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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Character Work - Update - Week 3

So it's clear that I've been a bit lax on updating my character work on Troma Corp, to go a long way to remedying this I've collated each weeks character workshop tasks into separate posts. Here's the first, detailing week 3's task. 

I was assigned the characteristics of "Jack Sparrow" and "Ninja" with which to make a character from. I ended up with a kind of drunk ninja that relies on clumsy luck, one who isn't at all stealthy and as such, values ornamentation and flamboyance over stealth. 



Monday, 24 October 2016

Maya Tutorials - Head Modelling Progress


I've begun work on the Head modelling tutorials, it's pretty tricky stuff indeed, but I'm happy with the results I'm getting as I work through each segment. Here's my progress so far!

Sunday, 23 October 2016

"Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade" (1989) - Character & the Father/Son dynamic - A review.

Fig 1.


Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade” (1989) dir. Steven Spielberg is the third outing of the popular film franchise starring Harrison Ford as Dr. Henry (Indiana) Jones, Jr. An Archaeologist, teacher and on occasion, foiler of Nazi plots to rule humanity through the use of religious artefacts containing untold power. He’s helped Aliens too, but that’s something not often spoken about. In this particular yarn Indiana Jones learns of the disappearance of his father, a distant man with an obsession on the holy grail who is forced into helping Nazi’s seek out the grail for nefarious reasons. Though the main focus here is in showcasing the extremely fractured relationship Indy has with his father, and further, knowingly parading their similar natures to the audience for some interesting and effective comedic moments. After all, it’s not all grim on a race to stop the Nazi’s from finding the grail.


In talking about the characters within this third outing, examples will be made by focusing on Indiana Jones himself, and his father, Henry Jones Sr. To start, it would be pertinent to mention the broken family dynamics at play here. There is untold resentment between the two characters from the offset, and indeed, throughout the first half hour of the film the audience doesn’t see Jones Sr. though his presence looms over Indy from the offset.

Fig 2.

In describing Indy’s personal history - including events in “Temple of Doom” (1984) & “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” (1981) - At this point in the series of films, Indiana Jones is in his late thirties, and, one can assume from his good standing at his job and the general acceptance that he is well liked amongst his colleagues that his social life is good, though with the addition of the prologue segment of the film detailing one of Indy’s first adventures as a 13 year old boy we learn that his relationship with his father is strained to say the least. The main experiences that define his existence at this point in life are his interactions at work as a teacher, his friendship with Marcus Brody and his occasional work for the museum sourcing artefacts. His achievements, listed, read as him being an intelligent and deducive archaeologist, being physically fit and generally lucky. His interests are aligned with this as archaeology and the pursuit of fact are synonymous with his character. In terms of moral compass and core character concepts, all that’s really needed of the character is a single catchphrase - “That belongs in a museum” - its usage describing Indy’s moral outrage at the thought of people profiting from relics that he feels should be on display for the benefit of mankind and its understanding of past cultures.  



In the overarching story of Indiana jones, his “personal world” is the everyman’s quest for universal knowledge, though in this installment this changes and instead Indy’s personal world becomes “estranged son seeking to find and reconcile with his father”. The external world is that of the Fantasy real. A world that is based on reality up to the point when the McGuffin with reality altering principles is discovered, in this instance, the “Holy Grail”


Indiana Jones doesn’t seem to contain any tragic faults, or even a major fault, instead just being comprised of a few minor faults, one being the scar across his chin, the other being his fear of snakes. Though this does seem quite deliberate as he’s a hero modelled on a very clean and reserved set of heroes stemming from old RKO pictures.


Fig 3.

In terms of “Ins/Outs” Indy’s Ins are his heroic nature, his idealistic outlook and his self sufficient nature brought on by having a disinterested father. In reaction to this, his Outs are his need to protect, not only people but important relics or knowledge itself, but his self sufficiency also comes out as being brash, overconfident and bullheaded, especially when it comes to clashing with his father. This dichotomy can be seen clearly in the early scenes featuring the two characters, Simon Brew writing for Den Of Geek notes that “What's interesting is that the power in their relationship keeps shifting slightly. In the early stages, Senior's disapproval of Junior bringing the Grail diary to the castle is there to be seen. Then, when Senior manages to shoot down the plane that they happen to be in at the time, it's very much Junior who's in control” (Brew, 2014) It can be inferred from this that the dualism at play here, then, is because of the lack of attention Indy received from his father, he seeks to silently outdo him in order to prove his worth, and perhaps to gain his Father's lost affection, certainly in this installment that could be true.


These link into his character’s “Wants” as his goal for this movie is to find his father, and ultimately prove whether his father's obsession over the Holy Grail was worth throwing their time together away for.  In terms of character arcs, this means that Indy starts the movie disconnected from his father, lacking that guiding hand in his life but the film finishes with a firm reconciliation between the two. There is a particular scene which showcases this change, wherein Indy is thrown into a chasm as the temple of the grail falls to pieces around them, Henry Jones Sr. is holding onto his hand as Indy reaches for the Holy Grail - which is precariously teetering on a small ledge - Henry Sr. tells his son to “Let it go”, but it is delivered with a cadence that suggests that he is talking as much to himself as he is talking to his son, reminding Indy of his true quest, which was to find his Father.


The second character to focus on is Henry Jones Sr. himself. There seems to be enough here, in his interplay with his son Indy, that would suggest that Henry is a somewhat antagonistic presence in Indy’s life. In terms of his personal history, it is apparent that he is in his late 60’s, a man of a different time of that of his son, his health seems to be in good order, and his only family is Indy himself, as it is described through some offhand dialogue that his wife (Indy’s mother) died of an undisclosed illness years before “Temple Of Doom” (1984) takes place. As he is a Doctor like his son, it is safe to assume that he is educated to a university level. Past that, we discover that his home is a bit of a mess, suggestive of a lack of care for anything that doesn’t relate to his obsession over the Grail quest, and also suggestive of a man not concerned with everyday life since the passing of his wife, and the apparent disdain from his son.


His personal world is similar to his sons, which is another reason for their conflict. In fact, they are practically the same man according to Mandy Curtis writing for Birth.Movies.Death “Henry and Indy are the ultimate in dysfunctional relatives, in part because they’re practically the same man.” (Curtis, 2014) He is an experienced archaeologist, and imposes strict paternal authority on his son. The dualism at work in his character stem from his ins - experienced, wise, strict and single minded - and his outs - his keen intelligence, which in turn make him seem arrogant and cold towards his son. His wants, therefore, are obvious, as they are the drive of the movie; To find the Holy Grail, though this is a subversive want, as by the end, he finds something more valuable than the Grail, his son. At the beginning of the film his want to find the grail can be suggested to be his internal need for meaning and knowledge; at the conclusion however, his son heals his wounds with the grail that he no longer wants, his need to find meaning is still quenched by this as he find it in his role as a father.


Henry Jones Sr. has a few minor faults, the first being his fear of rats and the second being his arrogance. It could also be suggested that he contains a major or tragic fault, as ultimately his obsession with the Grail quest puts his friends and family in danger, and also results in his shooting at the hands of Nazi sympathiser and rival Grail seeker “Walter Donovan”. In the absence of the Grail McGuffin, Henry would have died, so it is interesting to consider his obsession a tragic fault.


Fig 4.

There is a poignant scene that suggests Henry is about to change his ways when Indy seemingly falls to his death along with a Tank and a Nazi officer. Henry stares into the chasm lamenting that he’s wasted the time he could have had with his son; Indy then joins him in looking down into the chasm, much to Henry’s disbelief. He quickly reverts back to his stoic and distant ways, perhaps in fear of showing Indy how much he actually cares. So, at the beginning of the scene, Henry starts off upset, emotional, finally about to show how much he cares for his son, and ends it on an even kilter, baiting us with the resolution we now want to see between the two characters.


The real conflict in “Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade” really stems from the father/son dynamic on display here. Because Indy never received the attention of his Father, and in fact, began to see him in an adversarial light, Indy sought to outdo and forget about his Father. It is Indy’s struggle against paternal authority and Henry’s strict insistence of making sure Indy is self reliant that drives the characters into conflict, his quest that pushes them towards the Nazi’s and the Holy Grail, and Henry’s respect becomes the true prize at the end of the film.


Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade” is an evocative exploration of father/son dynamics, framed within an exceptionally well put together pulp action narrative. It is in the sparks created by these two characters that the plot is driven forwards, and we are treated to a very believable and raw portrayal of reconciliation.


Bibliography


Brew, Simon “Revisiting Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade” denofgeek.com [online] http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/indiana-jones/29058/revisiting-indiana-jones-and-the-last-crusade [Accessed on 23/10/2016]


Curtis, Mandy “Henry and INDIANA JONES: Like Crusading Father, Like Crusading Son” birthmoviesdeath.com [online] http://birthmoviesdeath.com/2014/06/06/henry-and-indiana-jones-like-crusading-father-like-crusading-son [Accessed on 23/10/2016]


Illustrations

Fig 1. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade Poster. [image] Available at: http://cdn.collider.com/wp-content/uploads/indiana-jones-and-the-last-crusade-poster.jpg [Accessed 23/10/2016]

Fig 2. Hands Up. [image] Available at: http://cdn.collider.com/wp-content/uploads/indiana-jones-and-the-last-crusade1.jpg [Accessed 23/10/2016]

Fig 3. Indy, Marcus and Elsa in Venice. [image] Available at: https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-htktDY6dOBI/Uz0WSdAw0dI/AAAAAAAAEPk/FKxUl1FUmQQ/s1918/Screen%252520shot%2525202014-04-03%252520at%25252010.50.38%252520AM.png [Accessed 23/10/2016]

Fig 4. Henry. [image] Available at: http://www.bondsuits.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Indiana-Jones-and-The-Last-Crusade-Connery-Suit-4.jpg [Accessed 23/10/2016]


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

"The Big Lebowski" (1998) - Act Structure - A Review



Fig 1.

"The Big Lebowski" (1998) dir. Joel & Ethan Coen, centers on "The Dude" or Jeff Lebowski, a character that isn't so much the hero but rather, as Sam Elliot's Narrator puts it, someone who's there. His life consists of hanging out with his friends (Donny and Walter) at the bowling alley, drinking "White Russians" and enjoying his lackadaisical existence. Hired goons break into his house and mistake him for another Jeff Lebowski; a richer and far better off man that shares nothing but the name with his worser off namesake. The film is a pastiche on 1940's Film Noir, in that it parallels its tropes and structure, even going so far as to to share a similar name with one of its influences "The Big Sleep" (1946).

Fig 2.
Looking at "The Big Lebowski" in terms of act structure, particularly in utilizing the 5 act structure as detailed in Freytag's pyramid, it is perhaps easy to pinpoint the precise application of this type of structure. Importantly, however, is the notion that within "The Big Lebowski" the main plot is a ruse, a device that is used to move our characters from place to place. It is what happens between these main story beats  the seemingly random interactions and occurrences. Jake Hinkson, writing for CriminalElement.com "The hardboiled detective tends to go about his labors like Sisyphus rolling his rock up the hill only to see it roll back down again. By the time Lebowski has run its course, much has happened but none of it seems to really meaning anything" (Hinkson, 2014) which seemingly backs this notion that the plot is secondary. Joel Coen himself remarks in the DVD extras that "the plot is sort of secondary to the other things that are sort of going on in the piece". Indeed, it is summed up perfectly with the opening monologue "cause some- times there's a man--I won't say a hee-ro, 'cause what's a hee-ro?--but sometimes there's a man". (The Coen Brothers, 1998) It's a line that encapsulates the futility of The Dude and his interaction within the overarching plot.

Fig 3.
Act 1, The inciting incident here is the moment where the thugs break into The Dude's house, flush his head down the toilet and urinate on his rug. This moment tantalizes us with what we suppose is the main plot thread, Little Lebowski - The Dude - has been mistaken for 'Big' Lebowski. The Dude, learning this, goes to the mansion of 'Big' Lebowski and seeks compensation for his ruined rug, meeting Bunny, the wife of 'Big' Lebowski in the process. He steals one of 'Big's rugs, which incites the B-plot and , later on, pushes The Dude into the path of Maude Lebowski, Big's daughter from a previous marriage.

Act 2, The rising action concerns the thickening of the mystery. The Dude is contacted by 'Big' relaying the information that his wife is missing, then asking him to do him a favor by delivering ransom money to the kidnappers via a drop at a midnight meet. He takes Walter with him, who suggests they deliver a 'Ringer' instead, this being a suitcase full of dirty underwear instead of the supposed million dollar ransom bestowed into their care by 'Big'. Delivering the ringer to the kidnappers, they return home, only for The Dude's car - and the real ransom - to be stolen later that evening. Following on from this, The Dude seeks to find his car, encounters German Nihilists that are linked to Bunny via the porn industry, working under Jackie Treehorn, whom it is purported that Bunny Lebowski owes money to.

Act 3, The climax of the film melds the main plot and the B-plot where The Dude receives the revelation from Maude that her father has no real wealth, leading to his realisation that the whole plot was a fabrication of the 'Big' Lebowski, who, seeing that his wife had left, took the opportunity to extort money from his charity foundation. This harkens back to the inciting incident wherein the true nature of 'Big' is finally revealed; The thugs looking for money at the start of the film ultimately wouldn't have found any had they robbed the correct Lebowski, who in turn is revealed to be a crook himself.

Act 4, The falling action concerns the confrontation between The Dude, Donny, Walter and the Nihilists, who it is revealed never kidnapped Bunny, and thus were exploiting her status as missing in order to extort money from 'Big' Lebowski. The Dude informs them that he knows that Bunny has returned from her road trip, and thus their ruse is foiled, but during the confrontation, Donny suffers a heart attack and dies. After this, Walter and The Dude scatter his ashes and end up bickering when wind blows Donny's ashes into The Dude's face. Of Donny and his effect on the plot, William Robert Rich, writing for Screenplayhowto.com says "He fights off Nihilists with The Dude and Walter, only to die of a heart attack after the altercation. His funeral takes up over half of the epilogue. All that, and Donny’s total significance to the plot equals zero. You could take Donny out and it would still be the same story, but it wouldn’t be the same movie." (Rich, 2011) And it is again, this sense of the unimportant that permeates not only The Dude's story, but that of his supporting cast, in fact, most of the events herein.

Fig 4.
Act 5, The Resolution here is an odd one to ponder, as by the end of the story nothing has really changed, save for Donny's death. The Dude begins and ends the movie in the same places, his character remains unchanged, he has experienced no growth or ultimate truth that changes his life for the better. He doesn't even get a new rug. In a sense, this is a kind of anti-resolution, where instead of being frustrated at the lack of answers at the end, we're instead comforted by the prospect that The Dude is existing out there, somewhere, unchanged, uncompromising in his slothish behaviour. Reliable.

It is interesting to note that under the hood, "The Big Lebowski" has a pretty standard structure, though it is one that is made elusive by the Coen's insistence to muddy the waters of the plot by focusing on the unimportant, the mundane and the inconsequential. This is a technique of theirs that really instills their work with their own distinctive flavour, and it is a refreshing notion to experience a film that revels in the unimportance of the events it shows us. In that respect, It can be said that this experimentation is succesful, and as fandom surrounding the film would suggest a wholly enjoyable affair.

Bibliography

The Coen Brothers, The Big Lebowski. 1998. DVD.

Hinkson, Jake "The Noir Geek’s Guide to The Big Lebowski" CriminalElement.com [Online] http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2014/09/the-noir-geeks-guide-to-the-big-lebowski-coen-brothers-jake-hinkson [Accessed on 19/10/2016]

Rich, William Robert "The Big Lebowski" Screenplayhowto.com [Online] http://screenplayhowto.com/screenplay-analysis/the-big-lebowski-analysis/ [Accessed on 19/10/2016]

Illustrations

Fig 1. The Big Lebowski Poster. [image] Available at: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/66/fa/2e/66fa2e758f84343957c0b3240c5d8989.jpg [Accessed 19/10/2016]

Fig 2. The Dude. [image] Available at: http://cdn.hitfix.com/photos/6082455/big-lebowski-the-dude-smiling_article_story_large.jpg [Accessed 19/10/2016]

Fig 3. The Narrator. [image] Available at: http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/thebiglebowski/images/5/5b/The_stranger_2.jpg/revision/latest?cb=20111216192623 [Accessed 19/10/2016]

Fig 4. The Gang. [image] Available at: http://images.mentalfloss.com/sites/default/files/styles/article_640x430/public/587698547.png [Accessed 19/10/2016]






Saturday, 15 October 2016

"Pikatti" - Screenplay




So I thought I'd post this here as well as over at the Sugar Cube. Studios blog just to cover all my bases. This script is a response to advice given by Alan in our group meeting last week, taking on board his suggestion to have the Snow Fox put the dog collar on himself.

I'm quite happy with the direction this project is going in, We've got some really nice artwork being created which can be seen on the studio blog, as well as some preliminary soundscapes. All in all, an exciting first few weeks of progress :)

Character - Cowboy influence map

Following on from my post concerning the influence map for the "Outlaw" character, here's one for the hero character. There isn't much variation in terms of clothing, only that it is usually a lot brighter than that of their villainous counterparts, plus the build of these characters tends to be more slight.

From here, I'll be experimenting with both characters shapes to properly evoke the character suggested by the sound clip and world choice. 


Character - Outlaw influence map

Now that my idea has been given the go ahead, I've started making solid plans on what I want the Outlaw character in my character project look like. Within the audio file itself, there's clear instruction on the colours needed within the design of the characters themselves, but what I've looked at here is merely the broad strokes at what signifies the "villainous outlaw" (and in some cases below, the anti-hero) within the Western genre. 


Friday, 14 October 2016

Character - Thoughts, Initial Reaction and Branding


Okay, So here goes. After starting the character project 'proper' a few weeks ago, I've neglected to document it's progression. So, to bring you up to speed, I received "Audio clip #10" and "Saloon (Western / Sci-Fi), Antiques Shop / Roadshow as my potential worlds.

As you can probably guess from the branding I went with the Western setting.


Below is a transcript of the audio clip. 


My ideas surrounding this scenario haven't really changed from my first reaction. The audio clip features two men - one quite weasley sounding whilst the other sounds like a square jawed american hero - arguing over the colour of their clothes. Immediately this screamed to me about seeing two really grizzly and gruff Cowboys squaring up to each other, the anticipation of a fight in the aire, and then the complete opposite happens; instead, they rather effeminately squabble over clothing. 

Over the weekend I will be further exploring the audio clip and how it can inform my creative decision when it comes to personifying these characters. I've already created some influence maps which I will be sharing shortly. 

Till next time, 

Ciao. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

"Blade Runner" (1982) - Character Archetypes - A review


Fig 1.

"Blade Runner" (1982) directed by Ridley Scott, based on the short story "Do Android's Dream of Electric Sheep?" (1968) by Phillip K. Dick,  is a cyberpunk noir-thriller set in 2019 which centers on Rick Deckard, a retired Blade Runner - a detective that hunts down rogue androids and terminates them - as he is brought back into the fold and tasked with tracking down 4 rogue androids - or "Replicants" in this case.

Fig 2.
"Blade Runner" is an interesting example to focus on when aiming to analyse different character archetypes at play, as they are not so obvious at first glance. Deckard is the obvious hero here, he's the main character, our viewpoint and the one with whom our sympathies rest with as the film plays out. What's interesting here, is that we see very little evidence of Deckard's ordinary world, in fact, it is only really alluded to within dialogue. Kyle Anderson, writing for "Nerdist" motions that "He’s the typical cipher, a character about whom the audience knows little. This had to have been intentional. As a reference to the hardboiled detective noir of the ’40s and ’50s, Deckard is the man without a past and largely without a future. We truly learn nothing about his situation from the film other than he plays piano and daydreams about unicorns." (Anderson, 2015) This is important when contending the question of Deckard being a replicant, so it seems as though stylistically this was done on purpose to suggest Deckard came from nowhere, and, mirroring this - the return to the ordinary world in which we see Deckard and Rachael walk out of the door, on the way to some faintly alluded to "place up north" before cutting to black. 

Fig 3.
Rachael, Tyrell's secretary and unbeknownst to her, a "Nexus 6 Replicant", occupies a selection of archetypes here, in that she is not only Deckard's ally but also his lover, and subsequently cut from the cloth of the 'Maiden' archetype; she displays a certain sense of innocence when we first see her, which is lost when Deckard reveals to her that she is a replicant. It is perhaps in these first few moments with Rachael, that Deckard encounters his first "Threshold Guardian", the Voight-Kampff test serves as the first of Deckard's trials.

Though there's evidence that points to Tyrell being both the "Mother" and "Father" here, there is also evidence within the film that Rachael could be considered to inhabit the archetype of "Mother".  Mark Lachniel comments that "Through the story, Rachel takes on the Role of the Archetypal mother. Despite the fact that she is a Replicant, she is clearly a force for peace and good in the story. Rachel, despite her supposed lack of humanity, saves Deckert's life. This act further fortifies the premise that she acts as a life-giving influence in the story." (Lachniel, 1998) It certainly seems as though these archetypes are giving us a sense that Rachael is a symbol of ultimate femininity, someone that Deckard wants and vies to understand, but - due to the decreased lifespan - will never have. Lachniel also comments on the biblical qualities of the name Rachael "Rachel's role as a mother figure is clearly reinforced by her precisely chosen name. In the biblical accounts, Rachel is found as the wife of Jacob. In the account, god found that "Rachel [was] barren" and unable to bear children. This is clearly indicative of the vital missing element of the Replicants - the ability to reproduce their own" (Lachniel, 2012) adding another dimension her persona of grand femininity. 

Tyrell can be seen to be both the "Father" and "Mother" archetype, the difference here being that the import is flipped from Deckard to Roy Batty; Tyrell is Batty's sole creator, and therefore inhabits both the mother and father role at the same time. Indeed, this is perfectly showcased in the scene where Batty confronts his maker, Tyrell. Seeking comfort and reason from his maker, Roy ultimately finds that Tyrell is an empty god, offering him no way of escaping his oncoming doom, no sooner as he finds no reason to his existence, he decides to kill Tyrell, ultimately attaining some form of atonement with his father/mother/creator in the process. 

The band of Replicants themselves are comprised of a few archetypes, it's a mix that ultimately reinforces their importance to the story at large, but also showcases how dangerous they are. In basic terms, they represent the "Child"; interesting to consider as they're all outwardly 'adult'. The sense of childlike innocence is generated by the fact that replicants have a built in lifespan of 4 years, and because of that are emotionally young and unable to rationalise the vastness of the emotional spectrum they're awakening to. The innocence isn't characterised here for purposes of comedy, but rather for naivety, their inability to handle their impending deaths forcing them to lash out unpredictably. 

Roy Batty, leader and supposed "Mentor" of the rogue replicants, appears to be Deckard's "Shadow", in that he's the closest thing to a traditional villain in the film, showcasing some truly brutal tendencies, yet he also mirrors a lot of phobias given life within the film. Notions of what it means to be human run rife here, and the battle between Deckard's emotionally detached persona and the raw and untethered despair of Roy really showcase the differences between the two.

Image result for roy batty
Fig 4.
The "Herald" of the film is a shared role of two characters, "Bryant", a detective that forces Deckard out of retirement and into the paths of Roy Batty and the rogue replicants. This call to arms serves as the jumping off point into the larger events of the movie, but also serve to paint Deckard as the reluctant hero, one who actively questions his own actions. The other character is that of "Gaff", the shady detective who initially pulls Deckard into the meeting with Bryant, but also serves as Deckard's 'Virgil'-esque guide throughout the film. Jay Dyer, writing for "JaysAnalysis" says "We don’t learn much about Gaff, yet he does something very significant. Throughout the film, as he leads Deckard, he leaves origami figurines as symbolic indicators that reveal the method to Deckard himself." (Dyer, 2012) and it is true to say that Gaff definitely seems to be guiding Deckard, to where? to what? Ultimately it doesn't matter, unless you lend credence to the idea that Deckard is indeed a replicant. Gaff is also a character that inhabits more than one archetype, which is impressive for a character that has so few lines, he can be seen to be the "Trickster", though not in any obvious way, it is indeed, because of the breadcrumb trail of Origami that Gaff leaves for Deckard, that displays this. If one chooses to believe that Deckard is a replicant, then they can be seen as gentle reminders that Deckard is living a lie, Gaff's attempts at letting him know that he knows. But with the convoluted nature of the many different versions of the film, this can only be assessed by the viewer.

Ultimately, "Blade Runner" is an interesting specimen that excels at combining character archetypes in order to push the narrative into more meaningful places. It is no secret that Blade Runner is stylistically sound, but it is through the use of this complex system of 'archetype juggling' that keeps the characters fresh, believable and three dimensional. 

Bibliography

Anderson, Kyle "SCHLOCK & AWE: BLADE RUNNER’S RICK DECKARD IS THE LEAST HEROIC HERO" Nerdist.com [online] http://nerdist.com/schlock-awe-blade-runners-rick-deckard-is-the-least-heroic-hero/ [Accessed 10/10/2016]

Dyer, Jay "Blade Runner: Indepth Esoteric Analysis" jaysanalysis.com [online] https://jaysanalysis.com/2012/05/15/blade-runner-indepth-esoteric-analysis/ [Accessed 10/10/2016]

Lachniel, Mark "An Analysis Of Blade Runner" br-insight.com [online] http://www.br-insight.com/an-analysis-of-blade-runner [Accessed 10/10/2016]

Illustrations

Fig 1. Blade Runner Poster. [image] Available at: http://www.impawards.com/1982/posters/blade_runner_xlg.jpg [Accessed 10/10/2016]

Fig 2. Deckard Aims. [image] Available at: https://pmcvariety.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/bladerunner_sequel.jpg [Accessed on 10/10/2016]

Fig 3. Rachael smoking. [image] Available at: http://s3.amazonaws.com/digitaltrends-uploads-prod/2016/08/blade-runner-rachel-smoking.png [Accessed 10/10/2016]

Fig 4. Roy Batty Painting. [image] Available at: http://img12.deviantart.net/5e9d/i/2014/293/b/4/roy_batty___blade_runner_by_danielmurrayart-d83imgm.jpg [Accessed 10/10/2016]

Maya Tutorials - 2D rigging, complete.

Okay, so I dedicated most of Sunday to completing this tutorial and here is the end result - A complete 'left side'! I'm quite chuffed with how he's turned out. Next on my list is to start the Pipeline 01 line of tutorials. 



Friday, 7 October 2016

Maya Tutorials - Poma

Just finished the "Poma" tutorial, which turned out to be really enjoyable. The character itself was a joy to work with, and I really feel like I've learned something I can take with me into other projects, and perhaps something which I can adapt for when I revisit my "Germ Warfare" project from last year.

I'm still part way through the 2D rigging tutorial, which will be conquered this weekend, and I'll have hopefully made a start on the Head modelling tutorial that just went up.

Til' then,

Ciao.

Monday, 3 October 2016

"The Matrix" (1999) - A review (Hero's Journey)



Fig 1.

The “Wachowski’s”seminal science fiction film “The Matrix” (1999) was an immense success in terms of showcasing new techniques in cinema, as well as offering a new contemporary vision of ‘the hero’s journey’. Chris Richardson describes “The Matrix” as having “...much in common with Star Wars both in terms of content and the details of their creation. Both created influential new technologies in order to express their vision” (Richardson, 2003). Centering on Neo/Thomas Anderson, an office worker by day and hacker extraordinaire by night, as he ponders a question - What is the Matrix? This question leads to a realisation that the world he inhabits isn’t ‘real’; instead it is a computer simulation created by machines in order to keep the mind of humans locked away, rendering humanity ignorant as the machines harness energy produced naturally by the human body in order to sustain themselves.

It is perhaps fair to say of “The Matrix”, that this is about as archetypically close to the structure of the “Hero’s Journey” as a film can get, indeed, the very notion of Neo becoming the “One” - the most powerful being in the universe of “The Matrix” - is referenced several times in dialogue, as well as the driving force behind the plot. Neo becoming the “Hero”, awakening his universal awareness and saving the human race is the crux of the film. It’s also worth mentioning, that Neo’s ordinary world is signified by one of his dual persona’s. That of “Thomas Anderson”, a seemingly normal office worker who emits a sense of boredom at his own circumstance. Whereas his “Neo” persona provides escape from his mundane existence as he hacks his way to notoriety and gains the attention of “Morpheus” - Neo’s mentor, “supernatural aid”, and agent of change. Interestingly, in etymology Morpheus is the word for the greek god of dreams, which is another not so subtle hint at Neo’s journey focusing on awakenings.

Neo’s call to adventure is entirely unsubtle; Writing for matrixcommunity.org in a post titled “Neo's Journey: The Mythic Structure of The Matrix,” a blogger called Igpajo states that “Vogler (Christopher) says "The Call to Adventure establishes the stakes of the game, and makes clear the hero's goal: to win the treasure or the lover, to get revenge or to right a wrong, to achieve a dream, confront a challenge or change a life." Most of those apply to Neo. His goal is to discover what the Matrix is, to answer his call as "the one", to confront the challenge of the Matrix and change all human lives.” (Igpajo, 1999) His call - “Follow the White Rabbit” - is a reference to Lewis Carroll'sAlice in Wonderland” (1865) in which the titular character, Alice, enters Wonderland through a rabbit hole. The White Rabbit in this case, is a tattoo on the arm of a member of a goth entourage whom Neo is doing some hacker work for; Neo, noticing the tattoo decides to do just that, where he ultimately encounters Trinity in a club.

Neo could be seen to have two moments where he “refuses the call”. The first being when he tries to escape the ‘Agents’ in his office, the second when he is offered the chance to meet Morpheus after having the “bug” removed from his stomach. Ultimately this culminates in a third choice Neo has to make in order to escape the Matrix, passing the first threshold as Neo chooses the “blue pill” and wakes up in the real world.

The moment where Neo experiences the “belly of the whale” are his moments shared with the crew of the Nebuchadnezzar as Morpheus brings him up to speed on the state of the real world, but no sooner is this done, Neo is put into training, giving him a literal “road of trials” - and in this case, 3 of them, the fight with Morpheus, the jump training and the explanation of ‘The Agents’, this third simulation is particularly important as it introduces us to the danger that the Matrix poses to people like Neo; as he walks through a crowd in the simulation he becomes distracted by a woman in a red dress - significant as the “Woman as Temptress” - he is swiftly reminded that if he buys into the illusion that he is still ‘of the Matrix’ then it will surely destroy him. Once the simulation is over and Neo returns to the real world, Neo meets “the goddess”, personified here by Trinity, as she brings him food after a particularly nasty turn in a training simulation makes Neo vomit on the floor and pass out.

In many ways, Morpheus can be attributed to be a father figure to Neo, as he is responsible for Neo’s awakening in both the real world and the Matrix. However, it is interesting to question the very nature of the Matrix and the way humans are now ‘grown’ instead of born conventionally mean that Neo has no Father in the traditional sense. But perhaps Neo can be seen to be a child of the Matrix itself? Its rules and existence personified as a paternal authority over not only Neo, but every child of The Matrix. As such, Neo’s journey is about reconciling himself with the Matrix, its control and what it means to be “The One”.

Speaking of “The One”, Neo’s apotheosis is much later in the film, saved for the third act wherein Neo and Trinity rush to rescue a captured Morpheus (The ultimate boon), who is being held by “The Agents”. In rescuing Morpheus, Neo achieves something which the characters refer to over the course of the movie as “Impossible”, thereby cementing his godhood in-universe and the burgeoning nature of both his awareness and skills.

Image result for neo
Fig 2.
From then, the remaining steps of “the hero’s journey” play out in quick succession, Neo’s “refusal of return” is very much in the moment where, instead of running from Agent Smith, he turns and faces him, beginning to believe in his growing power; His “magic flight” becoming the race Neo and Smith enter to an exit point from the Matrix. Running parallel to this are events in the real world, wherein the machines have sent Sentinels to destroy the Nebuchadnezzar and her crew - the only way of destroying these creatures being a costly EMP device that cannot be initiated without killing anyone currently ‘plugged in’ to the Matrix. In a particularly tense sequence of events, Neo just makes it to the exit point when he is shot and killed by Smith, just as the Sentinels reach and begin to destroy the Nebuchadnezzar. With Neo dead, Trinity explains that he cannot be dead because the Oracle told her that she would fall in love with “The One” and that she is in love with Neo, so he must be “The One”, sealing it with a kiss that revives Neo in the Matrix, very much becoming a moment of “help from without”.

At this point, Neo is “The One”, he has attained ultimate understanding of the universe and with it, ultimate power over his surroundings. And once he has displayed this power by destroying Agent Smith, he returns home - to the real world - thus crossing the “return threshold”. Richardson describes this moment as “The final aspect of the hero’s journey is the return. After his separation from the world of the Matrix and his initiation into truth, Neo, like all great heroes, like the bodhisattva eschewing nirvana for others’ liberation, returns to the world.” (Richardson, 2003). Neo then demonstrates that he is a master of two worlds by returning to the Matrix sometime afterwards, promising an unseen listener - but actually just addressing the audience - that he will free them all. He is forever changed, Thomas Anderson is dead, and Neo, as “The One”, exists.

Fig 3. 



The interesting thing about “The Matrix” above other typical examples of “the hero’s journey” is it’s clear signposting of said journey, within the dialogue itself. In going about it this way, the Wachowski’s have managed to insinuate that, in this case, “the hero’s journey” isn’t just a methodology used to generate a story, but rather, the story itself.


Bibliography

“Igpajo” “Neo's Journey: The Mythic Structure of The Matrix” matrixcommunity.org [online] http://www.matrixcommunity.org/archives/WB/002288.html [Accessed 03/10/2016]

Richardson, Chris “The Matrix as the Hero's Journey” theosophical.org [online] http://www.matrixcommunity.org/archives/WB/002288.html [Accessed 03/10/2016]



Illustrations

Fig 1. The Matrix Poster. [image] Available at: http://www.impawards.com/1999/posters/matrix_ver1.jpg [Accessed 03/10/2016]


Fig 2. Neo's Understanding. [image] Available at: http://download.gamezone.com/uploads/image/data/1201507/article_post_width_Thomas-Anderson-aka-Neo-the-Matrix-1024x516.jpg [Accessed 03/10/2016]


Fig 3. The One. [image] Available at: http://assets.vg247.com/current//2016/04/matrix_neo.jpg [Accessed 03/10/2016]