Wednesday, 20 April 2011

So-Called "Break"

Hi all! Time for another infrequent update! I'm back home now for the Easter break, along with all of my Uni work of course! I actually hole-punched over 600 sheets of animation paper ten-at-a-time to begin animating my group project, (working title, Dimensionality) during the weeks "off". I've started some tests and will be moving onto completing rough animation later this week.

The short film is all about the relationship between 2D and 3D and how one is always trying to be the other in modern films, when really they should celebrate their differences! The film is for a brief called Recoding Conventions, so we do actually have to bring something original to the table which we're doing by showing (without dialogue) that 2D and 3D are equals but could actually better themselves by simply learning from each other.

The concept got quite complicated, so we've gone headfirst into production to make sense of it all! I'm working with animator's Ben, Vikki and Rob, all very talented people! Everything's looking great so far, I'll be posting progress when I can.

In the meantime, you can check out our blog where our script and pre-production is getting updated every day!

Dimensionality @

At the moment, I'm on a juggling act between getting something like 35 shots animated for this project and spending time with family and friends. It doesn't seem to be going too badly, but I'm really going to have to knuckle down with this work as soon as possible! I saw Rio today with some friends which was a very enjoyable film, cliché at times, but fun and bright and colourful and very funny! Jemaine Clement as the bird Nigel was fabulous and he even has a song! <3

Other news... I met amazing artist and animator Joanna Quinn a couple of weeks ago, and what an extraordinary lecture and meeting it was! She's based in Cardiff and is the creator of a wonderful character called Beryl and the bears on the old Charmin ads! She's an incredible person and with luck I may have some work experience at her studio in the summer, I simply cannot wait! :)

I finished a short piece of animation for a third year animating some birdies. It may look short and simple, but was actually a beast to put together because of all the layers! D:

And I completed a quick commission for a friend's University project where King Arthur returns to a post-apocalyptic London... that was 6-8 hours work.

King's Awakening by *AmberDust on deviantART

I'm currently working on a collaboration with my friend Jess, drawing a lovely poster of Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Ponyo! Here's some progress...

It's very nearly done now and I'm hoping to get that online very soon!

Apart from that, things are busy and things are good! :)

Also, if you haven't checked out Feeder's new single, 'Side by Side', please watch this powerful and emotional music video of theirs of the recent events and if you like the song, please download it here as all proceeds go to help support the Japanese people during their time of need!

Ta ta for now! :)
Gem xox

P.S. So EXCITED for seeing the Winnie The Pooh movie this Friday! :DDD

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Megamind and Summer Wars

Having been short of some blog updates, I thought I'd post up some thoughts on two films I've been able to see in the past few days.

First up, Megamind (2010).

Since Dreamworks have begun producing original films instead of the usual franchise sequels and spin-offs, the quality of their animations have soared! Following 2009's How to Train Your Dragon, Megamind certainly had a lot to live up to, and while it doesn't have quite the same storytelling sparkle as Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, it certainly delivers.

The story doesn't come across very clearly in the trailer or promotional material. It's made out to be a standard good vs evil affair between Megamind and Metroman, but this conflict doesn't take up a big portion of the film and in fact twists and turns in several directions before reaching the final sequences. It's largely a romance genre with superhero films mixed in and even gets into a existential discussion when evil has nothing to fight against.

A top quality voice cast really shine with the film's quirky and hilarious script. Will Ferrell plays a unique but still comedic role as a blue criminal mastermind with a speaking disorder, and Brad Pitt, Tina Fey and Jonah Hill also perform some great lines without distracting from the characters with their personalities.

The music is incredibly prominent, but not in a bad way. It swaps from classic rock tracks like "Bad to The Bone" by George Thorogood & The Destroyers, and Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" to light-hearted "Mr. Blue Sky" from ELO and even "Lovin' You" by Minnie Riperton.

Hans Zimmer and Lorne Balfe compose the film's soundtrack which is of equal quality to the tracks they pick for particular story moments. The main theme is particularly catchy and gears you up for an exciting and entertaining film!

The cinematography is also stunning, some really great composition and camera angles bring the action to screen brilliantly, though my favourites are the slow camera tracks introducing the city, Roxanne and Metroman walking on water.

My only issue with the film was a decision to prevent the street-wise Roxanne Ritchie from becoming an intriguing story point and remaining the film's love interest. I feel that would have added interesting character development as well as raise certain gender issues and promote equality, like in Monster's Vs. Aliens in 2009. Instead, they have unfortunately perpetuated the 'damsel in distress' character that is still so common in modern films!

Anyway, rant over! Megamind is a fantastic flick full of playful humour, great animation and storytelling, definitely check it out if you haven't already! It's also very quotable, my sister's and I often greet each other with "Olo!", or "Minion, you fantastic fish, you!"--my favourite  is Megamind's mispronunciation of melancholy into "mel-on-golly"!

On to the next film, Mamoru Hosoda's Summer Wars (2009).

This is the next film from the master behind The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), which I somehow haven't been able to see until now! The DVD was only released in the UK last March, which my boyfriend, Alex, picked up and recommended to me, so that probably has something to with it! (Promote the industry folks!)

Summer Wars is all about the culmination of ancient Japan colliding with modern Japan, in the futuristic concept of a completely virtual world whee you can make your own avatar, play sports, play games, battle and communicate through an instantly translated dialogue system with anyone in the world. This world is called OZ, and everyone is a part of it.

Without giving too much away, the story starts with an introduction to OZ, which then translates into a modern Japan, where a young girl, Natsuki is searching for a boy (Kenji) to charade as her boyfriend as a summer job for her Grandmother's 90th birthday. Starting as what looks like a family drama of 30+ people it escalates as conflicts arise between characters and a vicious virus attacks the virtual world of OZ, wreaking havoc and flinging the Earth into chaos.

The film speaks volumes about the dangers of putting too much responsibility on technology, but it also has real family values that stay at the true heart of the story, filling it with charm and making it an emotional journey for you and the characters. Using a cast of over 30 main characters, it brings home these messages from every possible perspective.

There is pretty much nothing I can fault in this film. It truly speaks for our generation and is a vital watch for any anime fans, Internet users or those with family, basically I think everyone should see it! The animation is beautifully styled and drawn and combines 2D and 3D elements in OZ that brings to life this digital world where nothing actually exists.

The film's climax is emotional and dramatic, bringing together the disasters of technology with the importance of family. Music, characters, plot points, animation... everything, comes together to deliver this must-see film! I could not recommend it more...

Some comparisons have been made to Mamoru's Digimon: The Movie back in 2000, which is understandable as it's the same director, but Summer Wars brings something new to the themes raised and combines it with this old-fashioned family descended from a samurai clan. It brings it bang up to date with current technology such as iPhone's and DSi's and the futuristic technology behind OZ, which we are not far off ourselves!

Mamoru has stated that his next animation will probably be more orthodox and with less main characters... I look forward to what he will make, but a part of me wanders if he will be able to surpass this gem of a film! Go check it out! ^.^