Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Cans of Peas

So this week we watched a film called The Mist. I enjoyed the film, despite not being a particularly big fan of horror films. It was a predictable in places, but I suppose we've become used to the usual tricks used in horror  so that's not necessarily the films fault. I recognized a few themes running through the film;

Fear itself is more dangerous than what you're afraid of.

Okay, so fear doesn't have pointy teeth and it can't fly, but you can't shoot fear. You can't set it on fire, or hit it with a stick repeatedly until it's putty. Fear drove the 'community' (if you can call it that) apart and turned people against each other. Towards the end of the film, the central group of characters were more afraid of the other people than the monsters.

That's because fear drove them into the arms of someone who was delusional, and fear made them do stuff they usually wouldn't do.

Religion is the root of all evil, apparently.

Usually in films, religion is either depicted as something good (rare) or something evil (more common). Of course, this isn't just wild stereotyping, religion has been the cause of some pretty grim events - but like every other type of gathering, there's good and bad. When it got to the point where the psycho preacher lady wanted to have the boy sacrificed I got a little disillusioned with it. In fact, I got angry. But then that was the desired effect, and she was essentially the "baddie" in place of the creatures (who couldn't talk, therefore you couldn't really hate them).

I can't help but feel that it's borderline bullying, though. Yes religion has been the cause of some bad things, but also some good. I'm not religious in any way, I'm completely agnostic, but I get a little tired at the way religion is often shown in films/games as clearly bad.

The military are the cause and solution of most problems.

Granted I didn't see that coming this time, but usually it's the case with most monster-based films. Sometimes they're directly responsible, others they just did something wrong. But most times they're depicted as the good and the bad guys, often at the same time.

There's something about the military that makes them a great central faction in a film, generally speaking. Usually they're the "safety line" in a crisis - once you reach them you're safe and fine. They always seem to be able to turn a crisis around and overcome the problem, but never seem to be able to stop it in the beginning strangely..

Monday, 21 November 2011

Workie Work Work, November

Alright, prepare yourself, because here comes a biggie. Just gonna do a work update to bring me right up to the present.

First of all, the Trash Project. Finished this about 1-2 weeks ago, and all in all I found it a relatively enjoyable project to work on. Most of the work went into the texture map given the small detail budget for the mesh, and since I was creating my texture maps out of photographs it was a relatively straightforward task. I struggled a little when it came to the support maps (specular, normal bump) mainly because I'm still not 100% on how they work. 

I tried to pick items of trash that were of different "classes", i.e a can, a cup, a bottle, a box. This branched off from my initial experimentation, where I created one of each type to measure out a rough approximation of how many triangles these objects would need. Eventually I decided to stick with this set of objects as I felt they were a good mix.

It's going back a few weeks now, but we went to the New Walk museum (it could be Newarke, I can never get it right). It was a really hectic day and there were kids running about everywhere -- a real test of concentration. I managed to get a good few pages worth of doodles done before bugging out, and a few of these cool dinosaur skulls.

Revisiting Bradgate Park was next, and I decided to go find somewhere other than the Old John to draw this time. We went for a romp around the park, and we found this covered little forest bit looking up at the hill. It was a pretty cool area, and the lighting was beautiful, but sadly I didn't manage to capture this in my painting. Plus, the rock was stretching over much further, which I thought looked interesting, but I got critique about that so in the end I pulled it back. 

Then we set about the Land/Sea/Air vehicle project, which was certainly a challenging project. Fortunately we only had to design a vehicle for a certain type of terrain, not all three, so it wasn't as difficult as it was for previous years.

For this project I chose to design a courier/mail truck to ferry mail/packages across rough terrain, namely swamps and tundras. For this, it was a half-track design, offering both grip and mobility. The idea was that the front wheel would be able to rise and decline to fit the terrain, offering a relatively smooth ride with good suspension.

I looked at classic car designs when I was doodling up ideas. To be honest, I was trying to do the opposite of what I saw around me in 8.2, as everyone seemed to be experimenting with curvy, smooth hyper-futuristic concept vehicles. 

And most recently, the War of the Worlds project. I wanted to go for a very organic look for my tripod, and  I attempted to give it a very alien-looking material to further enforce it's extra-terrestrial origin. In sticking with the airplay's description, it fires a heat-ray which appears like a "jet of flame coming from a mirror" (not an exact quote, just a rough one). Unfortunately, actual descriptions of the tripod were scarce in the radio drama, so I did a lot of improvising.

Alright, hopefully I'll kick back into the regular routing of blogging again, I seem to have fallen out-of-sync.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Half-Life fan made trailer

Usually I'm the first to slate user-generated content as a sloppy pile of fanboy droppings, but for once I'll hold my hand up and admit that this is very impressive.

I *think* this guy has made a trailer for Half-Life using custom animations. I would usually say that a whole video from a first person perspective would be nauseous and confusing, but I think this works really well. And those are some top-notch animations. Bravo, Mr. Fan.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Watched a film today called Below, really enjoyed it. I don't understand why, but some part of me strangely loves submarine films. Maybe it's the claustrophobic conditions, or the eerie silence. I dunno, it's just odd in a cool way. I always expect a colossal sea monster to just rise up out of the deep and eat stuff, but it never happens.

I liked how the film avoided using cheap scares, it made me jump quite a few times when I wasn't expecting it. I've seen quite a few horror films and a good number of ghost films, and you get used to where all the spookiness comes in. But that part when you see the Captains' ghost in the window, that part genuinely scared me since I really wasn't expecting it.

I also liked how the 1940's setting wasn't forced or highlighted frequently. It was subtle and it worked really well, I forgot I was watching a film set during WW2 altogether. I even forgot they were Americans. And that's a good thing, because I focused on the characters instead of the background story.

And here comes the major problem really, I don't remember much about the artsy side of the film. Films usually have to reach out and slap me with their artistic merits for me to notice, so I tend to miss out this stuff. There were some nice tracking shots that followed crew members moving from hatch to hatch, and some nicely lit exterior shots (like the part where they have to go outside of the submarine), but in general I cant remember much about that side of the film.

Monday, 7 November 2011


I've just realised I haven't made a post in nearly two weeks now. Not good!

I've got some things I want to post about and throw up here, but right now I've got other things to be doing, so for now I'll just do a quick post. I'll put up everything else tomorrow or Wednesday, as I've got spare time then.

I thought I'd do a little bit about Alien3, since I watched it today. And I do love certain elements of it.

As far as I know, Alien3 is a hit-and-miss film. I know people who liked it, I know people who hated it. Personally, I loved it, almost as much as I love Aliens. I loved the "Prison Planet" setting of Fury 161 and the furnace/industrial theme of it's environments. I loved that it's inhabitants had formed into a sort of doomsday Christian religion, and that Ripley was a temptation dangled in front of them to seemingly sway them from the path.

Anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about. It's the design work in Alien3 that really makes me a happy fellow;

I just love it. The surface is dark, stormy and very gloomy. It feels abandoned, haunted, even ghostly. The colossal structures in the background dwarf the scene, creating a truly epic sense of scale. Everything is geometric and angular, with sharp hard edges and visible construction.
The sky in particular draws me in. It's just surreal, hypnotic. In the top picture, you can just about see the figure in the bottom left hand corner. Imagine being in his shoes, and looking up at the misty sky and that towering mega-structure. You'd feel pretty awe-struck. 

Recovering the EEV.
This is a collection of stills from the opening scene, but a good handful of them are of particular interest. The sense of scale is pretty epic, the surface feels like a boneyard.

Interiors were also angular and grand in scale, with doors easily dwarfing characters. Everything was industrial and 'chunky'. It felt more like a tomb than a prison. And indeed, for most of the inhabitants, it was their tomb.

Colours indoor were mostly warm, in contrast to the relatively cold exterior palette. It served as a direct contrast and referenced the temperature of both environments. Lighting was harsh and high in contrast, which reflected the atmosphere of prison - practicality over comfort.

Unfortunately, it's relatively difficult for me to find decent pictures in the small amount of time I've got to write this. I've got the DVD, so I can always take stills from that for reference. I'd like to do a more indepth look at the film, I might take the time out this weekend and take my own stills from the DVD. 



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