Concept Progress

Posted by Sam Hayes On Thursday, December 31, 2009 1 comments
I thought today I should start work again on the project, as it has been a week and a half of doing very little. I'm happy with my theme and setting so now I am playing with the composition. I want the view to be subjective, which is why I want a realistic camera angle, I want to get this all sorted in my concept so I can put modelling effort into the things I know will be seen and skip those that won't.

I started working on a concept today of viewing the house from inside a barn, with a subjective view that seems as if the camera is 'spying' or hiding and shouldn't be there. I've put about two hours work into it so far and I am using maya to help with the perspective. It is far from finished but I'll post up my progress.

I am going to play with the lighting a bit and then add in the objects and details. I want the barn to seem very cluttered,so I am going to add some tools and chains hanging from the ceiling as well as some jars balanced on the boxes. I haven't started on the house yet, but it will be similar to my last concept, and the focal point will be an open basement entrance (Image below) with a blood trail leading to it.

Day of the Triffids ( John Wyndham)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, December 30, 2009 0 comments

I've just finished reading the sci-fi novel 'Day of the Triffids' by John Wyndham and I thought it was worth a post as it is a fantastic apocalyptic story. First published in 1951 it centres around a man named Bill Masen, a bio-chemist who awakes in hospital to find almost everybody in the country (If not the world) blinded by a 'comet shower'. Bill was one of the only people to retain his sight as he had just come out of an eye operation after being stung by a 'Triffid'; a large carnivorous plant which is able to move.

After realising the predictiment he is in, Bill embarks on a journey of survival as well as attempting to re-build a life after this catastrophe. The reason I really liked Wyndham's plot is because of the harshness and brutality of the story. Explaining the complete despair, confusion and suffering that most of the population experiences after their sight is taken away. The story is not centered around the deadly plants, but rather the state of the country and the apocalyptic happenings. The Triffids are very secondary to the plot and really only come into main focus near the end of the book. The events throughout include suicides, disease, starvation as well as questions of religion and feminism. The scope of the book is amazing. Bill sets out to find a woman he meets and looses shortly after the catastrophe happens; Josella. The book was turned into a BBC radio series in 1957.

Coincidenally, there was a BBC adaptation of the book in two-parts which started last night and concluded today. I had no idea this was being aired until it was advertised a couple of hours before it was on. Luckily, I was only about 20 pages from the end of the book, so I finished it and looked forward to the series.

The BBC remake, was in my opinion a great attempt at conveying the book. Adaptations into TV and movies always seem to miss the mark, but in this case I thought it was very well done. As this was a modern re-invisioned version of the novel,  there were a few changes, such as the Triffids being used as Oil to solve 'Global Warming'. A main part of the plot that was changed was introducing the character of  'Torrence', played by Eddie Izzard. The character only features in the book briefly, as a un-named villain (Until the final few pages) but in the drama he is a main character who influences the plot and creates even more mayhem. I understand why they expanded the character, as it made a quicker paced story and gave a villain to it. Bill's father also appears in the series, whereas in the book, he was killed in an Airplane crash years before the incidents.

The Triffids themselves were also just as I imagined them, although they seem a little more deadly in the series, having vines which can drag humans away, whereas in the book they could just shoot the odd venomous spike and slash with their sting. They are still shown as quite slow-moving plants, but still very dangerous. Although the Triffids are the base to the story they aren't the main focus of the drama, like the book, it is more of a apocalyptic story which they feature in.

I recommend the book to everyone, there are so many small details and sub-plots that it keeps the whole story very interesting. I have a large collection of Philip K. Dick novels to read, he is a science fiction author who wrote books such as Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly and Blade Runner. I'm going to give 'Do Androids Dream of Sheep' a read, hopefully it won't go too far over my head.

The Time Machine ( H.G Wells)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Tuesday, December 29, 2009 1 comments
So Christmas is over, it was a good break in which I must of been drunk for a constant three day period. My family obviously know me well as I received huge stacks of books as presents, one of which was 'The Time Machine'' by HG Wells.

First published in 1895, It is a short(ish) story about an inventor in the 19th Century who tells the story of his journey through time to a group of his dinner guests which include a journalists, a doctor and a scientists. The inventor, never named in the book and referred to 'The Time Traveller' claims that he has travelled in a machine built by himself into the 802,000th Century, where the earth is almost unrecognisable.As the story goes on, it becomes apparent that humans have evolved into two different races; the Eloi, which are unintelligable, short people with no ambition who are being preyed on by a pale-underground ape-like race of creatures repelled by light, named Morlocks who feed on Eloi flesh.

The traveller's machine is taken by this underground race, leading to the rest of his account being about how he steals it back and returns to his own time. Throughout the book, the inventor ponders many different ways that this world has been gradually created from the past as well as trying to discover where he is in relation to his home.

I thought the book was good, until I watched the 2002 film of the same name, then I thought the book was great.The film, was bloody awful. It stars Guy Pierce as an inventor named Alexander Hartdegen who tries to change the past after his Fiance is killed by a mugger, after realising he cannot change the events of the past he goes forward into the future to find another way to save her.

This results in him being stranded in the 802,000th century, where the Murlocks take his machine and he is left with the Eloi (Who despite the book, can speak English, are the same size of him and are intelligent beings). He never returns home, as he uses his machine as a weapon to kill the Murlock's and save the Eloi people, making the film a huge-load of redundant tosh with a typical Hollywood ending, where the inventor falls in love with an Eloi and stays in the future.

There were many things put in the film that weren't in the book (Such as the digital museum curator who survives throughout the ages) but one of these was a point where the traveller stops on the way to the Eloi-century to find the moon is falling out of orbit towards the earth. He then sees a apocalyptic view of New York before continuing on his journey.

Also in my massive pile of booksto read was 'The Day of the Triffids'. I finished reading it yesterday (Just in-time for the BBC's modern remake last night) and thought it was fantastic, I will post that up next.

Research: The Hills Have Eyes

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, December 20, 2009 1 comments
Another similar film to the Chainsaw Massacre is 'The Hills Have Eyes'. Both of these films show the effect of a family who have been 'abandoned' and let down by society, leading them to become disgruntled and willing to torture and kill any outsiders who come near to their homes. I watched the remake of the Hills Have Eyes (2008), but am yet to watch Wes Craven's original. I've taken some screenshots that will help with some ideas for the my final scene below, most of these focus on the buildings and external 'creepiness':

Research: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, December 20, 2009 1 comments
I'm going to post up some quick screenshots from the remake of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2006) I watched it to get some inspiration for my scene for this project.I focused on the external shots of the house as well as the scattered junk and rusty surroundings.

I really love the cinematography of this film; the old abandoned buildings with the rusty 'fallen-America' surroundings. Everything seems dangerous and eery including the most innocent of things, such as family photographs that the group find and toy dolls.

Horror Research: Halloween.

Posted by Sam Hayes On Friday, December 18, 2009 2 comments
As I'm creating a Maya scene that is taking from a rural American setting I've been watching some Horror films that use the same setting. I'm going to eventually write about The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills Have Eyes,but first I'm going to re-visit 'Halloween'.

Unfortunately, they are both the remakes, as I've yet to watch the original 'The Hills Have Eyes'. I was going to watch it tonight, but all my House-mates have gone home for Christmas and seeing it home alone may drive me to delusion and I'll start seeing mutants in my kitchen.

I'm also reading the following book :' The American Horror Film : An Introduction' which explains the themes and the sub-genres of horror films including Dracula, the living dead, the Mummy, Slasher movies etc. I'm finding it really interesting as the author brings out themes and meanings to films which I would never have thought existed and wouldn't have uncovered myself.

The chapter most relevant to this unit that I've read so far is the chapter on Slasher movies, which brings up the idea of the 'Final Girl'. Using ideas from a book by William Paul  (Laughing Screaming: Modern Hollywood Horror And Comedy), the chapter talks in-detail about the meanings behind  'Halloween'. The perspective that it goes into detail about is how the killer, 'Micheal' in the film is propelled by social exclusion and alienation, which when explained in terms of each scene, does make a good case.

Firstly, the idea of the 'Final Girl' (Laurie) being the purest and most innocent doesn't relate to the killer in 'Halloween'. Laurie's friends, who are portrayed as being 'Guilty' in the film for taking drugs and having sex are 'punished' by being killed, but this must be a mechanism for the audience rather than for the killer. The reason for this, as the book explains, is in the first scene of the film. Micheal, who is only six years old, murders his sister who is babysitting him, moments after she is implied to have had sex with her boyfriend. However, at his age he cannot be punishing her for that act, as William Paul says: 'Reading sexual desire into this without accounting for the age of the child seems to me only slightly less perverse than the sequence itself'. Micheal only went upstairs after the two teenagers had finished the act , after the boyfriend has left .The book argues that we need to go further to understand the film and the killer's motivation (Which as Phil mentioned, may just be his nature, that he needs no motivation at all to kill)

Another idea then is brought in, regarding the mask. Michael wears a clown's mask when killing his sister,which the author argues is of great importance.His sister must recognise him, meaning it was not a way for him to cover his identity (In-fact I think I remember her saying "Michael, What are you doing?" when he entered the room.) This then means, that the mask was not for her sake, but for his. It may symbolise Michael's refusal to be looked at and to let anyone into his thoughts and his identity. It is then expanded with the ideas of society. William Paul argues that this insists Micheal feels abandoned, he begins the film wandering outside, meaning his sister has neglected him for her own desires, showing a sign of social alienation in the boy. This also appears in the camerawork as in the first few shots we are in a first-person view of Micheal's seeing what it is like to walk the streets alone, this continues through the house, until Micheal begins to kill his sister, then the view changes, meaning we are watching the murder instead of participating.

William Paul also assigns this to the occasions of Micheal being dead and then returning alive. He links this to failure in society, creating an imaginary position in a real American social system with each time Micheal being killed or 'rejected' being metaphors for loneliness and abandonment.

This really gave me an insight into what was being acted on 'behind' the obvious scenes of the film. Even if the themes above weren't intended, they definitely can be interpreted in this way. I might be looking to far into this, but I find it interesting anyway. I'll post up my captures of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Hills have Eyes for my scenes later on.

Scene Concept Two

Posted by Sam Hayes On Wednesday, December 16, 2009 4 comments
I'm now working on my second scene ideas. I've been looking at some images of Ed Gein's house, which I posted a few days ago. I'm now working on my digital concept to get a final scene before I start Maya. I picked up a few films today to influence my scene as I'm going for a rural-American dysfunctional type house, with clues to there being a muder or abduction surrounding it. I've decided to set the scene in snowy-weather (Matches the season!)plus this will give me the oppourtunity to make the house seem much more 'abandoned' and overgrown.

I've just bought The Hills Have Eyes (1977) and also the remake (2006) along with the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003). I'll watch these through and take some screenshots when I see some scenes that I think reflect my Idea.

Below Is what I have so far of my concept (Very little) I'm going to add detail as I go along. It is meant to be set in a sort of dim-wintery time of day (Like it has been for the last month here in Kent) The house will be surrounded by branches and trees, as well as bushes on the ground. There will be abandoned farm-machinery half-covered in Snow.

I want to give the scene a subjective view, I'm going to try and accomplish this by creating clutter around the camera (Branches and such) making it seema s though the viewer shouldn't be there and is watching from secrecy.

Halloween (1978)

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, December 14, 2009 5 comments
When we sat down to watch this film, the opening sound-track reminded me of a great quote by Charlie Brooker: "Fuck the latest Alton Towers terror-coaster - just whack the Halloween soundtrack on your Ipod and listen to it while walking around your own house in the dead of night."

Halloween is a early genre-establishing horror film directed by John Carpenter. It stars Jamie Lee Curtis, who has since starred in 'True Lies' and 'A Fish called Wanda'. The plot is based around a child - 'Micheal' who murders his babysitter and then gets incarcerated for the rest of his life in a psychiatric ward. Micheal ends up escaping somehow (This wasn't really explained) and returning to his old family home to rejuvenate his body-count on the surrounding neighbours.

Although the film is over 30 years old, it still holds the original aim of being suspensful as well as being violent (Incredibly for it's time) The suspense is created mainly through the soundtrack- which is incredibly chilling and piercing, the music creeps up on the viewer whenever the killer comes into shot. The camera-work throughout the film also drives the suspense, the camera follows the killer in the early part of the plot while he stalks his victims, it does not show his face, just a tracking shot of his body. This makes the character very unfamilar to the audience making him more strange.

The pace is also very typical of the genre, with Halloween being the film which set the style. There are many scenes of the teenagers doing things that should be frowned upon by the audience, sex and drugs, making the killer's victims half-deserving of their grizzly death. The pace starts very slow and quickens throughout the film,each death brings the killer closer to the protagonist - Laurie, to the point where the end is the all-out fight between the two characters. The end also has a very genre-wide feature of the killer not dying even though he is repeatedly suspected dead. After being stabbed in the neck with a needle, swiped in the neck with a knife and shot 6 or 7 times resulting in him falling from a first-floor balcony; Micheal still lives, as he escapes at the end. This creates a great unknown suspensful theme, where the audience know he is still lurking somewhere, ready to attack again.

Overall, I really enjoyed this film. Even after watching a lot of the genre films made since (Scream, Freddy Vs Jason etc.) this still seemed fresh and was enjoyable. It had not aged enough to be comedic, like some of the older films we watched and the plot was believable (ish). Halloween was given some incredible reviews and on Rotten Tomatoes it has scored a massive average of 93%. I've included some reviews below.

Channel 4 Film
Innovative (check out the gliding camera moves for starters), inventive (it cost zilch, so the young crew used all their ingenuity), compelling and featuring watchable turns from Curtis, Pleasence and co, John Carpenter and Debra Hill's film is a genuine landmark in the horror-thriller genre.

Channel 4's reviewer recognises Halloween's contribution and place in the Genre of horror, although they describe the plot as a bit weak, saying : it wasn't 'much to write home about'  but 'superb 'Cinemascope photography framed to maximum horror effect' which made the film legendary.

Time Out
'A superb essay in Hitchcockian suspense, which puts all its sleazy Friday the 13th imitators to shame with its dazzling skills and mocking wit.'

The reviewer praises the lighting used throughout the film- 'shifting volumes of darkness and light reveal the presence of a sinister something' I noticed how well Carpenter used the light, showing the sillouette of the killer as well as him slowly creeping through the darkness in the corners of the screen. The reviwer acknowledges the link with the earlier 'Psycho', but claims, as expected, that 'Halloween' falls short of the muder-classic - 'Perhaps not quite so resonant as Psycho to which it pays due homage, but it breathes the same air.'

Farm-House Concept

Posted by Sam Hayes On Monday, December 14, 2009 3 comments
I really like the farmhouse as a location and I have been thinking of what 'story' to tell through it. The first idea I had I've created as a concept below. It is based around the farmhouse being alight with part of the roof swamped in fire. The view is subjective, with someone looking from below and back. In the scene there is also a empty petrol can, resting next to a tractor. This brings ambiguity,as the petrol can deserves to be there to fuel the machine, but it can also be linked to the fire, which could have been deliberate.

Note: In maya I want to add more objects and detail around the barn, as well as some tall cornfields next to the house, I will add this to the concept if this is the one I choose to progress with.

I want to explore another angle,and that is using the house to portray a suspected murder, with a hole being dug in the ground, next to a resting shovel in the front lawn as if a body would be buried. There will be a light on in the front of the house with a figure in the window. I will have a crack at that concept later.

Farmhouse Research - Ed Gein and Signs

Posted by Sam Hayes On Sunday, December 13, 2009 1 comments
I really like the idea of my scene being set in a rural American farmhouse. Yesterday I re-watched the film 'Signs', directed by M.Night Shymalan and starring Mel Gibson it is based around a family living on a rural farm in America and their struggle against an alien invasion. As I watched the film I took screenshots of every frame that I thought could be useful when creating a scene.

Instead of an Alien-invasion, I would like my scene to portray an eery isolation feel, similar to that of The Hills Have Eyes and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Before all the violence kicks off) This is where I've been looking through the images of Ed Gein, which I've also posted below.



Ed Gein

Ed Gein was a 'serial killer' who operated in the 1950's living in Wisconsin. He was only convicted of killing one person, but hewas also a grave-robber who stole at least 10 newly-buried bodies from local graveyards to use in his own way (Which turned out to be making necklaces out of the lips, soup-bowls out of the skulls and keeping the genitals in a box, he also kept organs in the refrigerator). A report stated:

A shirt of human skin, complete with breasts, had been fashioned from the tanned torso of a middle-aged woman. Gein would later confess that he often put the shirt on at night and pretended to be his mother.

He committed all of this after the death of his mother, and admitted after his arrest, that he was making a human-suit out of the skin of the victims to become a woman. Below are some photos of the house that Ed Gein operated in, his story influenced a lot of horror films, and he was a genre-creating icon, especially Psycho, which was based on Gein, with the motherly-loved killer.

Scene Idea - Farmhouse

Posted by Sam Hayes On Saturday, December 12, 2009 4 comments
I've been trying to think of some more options of scenes to create and I've decided to look into the sterotypical American farm. Over the last few months we've watched a lot of movies set in rural America (Invaders of the body snatchers, Night of the Hunter, Invaders from Mars) which all feature farmsteads with something 'not quite right'. I'm doing a bit of research into what I could create, but I have a general idea.


Im considering putting the house further back in the image, with the main focus being a barn, with light streaming out.:

Next, I'll post up the sketch.

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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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