Thursday, 30 March 2017

Jaws (1975)

Fig 1: Poster
Steven Spielberg's Jaws (1975) is a mystery, suspense, thriller and horror movie. The film tells a story about a killer, giant shark that terrorises a small town. After the death of a girl, the Chief of Police, Martin Brody wants to shut down the beach, but the town mayor refused to close it down, because of the tourists money. However, after numerous death caused by the "rogue shark", finally the beach closes down for 24 hours and the case is left in Martins hand, who get on a boat with two other men; Matt Hooper (a shark expert), and Sam Quint (a local fisher man) in order to hunt down the great white shark.
Fig 2: The shark emerging from the water, attacking the boat.

Jaws was a huge success and set the Hollywood standards of blockbuster movies high. In fact the film was so positively received by people that 1975 was titled the year of the sharks, which meant that many other movies and media, such as music was inspired by not only sharks, but Jaws, and  people's interest grew in buying posters, shirts, and other shark related items.  As Douglas Gomery said "In 17 days, Jaws earned an extraordinary $36,000,000. House records were established in cities around the country, and record grosses continued through the summer. Indeed, Universal turned 1975 into the year of the shark." (Gomery, s.d.) The film was advertised on TV, which was avoided before, but it was another success and the overall income of the movie proved that if a film is marketed in the correct way, it could be an even bigger success.

It is very often highlighted by the team who worked on the film including Spielberg, that there were many difficulties while shooting the movie, such as shooting on open water instead of a studio pool and the constant failure of the shark machine. As said by Brian Eggert "The famous technical challenges of shooting on open water and mounting delays left plenty of time for actors to rethink the script on-set, and much on-camera improvisation resulted (including Scheider’s legendary line, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”)." (Eggert, B. (2012) In fact the shooting was so challenging in aspects of the shark, that they made three full sides pneumatically animated models, none of them actually working correctly at the end. Furthermore, the shooting had to start but as the filming started they did not have full cast, working shark props or even a fixed script and lots of dialog was improvised, including the famous and iconic line form the movie said by Martin: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
Fig 3: Iconic line: "You’re gonna need a bigger boat."

Due to the fact that most of the footage of the shark were unusable or not quite what the director wanted, creative editing had to be done in order to save the movie that previously was predicted (before the actual finished film and release of it) to be a huge fail and disaster. In an article Mark Kermode says "Unable to get the shark action shots he wanted, Spielberg was forced to take a more Hitchcockian approach, working with editor Verna Fields to conjure tense sequences in which what we don’t see is more important that what we do." (Kermode, 2015)
Fig 4: Bruce the shark behind the scenes.

As it further discusses by many critiques and articles, the shark itself looked rather fake and not as threatening as it was required. The crew spend lots of time, which of almost all went to waste on making the machine shark work, getting correct shots and making the shark look fearsome. Huge chunks of the footage of the shark went to the cutting floor and now they had a movie on their hand that was a potential 'hit'. The director said that he originally wanted to make a monster movie, but seeing the progress of the shooting, the plan changed and it became a praised suspense movie. Bruce the shark (named after Spielberg's lawyer) only appeared fully and more often towards the end of the film, which left the audience more scared than if the shark was shown right from the beginning (even though we already know it is a shark from right the beginning)."The threat of what you can’t see is far more worrying than the fear of what you can - especially if it is likely to rise up out of the water and bite you between the legs, having first removed them. It’s the opposite of a voyeur’s movie since Bruce, for all the special effects men’s skill, is less scary the moment he’s visible." (Malcolm, 2016)

Fig 5: Barely visible shark pulling victim under the water.

Lastly, the question that always arises while discussing Jaws: What it is about? There has been lots of suggestions of the real meaning of the film. Some of the most popular theories include, it is about Watergate, masculinity, feminism, atom bomb, the shark being a sexual predator and serial killer, and many others ideas have surfaced, but despite some of these theories would make sense and their reasoning is fair the director keeps claiming that this is simply a shark movie and nothing else. "So, Jaws isn’t a film about infidelity? (Or masculinity? Or Watergate? Or whatever?) “No,” replied Spielberg definitively. “It’s a film about a shark.” (Kermode, 2015)
Fig 6: End scene, death of the shark.


Illustration List:

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Fantastic Voyage - Piranha / Cancer Cell: Thumbnails

I am not sure about the red dots. My intention with them is to highlight that they are infected cancer cells, but I don't know if they deliver what I try to say with them; so I would really appreciate any feedback!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Maya Tutorials: Posing Characters + Animation Structure & Process

Reference Image

Life Drawing #21

Duel (1971)

Fig 1: Poster

Steven Spielberg's Duel (1971) is an action, thriller and road movie. The film tells a story about David Mann, who is on a business trip, driving through a 2 lane road in the California high desert, in his 1970 red Plymouth Valiant. his journey is going fine until he is tuck behind a huge, grimy and oil-stained truck. He passes the truck and is about to continue his peaceful travel, up until the truck rushes by and slows down to continue its slow pace, with David stuck behind it again. He passes the truck again and later pulls into gas station, just as the truck does too. He makes a phone call to his wife and they argue, as the woman claims that David did not defend her at a party, and he feels weak and emasculated. Back on the road, he is approached by the same truck, and he waves him, letting it pass, only for the truck to slow down again. He tries to pass it numerous times, but the truck does not let it do so. He realises that the truck driver purposely annoys him and as the truck driver mimics Davids previous hand movements, he lets Mann pass, but only because another car was approaching from the front, almost crashing with David. This is when he realises that the truck driver tried to intentionally kill him. This game of trying to pass the truck continues for a while, until he is able to leave at a turnout, only for the truck to approach him from behind with very high speed, so he crashes into a diner's fence and stops (as well as the truck does). He than tries to figure out who is the truck driver, and after a fight with one of the men inside he leaves, only to realise that the truck driver never entered the diner, he is sitting in the truck. He continues his journey, and finds a stalled school bus, but is unable to push it with his car, but the truck arrives and as David rushes away, the truck helps the bus back on the road. Now Mann is stuck with the truck behind him again, as the truck driver continues to chase and try to injure or kill him. They continue this intense 'game' and David almost gets killed numerous times, all while the truck driver remains unseen and unidentified. Just as Davids car is about to give up and the truck still approaches fast, Mann stops at a tall cliff and jumps out of the car at the last moment, however the truck is unable to step on the break in time and tumbles of the edge with both vehicles, crushing and falling to his death. David jumps around in happiness and celebrates his victory, then he sits at the edge of the cliff, throwing rock as the sun sets.
Fig 2: The truck and David's car falling of the cliff
"Steven Spielberg's first feature production, in which a seemingly driverless Peterbilt truck terrorizes Dennis Weaver's salesman on a California highway, is an object lesson in narrative efficiency and resourceful filmmaking, having been shot in only 16 days with a miniscule budget and edited in only three weeks for TV broadcast. The result was so wildly successful that the film was released theatrically in Europe with an additional 20 minutes of footage." (Alsolikelife, 2008) Spielberg's Duel had fairly positive feedback from audiences, however while some people think it is a great movie, with a lot more to it than what meets the eye,the other half do not see much in the film and do not understand why it is considered to be a masterpiece. So the opinions are very opposite to each other; some love it and some hate it, there is hardly any who are in-between. This move was the directors big debut and it was a successful start of his career to be one of the most recognised directors nowadays. The film was shoot at the location and in a very short time considering that it is a full-lengths movie, but as it is known, originally it was only meant to be on TV.
Fig 3: Shot of David standing on the California highway
"Built on a skillful ebb and flow axis of surprise and suspense, it has few rivals when it comes to sustaining an action agenda throughout the full running time." (Freer, 2000) While there are numerous scenes throughout the movie where the action takes place in buildings or outside the vehicles, but the majority of the film is focused on the chase as the truck tries to kill David. So altogether what is on screen the most is the two cars racing in  deserted place. This could be highly boring, sine there is not much dialog or any other action while the characters are driving, but Spielberg, succeeded to keep the viewers at the edge of their seats with showing that the truck driver is not going to give up and constantly bringing the huge truck close to the smaller car, which intensifies the tension of the movie.
Fig 4: A mirror showing the approaching truck
"The subtext of this highway duel is masculinity, as suggested by Mann's phone conversation with his wife when he calls her from the gas station, before the action begins in earnest...This brief conversation colors the entire film, as does the radio program that Mann listens to during the introductory scenes, a conversation in which a man worries that he's not the "head of his household," that his wife really runs things." (Only The Cinema, 2011) It is easy to overlook the real intentions of meaning in the movie and only think it is a film about a truck chasing a smaller car on a empty highway. But if the viewer pays attention there are clear hints that it is about masculinity, or more specifically about the lack of it. When the movie begins and Mann drives, there is a conversation on the radio, themed how a husband is not the head of the house, which is the first sign about David's position in his family. The voice over of the radio was a great way to communicate the idea of how David feels without breaking the action that took place at that moment. When David calls his wife on the phone, the argument and conversation between the two confirms that Mann is pretty coward and could be said weak, strengthening the idea of him feeling like he is loosing masculinity. There are other numerous scenes where the director suggest that Mann is supposedly less manly than other male characters in the film. When he is sitting in the diner, nervous, confuse, scared and distracted, the camera stays on his face and the dialog of his inner thoughts perfectly communicate how he feels, which makes him look awkward and more vulnerable; following a scene when he 'man -up' and start a fight with another man, but quickly looses and is unable to fight back. Following that there are lots other scenes where the audience is clearly shown that David is struggling with manliness, and is always over powered by the truck and its driver.
Fig 5: One of the man beating David in the diner
"...Spielberg's low angles and uncomfortable closeups of the truck's rusty grille and thick, rotted fenders already suggest something sinister." (Only The Cinema, 2011) The difference between the two vehicles is huge and it also highlights Mann's masculinity. The truck is huge rusty, blows dark smoke, has loud an deep honk and looks threatening, which overall give it a manly and strong appearance. On the other hand, David's red car is small (compared to the truck), clean and could be called feminine (considering the shape of the car). The contrast between the two cars is very clear, which makes the chase look like the truck is a predator and the little car is prey. The camera angles highlight how muck stronger and bigger the truck is, which makes the machine look terrifying. When the truck got closer the camera showed the truck from a lower angle, almost as if the audience would look at it from under the wheels, which made it appear like a monster towering above the other car.
Fig 6: The two vehicles
"...the truck driver in Duel remains inscrutable, his face always obscured — the most Mann ever sees of the driver is his boot and his forearm. This sudden violence makes no sense, it's a nightmare of helplessness, as inexplicable as it is terrifying." (Only The Cinema, 2011) One of the most successful and intensifying fact about the film is that we never see the face of the truck driver or know why he went such length to try killing Mann. The lack of knowledge about the driver and the missing information of why helps the story to stay interesting and it makes the whole chase muck scarier. However as some parts of the person is shown, such as his arm and boots, we are clarified that there is no supernatural beings involved and there is a real person sitting at the wheel, which leaves the audience feel tense, as it appears like it could happen to anyone. The fact that most of the chase takes place on a highway at a deserted place, where help is far away and no one knows they are there, creates a vulnerable and helpless state.
Fig 7: The truck driver's boots


Illustration List:

Monday, 13 March 2017

Soundscape - Reflective Statement

This project has been a challenge, as I found myself troubled because of the lack of knowledge in using Adobe Audition. I feel, I could have done better finished outcomes, if I would be more confident in using this software, however I think with a bit more practice, I could learn to use it easier. Despite not exactly knowing what to do, how to do it and struggling to figure out things, it was a great experience and I actually quite enjoyed to find more and more things withing the software.

 I have really enjoyed recording different sounds for the project and I think it is really creative how we need to think about what sounds could we use for different images. I was happy with the images I have found, and could imagine what sounds would fit it well, and the big challenge was to not only picture it, but to find it or at least being able to edit in such way that it is similar to what I have imagined.

Some of the sounds I was happy with how they came out, such as the third image, in my opinion is the closest to what I imagined; on the other hand there were sounds that I feel are not quite similar of how I wanted them.

Overall, I enjoyed the project a lot and think it was both challenging and entertaining to go around and record many sounds, while I feel like my knowledge in Adobe Audition still needs a lot of improvements in order to be able to achieve what I have imagined.

Soundscape - Final 3

Soundscape - All post-produced SFX and description

Soundscape - All original SFX and descriptions

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Soundscape - 'Sonic Concept'

Soundscape - Sound Designer Research: Ben Burtt

Friday, 10 March 2017

Fantastic Voyage


Quote from the brief for Fantastic Voyage:
"In response to one of the scenarios presented to you at time of briefing, you are required to produce a complete 3D animation that demonstrates creatively your ability to interpret, transcribe and represent complex ideas in engaging and dynamic ways. Your final animation should demonstrate clearly your creative methodology as established by your Year 1 curriculum, i.e. pre-production (production design and art direction via concept art and the structuring of time-based narratives via storyboarding and previsualisations), production (modelling, UV layout, texturing & lighting, and animation), and post-production (compositing, digital editing, sound design, publication and promotion)."

Given Scenarios: 
  1. Cell Cycle
  2. Meiosis
  3. What if something goes wrong? (Cancer)

(These are some slides from the briefing presentation to gain more understanding about the topic.)

My chosen scenario = What if something goes wrong? (Cancer)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The Birds (1963)

Fig 1: Poster
Alfred Hitchcock'c The Birds (1963) thriller and horror film. The film tells the story about Melanie Daniels the daughter of a wealthy father who owns a newspaper company. As she is in a pet store about to collect some birds, but as she is waiting, she meets Mitch who is a layer (who recognises her from court) and she pretends to be a shop clerk. After Mitch leaves, she recognises his car's license plate number and finds some information about him. She drives to a town called Bodega Bay to joke Mitch with gifting his sister Cathy with the specific birds he could not find for her. Melanie does not want to be seen, as she leaves the birds at their house, so she uses a boat to cross the water, and upon returning to shore, she is attacked by a seagull.  Mitch takes her to a nearby diner, where her wound is treated and questions why is she at the town, but she denies that it is for only Mitch, so she lies that she is visiting her friend Annie, the school teacher (who she just met while finding out Mitch's sister's name). He invites her over for dinner, where she meets the excited Cathy and Lydia, His mother, and while they talk it is discovered that the chickens around the town are not eating anything. Melanie is invited to Cathy's birthday and upon returning to Annie's house, she finds out that Annie and Mitch were lovers, but their relationship got destroyed by Lydia, who does not want to be left alone. At the birthday part, birds start to attack the children, and later that evening huge amount of swifts. The next morning Lydia visits the neighbour farm and finds his dead body, covered in bloody cut and his eyes missing, seemingly attacked by birds. She runs back home and is in shock, as she lays in bed her and Melanie get to understand each other better and she offers to go for Cathy, who is in school. She notices a bunch of crows and they make an escape, but the birds attack them. At the local diner, Melanie calls her father to report all the bird attacks, and people around her do not seem to believe it is real, until the birds attack again, resulting in an explosion with gasoline and a few dead locals. Mitch and Melanie go to collect Cathy from Annie's house, and they find the dead Annie and terrified Cathy, and they return to their home, where they barricade the whole building. They wait in silence for what is going to happen, and suddenly the birds attack the house, but does not manage to break inside. Later that night Melanie notices some noises upstairs and as he enters one of the rooms to inspect, she is attacked by the birds, but her unconscious body is saved by Mitch. They decide Melanie needs to go to hospital, so they silently make their escape with car and leave the town behind.
Fig 2: Car finally leaving the bird flooded town

"The director was said to have based the 1963 film on a creepy incident in California, where flocks of frenzied, dying birds flew into the windows of homes in Monterey Bay. Scientists have come up with an answer for the freak of nature - that the birds had been poisoned by toxic plankton...The title came from a short story called The Birds written in 1952 by Daphne Du Maurier but Hitchcock was said to have requested copies of newspapers in California around the time of the real-life bird deaths." (Dailymail, 2011) It is clear that the film and past events are in some connection, and the movie took some inspiration from what has happened. But the birds in the movie seemingly do not suffer from any poisoning, as Hitchcock most probably used the story to create a different meaning and deliver it as the birds. The town was perfectly calm and normal until Melanie has arrived and everything turned upside down. As the movie starts there is a seagull attacking her, but flies by immediately, appearing to be only a warning, however at the end as they leave the house the town is flooded with hundreds of birds.
Fig 3: Image of the real bird tragedy, with infected birds
Fig 4: Melanie and Mitch surrounded by dead birds

"No one knows and that's the way it's meant to be. Hitchcock has always been tight-lipped about his works. He'd rather the audience come up with their own hypothesis. The fact that the bird's motivations are unknown makes this movie far more intriguing and frightening." (The Dustinaton Foundation, 2014) As the meaning of why the birds attack is not explained or what their meaning is, so people has made many theories and ideas to answer the question, however the director never has said anything about the matter. As the movie reaches the end, we are left with an open ending, which is quite frustrating, but can let the audience's imagination run free, so they can decide what the answers are, or just simply not bother to try to find the correct answer and just accept the unknown. If the cause of the evens and the birds motivation would have been explained, it could be unsatisfying for some audience members, as they might have read the movie differently, and the fact that the audience is left just as uncertain and confused as the characters, brings the viewer more into the film and it can be terrifying; and it could loose some of its terrifying, but magical grip on the audience.

"It certainly feels cataclysmic, watching the destruction of a town from something as relatively benign as a flock of birds...Hitchcock’s direction even feeds into the apocalyptic notion, with the intermittent camera shots of the burning town from a birds-eye view...In any case, those of us watching it on the screen are, at the very least, reminded of our own mortality, of the fragility of human life and the forces of nature that can easily douse it." (Ashe, 2012) One theory of what the meaning of the film is and the purpose of the birds is that human can be helpless when they are facing against nature. We are used to monsters and giant creatures on scree as they threaten humanity and cause huge destruction. However, in The Birds the animals seem to be average and not some mutant animals, which is a reminder that simple things such as a bunch of birds can be dangerous, and us as humans might fail to defeat them. As the birds were causing terror in the town, no one seemed to be strong enough to stop them, and they had to leave and run away. The audience is aware that a human is stronger than the birds we see on the screen and one person could handle on their own some of the animals, however as they all worked together and formed into a large number, they instantly became fearsome, which means our knowledge of a small and harmless creature changes imminently.
Fig 5: Destruction in the town

"This viewpoint, which borrows heavily from feminist criticism of the film posited by Camille Paglia, recasts the “birds” of the title as the women in Mitch’s life ... All three of these women essentially spend their lives “flocking” around Mitch; he is, in a sense, their whole world, the singular male authority figure in all of their lives. When Melanie arrives, boasting a leashed, potent sexuality that threatens to displace their shared “roost” (so to speak), the physical bird attacks can be seen as emanating from the three displaced women’s collective anger and frustration." (Ashe, 2012) Another theory that people seem to agree with, is that the birds represent feelings of women in Mitch'c life toward Melanie. The audience is presented with the knowledge that Lydia, Mitch's mother is widowed and relies on Mitch a lot, she does not want to be left alone and ignored by her son. A conversation between Melanie and Annie tells the viewers about Lydia and how she fears to loose Mitch, as well as it is clearly displayed on her face that she is not happy with Melanie's presence, she wants her to leave. Furthermore, We know that Annie was a former lover of Mitch and she still feels for him, which means she is possibly jealous in some way of Melanie as Mitch's new interest; however, she seem to be more accepting than Lydia. The third woman is Mitch's life is his sister Cathy, who clearly likes Melanie, however it does not mean that she could not feel jealous of his brothers affection for another person. To furthermore underpin this theory, the birds only starts to attack the town, when Melanie arrives, when she really enters Mitch's life.
Fig 6: Annie, Lydia, Cathy, Melanie and Mitch

"Despite all the terrifying sequences, and apocalyptic undertones, there's a glimmer of hope at the end. These characters have all grown closer." (The Dustinaton Foundation, 2014) As the four characters are hiding from the birds outside, they seem to get closer together, as they depend on one another for protection and to also take care of each other. Cathy is curled up to Melanie and Lydia also seems to accept her more. Right after the final and biggest attack of the birds, Melanie is in complete shock and is the most helpless out of all the current characters. We see Mitch and Lydia helping and supporting Melanie to the car and later Lydia holds Melanie as a mother figure, so it is clearer that she indeed finally accept her and now wants to take care of her as if she was her daughter. Also, when Mitch goes back to help Cathy into the car too, she asks if she could bring her love-birds as well, claiming that they have done nothing wrong. This is a very childish and innocent thing to ask, as they are surrounded with all the attacking birds, but it suggest forgiveness and hope that not everything lost its pureness. As they slowly and quietly walk between the birds, they do not seem to be very bothered and are not attacking them, which seems unusual compared how they have behaved before and they seem to finally let the people go. The birds behaviour has changed, just as the feeling of the some characters towards Melanie and Melanie's mental state.
Fig 7: Mitch and Lydia taking care of shocked Melanie

"There is no music in the film, only natural and unnatural sounds. The sound of the birds massing is frightening than any kind of soundtrack." (Kumar, 2013) The overall presence of the bird in the background makes the film feel more terrifying as we already know they are attacking, but sometimes just sit there, waiting and gathering up. But what makes the film feel more real is the fact that it is not enhanced with music' for example when the four characters are hiding, there is complete, eerie silence, and sometimes there is the faint sound of the birds outside, so we know they are still there and waiting. Or just as characters interact throughout the movie, in the background we can hear wings flapping of the nose of some birds as a constant reminder that they are everywhere and they are always there somewhere nearby. As we would expect a build up in music to know something is going to happen before it does, the music is not there. There is only silence and the massing birds sound, as it gets louder and louder, which means the number is highly increasing and the danger with it as well.
Fig 8: Massing birds

"Thomson is right to move the discussion indoors, so to speak, since the worst thing about The Birds is, of course, the birds themselves. Not just because the special effects look so creaky by the hyper-real standards of CGI. No, the film would be much better off without them. Alert to this, the Dutch artist Martijn Hendriks digitally removed the birds, turning it into a tale of extreme psychological torsion and pure paranoia." (Dyer, 2012) While it is a very famous Hitchcock film and it is said to be ahead of its time, the animation and visual effects seem to be quite fake and unbelievable in many people's eyes. Of course, it is unfair to compare it to modern CGI, as they did all they could with what they were given and that is all the technology at that time could do for them. However, as we never find out the director's idea of the real purpose and meaning of the birds, we can be pretty sure its not as simple as just the bird being angry, it is clear that they have a more powerful meaning and possibly are only a metaphor. Which means they might only exist in the mind of someone or are just the physical representation of something that is not visible, such as emotions or mental state. Removing the birds from the film, might gives it another meaning, but it cannot be ignored that if they are really not just birds, but much more, it might not be that necessary to always see them.
Fig 9: Obvious CGI in background


Illustration List: