Saturday, 30 January 2016

Cutting Edge- Film Review: Psycho (1960)

Fig 1: Psycho Poster
Beginning in a manner similar to Crime Thriller, starting with the theft of $40,000, until a sudden twist in the plot turns it into a darker psychological horror. Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 hit film, Psycho shocked audiences at its release, continues to shock modern audiences with its plot twists and suspense. Considered to be one of Hitchcock's best films, Psycho, based on the novel of the same name, was a low budget production filmed in black and white as to cut back on prop expenses. What it lacked in colour, the film made up for in an intelligent, suspenseful plot with interesting and deep characters, especially the character of Norman Bates, owner of the Bates Motel with his mother.   

Fig 2: Bates Motel with Norman Bates visible in the office doorway

Starting with the theft of a grand sum of money, Marion Crane runs away from her employer in the hope to make it to California, planning to give to her boyfriend Sam to get him out of debt so that they could get married. She is followed by a Policeman who is suspicious over her actions and reasons to drive out of state on her own and her rushed to buy a new car. The audience is led to believe that this is film about whether or not Marion will get caught with the money or if she'd make it to California. However this changes when she find herself outside of the Bates Motel. She meets the seemingly harmless motel owner Norman. Everything seems fine until a fateful and iconic scene in the shower that changes the flow of the entire film. Marion, the supposed leading lady of the film is killed in such a gruesome way, shocking audiences of the time. While the stab wounds are not shown but hinted at, the way that the camera continuously cuts between Marion, the killer and the knife striking. It's a wonderful demonstration of hinting at horror rather then showing it, something that horror movies preceding can't portray in the same way. "The ruthless slicing wasn't of flesh, but of film: 70 shots in 45 seconds"(Jake Coyle, Huffington Post)
The amount of aftercare her murderer takes in the clearing up of the body is agonisingly long that it gives viewers a chance to grieve over the sudden death of a character that was empathised and was rooted for. This scene is now deeply routed in pop culture in the modern era, with the iconic suspenseful shower scene and blaring string motif parodied in various television shows and movies. It also spawned a new genre of film, the slasher movie, its influence demonstrated in almost every horror following it.

Fig 3: Marion screaming in the iconic shower scene
After Marion's death, the film changes into a psychological horror, starting with the investigation into her disappearance, with a private detective tracking her last movements before ending up meeting his end at the Bates Motel. Concerned about the disappearance of both her sister and the private detective, the film follows the elder sister Lila and Marion's boyfriend Sam as they go to the Motel to find some answers to what has happened. There the two find out that not only has Norman's Mother been dead for years, but also that he had used his skills of taxidermy to preserve her, made up a new personality based upon her who would stab anyone to death if they got too close to her son. This massive climax, built up from some genius use of suspense, makes the impact of the mother's reveal much more outstanding and shocking. The way she spins around 180 degrees when Lila only slightly nudged her chair, to her undead opened mouthed face, making it look like she is laughing at the soon to be killed girl.

Fig 4: The Truth about Mother
The soundtrack, supplied by composer Bernard Herrmann, helped in making the obstructed scenes of murder in Psycho and maxed the horror of it by 10. His use of an all-string orchestra works with the monochrome image on screen and the sudden peaks of tension they provided enhances whats the audience is seeing. The use of the classic score being used in the murder scenes, to emphasis the domineering presence of the killer and from that Mrs Bates herself, as she goes on to kill whoever comes close to her son."-his use of Bernard Herrmann's stabbing string score, in the ornithological imagery that creates a bizarre sense of preying and being preyed upon."(Mark Monohan, The Telegraph)Originally Hitchcock wanted Psycho to be completely void of music but Herrmann persuaded him to have it included in the shower scene and when Hitchcock liked what he heard he agreed to allow the film to include its infamous tension filled soundtrack.

Norman Bates as a character is striking. Seemingly a kind and polite man who just loves his mother a little too much that he's still dependant on her. The fact that he has a split personality that makes him don a dress and a knife, makes him extremely dangerous despite his pretty face and shy mannerism before the shift. His love of taxidermied birds, resonates in the film in other ways then just stuffed birds. Marion's surname, the city she's from of Phoenix Arizona, the strategically placed cameras that show birds in every shot in the room behind the office at the motel and the constant use of birds eye view shots when characters climb the stairs in the Bates house. The use of the camera in this way could be used to symbolise a bird of prey looking down at their next hunt, emphasised in that the murder of the detective was done in this camera angle. Despite this however, you are still drawn in by his dorky charm and submissive mannerisms that some people assume that the character focus after the shower scene is him. 

Fig 5: Mother's Monologue Scene/ Ending Scene
Overall it is clear to see why horror movies, especially slasher movies, look to Psycho for inspiration. The clear understanding of how scenes should be built up to allow for a more satisfying climax through the use of building tension just shows how great Hitchcock as a director. He is able to give the audience this tension straight away with the stealing of the money and how long the first act is leading to a will she get away with it or won't she that ends in a un-thought of and iconic moment in cinema. However while the first act with the film is mainly build up, the pacing could be seen as too slow, most of it full with driving scenes but this opinion of it ends when Marion enters the Bates Motel and meets Norman for the first time. Some might also say that the ending is bland and forced, especially for modern audiences as while the climax of the killers identity being reveal is a master class in horror techniques, the explanation as to why Norman did what he did can potentially ruin the experience for people. "Hitchcock ends the film with a length and dry psychiatric explanation of the “mad” Norman Bates behaviour. But the explanation is mocked for its irrelevance to the force and truth of what we have previously witnessed."(Emanuel Levy,
However it does help in explaining what couldn't be told in that scene prior. As to why Norman acted the way he did, and as to what Mrs Bates' personality was like when she was alive. This is also present in the chilling final monologue by Mother herself, the now dominate personality of Norman Bates.
Despite that, Psycho is still an amazing experience of twists and turns that builds up the tension gradually before letting it loose in unique and unexpected ways, Hitchcock shows other directors and film makers how its done in this film and it is an amazing experience to see.

Bates Motel:
Shower Scene:
Truth about Mother:
Ending Scene/ Mother's Monologue:
QuotesJake Coyle from the Huffington Post:
Mark Monohan from the Daily telegraph:
Emanuel Levy:

From Script to Screen: Storyboard Frames 1-54

Fig 1: Frames 1-6

Fig 2: Frames 7-14

Fig 3: Frames 15-19

Fig 4: Frames 20-27

Fig 5: Frames 28- 35

Fig 6: Frames 36- 41

Fig 7: Frames 42- 46

Fig 8: Frames 47- 54

In these Storyboards, they cover the "First Act" of my story,  telling the story of why the Snow King is so cold and jaded due to the loss of his wife. Some of the frames here are planned to be very quick so that this portion of the film won't be too long that it extends the film's overall length. The red arrows are to help with showing which frame it which as I myself got confused looking back through them due to the roughness of the thumbnails haha!
SIDE NOTE: I also used my new tablet, the cintiq 13hd to draw this and it was a blast :)

Friday, 29 January 2016

Animation: Sinister Watering Can Concepts and Storyboard

Fig 1: Sinister Watering Can Concepts

Fig 2: Storyboarding: Hiding Spots Concepts

Fig 3: Storyboarding: Concept for End of Scene with Sinister Watering Can

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

From Script to Screen: Character Design- Snow King and Snow Queen

Fig 1: Yeti Influence Map

Fig 2: Snow King

Fig 3: Snow Queen

Fig 4: Concept of the differences between the two yetis

Fig 5: Colour Palette
While yeti's in mythology are primarily associated with a masculine figure, and usually they are assumed to be some sort of gorilla. I tried to add other factors in, especially for the Snow Queen, included how the fur around animals like sheep and alpacas form around their faces and making her round and less of a threatening figure then the Snow King. I'm still not sure if they should have fangs or not so feedback on that or anything about the designs are very welcome :)

Monday, 25 January 2016

Maya Tutorials: Animation 1: Intro to Character Animation

Bouncing Ball: On the Spot

Settle and Rest

Secondary Action and Overlay

Squash and Stretch

@Phil Storytelling and Commission: Post OGR 1 Feedback

From the feedback received I have remade my story as follows:

A snow king loses his queen in a tragic incident that caused her to melt away. Stricken with grieve, the king spent his days wandering around his castle until he comes across a mysterious room containing nothing but a huge icy mirror. Mesmerised, the snow king looks at the mirrored surface as it reveals an image of him and his deceased love. Due to his lack of activity as king, the staff of the castle get fed up and leaves the king to wallow at his reflection.
One day, the silence in the castle is interrupted by the pained squarks of a bird, it's wing is broken. At first the snow king tries to ignore the creature, as it pitifully tries to flap around, bashing into priceless artefacts in its futile attempts of flight. Growing impatient the snow king rushes over to the bird only to see that the injury is quite severe. With a disgruntled huff he agrees to help the bird and proceeds to bandage the wing before carrying it to his room.
From there a series of scenes will happen showing the improvement of the bird's body and showing how the king is slowly warming up to the small creature. By the time the bird as healed up, he hears the sound of cracking coming from the mirror room. He runs into the room, with the bird following behind him, to see that the mirror is cracking up, the reflection of him and his queen distorting, before finally the mirror shatters on the ground revealing a door. As he gentle opens the door, a forceful blast forces the door to open widely, his bird companion flies in without warning into a sunny clearing in a wooded area. He stumbles into the mysterious place, chasing after the bird as they adventure deeper into the woods. The camera pans back to the door, revealing the spirit of the snow queen.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Maya Tutorials: Pre-Viz 1

Pan Shot

Dolly Shot
Pitch Shot
Roll Shot 180

Roll Shot 360

Roll Shot 540

Crane Shot

Character Design: Leela Prop Designs and Anthropomorphic Bathroom

Fig 1: Leela's Weapons Designs 1
Fig 2: Leela's Weapon Designs 2
Fig 3: Bathroom Characters Concepts

Fig 4: Bathroom Character Concepts 2

 For the Bathroom Characters I based them on things in my actual bathroom, by first drawing a quick layout of my bathroom and working from there. The ideas that I came up with that i liked the most were the sink who is constantly bouncing between being too hot and too cold and a shower who is relatively normal and a hand held attachment who is more crazy and spurts out water on the fastest and hottest setting.

Maya Tutorials: Intro to Texturing 1

Fig 1: Double Sided Shader 1
Fig 2: Double Sided Shader 2

Fig 3: X-Ray Shader
Fig 4: X-Ray Shader in Blue
Fig 5: Rim Light Shader Grey

Fig 6: Rim Light Shader Colour

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Cutting Edges- Film Review: Rope

Fig 1: Poster for Alfred Hitcock's 1948 Rope 
The perfect murder, the asphyxiation of David Kentley, committed in a darken apartment in Manhattan by Brandon Shaw and Phillip Morgan. Stuffing the body into a chest the two get ready for their leaving party, inviting David's parents and Fiancé, Janet Walker, as well as an old classmate and their head of house, Rupert Candell. The guests gradually start to worry about the whereabouts of the missing David as the party wraps up and it seems as though the two men have gotten away with their crimes. Then Rupert comes back to the apartment asking about his cigarette holder and makes a gruesome discovery...

Made in 1948 and based on the 1929 stage play of the same name, Rope is an Alfred Hitcock film famous for experimenting from the attempt of being filmed in one shot (done in 10 takes and edited into one due to the lack of film space on the reel that maxed out at 10 minutes, masking the cuts by zooming onto the characters backs) Due to such long takes, relatable to a live performance in a way, cast and crew were determined to get it right first time. This was made easier by the fact that there wasn't a lot of action and many lengthy pieces of dialogue due to its stage play origin. "Perversely, this cinematic experiment replicates the theatrical experience: Rope feels "live", which means that at any minute one of the actors could do something unexpected, such as fluff their lines, or heaven forbid, open the trunk."(Pamela Hutchinson, The Guardian, 27/7/2012)

The film was renowned for its uniqueness of filmography and of its openness of a same sex relationship in a time after the war where homosexuality was still considered sinful and shamed upon. "The territory is a censors-enforced minefield, with brutality and sexuality, the plot’s main elements, having to be alluded to rather than declared."(Fernando F. Croce, Slant Magazine, 2006). However even though it is only hinted at, it still shows through character interactions and sexual symbolism, for example Brandon smoking after he and Phillip kill David.
Fig 2: Shot of the three main players of the film, Brandon, Phillip and Rupert
The film starts with the murder, making the suspense aspect of the film that draws the audience's attention is centre around who will find the body. The way that the two male leads of Brandon and Phillip, play the two roles of domineering sociopath and his unwilling assistant who get more and more anxious in fact that they might get caught. The Head of house at their old school, Rupert, also adds to the tension. He spends the film suspicious of David's disappearance and of the two men's behaviour more then the other guests, he asks questions as though he his leading an investigation and through this he is able to uncover the gruesome secret hidden in the chest the guests ate off of.
Fig 3: The Titular rope and murder weapon of David
The character themselves come across as unique and diverse, while still being about to converse with other guests due to their characters being realistic as to being too exaggerated. It actually feels like it's a real scenario of a dinner party with two hosts, one full of confidence while the other, meek, hiding behind his piano instead of interacting with guests, a nosy maid, the concerned dad and the eccentric film nut aunt, the feisty fiancé to the dead man in the chest along with her good natured ex and then finally Rupert, the smartest man in the room, full of knowledge and eagle eyed to whats going on around him. As the movie goes on, there are subtle changes in the two hosts as they begin to struggle with keeping up with revealing the secret of the perfect murder they have just made prior, such as scenes with Janet where it is obvious that Brandon is hiding something and is trying to get her and her ex, Kenneth, despite knowing that she is very happy with being with David. Phillip is full of remorse over his actions, slowly getting more drunk and hostile until he just shouts at Brandon telling him to just tell Rupert about their crime only to be slapped across the face by his partner. As well as the two men. Rupert also develops as a character, starting as a suave threat to Brandon's perfect crime, and ranting on about whether murder is a good or bad thing basing his theories on social class. But when it is revealed that his ex-pupil actually went and killed someone he's so remorseful over his actions and of how wrong his believes are, that he ends up a broken man at the end of the film.

Fig 4: Confrontation between Brandon, Phillip and Rupert.
Overall Rope is a very well detailed film, the cast is extremely talented for being able to act as exceptionally as they did, performing a 90 minute film in one long take. It engrosses the viewer in its suspense, you want to find out how the two men get caught, not about the problems that the other characters have, your eyes focus on the chest thats always in view and when the reveal will happen and the way it happens is unpredictable. " “Rope,” Hitchcock is less concerned with sharp characterisation and moral dilemmas than with describing how a seemingly “perfect” crime goes wrong."(Emanuel Levy, 11/11/07) 
That driving force helps in creating a simple but effective story, creative way it was produced it is obvious that Rope helped in showcasing how much of a genius Hitchcock is with a camera and experimentation. Rope is definitely a stand up act and well worth a watch.

Slant magazine:
The Guardian:
Emanuel Levy:
Image 1- Poster:
Image 2- Rope:
Image 3- Brandon, Phillip and Rupert:
Image 4- Confrontation:

Monday, 18 January 2016

@Phil Storytelling and Commission- Story Ideas 2

Based on the feedback given by Phil, I went back to the drawing board. Like I didn't even think of a Yeti/ Abominable Snowman! Also I wanted to make the plot simpler like Phil also said in the feedback. So here is an idea I have had based on the comments received:

It starts off with a photo of a yeti king and his queen, panning out we see the king, miserable and grumpy as he's hunch over this small picture. After an establishing shot of the exterior of the frosty castle, there is a flashback to an argument between the two yetis leading to the queen leaving for a better life in the warmth. Cutting back to the present day the yeti king is looking through the ex-queens things, finding a large icy mirror with a small note inserted in the frame in the back of a wardrobe. As he brings it out of its hiding place and is about the read the note, the frosty sun outside pierces into the room bouncing off of the mirror and outside. The yeti rushes to the window and sees a melted patch of snow, revealing flowers underneath. He opens the note to see that its from the queen. Snow starts to melt off of his face and he smiles, his heart warm and loving again.

Another idea I had was that a worn out abominable snowman, who's cold and tired, stumbles across an abandoned castle, nearly completely frozen over. He spots a grand fire place in one of the great halls and tries classic methods of starting a fires. He then has the idea to try and find all the mirrors in the castle after spotting a strong light being casted out of a small round window at the top of the room. The result is a concoction of mirrors stacked on top of each other, bouncing lights from one to the other until it hits the fireplace. A fire starts after a little suspense and the in the final scene the yeti is chilling on a sofa.

Life Drawing 11

Fig 1: 10 Minute Pencil and Marker pieces

Fig 2: Seven 1 Minute Marker pieces

Fig 3: WIP Collage Piece
I still need to improve on giving weight and reality to my drawings but I think that I'm getting there more and more every week. Also with the collaging, I was so focused on what I wanted to do with the red of the model's scarf that I still need to put some more work in it to finish it off but it was fun none the less :)

Friday, 15 January 2016

@Phil Storytelling and Commission: Story Ideas

Here are some story ideas using the character Snowman, prop of a Mirror. and location of a Castle.

1. An adventure story of a child hero character going to a icy castle to stop an evil snowman, brain washed by his cursed hat, with a magical hand mirror in a similar manner to the greek myth of Perseus and Medusa however instead of the snowman turning into stone, the power of the hat fades away and he's back to being a friendly and kind snowman.

2. A unlikely romance between two snowpeople, one is a princess and the other is a peasant working in making mirrors from ice. The snowman is a mirror maker, and as he carries some of his stock through the icy woods near the snow castle, he comes across a clearing with a pond in there, shocked to see the princess there in tears. In an attempt to comfort her, he gives her a mirror and they talk for a while. After a date montage of the different places they go, they head to the castle on their last date where they dance, the shot being shown through the mirror the snowman gave her.

3. Snowman made by a child gets jealous of an ice sculpture made by a eccentric artist. Envious the snowman looks at his reflection, hating what he sees. He begins to dream of an alternate life of him being rich, successful and happy, living in a big snow castle and being able to get anyone he wants. However he then sees his creator, the small child and realises that this dream he has isn't worth it because thats not what the child wanted. He learns to be happy with himself because his purpose of being created was to make the child happy.

4. Prince builds a snowman, who is able to move and talk from the magical scarf the boy puts on him. The child is over the moon and leads the snowman inside the castle, where the snow creature then processed to cause icy havoc for the staff and the king himself. The prince is upset over the snowman's actions and sends him away. At the end the snowman either realises his mistakes and from that the magic cause him to transform into a human or he meets the child once again and gives the child back the scarf figuring that thats probably for the best if he was just a normal snowman.

Flash- Lemon Cake WIP

Animation based on my Nan's Lemon Cake that she made a few days ago. For this I used motion tween and frame by frame animations.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Character Design: Popeye Variants and Fairies

Popeye Variants

Here I tried to exaggerate Popeye's features, in the first two pages of drawings I had trouble with changing his head and giving him more variation, but thanks to tips from Justin I think I was able to accomplish it slightly.


 With the fairies I decided to combined the fairies with the imagery of flowers for the women and children, trees for male fairies and mushrooms and poisonous flowers for villainous. I tried to experiment with different body types as well basing the designs on the flora I was using in the design. 

Soundscape: Adobe Audition Lesson 1- Dragon Roar

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Cutting Edges: Film Review- La Jetée

Fig 1: Poster of "La Jetée"
Dealing with the complicate matter that is time travel, "La Jetée" is a French Science-Fiction film made in 1962 and directed by Chris Marker"it manages to tell a gripping, haunting story and create an ominous and powerful atmosphere simply through the masterly manipulation of frozen images and a subtle soundtrack made up of heartbeats, whispers, jet engines and other sound effects" (TV Guide, Chef Editor Mickey O'Conner)Set in Paris post a nuclear war breaks out, the film, made up entirely with still images, tells a story of survivors who live underground as a result of the nuclear fallout from the war. Scientists have come up with a way to use sleeping patients as a means of time travel to go to the past and the future but aren't able to find any test subjects that can withstand the shock of the experience they go through. However they find one patient who is able to with stand the trauma of it so the scientists decide to use him in their experiments. Due to the painful memories of the man's past of a woman at Paris Airport, with a very memorable face and vaguely of a mans death that continue to haunt him throughout his life.

Fig 2: Visual shot of the girl from the past
The scientists send him backwards and forwards in time to find a way to save the present, starting with the past the man finds himself stunned by a dateless world of life and prosperity. He spends his time there searching for the girl of his memories, seeing figments of her, not to sure if she's the girl he's been looking for. The scientists start to focus their control on the man and the next time he arrives in the past he is in touching distance of the girl. Love starts to blossom between the two, as they walk around Paris, she asks about him about his necklace that he got at the start of the war that was soon to happen. On his tells her of his past, which is too fanatical for her to believe. He wonders if this is right, to wonder for countless days in a quiet trust and love with the girl from his memories.
One day she seems to be frightened but the man isn't sure that what he's seeing is real or a dream as the tests on him increase in intensity. On the 50th day, the two meet in an animal museum, thanks to the testing the man is able to stay there without trouble and the two enjoy the day together as a couple. When the man returns to the present he realises that the visit to the museum would be his last as the tests change over to send him into the future due to the successful results the tests have had so far. The future is harder to reach when compared to the past but the man is able to make it through, into a new planet, in a new Paris. Upon arriving he is surrounded by the future humans who refused the man's present at first before the man tries to make peace in saying that the future humans can't leave the humans of the present to rot. They give him a power source as to revive civilisation and cut off any access to the future from then on. The man is then returned back to his cell, his memories used as bait to give the scientist what they want, knowing that he'd be executed. He remembers a message of the people of the future who had travels in time much more effectively then him, and were willing to let him stay with them in the future. He refused, wanting to meet the girl of his memories, ending up on the airport where his memory of the girl originated. As he approached the girl he sees the men from back in the present who chased him back into the past and it is then that he realises; his memory back then was of the death of himself.

Fig 3: visual of the airport where the original memory of the girl occurred 
The length of the film is short, the plot is a simple romance tragedy with the use of time travel. However despite this, the story is well developed, it's setting and use of time travel gives the film more depth. There are also 2 major time paradoxes in the film, with how when the man went to the future they were willing to give the power source needed for human survival to give to the present day and how the man saw his own death as a child. "La Jetée’s elliptic opening and closing scene display the same action from two perspectives, seen simultaneously by a man near the beginning and end of his life. It is the preeminent rendition of a classic paradox, and it is a science-fiction film stripped to its bare essence, its science."(Rumsey Taylor, Not Coming, 11/7/04)However despite this, due to the originality of the fact that "La Jetée" is motionless yet is able to show such detailed story of love and time travel led the short film to win a Prix Jean Vigo. While the narration could be seen as dull in tone it helps in drawing the viewer into the story "The narrator’s own haunting story is what makes this film truly mesmerising."(Marty Mapes, Movie Habit, 4/9/2000)


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