Sunday, 23 October 2011

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

18/10/2011 Character Design Lesson 5

This weeks lesson was all about conveying a characters emotion through the stature of their spine only through the use of stick figures. First off Justin modelled for us then we went into our own groups.

In the final section Dayle and I were paired together and had to act out a scenario while the other drew the stature. This was quite fun having to get into that character and then having to draw it.

And finally we looked into facial expressions and how the face changes shape to express emotions. I was given Megamind and here are the emotions I gave him

Now I need to get up to speed with my own character design so I can interpret these lessons into my work.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Scream Review

Fig 1

One year after the death of Sidney's mother two students at the local high school are murdered. When a Serial killer attacks Sidney she beigns to question whether these new murders are connected with her mothers. Everyone becomes a suspect in the case and the friends begin to start applying the 'rules' of horror films as they find themselves living in one.

Fig 2
In the 70's and 80's slasher films were ripe in the cinemas with horror legends such as Michael Myers, Freddy Kruger and Jason Vorhees filling the cinema screens with blood. However as these films continued with sequel upon sequel they became tacky gore fests with declining acting and storylines. Scream however is an entirely different kind of slasher film in which it pays homage to the conventions of the slasher film and then twists them to avoid using a dying/dead formula. The teenagers and the killer are aware of the conventions of a slasher film 'There are certain RULES that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie. For instance, number one: you can never have sex' this rule in particular is Clover's Final Girl Theory where in a slasher film the final person alive is generally a female, who is virginal and avoids drugs and alcohol. As mentioned the killer also is full of knowledge when it comes to horror films creating a trivia game for the first victim Casey who asks her the name of the killer from Friday the 13th to ensure the safety of her and her boyfriend. It's clear to see that the characters are influenced by their knowledge of horror films for instance when Sidney hears a creak she continues on ignoring it rather than pursuing. 'Scream does not just imply that life mirrors art, it also goes so far to suggest that life also parodies art. This point is brought home by one of the killers...when he informs his girlfriend after making love with her that the distinction between movies and real life is alway an artificial one and that the two realms continually influence and intersect with one another.' (Magistrale, 2005:185)

Fig 3
As well as the aforementioned 'rules' awareness Scream is filled with a self-aware attitude commenting on their lives and relationships in movie terms. Constantly characters are referring to popular culture in their conversations such as -

Tatum: Just think, if they make a movie about all this, who would play you?
Deputy Dwight "Dewey" Riley: I see you as a young Meg Ryan, myself.
Sidney Prescott: Thanks, Dewey, but with my luck I'd get Tori Spelling. 

These constant intertextual references create an understanding between the viewer and the cast. The creators have a firm knowledge that intertextuality is a crucial part in entertainment and promotion and in order to breathe some life into the slasher genre they injected this into the dialogue of the characters. 'These instances of overt self-reflexivity call attention to the artificiality of all the Scream films and, by extension, all media products, highlighting their status as consumable cultural products.'( Wee, 2005) These cultural references link with the key imagery of the Television and how media is a big part of the casts lives and our own. An example of the Television imagery is a recursion of media watching where the audience watches Kenny watching the killer sneak up on Randy who is watching Halloween. At this point Craven exploits the fact that TV is harmful for you at times, as Kenny forgets that his monitors have a 30 second delay leading to his throat being slit but also the way that Stu is killed is extremely metaphorical as a TV drops onto his head.

Sidney Prescott: But this is life. This isn't a movie.
Billy: Sure it is, Sid. It's all a movie. It's all one great big movie.
Billy: . Only you can pick your genre.

References -

Text -

Magistrale, Tony (2005) Abject Terrors: surveying the modern and postmodern horror film accessed on 17/10/2011
Randy from Scream quote - accessed on 17/10/2011
Sidney and Billy quote from Scream - accessed on 17/10/2011
Sidney, Tatum and Dewey converse - accessed on 17/10/2011
Wee, Valerie Su-lin (2005) The Scream trilogy, 'hyperpostmodernism', and the late-nineties teen slasher film accessed on 17/10/2011

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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Mulholland Drive Review

Fig 1

Mulholland Drive follows the events of a young actress in her travel to Hollywood where she stays at her aunts to kick start her acting career. When she arrives she finds a woman that due to a car crash has amnesia and no recollection of who she is. Both women become entangled into a conspiracy involving a blue box and a director but is this a reality or a psychotic dream of a desperate woman?

Fig 2
The film begins very generically maybe even slightly cliched in its introduction to Betty, with a bright young actress being enticed by the fame of Hollywood. When Betty meets Rita and the two begin to try to unravel the mystery behind Rita's car crash the story falls into a film noir genre with the audience being led to wonder 'who dunnit?". "It draws upon numerous classic Hollywood motifs to construct a narrative that situates itself within a number of traditional Hollywood genres (especially film noir and movies about Hollywood) but then explodes the conventions of those genres." (Booker, 2007:25) In a true David Lynch fashion nothing is what it seems within Mulholland Drive, and in deconstructing the narrative the audience questions the truth. For three-quarters of the film we are drawn in to a linear narrative following the film noir story of Betty and Rita finding out who tried to kill her but after a nightmarish scene we are thrown into something completely different, characters swap identities, established events become false and the film noir element is gone. All that is left is questions as to what the story is about. Is it a dream of a crazed actress haunted by jealousy trying to escape from the life that is falling away from her?

Fig 3
Mulholland Drive is a film which questions the reality of what the audience are viewing. We as an audience are not given any clues as to what we are seeing is a reality as for most of the film we are led into belief that we are watching to women solving an attempted murder case. "The reality depends on which side of the looking glass we are standing. Looking forward, "Betty" is vouchsafed a vision of where infatuation and professional failure could lead, or looking backward, the movie's first part is the final anguished, transfiguring dream of "Diane"." (Bradshaw, 2002) There are many interpretations as to what the film is about, if you try to ignore the strange unfitting scenes it can be considered that through most of the film Diane has created an alternate reality in which she can love Rita for all the things she's done for her however in the end the reality breaks up her dream into a nightmare.

References -

Text -

Booker, M. Keith (2007) Postmodern Hollywood: What's new in film and why it makes us feel so strange accessed on 16/10/2011

Bradshaw, Peter (2002) Mulholland Drive review accessed on 16/10/2011


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Thursday, 13 October 2011

Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story review

Fig 1

Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story is a documentary based around the producer and director William Castle. He earned a great reputation for low-budget thrillers which sold millions due to a gimmick/publicity stunt tagged onto the film. The documentary interviews family, friends, fans and fellow filmmakers on Castle's promoted gimmicks, films and his struggle from breaking away from them in effort of becoming an A film director.

Fig 2
After an unhappy childhood Castle worked in Broadway in jobs ranging from set-building to acting. Due to many moments of luck Castle was acquinted with Orson Welles working as an assistant for him and began directing before he was thirty. Castle was well known for his gimmicks and in todays cinema the re-introduction of 3D cinema is considered to be a gimmick where big budget movies are cashing in through the advertisement of 3D. Most of these films are not technically shot in 3D and therefore are just tacked on to entice audiences in and spend more money as these 3D projectors are expensive. There can be no such thing as a 3D-only experience as it wouldn't make anywhere near the same amount of money a 2D film would, 'Movies...rely on the aftermarket of satellite, broadcast and cable licenses, of home DVD releases and releases to airline entertainment systems and hotel room video-on-demand services, none of which are in 3D. If the movie couldn't be properly enjoyed in boring old 2D, the economics of filmmaking would collapse.' (Doctorow, 2009)

Fig 3
In the documentary we are told that Castle knew his films weren't great as a standalone however with the help of something extra his films would go on to make millions because of his 'ingenious' publicity stunts. These gimmicks became a key part of Castle's films beginning with his film Macabre, the story of a doctor who races against time to rescue his daughter from a maniac who has buried her alive. The gimmick played in this film was that a certificate of $1,000 life insurance policy was handed to each customer in case they died of fright during the film. Nurses and ambulances were also seen outside of the theatre to increase the authenticity of the gimmick. This publicity stunt worked extremely well in enticing viewers because of the belief that the film was so scary that they/or someone could die from watching it. His interest in gimmicks was in effort to please the audience as he felt that theatre owners weren't doing their part 'We can no longer expect the distributor to create the excitement needed to sell tickets...We must do it ourselves' (Castle)

Fig - 4
Even though the film focuses mainly how happy Castle was, towards the end it deals with his struggle to break free from the gimmicks which define his filmmaking. He had always wanted to create an A film and had bought the rights to Rosemary's Baby which he thought would be the film to make him a respected director. However the studio had other ideas and insisted that up and coming Roman Polanski would direct the film leaving him to only produce it. '...but the fact remains that Rosemary’s Baby was something he always wanted to be his, and when it wasn’t, I think it changed something fundamental in the man.' (Butane, 2008) But despite this sadness Castle pops up in the movie itself when Rosemary thinks that the man outside the booth is her stalker but turns out to actually be a smiling William Castle. Castle recognised the talent in Polanski eventually and let his dream go but the scene just shows his cheery comedic self which is raved about by the interviewees which definitely deserves respect.

Much like Castle's gimmicks the way the documentary is presented is extremely gimmicky and comedic it mirrors the characteristics of the man himself. The interviewees know of the cheap tricks used by Castle but they were their inspiration and they all thought highly of the man even though towards the end of his life he believed no-one did. All these mixes in to become a fun and heartwarming watch being a fitting tribute to the 'Gimmick Man' and his showmanship

'Spine Tingler is now probably the definitive doco piece on a horror flick trailblazer who might not have been the finest filmmaker -- but he sure did love his horror movies. And that counts for a whole lot.' (Weinberg, 2008)


Text -
Butane, Johnny (2008) Spine Tingler: The Willaim Castle Story review accessed on 13/10/2011
Doctorow, Cory (2009) Why economics condemns 3D to be no more than a blockbuster gimmick accessed on 13/10/2011
Heffernan, Kevin (2004) - William Castles speaks to Variety Magazine - Ghouls, Gimmicks, and Gold: Horror Films and the American Movie Business 1953-1968 page 98 accessed on 13/10/2011
Weinberg, Scott (2008) Slamdance review - Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story accessed on 13/10/2011

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Maya Tutorials: Mustang Rear

Maya Tutorial: Mustang Front and Door

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Lip Syncing Part 4

Inception Review

Fig 1

Inception follows the story of the thief Dom Cobb who is able to invade peoples dreams and steal ideas from them. Cobb lost everything and is forced to perform inception, placing an idea into someones head to make them think that it's there own, in a last ditch attempt to return to the united states and be reacquainted with his children. However Cobb's past is interfering with his work endangering the mission and Cobb's chance of seeing his children are in jeopardy.

Fig 2 - So how did we get here?
In Inception Cobb's team attempt to perform inception on Robert Fischer in an attempt to place the idea to break up his dead fathers company. In order to achieve inception however the group have to go into a three-layered dream in which Ariadne is tasked in designing the dreams to achieve a realism. Our belief of a reality is severely toyed with in Inception where the audience is constantly drifting through 4 layers of dream world. The 'real' world and these layers are all connected and the disturbances of one layer creates a ripple effect throughout the rest. Much like the characters perception of reality in their traversing through these layers we begin to question the 'real' world, are we viewing a reality or a fantasy construct of one of the characters? Inception uses many metaphors to 'mirror' its structure and its multiple and layered reality; mirrors, water, labrinths and Penrose Stairs all point to the theme of recursion, an infinite loop. A key scene to recognise this in is when Cobb and Ariadne are standing between two mirrors infinitely projecting their reflections.

Fig 3
The uses of 'mazes' in Inception links with the idea of hyperreality in which the layers are made up of a copy world created by Ariadne the architect. A metaphor to link with the idea of hyperreality in Inception is that in Jean Baudrillard's Simulacra and simulation 'If once we were able to view the Borges fable in which the cartographers of the Empire draw up a map so detailed that it ends up covering the territory exactly (the decline of the Empire witnesses the fraying of this map, little by little, and its fall into ruins, though some shreds are still discernible in the deserts - the metaphysical beauty of this ruined abstraction testifying to a pride equal to the Empire and rotting like a carcass, returning to the substance of the soil, a bit as the double ends by being confused with the real through aging) - as the most beautiful allegory of simulation, this fable has now come full circle for us, and possesses nothing but the discrete charm of second-order simulacra.' (Baudrillard, 1994:1) To sum up basically we are unable to distinguish the difference between the actual world and the map because of the high level of details much like Ariadne's ability as an architect to form 'mazes' in dreams. This is why Cobb is angered by her misuse of her ability as if she concentrates on creating real places within dreams she will be lost in a hyperrealistic dream world, unable to distinguish her dreams from reality. But this idea of mapping to understand our surroundings is constant throughout Inception where Ariadne creates mazes in the dreams in order to halt projections/Mal from knowing where the team are. This opens up the idea that our own beliefs about the world is what creates our perception of what the world is like relative to ourselves.

The closing scene for Inception has caused much frustration and speculation as to what happens to Cobb. The ending is very postmodern in where Cobb enters his home to embrace his children again and with clever cinematography the audience is left with a painfully ambiguous ending as to whether Cobb is still dreaming. Looking into postmodernism and metaphysical realism we can understand how inception fits into the postmodern branch 'Philosophically, metaphysical realism includes a commitment to...the notion that there is one way the world really is and ...the notion that the basic laws of logic (identity, noncontradiction, excluded middle) apply to reality. Postmodernism involves an antirealist rejection of these realist commitments..."reality" is a social construction. Language creates reality, and what is real for one linguistic group may be unreal for another.' (Moreland, 2003:145). There are many links to this throughout inception such as when the team visit a dream inducing den Eames: They come here every day to sleep? Elderly Bald Man: [towards Cobb] No. They come to be woken up. The dream has become their reality. Who are you to say otherwise, son?. In this case the elderly man takes up a postmodern stand in that the 'dreamers' perceive their dreams to be the reality as they are in control and it is relative to them. This is much like the ending with Cobb believing to have escaped his dream back into reality. However because of the ambiguous ending the audience is led to believe that Cobb could still be dreaming and that his dream has now become his reality.



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Text -

Baudrillard, Jean (1994) Simulacra and Simulation accessed on 12/10/2011
Inception quote -
Moreland, James Porter (2003) Philosophical foundations for a Christian worldview accessed on 12/10/2011

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Character Proportions

Here are the character proportions I've been working on -

Hero -

I think I may have to play around with the proportions a bit more to make these slightly less generic with things such as longer legs and slightly unrealistic muscles. I think that the character needs to come across as quite strong but still very agile much like the prince from Prince of Persia.

Villain -

I am liking the monstrous muscularity of my villain but again to move away from generic design maybe a use of unrealistic muscle shapes and abnormality in the symmetry of certain limbs such as the arms. Maybe one arm is more monstrous than the other?


My favourite so far of my cute monster sidekick is definitely the bottom middle character. It may need a bit more rounding off on the tail but these designs are looking promising.

11/10/2011 - Character Design Lesson 4

This week was all about turning inanimate objects into characters and thinking about props that characters would have. First off we were given a place to think of, mine being a garage, and then thinking of different objects that you would find in that place. I was given garage and these are the things that came to my head when thinking of a garage -

  • Tools - i.e. Hammer, wrenches, nuts and bolts and so on.
  • Car Spares - Tyres, Oil cans/bottles.
  • Paint pots, brushes
  • Car Wash equipment - Pressure Washer, Sponge, Car polisher/Buffer, Bucket, Car wash bottle, ice scraper
  • Bikes
  • Car
From the lists that we made we had to come up with a Villain, a Hero and a sidekick and then draw the objects we had chosen in the archetypes we designated them.

  • Villain - The Demented Pressure Washer
  • Hero - The Wonderful Wrench
  • Sidekick - The Silly Ice Scraper
The Demented Pressure Washer -

In the villain design I took the route of trying to put a frowning expression with the use of triangles in the handle at the top. The first two images Justin advised me that the wheels were too big and comical and that I needed to keep the proportions of the actual pressure washer's body similar but maybe expand the size of the gun to make it look powerful. One of the original designs had the gun mounted on the 'shoulder' of the pressure washer which I quite liked as well.

The Wonderful Wrench and Sidekick The Silly Ice Scraper -

This was a bit tougher and my initial idea was to make the top half of the wrench bigger to match the broad chest type of a hero but the problem was that it didn't have enough character. Justin explained that he could see what I was trying to do with the top left hand image but it was hard to figure out a 'head' and that when the wrench puts his 'arms' by his side he doesn't look like a wrench anymore. The bottom right idea is Justin's where he showed me a 'cheat' in that the ends of the wrench could be armlike and that certain grooves design on the wrench could be made into faces. As for the bottom left image that was my attempt at the ice scraper. My idea was to try and expand the bottom half of the scraper a bit more and make it much more rounded and flexible, making it a poor excuse of an ice scraper.

Finally the last part of the lesson was thinking of props that we would relate to an iconic character. I was given the character Penfold from Danger Mouse which I found rather difficult. I wasn't particularly familiar with the character himself and did a little bit of research. I found that the character was rather cowardly, always being kidnapped and having to be saved by Danger Mouse and knows martial arts but wasn't very good at it. I struggled for a while in an attempt to create some props which would define his characteristics but the things that I was coming up with would not be able to define the character just by looking at the shape of the prop. I originally thought of a watch that may show Danger Mouse the coordinates of Penfold's location everytime he gets kidnapped but as I said before this needed explanation and by its design alone would not show the audience what type of character they were looking at. In response to his martial arts skills I thought about nunchukas made of rubber as to not hurt himself when practicing.

Justin came over and realised that I was struggling with ideas asked me to break down the character into shapes like we did a few weeks back and then what Penfold's clothing said to me. Penfold is round and soft but has an untidy dress sense therefore the objects designated to him must be of a soft shape but untidy. Justin gave the idea of a battered old teddy bear and then I thought of a roundish suitcase which was untidy with papers hanging out of the case.

I did find this lesson quite hard as seeing characters within inanimate objects was challenging for me but much like every lesson I'm there to learn and I just need to make sure I improve on the skills that Justin is providing us with.

Monday, 10 October 2011

More hero inspiration

I thought some extra inspiration was needed for my hero character just trying to shake things up a bit in the design to try and make him look less generic. Idea is that as the hero is an orphan ragged clothes are certainly a good idea and I think that the recent Prince of Persia is a nice character to take inspiration from.

I also found this image belonging to a Deviant named Jade. I loved the style that she has and think her work may be a route of inspiration as well.
Check her other work at - or

Best Worst Movie Review

Fig 1

Michael Stephenson, the star behind Troll 2, embarks on a journey to explore a cult following for the low-budget horror film he starred in, meeting the cast members he worked with and meeting the audiences that love it. Brandished the Worst Movie in History the camera follows the story of a Dentist turned into a cult icon, the other cast members who have tried to make it in the business, and the director who is in denial of the critics reviews and believes he has made a touching film about the unity of a family in troubling times.

Fig 2

Unfortunately not all films can be good. Films are watched as a means of escaping reality, being brought into a different world and exploring it with the characters involved. However when things aren't how they should such as poor acting, poor direction or just plain rubbish storytelling we as an audience are pulled out from this experience and are just left wondering what we are being subjected to. The film that this documentary is about is Troll 2 and is considered to be the Worst Movie in History where amateur actors were led confusingly by an Italian speaking director to create a movie which is somehow selling out in theatres everywhere. The use of the word 'cult' in describing a film categorises it as being a weird film, a film discarded from the mainstream and in light of this gathers a strong following behind it. ''s easy to see that the term "cult film" very often abused, by fans, reviewers and film historians alike. Movies like The Excorcist, jaws and even recent box office hits like The Ring are often thoughtlessly labeled as "cult favourites" ...None of the three movies can be called cult, though, because they are all readily available. Even viewers not particularly interested in the horror genre are usually familiar with them...' (Paszylk, 2007:2). Cult is considered to be a genre within a genre where audiences watch popular examples of a certain genre but delve deeper and find things much stranger. In this case Troll 2 is a horror film however due to its obscure content such as catchphrases and memorable moments it has become a "cult film" because of its unfamiliarity.

Fig 3
The documentary sees Michael Stephenson reuniting himself with all of the cast and director and writer of Troll 2 giving their accounts on how Troll 2 impacted their lives (In most cases negatively). Stephenson and his on screen father George Hardy attend the first public screening of the film in New York where it becomes a sell-out and people within the theatre loved it. Both Hardy and Stephenson were amazed that the audience could find something that they believed to have ruined any chances of becoming serious actors to be something that could be cherished. When the audience are introduced to the director Fragasso, he is confused by the interest in his film and misunderstands the audience love for the film. The audience love Troll 2 because it's a terrible movie the audience love it for being "so bad it's good" which obviously Fragasso didn't intend, he believed in the film and genuinely thought that the story was focused on the idea of family unity, about coming together and beating something. In order to understand the cult hype of the film, we need to understand the in-group value of Troll 2. 'The cultists who rescue films like Showgirls and Donnie Darko get some of the pleasure they find in these texts from the practice of salvaging mainstream deritus, from recognising value in texts that the majority of critics or viewers did not care about enough or that the cultists believe the maindstream would not "get".' (Newman, 2011:213) From watching Troll 2 you will understand the in-group society behind the film, understanding comedic standout sections which make the film memorable and worth talking about which is true behind any cult film.

The best worst movie is a heartwarming documentary as the cast who so long regretted their involvement in a terrible 90's horror film have been able to embrace it by understanding its value to audiences around the world. They have become cult icons who have made a better impact than they thought on many lives with their poor directions, script, acting and a nonsensical plot. 

'Troll 2 is not one of those films that set out to be so bad it's good. Everybody tried to succeed and we failed miserably. There's a brilliance in that. I have a lot of respect for Claudio. He made Troll 2 with all his heart. The worst thing you can do is to fail to entertain and he does far from that.' (Stephenson, 2009)

References -

Text -
Newman, Michael Z. (2011) Indie: An American Film Culture accessed 10/10/2011

Paszylk, Bartlomieij (2007) The Pleasure and Pain of Cult Horror Films: A Historical Survey, accessed 9 /10/2011

Stephenson, Michael (2009) - quote from Jones, Alice (2009) Goblins, a dentist and the worst movie ever. Independent [London, England] 30 Oct. 2009: 4. Newspapers Database. Web. 9 Oct. 2011.

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Sunday, 9 October 2011


In a prompt from Justin the character that I had proposed to be the sidekick originally was the hero's love interest. Therefore fitting in with my cartoon I have decided that the sidekick is going to be a monster which has been taken in by the orphan girl. The sidekick was abandoned by the villain because of his cuteness and clumsiness, much to the heroes disgust the orphan girl takes pity on the poor monster and befriends the monster which feels obliged to protect her to repay her kindness. The relationship between the monster and the hero is similar to that of Flynn and Maximus from Tangled where they constantly bicker. So in terms of influences -

Hero and Villain Influence maps



Tuesday, 4 October 2011

4/10/2011 - Character Design Class 3

This weeks lesson was all about variances in characters face and figure design to convey character.

In the faces it was hard to break out of generic designs at first apart from the middle design from the bottom middle layer I managed to start creating some variance...I think I need to practice on the idea of variance in the face designs so that it conveys the type of character that I'm trying to create.

After this task we were handed the pictures of recognised characters and I picked Mr Incredible. We had to figure out the body shapes behind these characters.

In these drawings the lines convey the movable and flexible sections of the characters where as the circles convey fixed points with little or no flexibility. After this I quickly slendered down Mr Incredible but seeing Justin's prompts on the T.V. made me realise that I needed to take this more extremely with the character and lose the broad shoulders.

Lastly we were asked to create a line up of henchman. Justin said that in terms of my characters they all fitted into a more realistic style but needed a lot more variance in their shape as broad shoulders featured too often. However I am pleased with these designs but I know I definately need to work harder on perfecting these simple steps to make my character design stronger.

I also found a nice post on a website which I think will aid my progression in perfecting these simple guidelines in character design.
Take a look on the website - Figures: They Speak For Themselves