March 30, 2017

Mental Ray: Part 4

Mental Ray Part 4: Physical Sun & Sky (Updated for Maya 2016)

Mental Ray: Part 6-11

Mental Ray Part 6: Mia Material X Shader

Mental Ray Part 7: High Dynamic Range (HDR) Lighting (Updated for Maya 2016)

Mental Ray Part 8: Displacement Maps

Mental Ray Part 9: Ambient Occlusion

Mental Ray Part 10: Motion Blur

Mental Ray Part 11: Mental Ray Proxies

March 17, 2017

Film Review: Persepolis

Persepolis, 2007, is an animated film directed by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud. It is a coming of age film, a film about Satrapi’s life and experiences in a pre and post-revolutionary Iran.
The style of Persepolis is very distinct, and unusual for the autobiographical tone of the film. It is predominantly black and white, and looks very much like a graphic novel because of the stark black and white lines and contrast. Although unusual this theme ties into the films roots, as it was adapted from the comic book series by an artist Marjane Satrapi, who also co directed and co wrote the film.
Film Poster
The film has a very elegant and classic style, and is also very funny and also incredibly emotional. It starts off in a coloured world, but then transforms into a black and white story as we learn about the story of the characters past. It is very illustrative and uses a lot of collage, but at the same time retains a very simple and sharp look, for example their faces consist of only a few lines, and their actions. Most of the detail is in the backgrounds, where various pieces of collaged buildings, textures and materials are found and layered.
"It's striking how much emotion Satrapi is able to convey through these blocky drawings, which are simple but powerfully chosen." (LaSalle, 2008)

March 15, 2017

Film Review: Spirited Away

Figure 1: Movie Poster
Spirited Away (2001) is a film by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, produced by studio ghibli. It is a animated fantasy adventure film, and is about a young 10 year old girl, Chihiro, who finds herself in a strange fantasy world and is trying to find her parents, who have been turned into pigs. Although a japanese anime film, it is extremely popular in the West, and has helped Studio Ghibli achieve a worldwide audience.
This film is a mash up of asian and western cultures and influences, for example there is a lot of asian mythology but also western influences. The look of Spirited Away is beautiful and peaceful, it is full of calm naturalistic landscapes, which all look like a watercolour. The film looks very appealing to audiences of all ages, as it is bright and colourful, but not over the top or garish.
Figure 2: Film Still
“Miyazaki's luminescent, gorgeously realized world is relatively safe for children, but it also acknowledges blood, pain, dread, and death in ways that other animated films wouldn't dare.” (Robinson, 2013)

This quote by Robinson proves that it is recognised that although Spirited Away is a child-friendly popular animation, it has obvious acknowledgements of the bad sides of life and references to horrors of the world.
For example there are underlying themes of prositution and brothels. In the bath house where Chihiro works, spririts come to replenish themselves, and there are many theories that this bath house represents a brothel. Inside the bath house, we meet many other young women who work there bathing these creatures, and they all are given new names, including Chihiro. In the bath house we meet another character, an old spirit called No-Face. This spirit follows Chihiro around and their interactions become more and more sinister, and he keeps offering her tokens and money, perhaps to buy her.This one is an event, a huge accomplishment in the world of traditional animation and a powerful rebuttal to the notion that films for children must be simplistic and visually dull. (Horn, 2014)

March 14, 2017


I made these very miniature flowers out of clay and wire to experiment different techniques for the 'Enchanted Garden' set and also for costumes.

March 13, 2017

ADAPTATION B: Modelling Techniques #1

Clay Model of a sketch of Amata
I made this model out of NewPlast plasticine, as a simple and generic featureless base to test out different shapes and looks that I like, and also to model clothes and costumes on. I modelled it from an early sketch of a character that I created. As my outcome is going to be a 3D printed model with a piece of set I have started early on sculpting and experimenting with clay and other materials to see what different things I can achieve with it.
Body Sheet

I started out with a VERY simple wire armature, so I can achieve different poses and flexibility when I am trying out different costume designs and re-sculpting the character.

Simple wire armature
Air drying clay model
Fibre-like strands created from hot glue
I have also been experimenting with different materials and techniques to create environment pieces and costumes, for example clay flowers and foliage, paper, origami, hot glue and wire etc.
Petals and flowers, foliage

March 01, 2017

Film Review: Sita Sings the Blues

Sita Sings the Blues (2008) is an animated film which is directed, written, animated and produced by nina Paley. This film is a mash up of stories, which all run alongside each other, one about Nina Paley’s life, an autobiographical story about heartbreak. The second story is the old story of Rama and Sita, and all of the troubles that Sita goes through in her life. The third is a narrative of the story of Rama and Sita, narrated by a group of people who humorously talk about how the old mythical story doesn’t quite add up and how unfair Rama is treated.
Each part of these sequences are animated differently and uniquely. Her own autobiographical story is very messy and fast, is is always moving and looks as if it has been scribbled down. It plays jazzy music over the top, and it is clear it is set in modern times, as there is a big influence of buildings, planes and technology. The colours in this story are dull and cold, and this story completley takes you out of the previous styory of Rama and Sita. 
Figure 1: Film Still
"Nina Paley's animated marvel mixes a personal tale of romantic woe with a fabulous, often hilarious, recounting of the Sanskrit epic fable The Ramayana." (Kennedy, 2009)
The second story of Rama and Sita is colourful and very graphical, extremely different to the previous. It is also a musical and has many songs which are old songs in history and they are worked in to fit the story of the animation.
Figure 2: Film Still
The third style is silhouette animations which look like ancient wall carvings. They are of people, and they slightly move, interact with each other and play out what each other are saying through silhouettes, collages and paintings. It is a good break from the musical numbers and stories of heartbreak that is the content of the rest of the film, as it is very funny and relaxing. However different these styles are, they all work together in collage and make a very successful and amusing film.
Figure 3: Film Still