Thursday, 24 November 2011

Character Design Presentation

Character Design Project

Monday, 21 November 2011

Sidekick Colour Test

I call them "tanned", "sunburned" and "potentially racist".  I'm leaning towards "sunburned", as it just seems more "comedy", plus there's a greater contrast with the villain

Sidekick 3-Quarter sketch

At long last, the stupid sidekick.  Only 5 heads high (and almost as wide)

Villain Colour Test

Trying out different colour combinations for the Villain.  I'm leaning in favour of the left hand one, but what do people think?

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Villain 3 Quarter Attempt 1

Good Points:  The pose - looking down on the viewer, I like.

Bad Points:  Outfit a bit bland, and also hides a lot of the distortion to the body.  And the Feet - definitely going to need a redraw on those...

Heroine 3 Quarter View Attempt 1

First attempt at a full-size 3 Quarter view of my Heroine.

Good points:  The shin and arm guards work well (also, I'm amazed at how well the feet came out ^^;)

Bad Points:  Need a lot more work on the clothing, and the pose needs tweaking.

I think I'll give it another go traditionally, and then consider digital if I'm still having problems.

Sidekick Development

Mainly trying to nail down the head shape and body plan, although I also toyed with the idea of a human-sized helmet wedged on his head - unfortunately, that particular helmet is far too vertical, especially for such a horizontal character.

3 Quarter View Pose Tests

Assorted doodles trying to find a good pose for the Heroine and Villain 3 Quarter drawings.

Character Design Project Villain Development...

...and head practice ^^;

Following what Justin said about distorting the proportions of the Villain to make him less "heroic" - the left hand version is the standard 7 heads high, while the one on the right is 8 1/2 heads (with a stretched neck).  Definitely looks more villainous.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Group "commision" Project

Jetpack Jones, along with Galactic Aviator Corp badge and plasma pistol development.  (I quite like the pistol, I think I'll add it to the pile of weapon concepts I need to develop when I have the time...)

And Grok(?), probably needs more work; as Justin said, might be better if second set of arms look "grafted on" even thought gene-splicing wouldn't do that...

Sidekick Development

Continuing the "mythic" feel of the bad guys, I think the sidekick will be a cyclops.  After all, the Iliad was hardly flattering about their intellect, so that fits...


District 9 (2009)






Since it is set in a version of South Africa which appears to be contemporary (based on the vehicles and weaponry, along with details like the laptops and other electronic devices), it is pretty inevitable that it has been compared to both Apartheid and contemporary post-Apartheid descrimination against immigrants (Huddlestone, 2009).  Interestingly however, the South Africa of the film does not appear to have undergone Apartheid; at the very least, no mention of it is made at any point, even though the nominal arrival date of the aliens (28 years ago) would have been less than a decade before the ending of Apartheid in real South Africa.

The first act of the film takes the form of a mock documentary, following the authorities attempts to evict the aliens from the slum town of district 9 to a purpose-built camp away from the city (dubbed district 10).  This introduces the audience to the "world" of the film and its key elements: the aliens, derogatorily reffered to as "Prawns", and the human attitude towards them; Multi-National United, the vaguely sinister trans-national company that seems to have taken over the role of dealing with the aliens, starting with the boarding of the alien vessel; and District 9, the lawless, crime-ridden slum where the aliens are forced to live after a xenophobic backlash against their arrival (as shown in an opening montage of faux-news footage).

The main character of the film, Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) is initialy a casually xenophobic middle-manager at MNU, put in charge of issuing eviction notices to the aliens in District 9, so that MNU can then "legally" forcibly evict them (as the Telegraph review notes, this is an interesting contrast to the way real slum dwellers are treated - normally they are forcibly removed without prior warning).

Filmclip 1:  Wikus serves Christopher Johnson with Eviction Notice

During the course of the eviction, we are treated to the sight of MNU forces casually burning a nest of young aliens, complete with gleeful commentary from Wikus on the sound of the eggs "popping like popcorn", as well as the only major black characters in the film, the vicious and amoral "Nigerian Gangs" who act as a stand in for all the worst stereotypes of black africans - they exploit the aliens addiction to catfood to con them out of technology, think nothing of killing the aliens, and in a final ignomony, they eat the corpses of the aliens in a form of witchcraft/black magic based upon news reports of "Muti Murders", the supposed real-life killing of albinos for use in traditional medicine.

The second act of the film follows Wikus being transformed by exposure to a mysterious alien "fluid" that is apparently essential to the running of the alien spacecraft.  The transformation is body horror that could be straight from a David Cronenburg film, including Wikus pulling out his fingernails and losing teeth (an obvious reference to Cronenburg's The Fly); following an extremely unpleasant run-in with MNU forces (keen to disect him alive to further their own attempts to develope genetic-modification technology) he is forced to go on the run and ends up hiding in District 9 among the very aliens he had previously treated with contempt.

The third act is the most conventional, with several set-piece action scenes.  In an attempt to regain his human form, Wikus is forced to join forces with an alien (known as Christopher Johnson) who is attempting to restart the spaceship and rescue the aliens.  As the only alien (apart from its young child) the audience is supposed to identify with, Christopher has a greater range of facial expression than the standard aliens, and also demonstrates certain recognisably human manerisms (mainly when talking to his child).  Christopher is also responsible (in a roundabout way) for Wikus's transformation; he had been collecting the mysterious "fluid" that induced the metamorphosis in order to power up the command module of the alien spacecraft.

The film sets fall into 4 main types:  Wikus's home and office, both fairly conventional areas, looking like normal rooms, reflecting Wikus's role as an everyman; District 9, a Shanty Town full of rubbish and detritus, with buildings cobbled together from scrap materials, reflecting the shabby, unloved aliens that inhabit it; The MNU's labs and military vehicles, which are highly utilitarian, with no human touches, reflecting the harsh, unfeeling characters of the MNU mercenaries and scientists; and Christopher Johnson's shack and the shuttle craft underneath, which is festooned with computer parts cobbled together by a maze of wiring.

As an alien film focusing to a large extent upon the aliens, District 9 makes heavy use of special effects.  The aliens are almost exclusively computer generated (according to IMDb.com, the only "real" aliens were the aliens on autopsy tables inside the MNU headquarters), and the execution of the effects is extremely high quality, despite the relatively low budget of the film.  Much of the eponymous District was filmed in a real shanty town which was scheduled to be demolished after its human occupants were relocated to a newly built housing, lending a considerable air of authenticity to the scenes set in it.

Filmography

Filmclip 1: District 9--Wikus evicts Christopher (2009) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq4i8XlWilQ (Accessed on 24/12/2011)

Bibliography

Lane, A (2009) Only Human: 9 and District 9 Review http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/cinema/2009/09/14/090914crci_cinema_lane (Accessed on 26/12/2011)

Huddlestone, T (2009) District 9 (2009) http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/87388/district-9.html (Accessed on 08/11/2011)

IMDb.com (2009) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1136608/ (Accessed on 14/12/2011)

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)


Often described as one of the most influential Sci-Fi movies ever made, The Day the Earth Stood Still stands out from it's contemporaries for several reasons.

Firstly, it doesn't use aliens as an allegory for the threat of Soviet invasion (the Cold war having just started, and paranoia about possible communist infiltration of America being in full swing); rather, the aliens travel to earth to deliver a message to humanity (an early example of the Sci-Fi cliche, "I come in peace, take me to your leader").  In contrast, the film depicts the US military as almost institutionally aggressive - when the unidentified flying object makes a landing on the lawn outside the Capitol building, the army's first response is to surround it with a cordon of armed troops.  Whilst this is arguably a realistic assessment of what would happen in this situation, it also serves to highlight the human tendancy to act aggressively against the unknown.

Secondly, it is a different type of story to its contemporaries.  Contemporary movies were generally of the "monsters are outsiders" type, for example Invasion of the Body Snatchers or The Thing, reflecting American fears of the Soviet Union; The Day the Earth Stood Still stands out by being of the "monsters are insiders" type, where the "bad guys" are humans like us.  The army take the role of "villain"; although the first shooting of the alien Klaatu (Michael Rennie) is arguably an accident, they subsequent imprison him in a hospital room and then hunt him down when he escapes before shooting him in the back when they catch up with him.

The visual effects used in the film were sophisticated for the time, with much use made of optical printing to insert "glows" to represent both the spaceship (while airborne) and the energy ray used by the robot Gort.  However, the effects are primarily concentrated in the opening 10 minutes or so of the film, when the spacecraft lands and Gort first demonstrates his power in retaliation for the shooting of Klaatu.
Video 1: Gort Attacks

Most of the film is spent watching Klaatu interacting with human civilians in an attempt to learn more about the people he may end up destroying, especially widow Helen Benson  (Patricia Neal) and her young son Bobby (Billy Gray).  The interaction between Klaatu and Bobby is interesting, as Klaatu is rather an innocent, asking questions about things "adults" take for granted - for example, he is amazed at the fact that all of the people in Arlington National Cemetery died in wars, and has so little understanding of the value humans place on small, shiny objects that he offers Bobby a couple of priceless diamonds to cover the cost of visiting the cinema; at other times, he talks in an almost omniscient manner - explaining inertia in the manner of a university professor, or casually telling Bobby that "one day, he'll tell him about a type of train that doesn't need rails".  This is helped by the high quality of the acting, especially Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal (Variety, 1951).
Video 2: The Day the Earth stood Still (1951) Part 3

Finally, the film makes extensive use of the Theremin in its soundtrack, along with electric organs and amplified string instruments, leading to it being described as one of the first films with a primarily electronic score (IMDb.com, 2011).  The Theremins (there are 2) provide not only music, but also the sound effects for both the flying saucer and Gort; some credit this film as starting the association between the ethereal sounds of the Theremin and science-fiction films.
Video 3:  The Day the Earth Stood Still: Dialogue-Free Opening

Filmography

Video 1:  The Day The Earth Stood Still 1951 Gort (2009) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eun7SmpNr1I (Accessed on 29/10/2011)

Video 2:  THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951) Part 3 (2009) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqPj4-fiRfs (Accessed on 02/11/2011)

Video 3:  Unusual Scoring of "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) (2008) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRc6f2oVdlw (Accessed on (05/11/2011)

Bibliography

Crowther, B (1951) The Day the Earth Stood Still http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A07EED61031E23BBC4152DFBF66838A649EDE&partner=Rotten%20Tomatoes (Accessed on 02/11/2011)

Errigo, A (2011) The Day The Earth Stood Still http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=132646 (Accessed on 28/10/2011)

IMDb.com, Inc. (2011) The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) Trivia http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0043456/trivia (Accessed on 06/11/2011)

NF (2011) The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/65054/the_day_the_earth_stood_still.html (Accessed on 05/11/2011)

Variety Staff (1950) The Day the Earth Stood Still http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117790275?refcatid=31 (Accessed on 01/11/2011)

Friday, 4 November 2011

Villain development continued

I think I'm going to go with the right-hand head design - it has a more interesting silhouette

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Villain Head Concepts

Since my Villain is now almost an aquatic Medusa, I tried to mix in elements from a variety of dangerous sea creatures, especially Lionfish, while also trying to think about ancient Greek elements.

Villain Body development

Trying out different stances and proportions for size...

Villain Rethink

After talking to Justin, I realised that I've been looking at the problem wrong.  I've been looking at it as a Costume design project, and I needed to add more of a Creature design approach.

As a result, the villain is getting a few tweaks, so his backstory is now more like Medusa.

Anyway, here's the first doodles.

Creature Design Exercise

The deck of destiny gave me an underwater environment for my creature, and I decided I wanted to try and produce a defensive herbivore, based on a combination of a Horseshoe Crab and a Dunkleosteus

Unfortunately, it turned out to be very difficult to make a creature based on Dunkleosteus that didn't look aggressive and predatory...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Villain Head Attempt 2

Had another go at the villain, trying to use what Justin suggested.  The left one looks like the villain from Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame to me though...

Oh, and I also tried out a different angle for headgear - a more sinister version of a Laurel Wreath