Saturday, 19 December 2009

Avatar (A Review)

14 years in the making and the largest budget of a film ever, estimated at $230,000,000 and boasting the greatest CGI effects and animation of all time, does James Cameron's first film in 12 years, 'Avatar' meet our expectations?

My short answer, would be 'yes', but the film has received mixed reviews...

There is absolutely no doubt that the visuals are the best seen in just about any film. And it was worth the wait. It is clear how much our ability to create believable graphics and computer-generated characters has increased ten-fold. I say 'believable' simply because the content is of course fictional and I am leaving doubt as to whether perfectly photo-realistic graphics can actually exist or be accomplished. Certainly, Avatar does a very convincing job, but at the beginning it is obvious the imagery is a complex hybrid of live-action on green screen, matte painting, motion capture, computer-generated imagery and animation.

But saying that, as soon as you see the 'Na'vi' creatures in action, you are immediately drawn in. I was spellbound by how they looked and the way they moved. Seeing the likeness in a Sigourney Weaver Na'vi was particularly stunning. They have real expressions too! Unlike previous realistic computer-generated films such as Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, where characters have stiff movement and blank expression a lot of the time.

Some argue the opposite of course, but I don't see why this level of detail would be ignored so easily.  Of course, nothing like this could perfectly duplicate human life, but the characters are a different species altogether and this is the best example of computer graphics I've ever seen. The lighting and texture is so real and fleshed-out, far better than previous attempts that just look flat, rigid and completely "artificial". The claim that the public won't be able to tell the difference, is far-fetched, but you do read them as real characters as the film progresses and not just puppets. You forget that they are digital.

It's not just the characters however, but also the backgrounds, creatures and effects. The environments in long shots are epic and the glowing scenery at night time is absolutely beautiful. Watching this in 3D is a must, by the way. It has come a long way since those red and green plastic glasses!!

As has been highlighted by many reviewers, with all this money going into visuals, will the story hold it's ground? Thankfully, it does. Though the storyline has been told dozens of times before, (similarities can be drawn even to Disney's Pochontas!) Cameron brings fresh originality to the setting and characters that keeps you gripped for the whole 162 minutes (that's two and a half hours) with fast and punchy pacing that slows down in all the right places.

Like any film of this quality, certain sacrifices have to be made to make it 'safe' so that it will make a profit. And Avatar has a big profit to make! Thus, the story has a tendency to be predictable just before important plot points. Thankfully, these aren't too obvious from the beginning and there is plenty of guessing throughout the film. I do congratulate Cameron for telling this story so expertly so as to keep your attention for the full time, personally I have a tendency to 'space out' on shorter 2 hour films, but this had me for the entire time, whether it was the character interaction, the beautiful visuals/animation or the impact of a particular event in the story; I was gripped.

I loved this film, I consider it the best one I've seen all year and must-see for anyone with an interest in film, animation, Sci-fi and storytelling full of action, suspense and even a little romance and comedy.

For another spoiler-free view of this film that explains it much better than I ever could, please check out this video!

Bye for now! =)

Where The Wild Things Are (A Review)

Where The Wild Things Are is a brand new film directed by Spike Jonze, based on the popular 30-page children's book of the same name by Maurice Sendak. But don't be mistaken by assuming this is a film for kids. Spike Jonze (Director of 'Being John Malkovich' and various music videos) does not patronise the audience and creates a much darker and spookier film like the original book suggests.

We are introduced to a young boy named Max. His world is full of imagination and creativity and he wants nothing more than to live his childhood to the full, but sadly he has no one to share it with. His sister ignores him and his mother has other things to worry about. Sounds typical? But no, the way this subject has been tackled is totally real and unique. The way the characters are filmed, their emotions and what they say is unlike anything I've seen in the beginning of a film before.

An interesting note... The very first shot shows Max chasing his dog around in his 'wolf' costume. I didn't realise this when watching but my friends told me later that he was actually chasing the dog with a fork and you don't see the unfortunate animal in the film after this scene... Hmm...

After falling out with his sister when he is trapped in his own igloo and hurt by her friends, and getting into a row with his mother and biting her in front of her new boyfriend, troubled Max runs away and into the forest. Here he discovers a boat which he sails to the world of the 'Wild Things'. The Wild Things accept him as their 'king' and Max finally has friends to play games with.

The film does not have a specific storyline, if anything it's just a sequence of random events past this point. The characters are set up perfectly, but once we reach the other world, it's all about the characters and their development. Each Wild Thing represents a different part of Max, although the outcast girl creature, KW, represents his relationship with his sister and mother.

This creates fascinating tensions between characters as, in a sense, Max is building friendships and/or rivalries with different aspects of himself and you can see this develop throughout the film. The roles of Carol, Judith, KW and Alexander are particularly important to Max's self-realisation.

Visually the film is beautiful. All of the creatures are played by real people in costumes with some digital effects on the faces to enhance emotions. When these guys cry, you feel sadness with them, and when they are angry and rampaging they are very scary indeed! The film uses wonderful earthy colours and it has a traditional grainy look to it which stays true to the original artwork.

I didn't particularly like how the Wild Things first appeared, I don't know how they were shown in the book, but I prefer how we first see Carol in the trailer, as opposed to the film where they are not left very ambiguous. Speaking of the trailer, the use of music is amazing. The original trailer music, 'Wake Up' by 'Arcade Fire' is a glorious and uplifting song which fits the themes of this film perfectly and has such an independent feel to it. We don't see this song in the film, but the original music orchestrated for it reflects the feelings in this song and is just as superbly written, if not quite as good.

Overall, if you love to see a film with something different to offer with great characters and development, then definitely see Where The Wild Things Are. For a film adapted from such a short book, taking away nothing yet adding so much more, Spike Jonze has done a superb job. I would not recommend it for young viewers as it can be quite scary and upsetting at times, but neither is it adult. It's a lovely feel-good piece that definitely grows on you.

Welcome Home... Paramore!

Got back last Wednesday to spend my holidays at home. I should have a whole month off Uni as my course has an extra two weeks with nothing timetabled until the 25th. Unlike my unfortunate boyfriend who has to return on the 11th. :(

I do however, have a 2500 word essay to write about animation to hand in on the 13th. But I can send this to my friend Rob to hand in for me as he is returning early with his fiance. So all is good!

I came back a little earlier than everyone else to go to Paramore's concert in Manchester. It was epic! I didn't see what all the fuss was about for the last support act, 'You Me At Six'; they sounded completely generic and not memorable whatsoever. Fortunately Paramore were incredible and played most of their hits including, 'Emergency', 'That's What You Get', 'Crushcrushcrush', 'I Caught Myself' a lot of tracks from their new album: 'Ignorance', 'The Only Exception' 'Careful' and followed up with an incredible three-song encore: 'Misguided Ghosts', 'Misery Business' and 'Brick by Boring Brick'.

I missed hearing 'All I Wanted' from their line-up, as it is my favourite from their new album and I would have loved to hear Hayley hit those incredibly high notes live that she does in the song. Overall, great crowd interaction, fantastic performances and improvisation and very lively with a good atmosphere! My sister and I bought a T-Shirt each that were very cool also. =)

If you haven't heard their new album, 'Brand New Eyes', I would suggest you do so as they have definitely come back with a bang!

Since getting back, I have been relaxing and still recovering from my mad week of Uni work! I have a lot planned over the holidays in terms of meeting friends and family, going ice skating, going to the zoo, cinema etc... So I'll only be updating now and again with odd updates and stuff.

Until then, I am about to follow up with journal with two short reviews for 'Where The Wild Things Are' and 'Avatar', so stay tuned!
Love Gemma xxx

Friday, 11 December 2009

A Hectic Week of "Torture" and a "Drug-Laced Salad"

Apologies for not updating too frequently the past few weeks. What was once supposedly a 4-5 week project suddenly became just two weeks and everyone has been working so hard this week to complete our Manifesto project.

The premise is to take an art manifesto/movement, look at it's purpose and intentions and create a 30-60 second animation inspired by those ideas. I went with the surrealist manifesto by Andre Bréton and created a surreal poem from newspaper clippings and re-assembled them in a completely random order to connote a sense of humour and being illogical. The results were quite interesting, it was funny and random but also had thought-provoking messages within it. The title is inspired by one of the lines that appeared in the poem: "Disneyland, you're a drug laced salad".

This took just a few days to complete, but it involved very intense working hours! Monday I came up with my final idea after realising that I could do my animation around the text of the poem, rather than just thinking of visuals inspired by it. Tuesday morning I recorded the voices in the soundbooth at Uni. Tuesday afternoon I did all the under the camera animation, using photocopied sheets of the newspaper poem, splattering paint on glass over it, scrunching it up all sorts. I spent about 4-5 hours doing this alone and finished it with a very bad back indeed. It was enjoyable though as I haven't done any animation with paint before and I hadn't used colour in a Uni animation until now.

Wednesday was spent editing. This literally took all afternoon and all night. I animated the 3D text that flies past the screen in After Effects using a tutorial by Andrew Kramer ( which helped enormously. I then took everything into Adobe Premiere and started putting my audio to the animation from yesterday.

Editing all the voices took far longer than I expected, as I alternated voice every word or couple of words. It reminded me a lot of Radiohead's "Fitter. Happier." ( and was partly inspired by it, but I only realised the similarities afterwards.

Wednesday evening I started exporting--oh the exporting!!! My least favourite part of any project has the potential to take the longest. I have a bad history with exports going wrong (random errors, wrong aspect ratio, no sound or picture, poor quality etc...) and that night was no exception. I hadn't even had any dinner and I was there trying to get an MOV and AVI version of my film from around 6pm until 11pm when I was finally happy with my export! It's madness!

I was up until the early hours making a power point for a presentation on 'The Prestige' the next day, so very little sleep this week also.

Thursday morning I had a good lecture with Caroline and Emily on the second part of Post-Modernism and Post-Humanism which was fascinating. We also got to see a whole episode of SPACED (The episode, "Pain") which was hilarious and I had been looking forward to it for a long time! =]

Thursday afternoon I spent completing my sketchbook for submission today, writing evaluations, finishing my power point and helping Rob and Vikki with their projects. Had an earlier night too which was fortunate.

Zara, Rob and I were also supposed to have our film presentation that afternoon at 4pm, but we had it moved to today (Friday) at 10am in E4. We were just giving the presentation to Caroline, so thank goodness there wasn't a lot of pressure! Just to clarify, everyone has to do a group presentation on a film, I am doing mine earlier as I am going home the day before everyone else is arranged to have theirs!

So it went really well! We basically just talked about The Prestige for half an hour and went really in-depth and we were all really relaxed and talkative (despite being extremely tired--Rob had only had two hours sleep that morning!), we didn't even get told off for going over ten minutes! =D

After that was over, I worked up until 12pm finishing all of my work for submission and burning it to CDs. Rob and I actually submitted our work at the desk several minutes after the deadline, but got away with it as there were a few people submitting on the hour. I am so happy that is over and done with now though, it has been a very stressful week for everyone!

I was going to go to the cinema today with everyone to celebrate, but we've moved it to next Tuesday to give everyone a rest and hardly anyone could go anyway! "Where The Wild Things Are" shall have to wait! XD

And a recap on previous news, I went back home last weekend for my Mum's birthday and to see my very poorly guinea pig, Truffles. But sadly my guinea passed away on the Sunday, aged 6 and a half, so she had a very good life though it was a sad day for all. =[

Well, that's all for now, I'm off to have a weekend of well-deserved sleep and recovery and I'll blog again soon with thoughts on "Where The Wild Things Are". I am also going back home on Wednesday to see Paramore in Manchester--gonna be goooood!!! ^^

Until then, bye-bye!
Love Gemma xxx

Last Life Drawing

A week last Monday was my last Life Drawing session in the studio at Newport. Late report, I know, but the workload this past two weeks has been phenomenal and blogging was rendered impossible.

Being our last session, Elfyn let us experiment with our own mediums for once. We warmed up as usual with some blind self-portraits, though I haven't been able to scan these properly yet. So I'll skip ahead to show you my contour drawing of Juliet along with a half-hour pencil tone study and another half-hour colour paint study...


As normal, please click on the thumbnails to enlarge... I feel these were very successful drawings. The contour drawing is the best one I've done in that style I think and the tone and colour studies are nice and communicate well but would have liked more time on them!

I have my life drawing presentation next Monday, which is just a power point of my favourite work thus far... Should be good, though always a little nervous about talking about my own work...

Next post: my last animation for this semester and general updates!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

And Another Thing...

My friend Paul got this awesome Ezio figurine with Assassin's Creed II and it's so beautifully crafted and painted I had to do a spontaneous photo shoot with my mobile phone camera.

These are heavily touched up and re-coloured in Photoshop, but hopefully still preserve the beauty of this model! Thanks Paul! :D

Enjoy some of favourite pictures...

Ok, bye-bye for real this time! :D
Love Gemma xxx

Life Drawing in Cardiff Take 2

This week, the intention was to arrive at Winter Wonderland in Cardiff at 12pm to draw the ice skaters there. But as usual, the Welsh weather spoiled our plan and the rink was instead a shallow pool. Plan B was to visit the art museum next door, naturally, the museum was not open on a Monday, so we reverted to the city centre and drawing at St. David's shopping centre again.

It was a good session this time though, Zara and I did some good work outside drawing people with umbrellas and all huddled up and gloomy from the cold. Inside, we found Matthew at these nice circular sofas overlooking an escalator, so that was a fantastic place to draw. My results can be seen below, experimenting with pencil, pen and a little charcoal, though this wasn't too successful.


Please click to enlarge the pictures as always. :) I think these are starting to improve again after two slightly disappointing classes. Here are my results from the previous trek to Cardiff Bay (see previous post).

I may upload my last indoor drawing session, only that I did it on two A3 pieces of paper taped together, which would mean scanning each piece four times and stitching it together--not fun!

Anyway, I spoke to Matthew on the "good" Cardiff session last Monday and he gave me a printout of my life drawing feedback which was very complimentary! Basically it's all great--I can carry on as I'm doing but concentrate on looking ahead to where I'm going. As in, introducing more experimentation and colour, doing some animal studies and thinking about my characters to use to get closer to my goals and dream career (Character animator / Character concept artist / Storyboard artist etc for Video Games or Movies... so obviously believable characters and storytelling are my near-goals).

We also talked about where I could go for work experience next year and where my work could take me. Pixar has been mentioned a few times, which makes me very happy and excited!

In other news, my friend Rob from animation is now engaged to his girlfriend, Charlotte, so congratulations to them both! They make a lovely couple. :)

I saw "The Men Who Stare At Goats" at the cinema with my boyfriend Alex last weekend, which was really nice. The film itself was pretty good, certainly entertaining and thought-provoking. I don't think it was great for the big screen, it was quite short and seemed like a small scale film, the kind better suited to TV or DVD really. Peculiar, considering the star actors in the cast.

With such an amazing collection of actors, the performance could only be brilliant. The script is good, if a bit random. But overall pretty funny with some extraordinary facts and is very relevant to today.

My next animation project, "Manifesto" was introduced to us yesterday, but to be honest, it's awfully confusing! We have to do a presentation in pairs next Tuesday morning and nobody knows whether we are analysing and presenting an image that we like, or researching an art movement (e.g. Cubism, Dadaism) that we like or agree with it's intentions and talking about that. The lecture itself was rather confusing also, it tailed off into the realms of what art actually is, and lost everybody in its complexity.

We haven't even decided partners yet! Never mind, we'll get something together in time.

Anyway, I'll keep you all posted, apologies for not posting last week, I am busy with a commission outside of Uni and it's pretty time-consuming. Almost done now though. I will post a link if and when I am allowed to publish it.

Can't wait for Christmas break! I'm also coming back a couple of days early to see Paramore in Manchester with my sis, Emily and Alex----excited!!! Their new album 'Brand New Eyes' is stunning. :D

But for now, cheerio!
Love Gemma xxx

Monday, 9 November 2009

Abstract Animation, Weekend Wonder, Christmas Carol and Cardiff Fail

Unlike the title, this post will be documenting the mentioned topics in reverse order, because I am currently in sleep deprivation mode.

Today was supposed to involve life drawing in Cardiff Bay from 10am-1pm, but after a 20 minutes walk from the train station and a wander around, we concluded that the entire area was deserted. It was a little unexpected as normally it is supposed to be absolutely packed. But I took some nice pictures of the buildings and the bay and various Doctor Who signs in the area.

It was worth seeing the place, but after returning to Cardiff and having an unproductive session drawing shoppers in the St. Davids shopping centre, I couldn't wait to get home! At first some officials came up to us asking what we were doing and we got the impression that we were not permitted to draw random people walking past (which I find utterly ridiculous considering that it is impossible to capture any detail of a person they are gone so quickly!) however it turned out we were allowed to sketch them, but we couldn't sit down--not even out of the way!

I assume that was due to obstruction, despite being nowhere near anyone walking past. Ah well.

It was certainly a relief getting back home, I caught up on some sleep and warmed up and then my flatmates and I blitzed the kitchen--it was in need of a very good clean! It looks quite nice though, but could still do with curtains to make it more homely.

OK, a little rewind now. My sister, Emily came over for the weekend taking to train straight from her college, which was pretty convenient! I made dinner for her, Jess and Vikki who came over Friday night to eat and watch movies in celebration of finishing out animations (I will come to this later). We saw Goldmember and Dudley Doright and had a great night, later joined by Dale and Alex.

Saturday was a bit of a chillout 'nothing' day. 'Cause apart from washing towels, we pretty much did nothing! On Sunday we went all out. We visited the Roman Amphitheater in Newport which I haven't been to before. It was actually really cool and looks like a great spot for picnics when it's sunny.

After that, we took a bus and train to Cardiff for shopping! We went to the relocated Disney shop and bought 'Up' pins and badges! It was an awesome find, so awesome in fact, that I went back and bought two more pins for £3 each for Jess and Vikki too! Emily got a lovely soft new scarf and we had a big explore of most of the shops.

In hindsight, we probably should have gone on Saturday, as everywhere shuts early on a Sunday and it's difficult to get buses. There was also lots I hadn't looked into properly, so we didn't have a very well planned out weekend! Emily wants an itinerary next time!


After shopping we went to the cinema to see '9', (Em had not seen it yet) but there were no showings at the time, so we saw 'A Christmas Carol' by Robert Zemeckis and starring Jim Carrey instead. I had rather mixed feelings about it and have much to discuss, but shall try to be brief!

The first point, which has been said by many already, is of course the decision to remake a story that has already been adapted to death. This makes it difficult to really stand out as a unique and creative version and avoid copying previous films. I felt that 'A Christmas Carol' fails to do this.

Once again, high tech graphics and the pursuit of photo realistic animation left little room for story development. The film starts promising and a lot of attention is put into showing exactly how cruel and cold-hearted Scrooge is, but his character is lost somewhere in the middle only to be redeemed for five minutes at the end with some great acting and dialogue by Jim Carrey, who gives an excellent performance. But it's really not enough, and instead we are given pointless action sequences in which Scrooge attempts to escape the clutches of the final spirit.

It was mildly entertaining but didn't particularly deliver what Zemeckis was trying to hype up about this film. His previous work shows such expert storytelling, ('Back to the Future' being a classic example) but he appears to have put that skill aside in favour of 'real life' computer animation. And yet, for most of the film, I found it completely unconvincing! Perhaps it is different in 3D (I saw it in 2D) and perhaps I have a different perspective being able to spot CGI a mile off, but the movement often felt rigid, textures were sometimes flat and the lighting looked incredibly artificial (this being true, it's not supposed to be quite so obvious).

While there are some lovely shots and the camera movements had an interesting style (though it's refusal to 'cut' to another shot was a little annoying) and Jim Carrey's likeness is quite scary, I didn't find it enough, though certainly a good attempt. Also, did anyone else notice how long it took for Scrooge to realise it was him who had passed away in the future? He even sees his own dead body under a sheet in his bed, but has to see his name on a gravestone before he actually twigs. Why couldn't they just go straight to the gravestone like in 'The Muppet Christmas Carol'? Personally I consider the latter a much better adaptation that did a better adaptation, though the Muppet's are definitely difficult to beat!

Nevermind, I think I've had enough of a rant now. It was a good attempt, but very disappointing Zemeckis. I would have loved to see more of Jim Carrey's hilarious dialogue and performance throughout as there were some fantastic moments with his character development! Ah well...

Finally my sister and I got back home, had dinner and had an awesome night of gaming at Alex's flat before hitting the hay. I had to get up very early today however, to see Em off to the train back to college and to catch my own train to Cardiff...

And at long last, my animation! Apologies for the long rant! Here it is, all finished and complete with sound!

It was quite a task to complete, I was in my animation room all Thursday morning, afternoon and night to get it finished. I think it was worth it and I actually did something that was quite abstract I think. I used a lot of charcoal though, (thanks Vikki for the extra ones!) and only managed 25 seconds of pure animation out of the intended 30, but got it to 37 seconds with some editing and 'atmospheric' black screens. We have a presentation tomorrow to show our animations to our class and to talk a bit about it as well, here comes some on the spot improvisation!

Also, here is a video that my sister made at college for an anti drink and drive advert competition, her group came through as winners in their county and are through to the nationals next I think!

There Is No Reset Button from Emily Roberts on Vimeo.

That's all from me now methinks, time for some food and digital Disney drawing with Jess tonight, ciao!
Love Gemma xxx

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Birthday Weekend and Cinema Double-Whammy

Last weekend (23-25th) I traveled back home on the train for my birthday as well as my boyfriend's. It was a good journey with no changes on the train and it was quite cheap! It was lovely to see my family again and not have to cook!

I received some fab pressies as well, including the book of Simon's Cat from my younger sister, the new Kingdom Hearts game for the DS from my middle sister, several Disney DVDs and animated films, the Quentin Tarantino boxset from Alex, Resistance by Muse, Rebuilt by Humans by Newton Faulkner and Nation by Terry Pratchett from my parents. There was a duplicate of Kingdom Hearts DS, but I changed it the other day for Pokemon Diamond Version which I can't wait to play!

Monday morning however, the break came to an abrupt end as Alex and I had to get up at 5am to catch a train at 6:20am to get back to Newport for 9am so I could go to life drawing for 10am! It was a very barmy morning. >.<

When I got back to my flat, I entered the kitchen to discover posters from Fast Cars and Max Power all over the walls. In other words, half-naked girls and cars are now all over the walls. Hmm... I suspected in was the only guy in my flat that put them up, and I was right! >.<

My flatmates did make it up by coming into my room singing happy birthday with a chocolate muffin cake with a candle in it and a bar of Milka chocolate--yum! I also received a lovely gift from my animation friends, Jess, Bry, Vikki and Rob--an Eeyore bowl and a little Stitch toy! It was really nice of them. :)

I've also polished up my idea for our current 'Manifesto' project in which we must express a doing word using abstract imagery and sound without drawing ANYTHING figuratively. For example, one of my choices is playing the piano, meaning that I wouldn't be able to animate a piano, a person, the keys, pedals, or the hands. But I COULD have piano music going over it.

I didn't choose that option however, as I thought it too obvious. Instead, my keyword is to look through a keyhole. I will post some works in progress of it sometime this week. Basically I am expressing it through black pastel and trying to create an atmospheric piece that focuses on sound after a talk with Matthew. I'm going to be recording some sound for it today and tomorrow and begin animating as well!

But I digress. As my title implies I went to the cinema yesterday for two films back-to-back. "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "9". They were both very different and very interesting in their own way.

The models, costumes and set-design in "Fantastic Mr. Fox" were astounding. The screenshot above might give some idea of the level of detail that went into them. The animation, although very good, was quite stiff at times. This was probably affected somewhat by the more old school approach to the entire process. Very few digital effects (if any) seemed to have been used. Effects like smoke are done with grey cotton wool and the fire looked like little flickering cut-outs.

This clearly lent itself to the very quirky style of the film, so it all fit in together somewhere. The voice acting was great and the script had some really lovely moments and character interaction. I think it is by far one of the most interesting Roald Dahl adaptations, although they had to add a lot of 'filler' into the story as the original book was quite short.

On the other hand, "9" was perhaps the opposite. It was far darker than any Western animation in recent years (even surpassing Coraline) and is actually rated a 12a, which is a first as far as I know (excluding anime of course!).

I liked this for not aiming itself at children and trying to show that animation can be enjoyable for older audiences as well. Set in a post-apocalyptic environment where mankind have been wiped out by their own technological advancements, only a group of 'sock puppets' brought to life by a scientist remain on Earth.

The story wasn't especially unexpected, but the art direction was very unique and different with cute canvas puppets and creepy-looking skeletal robots. It was actually based on a short student film by Shane Ackner in 2005 which Tim Burton saw and approached to make a feature film out of it. The film is on Youtube below...

The original is fantastic for a student film, and the feature definitely pushes it further, yet keeping it short and sweet at only 79 minutes long. It also continues the message that many previous films have established before in that should technology pursue artificial life and intelligence? Probably a bad idea says "9"!

Anyway, another day gone and I still haven't begun animating! Though I did see an interesting documentary on Walt Disney which could be summarised with this amazing quote: "as a producer and a filmmaker, Walt was brilliant, on the other hand, he was a son of a b*tch.". There was some pretty shocking stuff surrounding his success! Ah well, it hasn't tainted my enjoyment of his films too much I hope! >.<

Spaghetti bolognese tonight, work, maybe a film, then bed! Til next time, ciao! :)
Love Gemma xxx

Life Drawing with Martin

Life drawing from another session on Monday 26th, I had just got back from visiting my family on the weekend of my birthday and was absolutely exhausted. Still, I just about managed to draw our first male nude model this year, Martin.

First, here's the homework that I did for the session. The first, 20-30 gesture drawings of people (at a train station) and a 4-6 hour self-portrait. The self-portrait in fact took about 4 hours using pencil on A3 paper with some photographic reference and a mirror.

My life drawing tutor, Elfyn, liked my self-portrait and wants me to do some contour tracings of it using pencil and biro for the next session in three weeks. I think the outcome wasn't too bad!

Here are the drawings in session, we did fewer pictures but spent far longer on each one.

 The drawing above is another "blind" self-portrait as a warm-up (using right hand to draw, left hand to feel my face as a guide and not looking at the page). We spent about 20 minutes on these. I think it's an improvement from my first one... Sort of... (pencil and biro)

A contour drawing, 30 minutes, pencil.

This was a large one on two sheets of A3, stitched clumsily together in Photoshop. Pencil, one hour. After finishing the bottom half, my tutor told me to draw the ceiling on the page above too.

Overall, a good session! :)

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Life Drawing at Cardiff

Yesterday my group were scheduled to meet at the Cardiff train station at 10am for life drawing with Matthew. This was a bit of a mission as it meant getting up at 6:50am, showering, getting ready, catching the 8:15am bus to Newport, stopping off at Zara's in Opal, and heading to Newport's train station at around 9am to catch a 9:30am train to Cardiff. AND, when we got there, Zara and I couldn't use our student railcards because you can only use them after 10am!!!

But fortunately, Zara, Claire and I did get to Cardiff on time and met with Matthew and only 3 out of 12 other students for life drawing. As we walked over to where our drawing would take place (Bute Park), several students were ringing Matthew saying they were lost etc, and we found three more classmates at the entrance to the park. In the end, there were about 9 of us, but it wasn't a very good turn-out.

Although it was quite a trek to the park, it was absolutely HUGE. It must have taken us 30-40 minutes to walk from one end to the other, and even then we didn't go to the very end of the park! It was a really lovely location however, the autumn leaves were falling off the trees and there were loads of wildlife in the river. There was some sunshine and it wasn't too cold either.


So in the end it was definitely worth all the trouble to get there on time and the drawing experience was very rewarding! (Especially since we got to draw and feed the horseys!) =)

Next week I have to do a 4-6 hour self-portrait and a whole bunch of small gesture drawings like the sketches above. It's quite a lot of work considering everything else we have to do, which brings me to our next animation project.

Today our lecture with James involved splitting into pairs and showing/discussing each other's images that we collected over the past week. I was up all last night doing a power point for my pictures, so it was a relief that I got to show and talk about them to Rob. It was a pretty in-depth talk!

After this we were each given a different set of keywords for our next animation, which is not allowed to be figurative and has to show something in more of an abstract sense. We were given these cards to choose from which in turn had several words or phrases on them, most of them 'doing' words.

My card contained the following...
  • Looking through a keyhole
  • Wringing out a cloth
  • Playing the piano
Obviously, the piano one would be the easiest of the three to express without actually drawing the action, particularly as you can use piano music to help. I'm feeling quite drawn to the keyhole option though, simply because I think I could be quite creative with it. I have until next week to come up with and start my idea (the actual deadline for this being in two weeks from now) so we'll see how it goes!

Apart from that, today has been rather grim and it hasn't stopped pouring it down. Now I'm going to be off for dinner and a movie!
Ta ta for now!
Love Gemma xxx

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Cardiff Extravaganza

Yesterday myself and the animation girlies (Jess, Bryony and Vikki) all went into Cardiff for some Disney shopping! (We are somewhat obsessed!)
This was sparked from the need to check out the new merchandise for Up.

Originally, my boyfriend and friends, Dale and Paul were supposed to join us, but they went later to go to the cinema to see The Invention of Lying.

So anyway, we checked out the Forbidden Planet shop in Cardiff which was INCREDIBLE. It was full of any Marvel, DC comic, figurine and manga you could think of and had a good range of posters, T-shirts and books. Just browsing the two floors of goodness could take days! Unfortunately, it was hideously over-priced! Most of the items there could be bought for half as much online, so we didn't buy anything. :(

Next stop, lunch! Jess had recommended this Japanese-style restaurant called Wagamama, and it was stunning. It was in this beautiful glass library and was so clean and stylish. There were rows of tables and you get chopsticks! Most of the food was the usual ramen soup, noodles and rice dishes, but the portions are really generous and it was absolutely scrummy!

We took pictures of our 'victory poses' as the food was so much it was quite a task to eat it all! It was a really awesome meal until I managed to pour a whole glass of water onto my tights because we were taking pictures through glasses at one point. Sod's law that I should pick up the glass with water in it!

So after a really nice and not too expensive meal, it was off to find the Disney store! It was a little tricky to find as we hadn't explored the area before but we got there eventually and took pictures outside (we must have looked like really crazy tourists). It was AWESOME! It was about the same size as the one back home in Chester but seemed to have even more goodies!

I bought an adorable Stitch pin, (apparently Disney pins are a big collecting craze, especially in America!) a Lady magnet and a fluffy Eeyore plushie (because I love him and haven't had a cuddly toy of him before!). There were some Up toys there too, but the range wasn't great and the cuddly toys didn't seem very well made (the Kevin toys got the colouring all wrong!). There were some lovely magnets and I wanted one of Doug but sadly they were marked and dirty. :( You could get an Up pin there, but you needed to present a Vue ticket to prove that you've seen Up at the cinema and we saw it at Cineworld--NOOOOO!!!!

So in the end, we dropped in at The Works on the way back and I bought a great hardback A3 sketchpad with 80 pages for life drawing and it was only £4.99! I also found the most adorable Up storybook with full colour illustrations and a lovely squishy hardback cover. It was supposed to be £9.99, but I bought it here for £2.99! Bargain!!! <3

After an awesome girly day out, we got back at about 7:30pm after a train and taxi back, absolutely exhausted. I got back to my flat to discover one of my flatmates was having friends over and that it would be "noisy". A couple of hours later, music is blaring out and people keep accidentally stumbling into my room thinking it was the bathroom (until I locked the door).

I went out for a snack after they left to go drinking in Newport and the kitchen was trashed. It wasn't just beer bottles and cans and tops everywhere, but food on the floor, spilled drinks on the table and playing cards and sweet wrappers all over the place. Yuck!!!

So I stayed at my boyfriend, Alex's for the night 'cause I didn't want to wake up to that in the morning! Fortunately they have tidied up a bit today and I have been told by Rachael that they will clean up properly later *fingerscrossed*!

Anywho, I have some work to do for next week and we have curry night to prepare for today, although it will only be Alex, Dale, Paul and I as everyone else went back to Wrexham for the weekend! Next Friday I'll be heading home with Alex for our birthdays, which I'm really looking forward to! :)
Love Gemma xxx

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Life Drawing

Yesterday I managed to get into the Library to scan in my life drawings from my past two sessions, so here they are! Please click on the images to read more about them as I wrote text on them to explain what some of them are about. :)

Session One: Outdoor observational drawing in Newport 5-10-09



 I received good feedback for these from my lecturer, Matthew, and look forward to the next session! It was interesting because the older and fatter people were far more interesting to draw than anyone else. This sparked some humorous comments among my classmates! :P

Session Two: Indoor life drawing at Barnabus House, Newport






My second session of life drawing was a little frustrating as we had to keep changing between using our left and right hands to draw. Also, the time we were given for each pose was a little random. Some drawings are as little as two minutes while others were more like ten. I often found that I wanted to stop working on a drawing as I work quite quickly and I was concerned that I would "kill it".

Our other life drawing tutor, Elfyn, is a little more intense than Matthew and he was constantly telling us to keep our eyes on the model and off of the paper which was incredibly difficult at times. Nevertheless, it was an interesting class and I felt there was some improvement in my work and Matthew said so as well so I must have been doing something right!

I saw Up again today, it's still so emotional! It was just as beautiful the second time round. :)

Tomorrow morning is our weekly lecture with Caroline and then the rest of the week is free for my own work! Hurrah! I think I will be doing a collaboration of some sort with Jess tomorrow evening, we are very eager to do some drawing together!

Until next time, bubye!
Love Gemma xxx