Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Unit 4- Storytelling

I drew out of the lucky bags the words Circus, Door to Door Salesman and Superglue and I was a little stumped with it. How do I communicate the identity of a door to door salesman in a circus and involve superglue in the whole affair?

Step forward 'brain' which managed to throw an idea my way :)

Taking inspiration from film noir, graphic novels and the film Sin City I've got this:

Setting: A smoky room in a tent with a single lamp above a small table.

D2DSM is sitting at the table, camera frames his face, cigarette hanging out of his mouth filling the already foggy room with more smoke. He stares intently at on the table, out of shot.

D2DSM narrates: Pressure, it can make or break a man.

Camera pans across the room showing some crying clowns.

Sweat beads on D2D's head

and then some other stuff happens...

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Final composition -Retweaked- (WIP)

Now that I'm finally at home again (I will get this BMW on the road....) I had a chance to tweak my render, it did appear dark and atmospheric on my screen, really really dark on the Mac in L1 and totally black on the projector. So here's a new render with a tiny ambient light in there so you can see it ;) Note: I've only been in for a little bit so the matte painting looks a little out of place, needs pounding back into place.

[EDIT] Also noticed (after batching it out with Amb Occ..) that the tile texture on the right wall has bumped the wrong way, I guess because I applied the wrong texture to it somehow... ooops. I'll re-render and matte it tommorow.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Film Review: The Haunting (1963) Directed by Robert Wise

Julie Harris ... Eleanor 'Nell' Lance
Claire Bloom ... Theodora 'Theo'
Richard Johnson ... Dr. John Markway
Russ Tamblyn ... Luke Sanderson
Fay Compton ... Mrs. Sanderson
Rosalie Crutchley ... Mrs. Dudley
Lois Maxwell ... Grace Markway
Valentine Dyall ... Mr. Dudley
Diane Clare ... Carrie Frederick
Ronald Adam ... Eldridge Harper

 An old house appears on screen as a voice narrates it's gruesome past in the screen adaptation of Shirley Jackson's novel 'The Haunting of Hill House'. The film follows the events at Hill House, a house that may or may not be haunted, or even intrinsically evil. Robert Johnson plays the role of Dr Markway, a scientist (or more accurately an anthropologist) who has set out to prove that ghosts are real. Joining him in his experiments are Eleanor 'Nell' Lance (Julie Harris) who at a young age experienced a poltergeist , Theodora (Claire Bloom)a psychic and Luke Sanderson (Russ Tamblyn)who is set to inherit the Hill House estate. Markway's plan is to lure any spirits in the house out into the open Theodora and Eleanor who are both acquainted with the paranormal. The forces that be soon make themselves known by creating a percussive cacophony(1), deeply upsetting Nell and Theo. The House exibits some more strange behaviour; a bending door and stair case that destroys itself. Despite all this Nell thinks this is her place in life, to stay at Hill House and be free from her past troubles, a belief that will be her undoing.

This is rather creepy for an old film, previous experiences with the 1960's would be 'The Fly' which had only one good shock when the fly/human screams out 'help me!'. The Haunting is a different ocean of fish (a kettle is too small to fit the differences in). It's shot in a black and white and leads us in with a view of Hill House whilst a voice narrates its eveil history of death, madness and plausible murder. Not long into film we finally arrive at Hill House for a good look around at its period style. A review for the Time Out film guide remarks that "What makes the film so effective is not so much the slightly sinister characterisation of the generally neurotic group, but the fact that Wise makes the house itself the central character, a beautifully designed and highly atmospheric entity which, despite the often annoyingly angled camerawork, becomes genuinely frightening" (Time A view that I agree with completly. The film would be much poorer if not for the focus on the house which is not so much haunted by malignant spirits as more or a malignant spirit itself; it thrusts itself onto the minds and mental wellbeing of any and all who dwell within. The doors close on their own, there are few right-angles to be found and a 'cold spot' where the ambient temperature is much lower (an excellent bit of special effects here), all this plays havoc on the group and the spiritual side of things hasn't even come out of the closet yet!

The house appears in many an uncanny shot too. Almar Halfidason reviewed the film for the BBC films website says "Davis Boulton extrudes considerable atmosphere from the gothic splendour of the house. Using deliberately unsettling camera angles he captures the movie in icy cold shadow-strewn photography (courtesy of infrared stock)". This is true, the effect that nightime filming has with black and white stock always makes things spookier. It is my personal opnion that high resolution colour film tends to 'describe the horror' out of things. There are occasional shots of the outside of Hill House with the camera tilted or perfoming dolly zooms which are really effective and give the dark windows an appearance of staring down with barely restrained power.

Luke's breath hangs in the air at the cold spot

The door bulges out as some inexorable force presses against it

Finally the special effects much me mentioned. Despite the age of the film the special effects are quite awesome. There is a scene where Dr Markway finds a 'cold spot', an area where the ambient temperature is much lower because of paranormal activity. Luke the non believer kneels down to inspect it saying there must be a draught and breathes out condensation. Another scene is where a door bends inward under some ghostly pressure. Both of these special effects are perfectly executed and are not just there for show unlike modern films that would use effects for the sake of it. The effects are there to highlight the strange goings on, we could believe the cold spot is there just on words alone but seeing Luke's breath makes us have no doubt whatsoever while the bendy door really punches the idea that what is in the house is more than just something that bangs on walls

The Haunting is unlike many horror films that focus on animate things as being evil, for example Halloween's Jason Vorhees or films that focus on an actual spirit as the perpetrator of unease e.g. the Lamia from Drag Me To Hell. Instead The Haunting puts forth a different, perhaps more interesting and unhomely idea as quoted from Ian Nathan's review from Empire Online "... distant bumps grow louder and closer, doors bulge under elusive pressures, and a spiral stairway will collapse ... Can evil be contained in the very fabric of a building? It’s a daring idea that Robert Wise crafts into something genuinely unsettling" and indeed it is.

(1)always wanted to use that word
(2)A dolly zoom is where the camera moves backward whilst zooming in, this changes the focal length and makes everything appear to seperate into the near, middle and far planes

Concept Generation: Sketches

This all happened first, incase blogger happens to mess up the order of my posts. I was drawn between three concepts to begin with: A living room, a train/bus station featuring a phone booth and a teddy bear and a childs room. i did some rough sketches and decided that I hate drawing furniture and I wanted something a bit roomier than a kids room.

Anyhow here's my sketches:

Pencil meets Tablet: Concept Art

There's not a whole bunch of digital concept art. I did one rough bit at the beginning, struggled with it and saw what I was drawing wasn't working, back to the pencils to redraw an underground platform. It's odd because I usually like working in photoshop more than on paper but this time I actually hated having to draw up digital concepts. My second attempt progressed to nearly finished then saw something was awry.. after seeing Mr Hoskins (Sp?) I found out it was all a matter of perspective, literally.

After remedying the perspective I considered it done, there is stuff in my final scene that isn't in the concepts. Some of it was thought up as I was modelling, most of was just never commited to paper or pixels.

Concept Art:

Poor concept art


2D lighting tests :)

2D Shadow tests...

ooh the interplay of light and dark. The use of red is soley so I could see it properly

Around about now I figured something was amiss

thanks to Phil I got the perspective (and scale, the tunnel was far to small) right

job done? I couldn't find a way to remedy to obscene amounts of saturation on the left but hey ho

Maya meets Photoshop

After getting my final render I dragged it into Photoshop to add the Matte painting, the far wall in this case. I didn't take many screenshots, but then it didn't take the longest time to make.

Drew perspective lines in, also helped to break the image up

divided everything up in colours so it could be selected and edited, also brightened up the render so I could see what I was doing...

I did fiddle about with the tiles, trying to remake them when I remembered I had wall textures to copy and paste in :)

Tweaked it

Tweaked it some more

This is my final matte painting... not that its very visible looking at it as a thumbnail

Maya Scene: Beauty, Ambient Occlusion and Z-Depth Passes

The moment of Truth? I had to figure out how to get the Z Depth working again too...

Booty (It seems to be really dark on here, but it may be my eyes...)

Amb Occ

Zee Depth

Maya Scene: Lighting tests

I was playing around with my lighting for a bit, tweaking things. Raytracin gwas looking okay in Software but I decieded to go MentalRay because of final gathering, it made the scene 'pop' a little better as well as cast light were it was needed without throwing lots of little point lights out.

Red Ad panels to check the layer of glass over the lamberts was working without them rendering through each other

This wasn't so much of a test, it was me pounding my head in frustration because the light was ignoring the ceiling... turn shadows on... then you will get shadows!

A few textures thrown in to check everything was lighting nicely