Friday, 19 May 2017

Submission Post | Year 2

Film Reviews

Maya Tutorials


Lighting and Rendering 2

Jet Pack Jones 

Mental Ray Part 6 | Maya Tutorials | Year 2

Skinning | Jet Pack Jones | Maya Tutorials

Jet Pack Jones | UV | Maya Tutorials | Year 2

Waltz With Bashir | Film Review | World Animation | Year 2

Waltz with Bashir is an Israeli 2008 animated war film that was written and directed by Ari Folman. It premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival. The film itself revolves around Folman’s search for his lost memories surrounding the 1982 Lebanon war. It is an incredibly raw film which hooks the viewers attention right from the 1st minute. Its breathtaking honestly is not necessarily realised until the end. Ari uses the film as a partial documentary, animating and depicting his own life and investigation into searching for his ‘lost’ memories.

It is an important film for many reasons. Not only does it depict the horrors that happened within Lebanon but it is worth noting that the film was banned

Vivid and horrifying events leading up to the massacres are disinterred by the movie's quasi-fictional "reconstructive" procedure, somewhere between oral history and psychoanalysis. The film uses hyperreal rotoscope-animation techniques, similar to those made famous by Bob Sabiston and Richard Linklater. Live-action footage on videotape has been digitally converted into a bizarre dreamscape in which reality is resolved into something between two and three dimensions. (Bradshaw, 2008)

The film is beautifully animated and brings a certain air of whimsicality and the true horror of what is unfolding in front of us doesn't seem as real. If this was intended is unclear but the colour and tonality of the piece mixed with the hyperreal rotoscope animation techniques adds another deeper, more subtle tone to the piece. Creating an animation about the Lebanon War was a risky task to undergo, yet the skills used to make it have masked some of the horror and added a layer of curiosity to the piece. This is not your typical war film. This is Folman’s attempt to understand his memories and educate others about what really happened.

The film is structured like a conventional documentary, with Folman visiting old army friends and piecing together what they saw and remember. The freedom of animation allows him to visualize what they tell him -- even their nightmares. (Ebert, 2009)
To add in real footage at the end is a heart breaking finale but it perfectly sums up the movie. He’s broken that filmic wall where people could be mistaken to think that the tragic events never happened. Instead he layers on the footage at the end to break the film illusion and to show people that this happened in real life. Although this piece is a semi documentary as he tried to understand his 1st hand view of the events, its done with such care and finesse that it should be truly considered a masterpiece.

Mental Ray Part 4 | Maya Tutorials | Year 2

Mental Ray Part 1 | Maya Tutorials | Year 2

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Sita Sings the Blues | Film Review | World Animation | Year 2

Sita Sings the Blues is a gorgeous ‘mixed media’ animation by Nina Paley. It breaks most animation conventions and combines 2D and 3D animation together within the same film. The film has scenes with events from the Ramayana. The Ramayana is an old Indian poem which depicts the tale of the divine prince Rama as he tries to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana.

The tale switches constantly back and forth between beautifully animated characters and almost comical discussions involving shadow puppets and hand drawn scenes from Nina’s own life. As strange as this mix sounds, it works on many levels and makes for a very interesting and engaging watch. This film is obviously Indian but Paley has managed to inject an American view into the film as well. The film is structured like a classic Bollywood film, including musical cutaways, oddly featuring the  1920's jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw but Paley’s genius vision made it fit.

The comical discussions with the shadow puppets make what could be perceived as a slightly boring subject interesting, although it can get a bit confusing at times as they bicker amongst themselves about some of the finer details.

It coils around and around, as Indian epic tales are known to do. Even the Indians can't always figure them out. In addition to her characters talking, Paley adds a hilarious level of narration: Three voice-over modern Indians, Desis, ad-libbing as they try to get the story straight. Was Sita wearing jewelry or not? How long was she a prisoner in exile? How did the rescue monkey come into the picture? These voices are as funny as an SNL skit, and the Indian accent gives them charm: "What a challenge, these stories! (Roger Ebert, 2009)

The bright colours and blending of myth and reality including different cultures make for an eye opening watch. The structure of the film itself is confusing to say the least and can leave the viewers either intrigued by what they saw, or very confused, sometimes both. Paley singlehandedly animated the majority of the film which is a breathtaking achievement in itself. She did receive some support from Jake Friedman.

Paley’s animation of The Ramayana is done in three primary styles. One uses images that look like picture book cut outs of the characters and a trio of Indonesian shadow puppets (Aseem Chhabra, Bhavana Nagulapally and Manish Acharya), who represent characters having a debate and discussion of the story and its meaning. Another uses spoken dialogue and an elegant painted style, with characters shown in profile and whose most prominent features are large, elongated eyes. Finally, Paley employs a digital-age update of traditional American Animation, think simple expressions and exaggerated anatomies – Sita has Betty Boop eyes, for example – in sections that also offer a musical commentary on the Hindu story. These segments use songs sung by ‘20s / ‘30s Jazz singer Annette Hanshaw as the voice of Sita. (Shaun Huston, 2010)

It's refreshing to see such dedication to work let alone in three separate styles that flow almost effortless throughout. Throw in some of Annette Hanshaw’s vocals and its sure to have such an air of charm. Of course this feel has not been without its issues, Paley battled copyright issues with the use of the soundtrack in certain scenes, which could have been removed to avoid this issue and the film restyled yet once again it was refreshing to see her fight with such passion for the work she created.

Regardless of issues within the film, it should be watched and celebrated none the less. Its a bright and vibrant method in which to learn some Indian culture but you should pay attention for the attention to detail and the hard work that has been put into creating it should be applauded and shared far and wide.

Spirited Away | Film Review | World Animation | Year 2

Fig 1 - Movie Poster
Spirited Away is possibly one of the best known Japanese animated films to grace our screens. It was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by the world renowned studio, Studio Ghibli. This is one of their more well known films amongst others such as Castle in the Sky, My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle.

Spirited Away is a story that begins with a young female star, Chihiro; a 10 year old girl, who is moving to a new home, possibly across the country, with her parents. On route, her father takes a short cut where they get very lost. They decide to explore the area before heading back and find themselves in what her father describes as an “abandoned theme park”. With some magic thrown in, Chihiro’s family are turned into pigs and Haku has to sneak her into the bathhouse.

Fig 2 - Chihiro running through a field of flowers

Studio Ghibli has high standards and it's clear to see them when watching this film. If you ever have a chance, watch it more than once. When watching the 1st time around, take in the film’s beauty. Look at the locations that they have brought to life, how the ‘wind’ plays with the trees and the grass. Every frame was hand drawn with such skill and precision. If you watch it for a second, third or fourth time, look at the sheer attention to detail, how every location feels real, as though it's been taken from real life. How tempting the food looks, how the water ripples perfectly. The list could go on for ever but until you watch wide eyed and look for every detail, you will not be able to appreciate the true beauty of this film.

Fig 3 - Chihiro with Haku

"Spirited Away" is surely one of the finest of all animated films, and it has its foundation in the traditional bedrock of animation, which is frame-by-frame drawing. Miyazaki began his career in that style, but he is a realist and has permitted the use of computers for some of the busywork. But he personally draws thousands of frames by hand. "We take handmade cell animation and digitize it in order to enrich the visual look," he told me in 2002, "but everything starts with the human hand drawing.” (Roger Ebert, 2012)

Many critics have penned that Chihiro or Sen as she is later referred to is a ‘sullen girl’. This is not necessarily true although at first she may seem a little timid and spoilt. As the movie progresses, she matures a lot for a 10 year old girl and truly fits the role of heroine for this story.

Fig 4 - Chihiro standing up to No Face

Spirited Away is what could be considered as a true representation of its origin. Japan’s culture is centred around a lot of mythical aspects and folklore. The animation style is gorgeous and sets itself apart from its western counterparts. Its anime style combined with shape shifting and magical creatures sometimes seems confusing to westerners and gives life lessons where people would not expect. When Chihiro’s parents “eat so much they double or triple in size. They eat like pigs, and they become pigs.” (Ebert, 2012)

This film has its own charm and definitely differs from what we westerners have come to expect watching pieces from Disney and others. Things are much more complex and you can tell that Studio Ghibli has pushed for a truly stunning piece enriched with a staggering amount of detail that we are just not used to seeing. It was a highly successful film across Japan and both Walt Disney and DreamWorks bid for the US distribution rights. Eventually Disney won to dub the english version and under the guidance of Pixar’s John Lasseter, it was released to an English audience. Although it is reported that Disney did not advertise it well, some saying that it was marketed worse than their own B movies, it was still a resounding hit with westerners.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Skullduggery's Rigging and Skinning Attempt | Maya | Adaption B | Year 2

These are screenshots from my rigging and skinning attempt for Skullduggery. 

Sculpture Outcome | Sculpting | Year 2

This is how my model looked by the end of the 3rd class. I\m really happy with the progress that I've made as this was the first time that I'd attempted to sculpt a bust like this before. When I got into the swing of sculpting, I had a lot of fun and I would love to put some more time into refining this skill.

Over summer I hope to continue modelling Mr Incredible and I might buy some more supplies to sculpt Elasta Girl to sit along side him.

This is model as it has progressed. I can clearly seem improvement with my sculpting skills week by week!

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Reflective Statement | Adaption B | Year 2

I think that the work that I did for the crit was good but not good enough. Although towards the end I did push myself to get the work done, I need to churn out artwork and thumbnails earlier on to help aid my project and ultimately speed it up. 

I know that if I had started modelling earlier, I could have gotten a lot further through the pipeline. 

I think overall I'm proud of the work I've done but feel a level dissatisfaction towards the amount that I got done. This model helped me prove to myself that I do have the capabilities to create a 3D character in Maya. I also create the UVs through a lot of trial and error and I believe that I've learnt a lot in the past few weeks. 

I do want to revisit this project over the summer as I do have a list of things I would like to fix but my ultimate goal is to achieve what I first set out to do at the start of this project. If I do continue work on Skullduggery, I will try to get myself into a better habit surrounding blog posts and updates.

Final Crit | Adaption B | Year 2

Sunday, 7 May 2017


This is how my model is supposed to look but every time I save and close the program, something weird happens. When reopening the file, an error code appears and then the trousers implode.

This was the 3rd time this happened. Every time this happened, I just deleted the trousers and remodelled because I knew I could model it better than the time before. I also made a copy of the file and changed the name to see if it would help.

This is what happened for the 5th time. The trousers at the top are how it looked before I closed it and  this is how it looked when I reopened it.

It hasn't happened to the suit jacket or to any of my other files including the skull. I don't know what to or if there is any fix? I have modelled the trousers 5 times now and every time I reopen the files including the autosaves and backups, the error appears and the trousers implode.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Suit Progress | Maya | Adaption B | Year 2

This is how Skullduggery's suit is looking so far! I think I've managed to get a nice shape with good definition to the suit and tie when the model is un-smoothed as well as smoothed. The collar doesn't match with my orthographs but I think the way I have modelled it looks a lot smoother.

Orthographs | Illustrator | Adaption B | Year 2

Skull orthographs
Original suit orthographs
Updated suit orthographs
These are the orthographs for Skullduggery Pleasant. After drawing the suit, I realised that the arms were incorrectly drawn for an orthograph and redrew. I've included both drawings as I feel that the progression is important and shows that I have realised my mistake and corrected this.