Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Friday, 11 March 2016

Mental Ray Part 1: Samples & Quality Control

Final Render:

The Spider Character - refined

The Spider character is inspired by mimes that tied in with the mask on the face really well. She needed to have expressive hand gestures and strings of silk around her curled fingers. The idea is that she doesn't have a mouth and can't warn any of her victims what will happen to them. She is torn between constant hunger and the feeling of guilt. The initial idea of her silhouette turning into a skull is still there but not the major selling point. I think she walks a fine line between distorted anatomy that suggest she is a creature and a possible costume worn by the dancer, so in that sense I kept the tone of the rest of the characters and I can see her living in the same universe. The flower petals are a way of attracting victims and the end of her legs contain venom with which she paralyses prey.

The Ant Character

The idea for the Ant is that the dancer never touches the ground physically and has a very light touch. She is also without an identity and anonymous. The clothes she is wearing are made of found objects and the lack of hands is another layer of the missing identity (no fingerprints). Thinking about a character inspired by ants was challenging because they really lack individuality, ants are always in groups and colonies (except the queen of course) so placing a dome on the character turns her into something resembling a part of a group, a soldier almost.
Anyway, that was the thinking behind it, hope you guys like it :)

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Dynamics Part 17: Sprites

Dynamics Part 16: Conditional Goal Weights

The Ant Character silhouettes

"When the Wind Blows" - movie review

Fig. 1 – movie poster

When the Wind Blows” is an animation from 1986 directed by Jimmy T. Murakami. If “The Triplets of Bellevue” was the frenchiest animation I’ve seen, this was the most English one for sure. I’ve never seen a film entirely driven by small talk and tea drinking. The thing that strikes immediately is the art style that gives you the illusion for another snowman Christmas story, but the tone of “When the Wind Blows” is way darker. What starts as na├»ve preparation for an eventual bombing turns the environment against the characters and even though they are trying really hard to maintain order they fail miserably. 

What makes the film exceptionally dark is the overall feeling of dread and even though some parts could be seen as funny when taken out of context, while watching, everything remains alarming. From the characters trying to contact their son on the phone after the bomb, to the futile attempts of turning the telly on. A lot could be said about mood. The feeling that prevails is indeed very monotonous and secluded. Perhaps intentional to emphasize the remoteness of the couple and maybe to point out how war really affects the life of people that are not in the middle of the action. Point of view plays a major role in the film and the camera angles are impressive at times. Perspective is well utilised in story terms as well. Choosing to portray a middle class family to show the horrors and effects of war works better for me, than showing soldiers killing each other somewhere far away.

James and Hilda Bloggs remain undeterred even after their bodies are badly poisoned by radiation and they keep on trying to spruce up the house. It is sad, but in the same time as a viewer I remained very detached by what was happening. 

Technically the blend between drawn animation and stop-motion was very well executed. Especially when the camera moves inside the interior of the house, giving the film a 3rd dimension. I am not entirely convinced by the blend between live action war scenes and animation though, but I can see how it helped putting the story into context and making the characters more believable to the viewer. 

Overall “When the Wind Blows” is a perfect product of its times and represents a bygone era of war rumours and terror. Thinking about it makes me appreciate that I grew up in the 90s and that wasn’t part of my childhood. 

The characters remain positive until the very end and I am very happy there wasn’t a scene where they were shown dead. The film cuts intelligently mid-prayer and enhances the dreadful feeling that it creates.


Fig 1 – movie poster - (2016). [online] Available at:,320_.jpg [Accessed 10 Mar. 2016].

Saturday, 5 March 2016

@Alan spider character #3

Taking the feedback from the previous ones on board but still tying it in with the style of the previous characters was fun. It would look a lot better painted obviously. The skull transformation is not that important on this version and it doesn't look like a costume too much either. Keeping up with the initial idea of creating hybrids that are not clearly costumed people or obvious mutants.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

@Alan spider character further redisgn

Refining the style of the character a little bit by adding more spider anatomy. With the final frontal version I think the shoulder pads read better than just gaping holes. Also added a couple of arms balancing the number of limbs. A bit wonky overall but it was meant to be quick even though I really want to start refining it. Let me know what you think.

Dynamics Part 15 Goal Weights

"The Triplets of Belleville" - movie review

Fig. 1 – movie poster
“The Triplets of Belleville” is a 2003 animated film directed by Sylvain Chomet. The film immediately grasps the viewers’ attention with its incredible style and visual comedy. The first scene could be considered racist and a particularly bold decision from the director, however it could be excused as it was referring to different times. I particularly liked how the environment was constantly changing and was reflecting the inner struggles of the characters. The characters are undertaking transformations as well. From the glamorous triplets we see at the start to three old and tired performers that lead a very sad and curious existence. From a young puppy to a grown and cuddly beast and so on. Maybe the only character that remains constant is the grandmother, and seeing as she represents unconditional love and devotion it really makes sense for her to be herself throughout the film.

Another striking thing about the film is the lack of dialogue. The narrative is driven by actions and expressions and it really works. We all knew the story without it being narrated. The excellent blend between 2d and 3d animation was tasteful as well, even though I don’t think the 3d elements were enhancing any of the story. Instead of a 3d vehicle which Bruno the dog rides in his dreams, I would’ve happily settled for a more low-fi version of that, that was hand drawn to keep up with the traditional feeling, but that’s just my personal preference.

Even though the film was lacking a dialogue, and I jumped slightly when I heard the main character finally speak at the end, the music and singing was infectious and I still have the tune stuck in my head. The sounds really enhanced the characters too. Particularly the small mechanic guy that was clearly based on a mouse, his sneeze was combined with the high-pitched squeak of an actual mouse and I thought that is an excellent detail.

Overall the film was immensely fun and worth watching, the world it creates is really fun to look at and there was some really great attention to detail in the way America is portrayed for instance. The statue of liberty holding a burger is a particular favourite of mine and the misspelling of Hollywood with Hollyfood. The French vibe was unmistakable too.


Fig. 1 – Movie poster -, (2016). [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Mar. 2016].