Thursday, 29 October 2015

Narrative: Influence Map - Father Character

For my group's narrative project, we need to design a Father. As the Father is very pushy and persuasive, I have looked at Dads from films, in particular - Frank Fitts from American Beauty being one example. Characters like him are similar to the one in our story. He's aggressive and wants his son to do what he says, and doesn't like it when he disobeys him. Like the pushy parents you see at a Sunday league football game, our Father figure needs to demonstrate how much he wants his son to do as he says. His appearance must reflect these characteristics and that is what I hope, and intend, to do.

Maya: Original Poses + After/Before shots

 Below are the original 4 poses, with the picture I based them on, and the before/after pose. I didn't look at any images to base them off, but I think my memory made me create a pose that I know that the person does. I think the jumping celebration one isn't clear that he's in air, so it looks a little odd, but overall, I think they work reasonably well. I tried to make their stance be realistic and for them to not have any obscure features.

Eden Hazard - Chelsea FC Footballer
Pointing to a player he's going to pass to

Mia Wallace (Played by Uma Thurman) from Pulp Fiction (1994)
Next dance move


Gianfranco Zola - Former Chelsea FC Footballer
Jumping celebration

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Character Session: 27/10/2015

In yesterday's character session with Justin, we were learning about designing environments. Our first task was to create an environment based on the video game character that we received. I got John Marston, who is the main protagonist in Red Dead Redemption. The game is set in the late 19th century to the early 20th century in Texas, and so is based around cowboys, like John Marston. For my first design, I drew a Saloon, which is quite obvious as that is one of the things that is thought of when thinking about the genre. Although it did work, Justin explained that it doesn't necessarily link to the character. John Marston is very serious and is, as the title says, seeking redemption. He suggested making it looking more "run down" and that it looks like a dangerous place to be, while still being quite strong. I continued with that design by including sections that look like it's been fixed.

I then designed a completely random building based on one that I found on google, and tried to make it fit to what Justin said. I made it very rectangular and square because when learning about characters, we were told squares are used to show something is strong and so I wanted to show that in this design. I, also, made it look quite old through it wobbly pannels and broken areas. I think this design works more than the first as it matches John Marston's character better than the first design.

Our final task, was to design an environment based on the two words that Justin gave us -  the words I got were "Restless" and "City". Unlike other people's words, they go together quite well. It could be fair to say that most of the World's major cities are considered to be restless, New York being an obvious one. As it was too late in the session, I didn't have enough time to do a design.

Monday, 26 October 2015

Animation 2: Lip Syncing Part 3 - Adding Phoneme's & Viseme's - Tutorial

I have now done the next part to the lip sync tutorials, and so hopefully I can get back on track.

Character: Influence Map - New game idea

Following on from my last post, this is a game idea that I have thought of. It is a post apocalyptic computer game, where the world has been destroyed by global warming. It is set in one of the World's major cities (Undecided which one), and city is split into several territories, which are all run by different leaders. Each territory has their own style of living, clothing and working. You play as a character, who can belong to any one of the territories depending on your choice. Your job is to go out into the World and help your territory survive the harsh conditions i.e. Storms - which can damage your territories' camps. In the World, you will face many creatures, like Wolves and Yetis, as well as facing the other territories.

The influence map above shows some pictures that I found that look similar to how I imagine the World will look, and the Fallout Shelter image is there because it gave me the most inspiration.

Character: Last week's talk with Justin

In last week's Character session, I spoke to Justin about my initial game ideas. Although he said they were quite interesting and use all the cards/components, they were very generic and obvious ideas. He suggested looking at games such as "Rampage", "Flick 'em Up!" and "Colt Express", and how my game could involve building cities and getting resources from them or for them.

Fig. 1 Rampage

Fig. 2 Flick 'em Up!

Fig. 3 Colt Express

I then asked if a possible game idea would a board game version of "Fallout Shelter", and he thought that was quite an interesting idea and a way to include the "Air" component is through controlling the heating/conditions of the game. Following on from that he said that it could be set in a Dystopian/Crazy world, similar to that in the "Mad Max" films/games, and how Global warming could play a part.

 Fig. 4 Fallout Shelter

It's probably quite obvious from my lack of posts in relation to this project, that I've hit a bit of a wall, but, due to my talk with Justin, I now have some more, and better, ideas.  

Illustration List:
Fig. 1 Rampage - (Accessed 26/10/2015) 

Fig. 2 Flick 'em Up! - (Accessed 26/10/2015) 

Fig. 3 Colt Express - (Accessed 26/10/2015) 

 Fig. 4 Fallout Shelter - (Accessed 26/10/2015) 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Opposing Characters: Film Review - Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)

Fig.1 Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004) Movie Poster

Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004) is a brilliant continuation of the story that we became so engaged with in the first film. Tarantino draws on influences from many kung fu movies, and in doing so creates a memorable conclusion to this tale. Roger Ebert said in his review that Kill Bill: Volume 2 is " an exuberant celebration of moviemaking, coasting with heedless joy from one audacious chapter to another, working as irony, working as satire, working as drama, working as pure action." - (Ebert,2004)

Fig.2 The Bride (Or Beatrix Kiddo [Played by Uma Thurman])

The film follows on directly from the last, but still allows new viewers to be aware of what is going on. It is clear that the Bride's mission is still intact as she continues to look for Bill and the remaining members of the Deadly Viper squad. If anything, she is even more determined to seek revenge for Bill destroying her life, and consequently her losing her daughter. Throughout the film, we learn more about the wedding and Bill and the Bride's past. It is because of this that we understand the Bride's feelings in more depth and why what happened at the wedding was so tragic. 

Fig.3 The Bride and Pai Mei (Played by Chia Hui Liu)

In quite a serious film, there are some rather ironic moments and bits of black comedy, which are obvious Tarantino trademarks. A particular chapter that provides the more comical moments is when we are shown a flashback to when Bill takes Beatrix Kiddo to Pai Mei, who was a master of Bak Mei and Eagle's Claw styles of Kung Fu. Pai Mei is a very serious character, one of whom that you wouldn't want to disagree with, but because of his constant flicking of his long white beard and subtle raising eyebrows, we can't help but laugh to ourselves. However, Pai Mei's skills are clear, and is reluctant to train Beatrix. It is only because of Bill that he gives her a chance. The training sequences are very reminiscent of Kung Fu films from the 1970s. We see Pai Mei balance on swords and have the most incredibly impossible reflexes. Beatrix is trying to learn one particular skill of being able to punch through wood from an open palm and without swinging. As we see her constantly fail, where Pai Mei succeeded in his first attempt, it is clear that she still has a lot to learn.

Once the flashback concludes and she escapes from the coffin that Budd (Played by Michael Madsen) had trapped her in, she is more reckless in her actions. She doesn't care what she must do to get to Bill, and once she gets past her other targets, she finally finds Bill, but all is not as she expected.  

Fig.4 Bill (Played by David Carradine)

In the final scenes of the film, Bill and Beatrix discuss their past, in a somewhat civillised matter. This is a to different to how she faced each individual member of the Deadly Viper Squad. Christy Lemire also notes this in her review by saying "If Kill Bill - Vol. 1 was like a roundhouse kick to the head, Vol. 2 is practically a warm hug." - (Lemire, 2012). This adds a bit more humanity to their relationship. In these scenes, Bill gives many memorable pieces of dialogue, one of which being a "review" of the character of Superman/ Clark Kent. This suggest that he is calling her a superhero, but unlike most superhero stories, it appears the villain, in this case it being Bill, will have the last laugh, metaphorically speaking. However, we then discover hat Beatrix had learned more from Pai Mei than we first thought.  During the two volumes, we are lead to believe that Bill is the stronger and more powerful one of the two characters, but due to the ending sequences it is becomes apparent that Beatrix is a lot stronger and more determined than we were lead to believe.

Illustration List:
Fig.1 Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004) Movie Poster - (Accessed 23/10/2015)

Fig.2 The Bride (Or Beatrix Kiddo [Played by Uma Thurman]) - (Accessed 23/10/2015)

Fig.3 The Bride and Pai Mei (Played by Chia Hui Liu) (Accessed 23/10/2015)

Fig.4 Bill (Played by David Carradine) - (Accessed 23/10/2015)

Ebert, Roger (2004) - Kill Bill, Volume 2 - - (Accessed 23/10/2015)

Lemire, Christy (2012) - Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004) - - (Accessed 23/10/2015)

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Maya: Creating Poses

These are my attempts at recreating some poses in Maya. As we got to chose what we tried to recreate, I wanted to pick things that I liked, i.e films and football. I have only done 4, at the moment, but I think they have worked out quite well. There are a few little errors here and there, but nothing too major. Overall though, I quite enjoyed making these and that's why I hope to do a couple more in the coming days.

 Eden Hazard - Chelsea FC Footballer

Mia Wallace (Played by Uma Thurman) from Pulp Fiction (1994)


Gianfranco Zola - Former Chelsea FC Footballer

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Character: Research into games involving Air/Wind

As this is proving to be the hardest component to implement into my game, I have been doing some research into some games that involve wind/air. Below are some examples that I found on a website that talks about games for children and some examples:

Keep It in the Air

This game is a great way to get out plenty of excess energy, but make sure that children don't get too overtired from too much blowing. The goal of the game is to keep a feather up in the air for as long as possible - using only your breath. It works well for one child, but can be played with two or three children as well. Alternatively, you can give the child a hairdryer to use to keep the feather up in the air instead.

Blowing Race

Challenge children to a blowing race. Each child starts with a packaging peanut or another light object at one edge of the table. The goal of the game is to get the peanut to fall off the opposite side of the table, using nothing but your breath. Alternatively, you can give children a box full of light objects and challenge them to choose the one that they think will reach the other side of the table the fastest.

Shopping Bag Kite

Many children enjoy flying a kite, and this recycled kite craft is no exception. On a windy day, take a plastic grocery bag and tie a long string to the handles of the bag. Challenge children to find the best way to fly this kite. Children will enjoy running with the kite until the bag fills with wind. At that point, the kite will rise into the sky.

Here Comes the Wind!

This activity works well with a full class or a large group of children. It should be played in a carpeted, narrow area, such as a small classroom. While it begins like a normal game of tag, as soon as one child gets tagged, the two children hold hands together as they call out "Here comes the wind!" Each child who gets tagged gets "swept up" into the wind and joins the chain. The game ends when only one individual player is left, with the rest of the group having already joined "the wind chain."
Perles, Carrie  - Games for Children About the Wind & Air - - (Accessed 13/10/2015)

Narrative: Rough Script

Following on from our tutorial with Alan, we have created our first script. It's only rough at the moment, but it gives a good idea how our story goes.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Plot Structure: Film Review - Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Fig.1 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Movie Poster

George Miller's Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is a master piece in an age where Hollywood is receiving constant criticism for it's lack of fresh film ideas. This reboot/sequel may not have the most complex story, but it is one of the most thrilling and exhilarating films that you are ever likely to watch. Through Miller's incredible use of shots, and primary use of practical effects, it will keep your blood pumping throughout. 

Act 1 -Beginning:

The film takes no time to get right into the action. After a brief piece of dialogue from our main protagonist of Max Rockatansky (Played by Tom Hardy), we find the hero trying to escape the clutches of the Wasteland's inhabitants. Just from the very early scenes of the film, we get a clear understanding of the world and how it is run. It is clear that Max is broken by past, and so makes him vulnerable - This makes his capture inevitable. At this point, he is held prisoner by War Boys (Or Half-Lives) and their leader - Immortan Joe.

Fig.2 Opening shot

Act 2 - Middle:

The film then switches it's attention to who some would consider as the main character, despite the film title, in Imperator Furiosa (Played by Charlize Theron). It would appear that she is under Immortan Joe's command, as she must drive the war rig to Gas Town. However, on this journey, she diverts the Rig and the War Boys' cars. It is clear that she is not under Joe's control and has her own agenda. When Joe and the Citadel realise this, they get in their incredible cars. Each and every vehicle is designed so imaginatively. They are so unique and that is one of the many aspects that make both this film and franchise so remarkable. This marks the beginning of the main "chase" of the film. 

We then learn that Max is being used as a blood source as one of the War Boys, and so must be attached to the front of the car during the chase after Furiosa and the War Rig. In this sequence, we as an audience are treated to stop mayhem. With an amount of explosions that Michael Bay would be proud of, it takes nothing away from the brilliance in every shot and detail. Every individual frame of these scenes are a piece of art in their own right. It is such a pulse raising thing to watch. The soundtrack gets louder, the cars gets faster and more aggressive, and yet you dare not miss a moment of it. Perhaps the most exciting moments is when they're driving through a storm, that manages to grab the cars with ease and toss them through the air, while Max is trying to set himself free and stay alive. It is scenes like this that make the film so memorable and have such a lasting impact. 

Fig.3 Immortan Joe's Wives

When the storm settles, Max recovers and is forced to carry himself and the War Boy that he is supplying blood for - Nux (Played by Nicholas Hoult) to the War Rig, that has stopped in the distance. He intends to confront Furiosa and be free of Nux, although his plans appear to change when he finds a group of women using water and trying to get out of chains themselves. Furiosa is forced to set Max free due to him holding a gun to them. When she discovers Max also wants to take the War Rig, she is forced to stop him. When Nux awakes after being concussed from the storm, he assists Max, and helps him take the War Rig. Unfortunately for him, Furiosa has managed to create a sequence that must be triggered to drive it, and only she knows it, therefore forcing Max to allow Furiosa and the women into the Rig. Furiosa explains to Max that the women are Immortan Joe's Wives, and she is freeing from his clutches and is taking them to "The Green Place" where they can live in complete freedom. Max learns to understand their goal, despite his concerns of the Green place's existence. 

The pair continue to drive the Rig away from Immortan Joe and his followers in search of the Green Place and the Vuvalini of Many Mothers, who can help them. As the film progresses, they get more and more attention from the gangs that live in the Wasteland, which results in them trying to escape from the Warlords. In another equally as breathtaking scene of destruction of madness, one of the wives dies - Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's character called "Splendid". Sadly, she was heavily pregnant, consequently meaning the death of both her child and Immortan Joe's. This makes him even more aggressive, even more so when he discovers that it was a boy. It is apparent that Max and Furiosa must reach their destination. They continue to face many obstacles and challenges, but manage to overcome them all with little consequence. Furiosa stops the Rig in a place that appears familiar. They see a woman calling for help in the distance. Max believes that it's a trap, but this doesn't stop her from approaching the woman. As several motorbikes drive towards her, we find out that it's the Many Mothers. Furiosa is delighted. She knows the Green Place is near and they can help them find it. Her emotions change completely when they explain that they must have already past it - and they did. Furiosa is left heart broken, as it would seem they can not attain freedom.

Furiosa and the wives decide to go with Mothers on the motorbikes and to travel the Wasteland, leaving Max to live his life. Max is still haunted by his past and so has a change of heart. He drives after them, and tells them the best course of action would be to return to the Citadel. He explains that there's plenty of Water, greenery and is in no one's control due to Immortan Joe and the War Lords chasing after them. They agree to his plan, and so get back in the war rig and head towards the Citadel. One of the war boys spots them driving back, and so informs Joe of this, resulting in one more brilliant chase. This sequence appears to be a much harder task for them, due to the increased numbers of people following them. They manage to capture one of the wives and so are left having to save her, as well as trying to return to the Citadel first. Furiosa manages to throw herself onto Joe's car and defeats him in a brilliantly grotesque manner, however this comes at a cost as she get severely injured and is close to death. Nux, who is now driving war rig, sacrifices himself in order to save them. In doing so, he kills the warlords and the half-lives.  

Fig. 4 Furiosa (Played by Charlize Theron) and Max (Played by Tom Hardy)

Act 3 - End:

Max is left to try and save Furiosa from death, and uses his own blood to save her. They return to the Citadel, but the remainder of the injured War boys and young half-lives are left scratching their heads, as Max stops the car that previously belonged to Joe, he climbs on the bonnet and shows them Joe's body. The inhabitants of the Citadel rejoice as the leader who left them in the dirt is now gone and they can live a better life. Furiosa recovers and is shown helping people into the higher, and better areas, of the Citadel. The camera then cuts to Max walking through a crowd a people, therefore meaning that he intends to continue to roam the Wasteland alone.

Due to this ending it is left fairly open. Where will he go? What does he intend to do? Will we see Furiosa on screen again? Why didn't he stay with them? Does he wants to put his past behind him?

In conclusion, Mad Max: Fury Road demonstrates the effectiveness of practical effects and mainly female cast. This film passes the Bechdel test and acts as a pioneer for many upcoming action films. It highlights the strength and connection between a group of female characters, who do not need a man to survive.  At a run time of 2 hours, the film gets straight to the action and closes it quickly too. Act 2 dominates the length of this film, but due to it's sheer brilliance it quite rightly should do.

Apologies for any spoilers.

Illustration List:
Fig.1 Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Movie Poster - (Accessed 08/10/2015)

Fig.2 Opening shot - (Accessed 08/10/2015)

Fig.3 Immortan Joe's Wives - (Accessed 08/10/2015)

Fig. 4 Furiosa (Played by Charlize Theron) and Max (Played by Tom Hardy) - (Accessed 08/10/2015)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

The Hero's Journey: Archetypes - Seven (1995)

Fig. 1 Seven (1995) Movie Poster
Seven (1995) is David Fincher's second film, after Alien 3 (1992) . At the age of just 29, he managed to create one of Hollywood's most chilling and frightening crime thrillers. As a series of murders take place in accordance to the 7 deadly sins (Pride, Greed, Lust, Envy, Gluttony, Wrath and Sloth), it is up to Detective David Mills (Played by Brad Pitt) and Detective Lt. William Somerset (Played by Morgan Freeman) to find the killer.
The identity of our main hero could be argued. Is it David Mills - The new, and young, recruit who is eager to adapt to the new city and it's challenges? Or is it William Somerset - Full of experience and is close to retiring? At first, Somerset is to reluctant to take Mills into his ranks, and avoids letting him in on all the details of the case, and in some instances makes him look very inexperienced. It is because of this that Somerset could be regarded as the shadow character. The reason for this is that as the plot progresses and he learns more about Mills and his life, he finally treats him with respect, and in doing so growing a strong relationship with him. 
Fig.2 David Mills (Played by Brad Pitt)
One of the people who helped Somerset to show some appreciation towards to Mills is Mills' wife, Tracy Mills (Played by Gwyneth Paltrow). She helps Mills with his problems, both at his work and with his relationship with Somerset. It is only when the three have a dinner together when they start to bond and continue with the case in a more productive manner. Through Tracy Mills' contribution, she allows them to work together properly and it makes them put their troubles/differences behind them. She also provides more realism to the film, as she creates the more light hearted moments, as the three characters discuss the new living situation of that David and Tracy share. 
When they're working, Somerset uses his wisdom and experience to help Mills. He acts as his guardian. He gives him a greater knowledge of society, the people and how the police work in the city. While Mills is working in correspondence with new ideas and techniques, Somerset takes it back to the basics of going to the library, and doing research the old fashioned way.
Fig.3 Detective Lt. William Somerset (Played by Morgan Freeman)
Like any Murder mystery film, or TV show for that matter, the true identity of the killer is unknown. However, unlike most  of other films of the genre, we only fully see the killer for the first time 90 minutes in, which is remarkable considering the film's run time is 128 minutes. John Doe (Played by Kevin Spacey) is a calm, quiet and emotionless character, and that is what makes him so terrifying and such a brilliant villain. He is convinced that his actions will stand the length of time. He plans out every small detail to incredible lengths - removing his finger prints on a regular basis, for example. What makes Kevin Spacey's performance so great is that he has so little screen time in comparison to the other main characters, but it is he who creates the biggest impact. He steals every scene that he is in. It is clear that his plan is working, and so this contributes to one of the most shocking film endings ever to hit the screen.
Fig. 4 John Doe (Played by Kevin Spacey)
The cast of Seven is relatively small. With only 4 key characters, and the rest only playing minor roles, the common film archetypes are shared between the main 4. This demonstrates how films do not need a big cast of characters to be a hit. Through it's dramatic ending, the film is a very rare example where the Villain gets the last laugh.
Illustration List:
Fig.2 David Mills (Played by Brad Pitt) - - (Accessed 07/10/2015)
Fig.3 Detective Lt. William Somerset (Played by Morgan Freeman) - - (Accessed 07/10/2015)
Fig. 4 John Doe (Played by Kevin Spacey) - - (Accessed 07/10/2015)

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Animation 2: Lip Syncing Part 2 - Jaw Bounce - Tutorial

This is my attempt at the jaw bounce lip sync tutorial. I had to restart while getting around half way through because the shoulders/torso were moving as well, for some reason. I managed to complete it on the second attempt with no problems.