Saturday, 26 November 2016

Character Design: Woman Design Progress 27/11/2016

Sketch 1

Sketch 2

Posture Study

Facial Study

Head Shape Study
Body Shape Progress
There is still a lot of work to be done on this character, now all there needs to be is more of a sense of 'Character' and less Orthographic. Make her feel more alive.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Narrative: Mad Max Fury Road (2015), Maddie Maxxie 21/11/2016

Figure 1: 'Mad Max Fury Road' (2015) Poster
This film review will focus on the film 'Mad Max Fury Road' (2015), the story is set in a world where everything has been wiped out, humanity has had to restart with no laws, no rules and nothing to stop anyone doing whatever they want. The story follows a man known as Mad Max, who is captured by the group 'The War Boys'. When he escapes he can see there is an issue with no easy way around except straight through the middle, he must then hit this challenge to liberate the people of the badlands, giving everyone freedom.

The Film was released in 2015, was directed by George Miller and produced by Doug Mitchell. the cinematography was done by John Seale and the soundtrack for the film was created by Junkie XL (Tom Holkenborg).

So it's time once again to do an 'Actual' film review, feels like forever since the blog last did an official 'Critique' of a film so expect the juicy goodness of a film review here with a twist. There is a topic for this film review which will be the way the film is presented, what its made for and did it achieve its ultimate goal.

What is Exploitation Cinema?

Exploitation cinema is a film which is made to be successful financially, a money maker film. Usually, exploitation films take topics or trends of that time and exploit them, making the film more popular and more likely to make a profit. Mad Max expands on a couple factors, one of which it being that its action film which is an immediate draw to the film but the second being is that it's a continuation of an existing franchise. It's well known that film has come a long way in the past couple years, and with the advances in movie quality, VFX, and acting film is a lot different to how it was in the 1980's. Without the technological limitations of an older age and the standard of most action films in the modern age we all get to see what mad max can be in its fullest potential, that being the second exploitation.

Figure 2: Mad Max
So the first topic is about how good is the film and its purpose. the first thing that needs to be understood about this film is that the film is made to entertain rather than captivate its audience. Some examples of this include Harry Potter (2001-2011), which focuses on its visuals and it narrative, 'Twelve Angry Men' (1957) only focuses on its narrative whilst Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) mainly focuses on its visual.The film whilst being an amazing watch with some superb stunts, action, and VFX, the film lacks any real story, but this isn't due to incompetence from the writers but is the way the film was intended to be seen. 



There is still a basic plot for the film in order to create some sort of believable story, that story being: 


Max gets caught, Max escapes, Max teams up with some women, Max Runs away, Max comes back to Citadel. 

That's the plot in a nutshell.


Where Mad Max succeeds most is how it has been created, every single little detail in the film has been taken into account, from prop's, vehicles and some of the characters really ties together well, the film is consistent and delivers what you expect. The whole idea of the film is to make money, be a stereotypical Micheal Bay film with explosions and action going off right, left and center. The film is also easy to understand, at no point in the film are you either confused or annoyed at what's going on. You wouldn't need  to fully understand the plot to fully enjoy it, and it's been made that way on purpose.

You don't need an introduction, you don't need to be prepared, all you need is some free time and a couple seconds to watch the film from any point and you can enjoy it. "From its very first scenes, “Fury Road” vibrates with the energy of a veteran filmmaker working at the top of his game, pushing us forward without the cheap special effects or paper-thin characters that have so often defined the modern summer blockbuster. Miller hasn’t just returned with a new installment in a money-making franchise. The man who re-wrote the rules of the post-apocalyptic action genre has returned to show a generation of filmmakers how they’ve been stumbling in their attempts to follow in his footsteps." (R Tallerico. 2015)

Figure 3: Mad Max & Imperator Furiosa
Now this film is also a very good example of how messages can be conveyed through design rather than through story, and the symbolism in the film is also super well done when looked into further detail. Some examples of this include Max's 'Dog Mask' and Immortan Joe's battle armor, but by far the most significant in the whole film is Imperator using Max as the gun rest. The film may not have a real emotional plot but that doesn't mean it cannot have loveable and memorable characters, as well as a ton of symbolism, meaning, and depth to the film

Let's start with Max's Mask and Joe's armor as they both seem to have a certain trait to them, Max's mask is almost like some sort of dog collar, representing control over the individual who wears it. Now because of the how Max's face mask is presented its almost as if he is some sort of prisoner, whilst he may be a 'literal' prisoner of the war boys the mask can symbolize something bound, limited or tamed. When Max is in captivity he is a prisoner, bound to his full potential. When he breaks free he is unbound and unchallenged, showing Max that in order to become stronger to survive he must tame insanity and willpower in order to break from a constant loop that has been set up for him.

On the other hand, we have Immortan Joe, a madman with power, charismatic leadership, and intelligent manipulation. Right at the very start of the film we see Joe being worshiped with white sand, right after his worship, he is fitted with what appears to be battle armor. For most of the film he is seen as a god among his people, an icon worshiped by many, so when this god 'Dies' it is a literal way of saying that he is not a god among men.

We see at the very start of the film that Joe is just a man, a crazy man but still a man, the armor merely hides his mortality. His mask plays a good role in the intimidation face for Joe's character, almost separating Joe from every single character in the film, making him appear more alien compared to most characters, that why he is so distinctive in the film and how his idea of being a god is gotten across to the viewer.

Figure 4: Guitar Guy
The most important character in the film by a long way is Imperator Furiosa and what she represents as a female lead. In the past few years woman have become a much stronger kind of character, turning from 'Damsel in Distress's' into women who can hold their own against men. Now in the design and meaning of this character is interesting because Imperator has two things working against her as a character, the first being is that is a female which for this day and age is nowhere near as crippling of a disadvantage as before, but the other being that she has only one arm, she is crippled.

Now it's not the disadvantages on their own which make them crippling, it's that they both act in unison, so you have a female lead in a film with only one arm, already male advantages can be seen in the film, especially when you see how female have been shown in the film.

The females in the film are portrayed as either useless or breeding farms, showing how Joe has monopolized his own system where it favors him. So already we have so many things working against the women, and as if that is not enough there is also the group of old women near the end of the film. Now at the same time, it shows how badass these old women are (And you end up cheering for them) it still represents how long it has taken these women to adapt and begin to take back their own control, and by the time they try too they are too old anyway.

Imperator Furiosa, however, despite everything she has been pitted against her still can not only hold her own against anyone, she can make morally good decisions and be the strongest character in the film and sets an example for a lot of females today.

"What’s really fascinating is how casually Fury Road throws this in, and how willingly it abandons some of pulp’s most pervasive gender tropes. The film’s entire plot is about five beautiful young women escaping sexual servitude, but it’s a film during which sexual peril virtually never comes up — and when it does, it’s instantly subverted. Female characters are shot, stabbed, and run over just like male ones, but they’re never singled out by leering villains or treated like prizes. And while women might be property under Immortan Joe’s patriarchy, men are disposable, and just as tightly controlled." (A Robertson. 2015)


Figure 5: Imperator Furiosa

At one point in the film, the crew is trying to hold off their opposition and move their armored truck whilst it is stuck. Max attempts to take out the opposition but fails to do so, however, when Imperator decides to take the shot she takes the rifle off of Max, uses him as a rest for the snipe and tells him "Don't breath", giving him a direct order. this single act shows how the woman has become equals to men in films, in this case, she is superior to Max which is a brilliant role reversal of what were used to seeing in an action film, instead of the bulky man doing all of the action its Imeriosa doing all of the heavy liftings.

Overall this film is a great example of exploitation in cinema done right, the film not only gives you what you expect of a film within exploitation cinema but has serious depth to it as well. The exploitation in the film is the amount of action and the design of the film, at no point does the film feels 'out of place'. It all feel's natural and with the message it tries to deliver it doesn't take over the whole film, rather it nicely sits in the background waiting to be discovered to anyone who might try to look at this film's deeper meaning.

Mad Max Fury Road (2015) is an exploitation film done right, with the right amount of action, content, and depth to make this film a seriously amazing film. "Mad Max: Fury Roadkicked my ass hard. It'll kick yours. So get prepped for a new action classic. You won't know what hit you." (P Travers. 2015)



Bibliography

Figure 1: Robertson, A. (2015) Mad max: Fury road review. 
At:
http://www.theverge.com/2015/5/13/8600639/mad-max-fury-road-review
(Accessed on 21 November 2016)

Figure 2: Tallerico, B. (2015) ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’.
At:
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/mad-max-fury-road-2015
(Accessed on 21 November 2016)

Figure 3:  Travers, P. (2015) ‘“Mad max: Fury road” movie review’.
At:
http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/mad-max-fury-road-20150513
(Accessed on 21 November 2016)



Image Bibliography

Figure 1:
'Mad Max Fury Road' (2015) Poster
http://ultraimg.com/images/1392190-w9vj6.jpg

Figure 2: 
Mad Max

Figure 3:
Imperator Furiosa

Friday, 18 November 2016

Maya: Head Modelling Progress 18/11/2016


I'm trying to only use the tutorial when I need it, trying to figure the whole process out is a little confusing but it can be done.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Character Design: Baby Reworked 13/10/2016

New Baby Design
After feedback from the OGR I have now flushed out the design of the baby a little more, looking at the ideas I have as source material for his design. For example, his nappy is mean to look like sandbags, and one of his helmet clips is a dummy.

Also turning the head into less of a soft mushroom/marshmallow shape and taking elements of the actual helmet into the design was quite key. Now at the edges, he has slight curls on the helmet, and the helmet itself is quite a snug fit.

The last edition was the wellington boots, Justin mentioned of how a toddler actually moves, emphasizing a waddling movement, so it only seemed appropriate to give him wellington boots. Plus soldiers usually have heavy boots to protect their feet.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Narrative: B-Movies, The Wolf Man (1941)

Figure 1: 'The Wolf Man' (1941) Poster

This film review will focus on the film 'The Wolf Man' (1941), the story follows a man by the name of Larry Talbot who recently came back to Talbot Mansion. On one eventful Larry finds himself in a fight with a wolf, however, this is no ordinary wolf, it is a werewolf. As time goes on Larry begins to realize his horrible fate, it all lead up to the town going on a great hunt in order to find the beast before it finds them.

The film was released in 1941, was directed by George Waggner and was written by Curt Siodmak and the cinematography was done by Joseph Valentine. 

The topic for this film will be about B-Movies, this film was an assigned task for the years group, so we all had to go find a B-Movie from the 1940's or the 1950's. A well-known B-Movie was The Wolf Man, so in this review, there will be a breakdown of The Good, The Bad, and the Hairy Larry.



What are B-Movies?

B-Movies are films usually made with an extremely low budget with the hope of making lots of money. The main difference between a full blockbuster film and a B-movie is that a blockbuster whilst still having much higher production values they can sometimes be restricted due to the fact they are usually continuations of other films.

The Wolf Man, however, is different as it is inspired by the old folklore legend of werewolves rather than a continuation of something else. This film is quite a good representation of what is expected of a B-Movie, but instead of being a continuation of something is created something new from the old.

Figure 2: The Wolfman


What is usually expected of a B-Movie?

You can usually expect a lot of low budget special effects, this is because B-Movies have an extremely low budget, so they need to save as much money as possible. A good example of this are props, sets, effects and actors who are constantly re-used to save money, rather than just creating all new assets from scratch, saving money in the long run.

Also, whilst still some B-Movies are really well created they only have a set amount of time to complete a project, this can sometimes lead to some takes of a sequence to be much less refined, unlike AAA movies which have the budget and time to get the exact shots they want. Time constraints can also sometimes lead to a very weak story or a story that can have a few flaws. So whilst some B-movies can still be a really good watch, no-one should ever expect anything spectacular.


Figure 3: Larry

The Good
  • Does its job 
  • Set's are very decent 
  • There are subtle clue to the story throughout the film 
  • The characters all feel good 
  • The whole film has good progression except for one part. 

The film as whole works, you get the 90-minute experience everyone expected and whilst the film may not be very high in production value it still works as a film, watchable and enjoyable, to an extent. The sets in the film are also very well done, having the fog in a lot of the sets really gives the film a spooky atmosphere. The sets, whilst still being great, do lose their sense of location and depth once you start seeing thew same forest set over and over again.

The film's best point is how it portrays the story to you before it even happens. During the film, your are given little clues so you can try to piece together the whole film before it even gets to the halfway point. Two good examples the star with five side constantly makes an appearance and Larry's subtle emotional changes as he realizes what is about to happen to him. The movie is packed to the brim with this stuff, the only real flaw with this is that the plot can be figured out at about the halfway point for the film, making the rest of the film a waiting game. The characters in the film also feel flushed out and real, at no real point was there a moment where any of the characters could be severely disliked, and finally, the pacing of the film is very well done apart from the end.


The Bad

The main problem with the film is its ending, not the contents of it but rather 'How' it ends, the gang find Larry as the Werewolf and kill him. Now usually with any sort of ending there is some sort of slope outwards to represent a nice ease out of the film as seen in the Freytag's Pyramid. Instead of having a slope to ease the film out the plot does a complete dead dive and ends instantly. The reason for this was probably because how restricted the team would have been for time and money.

Another point that can be easily spotted is multiple reused assets, stated earlier was the re-use of assets in the film. Using multiple actors in some scenes is quite common but still seeing these things over and over again can really take the mood out of a film. Some set assets can be understandable in this aspect but multiple people is a quick way to kill depth and remind you this is just a play.



Image Bibliography

Figure 1: 'The Wolf Man' (1941) Poster

Figure 2: The Wolfman

Figure 3: Larry

Friday, 4 November 2016

Narrative: Character & Hollywood, Wild Bill (2011)

Figure 1: 'Wild Bill' (2011) Cover

This film review will be focusing on the film 'Wild Bill' (2011), the story follows a local hood gangster nicknamed Wild Bill for his previous endeavors, who recently was been released from prison. Not knowing what has happened whilst he has been in prison he returns home only to find out he has two kids who are constantly getting into trouble. When the whole families situation goes seriously south it's up to Bill prevent any harm from coming to his boys.


The film was released in 2011, was directed by Dexter Fletcher and was produced by Tim Cole and Sam Tromans. George Richmond was responsible for the cinematography and Christian Henson was responsible for the music.


The topic for this film will be Character and Hollywood. Now this film may not have been produced in Hollywood but for the sake of explaining everything to do with this topic, this film will be used as an example. Once again expect very little 'Reviewing' of the film as the idea of this film review will be to break down the film to understand the concepts presented. Wild Bill's story is something that does not shine in Drama, Action or Scale in a Hollywood film but it is very human, relatable and true.


Genericism

The idea behind genericism is that we don't really know much about them and we're not meant to really care for them, they are there for a single purpose which should be clear right away. Genericism is a trait usually associated with canon fodder. A misconception about genericism is that it could make a character boring or insufficient but this is not the case, characters that can be canon fodder can still be memorable and recognizable through designs or actions.

The best example of this are the stormtroopers from Starwars, we all know what the standard stormtrooper looks like, we all know that they are the main enemy in the Starwars and we all know they are horrible shots. However they are distinct through design, certain stormtrooper have certain armor attachment to show superiorities, making them 'Not Generic'.

In Wild Bill, the Genericism is about the everyday people, people who walk the streets and the gang of goons who patrol the streets. There is no real canon fodder in Wild Bill because by the time the final conflict comes around we know all of the characters fairly well, apart from a few filler goons.


Figure 2: Dean and Jimmy

Backstory vs Origin Story

The backstory of a character and the origin story of a character are two very different things, the backstory can show us what makes up our character, so previous experience or character attributes are good examples of backstory. The backstory is usually associated with exposition and can sometimes provide a motive for a character, this can, however, be boring exposition, not everyone wants to know every single process that went on in a character's life, it's not needed, only key point's.

An Origin story, however, is how our character is come to be known, it's his/her experience of crossing the threshold into another world. They are shown what their normality is and characterized around that, then when our character crosses the threshold is usually creates a motive for our character provided by their backstory, things like revenge, love, compassion and relief can all be associated with our characters main goals or aspirations.

An example of this is Batman, his origin story is him becoming the batman but his backstory is his parent being murdered in a back alley by some random thug. The backstory provides the motives for him wanting to become the batman and his intentions as a character, it also can give us a reason as to the way he acts the way he is, how he is designed and ultimately what his challenges may be.

Wild Bill's 'Backstory' is that he used to be a big time hood dealer but is now an unexpected father with a responsibility. He went to prison for 8 years and came out a changed man due to horrible experiences he had to go through.

His origin story is about when he leaves the prison and is faced with the difficult task of having to not only adjust to society but to get away from his old life. It's a little bit like a reverse Origin story, he was a big time hood dealer, now he wants to leave that behind and start his real life.


Figure 3: Bill


Character-Driven Story

Character driven stories are usually based on either the main character or a group of characters (The Goonies), there is a plot in the film but it is what keeps the film on its ultimate course, but our main character is the one who drives our plot forward.

Shawshank redemption is an example of this in showing how our main character develops and what steps are taken in order to drive the plot forward. The ultimate goal of the story is Andy's redemption & escape. The plot has twists and turns but we are never ultimately told that the plot is going to go in a different direction, Andy pushes the story forward and the main goal is his redemption.

This is where Wild Bill shines as the entire story is character driven, the film does have some scripted build-up towards the end, but apart from that single sequence (Which is still good!), the whole film feels very natural. The progression is never forced down your throat and it's never inconsistent.

But an example of the character-driven aspects of the story are:
  • Bill leaves prison.
  • The gang find Bill and give him back to his kids, Dean and Jimmy.
  • The kids are threatened by the social authorities and threaten to put them in a home.
  • Jimmy and Dean blackmail Bill into looking after them so they don't have to go into care.
  • Everyone realizes Bill is back and wants different things for him.
  • Bill builds relations with kids.
  • Jimmy falls in with the wrong crowd
  • Terry creates drugs which is where all the problems have come from.
  • Jimmy gets into trouble by losing a lot of Terrys money
  • Bill realizes how much trouble Jimmy is in sums up his options
  • Bill achieves his personal redemption to his family
  • Bill fights Terry to save his son.
  • Bill makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to keep his sons safe.

The entire plot of Wild Bill is character driven, there is never really a moment in the film where the plot isn't character driven. Every single character within this universe has somewhat of a meaning or a role, despite how generic everyone looks.



Figure 4: Terry
Flaws

There are usually three kinds of flaws in film's, those three being: 
  • Minor Flaws 
  • Major Flaws 
  • Tragic Flaws 
Minor Flaws usually are only something small, the character is aware it is there but it never holds them back from their full potential, so phobias or a small injury like a scar.

Minor Flaws in the film are so of his old traits that still linger and his kids, whilst his kids

Major Flaws are much more serious issues that can sometimes be the whole reason the plot moves forward, the idea that the main obstacle in our hero's path is himself can lead to growth and the transformation from zero to hero. Usually, a villains major flaw will either be his weakness or his downfall. The villain's main weakness can also be the hero's goal, to find a weakness.

Once again, this is one of the main driving forces of the film, Bill has to leave his old life behind in order to progress. It's his name which is a major tie right from the very start of the film, people recognize him, the police are constantly bugging him and to an extent, he is still working for some of his previous employers.

Tragic Flaws (Hamartia) are flaws in a key character which lead to their downfall, one good example is Han Solo being killed by his son. The flaw in this instance is that Solo's love for his own son is the reason for his demise, his son has been corrupted so badly that he is willing to manipulate this flaw in his father, leading to his ultimate demise.

Terry has had his way for a very long time, over time he becomes cocky, selfish and out of line to most people he meets. in the end, it's his clear obsession with hatred and site that cost him the fight. Granted the pub owner is a lucky factor for Bill but still terry's reputation ends up costing him the fight.




Image Bibliography


Figure 1: 'Wild Bill' (2011) Cover


Figure 2: Dean and Jimmy


Figure 3: Bill


Figure 4: Terry

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Maya Tutorials: Zombie Rig 02/11/2016

Basic Facial controls

So the Zombie Rig is finished and it looks pretty good. there were a couple things I did go back and change however just so I could get some practice with these new skills. The main editions I made were the pupil visibility and the pupil scale.

Turing off the pupils is quite handy and having scalable pupils gives this character a really nice characteristic. By having massive pupils he looks goofy and smaller pupils makes him look vicious.

Hair Controls
 The hair was something worth mentioning as the method to rigging them, having so many rotations in one control is quite useful and I will definitely use this in future projects.

Zombie Rig Pose
Overall doing the Zombie Rig was surprisingly a nice challenge, I have used the Add/Edit Attributes, Connection Editor and Hypershade before but doing this exercise seems to have given me a much better understanding of how all this tech works. It still does seem confusing but it's not as bad as when I first started to use this tool.






At some point I will get around to doing an animation with this guy but for now here is my progress, just need to do the other three side and hook them up and that's it.