28 November 2016

Black Narcissus, 1947

Fig. 1 Poster
Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 'Black Narcissus' (1947) is a British melodrama with a key focus on female sexuality. This is a topic that was taboo at the time it was made and is still rarely explored with much depth today. At the time of the film's release, Thomas M. Pryor, writing for the New York Times, noted that the film would 'disturb and antagonise some' (Pryor, 1947). Powell and Pressburger, known as The Archers, made the film shortly after World War II ended; this was a very good time for British cinema, the constraints of war time were lifted and filmmakers had higher budgets and more creative freedom (Mirasol, 2010). The film follows the story of a small group of nuns who are invited to set up a school and hospital in the disused and rundown Palace of Mopu, a place that once housed harem ladies. The plot follows these women as they are negatively affected by their environment and come to question their dedication to the Order they belong to.

Designed by Alfred Junge, a regular collaborator on films by Powell and Pressburger, the entire film was shot in England, with almost all of it shot at Pinewood Studios, and a small part of the film - the gardens - shot at Leonardslea in West Sussex (Howells, 2011). Matte painting was used to create the backdrop for the film, which is set in the Himalayas of India. The differences between Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 show just how much of the landscape seen in the film was produced through this technique. The effect is incredible, and, according to Peter Bradshaw, writing in 2005, 'the sets and backdrops are superbly and still convincingly rendered' (Bradshaw, 2005).


Fig. 2 Integrated Matte Painting
Fig. 3 Behind the Scenes
The filmmakers use set design to enhance the harshness of the plot and its brutally cold mountain top setting. The difficult weather is used to represent the coldness that anyone might feel coming to a new place where things will be difficult and people likely hostile. This is continued as the tensions in the film come to a head, with a scuffle between the Sister Superior, Sister Clodagh, and a troubled member of her group, Sister Ruth. During this scene, that takes place in the same spot as the scene shown in Fig. 2, a different matte painting is used, and the heavy cloud cover, seen in Fig. 4, is cleverly representative of the conflict the nuns are feeling amongst and within themselves.

Fig. 4 The Confrontation
The cruelty of the environment the nuns have come to is also felt through the crooked and cramped design of the palace. In the book 'British Film Design: A History', Laurie N. Ede writes that the Junge's designs 'expressed marvellous contrasts between the ordered world of the convent of the order of St Mary and the house at Mopu' (Ede, 2010:54) Throughout the film many things are placed in opposition to highlight and create tensions. The interior walls of the palace depict sexual scenes with many naked women; these frescos are in the background of the all of the nuns' activities and serve to create constant conflict with the pure and functional mission of the nuns.

Fig. 5 Intense Lighting
Powell and Pressburger make use of red and blue to represent conflicts between sexuality and chastity, madness and stability, and warmth and cold. They do this through lighting techniques and the colours in the physical set. The tension in the film builds and, as the nuns are driven further mad by their environment, the contrast in the lighting grows. More and more red is used as the film goes on and the mood of the film and its set is entirely different at its end than at its start. This change happens so smoothly that its only as the film approaches its climax, with the changes increasing in pace, that it becomes obvious. Fig. 5 shows the powerful changes that lighting makes to the plain white uniform of Sister Clodagh.

Fig. 6 The Nuns
Carefully chosen costumes are effective in separating the nuns from those they have come to live with. The nuns wear a very conservative white uniform (as seen in Fig. 6), making it difficult to separate them from one another, and easy to pick out from those outside of their order. This uniform represents their purity and contrasts greatly with the colourful outfits worn by the local people. These uniforms are in greatest contrast with those worn by the men in the film, highlighting the sexual frustrations in the film. The Young General wears incredibly lavish clothing, and Mr Dean often wears hardly anything at all.

Fig. 7 Sister Ruth and Mr Dean
Mr Dean is the object of Sister Ruth's affections and it becomes an obsession, with the conflict between her vows and her sexual desires driving her mad. Fig. 7 shows the difference in costume and Sister Ruth's sexual attraction to Mr Dean. There is a very intense scene in the film, in which Sister Ruth applies red lipstick, as Sister Clodagh looks on in horror, clutching her bible. The camera closes in on Sister Ruth's mouth (as seen in Fig. 8), and, particularly with red makeup intended to mimic the flush of arousal, the scene is very sexually charged. It is described by Michael Howells, writing for BAFTA Guru, as 'spellbinding' (Howells, 2011). Choice of colours can have a great impact on a film, and the use of Technicolour in this film is incredibly important for showing the many contrasts that Powell and Pressburger create through the use of colour.

Fig. 8 Red Lipstick

Bibliography

Bradshaw, P (2005). Black Narcissus. At: https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2005/aug/05/3 (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Ede, L (2010). British Film Design: A History. London: I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd. [Online] At: https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=7633AgAAQBAJ&pg=PA54&lpg=PA54&dq=black+narcissus+set+design&source=bl&ots=0TxvgDP_-B&sig=Mth9uxm87knOkBELs6_iU_lWZpY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwj_sIv9qavQAhVFI8AKHVJSDEw4ChDoAQg4MAY#v=onepage&q&f=false (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Howells, M (2011). Behind the Mask: Production Design in Black Narcissus. At: http://guru.bafta.org/behind-mask-production-design-black-narcissus (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Mirasol, M (2010). "Black Narcissus," Which Electrified Scorsese. At: http://www.rogerebert.com/far-flung-correspondents/black-narcissus-which-electrified-scorsese (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Pryor, T (1947). Black Narcissus. At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF173CE261BC4C52DFBE66838C659EDE (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Illustration List

Fig. 1 Poster
Powell, M and Pressburger E (1947). 'Black Narcissus'. [Poster] At: http://assets.flicks.co.nz/images/movies/poster/70/70afbf2259b4449d8ae1429e054df1b1_500x735.jpg (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Fig. 2 Integrated Matte Painting
Powell, M and Pressburger E (1947). 'Black Narcissus'. [Film Still] At: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-uFuW-ObYtFE/TpUZu1bEF9I/AAAAAAAADbk/tBGGTmbnHDY/s1600/black-narcissus.jpg (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Fig. 3 Behind the Scenes
Powell, M and Pressburger E (1947). 'Black Narcissus'. [Behind the Scenes Photgraph] At: http://theredlist.fr/media/database/settings/cinema/1940-1950/the-black-narcissus/007-the-black-narcissus-theredlist.jpg (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Fig. 4 The Confrontation
Powell, M and Pressburger E (1947). 'Black Narcissus'. [Film Still] At: https://www.berlinale.de/media/filmstills/2015_1/retrospektive_11/201520114_4_IMG_FIX_700x700.jpg (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Fig. 5 Intense Lighting
Powell, M and Pressburger E (1947). 'Black Narcissus'. [Film Still] At: http://theredlist.fr/media/database/settings/cinema/1940-1950/the-black-narcissus/007-the-black-narcissus-theredlist.jpg (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Fig. 6 The Nuns
Powell, M and Pressburger E (1947). 'Black Narcissus'. [Film Still] At: http://networkonair.com/features/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/blacknarcissus01.jpg (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Fig. 7 Sister Ruth and Mr Dean
Powell, M and Pressburger E (1947). 'Black Narcissus'. [Film Still] At: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/1d/d6/ba/1dd6baec2b90d28613a3c832c5226b8f.jpg (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Fig. 8 Red Lipstick
Powell, M and Pressburger E (1947). 'Black Narcissus'. [Film Still] At: http://image.glamourdaze.com/2012/09/1940s-lipstick-Kathleen-Byron-in-Black-NarcissusB.jpg (Accessed on 26.11.16)

Maya: Old Alley UV


WIM Concept Painting and Breakdown




27 November 2016

Organic Modelling Unfinished

I have finished the first 4 videos, but I am having problems with the UV mapping. I've tried to work through this myself but have been unsuccessful.





22 November 2016

WIM 106-107

106
107

I think thumbnail 107 will be my final composition, I will do some colour keys, and hopefully I will then begin painting.

20 November 2016

WIM 90-95

90-93
Some Colour Ideas

94
A view from a path leading to a greenhouse

95
An edit on a previous thumbnail, to push the train line into the image

WIM 89

89

I wanted to post this one thumbnail before I carry on working, as I feel its the closest I've got to the 'mood' I'm trying to create. I would probably push the train line further back into the image, and the building on the left.

After Effects to Maya: Cube Animation


16 November 2016

WIM Thumbnails 86-88

86

88

89

These are some composition ideas. Drawing like this doesn't represent the style of the buildings and the way they interact with the plants, it looks a too run down, but I found it quite useful to just sketch some things out like this.

15 November 2016

Edward Scissorhands, 1990

Director Tim Burton's 'Edward Scissorhands' (1990) is a beautiful film, with a very recognisable titular character and a very memorable feeling of warmth and whimsy.  Burton worked with screenwriter Caroline Thompson and production designer Bo Welch to create a place that is as strange as it is wonderful.

Fig. 1 Poster
There is a section of the film before Edward is introduced, with Peg, an Avon representative, going from door to door, trying to sell makeup products. Peg inhabits a very colourful world, a 'cookie cutter' town, where every house looks the same, only painted a different colour. As Derek Malcolm, writing for the Guardian, comments; 'This is a world waiting for someone to astonish it with passionate unorthodoxy, and Edward is just the man to do it.' (Malcolm, 1991). This sequence at the beginning is just long enough to provide something solid with which to contrast Edward.

Fig. 2 The town and the mansion just outside
And contrasted he is; Peg, desperate for a sale, decides to try the out of place and out of time gothic mansion up at the edge of town . As seen in Fig. 3, In her matching lilac outfit, with her perfect hair, Peg stands out as she wanders through this building that looks as though it belongs in a German Expressionist film of a much earlier date. In his book 'World Cinema's 'Dialogues' With Hollywood' (2007), Paul Cooke describes 'Edward Scissorhands' as an 'overt echo' (Cooke, 2007) of Robert Wiene's 'Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari' (1920), one of the earliest, and certainly most well known, examples of German Expressionism in film. This building is wildly different from those in the town below, and Edward is set in the role of the outsider before we even see him. Bo Welch excels in his role as production designer, using set design to add practically to the fleshing out of the film's characters and the progression of the story and, perhaps most importantly, bringing Burton's fairy tale magic to life.

Fig. 3 Peg inside the mansion
The film is filled with absurdities, such as shrubs popping up where they hadn't been before. Janet Maslin of the New York Times wrote that the 'Edward Scissorhands' has a 'fearless, defiant illogic' (Maslin, 1990). By saturating the world with little nonsenses, Burton is able to make several of the strange occurrences in the film seem as though they could be perfectly reasonable. Through this, the audience is able to keep up with the story without getting hung up on some strange prop or plot point, if only because something equally as absurd occurs shortly after.

Fig. 4 Edward
Fig. 5 The townspeople
Edward's appearance is strange; his wild hair, scarred, pale skin, and strange outfit set him apart even before you consider that he has scissors instead of hands. He is described by Malcolm as 'lonely and quizzical soul' (Malcolm, 1991). Edward's extreme exterior is in contrast to his gentle nature, but neither his shocking appearance or quiet sensitivity fit in with the town's residents. By exaggerating the similarities between the families living in the area, Burton can emphasise how different Edward is. Burton also uses features from the 1950s, the time in which consumerism was born, to poke fun at the desperation people feel to conform and be 'normal'. Having characters appear alien to the viewer by having them behave so similarly to each other as to appear absurd is an important technique in the film and Burton is able to make the 'normal' people seem just as strange as Edward.  As seen in Fig. 4 and Fig. 5, Edward and the townspeople look wildly different, however, it is worth noting that the film uses the same techniques to make Edward appear different, simplification and exaggeration, as it does to make the townspeople seem the same. In this way they are able to exist in the same world, with the viewer more able to suspend disbelief, or at the very least, embrace it.

Bibliography

Cooke, P (2007). World Cinema's 'Dialogues' With Hollywood. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan UK. [Online] At: https://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&lr=&id=0CpaCwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=edward+scissorhands&ots=NPtRSYKw88&sig=9TFI5reFpPfDtUxDsOBS5fKLZoM#v=onepage&q&f=false (Accessed on 15.11.16)

Malcolm, D (1991). Edward Scissorhands At: https://www.theguardian.com/film/News_Story/Critic_Review/Guardian_review/0,,558617,00.html (Accessed on 15.11.16)

Maslin, J (1990). Review/Film; And So Handy Around The Garden At: http://www.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9C0CE2D81338F934A35751C1A966958260 (Accessed on 15.11.16)

Illustration List

Fig. 1 Poster
Burton, T (1990). Edward Scissorhands. [Film Still] At: http://www.impawards.com/1990/posters/edward_scissorhands_ver1.jpg
(Accessed on 15.11.16)

Fig. 2 The town and the mansion just outside
Burton, T (1990). Edward Scissorhands. [Film Still] At: http://static.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/movie-locations-then-now-edward-scissorhands-suburb-pictures-voodrew-1.jpg
(Accessed on 15.11.16)

Fig. 3 Peg inside the mansion
Burton, T (1990). Edward Scissorhands. [Film Still] At: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nw69VRoml1w/VSN7D5tHxpI/AAAAAAAAAN4/HakltjOTiZc/s1600/Edward-Scissorhands-the-attic-resembles-sweeney-todd.png
(Accessed on 15.11.16)
Fig. 4 Edward
Burton, T (1990). Edward Scissorhands. [Film Still] At: http://digitalspyuk.cdnds.net/15/50/980x490/landscape-1449768828-johnny-depp-edward-scissorhands.jpg
(Accessed on 15.11.16)

Fig. 5 The townspeople
Burton, T (1990). Edward Scissorhands. [Film Still] At: http://510555444.r.lightningbase-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Screen-Shot-2014-06-19-at-14.33.05.jpg
(Accessed on 15.11.16)

14 November 2016

WIM Thumbnails 78-85

Postboxes
78-79
Building Shapes
80-84
Composition Practice
85

I am happier with the building shapes here than I am with my previous designs. I want to keep the shapes more organic as Arp was very interested in doing this in his work and would likely want his buildings to be organic too.

I am not pleased with how ordinary the paths make the composition look, and it's a bit dark and over textured. I will work on blocking in more simple shapes for my composition ideas, and go into Maya to try the paint over technique.
I am going to do more research into references for my city.