Thursday, 20 January 2011

An UPDATE/SUMMARY on what I have been doing.

Okay so where do I start? I know I haven't been actively uploading my work during this project and that comes down to many reasons, i wont waste time babbling on about that though so here's what I've been doing from the start. I will try to remember everything and include it all.

Alright, from the get go of this project I found it very difficult to grasp what was actually asked of us, to create an "Uncanny" atmosphere combining a matte painting with a modelled scene. I had ideas which I personally thought were good, but nobody else seemed to approve of (including tutors) as they said I was going down the wrong route. (In case your wondering, I did read the brief and listened to the podcast) I will now explain all the ideas I conjured up over the project.

1. Abandoned Classroom/Office

While doing some more research on the uncanny itself, i.e digging further into what it meant , I started to piece together some examples of this in the real world. Chernobyl popped into my head as I remember studying it back in school. Chernobyl is a big, well known nuclear disaster that killed thousands of people in Russia in 1986. What happened was a sudden big power surge at a nuclear power plant took place, the surge ruptured a reactor vessel. When staff tried to shutdown the sit, it only made things worse by causing series of explosions. Long story short, worst comes to worst and the radiation that escapes the plant ends up killing or badly injuring loads of people far and wide. The radiation cause deformation of pregnant women's babies, diseases among people. The radiation started spreading across western Europe and affected more and more people and as of December 200, 350,400 people had to be evacuated and resettled from the most severely contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. This left towns in Russia and Ukraine completely abandoned, especially the town called Pripyat in Ukraine which is very close to the site.

As of now people are starting to venture back into these affected part (scavengers and thieves started stealing stuff from houses and shops). There are pictures of bedrooms, kitchens, classrooms, playgrounds, streets and much more whch have been left just as theywere over a decade ago. These pictures were a source material for what I had planned, which was to make an abandoned classroom. I have posted thumbnails and research already.

As well as Chernobyl, I had a look at other examples within film and media such as "The Nightmare on Elm Street", particularly the classroom scene in that film which hosts a woman in a burnt down classroom.

I didnt go through with this idea because i didnt give myself a chance to make a solid final idea from it, i was still picking and chosing as it was an earl idea.

2. Abandoned Airfield

Spanned off the classroom idea and were inspired by more pictures of Chernobyl. Again, thumbnails have been posted prior to this post

I had a look at the abandoned airfields of Russia for some inspiration, most evacuated due to Chernobyl. I also looked at abandoned military planes which show no clear sign what happened i.e why its left laying in pieces in a middle of a field. This linked back to the Mis-en-scene used mostly in film.

3. Abandoned Fairground

The idea of a normally loud, lively, happy place being desolate and silent, with no clear reason, is a chilling thought. This ideology lead me to thinking about making a fairground scene.This is again inspired by some pictures of old funfairs in Russia abandoned due to Chernobyl. Thumbnails previously posted

4. Ghost Town- Sweet Shop

I started on a new idea, this time a ghost town. I was trying to look up some history on old towns, but came across the film "I Am Legend" starring Will Smith. Smith find himself being one of very few people still alive in the middle of New York City and must fight to survive as the once most popular city becomes populated with zombies. Most of the cities population fled after the outbreak of this zombie disease so everything is left at a stand still (cars abandoned in the road, streets, shopping centres and houses empty etc).

What I planned to do was try to replicate an empty city scene for my project. I combined this idea with another plan I had which was to have a shady character lurking in a sweet shop. The final outcome would be an empty street set outside a tuc shop, there would be a tricycle left on its side in the middle of the road. (thumbnails previously uploaded)

After talking to a few classmates about the concept, i decided to abandon it (see what I did there :D). I found it would be hard to understand this as being "uncanny" as the mood wouldn't be odd enough.

5. Childs Room

This idea sparked from a scene I remembered seeing in "The Company of Wolves". In the very first scene we witness a girl who is having a dream, the audience are brought in and out of her dream. She is having a bad dream about all of her toys being alive and life size, haunting her. All the toys in her dream are infact sat on shelves in her room, looking down at her through their plastic beady eyes.

For my project I wanted to try and make something like this. Kids see their toys as safe and fun things to play with, so portraying them in a subtly freaky way while still keeping them as normal toys was a good concept. The way I planned to do this was to use toys can are sometimes seen as being scary to children at first. Toys I came up with were clowns, china dolls, teddybears and a jack in a box. I would have them lines up on a shelf above where the childs bed is just as Company of Wolves did, this was to give the indication that the toys are looking down on the child as if they are preying on them. I have already posted thumbnails so wont double post.

The reason I didn't go through with this idea was that modeling humanoid structures would be too tricky to complete in the time given, I would have to model, texture and maybe even rig about 5 different characters. I was also advised not to go with this because of not being "efficient" enough in Maya.

6. Depressing Disco

I was going for a different approach with the disco thumbnail, I thought I would go down the unusual/strange= unhomely route. There are load of people in the disco, but none of them are having a good time and infact are dreading their time there. People are bored, moping around, sitting on the floor, some even crying, basically all the behaviour your more likely to see in a prison then a disco for example.

I went off this idea after more thought as it didnt seem to be as uncanny as I originally thought..

7. Scary Woods

Research lead me onto the idea of using illusional double images as a was of taking a harmless object and making it look/seem a bit scary, but still not changing its actual features or functions. I started thinking about harmless objects that can be portrayed in a scary manner and, after some searching around, saw that trees were a popular choice for this. In some horror movies, the trees branches are formed to make scary eyes while a hole in the trunk sometimes replicating a mouth.

I used this picture of a Pokemon called Masquerain as an example of how this theory can be used. Masquerain is a butterfly-like creature with wings that look threatening, they are like this to scare off prey. Despite its appearance, Masquerain is usually a peaceful Pokémon.

[1]Masquerain, (2002)

As we all know, a butterly is a lot less likely to come up in a list of most feared animals or creatures, but given the added intimidating features things could change, even though it is still just a butterly. This was the theory I was going to try and use with the tree. The scary tree in Snow White s how it can be sed in TV and film (Thumnails have previously been posted)

[2] Scary tree from Snow White, (1937)
8. New House

New homes can be seen as unhomely when you have just moved in, which is generally why people have "house warmings' to warmly welcome themselves to their new home. A home that has just been moved out of is what I had in mind rather then a brand new, generic house, reason being that they already have an unknown aura about them which can be uneasy. The idea I had for the scene would be the person (us) would be looking into an empty room of the house. The room has a mirror at the far end which enables us to see behind the door, in the mirror we see some knds of figure tanding behind the door. Because you would expect the house to be empty, and the fact that you can only see the person using the the mirror (unless you go in and investigate) makes this a cold scene. A scene like this in real life would indeed create mixed emotions like fright, confusion and possibly anger, your also likely to hesitate at the fact that someone is in your house.

I got the idea of the door blocking your view of whats really there from gameshows such a Blind Date. In Blind Date a participant is separated from 3 potential dates by a big sliding door and must "get to know" the 3 hopefuls via some questions asked to each of them. After 3-5 questions the participant must choose which one she wants to date, all the while still not even knowing what he/she looks like. While, in this case, this can be exciting, the unknown can also be a scary thing. Most things we are scared of, we are only scared of because we dont know anything, or know very little about the subject/thing. This is the theory I was using for this idea.

I chose not to go on with this idea, again because no humans allowed, but more so because it was quite risky in terms of getting the uncanny across. It was certainly unhomely to me, but I felt it was too simple an idea to be really uncanny. I think this idea depends too much on the viewers personal opinions.

9. Identical Twins in Train.

A new idea I had in mind was to have a train FULL of identical twins. They all sit inanimate in the train and the siblings wear the exact same clothes. They move at the same time (e.g if one sips their drink, the other copies in the exact same way) The POV/camera angle is from someone who enters the train (not being a twin or knowing whats goin on ofcourse). This will make the person feel confused and maybe uneasy. (Thumbnails previously posted)

I was inspired to do this after seeing a campaign hosted by Improv Everywhere. Improv Everywhere host a lot of different campaigns like the "No Pants Train Ride" campaign, "High ive Escalator", "No Shirts", "Invisible Dogs" and "Star Wars Subway Car" just to name a few. The "Human Mirror" campaign is the one i sources my idea from. The Human Mirror consists of identical twins coming together and then taking a journey on the train, all together in th same carriage. The twins would sit in the carriage across from their sibling and follow eachothers actions, e.g one drinks the other drinks. The do these missions simply to "cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places" as they say on their website. They have been featured on tv and news channels such as CNN a number of times for their "missions".

Heres an image of the campaign, as you can see they all sit across from their own twin ad follow each others actions.

[3]Twins in Train, (2008)
This was my favourite idea so far, but sadly I didn't go through with it. Nobody seems to see how this could be "uncanny" and the human modeling problem came up again!

10. Deserted Desert Town

This idea arose after fiddling with a concept consisting of how it feels to be on the moon. I didnt experiment with that for long and ended up moving to the next best thing, a desert. A desert is, as the name suggests,deserted, with its endless amount of sand that stretches for miles across the land. I decided having a scene based on a desert town would be quite uncanny because:

- A desert is a hazardous place to live
- There are not likely to be many people who live in the middle of a desert
- Deserts are known for having ruins and stuff linked to events in history

The first media based source I recalled when brainstorming this idea was a scene in Transformers. Just after the part where the military descover that these robots are actually real (when the robot attacks their base) we shortly go to another scene which is in te desert. We are following a bunch of military trying to get in contact with base when they are attacked by a scorpion like robot known a "Scorponok"

[4] A desert scene from Transformers, (2007)
Further research into desert towns brought me to a documentary about the Taklimakan desert in china. It is one of the worlds biggest deserts.

[5]NASA Earth Observatory image, (2001)

[1]"The Taklimakan Desert in northwest China is a vast region of sand desert sitting in a depression between two high, rugged mountain ranges. Seen in this true-color Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from October 27, 2001, the Taklimakan’s rolling sand dunes stretch out over several hundred thousand square miles in the Xinjiang Region of China.
The Taklimakan Desert is hemmed in to the north by the snow-covered Tian Shan Mountain range and to the south by the rugged Kunlun Mountains. At the lower left corner of the image is the Karakoram Mountain range, where the world’s second highest mountain, K2, casts a blue shadow (see the high-resolution image for an up-close look).
Desertification and shifting sand dunes are a major concern for the farmers and herders who live at the Taklimakan’s edge. At the bottom of the image lies the Tibetan Plateau". (NASA, 2001)

The chinese could not live in one place all year round like we do. The reason being is because of the extreme weather conditions during the different seasons, there was extreme heat in the summer an blistery cold winds and snow in the winter. Having to move around a lot mean't that little towns became abandoned. These towns had been built hundreds of years ago and would be repopulated over and over in a cycle.

Here are some thumbnails:
Top one is a Museum idea
The desert will have little buildings made from rock, the rock will be a mixture of sand, stones and a cement like substance. The houses will be very worn away due to the sandstorms and most will be without roofs and walls.

11. Museum

The Museum was a quick idea that popped up whilst watching The Shining. I quite liked the layout of the office that Jack Torrence worked in and wanted to utilize this design for the museum.

[6] Mr Torrence's Office, (1980)
The museum i will create will be a Dinosaur museum, so there will be skeletons hanging around. The museum will be closed so the room will only be semi lit.

Didn't go through with this idea because it was spur of the moment and I was working on other ideas.

12. Canteen/Cafe

The last idea I conjored up was a canteen/cafe scene. I drew out some thumbnails set in both locations because i couldnt decide which one to work on. The canteen was my first idea for a setting. The scene would be set in a canteen during a fire drill, everything is dropped where it is as everyone evacuates the building. I quite liked this idea, but on thinking about it more i realised it would only work if done PERFECTLY. Too much emphasis and it would be either too obvious or blown out of proportion, while too little would make it a boring scene.

I moved onto the cafe idea. I pictured having it set in an old cafe so started looking at some pictures of cafes.

Ended up not liking the old cafe idea so decided on going with an up to date scene instead. While researching i came across an artist called Larry Sartin. Sartin does some good paintings in which the people show emotion. Here's a couple i liked.

[7]Balcony Display Giclee

[8] After Hours Reflection Giclee
 I really like these 2 pieces because they both display strong emotion and they are set in an environment that is helpful to me and this idea. I especially like the 2nd piece because she is sitting at a table in what looks like a cafe, this is very inspiring. I did a quick little sketch like this to remember it while I carried on working.

I carried on working on this idea and gathered more source images of cafes, objects in cafes, dark streets and more.


[1] Nasa, (2001). Earth Observatory. (Accessed on 18/01/2011)

Illustration List:

[1] Pokemon, (2002). Masquerain [electronic print] Available at:

[2] Snow White, (1937). Scary tree from Snow White [electronic print] Available at:

[3] ImprovEverywhere, (May 22, 2008). Twins in Train [electronic print] Available at:

[4] Transformers, (July 3, 2007). A desert scene from Transformers [electronic print] Available at:

[5] Descloitres, Jacques (October 27, 2001). NASA Earth Observatory image [photograph:
NASA Earth Observatory image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC] Available at: (Accessed on 18/01/2011)

[6] The Shining, (1980). Mr Torrence's Office [electronic print] Available at:

[7] Sartin, Larry. Balcony Display Giclee [Balcony Display Giclee painting] Available at:

[8] Sartin, Larry. After Hours Reflection Giclee [After Hours Reflection Giclee painting] Available at:

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