Monday, 24 October 2016

Alien (1979) - Film Review

ALIEN Film Review – “in space no one can hear you scream”

Figure 1. 

The film tells a story about a lonely spaceship that is dragging a refinery and  twenty million tons of ore back to earth.  The spaceship needs to land unexpectedly due to strange transmission signals being received, as  a result the spaceship is slightly damaged.  When the crew exit the spaceship they discover an alien spacecraft and find a large creature as well as some eggs in a chamber. At various points throughout the film each crew member is attacked by the alien creature.
The film’s most iconic image is probably that of the monster bursting through the chest of one of the crew members. H.R Giger created the monster which was part dragon, part machine, part erotic fantasy.  The eyeless monster with a long head and neck, powerful tail and two pairs of dinosaur like teeth first appears as a face hugging creature that causes a crew member to become unconscious before bursting from his chest.
In an article written for the Washington Post following Giger’s death, detail of the filming of that scene emerges.
‘In perhaps the film’s most shocking scene, the embryonic monster comes to life by bursting through the chest of one of the crew members of the Nostromo, played by John Hurt. The scene was shot in a single take, but the cast was not fully informed of what to expect. The special-effects department had filled a box with animal entrails and offal acquired from a butcher.
At the precise moment when the slimy creature emerged, an air cartridge was released, causing the exploding viscera to splatter the cast and crew. The screams heard in the film were real’. 1. 
Giger described his own art as being biomechanical as it combined both human and technological elements.  His designs were also heavily influenced by genitalia.   I am intrigued by  this influence.   In many ways, Alien is actually a disturbingly sexual film. Alien screenwriter Dan O’Bannon explained, “I’m going to attack the audience. I’m going to attack them sexually.”  He does just that. 

‘With O’Bannon writing the script and Giger designing both the set and the monster, it should come as no surprise that Alien is basically one big metaphor for sex, pregnancy, and rape. The entire movie is filled with phallic and vaginal imagery, from gaping doorways to penis-shaped ships. The Xenomorph itself has an incredibly phallic head, and its long, stiff second mouth—used to penetrate prey—is more-or-less the world’s most dangerous erection’. 2. 

In terms of computer generated imagery, animators created miniature surfaces and placed them next to children to provide the perspective that created size and depth.  The illusion of long corridors was created using mirrors.  Alien pushed the boundaries of CGI by making 3D wireframe rasters.  This technique resulted in more detailed CGI effects.  The spaceship, Nostromo’ computer monitors showed terrains that included mountains as wireframed images.
Figure. 2

Figure. 3

Alien is paced well – it takes its time, it builds the suspense and uses silence.  It has been called the most influential of modern action pictures.  It took about fourteen weeks to film.  It is disturbing for the reasons discussed but at the same time compelling, shocking and dramatic.
Bibliography Images:
Figure 1. Andrew Dyce, (2015) Inspace no one can hear you scream,
Figure 2 and 3. Greatest Visual and Special Effects (F/X) - Milestones in Film 1975-1979

Face Cube - In Steps, at a Dutch Angle!

Life Drawing - lesson 5

Thursday, 20 October 2016

My Crit Presentation

Animated Gif for Interior Establishing Shot

Animated Gif for Exterior Low Angle Shot

Animated Gif for Exterior Establishing Shot

2001: A Space Odyssey (Bibliography awaits)

Rob Ager describes the film as being ‘artistically and technically stunning’.

The film is confusing in its story line and the view struggles to understand what and how they are seeing the galaxy.  However the film’s main strengths are the stunning visual effects that won Kubrick his only Oscar. 

It is convincing in its portrayal of space.  You can hear the silence and the viewer feels that they can touch the darkness.  These two elements alone create the mood and the sense of isolation.

Dialogue in the film is minimal.  Instead the musical accompaniment plays the role of narrator and introduces each evolutionary step. 

John Mahoney was the original Hollywood Film reviewer.  He wrote:

‘There are over 200 special effects, inclusive of miniatures with perfect multiple insets of control personnel in action. It is an incredible, concert accomplishment, a projection as unreal and as convincing as the awesome realities of present-day NASA and JPL projects’.

The film is slow and fundamentally is about space travel.  It plays behind a black screen, which we are now told is the monolith, whose purpose is to represent the screen on which the film is being shown.  The monoliths are actually 1 x 4 x 9 in dimension--1 squared by 2 squared by 3 squared.  These details are contained in Arthur C Clarke’s book which also reveals that the monoliths are alien supercomputers capable of self replication. The Monoliths link the primeval, futuristic, and mystical sections of the film.

When this film was made in the 1960s,  special effects were still largely to do with model-making and clever cinematography.  This film however was clever because:
·      The camera was controlled mechanically.  This is evidenced during the opening scene the camera pans up from the pock marked surface of the moon in the foreground. However the perspective is from behind the moon and in the distance the Sun rises over the crescent shaped earth into the vastness of space.  For a moment the earth, moon and sun is aligned
·      They used the slit-scan process invented by a 23 year old animator to create the star-gate sequence in the film.  
This type of photography uses a technique where a moveable slide, in which a slit has been cut, is inserted between the camera and the subject to be photographed.  The cinematographer is then able to create a psychedelic flow of colours.  Today this effect would be created through computer animation. 

Beautiful images of space were captured and the tension was created  using one point perspective.  Their influence came from working closely with NASA and the realism of space was well and truly created.  However, for me the film was difficult to follow, this may be due to the fact that the images of space were so life like that I as a viewer became absorbed in its creation.

Reflective Statement

I am not going to pretend that this project has been easy because it has not.  I have come on to this course with little or no knowledge of Photoshop and I have at times been stressed and anxious beyond belief.

As I reflect today on the journey I have travelled I am reminded of the many things that I have learnt to do.  Some of these things have been technical hurdles that I have overcome, others have been more personal achievements.  The use of Photoshop and its many tools together with using the graphics tablet for the first time has broadened my understanding of how digital art is created.  I have been fascinated by the boundless opportunities that colour gives to create mood and atmosphere.

Researching concept artists and producing thumbnail sketches  has helped me to show how paintings develop and the importance of their planning.  There have been many times when I have  believed that  I could create the perfect image straight away.  Research has proved invaluable as I have tried to convey my own city and the influence maps has been vital in helping to develop my project.

More personally I have learnt, often the hard way about how to manage my time and self critique my own work.  At the same time I have discovered the benefits of giving and receiving feedback through the blog system.  Being unafraid to make mistakes has been a huge challenge for me - I believed at least for the first 4 weeks that everything had to be perfect even at the first attempt.  And so, I have learnt a lot.  A lot about art, a lot about concept art, a lot about computer animated art and a lot about me!

Invisible Cities 'Art of Sophronia'

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Exterior Low Angle shot for Sophronia (so far)

Have just started this painting and I'm not sure on the composition? Does this meet the criteria of an Exterior Low Angle shot?

Exterior Establishing Shot of Sophronia (so far)

After blood, sweat and tears.... I am finally happy with this shot!

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Life Drawing - Lesson 4

As usual, we had 20 minuets to draw the first pose. Rather than just focusing on the lines, I really tried hard to incorporate shadow into my drawing. This helped me create more of a 3D image.
Moving onto the second drawing, we had around 20-30 minutes to complete this one. I always prefer the longer time periods, as I feel it gives me more of a chance to fully observe the life model. Using the same method as before, we were asked to add in the scenery as well. Such as the fabric draping over the objects underneath. This is when my drawings really began to become three dimensional. Simply by adding in the foreground, mid-ground and background gave my drawing a whole new look.

The next set of drawings left me feeling uncomfortable,due to the small amount of time we had. However looking back at my old drawings I can see a massive improvement in terms of tone, perspective and proportion. I even stepped away from from 3B pencil and used a pro-marker this time!

Here I wanted to have a go at drawing just the hands and feet of the life model. Something I have little experience with! Although not quite the way I wanted it to look, I feel I have the right shapes but the detail is something I need to work on.