Friday, 18 December 2015

Maya Tutorial 07 - Lighting and Rendering

All finished, I really enjoy the way adjusting the lighting can evoke different moods within the same scene. Very useful going ahead!

La Belle et la Bete (1946) - A review.

Fig 1.

La Belle et la Bete (1946) directed by Jean Cocteau is the filmic retelling of the fairytale - Beauty and the Beast. But it is a film designed not only for the child who enjoys fairytale, for at the start we adults are given a request by Cocteau - “I ask of you a little of this childlike sympathy…” and with such a preamble we are put into the mindset that this isn’t merely a tale for children, even if we are to suspend disbelief as a child - certainly an engaging motif to ponder during the course of the 93 minute exercise in the surreal. 

Cocteau himself is described as a poet and surrealist and this is something of import when considering Beauty and the Beast for the art direction follows suit with this sensibility. Dreamlike but never crossing over into the grotesque, Cocteau's vision of a shifting reality is mesmerising throughout. Indeed, as soon as Belle enters the Beast's castle she is confronted with sights of “...candelabra held by living human arms that extend from the walls. The statues are alive, and their eyes follow the progress of the characters” (Ebert, 1999) and in fact, the film goes further to the realms of eroticism. “Cocteau uses haunting images and bold Freudian symbols to suggest that emotions are at a boil in the subconscious of his characters” (Ebert, 1999). Interestingly, when confronted by these detached arms, they are all male, all of the arms holding candles are male and perhaps there is something in that. Almost as to give rise to ideas that the Beast’s abode is a seat of masculinity or some place of male power.

Fig 2.
The undercurrent of eroticism is strife here. The Beast - following the same tradition of the Wolf Man wherein the characteristics of masculinity form the main struggle within the Beast, at points his hands literally smoke after having killed someone to give rise to feelings of shame, shame that so repulses when seen by Belle. “This is acknowledged finally when Beauty (Josette Day) tells the Beast (Jean Marais) "I like being afraid... with you." (Macnab, 2014) This idea of sexuality and repulsion is audibly put to us and at once discusses the notion of sexual attraction to the dangerous qualities of masculinity.  

La Belle et la Bete is an early example of a traditional tale imbued with that of the else, a surrealness and presence that is only addressed in the mise en scene to produce a meta narrative of sexuality. Smart, Inventive and extremely watchable La Belle et la Bete is a masterclass on what can be achieved through simple means.  

Fig 3.


Ebert, Roger. 'Beauty and the Beast review'. rogerebert.com. [online] Available at: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-beauty-and-the-beast-1946 [Accessed 18 Dec. 2015]   

Macnab, Geoffery. ‘La Belle Et La Bete: Film review - Cocteau's Forties fantasy is still a thing of real beauty’ independant.co.uk [online] Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/reviews/la-belle-et-la-bete-film-review-cocteaus-forties-fantasy-is-still-a-thing-of-real-beauty-9035506.html [Accessed 18. Dec. 2015]


Fig 1. Beauty and the beast Poster. [image] Available at: http://theredlist.com/media/database/muses/couples/fiction/beauty-and-the-beast/018-beauty-and-the-beast-theredlist.jpeg [Accessed 18 Dec. 2015]

Fig 2. Arm Candelabra [image] Available at: http://www.cinematraque.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/bras_belle_bete.jpg [Accessed 18 Dec. 2015]

Fig 3. Belle surrounded by arms [image] Available at: http://www.dvdjournal.com/reviewimgs/b/beautyandthebeast_cc_imgs/beautyandthebeast_cc_03.jpg [Accessed on 18 Dec. 2015]

Thursday, 10 December 2015

"Only God Forgives" (2013) - A review.

Fig 1.
Only God Forgives” (2013) by director Nicolas Winding Refn is a hot mess of surrealist imagery, oedipal suggestion - amongst other Freudian notions - and only once past these notions could you simply call it a Thai police drama. In fact, it is in this very important distinction that “Only God Forgives” either succeeds or fails.

Concerning Julian, an American expatriate who runs a Muay Thai club in Bangkok, his older brother Billy (by this point a child rapist/murderer) having just been killed by Chang - a Thai police officer with a rather righteous moral compass. The real crux of this movie is the relationship the brothers shared with their mother, Crystal, and this is also where much of the conflict stems from. The film is a brutal affair with characters pushed to the extreme until it is as though they are ciphers for much larger ideas.

Within the first few minutes it becomes apparent that these ideas are prevalent, the scene that first comes to mind is the first time we see the character, Mai, an ‘entertainer’ Julian frequents. Britt Hayes - reflecting that  “She ties him to a chair while she masturbates, and prophetic, dreamlike sequences are inter-cut with moments of reality” (Hayes, 2013) It is interesting to note of Julian as he watches intently, that he is watching not with lust but instead with longing. Hayes goes on to suggest parity between this and the words of Sigmund Freud “men are constantly trying to find their way back home, to that familiar place that holds all the answers to their existence -- to get back to the womb” (Hayes, 2013) and this idea is certainly echoed within the plot. Certainly pertaining to his mother, Crystal. It is alluded to within the unfolding of events that Crystal played the brothers off against each other, Julian often coming off the worse, giving rise to notions of powerlessness. He is at odds with his brother for his mother's affection and it is even suggested too that he is at odds with his father, when it is revealed that Julian’s reason for fleeing America was due to him murdering his Father. It seems as though Julian expresses these frustrations in the form of a repressed anger/lust tied into the oedipus complex. This culminates in a later scene where Julian cuts open the corpse of Crystal - at the stomach - and puts his hand inside. He is, effectively, returning home.
Fig 2.

The repeated imagery of arms, particularly arms being bound or cut off seems to suggest a removal of agency, a struggle with powerlessness. Hayes goes on to say “...masculinity and power reside in the hands and fists of these men” (Hayes, 2013)  And the key to this notion is contained within the character of Chang, who is the cipher for righteous judgement, a man who literally removes people's agency and power in the form of removing their arms. And it is within “Only God Forgives” most poetic moment that Julian submits to this judgement. His brother is dead, his mother too, the tensions which most vexed now nonexistent, he willingly removes his power as he has no more use for it.

Concerning the ‘look’ of the film, the neon lighting creates “...an impression of the city’s underground as an exotic, abstract hellscape where the forces of absolute evil and ultimate judgment co-exist” (Tobias, 2013). The interesting thing to note here is the eventual dilution and dissipation of dreamlike scenes basked in red light. It is as though the distinction between the two eventually is unimportant as Julian’s struggle with his inward emotions spill out into real world events.

Fig 3.

Only God Forgives” seems to be misunderstood when taken literally, but it becomes an enthralling experience when viewed through a Freudian lense. When the viewer comes to terms with the fact that what they are seeing is perhaps not as literal as what they should be thinking. It is indeed a film based on suggestion of depth, in true Jodorowsky fashion.


Hayes, Britt. 'ONLY GOD FORGIVES Is Uncannily Freudian| Britt Hayes'. birthmoviesdeath.com. [online] Available at: http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2013/07/19/only-god-forgives-is-uncannily-freudian [Accessed 10 Dec. 2015]   

Tobias, Scott. ‘Only God Forgives, review| Scott Tobias. The Dissolve.com. [online] Available at: https://thedissolve.com/reviews/66-only-god-forgives/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 2015)


Fig 1. Only God Forgives Poster. [image] Available at: http://a4.mzstatic.com/us/r30/Video6/v4/d8/aa/7d/d8aa7d83-1fa5-b764-7bf3-20caaf80062a/mza_713610779623051545.jpg [Accessed 10 Dec. 2015]

Fig 2. Julian in the bathroom. [image] Available at: http://a.fastcompany.net/multisite_files/cocreate/poster/2013/07/1683424-poster-p-only-god-forgives-ryan-gosling.jpg [Accessed 10 Dec. 2015]

Fig 3. Muay Thai club. [image] Available at:
http://screenmusings.org/movie/blu-ray/Only-God-Forgives/images/Only-God-Forgives-021.jpg [Accessed 10 Dec. 2015]


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Lighting Gyro!

The lighting of Gyro was relatively challenging to portray convincingly as it is so stylised in my concept painting. 

For Instance, I'm still working out a way of getting the rays of light to bounce around and off of my buildings. I've looked at volumetric lighting, but am not too sure on its implementation within a daylight scene; there's another part of me that is half tempted to physically model the beams of light and texture them accordingly. 

I am enjoying the way in which I am forced to think on my feet when encountering problems like this. And I feel wholeheartedly that I will have settled my conundrum by tomorrow. 

I'll have Gyro textured by tonight. I'm particularly looking forward to seeing all of the cars textured. 

(I'm probably going to model the light rays)

With matte painting


Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Ambient Occlusion - Gyro

I woke up groggy, knocked back a few coffees and contemplated watching Only God Forgives and
La belle et la bĂȘte to get the final two reviews done. 

I ended up watching Lost River (Ryan Gosling's second directing attempt) and focusing on finishing this shot. I feel great surge of enthusiasm at this sight. Before, I hadn't had that moment where the penny drops and held a full appreciation for the skills I've gained over the last couple of months. But strangely, within this image, my penny finally dropped. 

(I'm going to muck around with the placement of the docks in the midground, as well as entertaining the possibility of including more cars on the road, which I might add, was more challenging to model than I had anticipated). 

I'll finish the lighting today, before nipping off to watch an old Dana Andrews film. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Modelling/UV progress.

So, Here's where I am right now. (More or less, the more being I'm currently making speedy progress in setting my scene up).

I've found the UV'ing a challenge at times, but I also do feel like some form of understanding is forming around the practice.

I'm focusing on the lighting next, then I'll move on to texturing.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

Gyro - Final Composition with breakdown.

It is finally posted, after a week of living within my memory stick waiting for me to stop wrestling with rogue Uv's. I am both pleased and a little dumbfounded that I've created this. And I'm looking forward to the final composite.

Back to those now :)

"Suspiria" (1977) - A review.

Fig 1.
Suspiria” (1977) by director Dario Argento focuses on Suzy Bannion, an American ballet student, after transferring to a prestigious dance school in Germany. Things are - in typical fashion - not as they seem as fellow students go ‘missing’ in ways most macabre. Bannion discovers the dark history of the dance school, and its secondary purpose, to provide fresh bodies to a witches coven, for some undisclosed ritualistic reasoning. Another study in atmosphere, “Suspiria” is certainly a gaudy affair that manages to achieve a tension so realised as to cement itself in the collective psyche. But it is not only these things, “Argento chooses the narrative trope of the fairy tale to narrate the negative effects of black magic on people and the horrific consequences that may derive from opposing the occult power of witches.(Giusti, 2013).  And this juxtaposition between fairytale and horror creates a dissonance.  It’s a dissonance that we become accustomed to at the very beginning of the film; During the titles we are calmly fed bits of exposition, initially backed by a score reminiscent of music boxes of old before serenity is broken swiftly by a score change and a violent mix of diegetic and nondiegetic noises, so successful that immediately the tone of the film is set. Suzy’s world is violent, confusing and definitely not geared towards a stranger in a strange place.

Fig 2.

Often “Suspiria” shines because of the tableaux of sound woven around it. And by no means should this sentence sound romantic, as the soundscape is violent and often times challenging; mirrored in the story itself. This sonic assault is achieved through repetition, Linda Schulte-Sasse writing for Kinoeye, mentions that the sound is... “overlaid with a repetitive, frantic and compelling musical soundtrack by the rock group Goblin, whose sound has become a hallmark of some key Argento films.” (Schulte-Sasse, 2002) and this really goes a long way of selling the inherent trauma of the dance school. Indeed the term - Suspiria - means sigh, but there is irony in that descriptor, as Suspiria is anything but a mere sigh; it is an explosion of sound and image, a furious and violent last gasp.

Fig 3.

A technicolour nightmare, “Suspiria”  is dripping in vivid reds, suffocating blues and intoxicating greens, each part working in tandem to create the film’s many moods. Of course, we can deduce the red hues as being that of the negative or the supernatural, but interestingly most of the film is staged in this light, and we are instead taught to fear the unknown shades of blue and the onset of green. The film is so consistently lit that we have no doubt as to the atmospheric qualities of “Suspiria”, and we are indeed subjected to these rules throughout the entire experience. The lighting is only part majesty of the film, indeed it is as if there is some deliberacy in the distancing between reality and the bubble universe that Suspiria sits within. “Argento has no interest in realism whatsoever;Suspiria is self-consciously stylised, artificial” (Schulte-Sasse, 2002) and this is interesting when paired with the comparisons “Suspiria” draws to cartoons in both plot, style and general mise en scene. Argento himself has stated the parallels he hoped to draw between his work and that of Walt Disney’s “Snow White” (1937).

Suspiria” is a jarring experience of the occult spat through the rose tinted lense of the fairy tale. It is ballsy, arresting and at times mesmeric in its design.


Giusti, Giulio. 'Expressionist Use of Colour Palette and Set Design in Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977)| Giulio L. Giusti'. cinergie.it. [online] Available at: http://www.cinergie.it/?p=3288 [Accessed 05 Dec. 2015]

Schulte-Sasse, Linda. 'The "mother" of all horror movies''. [online] Available at: http://www.kinoeye.org/02/11/schultesasse11.php [Accessed 05 Dec. 2015]


Fig 1. Suspiria poster. [image] Available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/cd/SuspiriaItaly.jpg [Accessed 05 Dec. 2015]

Fig 2. Taxi to dance school - still. [image] Available at: http://bingemedia.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Cap-3.jpg [Accessed 05 Dec. 2015]

Fig 3. The first murder - still. [image] Available at: http://screenmusings.org/movie/blu-ray/Suspiria/images/Suspiria-051.jpg [Accessed 05 Dec. 2015]

Monday, 30 November 2015

Gyro - Blocking stuff out in Maya.

Planning the shot.

So I've made a couple of the buildings require for the final composition and I think I've got the UV's working nicely at this point, however, I'm in two minds as whether to keep these structures low poly so as to reinforce their shard-like appearance and also to be in-keeping with the style set out in my concept painting. I asked Simon the same question he recommended I try it that way and see how it comes out, which I intend to do.

Tonight, I'll be experimenting with different lighting and how it affects my buildings, As in parts of the concept painting there is quite a soft light, so I'm hoping achieving that won't muck anything up with my UV's or anything.

I was a little unsure with the process, but I've resolved to use planars on each surface without stitching them together. I think this will probably produce anomalies along the edges of the buildings so I shall see how it goes. Maybe I'm overcomplicating the process in my head, maybe I'm not.

Anyway, More stuff soon :)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

"The Shining" (1980) - A review.

Fig 1.
The Shining” (1980) by Stanley Kubrick recounts the preternaturally charged tale of the Torrence family and their encounter with the Overlook Hotel as a storm begins to take hold, trapping them. Featuring Kubrick’s trademark pacing and an almost microscopic attention to detail “The Shining” beckons viewers into the isolation of the Overlook, but within they will find that once inside and safe from the storm, they are instead trapped again, within the often times confusing and labyrinthine, Overlook. Of the plot, Roger Ebert muses... “Who is the reliable observer? Whose idea of events can we trust?” (Ebert, 2006)

The drab art direction within the hotel exploits a different kind of horror, the kind that you don’t encounter when running from a crazed axe-murdering interdimensional hyper lizard named Chuck. Instead, it is the kind that features in our everyday lives. Kubrick states - when discussing the conception of the art direction for the hotel -  “We wanted the hotel to look authentic rather than like a traditionally spooky movie hotel. The hotel's labyrinthine layout and huge rooms, I believed, would alone provide an eerie enough atmosphere.” (Kubrick, 1980) The Overlook Hotel is pristine, in a hospital-like manner, in which the appearance of cleanliness is upheld, but there is a sense of history - a build up of it - accumulated over a span of time, lending an eerie and in fact, unsettling quality to proceedings.

Kubrick’s camera work is exemplified in The Shining, the long steadicam shots adding a fervent dread to the claustrophobic halls. Tracking shots follow Danny through hallways, holding him at an uncomfortable distance to instill in us a sense that something is slyly pursuing him. This sense of unease is further driven home by the disparity featured in the spacial design of the Overlook. There are instances in the film where spatial continuity is marvelously broken, for instance the window in Ullman's office that features an open sky where a hotel wall should be blocking; hallways that have no logical endpoint as the hotel doesn’t continue with the, indeed the interior of room 237 encroaches upon the area where another room should exist, giving rise to ideas of a fractured reality where nothing makes sense; executive producer Jan Harlan says of the design…”It's clear instantly there's something foul going on. At the little hotel, everything is like Disney, all kitsch wood on the outside – but the interiors don't make sense. Those huge corridors and ballrooms couldn't fit inside. In fact, nothing makes sense.” (Harlan, 2012)

Fig 2.
In broad terms, it is the culmination of these things that creates the presence of the Overlook, it is seemingly imperceptible; even Wendy doesn’t seem to notice the oddities that Jack and Danny encounter, but as with Repulsion (1965) and Black Narcissus (1947) these techniques go to build the atmosphere until it is almost made flesh. The Overlook is perhaps the most evocative of the trio, becoming iconic and almost archetypal in its mundane depiction of supernatural horror in a largely normal setting.

Fig 3. 


Abbott, Kate. 'How We Made Stanley Kubrick's The Shining'. the Guardian. [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/oct/29/how-we-made-the-shining [Accessed 29 Nov. 2015]

Ebert, Roger. 'The Shining Movie Review & Film Summary (1980) | Roger Ebert'. Rogerebert.com. [online] Available at: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/great-movie-the-shining-1980 [Accessed 29 Nov. 2015]

Visual-memory.co.uk,. 'The Kubrick Site: Kubrick Speaks In Regard To 'The Shining''. [online] Available at: http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/interview.ts.html [Accessed 29 Nov. 2015]


Fig 1. The Shining Poster. [image] Available at: https://girlmeetsfreak.files.wordpress.com/2012/10/the-shining-1980-poster.png [Accessed 29 Nov. 2015].

Fig 2. Danny on trike - still. [image] Available at: http://idyllopuspress.com/idyllopus/film/images/shining/sh_tu5.jpg [Accessed 29 Nov. 2015].

Fig 3. Jack at the bar still [image] Available at: http://www.beatontheblue.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/JN-shining.jpg [Accessed 29 Nov. 2015]

Additional reading

Additional viewing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sUIxXCCFWw - Spatial awareness and set design in "The Shining".