Saturday, 20 December 2014

Maya Winter Submission

Intro to Autodesk Maya:

e )      Character Part 2: Texturing and Shaders - http://chelsea-a-butler.blogspot.co.uk/2014/11/maya-character-part-2-texturing.html
g )      Character Part3: Lighting and Rendering - http://chelsea-a-butler.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/maya-intro-to-maya-character-part-3.html

Modelling 1: Digital Sets


Lighting and Rendering 1: Intro to Lighting


Visual FX: Visual Effects 2

Maya: Digital Sets Part 6 - Dirt Maps and Final Render



Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Film Review: Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' (1980)

Figure 1. The Shining Movie Poster
Based on Stephen King’s novel titled the same name, Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (1980) is one of those unforgettable horror thriller movies that never ceases to impress each generation it is displayed to. The visual effects and the immense performances are what make this film such a success. The consistent eerie-ness about the feature stimulates our minds to ask so many questions, such as the how, the who, and the why, a technique that continues throughout Kubrick’s films.

The production value of the film is certainly rather memorable for enhancing the film’s intention of maintaining discomfort and suspense. As Peter Bradshaw states, “Instead of the cramped darkness and panicky quick editing of the standard-issue scary movie, Kubrick gives us the eerie, colossal, brilliantly lit spaces of the Overlook Hotel (created in Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire), shot with amplitude and calm.” (Bradshaw, 2012). With it’s overly glossy walls and that ghastly geometric carpet, the Overlook Hotel doesn’t feel welcoming, but rather it feels too clinical, and despite it’s colossal size, a sense of claustrophobia is portrayed in some scenes. Sometimes this was achieved through Kubrick’s favoured technique of the steady camera shot. The camera tended to remain too close to the character, thus achieving an understanding of how they are feeling and thinking by being within their personal space.

Figure 2. 'Wendy terrified of Jack's Advances'

Although we may not be able to delve too deep into our character’s back stories and behaviours, we can somewhat gather that this family isn’t as close-knit as we would want them to be. There’s little to no emotion in their interactions with each other (prior to the mad events) which is another notable feature with Kubrick’s methods of directing. That unsettling atmosphere identifies the fact that there’s no love there, essentially, some viewers have speculated that there is a potential abusive relationship going on between the family, the root of it being Jack Nicholson’s character, Jack Torrance. As Roger Ebert stated, “Jack is an alcoholic and child abuser who has reportedly not had a drink for five months but is anything but a "recovering alcoholic.”” (Ebert, 2006). It is therefore noted that the character, Jack, is quite violent, this being realised within the scenes of whenever he enters the ‘Gold Room’ and hallucinates into thinking he is having a drink with the bartender. But it’s not just Jack that is imagining these strange illusions, it is all three characters that slowly become delusional from the suffocating atmosphere of the Overlook Hotel.

Figure 3. 'Jack peering through the smashed door'

Not only do the character’s spiral down towards madness, but it is lightly suggested that The Overlook Hotel is haunted, hence why Danny, the son of both Wendy and Jack, experiences these terrifying disturbances and visions. Whether the paranormal activities are causing the characters to lose their minds or not, we are unsure, but we can see that something that was essentially somewhat buried within Jack Torrence has been awakened. As Ian Nathan observed, “Grady, the previous caretaker, a man driven to slaughter his family (the source of Danny's disturbing second sight of the blue-dressed sisters) is another of Torrance's visitation states — "You have always been the caretaker," Grady suggests menacingly.” (Nathan, N/A). Looking at the fact that Jack has envisioned this malicious murdering caretaker is clue enough to the fact that Jack could also be potentially dangerous. Suggesting that Jack has ‘always been the caretaker’ foreshadows that he will do the same as the previous caretaker had done to his own family; murder them. Or, at least attempt to. And so leads up to the big event of the film where Jack chases both Danny and Wendy throughout the Overlook Hotel in an attempt to kill them, screaming the classic quote, “Here’s Johnny!”. Luckily, it doesn’t have such a bitter ending. But instead, a twist is included.

Figure 4. 'Jack frozen with a menacing expression'

As Danny and Wendy escape from the frozen prison, Jack, suffering a blow to the head earlier in the film, is trapped within the maze just outside of the hotel, to which he then collapses into the snow. The film then cuts to Jack’s face the next day, frozen from the blizzard in a menacing expression, his gaze staring up at us as if to emphasise the madness within. We are then brought to a photograph hanging on the wall inside the hotel. As we zoom in closer with each frame, our attention is then brought to a man. This man bared and extreme resemblance to Jack himself, but the confusing element lies with the fact that the photograph was taken within the 1920’s. Could this be the fact that Grady was suggesting? Was Jack the caretaker in a previous life? Or was it the poltergeist of the Overlook Hotel that possessed him to consider committing such crimes? Although the ending is unclear, it certainly leaves a chill within the atmosphere. 

Bibliography:

Bradshaw, P. (2012) ‘The Shining - review’ (01.11.12) In: http://www.theguardian.com/ (2012) [Online] At: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/nov/01/the-shining-review (Accessed on 16.12.14)

Ebert, R. (2006) ‘GREAT MOVIE - The Shining’ (18.06.06) In: http://www.rogerebert.com/ (2006) [Online] At: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-shining-1980 (Accessed on 16.12.14)


Nathan, I. (N/A) ‘The Shining - 'Heeeere's Johnny!!!!!’' (N/A) In: http://www.empireonline.com/ (N/A) [Online] At: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=132700 (Accessed on 16.12.14)

Illustrations:

Figure 1. 'The Shining Movie Poster' (1980) [Poster] At: http://www.impawards.com/1980/shining_ver1_xlg.html (Accessed on 16.12.14)

Figure 2. 'Wendy terrified of Jack's Advances' (1980) [Movie Still] At: http://cdn.bloody-disgusting.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/The-Shining-the-shining-25586158-1024-576.jpg (Accessed on 16.12.14)

Figure 3. 'Jack peering through the smashed door' (1980) [Movie Still] At: http://mentalfloss.com/sites/default/files/shining_0.jpg (Accessed on 16.12.14)

Figure 4. 'Jack frozen with a menacing expression' (1980) [Movie Still] At: http://img3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20140512045133/stephenking/images/e/e4/710.jpg (Accessed on 16.12.14)

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Film Review: Roman Polanski's "Repulsion" (1965)

 Figure 1. Repulsion Movie Poster

Roman Polanski’s “Repulsion” (1965) is certainly a spectacle to behold. It plays on a very psychological level in a sense that the main character, Carol, played by Catherine Deneuve, a young and beautiful woman, who at first may seem rather coy and reserved, but is actually rather repulsed by men, causing her to manifest this deep set disgust to manifest and allow her to slowly descend into madness. Set in swinging London, the story follows Carol as her mind spirals to the point of homicidal madness.

This disturbing drama is reflecting of Polanski’s methods of art house film, which creates these shocking visual effects that really set the atmosphere of making the audience uncomfortable. It’s as if each little thing that makes Carol tick, can now make the audience tick as of the immersive effect that is being experienced. As Mat Viola emphasises in their review, “Nobody but Polanski could make dripping water, ticking clocks, buzzing flies, clanging bells, ringing telephones and the distant playing of piano scales seem so disturbing, yet the persistent use of these nerve-racking aural effects, slightly amplified to reflect Carol’s distorted perception, create an atmosphere of unbearable edginess.” (Viola, 2008) It’s with these techniques that we can truly experience what the character is feeling at the time. With close up camera shots and dodgy soundtrack, the film almost makes the viewer feel claustrophobic and dazed with the absurdity of the feature.

Figure 2. Walls Begin to Crack

The visuals of the film really depict the way the character develops mentally and emotionally. A fine example would be that of the apartment that Carol resides in with her sister. Her environment ‘changes’ around her, deteriorating along with her mind. As Bosely Crowther emphasises, “Distortions in the rooms of the apartment tacitly reveal her mental state. Phantom arms that punch through the walls and seize her visualize her nightmare insanity.” (Crowther, 1965) As the film progresses, it is noticeable that the walls begin to crack, much like Carol herself, and with the rooms expanding and contracting, it is emphasised how distorted and complex her mindset is. Essentially, symbolism plays a large part in putting across the films true intentions. From the rotting rabbit carcass to when she applies lipstick as if to be ‘getting ready for her attacker to arrive’, it is clear to see what Carol is thinking, but we never fully understand why she does.
Figure 3. Male Hands Bursting Through the Walls

The main climax of the film was when Carol killed the two men who pursued her, one being a potential suitor smitten by her, and the other being her sleazy landlord trying to advance. Both murders were carried out within the apartment, as most of the film was, but, as Steve Biodrowski points out, “We are denied even the satisfaction of a last-minute revelation regarding Carole’s unhinged mentality. Polanski’s camera merely zooms in on a photograph of Carole as a young girl, staring angrily at her father, suggesting that the seeds of her madness were planted in childhood, perhaps buried forever, never to be fully explained.” (Biodrowski, 2009) It is unclear as to how and why Carol has been lead to behave and think in these certain ways. Some critics speculate that the panning in on the photograph displays the potential that her father may have possibly been the stimulus of her hatred towards men, as he could have sexually abused her at a young age. But Polanski denies these accusations, he merely wanted to put across that she was effected with this mentality from childhood onwards.

Figure 4. Carol's Family Photograph

Although “Repulsion” (1965) may not be the most fast-paced film, the subtext and symbolism, combined with a striking soundtrack and credible acting, are what makes the feature a notable performance. It’s written within the horror genre, but with it’s own artistic twist on the plot and the aesthetic of the film, conjuring up this suspense filled feature that doesn’t fail to shock. It may not be to every critic’s taste, but it is certainly a film that should be experienced.

Bibliography:

Viola, M. (2008) ‘Repulsion (Roman Polanski, 1965)’ (26.01.08) In: http://notesofafilmfanatic.com (2008) [Online] At: http://notesofafilmfanatic.com/?p=18 (Accessed on 09.12.14)

Crowther, B. (1965) ‘Movie Review Repulsion (1965) REPULSION’ (04.10.65) In http://www.nytimes.com/ (1965) [Online] At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF1739E471BC4C53DFB667838E679EDE (Accessed on 09.12.14)


Biodrowski, S. (2009) ‘ Repulsion (1965) - Horror Film Review’ (27.07.09) In: http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/ (2009) [Online] At: http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2009/07/repulsion-1965-horror-film-review/ (Accessed on 09.12.14)

Illustrations:

Figure 1. 'Repulsion Movie Poster' (1965) [Movie Poster] At: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/0/05/Repulsion.jpg (Accessed on 09.12.14)

Figure 2. 'Walls Begin to Crack' (1965) [Movie Still] At: http://onehundredimportantfilmschallenge.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/repulsion_shot25l.jpg (Accessed on 09.12.14)

Figure 3. 'Male Hands Bursting Through the Wall' (1965) [Movie Still] At: https://aaastern.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/repulsion.jpg (Accessed on 09.12.14)

Figure 4. 'Carol's Family Photograph' (1965) [Movie Still] At: http://s3.amazonaws.com/criterion-production/posts/2044-5d1c0e6713202381b41b499aa9890d5a/One_Scene_Repulsion_Still_video_still.jpeg (Accessed on 09.12.14)

Friday, 5 December 2014

Project: The "What If" Metropolis - Blocking Out My City in Maya

So I have finally managed to start working in Maya with my city. So to get a better understanding of how I would lay out the composition of the city, I did some rough models in Maya of the buildings I will create. Not a bad start, now on to the real thing! :)





Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Project: The "What If" Metropolis - New Improved Concept Art

It's taken a while, but I've finally got there! Here is my redesign of the final concept piece. I hope you all like it :)


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)