Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Eastern and Western Animation

This lecture comparing western animation such as Pixar and Disney with Eastern anime such as Studio Ghibli mainly just inspired me to do more research on different types of animation. I also learnt that we should't always treat things with the newest technology as better than old, for the best art forms re-interpret the past to make something in their own form.  Whilst looking online I found an article about the animation Oscar shortlist. The list includes several clips you might already have seen like the short that was before Toy Story 3 called 'Day and Night'.

      There are some good clips on the page but my favourite one of all was "The Silence Beneath the Bark" directed by Joanna Lurie, (Lardux Films).

I really love the simple story going on between the characters who are exploring some snowcovered woods and just messing about with each other. The style is amazing with layers of colour and texture overlapping with sometimes whole areas of blank that make you really concentrate on certain parts of the screen. I really want to see the whole film.

Just as good but in a different 3D CGI style is "I Lived On The Moon" animated by Yannick Puig and music by Kwoon. 

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Another Suzie Templeton Film

This was her graduation film, released in 2001.

Other character creation people might find this bit of her website useful as well as it shows some of the designs and sketches for her work.


The main bit of this lecture was about freedom in animation with the example of "Duck Amuck" showing how the animator and character interact without constraints. An animated film I really like is Peter and the Wolf (2006) directed by Suzie Templeton.
  It is a modernised version of the classic tale set in Russia with the music Sergei Prokofiev wrote for the story in 1936 made in stop motion. The sets in this film are amazing, they built a 70 ft forest with 1700 trees in it so the scale of the forest seems real.
Building the set
The finished forest

       In the seminar we talked about the Fleischer Brothers film "Snow White" and the singer Cab Calloway's part in it. The animators used rotoscoping to translate his movements while singing and dancing into a an animated character. Translating the movements this way mean that the cartoon, although different in image to the real Cab Calloway, is still easily recognisable as him. 
Above:In the cartoon
Below:The real Calloway
A great skill in character creation comes in being able to transfer something real being demonstrated e.g emotion, expression, movement, into whatever you are creating e.g. mask, model, sketch. If you can convey this then the audience will really believe and connect with the character. 


Violence in the Media

This lecture was about the role of violence in games,film, and other media.  The thing I found most interesting in this lecture and seminar was the link between how the sounds of violence often affect you more than the sight of it eg. sounds of bones cracking, skin tearing etc. Listening to a radio play called "A Child Crying" was all about how a man hearing a child crying constantly in his head drove him mad.

  Sound effects in films emphasise the action that is taking place. The most famous sound effect is probably "The Wilhelm Scream" which was first shown in the Warner Bros film "Distant Drums"and has been shown in over 250 films and some video games. This is a compilation of some of the instances the scream has been used:

Sounds help create a sense of reality within a scene and by mixing sounds the effect can be made even more so. For example the sound of someone being shot in a film may be made up of 3 sounds: a pig carcass being shot, a melon being cracked, and a hammer hitting some wood. Individually the sounds may not have sounded at all effective but together they make the scene believable. Furthermore in real life people may not know the real sound of a bullet hitting a person but even so can recognise the sound of one in a film.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Some of my favourite Steampunk

I went to this exhibition many times when it was on in Oxford for about 6 months.
Here are some of my favourite things from it:

It was a really great exhibition, it even had a fashion show where people dressed up in Steampunk clothes could walk up and down a catwalk and show off their ensembles.


 I am sorry world but my knowledge of Sci fi is actually rubbish. The list of ‘films to watch’ is nearing roughly 150 and I think I won’t get through them until at least next year! However with the addition of this ‘Box of Broadcasts’ website there is an actual chance I might see at least some of them.
    Despite not really knowing many of the references in this lecture I still found some parts inspiring.

Some of this lecture was about digital vs analogue photography. The gist i got was that ‘digital photography is heartless because it is just pixels’ which in the end can be edited one by one to create photogaphs that never existed. But is this such a bad thing? Sometimes the juxtaposition of things that never existed together can be the thing that makes it so interesting, as with binary opposition two opposing ideas found together are generally more remarkable than something you would find the norm. 
I do appreciate however the effort and strain that can go into getting the ‘perfect’ non-photoshopped shot.
Take Jay Fine who waited more than 40 years to photograph lightning hitting the statue of liberty. 
Only on his 82nd shot and 2 hours waiting did he manage to take this amazing picture. 

In the seminar we discussed our favourite Sci Fi characters and why we liked them. If it counts as Sci Fi I really like the character of Frank from Donnie Darko.
Why do I think this character's appearance is so successful?
  • Eyes: As Ivan explained the manipulation of a characters eyes can be the most disturbing thing about it. You cannot see into Frank's mask and so are looking into 'dead' eyes. Even when he takes the mask off one of his eyes is injured and bleeding.  
  • Texture: I think the surface and texture of the mask is really effective as some parts reflect a lot of light leaving other in shadow, emphasising the skull-likeness of the mask.
  • Mask-Generally people dislike masks. They conceal the real person beneath, mean you can't properly tell what someones reactions are or you can't read their expressions. This works well on the character of frank as it makes him more mysterious.
  • Emphasised teeth-Makes you think of vicious animals, especially paired with rabbit ears it makes me think of some kind of ancient sabre toothed rabbit. 

New media and breaking down barriers

This lecture sort of had a focus but also moved between lots of different topics which was a bit hard to keep track of.
   Firstly it started about the interaction between the creators of media and its users. As technology develops the trend is for things become more and more interactive.
This is an interactive mirror that's in a Bloomingdales shop in America
You can 'try on' clothes without actually putting them on, see yourself from every angle, and even put your image on an online feed where any friends logged in can give you feedback on the way you look.

     Talking about old games in this lecture I was reminded of something I used to love playing on my brother's Amstrad computer. Although each level was essentially the same I could play it for hours! The game had a lot of 'reply' value without having any narrative.

Another awesome game we had on our old 'windows 95' computer was Spelling Jungle! I've  never found anyone else who ever had this game. You were the little guy who had to 'go upriver to stop the flooding' (i never actually made it up to the top of the river, it got really hard!) by collecting the letters to spell out words. It didn't help hugely that the game was american so I learnt a lot of American spellings not English ones but never mind. 

Compare these to the new Xbox Kinect games, you can see how the player has a lot more influence on the computer. 

Although the technology of these games are obviously amazing I'm not sure the actual 'enjoyment value' of the games will be higher than older ones. Really as long as a game is entertaining and sucks you in it doesn't really matter what the graphics or technique of playing is. 

Thursday, 18 November 2010

How binary opposition makes things interesting

Binary Opposition is the categorising of opposites. E.g Light Vs Dark, good Vs evil.  When we apply this to character creation, having a character who is wholly good or wholly evil isn't very exciting. This is because being somewhere in the middle gives characters a lot more depth and believability. As humans it is hard to believe that one person could not have a scrap of good in them or be 100% nice.

  Take the Gollum/Smeagol idea from Lord of the Rings. First he was nice, then he saw the ring, went a bit evil, lived in a cage for ages, found Frodo, was nice, was evil, plotted, fought with himself etc etc. All this makes for much better storyline than if Gollum had just been an evil creature who Frodo captured and forced to lead him to Mordor.
 Gollum/Smeagol also links to the idea of something human becoming less and less human over time because of evil, greed, and selfishness and that these traits can be so dominating that they end up consuming you completely.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Everything is interlinked and nothing is original....

 ....was my conclusion of the Intertextuality lecture.  I suppose ideas don't really come out of thin air and often the best ideas is when you've seen something else really good and modified it or added your own twist to it.
  Certainly a lot of the success of the Harry Potter books can in part be accredited to the ancient myths and legends it takes references from.
Drawing from 'Orlando Furioso’ written by Ludovico Ariosto, a poem about a Charlemagne warrior (1532)
Harry riding Buckbeak the hippogriff (2004)

I also leant from this lecture that things can be linked either consciously or unconsciously so often you don't realise you associate one thing with another.  Like perfumes you begin to associate a certain perfume with one person so the next time you smell it you always think of them.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Banana slug anyone?

They are the largest slug in North America and can grow to be 10 inches long. Urgh thats a lot of slug.

Semiotics Not Symbiotic

I keep getting the word semiotic confused with symbiotic. Here are the two different meanings:
Semiotic: The study of signs and the way in which they work to create meaning.
Symbiotic: The living together of two dissimilar organisms in mutually beneficial relationship.
  So not really related. I will still mix them up. 

Signification = the process of signs-being-made-noticed-and-understood

  Although I was feeling a bit like death after about 3 hours sleep this lecture was actually very interesting.  We learnt the difference between how iconic or arbitrary something is. It turns out that iconic is closest to the real thing and arbitrary is far away and in between in a sliding scale.  A photograph is generally the most iconic way to represent something and the written word or sound or something the least. 

    Onomatopoeic words however are iconic because they sound like the thing they describe. 

Here is a sliding scale of the signification of bananas:

Iconic <-------------------------------------------------------> Arbitrary                   
Whilst looking for pictures of bananas I found this banana bowl designed by Harry Allen, I want one!
  Another part of the lecture was on the denotation, connotation, and myth of signs.  The denotation is the literal meaning-ie what you first see, the connotation is subtler or suggested meaning, and myth the underlying ideology and political meaning.

Take one banana related object and analyse:

  • Denotation: Yellow object, made of plastic and metal, shaped like a banana, sticker of a fruit company on the side, opens in two.
  • Connotation:  Not everything is exactly as you expect, Del Monte have branched out with their products/souvenirs.
  • Myth:Technology should be quirky as well as functional, people expect more from a product than just a function, nature fused with science.

Friday, 29 October 2010

A Special Shout Out

To the Ghost Train ride at West Midlands Safari Park called "Dr Umbotos catacombs".

  Featuring a rickety tram in 'near darkness' you wind your way past a TERRIFYING array of things inside. From a stuffed gorilla behind a glass case to a man being sick into a bin, this is surely worth a trip to this Halloween. 

Is it Real?

      This lecture on realism made me think about Waxworks.  I hate the idea of Madame Tussauds completely and I don't see why anyone would want to spend the day gazing at slightly odd looking fake celebrities.  However one waxwork museum I would possibly like to go to is 'Louis Tussauds Waxworks-Blackpool', featuring the worlds worst waxworks! In 2008 they auctioned off 75 of 'the best', here are some examples:

Any idea who they are? Nope me neither. That last one's Marilyn Monroe apparently...they all look like they've got some horrible skin disease or something. 

Anyway aside from this slightly ridiculous but entertaining place I think waxworks are very creepy and best left in the bin. 

    When at the Frieze art fair in London the other weekend I found this example of realist painting:

  Unfortunately I didn't write down who it was by and I can't find it on the internet so I can't tell you who painted it.  Although its good, I don't really feel that it being painted really adds any value to it and it could just as easily be a print or a photo. I agree with Wallace Stevens (poet) that "Realism is a corruption of reality" and art should be more about the transforming process rather than an exact copy.

Lecture Catchup

I didn't really know how to start writing about the lectures so I sort of have been avoiding it...but I suppose eventually it would have to spring up. Our first lecture was called 'This Rough Magic'.I actually missed this lecture unfortunately so had to try and make sense of the lecture notes. What I can gather mainly is that magic and creativity are the same, any creative person will work in a medium, and that medium depends on the type of creativity involved e.g. An author's medium is their pen..or maybe word processor on their laptop.
  'Rough' magic seems to be magic that is completely new and not entirely honed down to perfection. I liked the idea of early cave paintings being like animation.

This picture is of horses and rhinos and found in the Chauvet cave, France.  You can see the expression of movement in the repetitive, energetic marks.  


Amazing Jack O'Lantern/Happy Halloween


Monday, 18 October 2010

Song Time

Awesome video for Massive Attack's song Atlas Air.

Directed by Edouard Salier.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Model Research

When asked to look at old, modern, and inbetween aged models i found these images of flea circuses from Victorian times.

(image credit: John Torp's Flea Circus, via)

  Flea circuses were  popular until the 1930s and even operated as late as the 1970s. The tiny insects were often glued or tied to wheels and as they fought to escape, they moved the objects. Sounds a bit horrible really but I love the tiny objects made for them.   I also found this rather creepy picture of fleas dressed up as people...

  Whoever made the costumes must've had a lot of patience and very good eyesight!

Friday, 15 October 2010

First Attempt!

Hello all this is the first blog I've set up for fun/as part of our uni reflection on critical studies thing. Regardless of anyone reading it I think a blog will actually be useful to keep a note of interesting stuff I find on the internet and other sources.  So anyone out there, read on...

Glass Fishys

TROIKA_SHOAL from Troika on Vimeo.

Found this thing called 'Shoal' by Troika that is up in Canada apparently.