'2012' aka 'Shit falling over'

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, November 30, 2009 4 comments
Today I decided as I had no work to do I would go to the cinema. Looking at what was available I chose 'Harry Brown' starring Micheal Caine as a outlaw justice-serving pensioner, but due to a cock-up with our poor public transit, we missed the screening and instead had to settle for '2012'. (Don't judge me, it was that or Twilight)

I'd seen so many trailers for this film that it put me off seeing it, but as I was about to watch it, I decided to forget all my pre-judgement and follow it through. There were so many things that annoyed me about this film, meaning this blog-post will just be a mindless rant. A few rules this film laid down and molested were:

- As it was a disaster movie the President of America had to a strong, black man. Since 'Deep Impact', having a white president would be seen as breaking the genre, especially if he survived instead of taking the 'I'm the most important bloke here, but I'm going to stay behind and look noble while I drown/blow up'

- It doesn't matter what world catastrophe is taking place and how many people are dying by the second, as long as John Cusack's kids are alive, all is well.

- Whole continents have submerged and turned into a fiery mess, but the audience must concentrate on the fact that the un-deserving dog is on the cusp of survival

- Foreign scientists saying things about heat instantly rules out any argument against the realism of the film as long as they explain in the first 30 minutes their excuse for the upcoming destruction.

- Even disaster movies need villains! You'd of thought the audience's hatred could be directed towards the solar flare or perhaps the design of the earth's interior in this case, but no. A arrogant Russian billionnaire is the man who's demise we want to see, even though billions of people have died already, seeing this one extra man disappear would almost make the world disaster worthwhile.

10 minutes in I was wishing Micheal Caine was throwing around cockney annecdotes holding a pistol rather than watching this renditon of the discovery channel on crack-cocaine, but obviously, one reason why I was there was for the CGI. I like Ice Cream, but I would be severely pissed off if I woke up one day and someone had painted my walls with Ben and Jerrys, which is exactly how I felt when Calfornia started to fall into a hole.

The CG was brilliant, it was as convincing as it could have been at this point it just seemed so overdone. The first CG-heavy scene shows John Cusack, playing an author, suddenly turn into the Stig. I was confused as he seemed to be able to not only drive at the minimum speed of survival but had no qualms with driving through buildings. I think the earth's crust should have been given more credit in this film,as in a very gentlemanly manner, it always kept a few foot behind the escaping family until they were at a point of safety, and at one point, completely halted it's operations until Cusack climbed out of a hole.

I must say, the last hour or so of the film was much more enjoyable (Though still awful). It had a sort of weird metaphor for global warming as well as religion with the 'arcs' and the animals, including a shot of some in-your-face ethic-united utopia at the end. If you are in the mood to watch something where very little thinking is involved (Although the director would probably argue this to be the deepest film since The Shawshank Redemption) and want to see people narrowly avoiding being crushed / drowned / set on fire  then go for it, but I personally wish I'd spent considerably less time watching Micheal Caine kicking seven-shades of shit out of a hoody.

Invasion of The Body Snatchers (1956)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, November 30, 2009 0 comments

This was a film which I'd heard mentioned in so many places as well as seeing it mimicked, parodied and referenced in so many other films and posters, but had never seen originally. The film centres around a stereotypical 1950s town  in America (As do many films) which is slowly being taken over by 'Body Snatchers' an alien group who have ambitions to 'take over the world'. The plot is very classic in the way that it begins very slowly, with each sympton of the invasion slowly being introduced to the main characters as well as the audience. The film creates an air of frustration rather than suspense as the doctor continues to rationalise the events that are happening, until further into the film, he becomes the sole-survivor of the town (or at least the only one not under alien control)

The setting of the film is playing on the American life-style of the 1950's - everybody quite local and happy, with the doctor knowing the townfolk by name and a well upkept town which propels the plot as most people in the film do not seem suspicious of each other. This is where the contrast occurs, between the beginning and the end of the film, where it is originally very calm it then erupts into mayhem as the doctor is chased from the town which has become very active in spreading the alien 'seeds'.

Overall, I did enjoy this film but I felt it was quite slow-paced and frustrating to watch at points. The acting, set-design and music was all very well-done as well as the odd moments of suspense. Even though the original didn't seem too aged in terms of plot, I am  interested in watching the 1970's version now. I have discovered it has Donald Sutherland in, who I like to watch, I also realised this morning that he is in another of Phil's choices on the reading list -' Don't Look Now', a film that was adapted from the Dauphine Du-Maurier book of the same name, which I have somewhere on DVD.

Unit Three: Enviroment

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, November 30, 2009 1 comments
We've had our briefing for our new unit : Enviroment. Phil showed us a selection of images and paintings by a selection of artists who use the 'mise en scene' and 'table vivants' to intrigue their viewers. The main artist who we are to look at is Gregory Crewdson.

Gregory Crewdson is an American photographer who uses a technique in his images of implying something to the audience. He creates ambiquity leaving the viewer to discover and decide what they are looking at and what situation is taking place in the scene. Below are some of his images from the work "Beneath the Roses'

Each of these image seems quite sinister. They each portray a story, but the viewer can only assume what that story is or rather struggle to understand the image. My favourite of all of his work which I have looked through today is the top image of these above. It has so much detail and grit but the happenings in the image are still completely strange to me. There are children standing aimlessly in many of his images, including this one, whilst a disaster is unfolding in the background with the burning house. These images do remind me of 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' which Phil cleverly showed us today alongside introducing Crewdson. I'm going to look at the artists we were told about today as I progress with my ideas for this project.

Last Few Maya Images

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, November 29, 2009 2 comments

I've added a few more things to the street, now I'm going to call it a day. I'm looking forward to the lecture tommorow and finding out what our next tasks are. I'm going to put as much effort into this next project to make sure I don't slip upon anything or let myself down, like I have done previously. Here are the maya images:

I think I'm getting the hang of Maya and I look forward to the next project, as well as experimenting with my own ideas in it.

Finished Street Scene

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, November 29, 2009 1 comments
After five weeks of on and off work, I've finally finished the street-scene render. It taught me so much about Maya and creating sets. I realised how sometimes, in modelling scenes, especially buildings, only a fraction needs to be built, it can then be used countless times again to make the rest of the scene. Below is the render I have at the moment, included is the pylon I made. I think the way Alan has put it together is really helpful and easy to follow. The result, at first seemed unachieveable but now I'm quite happy to have acheived it.

I've thought of some extra things I could put in this scene without ruining the idea behind it, which I believe is a colonnial street in America, such as those in Boston. I'm going to add a few more items to it. I'm hoping Alan hasn't got a use for us with this scene past today, as I might steer it a bit off-course.  Below is what I plan to add, I'm going to work on it for a couple more hours and see where I get

Maya Progress

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, November 29, 2009 1 comments
As Alan gave us a (Generous) extra couple of days to finish up our Maya, I'm completing it today. I still need to do a couple of the street objects and render it, which I'm working on now.

Earlier on in the project, when I had some spare time, I played around with the tutorials and created a few different things, I'm going to include a couple of them in the final scene to make it a bit different. Below, Is a large house I cobbled together  using the same techniques as we used in the project. There are also some electricity pylons which I'm going to try and fit in on the street scene.


With a lot of the final scene put together, my laptop is getting an arse kicking from Maya, but it is slowly getting there. Not looking forward to the final renders though, it may take a while!

Unit Two: Space Completed

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, November 27, 2009 4 comments
We had our crit today, having to show our final three concepts to our classmates, and tutors: Phil Gomm and Phil Hoskins. I more or less bombed. I showed my three final concepts, and none of them were received very well by the tutors. I was criticised for my design of mushroom, which looking back on, was a massive downfall in that concept, I seemed to research everything in all the images; Lava, Rock, Trees, Sky, Lightining, Water, Grass etc. which I thought all came out rather well on the result, but the mushrooms I overlooked, resulting in them making my 3rd scene into a sort of fairy-tale scene. Putting these mushrooms aside, my Lava Cavern was criticised for the perspective of it, the tutors suggested it would be better to have it at a more human angle or show where the view was looking from. This was something I knew I could of included, but thought that it would detract from the design of the cave (The spralling walkways) I didn't receive any criticism on my shoreline image.

Overall, I'm dissapointed. I probably put 6 hours or so technical drawing into each image and countless more on research, sketches and experimenting with the digital tablet, and it looks like none of this time has paid off ( but we'll see when the results come around). Phil advised he wanted something striking and bold from me this project, I thought I delivered, but I clearly didn't. I'm not going to dwell on this, I'm not going to say I'll put more effort into the next unit, because I put as much as I thought needed into this one, hopefully Unit Three: Enviroment, will offer me a better opportunity to improve again.

Final Concepts

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, November 26, 2009 0 comments
I think I'm going to call all of my concepts finished now and begin to work on the rest of my maya. Here are my final images below ready for the crit tommorow:

Concept 1: Lava Cavern
This concept is envisioned on the underground caverns and caves that the Professor and his Nephew encounter throughout their journey deeper into the earth. I created lava and dangerous walkways as in the excerpts I felt the journey seemed a bit unexciting at this point, as it was just simple tunnels. I wanted to create  a more-hostile looking enviroment. The concept is a seriesof walkways all stretching over a pit of lava, there is a natural-rock doorway in the background and pillars holding the cavern in place.


Concept 2: Shoreline
This concept was based around the large cliffs and the shore of the underground sea. In the book, when the characters discover this landmark the weather is quite fine and the sea calm. However, like the last image, I wanted to create a more hostile enviroment, so created a very hectic looking scene, with  a storm and heavy rain. The sea is described as looking 'almost electric' in the book, I wanted to push this into the literal, adding in electrcity bolts in the waves to make it all seem much more dangerous. I wanted the sky to reflect the strange underground atmosphere and the cliffs to seem dark and undiscovered.


Concept Three: Mushroom Forest
With this image I decided to take a different approach. I wanted a concept that was brighter and a contrast to the previous two. In the book, a forest is discovered containing large mushrooms and discoloured leaves in the bright light of the underground. I thought this gave a good oppourtunity to create a bright image, showing the scale of the forest. I still wanted to show that the image was set above ground, which is why I created the strange sky effects, representing the huge clouds of gas and electricity.


Mushroom Progress

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, November 26, 2009 0 comments
I've spent the last five hours or so creating this image from scratch, and I think I'm almost finished. Here is what I have so far:

I'm going to put the finishing touches to my other two, but overall, I'm happy with all three as of now. I will post the finished versions up in a few hours.

EIDT: The trees on the left hand-side are out of place on this one, but i've fixed them.


Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, November 26, 2009 2 comments
I've been working on my last concept , the Mushrooms. Below is the image so far. I have finished the foreground (The cliff on the right and the large tree on the left) I need to work on the background (The cliff) and introduce the mushrooms. The idea is that the large plain in the middle-ground will be full of different sized mushrooms and trees.

Final Concept: Mushrooms

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, November 25, 2009 0 comments
I'm now working on my final concept.I have used the other two excerpts for the previous two paintings, so now I'm going to use the third, the Mushrooms in the forest. I created a quick sketch belowof the compositon I want. I am going to make this image very bright in contrast to my other two,the grass will be a very bold green, the sky also very stylized and I will try and make the mushrooms striking in the image.

The Outline in Photoshop

300 Essay and Concepts

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, November 25, 2009 0 comments
I've just completed my essay on the film from Frank Miller's comic '300'. I spent most of yesterday evening finishing up the house in Maya, I just need to build a couple of props and render it (Easier said than done I reckon). I'm going to begin improving my concepts this afternoon, I still have one to do and my other two to improve. A nice cup of coffee should progress things. Here are the two concepts that I am almost finished with, I just need to try and improve the lighting, but I'm sticking with the composition on them.


With this I need to:
-Add trees on top of the rocks
-Make the top cavern look like it is extending backwards
- Try out some lighting on the rocks to make it seem darker

Lava Cavern

- Need to try and add some light-beams from the celing
- May add some smoke


I've added some detail to the shoreline image, including a rain effect. Here it is below, I'm going to have one last look at it and then I think I'm going to call it final.

Concept Art Research - The Descent

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, November 23, 2009 4 comments
As a couple of my paintings are based in caverns and caves Phil advised me to watch the film 'The Descent'. I picked it up the other day and gave it a watch and was really impressed with the locations and set design. Most of the film is set underground, it is based around a group of six friends who go on a caving expedition into a underground network which has never been entered. This has given me some help with the lighting effects in my cavern painting, as the lighting in this film is very striking and it has good contrast between the dark caves and sunlight. Although the film is depressing and quite violent (Only one of them survives) it has a good plot and suspense.

Deadline Week!

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, November 22, 2009 1 comments
I have walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death which was Semiotics and am just finishing up the Perception essay. I struggled with it for most of the weekend and I know that many other people have too, I am glad it's done. The space unit essay I have mostly written, I just need to conclude it and combined all my sources for the bibliography. Once these two essays are all packed up, I will have the rest of the week to crack on with my visuals.

My digital paintings are coming along. Phil Hoskins gave me some tips on my shoreline image in the lesson on Friday, mainly about the composition to give it a more pleasent layout and focus point. Simon Holland has also been helpful, I just need to put all the advice and theory of composition into the pieces.

As for Maya, I've neglected it for the past week whilst I've worked on my written assignments, meaning I have the doorway to build as well as rendering out the final scene. I'm confident I can get this done on Tuesday, which leaves me with a couple of days to add some extra buildings in which I had been working on a couple of weeks ago.

Selection of Concept Art

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, November 19, 2009 3 comments
As we've only got a week left of this concept art project I thought I should post up some images from concept artists whos work I really enjoy. I've included a few images below which I think are absolutely stunning and I'm sure others will agree. These artists are regulars on CGSociety.

Phil McDarby (Ireland)
 'The Green Man'

'The Cave'

Marcin Jakubowski (Poland) 

Titanomachy : Fall of the Hyperion

'A hunger after a thousand-year nap'

Christer Wibert (Sweden)

'We found the gate to hell'

'Plane of Gathering'

Concept Update

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, November 18, 2009 2 comments
After adding a mountain in the background ,I then read Simon's comment on my last post, saying I should just improve the sky, and I think he may be right.At the moment,the image consists of a lot of ground and rock, I think if I was to remove the background silhouette and re-do the sky completely, I can make this image look more powerful. I'm going start from scratch on this one, I will consider the one below a draft.

The lava cavern I am still playing with on the lighting front. I'm going to look into some more techniques, but the look I'm aiming for is rays coming out of the ceiling lighting up the rock.

Research: A Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, November 18, 2009 0 comments
The Book
'A Journey to the Centre of the Earth', written by Jules Verne, was first published in 1864. Jules Verne was a pioneer of the science fiction genre, he and H.G. Wells (Creator of War of the Worlds) are considered the 'Fathers of Science Fiction'. Verne was French, studying in Paris and living throughout France for all his life. His books are the second most translated, after those of Agatha Christie, which is no surprise as his works include 'Around the World in 80 Days' and 'Twenty-Thousand Leagues under the Sea.' Throughout his works, Verne has predicted the inventionof the submarine, the helicopter, projectors and jukeboxes, this is one of the reasons he is considered a genius, both in fiction and science.

I read the book in the first week of the project to assure I could get as much out of my design concepts as possible. I really enjoyed it, for several reasons. Firstly, the way it was written I thought was very easy and enjoyable to read, the story is told in the way of a diary, almost like a mountaineer climbing Everest. The professors Nephew keeps a log of their adventure, which is what the author is having you read. The details that are given also make the story seem almost non-fictional with the correct measurements of atmosphere, dates and progress. Secondly, the story is bold, exciting and also fast-paced. The enviroments change as quickly as the professor's temper, from the city of Hamburg to the Icelandic plains all the way to the huge sea inside the earth.

The character of the professor helps push the story along very quickly, as he is incredibly intelligent and doesn't take long to plan the next route or work out the next step. I did think it was quite a short book, the version I bought only had about 250 pages, and I would of liked there to be more description and detail, but nethertheless I really enjoyed it, and I think I'm lucky to have been given it for this project.

There have been quite a few adaptations of the book for television and film. The most notable is the 1959 film of the same name. Directed by Henry Levin , this was an American production, starring James Mason (Who also was in the adaptation of 20,000 leagues under the sea, playing Captain Nemo) and Pat Boone. The film was received very well and was regarded highly for its use of special effects,it was nominated for three academy awards including Set-Direction, Best Effects and Best Sound.


The next notable adaptation is the 2008 film of the same name,which in comparison to the last, is bloody awful. Directed by Eric Brevig, who before this film had only directed a couple of episodes of 'Xena: Warrior Princess' it starred Brendan Fraiser (The Mummy) and Anita Briem, an unknown Icelandic actress who has since been in 'Doctor Who'. This adaptation followed a similar plot to the book, however the main character was an American who takes his nephew (whos father journeyed into the earth and died) on a irresponsible trip into dinosaur infested lava pits in the centre of the earth, which was reached quite leisurely through a cave within a day. This was a very hollywood version of the original, even creating the gimmick of allowing to watch it in 3D in cinemas. It did however sell well,and the almost-confirmed sequel set in Atlantis keeps me dreading those trailers before worth-while films.


I've seen both of these adapatations, and neither justify the story or description of the book's enviroments. Though I must say, I'd rather watch the 1950's version twice over than the modern action-adventure sponge.

Concept: Electric Cliff Face

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, November 17, 2009 2 comments
I'm continuing on with my ideas of creating hostile enviroments within the excerpts of 'Journey to the Cente of the Earth'. Tommorow I am going to post up my research for the concepts, I've been looking into the adaptations and audio series' as well as concept designs by others.

The piece I am planning at the moment in the part of the book where the three travellers are in a boat in the sea arriving at a huge cliff-face. I am trying to carry on with attempting to make my enviroments look menacing and bold, I am yet to finish my lava cavern ( A few posts below) but I am almost there. Below is the quick sketch I drew up for the composition, I will probably require another sketch for the detail on the cliffs, to work out exactly what shape I want them. The dark black in the image is where the beach will be, with the cliffs surrounding it on the sides.

In the foreground of the above image is the 'electric' sea. An ocean with electric currents ripping through it, as in the book the Uncles Nephew mentions that the sea looks 'almost electric'. I wanted to bring this idea out to make it seem much more dangerous. I have been playing with how it will look in photoshop, and I have the image below:

I'm still working on it. I put the clear sky on there, but I think I will make the image into a scene of a rough sea, with the camera almost trapped in the waves, with an electric storm blowing overhead (Amongst all the gasses in the huge cavern)

I've transformed the image into a much darker scene.I have added lightining to the sky (Still unsure of this, but I have it on a separate layer so I can fiddle with it) I am planning to add a rain effect after creating large cliffs.

Well it's 2 am and I'm still photoshopping. I took a break at about 10ish to hang out with my housemates, and at 1 AM after a few hours of no work I got guilty and jumped back on the concept wagon. I'm really liking the look of this piece now. I've added all the objects, I just need to refine the details.The compositon is all done, which is good because if anyone wants to give me some advice on it, then I can change it before the crit next week. My plans for the rest of this image is to add some falling rain (Not too much or it will take the focus away),improve the storm with more effects and add more detail to the beach and cliffs.

The background also looks a bit plain, I may add a large mountain behind the cliffs (I will check the book before though, but I think it will fit right in)

Film:The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, November 17, 2009 3 comments
On the agenda today was a film from 1989 starring Helen Mirren and Micheal Gambon : The Cook,The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover. Directed by Peter Greenaway. I saw a comment from Phil on Jolanta's Blog saying this film was not easily enjoyed, which struck me as strange as I enjoyed it easily. I'm not just saying that either, I really liked this film, and I do plan to re-watch it.

Firstly, the set design and the colours were brilliant, from the very beginning of the film there was a sense of surrealism, beginning outside in English city street lit by many different colours, inside to the kitchen with it's relentless green glow and the restauraunt with the menacing red light seeming to stream from every corner of the room. All of these colours were there for a reason, I interpretted it as 'good' and 'bad' or perhaps 'powerful' and 'weak'. The restauraunts red glow showed power from the guests (Especially Albert) and glutony, as well as a menacing atmosphere, all coming from the head of the table, the evil husband. The toilet is lit in a bright white light, as if it has no character, apart from when the menacing husband steps in and the red light streams into the room, almost as if he brings the atmosphere from the restuaraunt with him.

One thing I really liked is the ongoing build of hatred the audience is meant to feel for Albert. From the very beginning when he is degrading a chef is what I assumed was dog shite, to his racist taunts, disgusting mannerisms and misogynist behaviour towards his wife. I knew from the very beginning, as most people probably did, that by the end of the film the man would get his comeuppance. My favourite (In a bad way of course) line of his was:

"I think those Ethiopians enjoy starving. Keeps them thin and graceful."

I can see why the film may unsettle some people,but I found the sex scenes in it fine as they weren't put there for the sake of sex but to develop the plot and to show the extent of the wife's betrayal of her husband. The entire set design was incredible, every object seemed so grande and rich, the huge paintings hung on the wall drew my attention, as well as all the carcasses that features throughout the kitchen and in the meat vans.

I thought the story was great, it had a good degree of suspense and the ending, althought quite sickening, was a good reflection of Albert's anger and attitude back at him. The soundtrack was very unique, and quite haunting. I liked the fact that they built the soundtrack into the physical film, with the choir boy in the kitchen singing (Although after a while his voice did start to grate.) I'm sure this was my favourite film of the unit, I enjoyed it more than Alien! Thanks Phil, I probably would never have seen it otherwise.

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I'm a student studying CG Arts and Animation at the University for the Creative Arts, I'm living in Kent.

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