Monday, 29 October 2012

Environment Concept Art - Garden

Final Concept

The Process - perspective lines, blocking, using maya blocked out house for perspective, texture, colour, detail

Without Overlaying Texture

Final Concept

Environment Thumbnail Sketches/Digital

Below are a few quick digital sketches of the garden environment - trying to figure/sketch out the layout and space around the house, also considering what angles work and where the different elements should be placed.

The factory thumbnails became a bit of a struggle when I realised they had to be similar to the garden in terms of space and the composition of elements within scene. Below are several images portraying how I'm trying to master the blend of the two environments. 

Factory Thumbnail

Blending the Factory and Garden Concepts

Perspective Outline created by Phil Hosking

Basic Model taken into Photoshop to be worked upon to create the Factory Concept Art

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Initial Story Idea and Character Influence Maps

So far this is my very basic narrative concept; a mad scientist (villain) tries to take over the world with an army of ghost dinosaurs, which he transports back through time via his time machine. His side kick, a clumsy, short armed T-Rex, brings comedy to the scene, as completing the easiest tasks given by his master turns out to be a complete shambles. To stop the mad scientist destroying the world the female warrior (hero), who initially worked for the villain, fights back and vaporises the scientist’s creatures, whilst trying to destroy the one thing that will stop the chaos – the time machine.  

The intended target audience will be late teens; hence my final character concepts will have to be in a more realistic style to appeal.

Hero - Female Warrior - I've been looking at fictional female characters that are the fighters in their narratives and fixated on the idea of using all the basic shapes within her design – this will work well with the back story since the hero was once working with the villain. The image to the side of my influence map is definitely a major inspiration, as I love the idea of having the hero as a tribal warrior and using parts of her costume that will accentuate the genre – dinosaur ghost hunters. I’ve been thinking of ways the hero can destroy the dinosaur ghosts and haven’t got a fixed idea yet, but I’m thinking of having old fashioned warrior weapons, such as a bow and arrow or sword, but then putting a magical twist to make them believable in context. 

Villain - Mad Scientist – Within my influence map I have chosen a few clich├ęs when it comes to this character, but I like the concepts to the right – hence modernising this stereotype with my own twist. Main prop for the villain will clearly be the time machine.

Side Kick - Dinosaur Ghost - Originally I was going to have my side kick alongside my hero, but in this case the villain is the lucky or should I say unlucky choice. This is the character I'm least certain of at the moment as I have never heard of a dinosaur ghost.

Possible twist in the plot; hero, villain and side-kick worked together, until hero turns good. The side-kick appears to be on the side of the villain due to the fact the villain has the key to the portal and can destroy him – but secretly and more evidently as the story continues he is more affiliated with the hero. Either way the side-kick will lose out when the hero has to destroy the time machine.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Harold and Maude (1971)

Fig. 1

Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude (1971) is a dark comedy, with two rather intriguing and eccentric protagonists. Ashby has a way of making something so serious and mentally disturbing as suicide into something uplifting and comical, even if in some instances it makes the audience feel slightly 'grossed out'! So although not a personal favourite, the clever use of the character arc makes the film a must see. The plot follows a young man who is obsessed with death, Harold. Harold's constant staging of fake, decorative suicides and hobby of attending funerals makes him socially rejected from his environment, despite his mother's best attempts to gain him a wife. Whilst attending one of the many funerals, Harold meets 79 year old Maude, who instantly takes interest in him. Her quirky, carefree attitude on life intrigues Harold and for once in his life he has a friend. It's not long before the two of them are creating havoc and become more than friends. As Maude teaches Harold how to live and experience art, music, love etc she herself is ready to die. With the shock ending and change in character arcs the film expresses the two different outlooks on life vibrantly.  

Roger Ebert observes, "Death can be as funny as most things in life, I suppose, but not the way Harold and Maude go about it. They meet because they're both funeral freaks, and one day their eyes lock over a grave. They fall into conversation after Maude steals Harold's hearse and offers him a ride. Harold drives a hearse, by the way, because he is fascinated by death, particularly his own. So fascinated that maybe the only reason he doesn't kill himself is that suicide would put an end to his suicide fantasies. You can see that Harold is a young man with a problem." (Ebert 1972) Ebert eloquently outlines the narrative and touches upon why Harold, although obsessed with death, will not actually commit suicide.    

Fig. 2
In terms of themes and character arcs the film is brave and bold. The fact that in the first five minutes of the film we are faced with the serious and horrifying scene of Harold hanging himself, then to contrast the image with his mothers calm and nonchalant reaction creates an unthinkable humour. It already puts the audience at a compromising stance on what type of film they're viewing. Derek Adams states, "Like Bob Rafelson, a director similarly obsessed with the trials and tribulations of the children of the rich, Ashby forever treads the thin line between whimsy and absurdity and 'tough' sentimentality and black comedy. " (Adams 2008) Adams picks up upon the directing styles of Ashby, whilst comparing them with Rafelson and celebrates his boldness in terms of themes.

Fig. 3
The films style and direction is like Marmite you either 'love it or hate it'. It has a very morbid humour and a constant need to add all things eccentric. Variey Staff argues, "Harold and Maude has all the fun and gaiety of a burning orphanage. Ruth Gordon heads the cast as an offensive eccentric who becomes a beacon in the life of a self-destructive rich boy, played by Bud Cort. Together they attend funerals and indulge in specious philosophizing. Director Hal Ashby's second feature is marked by a few good gags, but marred by a greater preponderance of sophomoric, overdone and mocking humor ... One thing that can be said about Ashby - he begins the film in a gross and macabre manner, and never once deviates from the concept. That's style for you." (Variety 2008) Variety expresses an immediate dislike of the genre in terms of its bold stance on prominent themes and the way in which they are conveyed throughout the film. It celebrates slightly the comical impact the film has in places, but mainly focuses on the fact that this extreme dark comedy isn't for everyone.

List of illustrations

Figure 1. Ashby, Hal (1971) Harold and Maude Movie Poster. At: (Accessed on: 18/10/12)

Figure 2. Ashby, Hal (1971) Harold's suicide 'pranks'. At: (Accessed on: 18/10/12)

Figure 3. Ashby, Hal (1971) Harold and Maude. At: on: 18/10/12)


Roger Ebert (1972) Harold and Maude. At: (Accessed on: 18/10/12)

Derek Adams (2008) Harold and Maude (1971). At: (Accessed on: 18/10/12)

Variety Staff (1971) Harold and Maude. At: (Accessed on: 18/10/12)

Class Work, Ideas and Quick Sketches

After last week being slightly cautious about the new unit, Character Design is becoming very enjoyable and I feel I’m improving with every class. In week two we learnt about shapes and how each character is built up of three main components either circles, squares or triangles. Each shape represents a characteristic:

Circle = Safe

Triangle = Evil

Square = Strong

Hence, if a character is made up of squares and triangles they were most likely to be a villain. Below we had to take a character and change the shapes in order to create a new persona e.g. transform Hercules’s circles and squares into squares and triangles – from strong and kind to dangerous and tough. Later on in the class we were asked to take another character and draw them in a different style e.g. transforming Krusty the Clown from cartoon to a more realistic sketch – the outcome something very uncanny, cannot believe I draw something that looks like the stuff from a child’s nightmare!!! (- however I manage to keep the correct proportions!!)

Below are a few quick sketches I did after class to work on the idea of shapes and their meanings. I half thought about my heroin character and the other half just experimented. They're by no means accomplished, but I feel happier with creating a character using basic shapes to build.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Cast Away (2000)

Fig. 1

Roger Zemeckis's Cast Away (2000) is a drama film, staring Tom Hanks as the protagonist. The plot follows 'workaholic' Chuck Noland, a Fed Ex employee, who is left stranded on an uninhibited island after his plane crashed in the South Pacific Ocean. The audience follows him on a journey of survival and watches the many physical and emotional challenges he faces whilst in solidarity. Roger Ebert argues, "The movie's power and effect center on the island. Chuck, the time-and-motion man, finds himself in a world without clocks, schedules, or much of a future. There's something wonderfully pathetic about the way he shouts "Hello? Anybody?" at the sand and trees. Those are his last words for a time, as he tries to remember childhood lessons about firemaking and shelter construction. Then there's a four-year flash-forward and we see the formerly plump Chuck as a gaunt, skinny survivor. (Zemeckis shut down the movie while Hanks lost weight.) I find it fascinating when a movie just watches somebody doing something. Actual work is more interesting than most plots. Chuck splits coconuts, traps fish, builds fires, and makes use of the contents of several FedEx boxes that washed up with him (too bad nobody was mailing K-rations). And he paints a face on a volleyball and names it Wilson--a device which, not incidentally, gives him an excuse for talking out loud." (Ebert 2000) Ebert explains the plot of the film and how the use of inanimate objects assists in communicating the progress Chuck is making on the island. The fact the film was shut down for a year whilst Hanks lost the weight and grew his hair and beard just shows the dedication, as well as the lengths Zemeckis would go to in order to make the film as authentic as possible.  

Fig. 2

Although there are several comical elements throughout the film, Zemeckis never lets the audience forget the harsh reality the protagonist has been throttled into. A deserted island and no means of survival, Chuck has to learn the hard way how to remain alive in solidarity. During the film several packages float to shore after the crash, each are purposefully thought out and drive the narrative, as well as depict Chuck's objectives. For instance the idea of time is reflected by the pocket watch he was given by his partner at the start of the film and the fact it has a photograph of her inside shows what he is living for - that one day he will return to her. This object represents hope and an underlying determination not to give up. Empire Magazine observes, "If the film involes all sorts of Robinson Crusoe-styled cliches - the initial lack of hunting skills, the inability to generate fire - they are elevated by Hanks' ability to convince and Zemeckis' commitment to putting the character through the mill: stones rip into the soles of Noland's naked feet; the discovery of the aircraft's drowned pilot; and, most gut-wrenching of all, a DIY act of dentistry involving an ice skate that is already a strong contender for most squirm-inducing scene of the year." (Empire Magazine 2000) Empire Magazine discusses how Zemeckis takes what are the necessary survival clinches and turns them on their head with true grit and creditability to make a truer depiction of what the protagonist is faced with. Empire also praises Hanks' portrayal, as both actor and director give an entertaining, yet real idea of what island life is like. With an actor like Hanks it would be easy to go down the comical route for practically the whole film, but the director felt it was important to give the audience a darker truth.

Fig. 3
Another object that was used brilliantly within the film is Wilson the volleyball. 'Wilson's' role thoughout the film was to act as an insight into Chuck's internal thoughts, instead of using the less personal and 'easier' option of a voice over or narrator. Apparently in order for Chuck's dialogue to sound more natural with the inanimate object, lines were written for Wilson too - making the relationship between man and volleyball believable. Never would it have been believed that a volleyball could become a source of key human interaction to keep one man's sanity and to some a beloved character to many of the viewers. Hanks plays Chuck effortlessly and keeps the audience gripped throughout with his antics on the island, expressing all the emotions and complications a person would find themselves facing if in the same situation. George Perry observes, "With Tom Hanks as a notable exception, not many stars nowadays have the integrity or presence to carry a picture in the way of golden age greats such as Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Henry Fonda or the one Hanks is most often compared with, James Stewart. "Cast Away" is a long film and for much of the time, Hanks is on screen by himself, his only dialogue addressed to an inanimate ball. A lesser performer would have made it an unendurable ordeal." (Perry 2001) Perry applauds Hanks acting and compares him to Hollywood's greatest from the golden age. As Hanks is on screen by himself for about ninety percent of time, it was vital to have an actor who could convey, as well as he did, the comical moments with the dark undertones of his solitary life on the island.

List of illustrations

Figure 1. Zemeckis, Robert (2000) Cast Away Movie Poster. At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)

Figure 2. Zemeckis, Robert (2000) 'Island life'. At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)

Figure 3. Zemeckis, Robert (2000) Wilson. At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)


Roger Ebert (2000) Cast Away. At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)

Empire Magazine (2000) Cast Away. At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)

BBC George Perry (2001) Cast Away. At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)

Friday, 19 October 2012

Pleasantville (1998)

Fig. 1
Gary Ross's Pleasantville (1998) is an American 90's fantasy comedy-drama. Pleasantville uses cinematography techniques involving the change in colour from black and white to technicolour to portray the prominent themes - that when we challenge our identity there is no such thing as a 'perfect' life structure and no one way to be/exist as. The plot follows teenage siblings David (Tobey Maguire) and Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) who are magically transported from their chaotic 1990's dysfunctional, colourful life structure to a 1950's stereotypical black and white sitcom, where everything is 'perfect and right with the world'. They assume the identities of Mary-Sue and Bud and try to conform to the life style they've been thrust into, yet in a world where sex does not exist and the books are blank pages bound together, its clear these 90's kids are sure to make a stir. As the people of Pleasantville discover the concepts of art, music, books, sex and not conforming to stereotypical living, colour ripples through the black and white background, from the subtly of a red cherry and pink bubble gum to trees blossoming pink flowers and full colour citizens.  

Colour plays a big part in the plot and assists the narrative throughout, conveying changes within the community and its individuals. Almar Halflidason observes, "Both teenagers set off ripples in the bland town with their individuality exciting some, while threatening others. Vivid Technicolor tones seep into the black and white settings, as some within the town ditch their dreary existences to explore new emotions, and indulge in new-found creativity." (Haflidason 2001) Haflidason explains how the two protagonists impact upon their new environment and how the use of colour accentuates the changes being inflicted. Throughout the film the audience learns how the introduction of colour, within the 1950's black and white setting, is a signifier in terms of a transition in identity.      

Fig. 2 
Pleasantville appears at the start to be a typical comedy-drama with a touch of fantasy, to be watched for entertainment purposes, yet as the film continues the underlying and prominent themes makes it so much more. Ross's emphasis on stereotypes and cinematography techniques allows the viewer to see clearly the point he is making.  Roger Ebert describes, "Pleasantville" is the kind of parable that encourages us to re-evaluate the good old days and take a fresh look at the new world we so easily dismiss as decadent. Yes, we have more problems. But also more solutions, more opportunities and more freedom. I grew up in the '50s. It was a lot more like the world of "Pleasantville" than you might imagine. Yes, my house had a picket fence, and dinner was always on the table at a quarter to six, but things were wrong that I didn't even know the words for." (Ebert 1998) Ebert eloquently portrays what Pleasantville entails, the fact that when thinking about the past decades we have rose tinted glasses on and only see the nostalgic bliss that we believe to be a 'perfect' world. In fact we are just as ignorant as the stereotypes depicted within the film,  the idea being ignorance isn't bliss, that there is something more to life then trying to live it a specific way - someone's idea of perfect.  

Fig. 3
Janet Maslin argues, "Much of ''Pleasantville'' concentrates affectionately on the television-perfect family into which the teen-agers have been dropped. William H. Macy brings a funny, touchingly naive bombast to the father's role, while Joan Allen truly does bloom as the mother. Ms. Allen gives a lovely performance as a housewife who cares most about lavishing vein-clogging food on her family (''And of course, a ham steak!'' she declares at breakfast time) until that rogue color begins creeping in. When it arrives at that fateful night when Dad gets home to find no dinner, ''Pleasantville'' recapitulates the changing family atmosphere of baby boomers' after the ''Father Knows Best'' years." (Maslin 1998) Maslin praises Macy and Allen on their part in conveying their starting stereotypical roles, as well as pinpointing a key theme of the film - sexism within the 1950's and idealising family life. The fact you have such contrasting family structures at the start of the film - 'scatty' single parent compared to loved-up idealistic mum and dad - hits hard on the issue of the transformation in family structure over the years.

List of illustrations

Figure 1. Ross, Gary (1998) Pleasantville Movie Poster. At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)

Figure 2. Ross, Gary (1998) A black and white Jeniffer with red cherry. At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)

Figure 3. Ross, Gary (1998) David and Margaret Henderson - David still unable to change from black and white into colour. At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)


Roger Ebert (1998) Pleasantville. At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)

BBC Almar Haflidason (2001) Pleasantville (1998). At: (Accessed on: 13/10/12)

The New York Times Janet Maslin (1998) Pleasantville (1998) Condemned to Repeat the Joy of the Past. At: Tomatoes (Accessed on: 13/10/12)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Unit 8: Character Design Project

The most anticipated and feared unit has begun ... character design!!! As you may or may not know character design has not been my friend, but here’s hoping over the next 12 weeks this changes dramatically! And what better way to start it with than 'Dinosaur Ghost Hunters' - yes this is my starting point and my task is to create a hero, villain and side kick to go with my delegated genre. Well, it is different there's no denying that, which is probably the best way to go as it gives me the chance to create something truly original - anyway enough of my 'jiber-jaber'!! Below are a few of my influences and an idea for who my target audience will be.
My initial thoughts about 'Dinosaur Ghost Hunters' is across between Scooby-DooJurassic Park and Ghostbusters, hence portrayed in my influence maps. In terms of audience and style I haven't pinpointed it yet, as I need to have a definitive story idea to know who to attract, but in terms of style I was thinking of going for a slightly more realistic/illustrative look, so somewhere between cartoon and real. 

Below are sketches from the first lesson where we were challenged to draw random combinations, mine was a hippie secret agent - I think I've got the hippie down, but need more secret agent!!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Environment Thumbnail Sketches : Garden

In our final narrative we have two definitive locations – the countryside house garden view and the steel mill factory. I’ve been delegated the task of designing both. Through much group discussion, I have a clear idea in mind of how the first location (garden) is going to look, hence below are several thumbnails portraying my current thought process. I still need to draw a definitive house design, but the element of spacing and content within the garden is pretty much there. The thumbnails are very rough so in my next collection I hope to define my thoughts further. Thinking into house style and materials/textures Castle Combe came to mind, this will be taken into account in the final concept. In style terms we are planning to add a crosshatch texture onto both character and environment to add more ‘grit’ to it, as well as signify a unique style.


Character Thumbnail Sketches : Charles

Here are a few quick character thumbnail sketches to possibly assist Anita in designing our final narrative protagonist, Charles. In our team we have delegated specific tasks to each individual but still felt that if everyone created a few thumbnails in terms of character and environment it would allow a more creative final design.  


Mudbox: Week 1 and 2

I've always had trouble with character design so within Mudbox I've been able to create a variety of caricature faces, which is great as I feel it has given me a lift in designing. Below are a few faces I've created using the majority of tools available within the software, in the last design I was playing with texture and basic application of colour.

Cartoon Modelling: Part 1 Shirt

Smoothed preview of modelled shirt

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Narrative Outline Draft

Narrative Outline Draft

Influence Maps

In terms of a style for our animation I looked at 19th Century artwork in the chance a style would stand prominent. In terms of the locations I started to do further research into 19th Century housing in England and machinery in factories. Below are inspirational references.