Sunday, 25 October 2015

Space Oddities - King Kong

Exploring unseen continents and unlocking the mysteries of the world, documentary expeditions in the early 20th century where cataloguing foreign cultures and aesthetics bringing the “armchair traveller” to the western worlds population, letting them escape into new worlds from the great depression of the 1930’s. Merian  C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, 1933 action-adventure blockbuster “King Kong”  blends the ever popular documentary explorer, with the spectacle of turning scientific belief on its head and finding a 60ft ape, extinct dinosaurs, unseen African magic and sacrifice. 

Willis O’Brien special effects artifice impressively creates a engaging environment of size and stature.  Where man and beast can occupy the same space in a seamless plane. “In adhering to the proper perspectives the technical crew has never missed. The illusion of comparative size is splendid”

fig. 1.

O’Brien used multiple layers of back projections, glass paintings and models, creating depth and believability that the live action cast where in the heart of the jungle, where the impossible live and not in a Hollywood studio sets. Cleverly devised miniature puppets are used to trick the viewer to think that a inanimate 6inch model is a emotional, addictive, living breathing  60ft brute and that dinosoars do in-fact exist in the real world.

King Kongs political racial underpinning provides some uncomfortable viewing in today’s social conformities, referring to miscegenation and the slave trade. I’m not sure how to word this section, so a selection of quotes will explain the racial difference at the time of King Kong.

“It doesn’t require too great an exercise of the imagination to perceive the element of race in KING KONG. Racist conceptions of blacks often depict them as subhuman, ape or monkey-like. And consider the plot of the film: Kong is forcibly taken from his jungle home, brought in chains to the United States, where he is put on stage as a freak entertainment attraction” 

“Carl Denham’s introductory speech here highlights the uncomfortable parallels this film draws with the US slave trade, and the ensuing years of civil tension between black and white Americans. Released 35 years before the end of segregation and the passing of the Civil Rights Act, the film offers up a disturbing portrait of the dominant white racial ideologies of the time, implying that the idea of America (as represented by Manhattan’s iconic topography) would be destroyed if the black man were given total freedom.”

Even the Curvaceous victim Fay Wray  was caught up in the racial politics at the time. “How would you like to star opposite the tallest, darkest leading man in Hollywood?” Being victimised by Kong, It’s a 96-minute screaming session for her, being man-handled and sniffed by the addictive brute. But Kongs fascination with the carcseon female and the ability not to let her go, brings him to his capture and downfall. Being transported and secured in chains, again reference to slave trade at the time, Kong is publicised as the “Eighth wonder of the world” back in New York, showing the white dominance over primitive people “I’ll tell you, there’s something that no White man has ever seen”

But Kongs fatal attraction to the beauty causes the beast to break his chains and recapture the blonde causing carnage and destruction on the way only to be felled by New Yorks Air forces. 
 “Oh, no, it wasn’t the airplanes. It was Beauty killed the Beast.”


•  Woods, P. A. (ed.) (2005) King Kong cometh!: the evolution of the great ape. London: Plexus Publishing


Illustration List:
•  Fig. 1.

•  Fig. 2.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Invisible Cities - Key Thumbnail Development

Still playing around with the main city shape, trying to get more details, but think might be abiit confusing?

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Space Oddities - Metropolis

Fritz Lang’s future scientific fiction Metropolis, was released in 1927, a silent German Expressionist film. Set in a futuristic city, where the elite live in a city of spectacular opulence. An astonishing concrete jungle of cutting-edge architecture and forms, aerial traffic bridges that intermingle with the cities blueprints, buzzing with a constant flow of futuristic cars on what seems a traffic systems that can cope. Metropolis’s technological advances seems on the surface to have a environmental impact as the city seems clean from pollution despite its monumental size. 

However, this is a city of two classes, while the elite evolve in this sparkling utopia, they are oblivious to the dehumanized Working class, slaves to the machinery that keep the whole city alive. Their hands prepared to obey others unquestioningly. A world full of boiling, steam driven industrial machines that need constant attention of blood, sweat and tears. Bellowing out this torturous and oppressive smog. Lang’s vision of class reflects on the government and social order in Germany at the time.

The way in which Lang portrays both sides of Metropolis through forward thinking special fx produced in the 1920’s was a significant step in the Sci-Fi genre. Huge scaled down models of the city where hand crafted and lit, so that all the perspective angles and viewpoints where believable to the viewer that metropolis was real. A technique made by “Eugen Schüfftan “ called the Schüfftan effect used specially crafted mirrors to reflect the actors to the scaled size of the large city models, creating the illusion that the actors where roaming these streets - this process is still used in today’s features films - lord of the rings - return of the king. Dedicated teams of artisans, stylised  magnificent, full sized set designs creating an overwhelming sense of scale and intensity, pulling the viewer into Lang’s expressionist vision for a monumental viewing experience.

Figures 1, 2, 3

“Metropolis employed vast sets, 25,000 extras and astonishing special effects to create two worlds: the great city of metropolis, with its stadiums, skyscrapers and express-ways in the sky, and the subterranean workers’ city, where the clock face shows 10 hours to cram another day into the work week” (Ebert, 1998)

A key scene that could shows Langs political views through Metropolis, is when Mary, a woman of passion to others and well being is abducted by the Mad Professor who has designed a android, programmed to infiltrate and corrupt the innocent minds of the working class to bring down the city and Rebel against the government. Mary is transformed into the robot Avatar (which has become such a iconic scene in many sci-fi and fantasy genre films). Now the Avatar version of Mary moves in such a quirky, strange and unsettling way, but uses seduction of the female form to produce coercion. Again Lang using this viewpoint to show how German politics uses force as a means of control exercised by the state.

ex machina - god from the machine - The term has evolved to mean a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3


Ebert, R (1998) Metropolis At: Accesed on: 29/09/2015

Maya Tutorials - Materials

Invisible Cities - Key Thumbnail Development

Trying to workout how to get the details into chosen key thumbnails, and playing with the gradient map, though can't quite get the colours I'm after at the moment.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Help Me Please

Does anyone know how to stop 3 grouped polygon shapes exploding apart when I try and scale the group down - I just wanna make the group smaller - much appreciated if anyone can help

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Invisible Cities - Thumbnails

Space Oddities - The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

The Horrific events of the first world war caused grusome injuries and deep deppresion over Germany. Suffering a hummilinating defeat and now stark and gloomy living conditions, for many Germans they where looking for a sense of escape from the anxieties of their new lives. From the ashes of war appeared two ex-soilders, scarred by the German goverment and that acts they where forced to commit. Carl Mayer and Hanz Janowitz decided to write a expressionist screen play on how the masses can get hypnotized by the goverment and commit awful acts for them. “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” was born.

The first psychlogical horror genre film of its time, Caliagri used artificial set designs that looked twisted and eerie combined with stark lighting and harsh shadows producing an unearthly, nightmarish location. These expressionist set designs where forward thinking at the time and has been “Branded as the first “art Film” the first movie to bring the ideas of Picasso ,Braque and Duchamp to the screen” - “ the first significant attempt at the expressionism of a creative mind in the medium of cinematography”

Creepy characters enhanced by outrageous make-up and jerky manourisms, dwarfed by the twisted, dark set designs with their quirky veiwpoints and perspectives, bring together a sense of paranoia of this nightmarish world. Everything about the film throws you off balance not knowing if you are in a interior or exterior world of who done it and is this real.
These techniques have been adapted and recreated in recent hollywood films, such as Tim Burton’s, “Edward Scissorhands” and “BeetleJuice”, which use all the formula’s and essence of Calgari, making it such a iconic film.

Figures 1, 2, 3

The plot twist of Calagari, also sets a dramatic keystone in modern films, namely Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” and M. Night Shyamalan’s “Sixth Sense” where the viewer is kept in suspense on the story, they believe to be true,  only to be turned inside out at the finale of the film, leaving the veiwer in shock and deep emotions of what just happened.

Though the characters in Caligari where Lunatics, murderers and Somnambulist, Mayer and Janowitz place very subtle political statement in the eerie depths of this film. The Somnambulist Cesare, was the exarmple of the innocent public, transformed into the automatic equipment and the mindless soilder of war, commiting violent crimes to the human race just because they where told to by the goverment and not realising the morbid acts they where commiting. This attack continued throughout the story, as the Hero of the film eventually turns out to be the lunatic, further pressing the point that the person percieved to be the actor of evil “Caliagri’  and the soilders of the war, was actually a kind meaning inoccent doctor.

The Cabinet of Dr. Calagari has earned its place on the shelf for the first iconic Macabre horror movie - a film truely for nightmares.

Briggs, Joe Bob (2003) Profoundly Disturbing Shocking Movies THat Changed History. Plexus Publishing Ltd 2003

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