Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Transcription - Setting For The Orkney Trow

After speaking to Alan today and discussing the idea of folklore centering around a character of a trow, we came to the conclusion to make it a CG character for a live action family film. This will involve some new challenges which I'm excited to embrace.

Also in the meeting Alan reminded me of the story 'Three Billy Goats Gruff', which is a personal favorite of mine from childhood. After some research I've found out that the first version of 'Three Billy Goats Gruff' to be published in English appeared in 'Popular Tales from the Norse' published in 1859. From this information I have been formulating some ideas in my head on how I could incorporate all this. Below is my thought process. 

  • Some children somehow befriend a trow and/or try to catch it/help it. 
  • The trow resides in an uninhabited island cave in Orkney.
  •  The children shouldn't be from Orkney, they should be from a city and there's a reason for them to be there.
  • It can't be set in the 21st century, but it should be in fairly modern times. 
  • The children are evacuees during the 2nd world war staying with Scottish relatives, and they're excited about their new adventures exploring the islands.
  • The children find a book in the house where they are staying called 'Popular Tales from the Norse'.
  • What kind of things would the trow salvage given the time period? How would that effect his attire?
  • Does he know of the war? Perhaps he listens to the radio in the evening when dark, outside the window of the house where the children are living. After-all, trows do love music and the radio may attract it.
  • Does he dream of becoming a soldier and helping the course, fashioning his own toy helmet and rifle out of flotsam and jetsam using propaganda material as reference?

This is really helping me to visualize the concept as a whole.

In my previous post there are some folklore tales that would work as the source for the transcription material.

Transcription - Orkney Trow

For transcription I was looking to create a character from folklore. Although I looked at many different stories and creatures from around the world, I was most interested in the Orkney Trow. A creature described in many old tales from the Orkney's. Here are a couple of tales describing them.

Descriptio Insularum Orchadiarum. 1529 and 1657 by Jo Ben

"clad in seaweed, in its whole body it is like a foal, with curly hair."

Hughbo - The Brownie of Copinsay

One cold, wet and windy winter night, the farmer of Copinsay had just climbed wearily into his box-bed when he saw something in the a corner of his room. 

There, sat an ugly naked creature with a wet, leathery skin that seemed to glow softly in the darkness. The visitor was somewhat smaller than a man and was certainly terribly ugly with a flat, bald head and wet, slimy seaweed as a beard.

Although the sight of this unwanted intruder alarmed the poor farmer, he was a man with a hasty temper and, fortunately, a quick wit.

From his talks with the old folk on the Mainland, he remembered that only cold steel and the Word Of God could be depended upon against creatures of sorcery. So, seizing a razor from a shelf in his bed, he pulled a dog-eared Psalm book from under his pillow.

Springing from his bed, he landed softly onto the cold flagstones, ready to do battle with the repulsive intruder.

But despite the fact that he sained himself with the Psalm book, and then drew a circle in the air with the blade of his razor, the visitor remained in the corner gibbering at him.

Exasperated, the farmer snatched the fire tongs and poker from the hearth and sent them hurtling towards the squatting creature. But the intruder was swift and avoided them with ease.

His temper finally broken, the farmer lifted the heavy crook from its chain above the fire and, with a roar, tried to get closer to his adversary. The crook, however, was made of soft iron from the smithy, not of steel, so the creature plucked it quickly from the farmer's trembling hand and threw it across the room. Now, even more angered, the farmer lashed out and managed to hit the intruder twice before it darted through the doorway with a squeal.

To get his breath, and gather his wits, the farmer sat down on a straw creepie (stool) and slowly his temper began to cool. He reflected that, while he had done his best to disable the intruder, it had actually made no attempt to injure him. With this in mind, when it re-entered the room, grinning and making friendly gestures, the farmer remained seated and tried to understand what it was saying.

The brownie - for so he was afterwards known - said that his name was "Hughbo". He explained to the farmer that he had always lived in the sea but was now sick of gnawing the bones of drowned men. It was his dearest wish that he remained on the land. In order to fulfil this, he was willing to work well for his lodging.

The farmer grudgingly agreed and they decided that each night Hughbo would use the quern to grind sufficient meal for the farmer's breakfast porridge the next morning. All the creature asked in return was a saucer of milk to sup with his own handful of burstin (parched barley).

The farmer was a busy man and at heart a hospitable one. This arrangement pleased him well. He quickly got over his disgust at the brownie's appearance and the bargain was made.
The farmer went back to bed while in the background, the low, gritty, scraping of the quern went on, and on, throughout the night.

By the time the feeble winter sun crept timidly over the horizon, there was a bowl of clean, well-ground oatmeal waiting for the farmer as he climbed from beneath the covers.

True to his word, Hughbo became a valued servant.

Sometimes the farmer would talk with him, but more often lay silent in the darkness of his bed and watched as the clumsy, glowing figure industriously turning the millstone.

Just as the millstone turned, the wheel of life turned ever onwards and Hughbo seemed content with his lot.

Now, it happened that the farmer had a sweetheart.

This girl lived on the Orkney Mainland and the two were pledged to be married.

But it had recently occurred to the farmer that it would be most unwise to bring the girl back to Copinsay until she had become accustomed to Hughbo. So he told his sweetheart about the strange servant, making sure she understood the creature's faithfulness and good nature.

Then, to make even more sure of her acceptance, he took her to the island on several occasions so she might meet the creature.

The girl was a sensible sort and, like many, knew well that there were many things in Orkney that mortal men knew little about. Therefore, she did not object to sharing her new home with the brownie. So, in due course a marriage was celebrated and the bride moved out to Copinsay.

As should be the case, there were better things for bride and groom to do than pay overmuch attention to Hughbo, but the girl's love for her husband flowed over to include the naked figure who spent the hours of darkness grinding meal.

At nights, while snuggled up in her warm bed, the girl imagined that poor Hughbo must be shivering in the cold of an Orkney night and this pained her kindly heart.

In addition to this, of course, she was ever so slightly embarrassed by the extent of Hughbo's nakedness, of which the creature was entirely unashamed.

Without telling her beloved husband, or the brownie, the girl obtained a length of good, warm cloth from Kirkwall. From it, she fashioned a warm cloak with an ample hood to cover Hughbo's bald crown.

Then, one windy, moonless night, she placed the completed garment on the quern, pleased with herself for the good act she had performed.

It was usual for Hughbo to come in quietly to carry out his task, but on this fateful night he had no sooner entered the room than he began a dismal howling.

Round and round the quern he ran, sobbing his heart out and repeating; "Hughbo's gotten cloak an' hood, so Hughbo can do no more good!"

And with that he flew out into the darkness of Orkney night and was never seen again.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Maya - Realistic Hand Final

Here it is, pretty much a finished render. I've added a small amount of detail in Z-brush and added some hairs with the paint effects tool in Maya, also I fixed the textures a bit. All in all not a bad go at modelling, texturing, and rendering a realistic hand for a first go :)

Here's the shading network.

Maya - Realistic Hand Progress

Ok here's the hand so far, the textures need a bit of work and I haven't put the geometry into Z-brush yet to make a normal map, but so far I'm pleased.

This is the overall colour texture.

This is the epidermal texture.

This is the subdermal texture.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Maya - Realistic Hand

Over reading week I wanted to have a go at building a realistic human figure. A few things have got in the way and there wont be time for it, so I thought I'd just keep it a little simple and try to model a realistic hand. Here's my model so far.

I've set up a smooth mesh proxy so I can see what it looks like smooth whilst still modelling the unsmoothed model.  

Here it is so far, I've put the nails on and made the webbing between the fingers. Need to work on the thumb now. 

I rendered the hand with a skin shader just to see how the light interacted. Tomorrow I plan on making some photo realistic textures, and putting the geometry in Z-brush to make some detailed normal maps.  

I realized that on the first image that the back scatter is passing way to far into the geometry so I've rendered another one that's a bit more realistic.

Maya - Subsurface Scattering

Although I have used mental ray skin shaders before my skill at using them wasn't as good as I'd liked. I've had a more indepth look at them. There are 3 main focuses with the skin shader, epidermal scatter, subdermal scatter and back scatter, all of which need to be adjusted dependent on the size of scene and object. For me the most interesting part to get right is the back scatter. Back radius and back scatter depth determine how far the light will pass through an object, much the same way light will pass through your hand when held up to the light. 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Maya - Paint Effects Tree

This is the first tree I've ever tried to make, I built it entirely from scratch using paint effects. The only part I used a brush preset for was the grass.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Narrative - Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006)

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Fig 1.

Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon (2006) Director - Scott Glosserman

In a fiction where 'A Nightmare On Elm Street' (1984), 'Halloween' (1978) and 'Friday The 13th' (1980) were real life serial killers that meticulously planned out their killing spree to give the impression of a supernatural force, Leslie Vernon will be the next instalment in the serial killer series. In a narcissistic twist Vernon has enlisted the help of a crew of journalists to document a 'making of' for his planned rampage. But when it comes to the crunch the crew find they are unable to let Vernon go through with it, but what they don't realise is that he has taken that into consideration.

Fig 2.
'Behind The Mask' is a clever way of reinventing a genre that has exhausted every possibility, giving it a fresh perspective and turning the stereotypes up-side-down. Althought it could be argued that the idea was much more interesting than what the makers had executed.
Fig 3.

Image Bibliography

Fig 1 . Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, DVD Cover 2006, [photography] http://content6.flixster.com/movie/33/48/96/3348960_det.jpg
Fig 2 . Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Movie Still, 2006, [photography] http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRq4u_3-gght_JbA6J3CFx6n1epD4vXHlLCXn-hrCg8itqucR-ie4ZL6SxUIg

Fig 3 . Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon, Movie Still, 2006, [photography] http://www.movielogy.com/iwanproperties/moviestillfiles/behind-the-mask-1c.jpg

Narrative - The Exorcist (1973)

The Exorcist
Fig 1.

The Exorcist (1973) Director - William Friedkin

Regan is a 12 year old girl living with her Mother in Washington, when she starts developing unusual symptoms she is taken to various doctors for medical help. After many physical and psychological tests are taken and all possibilities are ruled out the Mother considers exorcism. Battle ensues between two priests and the demon within Regan who is unwilling to let go of her body. Regan herself unawares of what has happened to her and taken over by evil has sunk back into the subconsciousness of her mind leaving the demon to speak for her in a manner not even acceptable to the most despicable of humans.

Fig 2.

Described as "vile and brutalizing." (Time Magazine, 1974) The films plays a game of psychological horror with any empathetic viewer that is able to endue the torture of a young innocent girl and is described as "practically impossible film to sit through, but not necessarily because it treats diabolism with the kind of dumb piety moviemakers once lavished on the stories of saints....It establishes a new low for grotesque special effects" (The New York Times, 1974) This is a film not for the faint hearted.

Fig 3.


The Exorcist, Time Magazine, 1974, [Online] http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,908384,00.html [Accessed 23 January 2012]

The Exorcist, The New York Times, 1974, [Online] available at http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?_r=1&res=EE05E7DF1738E466BC4F51DFB4678388669EDE&oref=slogin [Accessed 23 January 2012]

Image Bibliography

Fig 1 . The Exorcist, DVD Cover 1973, [photography] http://content9.flixster.com/movie/28/02/280219_det.jpg
Fig 2 . The Exorcist, Movie Still, 1973, [photography] http://listverse.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/19831__exorcist_l.jpg

Fig 3 . The Exorcist, Movie Still, 1973, [photography] http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQEuZhNISwoYgqowYvUjKKxOtIBOmotMzte-nTpxlHYckUMAxDHjOqpmSMS

Narrative - Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

Fig 1.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) Director - Robert Zemeckis

Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is private detective been hired to snoop on Jessica Rabbit, the cartoon wife of Roger Rabbit who reside in L.A. where cartoon intermingle with real people. Valiant soon finds himself muddled in conspiracy, blackmail and murder whist trying to clear the name of the suspect Roger Rabbit in a 40' film noir. The use of live actors and cartoon characters wasn't new back in the 80's but this would be the first time it was used so extensively. To get 2D characters to interact with live action was no easy task. Today actors are well used to speaking to characters that are not on the set but back in 1988 it was something less common, and in 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' the cast didn't seemed at all fazed by this. "Visually stunning and creatively superior, Zemeckis's work is frequently staggering and always entertaining." (BBC, 2001) The acting and the skilled post production helped give the cartoon characters much realism as entities. "The first blend of animation and live-action that seemed so natural we felt the characters were real." (Empire, Unknown date) All the popping eye candy effects, interlaced with an intelligent plot, cartoon comedy that effects both penned and live actors makes 'Roger Rabbit' a timeless masterpiece of film noir not just for the young folk but for the adults alike.

Fig 2.



Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Empire, Unknown date, [Online] http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/review.asp?FID=133281 [Accessed 23 January 2012]

Who Framed Roger Rabbit, BBC, 1988, [Online] available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/04/11/who_framed_roger_rabbit_1988_review.shtml [Accessed 23 January 2012]

Image Bibliography

Fig 1 . Who Framed Roger Rabbit, DVD Cover 1988, [photography]

Fig 2 . Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Movie Still, 1988, [photography] http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/7/77/Judgedoom.PNG/270px-Judgedoom.PNG

Fig 3 . Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Movie Still, 1988, [photography] http://www.best-horror-movies.com/image-files/freaks-torso-man.jpg

Narrative - Tom Browning's Freaks (1932)

Fig 1.

Tod Browning's Freaks (1932) Director - Tod Browning

'Freaks' revolves around the participants of a travelling circus. When a beautiful trapeze artist marries a midget for his money and tries to kill him so she can live with her strongman lover, the 'freaks' in the circus at finding out her wicked plot seek revenge. As a film you would think it would feel exploitative of the actors but "Browning's treatment is never voyeuristic or condescending, but sympathetic in such a way that after a few minutes we almost cease to perceive them as in any way abnormal." (Timeout, Unknown date)  In today's more forgiving world for people with a disability you could see this film never being made today, not because of the treatment of the actors but due to political correctness gone made.

Fig 2.

As for the the performance of the actors it carries a genuine feel of unity between the cast as the 'freaks' who in this horror movie turn out as the protagonists and the beautiful trapeze artist in reality is the evil antagonist. This all adds up to making a compelling story as the actrs are real 'freaks'. "As nothing here is faked or dreamt up by some special effects department, Browning forces us to reassess our assumptions of the normal and abnormal." (BBC, 2002) There is a lesson to be learned (but if you haven't learnt it already by now you probably need help) in that one should never judge a person from the outside. Just because someone appears beautiful on the outside it doesn't mean there is beauty found within and visa versa.

Fig 3.



Freaks, The New York Times, Unknown date, [Online] http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/67032/freaks.html [Accessed 23 January 2012]

Freaks, BBC2001, [Online] available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2002/09/11/freaks_1932_review.shtml [Accessed 23 January 2012]

Image Bibliography

Fig 1 . Freaks, Poster, 1932, [photography]

Fig 2 . Freaks, Movie Still, 1932, [photography] http://media.avclub.com/images/articles/article/39601/freaks_M_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85.jpg

Fig 3 . Freaks, Movie Still, 1932, [photography] http://www.best-horror-movies.com/image-files/freaks-torso-man.jpg

Narratvie - Blade Runner (1982) (The Final Cut 2007)

Fig 1.

Blade Runner (1982) (The Final Cut 2007) Director - Ridley Scott

In the future, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) an ex-cop is brought out retirement in the dystopian mega city of Los Angeles to assassinate four runaway replicants (artificial humans used as slave labour on other worlds that are illegal on Earth). For a film originally concieved in 1982 the visual effects of the city scape still look beautifully constructed even by todays standards (albeit some digital makeup has been added) and the mix of the old technology still there from the 80's doesn't detract from the seemingly real future it perdicts. The tale is told in a classic film noir detective style so mixing the genres of sci-fi and film noir to create a tech-noir world that is candy to the eyes. Not to mention the provoking musically score it has been described as "a stunning shot of this futuristic city, accompanied by the rumbling of Vangelis's eerie" (The New Your Times, 1982)

Fig 2.

The film is most noted for it's use of only night-time shots, rain, lighting that creates both the classic mood of film noir and aiding to create the feel of bleak dystonpian future in which the viewer if transported. 'Blade Runner' "fully and richly deserves its reputation. It is simply one of the most extraordinary films ever made." (BBC, 2001) With the added rework of the print being digitally re-worked 'The Final Cut' seems to be what it says on the tin. It's the most definative version (although some of the changes you may miss) and should never be re-worked again.

Fig 3.



Blade Runner, The New York Times, 1982, [Online] available at http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A0DE4D71038F936A15755C0A964948260&partner=Rotten  [Accessed 23 January 2012]

Blade Runner, BBC2001, [Online] available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/02/07/blade_runner_1982_review.shtml [Accessed 23 January 2012]

Image Bibliography

Fig 1 . Blade Runner, DVD cover, 2007, [photography]
Fig 2 . Blade Runner, Movie Still, 1982, [photography] http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Arts/Arts_/Pictures/2009/11/5/1257432294732/The-futuristic-police-sta-001.jpg

Fig 3 . Blade Runner, Movie Still, 1982, [photography] http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_g0HBlNyQE6c/TMAHfrEJMaI/AAAAAAAAAAw/sV1nzFQfsIc/s1600/bladerunner460.jpg

Narrative - Mars Attacks (1996)

Fig  1.

Mars Attacks (1996) Director - Tim Burton

Humankind need no longer wonder if they are the only intelligent life in the Galaxy when visitors from the planet Mars come with the intent on taking over the world, culminating in a comical battle between unlikely heroes including Tom Jones as himself and a rude gambler (Danny Devito). Eventually the invaders with superior intellect and technology are vanquished by a luscious and unlikely 'weapon' the insures the safely of the human race for another day.

Fig 2.

 Mars attacks play homage to sci-fi movies of the 50's in its style and content spoofing the ideas and visual effect that spawned the classics. 50's style ray guns and flying saucers "a splenetic satire which gleefully trashes contemporary culture" (Timeout. 1996) The Martians themselves steal the show and the film is, "partly redeemed by a number of hilarious and gruesome alien invasion skits." (BBC, 1996) Although the CG isn't the most convincing they air a style and character that makes them a comical foe that would make any Earthling want to rise to the challenge. If they were more formidable   If you are looking to get away from the modern day Tim Burton narrative 'Mars Attacks' fits the bill.

Fig 3.



Mars Attacks, BBC1996, [Online] available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/films/2001/06/21/mars_attacks_1996_review.shtml   [Accessed 23 January 2012]

Mars Attacks, Timeout1996, [Online] available at http://www.timeout.com/film/reviews/72879/mars_attacks.html [Accessed 23 January 2012]

Image Bibliography

Fig 1 . Mars Attacks, DVD cover, 1996, [photography]

Fig 2 . Mars Attacks, Movie Still, 1996, [photography] http://membres.multimania.fr/starmars/psp/lisa51.jpg

Fig 3 . Mars Attacks, Movie Still, 1996, [photography] http://www-movieline-com.vimg.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/marsattacksfireee500.jpg

Narrative - District 9

Fig 1.

District 9 (2009) Director: Neill Blomkamp

A gigantic malfunctioning space craft hovers over Johannesburg, South Africa. After it being there for sometime the authorities decide that it's time to investigate inside, and what they find are a hoard of aliens inside. Unable to leave Earth the aliens are house in a Township as refugees where they are left suffer the indecencies of poverty. The human population of Johannesburg start to get weary of their alien neighbours and an eviction notice starts to be served to the 2.5 million alien refugees to relocate them further away. Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley) and employee of MNU (the private company to relocate the aliens) is head of the the operation is more interested in acquiring the aliens weapons technology for MNU and a bazaar twist of fate ends up helping the aliens for his own sake.

Fig 2.

The most striking way in which the story is told is how much it paralleled South Africa in the times of Apartheid. It's no coincidence that the makers of the film made it this way. They could have easily made the ship hover over New York or London, but would the story have been as poignant? No, not a chance. There is a real hatred of the aliens or "prawns" as they are referred to, which causes them to be segregated into the lowest living conditions much the same as the black community during aparthied were houses into townships that still exist today, "picking at the scab of apartheid in ways that must be akin to a battery-acid shower back home." (Timeout, 2009) It must have been hit home much harder to a South African audience.

Fig 3.


District 9, Timeout2009, [Online] available at http://www.timeout.com/film/chicago/reviews/87388/district_9.html [Accessed 28 September 2011]

Image Bibliography

Fig 1 . District 9, DVD cover, 2009, [photography] http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMTM4OTI1OTM5NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzk5MTU1Mg@@._V1._SY317_CR0,0,214,317_.jpg

Fig 2 . District 9, Movie Still, 2009, [photography] http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_Qawn60e4es/TREPEVR0DTI/AAAAAAAABFE/Sv6cXMhB7Sc/s1600/district-9-2.jpg

Fig 3 . District 9, Movie Still, 2009, [photography] http://cinesnark.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/district-9-sharlto-copley.jpg