Thursday, 24 November 2011

Crit Presentation

Crit Presentation

Maya: Hotel Continued

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Edward Scissorhands (1990)

Fig. 1
Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands is a incredibly quirky depiction of a romantic fantasy. The film is commended for its set design and beautiful cinematography, one of Burton's finest: "With its comic-book design, 1950s chic and peerless, gothic invention, the film is a visual treat, while Depp's blinking bewilderment made his character one of the icons of the 1990s." (Film4 2008)

The plot follows Edward, a man built by a scientist who dies before finishing him, leaving Edward with scissors for hands. Edward is found and 'rescued' by the local Avon lady in his gothic castle, for which the set design is astonishingly simple and effective. The audience can straight away see the concept art behind the scene. Edward is then taken into the suburban 'bliss' village and is warmly welcomed. He soon becomes a well loved member of the town as both a gardener and hairdresser, but no sooner does he become welcomed, someone plots against him and ends in true Burton style. Edward becomes seen as a threat and runs to his castle, followed by Kim - his true love. Kim's boyfriend also follows and tries to kill them both, resulting in Edward killing him. Kim is left to cover-up the truth and tells the villagers both men are dead. The film ends on a slightly more brighter and magical note, with Kim and her grandchild looking out of the house window at the snow and Edward sculpting ice in the castle, with the line 'Before Edward came it never snowed'.     
Fig. 2
The pastel colours and smooth 'perfect' houses of the suburban village contrast beautifully to the sharp edged, black castle that Edward was created in - the fact that the difference is completely obvious proves effective in this circumstance, especially when the audience sees both structures together. Even the distinction between Edwards tight, leather, stiff clothing and the soft, pastel dresses of the housewives is appreciated by the audience. This assists in making Edward instantly distant to the other people living in the town. Film4 observes, "The small-minded community of a pastel-hued suburb is rocked when an Avon lady (Wiest) fosters Edward Scissorhands (Depp), the unfinished experiment of local Frankenstein, Vincent Price. A pallid, wild-haired innocent with a heart of gold and fingers of steel, Scissorhands becomes the neighbourhood's personal freakshow. He fascinates with his dextrous ability (as hairdresser, ice-sculptor etc.) and arouses strange desires in female loins. But he is never accepted into their pringle swathed hearts. Only Kim Boggs (Ryder), a companion in square-peg-round-hole ostracism, sees the beauty behind the boy's ghostly exterior and they begin a fairytale romance." (Film4 2008) Film4 sums the narrative up wonderfully and takes subtle note of the success of the design within the film.

Jonny Depp plays Edward as a wonderfully naive, child-like recluse. His 'stiff' body movements and bold facial expressions can't help, surprisingly, but make the audience fall in love with this character. Variety suggests, "Director Tim Burton takes a character as wildly unlikely as a boy whose arms end in pruning shears, and makes him the center of a delightful and delicate comic fable." (Variety 2008) Variety praises the narrative and style that Burton portrays through the film. 'Comic Fable' in particular sums the story up perfectly, the narrative similar to Harper Lee's To Kill A Mocking Bird, in the way both Edward and Boo Radely are outsiders, yet are loveable characters and try to do what's right by the people they love.
Fig. 3
Roger Ebert argues, "The movie takes place in an entirely artificial world, where a haunting gothic castle crouches on a mountaintop high above a storybook suburb, a goofy sitcom neighborhood where all of the houses are shades of pastels and all of the inhabitants seem to be emotional clones of the Jetsons." (Ebert 1990) It is apparent that Burton's style isn't appreciated by some critics and that the clear, evident set design is not to some peoples taste. This could be due to the extremes and stereotypes of the people and the village. However, with the narrative most can't help, but love Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands.

List of illustrations

Figure 1. Burton, Tim (1990) Edward Scissorhands Movie Poster. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 2. Burton, Tim (1990) Contrast between the Gothic Castle and the Quaint Suburban Village. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 3. Burton, Tim (1990) Gothic Castle and Garden of Topiary. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 4. Burton, Tim (1990) Jonny Depp as Edward. At:  (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 5. Burton, Tim (1990) Winona Ryder and ice sculpture. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)


Film4 (2008) Edward Scissorhands (1990). At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Variety (2008) Edward Scissorhands (1990). At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Roger Ebert (1990) Edward Scissorhands. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Avatar (2009)

Fig. 1
James Cameron's Avatar is an epic science fiction film. The script for Avatar was originally written in 1995, but Cameron felt with the lack of technology he would not be able to produce his vision for the world of Pandora. Within the film it is prominent that the visual concepts, set and character design make the film the success it is and together builds an entire eco-system, mostly from CGI (computer generated images), that’s believable to its audience. The film follows Jake, a disabled marine, who has taken his brother's place on a 'space' quest. Whilst on Pandora, the world that Cameron built entirely out of CG, Jake is transformed temporarily into a Na'vi. The Na'vi is the 'alien' population who inhabit the land. Jake then falls for a Na'vi, Neytiri, who teaches Jake about the world and creatures of Pandora. Meanwhile this is happening the milatary, humans, have pledged war upon the world of Pandora in order to take something valuable. The two, Na'vi and humans, fight and after an epic battle, in which set design and CG is visually stunning, in the end the Na'vi's win.  

Peter Bradshaw states, "After a run-up lasting 12 years, James Cameron has taken an almighty flying leap into the third dimension. His first new film for over a decade is in super-sleek new-tech 3D, and it is breathlessly reported to have taken the medium of cinema to the next level." (Bradshaw 2009) Bradshaw states the audiences anticipation for the film is been long awaited and that Cameron hasn't disappointed. Praising the technology, Bradshaw has made it clear that Avatar is a must see and has really evolved the world of cinematography and visual concepts.

Fig. 2
Since Titanic Cameron has felt the pressure to make something just as great, hence why so much media chatter and hype has been built around the film. The fact the set, location, genre is so entirely different to his one of his greatest successes is was questioned if Cameron could deliver. By the amount of praise received from critics and audiences it is clear he has succeeded Chris Hewitt observes, "It was already the biggest film of all time, but for the three people who missed it on the big screen and the millions of fans, the good news is that this swiftly-released Special Edition is less cash-in and more treat. Eight (or so) minutes of extra footage have been added into the film, landing in four main scenes. There’s an extended journey into the forest on Jake’s (Worthington) first trip outside as an avatar, including a visit to the abandoned school where Grace (Sigourney Weaver) once taught the Na’vi." (Hewitt 2009) Hewitt emphasises the success of Cameron and informs about the special edition bonus material.

Production design is the overall style and appearance that illustrates a film. It portrays genre, narrative, location and the visual concepts/ideas behind the film. Avatar’s bold and prominent use of style and high quality computer generated scenes have left audiences stunned. bold and prominent use of style and high quality computer generated scenes have left audiences stunned.

Fig. 3
Sukhey Sandhu observes, "Avatar arrives swathed in hyperbole. It’s meant to be the most eagerly awaited film of the last few years. The most expensive movie ever. The film with the wildest, most breathtaking and out-there digital effects any director has ever hatched up. It’s the envelope pusher, the film that redefines the possibilities of cinema, the work whose trickle-down effects on other artists will be felt for decades to come. At a point in the decade when critics are looking back, this is a film that is meant to be looking forward and boldly going where no film has gone before." (Sandhu 2009) Sandhu, like many other critics, have nothing but praise for this film. It is prominent that the design has a huge part to play for the success of the film. The CGI’s are immense and have a strong colour palette to work in conjunction with. The film uses full colour spectrum throughout, using vibrant shades of greens, purples and blues - neon colours. This is in comparison to recent films using a blue or sepia tint to the frames, hence making Avatar ‘shine’. The fluorescent colours bring the world of Pandora to life and makes something visually spectacular on screen. The lighting is constantly vibrant, even at night the rainforest of Pandora ‘glows fluorescently in the dark’ by the use of carefully designed plants, creatures and overall eco-system. The only point when the colours and lighting are dulled down/aren’t present within the film is when portraying the human’s base camp and when Pandora has been attacked by the humans. Hence, narrative takes on colour and lighting codes, design emphasises the mood and tone of a scene.

List of illustrations

Figure 1. Cameron, James (2009) Avatar Movie Poster. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 2. Cameron, James (2009) World of Pandora. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

Figure 3. Cameron, James (2009) Pocohontas Love Story. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)


The Guardian Peter Bradshaw (2009) Avatar. At: (Accessed on 14/11/11)

Empire Chris Hewitt (2009) Avatar Special Edition. At: (Accessed on:14/11/11)

The Daily Telegraph Sukhey Sandhu (2009) Avatar, Full Review. At: (Accessed on:20/11/11) (Accessed on:20/11/11)

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Digital Thumbnails (up to 102!!)

In the OGR I was given advice by Phil that my hut thumbnails were too generic - and although I really loved them I agreed, eventually!! So playing round with ideas I came up with the ball in a spiral concept and ran with that! Number 48 shows it in its basic idea and 51 is the finalised concept. The spiral is the branches and vines holding the hut in place and the vines, grass, leaves etc is the hut itself. The glow comes from the idea of it being night time - 'glowing huts'. Within my final design concept thumbnail I have decided to have the main hut central and large, then have in the background the smaller huts - I feel this will give my design a strong focal point and more depth. Thumbnails 91-95 are for the 'Strange World' just trying to develop textures and strong colours. The final design is simple in terms of design, but I intend to make it 'weird and beautiful' in my colours and textures. The 'Temple of Mahar' still hasn't got a strong final thumbnail, but for now I think the elements that will make up the design will be a good starting point, in particular 100-102. The idea of using a 'glassy' tiling on one of the walls in the temple. All in all I'm becoming more confident in my photoshop skills, but still have lots of room for improvement!!

Thumnail 51 finalised hut design

Final Concept for 'Strange World' Thumbnail

Final Concept for 'Tree Top Village' Thumbnail


During Friday's lesson with Photoshop Phil is where he gave me amazing ideas and inspiration for texture and composition from living bridges, where the people have used vines, logs, branches etc and naturally built a bridge across the water over a period of time. The photographs are amazing!! This will definitely influence heavily in 'Strange World' and 'Tree Top Village'.

(for more photographs go to:

Thumbnails 31-45 and 56-77

The thumbnails have definitely helped me gain a better grasp on perspective and given my concepts more depth. The two un-numbered images were sketched by Photoshop Phil, the second in particular has been a majorly sparked my imagination and will become part of my final concept for the 'Tree Top Village'. Number 60 is the final thumbnail for this. The 'Temple of Mahar' is nearly there, but the digital thumbnails have a better depiction (number 77 is where the inspiration for composition has come from). Number 67 is where I think I'm going to develop into my final concept for 'Strange World' as it has depth and will give me a chance to detailing in the foreground.

Maya: Hotel

Maya this time round is starting to feel more familiar, however still find myself having minor set backs!! But thanks to Tom and Simon I'm keeping on track, fingers crossed I have a final rendered version up here soon!!