Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Story Telling and Commission: Soundscape, Reflective Statement

Having no experience with the use of sound or the programs related the project proved to be challenging. As a result of the lessons I have picked up on the most basic tools used for sound editing understanding concepts such as removing background noise. This has been a new and exciting task involving a whole new form of media. Overall a large number of noises have been collected in my library which have yet to be used. Using the Dictaphone has been fun as all manor of noises would sound different. In the end the three soundscapes that have been created remain relatively simple. While the tone of the sound may not completely match the picture given I attempted to reduce the amount of noises used to ensure the soundscape was not cluttered. However I feel that there could have been an added complexity to the soundscapes.

Artist Toolkit - Life Drawing (13/03/17)

Story Telling and Commission: Fantastic Voyage, Initial Research

The given age group for this brief was for a student of GCSE level education. This means that the age range will typically be of 14-16 years depending on the school. While the aim personally is to create an animation that is aimed at teenagers the video must retain enough clarity to be understood by a younger audience (11 years old as requested by client).  

In terms of animations that have been geared towards teenagers there is a large variety of styles and settings. This can be traced back to the introduction of various media used to created entertainment aimed at adults. Good examples that have helped to open up animation towards adults and the wider audience include “South Park”, “Simpsons” and “Diara”. “South Park” was discussed as highly controversial with its humour written for more mature audience containing large amounts of racism, violence and sexual themes. This humour is conveyed through the more simplistic cartoon characters that had been cut out from paper which would be related to more childish programs.

As a result there is a large plethora choice in art style for the animation. However there is an aim to retain a simpler art style that is commonly enjoyed by all age groups. Inspiration was originally taken from Channel 4’s “It’s Pay Back Time” cancer trailer, promoting funding against cancer through the use of animation. The way that the animation had been rendered is that of a more realistic art style producing a rather unique piece, despite this it is the choice in shapes for the characters and environments that is the focus. In terms of how the world will actually be rendered inspiration will be taken from more flat forms of animation. These will include animation such as “Dumb Ways to Die”, “Bob’s Burgers” and “The Mr Men Show”.

The age group that has been chosen not only has access to a large amount of animation art styles but also story settings. A large number of TV shows aimed at this age group consists of more relatable characters with more unique twists. In terms of GCSE a relatable environment would be that of school and has been commonly explored by a number of programs and will be the selected environment for the animation. In terms of the setting the target audience will be able to understand the context of the animation. The school theme will be carried out with the various stages such as G1 being a class for education on how a cell should grow and replicate and the various checkpoints being a school test that must be completed. As cells reproduce a number of times other elements from “Road hog Day” could be included.

Some Animations
Bob’s Burgers
Samurai Zack

YouTube dumb ways to die
YouTube the Mr men show
YouTube BBC cancer animation, pay back

Story Telling and Commission: Soundscape, Sonic Concept and Final Soundscapes

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Artist Toolkit - Character Design (15/02/17)

Designing Ship for game

Designing tool belt for character

Designing lab for villain

Close Encounters of the Third Kind - Film Review

fig.1 film poster

“Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is a 1977 film directed by Steven Spielberg that won a number of rewards and can be described as the positive outlook on intelligent life beyond Earth. With a budget of 20 million dollars the film was a financial success grossing a total of 337 million dollars worldwide. The film has left an impression on today’s media having a number of references including one in 2009’s “Monsters vs Aliens”. This can be attributed to the memorable use of sound and music that has been written by John Williams and original concept of communication through such sound.
The story follows Roy Neary, an electricity line repairman who lives a relatively ordinary life. At the beginning of the film Roy is seen with his family of 3 children and a wife. A single event changes this as he encounters a UFO. This leaves Roy with a burn on his face and is drawn to a location known as the devil’s peak. As a result of trying to make sense of the previous events he befriends a woman who together they investigate the UFO sightings further. In the end Roy ultimately leaves his life on Earth to start anew with the extra-terrestrial visitors.  
While the film is classed as a science fiction film it is easy to get lost in the sense of adventure and mystery that Spielberg provides. Strangely the film opens with a scene looking at a team of scientists who are investigating a series of events that are unexplained. The transition between the two on-going events of Roy’s life and the team may seem confusing at first but they soon being to fill each other’s gaps, fulfilling one half of each other’s story. Spielberg has the two events run alongside each other to provide enough information and mystery to draw the audience in creating questions that are explained in the film’s finale. One example of this is the use of two scenes, one of the science team playing the different sounds that make up the alien language and the other of Barry Guilder, a 3 year old boy who plays the alien tune on a glockenspiel without hearing it beforehand. As a viewer the small amounts of information provided helps to provoke questions that must be answered. Why does Roy have vivid memories of the Devils Peak? Why does Barry know the alien tune? Spielberg has directed the film in a way that retains the audience’s attention until the finale.
Continuing with the theme of adventure and mystery “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” makes use of a greater number of special effects in comparison to films beforehand. Alongside the original film Spielberg also released another version consisting of several more scenes, some of which are new and others that were not used in the first version. Probably the most notable change that has been made by Spielberg is the ending. The final resolve that is given to the audience and the one that answers all the questions made is shown in the form of a large UFO with a large city like structure contained within. The audience who have watched the film to the end are rewarded with beautiful scenes of the alien ships.

fig.2 ship outside

The protagonist in question is that of a strange nature. When looking at the story without acknowledging the extra-terrestrial factor the audience may see a man who is ignores his duties as a husband and father. Using the UFO sightings as a way to escape his life Roy’s actions can also be seen in another light. As stated by Errigo “But take away the sci-fi, the spectacular sound and light show, and what remains is compassionate, classic human drama of an ordinary man in extraordinary circumstances who makes a difficult odyssey” (Errigo,A. 2009), Roy is simply find a place of belonging.
Finally, not only does the “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” take a look at intelligent life beyond Earth from a 70’s perspective but does so in a hopeful manner. Contradicting today’s expectations of aliens in media, this film presents the vistors in a calm and peaceful attitude. It plays upon the more hopeful expectations of the era with all of humanity being capable of cooperating in peace to reach out towards space. When looking at the context of the time it appears that the united goal of moving humanity into space as one may instead be a dream to aspire to. Along with the advancements that humanity has made from the 60s to the 70s conflict was an on-going issue, most notably the Cold War and the Vietnam War. It was an era of uncertainty yet the film looks beyond this in hope of peace. As a result Spielberg has created a film that has managed to captivate its audience throughout the years.

Errigo, A. (2000) “Close Encounters of the Third Kind Review”
Ebert, R. (1980) “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”
Bradshaw, P. (2016) “Close Encounters of the Third Kind review – a must-watch director's cut”

Illustration List
fig.1 film poster
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/ba/Close_Encounters_of_the_Third_Kind_(1977)_theatrical_poster.jpg (accessed 04/03/17)
fig.2 film scene
https://i.ytimg.com/vi/59iKRfdMRn0/maxresdefault.jpg (accessed 04/03/17)

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Duel - Film Review

fig.1 film poster

Directed by Steven Spielberg, “Duel” is a 1971 thriller film. Being Spielberg’s first film it has set up a string of his early movies that will follow his theme on masculinity and its decline in the modern world. “Duel” has been recognised for its use of tension and suspense. Alongside grabbing the audience’s attention “Duel” has been essential to Spielberg’s future films in contributing to elements traditional seen in his work.
The film follows David Mann, the protagonist as he provokes a truck driver. This results in the attempted murder of Mann by the mystery driver. In the end Mann stands up to the driver, confronting him leading to the driver’s death. While the film follows David Mann in his trip across the country and his near death experience it ultimately expresses how men are caged in modern society. This is a concept that has been carried over in a number of Spielberg’s early films in comparison to his later films depicting his change in accordance with his own family life.
The concept of the caged man is expressed within the very first scenes of the film as Mann drives from his home to the desert. The safe city life contradicts that of the desert where Mann is far from society its sanctuary. He steps away from his normal life that he is used to into that of the desert, foreign and hostile with little for people or creatures to survive on.
Spielberg continues with the theme as name given the main character is a statement of the status of men in itself. With the name Mann it is quite clear that the character has been labelled to represent the majority of men who have been reduced to living a plain life.
This message is added to as Spielberg makes use of diegetic sound from the radio of the car. While it can be difficult to distinguish the words the radio frequently makes comments on issues that are presented to men in a modern world. This is a component used Spielberg to great effect to add to the underlying issues expressed without outright stating it.
“These and a few whimsical conversations from a call-in radio show are really all the character development the movie provides” (Maslin, J. 1983)
In context with the time the film was released, the 70s was a time of change in correlation with gender equality. The life style of America began to change with more and more women openly protesting for a change in the way they live their lives. As a result women closed the gap in difference between the sexes gaining equal opportunities as men. A possible outcome would have been that men would feel threatened by this change and that their very masculinity was at risk.
In terms of story writing “Duel” is very simple as the plot is linear, Mann angers a driver (who is never revealed) and proceeds to get chased down by him. There is very little to support the story as the driver simply gets angry without any real justification spending countless hours hunting Mann. However this displays how effective tension and suspense can be at holding an audience’s attention. With little to no explanation the film is held together with the strong use of camera work and tense scenes of fast cars and action.
Very little dialogue is actually used to convey the story and instead action fulfils the task of storytelling. This is assisted through the use of camera angles to direct the audience. One good example of this is when the truck is depicted. It is clear that the audience is supposed to fear this vehicle as the type of shot used is a low angle shot. This makes the truck appear more imposing which is combined with the size of the vehicle giving a menacing appearance.

fig.2 low angle shot of truck

Altogether “Duel” is the first of Spielberg’s films and as of such has opened up his career as a film director. The film itself is a strong example of how camera work and tension can be used to great effect opening up the film direction for future films such as “Jaws”.

Freer, I. "EMPIRE ESSAY: Duel Review"
http://www.empireonline.com/movies/empire-essay-duel/review/ (accessed 03/03/17)
Lyne, C. 
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2015/may/09/duel-spielberg-blu-ray-release (accessed 03/03/17)
http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9804EFD81138F936A25757C0A965948260 (accessed 03/03/17)

Illustration List
fig.1 film poster
http://www.impawards.com/1971/posters/duel.jpg (accessed 03/03/17)

Jaws - Film Review

fig.1 film poster

Directed by Steven Spielberg, ‘Jaws’ is a 1975 American thriller film that is based upon Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel under the same name. The film consists of a number of iconic features including the sound track which is easy recognisable even in today’s culture.
Based within the fictional town of Amity Island the plot is relatively simple following a police officer who is responsible with the safety of the town’s people. During the film a great white shark starts attacking locals which forces Martin Brody, the protagonist to act, ultimately killing the shark at sea. 
Firstly looking at the film in context with its time period ‘Jaws’ is a particularly important step in the development of the summer block buster. The thrill of being scared by a large and deadly force of nature was one that drew people back for more and as a result created a sizable profit. In contrast to the majority of the films previously made, ‘Jaws’ had been marketed with a large budget. A total of 1.8 million US dollars were spent on promoting ‘Jaws’ as a result it became the new highest-grossing film at the North American box office. The film has played a pivotal role in the way media has been used to sell and promote films. From this it is now common place for companies to invest sizable amounts of money in order to sell a film to gather a profit. 
Despite having a fairly straight-forward plot Spielberg was capable of creating a rather detailed and gripping story. Alongside being well advertised the film was able to have a lasting impact upon the viewers. Pitched as a thriller ‘Jaws’ retains its jumps and thrills through the use of a number of techniques used and small details are left behind. A memorable use of camera work in this film is featured within the beginning of the film. The shark is hinted as stalking its first victim. With the use of first person point of view the camera gives a direct view of the shark giving a predator’s view and an impending sense of doom for the selected victim. Combined with the sound track of increasing volume and tempo a sense of unease and tension is created.
One of the biggest features in the film is the shark itself; name Bruce by the film team the robotic creature suffered from a number of mechanical problems. While the animatronic shark did cause delays and an increase in budget it also posed another problem as it did not look authentic in clear focused shots.  However this was used problem was remedied by Spielberg by reducing the amount of shots containing the entire shark. This only helped to create more suspense and was used to great effect. The lack of shark makes it only more shocking when its full size and strength is displayed. Alongside camera angles a number of other devices are used to hide the shark. This included the use of water and lighting. As the camera retained a more plastic property in terms of how it moved through the scenes it is often found that it dips between above and under water. 
Not only is the film effective at creating tension through sound design and camera work it is also capable of telling a strong story. With the core of the plot focusing on the shark the film can be broken into two parts. 
“The first half is more or less an unsophisticated version of Enemy of the People”, “The second half is Three Men in a Boat against the great white killer” (Malcolm, D. 1975)
Following how Spielberg treated his films during his earlier years Jaws revolves around how a single figure steps up and reclaims his man-hood. The protagonist Brody is at first seen as a person in a high position doing menial tasks to satisfy the town’s people. It is in this first half we see Brody being pushed around to conform with the society that he lives in, forsaking the duty he has been charged with (the safety of the town) to satisfy the mayor.
“He's actually scared of the water, doesn't like to swim and, when he sees the giant shark swim past the boat for the first time, we believe him when he informs Quint, very sincerely, "We need a bigger boat."” (Ebert, R. 1975)
At first afraid, Brody eventually confronts the shark in its own territory. Shown as an act of a heroic nature, Brody treks into a foreign land to defeat the monster. It is by his own hands that he kills the shark stepping away from the comfort of home, family and land. Using the water as a metaphor Spielberg is capable of creating two different environments. On land man has no need to struggle and fight to survive and thus have their man-hood removed. On the other hand the water alone is a difficulty that must be overcome and so man has to fight in order to stay alive and retain his status as a man. 
In the end Jaws is a monster film that makes great use of suspense, containing a number of scares that grips the audience leaving an everlasting impression on today’s media.

Ebert, R. 1975 “Jaws” 
http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/jaws-1975 (accessed 03/03/2017)
Malcolm, D. 1975 “Steven Spielberg's Jaws review”
https://www.theguardian.com/film/2016/dec/22/jaws-steven-spielberg-1975-review-derek-malcolm (accessed 03/03/2017)
Haflidason, A. 2001 “Jaws (1975)”
http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2000/07/14/jaws_review.shtml (accessed 03/03/2017)

Illustration list
fig.1 film poster
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/eb/JAWS_Movie_poster.jpg (accessed 03/03/2017)

Storytelling & Commision: From Script to Screen, Reflective Statement

From Script to Screens has proven to be a difficult project bringing up new concepts that I have yet to experience. One of the many new tasks that I had to undertake and found difficulty in was character design. Due to a lack of willingness and knowledge I took a considerably longer amount of time to adapt to a suitable art style that strayed from a more realistic rendition of both people and surroundings. As a result the following work that was to follow was unable to fit within the time frame and thus unable to fully complete the final product.
From this project I have also picked up on the importance of clear communication with the animatic and pre-viz animation. Sound and clarity of the animation play a pivotal role in the portrayal of the story.
In order to improve upon these issues I must be able to adopt a number of other styles and forms of rendering art putting aside the ones I am more comfortable with.