Monday, 28 November 2011

Friday, 18 November 2011

Film Review: Metropolis

Fig 1

Fritz Lang's Metropolis the great grandfather of the science fiction genre, it's still shocking and amazing audiences over 80 years later with its detailed miniatures, huge sets and political`overtones. Based in a distant future, the son of the city's ruler and creator falls in love with a woman and gets caught up in a workers uprising. The story, in this review, is secondary to the visuals because without the appealing design there is very little else to draw a modern viewer to it except for the slightly racy beginning.

Fig 2

The audience is treated to a couple of long shots of the city of Babel, to the sight of elevated roads filled with moving cars and planes zipping across the cityscape all framed by perfectly futuristic buildings. The centre of the shot is dominated by New Babel, an absolute template for any and all sci-fi set designs. Nev Pierce comments on this "With its immense sets and stark lighting, the workers' city is a credible image of hell, while the overground landscapes were a seminal influence on all subsequent science fiction." (Pierce,2003) and it's a true description, the hellish underground world the workers inhabit if filled with steam, whirring machines and flashing lights all of which demand their human slaves keep feeding them.

Fig 3

The costume and character acting from the workers in the beginning of the film and then Brigitte Helm's role as the angelic Maria and the evil android Hel. The sight of seeing a large mass of burnt out workers marching as one out of and elevator to rest after a 10 hour shift (also noting that a day only lasts 20 hours in this new world) as another block of workers are marching the opposite way to start their shift; the acting and perfectly steady march of the workers against the backdrop of the elevator entrance really sells the hardship that these people undergo every day, more so than any other scene.

Fig 4

Brigette Helm's characters on the other hand show purity and understanding in the shape of Maria who is the workers spiritual leader and strives for a compassionate unity between the rulers and dreamers of the city with the hands that build it for them. Her role as the destructive android Hel is a blast and despite the somewhat quirky acting gives off a lot of creepy robotic-ness when dancing and luring the men of the city to the nightclubs. Film4 put out that " The logic and politics of Metropolis, however, have proved secondary in importance to the incredible visuals of the film... the robot (Brigitte Helm) who is transformed by technology - represented through looped arcs of electricity and neat special effects - into human form" (Film4) although the special effects are obviously outdated the special effects where Maria is cloned onto Hel are spectacular, even more so considering how long ago it was done.

Fig 5

Metropolis is very much seen by modern critics to be the foundation of the entire science fiction genre and that "The film's influence can be felt in practically every science fiction film made since -- if you have any doubts, check out the City of Zion in The Matrix Reloaded or the Los Angeles of Blade Runner. Metropolis has become part of the great mass film unconscious." (Brenner, 2008)


Brenner, Paul. review of Metropolis. Archived online at Published 18/06/08 (Accessed 23/11/11)

Film4, Film4 review of Metropolis. Archived online at
Published date unknown (Accessed 23/11/11)

Pierce, Nev. BBC Film Review of Metropolis. Archived online at Published 07/01/03 (Accessed 23/11/11)


Fig 1. Original poster for Metropolis Digital Image. (Accessed 23/11/11)

Fig 2. Shot of New Babel, Film still from Metropolis (1926). (accessed 23/11/11)

Fig 3. The M Machine, Film still from Metropolis (1926). (Accessed 23/11/11)

Fig 4. Workers changing shifts, Film Still from Metropolis (1926) (Accessed 23/11/11)

Fig 5. Brigitte Helm as Hel, Film still from Metropolis (1926) (accessed 23/11/11)

Unit 2: Museum Scene Influence map and sketches

For the museum scene I took much of my influence from the screenshot Steven linked me to from a Batman game as it carried quite a bit of atmosphere. I needed to populate the scene with machinery so I imagined that perhaps there would be a difference engine and some other large machines fitting of display in a museum.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Unit 2: Morlocks Cave Influence Map and Sketches

For the third scene, the Morlock's cave I looked at pictures of underground cities; I remember hearing of them in Russia and another in the middle of Europe somewhere (I forget the country).

Handily Google turned up lots on this, cave that struck me the most is Kaymakli underground system in the Central Anatolia region in Turkey. I really like the curvy, smooth carving in the cave and it helps me to grasp the space in my head :)

The text mentions there is strange machinery in the cave so I took reference from the 1960's film adaptation and decided it would be oil refining machines, possibly with small amounts of fire coming out of it, similar to the flame boom on an oil rig

Here are some sketches for this scene:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Unit 2: Sphinx Scene- Influence maps and some sketches

The Sphinx scene is where the time traveller arrives in the future and is astounded by the sight of a giant sphinx and in the background are some marvellous futuristic buildings.

I took my inspiration from the Great Sphinx of Giza in Egypt. When ever ancient Egypt comes to mind I always think of papyrus reeds, which quickly led me to the leaves on willow trees (as the story is based in England and the weeping willow was brought across and have taken off). The buildings are described as having 'delicate parapets' but I believe parapets to be far too gothic for the scenery, especially when broaching on quasi-Egyptian aesthetics. I was drawn to a level from Unreal Tournament (a video game from the late 90's) called Facing Worlds, a personal favourite of mine due in part to the view of earth but also because of the strange ancient design of the bases which I believe fits in a little better although I have crossed it with the base design from Facing Worlds 2). As for the little picture of the mountains, it kind of wandered in after the sketch at the bottom of this post; I had mentioned to Carpathians to Steven and have been looking at some screenshots of Skyrim ( I dare not play it as the series has a habit of eating time, month by month)  and it must have creeped into my subconscious but I like the idea and it's a kind of homage to the 2002 remake of The Time Machine where the Eloi live in wooden 'cocoons' on a cliff face.

I just started randomly sketching how the building might look, possibly integrating the sphinx with them

A drawing of the Great Sphinx

This looks better in my sketchbook...  but essentially I feel this capture what I want in the piece  although I will tweak a few bits

Image sources for Influence Map:

Friday, 4 November 2011

Unit 2- Museum Scene, rough photoshop blockout

Here's some work from Photoshop class today, I'm trying to find a good composition still. As Phil Hosking said "I don't want any boring images".

This is the first take on the image, Not so dynamic?

Changed the viewing angle on the room, more dynamic?
I haven't redrawn the dark chasm where the Morlocks live

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Unit 2: Film Review- The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) Dir. Robert Wiene

Fig 1

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is a 1920's silent German expressionist film directed by Robert Wiene. It is most noted. by modern viewers, for it's strong visual style which is totally unseen today  as Julia Merriam writes in her review for "While the plot may be a bit dry, the set is unlike anything seen by many modern viewers" (Merriam, 2008)

The story is pretty basic, although in its historical context the idea would have been pretty novel; it starts off in a courtyard where a young man tells a stranger a story and from here the film appears like a flashback. This beginning scene throws the viewer from a clear shot of a real stone courtyard in the abyss of thick black lines, forced perspective, impossible buildings and strong painted shadows that make up the remainder of the feature.

The use of forced perspective makes the buildings of the town lean over into the street giving everything a horribly claustrophobic feel which lends itself nicely to the dreamy horror in the beginning parts of the story in which Dr. Caligari, a sideshow owner at a travelling fair, displays his somnambulist named Cesare (a sleep walker, more akin to a zombie only still alive) who predicts the death of the main protagonist's friend. It's under these same buildings and through the off kilter streets that Cesare is chased by a mob carrying Jane, the protagonist's fiancĂ©e; the start contrasts of black and white as well as the unbalancing nature of the unnatural perspective add a real sense of chaos to the scene. "The chase carries them through streets of stark lights and shadows and up a zigzagging mountain trail" (Ebert, 2009) and it is from here that the story takes another mad twist and reverts back to shocking reality, replacing the expressionist with plain old normality; for here the craziness is in the fabric of the story itself.

Fig 2

Caligari's impressive sets serve to amplify the acting which is also grand and gestural whilst being at odds with the flat backdrops. Roger Ebert in his review finds the effect of the actors against the 2D backdrops to be symbolic, in that "The stylized sets, obviously two-dimensional, must have been a lot less expensive than realistic sets and locations, but I doubt that's why the director, Robert Wiene, wanted them. He is making a film of delusions and deceptive appearances, about madmen and murder, and his characters exist at right angles to reality. None of them can quite be believed, nor can they believe one another." (Ebert, 2009). The cost involved in producing realistic sets probably were more than a small post-war German production could have met but it is probably more to do with, as Ebert points out, the effect it has on the characters and also the emphasis it puts on the themes the characters portray. Julia Merriam goes further by positing "The image of three-dimensional people walking through this starkly two-dimensional world is disorienting, making the universe within Caligari seem slightly off-kilter." (Merriam, 2008) This is often the case, especially when Cesare is being chased and is seen standing on the roof of a house, the sigh of him and Jane in their realistic appearance against the pointed surreal environment that they inhabit it powerfully disorientating in its strangeness.

Fig 3

The make-up applied to Conrad Veidt who plays Cesare is brilliant, along with his costume it really sells the character and adds to his strangeness and the horror he evokes. Being the only character that is  truly out of the expressionist backgrounds "Veidt manages some genuinely creepy moments as Cesare in Caligari, staggering across the painted, stylized landscapes, his mascara-highlighted eyes bulging with menace" (Kinnard, 1995) and his most memorable shot is the close-up where he gives his ominous prediction where his face reflects the entirety of the set he stands on just through his make-up and wide eyed acting.

Fig 4


Fig 1. Film still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). (Accessed 01/11/11)

Fig 2. Film still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). (Accessed 01/11/11)

Fig 3. Film still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920).  (Accessed 01/11/11)

Fig 4. Film still from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920). (Accessed 01/11/11)


Ebert. Robert. 3rd June 2009. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari (1920) Movies (Accessed 01/11/11)

Kinnard, Roy. 1999. The Cabinet of Dr Caligari: A History of Horror (Accessed 01/11/11)

Merriam, Julia. 13th October 2008. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)| (Accessed 01/11/11)

Rot, Professor Corpse, 12th January 2011. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari at (Accessed 01/11/11)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Unit 2- Space Photoshop class pt2

I worked a little more on the Machine Room drawing I started earlier, trying to get a way to draw the eye across the imaghe and filling in the dead space.

I then experimented with different arrangements of the objects I had

Unit 2- Photoshop Lesson 1

There was a deficiency of Wacom pens so I spent the lesson working on composition for the Machine Gallery scene, think I'm nearly there thus far

There's a big empty space in the bottom right though, I'll be working on it for a while methinks

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Unit 2- Sketches for Machine Room

Now Blogger has decided to start working for me again:

Really struggling with composition and scale with this one, I'll have lots of headaches with this one methinks :s but I do have an initial design for the lights in the shape of floating orbs, the logic being that the future technology can hold a small amount of power indefinitely hence a handful of remaining lights :)

Would have liked to have more to post but some dirty bastards tried to steal 3 of our motorcycles so I spent all day repairing broken ignitions and rewiring bits... *angry face*

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Unit 2 Space- Extracts

Finally managed to read all 3 extracts and have chosen my scenes

Scene 1
The Machine Room.

Here the antagonist of the novel is exploring a ruined museum and finds himself in a room full of old machines on display, the room slopes downward into darkness. Everything is covered in a thick layer of dust; the dust is thinner and marked by the occasional Morlock footprint. Light only comes in from thin slitted windows that are part covered by the earth (as the building itself has sunken [or the earth risen?]). There are white orbs (broken lights)  on the ceiling, some broken and cracked.

Scene 2
The Morlock's Cave (or at least one of them)

A large cave, almost perfectly dark with the exception of the light coming from the narrator's matches. There are "great shapes like huge machines" that "cast grotesque black shadows". the Morlocks are there hiding in the shadows. There is a hint of freshly shed blood in the air. The Morlocks have a little table of white metal table set up for a meal with a large joint of meat on it.

"It was all very indistinct: the heavy smell, the big unmeaning shapes, the obscene figures lurking in the shadows..." (p52)

Scene 3
The Sphinx and the Eloi/Futuristic buildings/city

Here the narrator has hauled the Time Machine to a stop accidentally knocked it over. The British weather still exists as there is a heavy hail storm to greet the weary traveller. Out of the clearing hail and rain appears a weather worn Sphinx carved from white marble set on a bronze pedestal covered in verdigris (the blue/green tarnish that forms from copper oxidising) behind a vast area of Rhododendrons. In the background are 'huge buildings with intricate parapets and tall columns'

Now I'm all set there, more sketching! Also looking at other concept artists, more on that later

Unit 2- Life Drawing

That familiar sinking feeling of life drawing, who knew you'd get so rusty so quickly?

Warm Ups

Measured drawing... different technique to last year

Slightly longer measured drawing... getting better

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Unit 2- Space (Round 2)

Righty, here we are again!

I drew from the smooth blue box Folder 11- H.G. Wells' The Time Machine

Oooh the wondrousness :)

My immediate thoughts are to steampunk the life out of it, but it has kinda been done in every film adaptation.

The shiny brass and quasi-scientific appearance of the 2002 remake

The arguably more stylish 1960 take

I am still carrying a bit of inspiration from The Mysterious Exploration of Jasper Morello and its shadow/silhouette themes. I'll draw some stuff up in just a moment :)

[Irrelevant observations below]

On a side note I realised that in the trailer for the 2002 remake of The Time Machine it ends with this logo

The clock is saddle shaped, a nod toward Stephen Hawking?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Photo Edit...

So I perusing Molly's post with lots of pictures of super cell tornados and saw this:

After beating down the fear it dredged up from the well of my soul I decided to smoooosh it in photoshop :)

It needed to be done, I'm toying with the idea of the cloud/monster drawing out the soul of the planet but I dunno... I have too much to do anyway

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Unit 6: Maya Part 2

Jiggle Deformer- Head:

Jiggle Deformer- Heart

Unit 6: Maya Tutorials Part 1

Despite Maya deciding to be a pain here's the majority done:

Blendshapes- Mirroring:

Blendshapes- Operational Order:

Blendshapes- Positive, negative, corrective:

Blendshapes- Wire Deformer Part One:

Blendshapes- Wire Deformer Part Two:

Felix -(new and improved flavour!) "NOW IN 3D!"

Didn't have any 3D glasses but assuming the two images average together it should work (crosses fingers)

Monday, 2 May 2011

Unit 6- Bacteria Concept Art WIP

I started doodling this a couple of hours ago and I can honestly say I am super proud at drawing something so epic! I'm getting tired so may have to finish in the morning...

Unit 6- Draft Script

Finally got a script together, I was struggling a little with how to make this work. Think I might have nailed it now :)

Unit 6 Draft Script

Unit 6; H.R. Giger Influence?

So I had done a couple of sketches for a bacteria and though it had a kind of Cyberpunk feel to it, so I Googled around a bit looking at different art styles similar to cyberpunk; biomech tattoo art, steampunk robots, cybernetic concept art and Giger's name cropped up. Having seen his work around before I took a good look at it and realised that a lot of the 'organic meets inorganic' works are really inspiring.

The art style I am going for will have the bacteria sporting cyborg-esque appendages/modes of transport whilst the body's immune system will have a more 'ethereal meets conventional weaponry' theme. My rationale for this is that in theory the body works in a similar way to warfare. The B cell identifies the enemy bacteria and analyses it, it then gets reinforcements which make antibodies. The antibodies essentially act as a beacon, drawing the attention of a macrophage which then eats it. Very reminiscent of a small company of soldiers laser tagging enemy armoured machines for destruction by air strike or artillery. By making them appear ethereal it will set off a nice contrast between the visceral looking bacteria.

Influential works I'm looking at for the bacteria:
The organic, yet inorganic appearance is both fascinating and repulsive

The symbiotic nature of this image is a great inspiration for my bacteria :)

Image Source:

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

@Phil regarding music

Hey Phil,

I've contacted Carl, the man behind where Pol Winandy got the music for his commission project. Carl says I'm free to use his music as long as he is credited. I was wondering if this would be closely skirting the royalty free requirements for the soundtrack? I'd like to make my own once I have everything produced but I don't know how much time I'll have left to find/make a soundtrack so if you could clarify this I'll know ahead of time :)

Also, regards the resub, do I upload the reviews, timeline and essay or should I put it together in Word and hand it all in on/before crit day?

A slightly more upbeat Ollie

Macrophage sketches

So I was flicking through the course blog and saw the supplement showing Vaclav Pajkrt's work. I was blown away by the flowy-ness of it. Then I though, how about sea creature influenced biology and looked at some lionfish as they have long ornate fins. I then grabbed some paper and put this design down. It's like a cross between a samurai helmet and a lionfish/jellyfish which is ideal as the macrophage is a predatory sort of cell that eats marked pathogens in the body... like a biological Whitman made of... lionfish?

Quick pencil concepts

So I took my little working sketches onward a little
The first is how I imagine the B Cell firing off an antibody marker to flag down a macrophage, like a smoke marker to call in artillery or air support in conventional warfare. I was quite heavily influenced by conventional weapons of war
The second is a slightly more detailed concept of a B Cell on patrol. It's only after this I noticed that they're actually round and fluffy looking...

Unit 6 brainstorming

Here was me trying to square everything away on paper so I knew what I was doing: