Sunday, 31 October 2010

We All Live in a Yellow Submarine!

This is my first attempt at a digital painting of my ideas for the underwater forest. It looks horrible, bland and generic, but I think I was a bit more confident using Photoshop without a drawing as a guide than I was with the last project. I did this before my ideas for the trees on my previous post. I hate all the baby blue I need a more realistic ocean colour. The Nautilus was meant to look gold but it looks more yellow (hence the post title).

Underwater Tree Ideas

I have been thinking about how to depict the tree like plants of the underwater forest. These first two look too much like normal trees to me, also the one on the left has leaves and it says specifically in the book that there are none.  

These still look too much like trees to me; however I have introduced these spiders leg like brunches which I like.

I like this design because it resembles a tree without being a tree (If that makes any sense). I have introduced colour because I like the idea of the landscape being beautiful and colourful, but if you look at it another way everything seems threatening, and because I didn’t want the tree to be brown like normal trees. I like the fleshy colour of the stump and blood red brunches I think it looks a little creepy.  
I also like this design because it looks like it could be alive. It is true to the book because it says that it’s hard to distinguish plant from animal life. So it makes sense to make all the animals look like they could be plants and the plants look like they could be animals.

Nautilus Desighns

Here are a few designs for the Nautilus; I have tried to give it an Indian feel (like in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic)whilst sticking as much as I can to how it is described in the book. I think it would help if I actually looked at some Indian architecture and design.  

First Thumbnail Drawings

These are my first horribly ruff thumbnails, for some strange reason I have made most of them square. These are for the scene when captain Nemo and company go on an excursion into a submarine forest.  I like the idea of having the nautilus lurking in the background, and in the book it says it glows green, it would be useful to for creating cool lighting effects.  
I think these last two thumbnails are the best so far. They seem a little less generic than the others, although I’m not sure if we are allowed to use vertical frames.

I should explain that I don’t have internet access at home at the moment so my blog posts probably won’t be very regular.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Metropolis (1927)

Metropolis (1927) directed by Fritz Lang is a very famous and highly influential German science fiction film. It is considered by many to be the first sci-fi film ever made. The movie takes place in a futuristic city (Metropolis), the working classes are forced to work in the under-city running the machines that keep the upper class living comfortable in the over-city. The son of the cities mastermind falls in love with a working class preacher girl who predicts the coming of a saviour who will bring equality to the city. An evil scientist creates a robot/cyborg that impersonates the preacher in order to insight violent rebellion. 

This movie is amazing, it is almost hard to believe that it was made in the 1920's. Right from the start it draws you in with the powerful music score and a montage of industrial pistons and machinery. It sets the tone and lets you know your about to see something special. Although this is a silent movie you can here some industrial sound effects. these sound effects compliment the music score well. So well in fact they almost become part of the music.

There are lots of optical effects and camera tricks that you wouldn't expect from a 1920's film. There is a POV shot of a hand picking up a ripped part of a dress that is particularly striking. There is also a transformation scene when the robot turns into the preacher girl that looks almost magical.
This is the robot transformation scene from the movie. 

I really loved the miniatures of the city. The attention to detail is breathtaking. There are little cars driving along the high rise motorways and planes flying in-between the buildings. some of the miniature buildings even have smoke coming from the chimneys. These little details gave me a vivid sense of the huge scale of the city. There are also huge impressive full size sets. The best use of these sets are in the scenes in the under-city. We see the workers marched around like enslaved robots operating huge machines until there almost dead. Some of these scenes were incredibly haunting because to me they had a resemblance to scenes of World War 2 concentration camps. Its like a horrible prediction of Germanys future were the reality turned out to be much worse. In fact you could apply that idea to the whole movie. You can see in the architecture of Metropolis a resemblance to modernist architecture which was a big part of fascist ideology.
Here you can see one of the fantastic miniature I have described. The buildings in the background are painted.
The workers of Metropolis changing shift. I have talked about how this to me has a haunting resemblance to images of WW2 concentration camps.

There seems to be a theme about the clash of ideologies. This makes sense because this movie was made at a crossroad in German history after World War 1. During this era there was lots of ideological groups fighting for control of the country. The main ideologies being Fascism and Communism. My interpretation of the movie is that its about the struggle for power between these two ideologies. The cities mastermind could be the fascist dictator, the workers the Communist rebels. And the scientist could be a Stalinist type figure who uses his robot (propaganda machine maybe?) to take advantage of the workers plight to take power for himself. However the movie does not take sides and seems to favore the preacher girl who has no ideology wants a peaceful resolution. Theres lots of different was you could spin this of course but that was may initial theory whilst watching the movie.



Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920

This is the first film in the ‘Worlds Apart’ film programme, it is a German expressionist film directed by Robert Wiene. This film (along with Nosferatu 1922) is considered one of the first horror movies. The plot revolves around a man named Alan who tells the story of a travelling magician named Dr Caligari. Dr Caligari travels around with a somnambulist, Cesare who can predict the future. Caligari hypnotises the creature to commit a series of murders.

The most interesting thing about this movie are the visuals and set design. It is very whimsical and gothic in tone, there is not a strait horizontal or vertical line in the whole movie, all the windows and doors seem slightly askew (in fact everything is slightly askew).  I also like the way the shadows are painted it makes the sets extremely striking. It makes the whole movie look like a surrealist panting. This movie was a huge influence on director Tim Burton whose films have a very similar visual style to this movie.

If you look at Tim Burtons Penguin character from Batman Returns compared to the Dr. Caligari character you can see a definite resemblance. This shows how heavily this movie has influenced Tim Burton. You can also compare almost any Tim Burton movie to this movie and see many resemblances.

See any resemblance?

There is also an interesting twist at the end of this movie that I was genuinely not expecting from such an old movie. It basically doses a complete 180 and it turns out our assumptions about all of the characters are completely wrong. This reminded me of much more recent movies like Shutter Island (2010) Dir, Martin Scorsese.

I think the old fashion jittery film also adds to the style and personality on the film. The music is also important because it helps set the mood, which must be hard in a silent movie.

Monday, 25 October 2010

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Movie Nautilus

This is the design for the Nautilus from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie. Unfortunately I find it just as disappointing as the movie itself. To me it basically looks like a generic WWII submarine with a few indian stye patterns tacked on as an after thought. 

20'000 Leagues Under the Sea

My folder was number 7 so I will be visualizing the classic story by Jules Vern, 20'000 Leagues Under the Sea. I am very happy with the book because I have already read it and I like it a lot. I was wondering if we had to stick strictly to the scenes we were given or could we use another part of the book if we wanted.

I have collected some images of my favorite depiction of Captain Nemo's Nautilus from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen a comic book series/graphic novel written by Alan Moore and drawn by Kevin O'Neil. The inspiration for this version of the Nautilus came from Jules Vern's The Mysterious Island (the sequel to 20'000 Leagues Under the Sea). At the end of The Mysterious Island Nemo revels himself to be a former Indian prince, Prince Dakar. Moore and O'Neil have incorporated Indian Design into the Nautilus.

This is the first time we see the nautilus in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Volume I. It resembles a squid merged with a wale. I like the amazing amount of detail Kevin O'Neil goes into.

This is a diagram of the interior of the Nautilus from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier.

This image is also from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier it shows an older version of the Nautilus. This older Nautilus would be the one from 20'000 Leagues Under the Sea. The idea is that Nemo rebuilt it after it was destroyed in The Mysterious Island.

This image is from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Century: 1910. This version of the Nautilus is Captained by Nemo's Daughter Pirate Jenny from The Three Penny Opera. It is much darker and more intimidating.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Final Portrait

Unfortunately I think I may have to scrap the poster idea because I am worried about not finishing on time. I still have the Photoshop tutorials to do.

Life Drawing

Life drawing from last session and some that I forgot to post from the session before that.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The Elephant Man (1980)

“I am not an animal, I am a man!!”
John Merrick

Directed by David Lynch
This movie is essentially a biopic that tells the story of the life of Joseph Merrick (known as John Merrick in this film) portrayed by John Hurt. John Merrick is a severely deformed man who has been given the nickname The Elephant Man.  He is treated very harshly by his master as an attraction in a travelling curiosity show. Eventually he is taken in by a doctor named Frederick Treves (Antony Hopkins) who wants to study his deformities and help him live a more comfortable life.
I was looking forward to seeing this movie because of its obvious association to my project idea. The first thing I noticed about this movie was the grim atmosphere. The fantastic use of black and white really adds to this, it is similar visual style to Cat People (1942). I also really like the subtle music score, which to me seems to resemble Victorian industrial machinery. In fact it seemed to me that there is a lot of industrial sounds and imagery in this film. I don’t know if it’s significant, maybe some kind of subtext about the industrial revolution, just a random thought. It’s a very emotional film with few upbeat moments so “women & nervous persons” may find it hard to watch. Some people have said the movie tries too hard to manipulate you and make you cry. I disagree I think the whole point of movies are to manipulate you emotionally. 
John Hurts performance as John Merrick is fantastic, the way he manages to portray such a sympathetic character through such a heavy makeup job is amazing. Antony Hopkins is also great as Frederick Treves, who is a very conflicted character. He’s not sure if he is genuinely trying to help Merrick or just using him to gain a reputation.  I also think all of the supporting cast are really good, I like the way the nurses gradually warm up to Merrick when he is living in the hospital. I also particularly liked the dastardly caretaker who harasses poor John Merrick by allowing members of the public to come see him for a price. 
The movie doses take a few liberties in terms of historical accuracy, for example I found this article “Contrary to film accounts, Merrick was well treated as an exhibit and well paid for his time. While on exhibit on Mile End Road in London, now the London Sari Centre, his path first crossed with Dr. Fredrick Treves. Treves, who would later chronicle and befriend Merrick, gave him one of his business cards after Merrick politely declined an examination. When human curiosity exhibits were outlawed in the United Kingdome in 1886, Merrick travelled to Belgium for work. There he was indeed mistreated and ultimatly robbed and abandoned by his promoter. He also contracted a severe bronchial infection further complicated by his deformities”, you can see the rest of the article at The historical inaccuracies mostly didn’t hinder my enjoyment of the film. The only part I found myself thinking “I’m sure that never happened” was when the other deformed people rescued Merrick, I found it very Hollywoodish.
Overall I really enjoyed this movie.