Friday, 9 May 2014

Maya Tutorial Checklist

Intro to Autodesk Maya

Geometry Types (

Modelling (

UV Maps (

Lighting & Rendering 1: Intro to Lighting

Exterior Lighting - Mid Day, Sunset, Romantic, Night and Interior Lighting - Sunset (

Modelling 1: Digital Sets

Modelling, UV Layout, Lighting, Colour maps, Bump and Specular maps, Dirt Maps & Final Render (

Pre-Viz 1: Intro to Pre-Visualisation

Camera Rig, Pan, Roll and Pitch Shots (

Maya Tutorials - Lighting & Rendering 1

Exterior Lighting - Midday
Exterior Lighting - Sunset

Exterior Lighting - Romantic House
Exterior Lighting - Night House
Interior Lighting - Kitchen Sunset

Texturing Part 2: UV Maps

UV Mapped Blocks

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Friday, 4 April 2014

Fantastic Voyage Pre Viz

This is the pre viz work for my fantastic voyage project. This has taken too long to assemble and still needs refinement as it is over 3 minutes in length. Any and all suggestions on reducing or exclusion of scenes and sequences are welcome and appreciated.

Monday, 24 March 2014

The Wicker Man (1973) Film Review

Fig 1: The Wicker Man (1973) Poster
The film 'The Wicker Man'  is an incredibly suspense-filled cult classic; with a plot pumped full with misdirection, screenplay that keeps the audience shivering on the edge of their seats and a completely estranged visual experience that fools delightfully with a viewer's preconceptions of religion.

"Anthony Shaffer penned the screenplay which, for sheer imagination and near-terror, has seldom been equalled." (Variety Staff 2008)

The screenplay of 'The Wicker Man' is both parts mysterious and disturbing. Its use of old Pagan traditions, beliefs and mannerisms give it a strange feel from the very start which only grows stronger as Sergeant Howie, from the Scottish mainland police force, investigates the disappearance of the young girl, Rowan Morrison. The film, as noted in the quotation above, is extremely imaginative as it makes superb use of all aspects of Pagan belief to frighten an audience unfamiliar with them, it blends these beliefs so seamlessly into a familiar modern environment which confuses and astonishes audiences when it becomes suddenly clear what is taking place on the island. 

Fig 2: Maypole Scene in 'The Wicker Man'

"Edward Woodward is pitch-perfect as Sergeant Howie. He makes a character who, to be honest, is not extremely likeable into a sympathetic figure. We root for him in spite of his flaws because Woodward is so genuine, so thoroughly convinced that he is a righteous man in a community of depravity." (Gonzalez 2008)

The strong characterisation of Sergeant Howie is such a vital role to 'The Wicker Man' that without it, the film as whole cannot function. While 'The Wicker Man' makes good use of its many characters , It is Sergeant Howie who acts as a conduit between the audience and the film's focus, his voicing of opinions and observations act as vocalisations of audience opinion during the many events, but his winding path in investigating the disappearance of Rowan gives very little straightforward movement in the tale and is the main tool of misdirection in the plot, deceiving the audience all the way up to its horrifying conclusion.

Fig 3: The Burning Wicker Man scene in 'The Wicker Man'
"hardly anything surpasses that clifftop finale for freakish terror" (Quinn 2007)

The finale of the 'The Wicker Man' has be immortalised as one of the greatest filmic twists of all time, the sudden change from daring escape to elaborately planned trap is almost unforeseen to audiences during the events leading up to it.It is only upon re-examination of moments through out the film that a much more sinister plot can be revealed. The entire film is rife with symbolic elements of it conclusion, hinting ever so subtly at Sergeant Howie's approaching demise. An example of these would be the use of rabbit imagery, from the finding of a rabbit carcass in Rowan's supposed grave to the beheading of the rabbit headdress during the mayday ritual, the rabbit can be interpreted as a representation of Howie himself, an innocent animal being killed by the predators around it. Another example would be the constant temptation and torment of Howie by the villagers; Willow's constant on screen sexual allure, the pursuit around the village, their constant carelessness about Rowan, etc. When re-examined with the ending in mind, each of these, and many more, instances are engineered circumstances and are organised to test Sergeant Howie's resilience, fortitude and belief as a Christian to their limits, so the village knows they have the perfect human sacrifice for the mayday festival and their gods. This feeling, evoked by the films end, grows more powerful even after it is viewed. It casts the film in a extremely sinister light and moves it away from suspense thriller it seems to be altogether and instead moves into the realm of absolute horror, this echoing fright shadows each character's every word, their every action becomes malicious and deceitful as the perfectly engineered, elaborately organised plot moves Sergeant Howie ever closer to his sickening demise, like a lamb to the slaughter.

List of Illustrations

Fig 1: 'The Wicker Man' poster [Poster] At:

Fig 2: Maypole scene in 'The Wicker Man' (1973) Directed by Robin Hardy. [Film Still] United Kingdom: British Lion Films. At:

Fig 3: The Burning Wicker Man scene in 'The Wicker Man' (1973) Directed by Robin Hardy. [Film Still] United Kingdom: British Lion Films. At:


Gonzalez Jr, Felix (2007) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 24/03/2014)

Quinn, Anthony (2007) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 24/03/2014)

Variety Staff (2008) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 24/03/2014)

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Memento (2000) Film Review

Fig 1: 'Memento' (2000) poster
The film 'Memento' (2000) is a complicated narrative that has no steady point in time and constantly flicks backwards in time, with each new scene ending on an identical series of events to the start of the last. This narrative style can be extremely confusing for any audience that falls behind the story's progression but 'Memento' use this style in a rhythmic and entrancing way that keeps the audiences viewing experience fresh and interesting until the final twist.

"Occasionally the film trips over its own complexity, but it's tense, devious and evokes Leonard's disorientation quite brilliantly." (Film4 2000)

The film's complex narration works both as a unique method for portraying and telling the story while also acting as a representative element of a Leonard's constant confusion and absolute disorientation to the world around him. This works very much to 'Memento's advantage as the story backtracks to its beginning, the many overlapping scenes throughout reveal an increasingly twisted plot and eventually shows Leonard's conscious decision to fool himself. This final, or initial, twist uses the main plot device, Leonard's inability to make memories, to completely change the audiences perception and interpretation of established events and the even the plot itself, with us thinking that "Teddy" is John G, Leonard's target, for almost all of the feature.

Fig 2: Death of "Teddy" from 'Memento' (2000)
"Memento is one of those jigsaw puzzles whose pieces snap together more tightly with each viewing. Fueling it all is a performance by Guy Pearce that's as indelible as the tattoo ink covering his body. He's a mural of vengeance." (Nashawaty 2011)

The complex characterisation of Leonard, the film's protagonist, is both confusing and morally questionable. The character's motives are completely clear from the very beginning, with the subsequent death of "Teddy" in the first scene. His desire for revenge is the very basis for this character as he follows this drive on the hunt for his wife's supposed 'killer'. A fact which itself turns out to be false, with Leonard's subconscious lying to him and concealing the truth of his situation and past within a story he tells again and again. These defining features of Leonard's character for the duration of the film can be seen as ironic, as he makes a point of telling others how memories can be twisted and unreliable but he, himself places complete faith in his own memories. The story he constantly tells, the story of Sammy Jankis, is his own mind taking a third person perspective on the events proceeding his wife's rape and supposed murder and the way in which this story lingers around Leonard shows an unconscious attachment to the events and his guilt surrounding it proves to be an unconscious acknowledgement of his involvement in his wife's overdose.

Fig 3: Sammy Jankis from 'Memento' (2000)
"More than an enigmatic, jittery, occasionally funny treatise on vengeance's fruitlessness, "Memento" never abandons an emotional quandary: How can a man unable to feel time expect to heal? Leonard loses himself, as we all do, in habit and repetition." (Rogers 2010)

It becomes painfully obvious by the very end of the feature that Leonard is lost within his own concept of time and the world around him. He judges the inconsistencies and uncertainties of reality, criticsing the people around him and their dependency on what he himself has lost. This proves to be true until quite a way into the film, when the audience begins to see the twisted plot unravel in front of them; with Leonard's manipulation by Natalie, a drug dealer's girlfriend, and then his own manipulation of his memories. He exploits his own memories by essentially using his only routine and loop hole, his trust in himself; he intentionally manipulates himself to please a now instinctual feeling of revenge. This is revealed nowhere better than when "Teddy" confronts Leonard with the truth his reality and his eternal and routine hunt for the ever elusive "John G".

List of Illustrations

Fig 1: 'Memento' (2000) poster [Poster] At:

Fig 2: Death of "Teddy" from 'Memento' (2000) Directed by Christopher Nolan. [Film Still] America: Newmarket Films and Team Todd. At:

Fig 3: Sammy Jankis from 'Memento' (2000) Directed by Christopher Nolan. [Film Still] America: Newmarket Films and Team Todd. At:


Film4 (2000) At: [Online Review] (Accessed: 11/03/2014)

Nashawaty, Chris (2011) At:,,20466686,00.html [Online Review] (Accessed: 11/03/2014)

Rogers, Nick (2010) At: [Online Review] (Accessed: 11/03/2014)

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Fantastic Voyage - Narrative Frame 1

My first initial idea for a narrative frame around the reproductive cycle of moss, my chosen subject for this project, is a science fiction approach. The narrative will be based with a automated spaceship that terraforms suitable planets into recreations of earth. The ship begins the terraforming process and also begins to breed and cultivates every living organism from earth onboard through artificial means and then transplants these organisms onto the planet's newly terraformed surface. My animation will focused around the moss production chambers and will feature the complete process from after the haploid spores are released and begin to grow. I will detail both the male and female cycles, showing only the male's growth cycle as both are quite similar but will show the fertilisation and spore ejection process as well.

Friday, 28 February 2014

Project Three: Fantastic Voyage

The last project of the first year is a commission project based on the theme of reproduction. We were given four reproductive processes for the project and will construct our narrative and animation around the core process we chose; while also remembering what we are telling our audience.

The four reproductive processes are:

x Plasmodial Slime Mold (

x Cellular Slime Mold (

x Moss/Bryophyta (

x Fern/Pteridophyta (

My particular favourites are the Bryophyta and Cellular Slime Mold, I had an almost instantaneous reaction to them, with sci-fi narratives springing forth. This is a good sign for my work as formulating a story as quickly as possible; as well as having a strong visual direction upon which to thumbnail and storyboard, will be essential in getting this project off the ground as quickly as possible. My only fear would be losing my focus upon the process itself and confusing my audience and client, however I will pay closer attention to this to ensure it doesn't happen.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Blair Witch Project (1999) Film Review

Fig 1: 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) Poster
'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) is a found footage genre film that tells the story of three students and the events leading up to their disappearance. The film was captured using a handheld camera and a 16mm black and white camera and while use of handheld equipment is almost a must for this films genre, the black and white film camera gave a sense of realism as it worked with the plot but also invoked its own form of horror by depriving scenes of colour and increasing contrast between light and dark, a feature which makes it almost invaluable in the final scene's house and basement. The script and dialogue is massively improvised with the actors given only an outline of how the story would unfold, their performances under such conditions bring a sense of complete realism and evokes a primal fear with the viewer as the characters only get more and more lost and convinced of their situation as hopeless.

"The Blair Witch Project" is the scariest movie I've ever seen. Not the goriest, the grossest, the weirdest, the eeriest, the sickest, the creepiest or the slimiest... Just flat out the scariest." (Rose 1999)

The way in which 'The Blair Witch Project' presents its horror element is simplistic in nature with what you don't see being the scariest thing of all, this is because it use intense audience participation, making use of their imagination and personal fears to fill in the blanks of the footage. The films found footage style goes along way in bringing absolute fear to the audience with the seemingly realistic actions and emotional portrayal of its cast; its camera work exercises two radically different angles of approach with black and white documentary like shots presenting the information clearly while the handheld colour camera symbolically gives us a view from the character's perspective, with us being unable to see very much at all and completely overwhelmed at times by the events around us.
Fig 2: Graveyard documentary scene in 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)
"The directors took their cue from producer Hale's Army training and shot the film like a military exercise." (Travers 1999) 

The way in which the films was recorded and produced was unique and made incredibly tough for the actors. As Travers highlights above, the film was 'directed' loosely with the actors receiving their directions to the next location via milk crate dead drops. This gave emotional realism as the actors blindly followed these directions, improvising their dialogue as they went, and become both physically and emotionally drained. The night time scenes are frightening and mind boggling for not just the audience, as the actor's and their characters are harassed continuously to varying degrees in the dark woods, only to be unsettled and unhinged ever so slowly through out the day with stick puppets, stone piles and the surplus of unexplained noises echoing around them. The film gains from this unique style by capturing realist emotions of the cast as their harrowing journey slowly comes to a close; Heather Donahue, the female lead, can be noted for really pulling on the audience's heart strings as she becomes more and more unhinged and completely desperate to escape the situation, something that can be said for all three of the students however she evokes their sympathy the most through her heart wrenching video as she claims responsiblity for the events and begins to carry the heavy guilt associated with this. Her words "I'm scared to close my eyes and I'm scared to open them" becomes a singularly memorable line as it encapsulates the entire experience's emotional conclusion as it leaves each member of the audience in a similar state of terror, dread and paranoia.

Fig 3: Donahue's crying confession in 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999)
The overarching plot of this psychological horror montage is incredibly insubstantial and merely acts as a guided tour of its constructed lore.

"While it has its scary moments, and while its central conceit is refreshingly imaginative, there's ultimately not much there there." (Brunette)

The films plot is extremely elusive throughout the entire feature, with screen time dominated by the character's improvised dialogue and the tormenting actions of the directors, the goal of the three students soon becomes bogged down under all of its excess weight. The antagonist in the film is not entirely clear, it is hinted to be the witches through the strange dolls, rock piles and then the final scene in the old basement, but it is never clearly defined. This mystery of course lends itself to making the feature all the more frightening as the invisible and unknown aggressor is the scariest of all, but the reason for the torturous events that hound the three students is forgotten, tossed aside or blatantly never explained properly. It is assumed by the plot that the aggressor doesn't require a reason and merely functions on bestial instinct, although this can be made the case and work incredibly well. There are key points throughout the film, however, that have been carefully thought out, with the tormented nights engineered to such a degree that it feels like a sinister game orchestrated around the students. The invisible aggressor however soon only serves as a generic evil which must be unconditionally feared, leaving the audience to see it as twisted two dimensional entertainment instead of the carefully plotted psychological experiment it is.

List of Illustrations

Fig 1: 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) poster [Poster] At:

Fig 2: Graveyard documentary scene in 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) Directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick [Film Still] America: Haxan Films. At:

Fig 3: Donahue's crying confession in 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) Directed by Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick [Film Still] America: Haxan Films. At:


Brunette, Peter. At: [Online Review] (Accessed 18/02/2014)

Lloyd, Rose (1999) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 18/02/2014)

Travers Peter (1999) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 18/02/2014)

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Final Storyboard Segments - Grave Mistakes

This details the opening zoom and the trigger of Grayam's torment.

This section displays two of his flashbacks that essentially make him remember his past vividly and his rest period afterwards.

This last segment shows the his loss of happiness as he is completely confronted by his past sins and a glimpse of what he is sees through dead eyes.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Reservoir Dogs (1992) Review

Fig 1: 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992) poster
The film 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992) is directed by Quentin Tarantino and features his unique style of narrative and content. The plot is of how an armed robbery by an organised crime family goes completely wrong on the job and turns into a bloodbath, with several members fleeing from the scene and arriving at a warehouse designated 'the rendezvous' the hunt for a rat, while laying low from the police, begins. The gritty, bloody and uncouth display that follows demonstrates the unbelievable tension within the group over which has the bigger penis. The characters of the film are each given a codename with which to use during the job and are all portrayed and conveyed with unique personalities and characteristics, seen in the tiny details such as tipping waitresses shown in the very beginning and associations with the colour code-names has, allowing the audience to get a real understanding of each character's motivations and behaviour through the characters themselves and their actions throughout the film instead of drawn out exposition.

"Undeniably impressive pic grabs the viewer by the lapels and shakes hard, but it also is about nothing other than a bunch of macho guys and how big their guns are." ( McCarthy 1992)

The overwhelming presence of male tension that dominates the film's character interactions is both a defining theme as well as a key plot device. It is used and worked hard throughout, with tensions between Mr White and Mr Blonde, Mr Pink and Mr White and finally Eddie, Joe and Mr White all boiling to there highest point because each wishes to be or acts like the alpha male, attempting to over power and dominate the others through verbal or physical aggression. It can quite easily be seen that Mr White is the a major contestant for alpha male status, something that is portrayed by his appearance and conveyed quite strongly through his personality as a experienced criminal but a overprotective father figure as well. He constantly challenges the other members while stalwartly defending the injured Mr Orange, a character who is first seen as a defenceless youngster when judged by his actions and the others opinions but later revealed to be the undercover officer. This bond between Mr White and Mr Orange becomes, what looks to the audience, a father and son relationship with Mr Orange's masculinity removed, as he asks for White to hold him and comfort him, and Mr White's alpha male status dominating, as he stands against all opposition that favour the death of Orange. This relationship itself becomes singularly core to the plot as the film moves toward its final conclusion with Orange's life hanging in the balance, an event that determines the deaths of several characters and something that is hinted at happening regardless once White learns of Oranges betrayal, a heart rending scene that suggestively ends with several gunshots and White's disappearance off camera.

Fig 2: Final moments of White and Orange in 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992)
The unique narrative and way in which Tarantino presents the film's plot and characters is both intuitive and bold, acting as a great underlying strength.

"Undoubtedly one of the best films of the 1990s, and probably one of the best directorial debuts of all time, Reservoir Dogs announced the arrival of one of contemporary cinema's hottest talents -- and he came out shooting." (Film4 2011)

This point can be seen ever present throughout the film, the slow start and portrayal of the characters personalities contrasts the rest of the narrative but works to set ground work for the audiences view of the characters by providing a neutral environment and everyday situation in which anyone could relate to. This makes the charcters appear as more realistic constructs as well as allowing the audience a feel of each individual before throwing them into the blood soaked situation that follows. The low budget assets of this following situation actually play well to this film's strengths, with the average warehouse becoming a grave for many of the cast and acting as the lynch pin around which most of the story and action revolves. Tarantino's signature use of a semi disjointed narrative style plays well for character development, with flash backs of meetings and interactions providing clarity and insight into a few character's back stories as the audience requires for understanding the plot's reveals. This can, however, break up the audiences attention somewhat and slightly reduces the impact of such revelations; the most prominent of these being Orange's back story after his undercover officer reveal, it side tracks the narrative to provide an in-depth look into his personal feelings and drives, although this can be justified as necessary as the audience doesn't really understand his character all that well with his injury and not his personality becoming a focus of his character. That does not simply mean that this late and long explanation fits well into the film's formula and certainly does not mean that it should be blindly accepted by the audience, it largely messes with the plots flow and de-constructs a specific character too much with useless exposition, a move that swiftly moves away from the beauty of how the other characters are portrayed and conveyed which is through strong characterisation, allowing only short sections in which connections and pasts are revealed for the audience's clarity.

Fig 3: Starting restaurant scene in 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992)
 The strong characterisation of the film is supported strongly by its soundtrack, using it to convey much more about the characters realistically than needless exposition would.

"The other, one of the more gruesome scenes, uses the catchy pop-rock of “Stuck in the Middle With You” to soften the moment of a man getting tortured and his ear cut off with an old-fashioned shaver." (Young 2010)

The soundtrack to 'Reservoir Dogs' is composed of an array of well known and unknown tracks, but are used in such intelligent ways that aid in character development and portrayal more than breaking up the dialogue heavy sections within the film. A particular scene, the torture of a kidnapped police officer, is one such scenes in which the audio track used, which is Stealers Wheel's 'Stuck in the middle with you', greatly supports the characterisation of Mr Blonde, a seemingly odd character, that the audience will view during the scene as a psychopath because of the juxtaposition of the light hearted musical track and his sick and twisted actions. The character's enjoyment is clearly portrayed and acts as comedic relief for his serious actions but reveals his sadistic nature fully. This strong example of musical characterisation shows Tarantino's intelligent use of cinematic elements to further portray his characters and their personalities. Another example of this would be after the starting restaurant scene as the criminal ensemble walking down the driveway as the song 'Little Green Bag' plays, this particular choice really portrays the characters with a slick masculine demeanour, essentially showing them off in this manner to draw the audiences attention to these characters but also further expression the film's themes,the character's disposition and associate them with the stereotypical mob impression.

List of Illustrations

Fig 1: 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992) poster [Poster] At:

Fig 2: Final moments of White and Orange in 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992) Directed by Quentin Tarantino [Film Still] America: Live Entertainment. At: (Accessed 11/02/2014)

Fig 3: Starting restaurant scene in 'Reservoir Dogs' (1992)  Directed by Quentin Tarantino [Film Still] America: Live Entertainment. At: (Accessed 11/02/2014)


Film4 (2011) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 11/02/2014)

McCarthy, Todd (1992) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 11/02/2014)

Young, Alex (2010) At: [Online Review] (Accessed 11/02/2014)