. It is a consistent clash of dark and light, prime examples including the dark gloomy castle and the stereotypical preppy neighbourhood. It has been considered that this could slightly be reflecting on Burton’s childhood in a sense that he was an individual who ‘wasn’t like everyone else’ and contrasted deeply with their ways. The character Edward could also potentially be an embodiment of a young Burton, fearful of the outside world as he was considered ‘different’. As Owen Gleiberman states, “The romanticism has a personal dimension — for Edward is, of course, Burton's surreal portrait of himself as an artist: a wounded child converting his private darkness into outlandish pop visions. Like Edward, he finds the light.” (1990). Even within the ending sequence of the film, Edward and Kim are represented as two completely different entities, one at each end of the spectrum. Kim all in white, Edward draped in black. The development of the characters here are interesting too, in a sense that polar opposites can somewhat come together, but as we see develop through the film, there is the struggle of how these two separate things can stay together for so long. It was only a matter of time before carnage took place. In a compelling, heartfelt moment, we see Kim in need of physical contact, as she murmurs "hold me.", to which he painfully replies "I can't." This possibly embodies the eternal struggle of Burton and how he was potentially unable to connect with "the norm".

Figure 3. Edward Holding Kim

Psychological aspect aside, the film embodies some form silent era theatricality within the film. As Rita Kempley so poetically put, “Johnny Depp, nicely cast, brings the eloquence of the silent era to this part of few words, saying it all through bright black eyes and the tremulous care with which he holds his horror-movie hands.” (1990). The silent era value is represented with small actions performed by Edward himself, such as when he comes flustered upon seeing Kim (Winona Ryder) and then bursts her waterbed in an exaggerated way. In a way, this somewhat produces that fairytale like quality and lightheartedness to the films overall emotional theme.

The film is then concluded by Grandmother Kim finishing her tale of why it snows in the suburban area. As Edward once again remains isolated in his castle at the end of the film, he puts his spare time into carving out these spectacular ice sculptures, the shavings then falling from the rooftop all the way down to the town. It is noted that film can be a gripping piece of cinema, with it's compelling tale of how the protagonist is so helpless, misunderstood and lost. It certainly tugs on a few heartstrings of most cinema goers that can appreciate Burton's whimsical atmosphere. A very magical, fantasy like ending to a heartwarming experience.

Bibliography:

Maslin, J. (1990) ‘MOVIE REVIEW: Edward Scissorhands (1990) Review/Film; And So Handy Around The Garden’ (1990) In: http://www.nytimes.com/ 07.12.90 [Online] At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C0CE2D81338F934A35751C1A966958260&partner=Rotten%2520Tomatoes

Gleiberman, O. (1990) ‘Edward Scissorhands (1990)’ (1990) In: http://www.ew.com/ 07.12.90 [Online] At: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,318762,00.html (Accessed on 24.11.14)


Kempley, R. (1990) ‘Edward Scissorhands’ (1990) In: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ 14.12.90 [Online] At: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/edwardscissorhandspg13kempley_a0a0bf.htm (Accessed on 24.11.14)

Illustrations:

Figure 1. Edward Scissorhands DVD Cover (1990) [DVD Cover] At: http://pastormattblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/edward-scissorhands-original.jpg (Accessed on 24.11.14)

Figure 2. Edward Greeting the Colourful Neighbours (1990) [Movie Still] At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-aqjkBCq9dxY/TX-d8kyUTLI/AAAAAAAAAwg/fKhkffK58qs/s800/movie-screencaps-edward-scissorhands-3431130-1024-576.jpg (Accessed on 24.11.14)

Figure 3. Edward Holding Kim (1990) [Movie Still] At: http://carlosnightman.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/edward_scissorhands12.jpg (Accessed on 24.11.14)

Monday, 24 November 2014

Artist Toolkit: Zoetrope Test Animation

It may not be the best quality video, but here is a rough test of how I plan to lay out each frame of my final zoetrope strip. I thought I'd have a fairy do a backflip in light of the upcoming festive season. :)

video

Maya: Lighting and Rendering - Alien Orbs

My making process and final render of my lighting up the alien orbs.



Maya: Part 1: Exterior Lighting - Mid Day

Here is the making process and the final render that I lit up in Maya. 



Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Project: The "What If" Metropolis - Composition Developments

After receiving feedback on my previous set of thumbnails, I have developed the images that had been brought to my attention. Here I am trying to experiment with angling, lighting and composition for my final concept art. I feel that in numbers 1 and 3, I need to bring more elements into the foreground.  Let me know in the comments down below what you think so far! :)


Artist Toolkit: Life Drawing Session - 19/11/14

So this week was more of a relaxed session with our model. We did a series of quick poses varying in different times, and these are the results. Essentially, I prefer doing quick drawings, rather than taking a prolong amount of time with just one drawing. I hope guys you like them!

5 minute poses:

3 minute poses:

1 minute/30second poses: 

Freetime sketches:

Monday, 17 November 2014

Project: The "What If" Metropolis - Thumbnails 72 to 87 - Composition Ideas


Ok so here I've made some thumbnails to consider the possible composition for my concept art. Let me know in the comments below what you think I should take forward. :)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Project: The "What If" Metropolis - Travelogue UPDATED

It has been a while since you last saw any form of life along the dusty, barren pathway. The road ahead is a long one, and the rocky terrain at the foot of the towering mountains is a treacherous path to travel. Any traveller is advised to remain cautious of the cavernous depths of the mountains’ pathway. Trekking onwards, the path becomes thinner; more narrow, as you progress. But wait. You spy an opening. Perhaps a way out. The light draws nearer as you push forward, tip toeing between the tight spaces of the rocks and rubble scattering the path. It gradually becomes closer. You finally make it out. And there it is. Amplexus.

Stumbling through the gap, you venture on to this strange environment. As you gaze upwards, you are only just able to decipher the peak of the monuments buildings aligned along the road into the city. Each building varies in height and shape. The abstract forms of the mass amount of structures leaves one puzzled, as it is difficult to determine where the entrance and exits are placed. The buildings have many features to them, be they incredibly large, or moderately sized, with chiselled edges and cubic towers, or curvaceous domes as smooth as porcelain, no two buildings are the same. Upon first impressions, one would assume that Amplexus has a thriving trading service as there is a vast amount of materials incorporated into the city’s structures. From rubber and leather, to glass, ceramics, chrome and metals like steel and copper, it diverts any visitors’ eye to roam across the intricate patterns of each surface. 

If you were to delve deeper into the cities heart, you will find an obscure building. This building has many poles and beams supporting the curves of each wall. A heat radiates from it’s centre as the crackling of the fire whispers within the distance. The building holds a sort of kiln within itself, where the fire pit is surrounded by iron rods and workbenches. Bags of coal are precariously placed around the working area and soot collects itself into piles in the corners of the open air building. This must be where the inhabitants get their main source of energy from. Steam and fire seem the be the main focus, and as this is the centre of the city, many streets then divert from it in different directions, leading to districts of varying professions. One district is known for it’s craftsmanship, where blacksmiths and wood carvers and smelters work day in and day out, continuously producing complex structures. Another district is solely dedicated to the market place, where stalls of goods and confections are displayed on wooden table tops.

Navigating through Amplexus is quite the task if you don’t live there. The twisting and turning of the pavement as you round the corner of a building is known to leave one feeling lost. It is advised that you use local transportation as a method of getting around the area, if you don’t already know it well enough. A cart, or what appears to resemble a cart, is what the residents use. A few can be seen lurking by the side of each pathway, it’s driver whittling into a block of wood to pass the time when off duty. The cart is mainly wood based, with the doors curving inwards, and the roofing beginning at the back of the cart, creeping it’s way up above your head. The roof is actually a set of curved wooden beams, as if a cage had been cut in half, allowing the sun to gaze upon you. When bad weather strikes or the night draws in, a hood made from a fabric coated with wax for waterproof purposes. This hood is attached to the beams when needs be, acting as a sort of umbrella. The wood is polished, and the seats within the cart are made with leather, as is the drivers seat, set out in the front, slightly raised compared to the back seats for better vision on the road. The wheels are made from iron, with steel mud guards hovering above them, and the cart is pulled by horse. Some of the carts are currently under improvement of having steam engines installed, but the process is a lengthy one when you need to remodel the cart to fit in an engine. Although intimidating, it is for the best to be chauffeured by this somewhat strange contraption.

As the evenings draw in, pathways are lit by large nests of fire trapped in circular cages, held up by stilt like posts, casting beams of light onto the stone slabs that is the pathway, and onto the solemn faces of the city folk that reside in the abstract apartments and houses. It leaves the mind wandering through each crevice carved out of the buildings. Each building, be they made from wood, clay, brick, or iron will have small fragments of teal and emerald green ceramics shards engrained into the walls of each structure. The colour green glows and illuminates the cityscape as the moonlight and lamp lights hit the speckled buildings and structures.



It’s strange, Amplexus has been known to fabricate buildings of unimaginable structures. It is forever remodelling and improving itself. The reason it is a city is due to the fact that it is forever expanding, and consistently creating new buildings. There is a beginning to the city, but no end. Analysing your recordings of your time in Amplexus, each set of buildings appear in one manner, and then as you progress down the streets, you notice that each design of the buildings gradually evolve into another form of architecture, giving themselves a new appearance, even to the extent of incoherency. The ever changing mindset of Amplexus is fascinating, and as visitors come and go, they would simply ask the residents, “Is the city unfinished? Is it still under construction?”, to which they shall reply, “We are simply improving. We are moving forward.”.That is Amplexus’ mentality. To enlarge, to increase, to improve.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Maya: Digital Sets Part 2 - UV Layout & Texturing Preparation

It took a good while, but I finally got there! Here's an image of my progress with texturing my alleyway, now on to lighting my set!


Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Project: The "What If" Metropolis - Thumbnails 65 - 71 and updated Influence Map

Admittedly, I have been slightly struggling with compiling together ideas for my city after my feedback from my OGR. I thought the OGR went rather well, but I would have to say that my biggest  concern would be that I would essentially repeat myself in my thumbnails. But I will try my best to churn out more ideas!

And so, here is what I've come up with so far. Based on my feedback from Tutor Phil on my OGR, I needed to look more into my artist and consider his work closely. It was noted that my city should have more of an "old-school" power source to it, such as kilns and forges, and the buildings, despite size, should be more low lying.


In my influence map, I have included factors such as skeletal structures and wooden frames as an approach to my idea of negative spacing, mixed with my interpretation of Phil's idea of "old-school". Below are a couple of designs for my cities lights and buildings. I wanted to keep it relatively abstract and curvy, in light of Deacon's sculptures such as "After": http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/deacon-after-t07867 



To keep the ceramic theme included, I thought I'd gem the buildings with fragments of ceramics to add more colour, as well as continue the green glow theme mentioned within my Travelogue. The idea would be that the streetlights would reflect onto the ceramics which would cause the glow.


Artist Toolkit: Life Drawing Session - 12/11/14





Film Review: Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête (1946)

Figure 1. Original Movie Poster

Jean Cocteau’s La Belle et la Bête, also known as Beauty and the Beast (1946), is a fairytale spectacle to behold. It is a tale of fantasy and romance, set within France, of a bankrupt merchant losing his possessions due to money troubles, and how he stumbles upon a mysterious castle within a forest, only to encounter The Beast. The Beast caught the merchant stealing from his garden, and said he would die for such a crime. The merchant then begged The Beast, resulting in a proposition. If the merchant wasn’t able to have one of his daughters replace him, he would then pay for his crimes. After travelling home, the merchant tells all to his three daughters and only son. Belle, the beauty, being the kindest one of all three sisters, rode out into the night to take her father’s place, as she is most loyal to him. The story then continues with the development of the relationship between Belle and The Beast.

Figure 2. Candelabra held by human arms


Cocteau’s rendition of an all time classic fairytale has been noted as a cinematic masterpiece, where this magical surrealist environment can offer a sense of escapism to the adult audience. With a candlelit entranceway where the lights are held out by human arms, and talking doorways, it is no wonder that this is a mysterious cursed dwelling. It is even emphasised by Bosley Crowther, “The settings are likewise expressive, many of the exteriors having been filmed for rare architectural vignettes at Raray, one of the most beautiful palaces and parks in all France.” (Crowther, 1947) Due to Cocteau’s sense of elegance and style, it is clear that his vision of an extravagant and mystical atmosphere was achieved through location and careful thought put into the set design, including his matte paintings with expressive brush strokes.

Comparing it to Disney’s take on the fictional fantasy, the film has more adult tones. As Roger Ebert states, “Cocteau uses haunting images and bold Freudian symbols to suggest that emotions are at a boil in the subconscious of his characters.” (Ebert, 1999) As the statues eyes and voices of the doors are continuously following Belle, this could be a symbol as to how attached The Beast is to her. The sense of symbolism within certain scenes evokes a sensuality of the situation, but it isn’t completely prominent to audiences there simply for viewing pleasure.

Figure 3. Belle and The Beast's encounter at dinner

What is also striking about the film is the moral and how the characters develop through this. As Mark Bourne suggests, “Cocteau's powerful personal vision made art out of a home-grown fable in which brutal, bestial ugliness, with blood on its claws, can vanish when faced with steadfast virtue, honour, and beauty (physical and otherwise).” (Bourne, 2003) It is through this moral that we truly review the character development in some, Bella and The Beast being the main examples. It is well known that at the beginning of their adventure, Belle is somewhat repulsed by The Beast at first, and of course, who could ever love a beast? We even get a clear understanding of how she will refuse to marry him, even to the point of the audience whispering aw at her bluntness. But then that’s what composes Belle to be the good-willed character that she is. And as the film progresses, we notice The Beast becoming kinder, and more open to this beauty, allowing her into the darker depths of his being. And thus, provides us with staggering performances from Jean Marais, landing 3 roles at the same time within the film, and Josette Day playing Belle herself.

It is no wonder that this film is a fantastical piece of cinema. As James Travers summarises, “Jean Cocteau's La Belle et la Bête is that rarest thing in cinema, a film that has the ability to transport an adult spectator into the realm of childhood imagination without ever appearing twee or childish.” La Belle at la Bête is certainly a spectacle to behold, if one wishes to escape their reality even just for a little while.

Bibliography:

Crowther, B. (1947) 'MOVIE REVIEW: La Belle et la Bete (1946) - THE SCREEN IN REVIEW' (1947) In: http://www.nytimes.com/ 24.12.47 [Online] At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9B03EFD71E3EEE3BBC4C51DFB467838C659EDE (Accessed on 11.11.14)

Ebert, R. (1999) 'Great Movie: Beauty and the Beast' (1999) In: http://www.rogerebert.com/ 26.10.99 [Online] At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-beauty-and-the-beast-1946 (Accessed on 11.11.14)

Bourne, M. (2003) 'Beauty and the Beast (La Belle et la Bête): The Criterion Collection' (2003) In: http://www.dvdjournal.com/ (2003) [Online] At: http://www.dvdjournal.com/reviews/b/beautyandthebeast_cc.shtml (Accessed on 11.11.14)

Travers, J. (n/a) ' La Belle et la bête (1946) - Beauty and the Beast' (n/a) In: http://frenchfilmsite.com/ (n/a) At: http://frenchfilmsite.com/review/1946-B/La_Belle_et_la_bete.html (Accessed on 11.11.14)

Illustrations:

Figure 1. Original Movie Poster (1946) [Poster] At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-tQeoPymbuDc/UjFxOjpR-3I/AAAAAAAAClE/99_emi72x2E/s1600/1.jpg

Figure 2. Candelabra held by human arms (1946) [Movie Still] At: http://lecinemadughetto.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/candelabres.jpg

Figure 3. Belle and The Beast's encounter at dinner (1946) [Movie Still] At: http://www.avoir-alire.com/IMG/jpg/belb3.jpg

Monday, 10 November 2014

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Online Greenlight Review Part 1 - Project: The "What If" Metropolis - 05/11/14

Project: The "What If" Metropolis: Initial Thumbnails 49 - 64

After researching more into Richard Deacon's sculptures, I was quite captured by the colour of his ceramics. After writing my Travelogue, it helped me to progress a little further with my thumbnail designs. They're still a little sketchy, but I'm hoping the basics are there!