Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Haunted Review.

The Haunting


The Haunting is a 1960s horror film directed by Robert Wise and is considered he "little old woman" of the horror film genre. It is a very suggestive film about the study of paranormal activity in a haunted house.

First thing I would note about the film surprisingly is the music used, which is what I liked most about The Haunting. Being a suggestive film (like Cat People, which Wise also has credit for) music is a heavily reliant factor when trying to build an eerie atmosphere, along with the creepy looking house etc. It is very dramatic when need be and definately builds tension in the scary scenes.

[2]The Haunting (1963), Eleanor & Theo

The films characterization is quite varied aswell, each character invokes an intriguing personality but they work together in an odd but successful thematic way. Dr Markway fell for Nell during his study of the house, but didn't make it completely clear. Nell seems to realise this however but never is there a scene of them giving in to eachother, especially after Markways wife turns up to stay at the house.[1] "Theo is an artist and a psychic, and is instantly drawn to the fragile Nell – it’s strongly suggested that she’s a lesbian/bisexual — a fact that is backed up by the sexual tension between her and Nell." (Voodoun Romance, 2010) I also picked up on that wierd relation between Theo and Nell, they always sleep in the same room and Theo is quite "touchy" with Nell and always instigates those situations, Nell however seems oblivious to this. Luke is an arrogant playboy, but is easygoing and likable enough. Mrs Markway is also a bit arrogant but shes not around that long and her role changes towards the end. Dr Markway is the leading figure of the group and holds them together. Overall the acting is quite solid.

[3]The Haunting, 1963, Hill House

Hill House is the main attraction of the film ofcourse, with its cold eerie corridors, organic structure and spooky noises at night. [2]"A particularly interesting aspect of the film is that Hill House can be regarded as a character. It has its own wants and needs, and is an entirely foreboding figure, illustrated even more so by Humphrey Searle’s fearsome instrumental score (even if it is, admittedly, a little overdramatic at times)" (Voodoun Romance, 2010)..This statement can be backed up by the scene where Nell is looking at and reffering to the house saying "he wants me", which is then followed up by quick shots of the empty dark windows and then the door almost as if we are identifying a face. Also in some of the banging crashing scenes in the night you hear a ghostly voice talk to Nell and at one point we see an actual ghost when shes at the top of the spiral staircase.

[4]The Haunting, 1963, Dr Markway & Nell on staircase

The films visual quality is quite good and very effective in black and white, probably more so then if it had been in colour. A downside is that everything seemed to be in the same focus so there was no real sense of depth i.e when looking down long corridors. Also, for a film with the name "The Haunting" you would expect a more horrifying film, this film resides more in a dramatic love drama genre. [3] This is really a film about relationships and the complex triangle (which at various times becomes a weak quadrangle) between Theodora, Eleanor and Dr. Markway (Sponseller, 2001), this is really what the film is about.

Illustration List:

[1] The Haunting, 1963, The Haunting(1963). [electronic print] Available at:

[2] The Haunting, 1963, Eleanor & Theo. [electronic print] Available at:

[3] The Haunting, 1963, Hill House. [electronic print] Available at:

[4] The Haunting, 1963, Dr Markway & Nell on staircase [electronic print] Available at:


[1][2] Voodoun Romance, 2010, Fatally Yours for the love of horrors. [online] Available at:

[3] Brandt Sponseller, 2001, Classic-Horror.com. [online] Available at:

Monday, 29 November 2010

Avatar Review


Avatar is directed by James Cameron and was released in 2009 in 3D. Avatar is Camerons big screen comeback from long years of slumber. The film follows paraplegic marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who decides to take the place of his deceased brother in a mission on the distant world of Pandora. He is the only one capable of replacing his brother because of their close related genes (being twin brothers), as he has to take control of his brothers "avatar" used to explore Pandora. During the mission he learns of greedy corporate figurehead Parker Selfridge's (Giovanni Ribisi) intentions of driving off the native humanoid "Na'vi" in order to mine for the precious material scattered throughout their rich woodland. In exchange for the spinal surgery that will fix his legs, Jake gathers intel for the cooperating military unit spearheaded by gung-ho Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), while simultaneously attempting to infiltrate the Na'vi people with the use of an "avatar" identity. While Jake begins to bond with the native tribe and quickly falls in love with the beautiful alien Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), the restless Colonel moves forward with his ruthless extermination tactics, forcing the soldier to take a stand - and fight back in an epic battle for the fate of Pandora.

""Avatar" is the biggest accomplishment is special effects up to date."

Avatar is from a visual standpoint simply flawless and definately a leap forward in CGI output. The fantastical world of Pandora is simply what we would refer to as Paradise or Eden, it is without a doubt the best fantasy world created on film. Being set in 2154, it allows Cameron to go "all out" with mindboggling ideas and concepts. Avatar is said to have been in the working since 1994, but was held back because Cameron didnt see the technology at the time being able to fulfill his own vision of the film. Avatar goes a step further then the majority of films in terms of visuals and concept work, everything is made from the ground up from the creatures to environments to even the language (which was in development from 2005). A mass, unrivaled effort has been put into creating this world of pandora; it is not just a CGI Pandora, but a world you feel yourself being involved with especially if you watch in 3D. Avatar has done such a great job at portraying this world as being so "heavenly" that it has left a lot of people depressed at the fact that after the screening, they find themselves back in the real world which is dull and grey. Although this isn't really a great thing when you think about it, it is really at the same time, because this shows how awesome Avatar really is!

The character animation is also done superbly, with each avatar looking just like their human resemblants. All of the Na’Vi were based on real actors portraying them (and voicing them). Sam Worthington’s avatar looks like Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana’s looks like Zoe etc. As much effort it took to make Pandora so awesome, probably twice as much was put into making the Na’Vi look alive. Even though the avatar is an 8ft blue creature, it is still easy to forget that they are not real. Their interaction with eachother and humans, and the portrayal of their emotions and feeling are right on point.

"But, as much as technology aids and defines Avatar, it’s also a love letter to humanity and the glory of mother nature."

Avatar is a story based around man against machine and what it means to be human. It employs questions like "what it means to be human", "how does it feel to betray your own race" etc, but Cameron also answers these questions in his deliverance of the story. He shows his belief that Na'Vi are more human and connected to the world. The storyline and plot is very similar with "Pocahontas" in its delivery but has been altered to this scenario. Avatar is however said to be one of Cameron's weaker films concerning story, but most viewers are so entranced by Pandora and its visuals that this aspect gets covered by a magical veil. The story is the most basic good vs. evil plot and it lacks certain depth, but in some cases simplicity can be a good thing, Avatar has pulled this off.

Avatar is not the best film ever, but it’s visually the most impressive. It’s also the most expensive (if marketing expenses are included). Avatar will probably go down in history as the most visually fulfilling film of its time.


The Dark Crystal Review

The Dark Crystal


The Dark Crystal is a 1982 joint British and American fantasy film directed by puppeteers Jim Henson and Frank Oz. The film follows a Gelfling (humanoid race) on another planet in the distant past,embarking on a quest to find the missing shard of a magical crystal, and so restore order to his world.

This film is a joy to watch and really captures your attention with its bright fantastical colours, skilled puppetry work and elegant cinematics. You'll find yourself fully immersed in the films atmospheres and action that you may almost forget that its all done with puppets and animatronics, theres no animation involved! The film has no human characters, but its still easy to really get into it and understand the story and also the underlying features and meanings of the film. "Even more incredible: the puppets enhance what is otherwise only an average story" is what Jesse Hassenger from popmatters.com had to say about Dark Crystal, and I believe it is a true statement in that Dark Crystal's plot is quite simplistic, but effective in the way it is portrayed.

"Its reassuring for us to think of good and evil as completely separate states; it allows us the luxury of believing that one might finally win out over the other. This movie, however, tells the rather more disconcerting truth: neither good nor evil can survive without the other."

The film is about good triumphing over evil when evil has the upper hand, an infamous plot, and this film is no exception when it comes to making the two sides apparent. What is very different though about Dark Crystal is that, for a film predominantly for children, it goes quite deep in suggesting that there needs to be a fair share of both good and evil for us to survive; without good, there is no evil. This isn't very common to see in a PG film and is a good thing to include.

I would agree that the film lacks in the storyline aspects, but it still deserves to shine in terms of visuals and should be looked up to as an "80's classic" for its DESIGN. Its a one of a kind film and it would be interesting to see more of these around.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Space - Gormenghast Extract 2- The Attic Final

I found this extract the hardest to recreate, I had numerous ideas in my head but couldn't execute them as well as I wanted. Here's what I came out with, its the balcony leading to Fuschia's bedroom.


The image quality isn't too good, I dont know why..


Date: 16th November 2010
Model: Jane
Time: 20 Minutes (3 minutes each)
Description: We were asked to produce come colour drawings using charcoal. The model would be move every 3 minutes and we had to do a new sketch, over the old one, using a different colour.

Date: 16th November 2010
Model: Jane
Time: 1 Hour
Description: A free session using pencil

1,2 & 3 Point Perspective

Here are some diagrams showing my understanding of different perspectives

1 Point Perspective

2 Point Perspective

3 Point Perspective

Space: Gormenghast Extract 2:- Influence Map on Visual Style & Environment.

Heres what I looked at as inspiration for the making of the second extract.

1. Lucky Luke Playstation game: When the designing process was done, I moved onto references for colour. I wanted to make this similar to the Hall of the Bright Carvings, but still a bit different. When playing around with the colours in Photoshop I remembered this game I used to play called Lucky Luke, what stood out to me in my head about it was its bright, almost exaggerated colour scheme that your likely to see in todays pixar films. After looking more into Lucky Luke I decided I would try and replicate its style but in a more updated way.

2. Hunedoara Castle Towers: These towers are close to what I imagine the smaller roofs of Gormenghast castle to look like. These would only be roofs for small rooms and I imagine this would be a roof on the attic, since the main attic and its branching rooms are quite detatched from the main building.

3. Castle Archway: Im not sure where this is but I plan to have an entrance & exit archway just like this in my piece. This will come in handy in the planning process.

4. Dundurn Castle: Again another plan reference. This was to see the features of a castle balcony and what it would actually look like as a whole.

5. Again I dont know where this building is or what its called, but this picture has helped me A LOT for most of my castle designs. The reason its helped is because of the perspective. I'm recreating a balcony but with this picture I can understand what your likely to see from the square below (which I also have plans for). This picture also encourages me to think outside the box and use more of my imagination to recreate the scene from the balcony. The features of this building, like the balustrades and the shape of the windows, bear resemblence to Gormenghast from what I have read and visualised in my head, which also makes this building helpful.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Space - Gormenghast Extract 3- Room of Roots Final

Here's my final piece, with work up images, of the Room of Roots. I'm quite pleased with this one mainly because I pushed myself in a different direction in terms of style (I'm quite linier normally I would say).


1. Drew BASIC squiggles and line for position and perspective planning, (this was basically so I knew where the walls, floor, ceiling was and what angles they were all at)

2. Added more detail

3. Added outline on certain shadow layers.

4. Made the outline fatter to block out some logs (early stage)

5. Coloured predominant areas black while adding light and dark grey tones to little areas to create contrast.

6. Turned dark grey areas white, this is prep for where the light will shine through the roots.

7. Added transparent brown layer and some minor adjustments.

8. Added very light pale streaks of blues & greens resembling light, flipped painting horizontally.

9. Started lightening overlay and making light more present simultaneously.

10. Finalising detail. Also converted brown overlay to an actual overlay, instead of turning down opacity.

11. Added the twins in the background, shadows and redone background window.

12. BG Hue & Saturation adjustments.

13. BG Colour Balance adjustments.


I dont feel I will be making many changes to this one as I feel it its accomplished enough, unless someone picks something out which i've missed.

Thumbnails 44-64




The Attic

The Attic

Space: Gormenghast Extract 3:- Influence Maps on Visual Style & Environment.

My third extract is about the Room of Roots, which I will abbreviate as RoR. Here are my influences for how I will plan out the space and some visual style inspirations. I'll explain my reasoning behind each picture from the top (left to right).

Environment Plans:

1. Tree roots over building: I randomly came across this picture when browsing and found it interesting. I dont know how this has happened but it looks like the tree has just been plonked ontop of the house. The location of this building is Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor, Cambodia. What i find intersting about it is how the roots have grown around the stone without completely destroying the structure.I can use this concept as an idea to build on my room of roots interpretation, how the tree and roots will be incorporated into the design etc.

2. Elephant Graveyard- Lion King: When thinking about how I wanted my roots to be I remembered how the Elephant Graveyard in Lion King was. Theres a specific scene, where Simba and Nala are running away from the hyena's, which shows the mass jungle of bones scattered about the graveyard but I couldn't find an actual picture of that. The bones that stood out most were the elephant ribcages that the cubs slide down the hill through. The shape and orientation of an elephants ribcage is kind of how I want to make my room of roots. The spine would be replaced by the floor, the roots would then rise upwards instead of down and would make a cage-like room, the same way the ribcage incases the heart and vital organs. they would finally intertwine in places at the tips. Its probably pretty hard for others to visualise now but I will try my best to get a self explanatory drawing up.

3. Tree Cave: A picture of a cave made from the roots of the tree. The base of the tree is raised out of the ground from the roots, which makes the cave. This was another little idea of how i would mould my room.

4. Onion: Your probably wondering what the onion is all about. This onion is my main source of ideas for layout planning of the RoR, the reason being is its structure. The onion has roots at both sides and the middle is the actual onion. One side are roots which go down into the ground, the other side is where long leaves sprout upwards from the onion. The main focus of the onion is the middle. I was looking at onions, and also garlic and daffodils, and the direction the skin on an onion goes. The lines and skin of the onion go from root to root around the onion and it does this from the core to the outside. Now, if you imagine yourself being inside the onion looking at the walls you will see this direction of the skin, striping up and down from root to root, This is how I imagine my room being. The middle would be where the room is, the top is the tree and the bottom will be the tree roots. It would work in a similar way to how the tree cave is so there will be gaps in the walls for where light will shine through.

5. Codename Kids Next Door: Another cartoon I used to watch. I didnt really look at this much, I looked at this simply because the tree has a number of rooms in the tree. 

6. Millenium Dome: I look at the Millenium Dome similarly to the tree cave in this case, only it is a lot bigger and is man made. The dome and yellow antenna things being the tree, while the gaps along the bottom could be entrances for people and light.

7. Onion shaped tree house: After doing drawings demonstrating my onion idea I finally found this image of a tree house, which looks like an onion, and put it here to show exactly what i'm talking about. As you can see the structure has slits along its exterior which let in light and fresh air, this is how i plan my roots to be. The structure is ofcourse on a tree which runs down the middle and is holding it up. My room will be on the ground so there will be no need for the tree in the middle, this is where I blend this structure and the tree cave idea together to make the Room of Roots.

Visual Style Infuences:

For my RoR interpretation I want to try a more painterly approach. I would say im more of a linier artist, but I would like to explore other ways of drawing while doing the RoR. With that out of the way, here are some visual style influences I have gathered, with explaination of why I chose each.

1. Forest Painting: I have forgotten where I found this but what I like about it is the colour used, speficically in the light. The light is the main influence of colour in this piece and the lights and dark shades on the trees and leaves are done very nicely. Also the rosey highlights give us an idea of the time of day and month this painting is set in. I will be looking at this for colours when doing the RoR.

2. The Jungle Book: I was trying to think of an early screen production that was set in a green area and Jungle Book sprung to mind. After looking into it more to refresh the memory I realised it was a bit like what I had in mind, again for the colours. Jungle Book is quite different in its visual style to other productions in that it keeps its liveliness. Usually with handpainted productions you notice that, if they are not vivid enough, they lose that stand out feature you get with some of todays cartoons and feature films. Jungle Book has managed to hold onto its vibrant look while still having hand painted art in it, this is because they have used cel shading and brighter colours on the characters and important features.

Examples of this:

I plan to try a similar colour technique in my interpretation, and also look at the way the trees and green are drawn and painted.

3. The Lion King: I have been looking to Lion King a lot for this extract and would say it is the most influential. Lion King is a great influence for its style and colours because it covers a lot of different environments. It is also an original classic story. I already explained that the Elephant Graveyard is a source for the planning out of the RoR, but also the colour scheme in that scene and others like the desert are suitable to take note of.

4. Bambi: I looked at Bambi for the same reasons I looked at Jungle Book for. They have a similar setting and are both very vibrant productions.

5. The Tree, by Stan Hamilton: This is an Acrylic painting of a tree done on a wooden panel. what really captures my attention is the ultraviolet-like colour scheme used. These colours make the painting look really new age, Hamilton uses these bright colours in most of his painting. I will try to use Hamiltons painting as inspiration in my work.

6. Lion King The Musical: After looking at the Lion King film I then remembered the musical based at the Lyceum Theatre, London. I had worked there for a period of time doing several jobs, one of my jobs was to look over the puppets and stage props and fix them if they were broken. When watching the show you dont really get to see the level of detail the puppets have been painted with. Close up you can see the intricate blending of colour and shading which I really like. This is why I have decided to use memories and pictures of the stage show, aswell as the Lion King film artwork as influence for my RoR designs, layouts and colour plans.