Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Narrative Project - More Cogs

Playing around with some more cogs. Now I know how to get them working, I'm starting to work on more intricate designs to fit our world. Lots of fun!

Film Review - Saving Mr Banks

Fig.1 Saving Mr Banks (Movie Poster, 2013)
Saving Mr Banks, directed by John Lee Hancock, was released in 2013 and retells the story of author P.L. Travers and the making of Disney's movie adaptation of her book, Mary Poppins. Though the film is based around the making of Mary Poppins, the story is actually about Travers' father and how he influences her life and the character Mr Banks in the Mary Poppins story. Throughout the film we see flashbacks to her childhood and the relationship she had with her father Travers Goff, played by Colin Farrell. He is clearly a hero in the eyes of his daughter, Ginty and here we see where she came up with her pen name.

Fig.2 Ginty and her father, Travers Goff (Film Still, 2013)
Travers is portrayed magnificently by Emma Thompson as a tough cookie without compromise. As in true life, the movie shows how Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks) promised his young daughters that he would make a film of Mary Poppins as they loved the books so much. He asked Travers every year for 20 years for the rights to Mary Poppins and it was only when the author began to run out of money that she finally and reluctantly agreed. We see Travers' struggle as she flies to Los Angeles and is confronted by her worst expectations of America and Disney.

Fig.3 Arriving in Los Angeles (Film Still, 2013)

There are many amusing moments in the movie which show how in control Travers wanted to be with the film, insisting on no 'silly songs' and definitely 'no animation'. She asked for all rehearsals to be recorded and clearly had a lack of trust with Walt Disney and his team, which included the Sherman brothers (played by B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman). However as the film progresses we begin to see Travers soften, particularly when Walt Disney himself finds common ground with her relating to their haunting childhoods. We see in the film how Travers softens when she hears the Sherman brothers' rendition of the song 'Let's Go Fly a Kite'. Though the event really happened, it was actually the song 'Feed The Birds' which evoked a pivotal moment in the making of the film.

Fig.4 Rehearsals (Film Still, 2013)
Through the many flashbacks to her childhood, we can see where so much of Mary Poppins has come from, most notably when her Aunt Ellie arrives to help look after the young Ginty and her sisters. However, her father is clearly the main driver of her stories and imagination and we really feel for him and his young family when we see him fall into alcoholism. The film is very true to the real life accounts of the making of Mary Poppins. P.L. Travers was not a fan of Disney and the differences we see between the author and the Disney filmmakers actually occurred, including her aversion to the songs and animation. Most of the way her childhood is portrayed is also true to life, which makes the film all the more appealing. The fact that Disney have stuck so closely to Travers' real life when making Saving Mr Banks is very interesting, considering how much of Mary Poppins was not what the author had initially approved. One may be inclined to think that this is an apology to Travers for the many changes that were made during the adaptation of her story in the 1960s. Despite her objections to Disney's portrayal of Mary Poppins, the film made P.L. Travers a multi-millionaire and her stories have been opened up to many more audiences through the film being released.

Fig.5 Aunt Ellie (Film Still, 2013)

Illustration List:

Fig.1 - Saving Mr Banks (2013) [Movie Poster] At:,0,630,1200_AL_.jpg
(Accessed on 18.11.15)

Fig.2 - Ginty and her father, Travers Goff (2013) [Film Still] At:
(Accessed on 18.11.15)

Fig.3 - Arriving in Los Angeles (2013) [Film Still] At:
(Accessed on 18.11.15)

Fig.4 - Rehearsals (2013) [Film Still] At:
(Accessed on 18.11.15)

Fig.5 - Aunt Ellie (2013) [Film Still] At:
(Accessed on 18.11.15)

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Narrative Project - Cog test in Maya

I've used an online tutorial to make and test cogs in Maya quickly and easily. This playblast was a test to see how they looked together. 

Character project - initial character thumbnails

Just as a reminder, the cards I picked out for the character project were:

The idea I have for the project is a video game (or possibly an App) set in a child's scrapbook. I wanted my main character to be non-human and appealing to all ages. Thoughts for my 'bad guy' are to have a human child who is adding to the scrapbook as the game is being played. So, for instance, the character is about to reach the top of the page and complete the level when a chubby arm comes into view and sprinkles glitter all over him which makes him fall down to the bottom. I was wondering whether to have a 2nd 'villain' in the form of a cat which pounces on the character as he climbs, but I'm thinking along the lines of a sidekick for the main character instead now who can aid him.
So these are a few of the very first thumbnails I came up with for the main character. He is still in development, but I'm looking towards something like number 17, with number 23 possibly being a variant. 

The sketch below shows how the book would be opened. As the character works his way from the bottom to the top, and therefore the end of the level, the page would turn and he would be on the next page or 'world'. Also on this page are possible different costumes for the character to enable him to complete the level.

Initial sketches for the 'bad guy' are below, though I've since been looking into more traditional illustrations of children from the 40s and 50s, as seen in the influence map underneath. I like the idea that the 'bad guy' is only seen in the form of chubby hands and sound effects throughout the game and is finally fully revealed at the end of a number of levels as a 'boss'. I'd like the child to be cute but also a little creepy and psychotic like the picture of the child looking at the sandwich in the influence map and the Teletubbies sun baby.

A little bit more info on the environments: As I'm setting this to be like a child's scrapbook or 'messy book' I see it looking similar to Charlie and Lola - like paper cut-outs of different textures. It would need to be quite colourful but not overly busy. I also like the Mary Blair type illustrations from the 40s and 50s, with the sharp edges and flat colours. I like the whole feel of children's illustrations from the era and it has a real cute, charming and slightly sinister feel about it which is exactly how I want my game to feel! Onwards!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Film Review - Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Fig. 1 Mad Max: Fury Road (Film Poster, 2015)

Set in post-apocalyptic Australia, Mad Max: Fury Road is the fourth in the Mad Max series of films and tells of the struggle between the poor people of the citadel and their crazed ruler, Immortan Joe (fig. 3), who is played by the same actor (Hugh Keays-Byrne) who played bad guy Toecutter in the original Mad Max film from 1979. Main character Max (fig.2, played by Tom Hardy) is being used as a live blood bag for one of the warriors, Nux (Nicholas Hoult) but finds himself wrapped up in a chase across the desert with renegade Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron). Furiosa is smuggling Immortan Joe's 'wives' (fig.4) who were imprisoned in order to produce him a 'perfect' son and heir. This chase dominates the majority of the film and is a clear example of the Carsploitation genre which has been present in all of the Mad Max films.  
Fig.2 Max (Film Still, 2015)

Fig.3 Immortal Joe (Film Still, 2015)
Quite clearly an Exploitation film, Mad Max: Fury Road could also be classed as 'Ozploitation', though maybe not so obviously as its older counterpart, which ticks all the boxes of being a low-budget, action movie filmed in Australia. What is markedly different in the 2015 film, however, is the strong role of females. Furiosa, the Wives and later on, The Vuvalini of Many Mothers. This is very refreshing and Furiosa in particular reminds us of Ripley in Alien or The Bride in Kill Bill.  In his review of the film, Roger Ebert says "When one of Furiosa’s wards goes into labor and still defends herself and her yet-to-be-born child (after being shot no less), it’s hard not to see “Fury Road” as an answer to the macho nonsense that so often defines the action genre." (Ebert, 2015). Out of all of the memorable points of this film, the role of women is by far the strongest and has been praised by feminists worldwide.
Fig.4 The Wives (Film Still, 2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road  has a very simple storyline and although packed full of action, not an awful lot happens from start to finish. Despite a difference of over 30 years since the original was made, the film still has the same feel and excitement about it, which is a credit to standing Director George Miller. Miller has commented that he has two more sequels in mind due to the success of the 2015 movie.


Ebert, R (15th May 2015), Roger review, At:
(Accessed 11.11.15)

Illustration List:

Fig.1 - Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) [Movie Poster] At:
(accessed 11.11.15)

Fig.2 - Max (2015) [Film Still] At:
(accessed 11.11.15)

Fig.3 - Immortan Joe (2015) [Film Still] At:
(accessed 11.11.15)

Fig.4 - The Wives (2015) [Film Still] At:
(accessed 11.11.15)

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Maya Poses

For the past few weeks in Maya classes we have been concentrating on posing characters. I've really enjoyed this, despite having trouble with the Mery rig and having to re-do everything several times! It was really fun.
Pose 1

Pose 2

Pose 3

Pose 4

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Narrative Project - Environment Thumbnails

Some quick environment sketches for our Narrative group project. The bottom one was worked on further but still needs more work. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Life Drawing - 28/10/15

Best life-drawing class ever!! Halloween 'Day of the Dead' special with the lovely Lydia! 

20 min sketch to warm up (pencil, fine-liner & water)

The beginning of the faster poses - these were 3 mins (all done in Sharpies)
1 minute reducing to 30 seconds

20 second & 10 second sketches

25 minutes - pencil, fine-liner & water

Quick scribble to finish off :)

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Narrative Project - Thumbnails and Reference Images

These are a few character ideas I'd had. Because they are toys I liked the idea of using simple shapes. I see them as made from wood, quite elegant with painted faces. Their clothes would be very bland at the beginning of the story, but as the characters change, I imagined their outfits more flowing and colourful and made from fabric, rather than painted onto the body of the toy as they are at the start.

Quick environment sketch to show the inside of the factory. Needs more work.

 For a bit of research and something to springboard from, I gathered some images together of how I imagined the style and look of aspects of the animation. I went with a Russian theme as this is something the group have dipped in and out of throughout our discussions. 

Russian costume, once the characters have transformed during their dance. I see this kind of style with patterns which could be mirrored in the environment once the mood of the story changes.

Some quick reference material for factories. These show both men and women at work, what they would have worn and the working conditions they would have been subject to. Lots of monotonous lines of machinery, lots of repetition.

A quick look at some Russian architecture for when the couple are dancing. The buildings and scenery would change and grow as their love builds. Again, I've gone with the theme as the colours and style would all complement each other. I like the shapes of these buildings, which would tie in nicely with the cogs and twirl of the female character's dress as she is dancing.

These images are Russian designs again which I thought could work well in transitions, or in the costumes or music box design. The image middle-right is a Bird of Freedom which I thought also links to the story nicely, though I can't easily see how we could include it in the animation.