Friday, 15 December 2017

Collaboration - Film Review List

The Hero's Journey:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

Big Hero 6

Film Structure:
The Matrix

B Movies:


The Hobbit 

Peep Show

Film Review - Adaptation - The Hobbit

The Hobbit film trilogy is often seen as one of the most irritating film adaptations of a book. Seen as a commercial grab for money where three long films were created from one short book, knowing that the large fanbase of Lord of the Rings would willingly go to see it. In this sense it was a success as it made a lot of money at the box office. Yet it still irritated the many hardcore fans of the original book version and Lord of the Rings trilogy. There were many countless changes that it would be impossible to cover all of them so I will discuss some of the worse changes.

The main character Bilbo Baggins is very different from his version in the book. Where in the film he is seen as adventurous, courageous and willing to fight and participate. However in the book his character contrasts this quite a lot as he is not an action hero. He is a thief for Gandalf and not a warrior. While the characteristics of certain characters changing can be annoying it's not quite as annoying as the vast amount of characters that were added either because they were popular from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or they just needed extra characters to stretch the story into three films. For example the main Orc, Azog the Defiler,  hunting Bilbo and the dwarves, was never in the book. He is simply an extra character that is there to provide another story arc from the main one, as the main one doesn't have enough content to warrant this much screen time. This is not the only extra story arc that has been added in to fill out the film. Romances between characters that were never written about appear. Legolas, who is a character from the Lord of the Rings trilogy, appears in the Hobbit series. This is likely because he was one of the more popular and idolised characters from the LOTR. Another character that didn't appear in the book is Radagast the Brown, another wizard to again fill more meaningless content in the film. Although I have only given a few examples there are countless more to display how far this derives from the original source. While all these characters are being added, an important character from the book, Tom Bombadil, does not appear at all throughout this trilogy.

It seems like this film series was unable to capture the reality of the book. Where the book was quite childlike and story driven, the majority of the film adaptation was endless fight scenes twisted in with meaningless story arcs that have no effect on the outcome of the story. At a point it gets ridiculous when nearing the end 5 armies battle each other. It completely loses grip of the story and becomes all about the high budget cgi fight scenes. Despite this it still made a killing at the box office likely due to the many hardcore fans of the book and LOTR film series.

Film Review - Documentary/Mockumentary - HyperNormalisation

HyperNormalisation is an expository documentary made by Adam Curtis for the BBC in 2016. It is an almost 3 hour long, low budget documentary that uses archived clips, eery sounding music and occasional narration to present a dystopian view of society. In this documentary Curtis presents controversial views surrounding the governments and conflicts of the West and Middle-East. He also discusses hyper reality or in a form he calls "HyperNormalisation". In which he is convinced that the majority of society is living ina  fake world run by corporations and kept stable by the politicians in the world. Throughout this documentary he looks to make an argument against and expose the scandals of politicians and how they came to trick people into a false view of reality. Throughout the film he discusses interesting subjects regarding powerful world leaders and influential people, such as Donald Trump or Vladimir Putin. I found the section on Putin the most interesting as it is possibly the most clear case of a nation's leader tricking the population into a false sense of reality. Where Putin is largely corrupt and this is no secret, there is no uprising due to people working under Putin funding various political movements, even those that are opposed to Putin. Because when so many opposing voices are heard, to the average person it is hard to know which is true. This leaves the person in a state of confusion so they just choose to ignore it and accept the reality with which they are presented.

While I could talk about the interesting concepts presented in this documentary for hours, the way in which it is presented is just as impressive. The entire film is only clips that Curtis has gathered. These clips come  from a range of sources including old news clips, youtube clips showing the modern day reality, gruesome footage from war torn areas, and a mix-match of all sorts of clips that only help to give this dystopian feel. It is easy to see the world in a different way after watching this film, as the version of reality presented in this film is very dark and gruesome in nature. While we can choose to ignore this dystopian version of reality and happily reside in the more happy reality we know, you still can't help seeing how it can be true. The clips used succesfully present the world as if it is a confusing and a dystopian mess. Throughout Curtis uses music from various artists including Burial, which also add to this dystopian, eery effect that this documentary achieves. On top of this he narrates throughout most of the film, often giving arguments or observing arguments, and stating explanations for these arguments.

Overall this is one of my favourite documentaries as it is a real eye-opener and is really effective in shaping your perspective of the world and what reality might be. It covers a lot of content and is a lot to take in in one sitting but it is definitely well worth it. You might be left questioning your own reality or having an existential crisis.

Film Review - B Movie - Sharknado

Sharknado is a sci-fi horror film with comedic elements. It was a film made for television directed by Anthony C. Ferrante.

The premise for this film is that a freak cyclone has dragged sharks out of the sea and is dropping them over the city of Los Angeles. Such a ridiculous premise would never garner a large budget  that you see many Hollywood films getting, which is why this movie can be considered as a 'B Movie' with a budget of only $2 million. None of the actors are too famous but provide an interesting and diverse cast with contrasting characteristics. This film (at least for me) never had any real immersion due to the low quality cgi and the ridiculousness of the premise. But it was still entertaining nonetheless. Often coming off as cheesy, this film has all the characteristics of a typical B movie, where acting and special effects are suboptimal by the standard of the time period in which it is released. Throughout the film there are obviously fake sharks floating around the city and the actors trying their best to remain serious have to confront them as they present obstacles.

 However this is where some of the comedy comes from. Where it appears the actors are trying to remain serious it is impossible not to crack a smile at points in the film. This is a film that has taken a full on approach to the fact that it is low budget and silly at its core, and acknowledges that. In this sense it is very meta compared to earlier B Movies, which attempted to be serious films but failed. The directors clearly made this with the knowledge that they simply don't have the money to make this plotline immersive. In a way the comedy derives from this fact of an otherwise serious but poorly made hour and a half of ridiculousness. 

In summary these are what I see as the 5 redeeming qualities of this film:

  1. The contrast of serious acting with the poorly made and animated sharks creates a lot of humour as it makes it hard to take their acting serious.
  2. Overly dramatic points in this film only emphasise the ridiculousness of the whole plot but somehow works to it's advantage, with at one point a woman giving a heartfelt sob story about why she hates sharks so much, which in the end comes off as insincere.
  3. The rapid progression of the story again helps to show off the ridiculousness in the film. For a relatively short film, a lot happens in it. Constant action is upon the characters as they have to fight off sharks in increasingly ridiculous ways.
  4. The actors while coming off as cheesy all actually help to that effect of the film. I would not say the acting is terrible as it is a hard film to act serious in. But it seems like a fitting cast of characters was placed in this film.
  5. The over the top action scenes are definitely the best bit of the film. When sharks come flying out of the sky and bite a man's arm off, or when another man is shooting sharks in the sky and they fall down. It even progresses to a point where a man uses a chopper to fly into the sky and send missles into the shark infested cyclone. But the crown jewel is when the main character Fin (one of the cheesy puns from this film), jumps head first into a shark, that has come flying out from the sky, with a chainsaw in hand. The other characters think he is dead but then the chainsaw rips through the shark from the inside and Fin is revealed to be alive.

Film Review - Structures - The Matrix

 The Matrix is a sci-fi film released in 1999 directed by the Wachowski Brothers. This film seems to align more with the three-act structure and not the five-act structure.

Act 1

The film begins with Neo leading a seemingly ordinary life, unknowingly inside of the Matrix. The Matrix is a virtual reality created by robots where most of the humans left on earth now reside. This first act of the film exposes the real world and the falsehood of the reality he thought was real originally. The first incidents to be incited are when Neo starts to notice things are a bit unusual, as he starts noticing more and more glitches in the Matrix. Eventually Neo comes across Morpheus who presents him with the choice of the red pill or the blue pill. The blue pill causes him to remain in the false reality, and the red pill will awaken him to his true surroundings. This is the point in the film where everything changes as Neo has to make this difficult decision. Morpheus believes that Neo is the chosen one and the only person capable of saving humanity. So when Neo decides to take the red pill is when the adventure begins. The character's world is shaken up and reality is no longer real.
Act 2

Act 2 begins from the moment Neo takes the red pill and has a sudden awakening to the real world. From here on Neo begins to learn about the matrix and how humans are farmed for energy by robots. Morpheus as the mentor in this story teaches Neo how to fight in the matrix and tries to teach him how to understand the matrix, for if he can fully understand it, as the chosen one he will be able to control the matrix and warp it for himself. Through learning this you can see Neo's confusion, and as the audience we also share this experience of confusion as it is a hard concept to wrap your head around. Neo is given martial arts training through the press of the button and programming it into him, so that when he enters the matrix he automatically knows how to fight. He goes on to learn that if he dies in the Matrix, he will die in the real world. While Neo is learning all of this we learn that Cypher (another human in the real world) is conspiring with Agent Smith to undermine the others. This is the first sign that Cypher will end up double-crossing the rest of the humans. After all of his training, Neo eventually goes to meet 'The Oracle'. From here on the story starts to move rapidly as more is revealed and the characters are put into danger when they enter the matrix. And when they escape the matrix into the real world they have to deal with Cypher who is trying to betray them. The point when Cypher murders some of the crew and attempts to murder the rest can be seen as the second plot point where stories develop from.

Act 3

The point when Neo tries to save Morpheus who is stuck in the matrix can be seen as the beginning of the third act. Tensions begin to increase as there is only more action. Intense chase and fight scenes follow, but as the others manage to get out of the matrix, Agent Smith destroys the phone box that Neo was about to use to escape. This leads to an intense fight scene in a subway station beteen Neo and Agent Smith. While all of this is going on in the matrix, the robots known as sentinels are threatening to destroy Morpheus' ship. The only way to stop the robots is with an electromagnetic pulse blast that would destroy all technology, but this would also kill Neo who is still stuck in the matrix, so they have to do their best to hold off from the sentinels while Neo tries to escape. Eventually Neo comes to believe that he is in fact the chosen one, and takes control of the matrix. This twist in the story allows Neo to triumph over Agent Smith which once seemed an impossible task.

Film Review - Archetypes - Big Hero 6

Big Hero 6 is an animated film by Disney, released in 2014.


The main character in this film is called Hiro, and quite obviously he is the hero. He is highly intelligent and ambitious. A rebel and a nerd he is perfect for this hero role.

The Sidekick:

Baymax is a robot created by Hiro's brother Tadashi. Although it is not known at the start, after Tadashi's death Baymax becomes the sidekick to Hiro, always looking out for him. Hiro sees him as something created by his now dead brother so he enjoys having him around and he helps him out when Hiro gets into some sticky situations. Later on in the film Tadashi's friends from university help Hiro out, so they can all be seen as his sidekicks as they are all supporting him.

The Maiden:

As this is a kid's film there is no clear maiden or women of desire. You could consider one of Tadashi's friends from university as the maiden but this is not clearly displayed.

The Mentor:

Hiro's older brother Tadashi can be seen as his mentor. He encourages Hiro to apply to university and wants to see him succeed. He gives his intelligent but sometimes naive brother advice so he can do the best possible.

The Mother:

The mother figure in this film is Hiro's auntie and guardian 'Aunt Cass'. She is caring for Hiro throughout the film and is often worried about him.

The Child:

The child in this film is one of the sidekicks, Fred. While he is older than the main character Hiro, he is still childish and immature often joking about and acting silly.

The Shadow/Villain:

Professor Robert Callaghan is the villain in this film. He starts off being a seemingly nice professor at the unviersity Hiro's brother attends, but it is soon discovered that he started the fire at the university which killed Tadashi so he could steal Hiro's nanobots and use them for his own good.

The Trickster:

Once again Hiro's friend and sidekick Fred can be seen as the trickster as he is often messing around and making jokes. However at times Baymax  is often the trickster as he is often doing strange things but this is out of innocence.

Film Review - The Hero's Journey - Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

The first installment in the 8 film long series about Harry Potter, is a great example of 'The Hero's Journey' in action, although it doesn't adhere to every step of  Joseph Campbell's version of 'The Hero's Journey' that we learned about in the lecture. There are varying takes on 'The Hero's Journey' with people citing different steps throughout. And most are correct when applied to certain films.

Ordinary world:
Harry is looked after by his auntie and uncle, often being mistreated, but otherwise was a seemingly normal life. While miserable he accepts his fate as that is all he knows. The change to the ordinary world begins when Harry first discovers his magical powers. This creates a rupture in his real life as his auntie hates magic due to being jealous of her sister who had magical powers. 

Call to Adventure:

After discovering his magical abilities he starts receiving letters from Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry. This is definitely the first call to adventure in the film as it signals the beginning of a long journey. He doesn't yet know the contents of the letter but is overly curious as he never receives any letters.

Refusal of the Call:

Harry's family, insistent on him not attending Hogwarts school, keep destroying the letters that come through the mail. More and more letters keep coming every time Harry's auntie and uncle destroy them. It gets to the point where the house is being flooded with letters for Harry and their last resort is to move away to a house on a secluded island.

Supernatural Aid:

As Harry is celebrating his eleventh birthday on his own, a knock is heard on the door. It is not opened and suddenly it gets knocked down a mysterious and seemingly threatening giant squeezes through the doorway. The giant, Hagrid, goes on to reveal that Harry is a Wizard. He then takes Harry with him to go get prepared for Hogwarts. Involving aid with money and items he might need for school.

Crossing the First Threshold:

The first cross from his ordinary world to the magical world, is when Hagrid takes Harry shopping in Diagon Alley. He witnesses all kinds of crazy things being constantly amazed as it is so different to the world he has gotten used to.

Belly of The Whale:

This can either be seen as the moment when Harry goes to board the Hogwart's express train, or when he exits it and arrives at Hogwarts school. I think when he arrives at the school is better in this situation as he has finally arrived at the place he will spend the rest of the film. The large and intimidating structure of the school with large hallways make Harry seem so small in comparison.

The Road of the trials:

 The first trial on this road of trials for Harry is when he confronts the sorting hat. The sorting hat is responsible for which house he ends up in, whether he ends up with people he dislikes (Malfoy) or the people he likes (Ron and Hermione). This is the prerequisite to Harry's adventures and starts him off. From here on he begins facing the many trials that are presented to him in his classes and around Hogwarts.

Meeting with the Temptress:

It seems like this step is absent from this film, which makes sense as the main character is eleven years old so it doesn't seem very fitting for there to be some sort of temptress. However a temptation in another form is present. When Harry is wearing the sorting hat it suggests he will succeed in Slytherin, but Harry knowing the bad reputation of Slytherin wills for the hat to place him in Gryffindor

Atonement with the Father:

Dumbledore is the obvious father figure in this story, but this step doesn't fit into place in this film. Instead the 'atonement with the father' is at the end of the film when Harry wakes up in a hospital bed after fighting Voldemort and Dumbledore is by his side.

The Ultimate Boon:

This is when Harry goes with Ron and Hermione through the secret trap door where the three headed dog is. They go on to face a series of trials and challenges ultimately leading them to Professor Quirrel, who is Voldemort. Voldemort tries to kill Harry, but Harry's touch burns Voldemort and causes him to turn to dust.

The crossing of the return threshold:

Harry wakes up in a hospital bed after his encounter with Voldemort and is reassured by Dumbledore that everything is okay. He reunites with Ron and Hermione and the world seems to be in order once again.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Collaboration - Reflective Statement

This project was definitely not one I was looking forward to as I'd heard about it from previous years. This may have been my first mistake with this project. I don't often do group work and I'm not very experienced in collaborating on such a large project. However I should have taken this into account from the beginning and tried to make it as easy as possible for myself but this was not the case. I'm not usually a confrontational person so this meant I would agree to ideas that I really wasn't happy about, but thought it would offend people if I was critical of their ideas.

I was asked to lead the group by Alan about halfway through the project. Again this is not something that I am experienced in but I did what I can to push the project forward. I took on feedback whenever we got it and applied it to our work. I tried to keep an eye on other groups' work to make sure we weren't falling too far behind. However I struggled with sometimes directing the group sufficiently and conveying ideas. Sometimes what I said would be ignored and the project would become confusing. This is something I was specifically trying to avoid but it eventually did become confusing where people were working on completely different things meaning a lot of scenes were set up differently in maya and we had different ideas of how it should be animated. For this we as a group should have definitely spent more time animating together. In the end I feel I took on too many roles and due to issues we were having and running late as we were it ended with us not having a finished project to present. If we had given ourselves even several hours more time I'm sure it would have been a lot more presentable but realistically we should have given ourselves a lot more time than that. This is an issue I had as well in sometimes being slow to get some work done.

In terms of Maya and general editing I feel like a learnt a fair amount and have improved with Maya. I generally enjoy animation and I am definitely looking forward to making a longer animation that I can spend far more time on and have more freedom over. I felt that I didn't spend as much time as I wanted to on this animation as there are many little mistakes I noticed. If I had given myself more time I could have gone back and fixed these.

I wouldn't be opposed to the idea of collaborating again someday as I think it is an area I definitely need to improve on and in the right environment I think I can work quite well in a group. While I still prefer working solo I think I could also enjoy collaborating again.

Film Review - Comedy - Peep Show

Peep show is a 9 series long, British situational comedy show. The show gives dry, deadpan deliveries that can often be quite morbid and self deprecating. The show follows the lives of two flatmates, Mark and Jeremy, through the drama of relationships, work and homelife. Throughout the show the two main character's stream of consciousness can be heard. This form of comedy can be likened to the works of standup comedian Eddie Izzard. They depict a real aspect of life in that we don't always say what we're thinking, and that we're just trying to be nice. This is quite humorous as it's not something that's often acknowledged and at moments it can be all too relatable. You often see through the eyes of whichever character is speaking to give their full  perspective and inner thoughts. This is where a large amount of the comedy in this show comes from.

Overall this is one of my favourite comedies as it is scarily relatable at points. When we experience a social interaction through Mark's eyes and you hear his inner train of thought showing the awkwardness that most of us experience at some point in our lives. The counteracting characters work quite well as both can be seen as self interested and not always looking out for each other despite supposedly being best mates. Issues with women and money are often the main conflicts that arise between the two and often lead to some obscure outcomes as they are seen as two middle aged awkward individuals with silly characteristics that end them in these situations.

Collaboration - Character Textures

 Bystander #1
 Bystander #2
 Professional runner
The Marathon cheat

Collaboration - Logo and Banner designs

These are some variations of our logo I made early.
The original by Anabel
 My variations on this

 Final Banner/Logo

Collaboration Project - Shoelaces scene - Shot 1

Collaboratin Project - Truck scene shot 3 - Final playblast

Collaboration Project - Maya playblast - Scene 1 shot 1

Monday, 13 November 2017

Life Drawing 7th October

5 Postmodern Elements of 'Inception'

Inception is a science fiction film written and directed by Christopher Nolan, released in 2010. It follows a complex premise where another person's dreams can be entered to steal information. This only escalates throughout the film so of course there are many elements of the film that break typical conventions and can be classed as postmodern.

  1. False Realities - throughout the course of the film the characters go through different realities, some of which are false, as they are someone's dream. This plays into the story quite heavily with people sometimes not being able to be aware if the reality they are in is the real one. This also leaves the audience confused at points. Which I think is the main reason for the false realities in the film, to cause confusion about your own reality.
  2. 'Pastiche' - This film can be classed as pastiche due to the moulding together of various genres to create some sort of meta-genre. With aspects of science fiction, action and adventure all merged into one.
  3. Time - The concept of time in 'Inception' plays a huge role in the premise of the film. As the characters proceed deeper within the layers of dreams time is perceived differently. Each layer within time perception is increasingly slowed so once they went through several layers the time scale comparatively to the real world is seriously large.
  4.  Personal Reality - A lot of the film plays on the idea that everybody has a different version of what they call reality. It brings this into question when someone's reality can so easily be shattered or proven to be an illusion. Does this mean that the reality we experience is nothing more than a dream?!
  5. Open Ending - At the end of the film Cobb is awoken on a plane and returns to his family. But it leaves it so the viewer is not sure whether the character is still in a dream or if he has returned to reality. The thin line between reality and dream is blurred leaving the audience confused.

Collaboration Project - Shoelaces skit Animatic

Collaboration Project - Moom Character Designs - Marathon Runner