Sunday, 30 October 2011

Narrative: Film Review on 'District 9' (2009)

FIG.1: District 9 Poster

Director: Neil Blomkamp
Producer: Peter Jackson
Year: 2009
Cast:  Sharlto Coplay, Jaso Cope, David James

Neil Blomkamp's District 9 is a science-fiction tale of extraterrestrial refugees landing on earth in 1982 with their motionless spacecraft hovering above Johannesburg. Even after 28 years, the 'prawns' as they were called from the locals, did not attack anyone but instead they were  treated like normal refugees by the Government of South Africa. No other film made by Blokamp and Peter Jackson himself has had such success. It succeeds in storytelling, outstanding CG Effects and brings up a world wide message on xenophobia and racism.

FIG.2: Humans meeting the aliens
The film's documentary approach is rather funny at first, more like a badly made news report but soon enough that approach falls by the way side and becomes a standard observer of what is happening mode. This switch from documentary to observer mode entices the viewer but in a good way. 
 Apart from being really imaginative , resonant and dramatically turbo charged science fiction film, which will make any science fiction lover cringe, District 9 is based on one basic subject which is obvious throughout the whole film: racism. But Blomkamp put a twist to the subject by using refugees from another planet rather than a different country. Most earthlings were less afraid than annoyed; they saw the illegal aliens as just another class of lowlife troublemakers. In a way, Blomkamp is trying to portray peoples' behaviour towards what's different to them and how they react violently towards it to defend themselves. Wilson suggests that:  "At its heart, the film is about the lines we draw around “us” and “them,” and how truly shaky those lines are. We can accept any sort of horror, any torture, as long as it isn’t one of us."  ( 2009.Wilson)
In the film there is a lot of reference on racism between blacks and whites in South Africa. Blomkamp shows both sides of the story with both races being shown racists to each other. Earthling race-politics do not appear to exist, and the only important black character in this movie is a Nigerian crime-lord with cannibal tendencies: yet the whites, presiding over their alien experimentation labs, are as bad, or worse. 
Even when the main character of the story Wikus, the human who got mostly attached to the aliens, got exposed to a fluid they were using and started transforming like one one them, he was instantly named as a threat to mankind. Wikus was the helpless hero: the one who became victim of his close encounter with aliens, but he's a unique one. Hewwit argues that:  "Refreshingly, Blomkamp shies away from the easy, traditional path of the reluctant hero — for most of the movie, Wikus’ motives are powered by blind panic and a selfish desire to become human again." ( Hewwit.2009) It was interesting how Wikus's transformation was shown; it was very similar to David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986) where the main characters were spliced with a weird creature and started deteriorating. They were becoming more of their splice and less human, with their natural human skin peeling off in whole chunks of meat, their nails falling off and strangely coloured liquid coming out of their mouths.  Blomkamp chose to show the transformation in this way, probably to represent in an over exaggerating way how people feel about unfamiliarity.

FIG.3:  The 'prawn' people
In the whole, District is undoubtedly a film which will not disappoint sci-fi fans. It is the film which fans were waiting for a decade or even half a century for. It is packed full of suspense, action and has managed through a science fiction theme to raise contemporary issues in a very clever way. It is a must-see; a hybrid of political allegory and B-movie kicks, it reboots motifs from classic extra-terrestrial and urban catastrophe movies such as Silent Running and Planet of the Apes.


Steven Lloyd Wilson. Us and Them (2009)-Film Review At: (accesed on 30/10/2010)

Chris Hewwit. District 9 (2009)- Fil Review At:  (accesed on 30/10/2010)

List of Illustrations

FIG.1: Film Poster At: (acccessed on 29/10/2011)
FIG.2:  Humans meeting The Aliens At :  (acccessed on 29/10/2011)
FIG.3: The 'prawn' people At: (acccessed on 29/10/2011)

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Character Design: Ada's Props

So what's a Kung Fu Fighter Cowgirl without her hat and sword? As a protector of the Chinese Kingdom hidden in the caves of the Western desert, Ada needs some equipment to fight anyone who is willing to attack her civilization.
So I gave her a hat. Not necessarily for this cliché thing about cowboys wearing hats but more like a way to carry her small weapon around, a little knife.
And lets not forget the Kung Fu Sword. A rather heavy weapon which is something like the cowboys' guns for her. It is attached to her leather belt.
She also has Sherrif Star Blades hidden in pockets in her leather glove.
Finally, a lasso and a Jade Dragon hidden under her boot which, according to Chinese culture, brings Protection, strength, health, symbol of the natural world, adaptability, transformation.
I will eventually draw them into more detail.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Character Design: Wyatt's Outfit tests

I've been trying to give Wyatt's a more evil outfit and one that can hide him (as he's a thief). I think the third one works best.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Character Design: Forming Wyatt's face

So this is a villain face I am more pleased with (first one) I hope he works. I made his facial proportions more based into reality and he looks more promising now.

Maya: Cartoon Character Modelling Part 3: Shoes

Phew! Done. The laces are a bit thinner in mine but it looks ok.  Now lets go to bed  -__- ZZzzzZz

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Maya: Cartoon Character Modelling Part 2:Legs

So this took a while. Just because the vimeo videos takes a while to load up. At least it's done :)  

Monday, 24 October 2011

Maya: Cartoon Character Modelling Part 1: T-Shirt

At last the T-shirt is done! I had a problem with Maya 2012 being stupid with my file and it took me ages to figure out the problem. But at least it's done and I can now move on. Lets do the rest :)

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Postmodernism: Film Review on "Moulin Rouge" (2001)

FIG.1 :Film Poster

Director: Baz Luhrmann
Producer: Fred Baron
Year: 2001
Cast: Nicole Kidman, Ewan McGregor, Jim Broadmen, Richard Roxburgh

Pop music obsessed Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge is an outstanding example of films that are far from perfect, and something which is perfectly new. Moulin Rouge is a pop culture collage, taking popular music (David Bowie, Madonna) and including lines such as "All you need is love" and "The show must go on." Luhrmann puts a great twist in the musical genre by mixing a period romance with contemporary music. Regardless its weird mashup Moulin Rouge is a mosaic of different tastes but somehow turned out as something spectacular.  
FIG.2: The whole gang.
Probably the most important element of the film is its theatricality. The desire to make Moulin Rouge appear more as a musical rather than a film is very well established from the beginning. For a start, the world Luhrmann has created is a vibrant world inhabited by artists, performers and circus freaks that include their articulate skills in their everyday life, as the world they are living in is a stage performance. It's a place where inhibition is a disapproval and the distinction between reality and theatricality is blurred. The film is all about colour and music, sound and motion; a delicious eye candy of a detailed set and costumes, and the Bohemian Utopia of the Moulin Rouge. It seems like a world anyone would love to live in, a world where feelings are expressed through music and emotions are depicted through colour and the environment surrounding you.  Knapp suggests that: "Moulin Rouge with it's electric mix of familiar stories, and familiar songs and its and its wanton mixing of 'reality' and playacting on various levels, seems to model for us the ways in which we live out what we see on stage and screen, borrowing songs, dialogue, situations, and whole scenarios, careening among a variety of options as we seek outthe most congenial fit." (Knapp. 2006:103)
FIG.3: Singing Scene.
But this film is not all about its beauty and glamour. While constantly surprising and very successful as a musical, its musical elements seem over enforced and exaggerating, as if it's making fun of the musical genre, while in fact it is a musical. And this is where the Postmodern feature of the film is revealing itself. There are a lot of features that prove how Moulin Rouge is trying to be a parody of a musical, but eventually becomes part of the musical genre. For example, the dance scenes are different in various parts of the film. In some scenes it seems serious, like a tango, in others it is slapstick and comical. Even the use of the camera brings out a rather funny effect with whip pans and cuts from character to character which depicts the chaos in the scenes. There is also a sense of mixing genres evolving around the characters, as they appear to be more like actors than singers, but actors that show their acting a bit more than the usual, resulting in a theatrical play on screen. Nelmes gives an interesting definition on the film's usage of mixed genres: "Moulin Rouge like so much of a contemporary Hollywood, presents us with a generic paradox; simultaneously being post-generic in the sense that hyper-conciousness of its text spills over singular classificatory boundaries yet attaining intelligibility precisely in relation to those generic formations."    (Nelmes.1999:162)
To sum up, Moulin Rouge is a film that can simultaneously satisfy you and surprise you. It can provoke all sorts of emotions to happiness, empathy and enthusiasm. Apart from a mish mash of genres, it is indeed a mixture of multiple emotions; a twist in film genres and feeling towards the characters. It is definitely worth to watch it more than once as you might discover something more each time.


Knapp, Raymond (2006) The American musical and the performance of personal identity. Princenton University Press: UK 
Nelmes, Jill (1999) An introduction to film studies.Routledge: USA

Character Design: Ada riding Noodle Concept

Just a quick concept to see how those two guys fit together... I am going to redraw this in more detail when I get more time. (Sorry about the bad quality of the images-photoshop wouldn't let me save them as jpegs)

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Narrative: Film Review on 'The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951)

FIG.: Film Poster

Made long before digital Effects, Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still is a spine chilling film, a film which was the DNA of all sci-fi films to come. The film seems familiar even if you've never seen it before, a classical earth woman being carried by a alien robot, human weapons being disintegrated by laser shooting robots with their superior alien technology. Everything has been extracted by the film and been implanted in modern science fiction films, so everything has been seen already-not before, but since. It is an ultimate classic, a film that should respectfully be seen by any sci-fi fan and an anti-nuclear allegory raising war issues that were taking place on earth during the time.

FIG.2: Landing on Earth.
Even from the opening sequence with the extraterrestrial flying saucer landing on President's Park on Washington D.C ,a giant robot stepping out from the spaceship and Klatuu (Michael Rennie) the interplanetary traveller announces that has come on earth for a goodwill mission,  it is clear how the film is going to turn out more than exciting to watch. The special effects from the beginning of the film seem really poor with a rounded spaceship  looking so fake it could be mistaken for a badly made theatre prop and a tall 6ft robot which is obviously a tall guy in a spacesuit made of packaging tape and silver foil. But from then on suspension of disbelief is a non issue as the film reveals its role as a messenger  that illustrated the fear and suspicion that characterized the early Cold War and Atomic Age. Perhaps the most unbelievable element of te film is politicians acting with intelligence and such good manners. Keith Booker gives an interesting definition for the purpose of the film: "The Day the Earth Stood Still was a film for thinking adults; serious and cerebral, it addressed crucial contemporary political issues in a mature and courageous way." (Booker.2006:31)
The most interesting element about a film belonging to a science fiction genre is how the so-called alien arrived on Earth with no bad intention but to warn humans to stop warring due to their penchant for violence which has caused concerns amongst the other inhabitants of the universe. Klatuu warns  the world leaders that if humans intend to extend their violence in space, Earth will be destroyed. He departs from Earth with a historical phrase: The decision rest with you" With Klatuu's message, The Day the Earth Stood Still is interpreted as a critique of Cold-War paranoia and a plea for global unity and a 'liberal film. Holloway points out with humour that: "It  conveyed the unwillingness of world leaders to compromise even such missions as a meeting site." (Holloway.199:135)
FIG.3: Klatuu with his Robot Body guard Gru
I conclusion, The Day the Earth Stood Still is an exciting journey to the past in the 1950's when science fiction films flourished and became a great part of the American film History. But apart from it's relation to the past it gives out a great message for the future: world peace is our own decision and guns are not the answer to the Earth's well being.  The film did not have to look visually flaw.less to bring out this message and managed to portray it in its best way.


Booker Keith (2006).Alternate Americas: science fiction film and American culture. GreenWood Publishing Group: USA

Holloway, David (1999). American visual cultures

List of Illustrations

FIG.2: Landing on Earth At:  (accessed on 21/10/2011)

Character Design: Forming Noodle ( The cute approach)

Today has been a really enjoyable day with all First Years showing their work on their anatomy Unit. I was really surprised at how much good work was shown on screen. There are definitely a lot of strong people in the year and I am really looking forward to see what they will come up with next. The change of my work environment in the lecture theatre helped me get more stuck in to drawing. With a lot of artwork shown on screen and me drawing in peace I quickly got engaged. Oh, and by the way..I absolutely love the first years. I got to socialise with them, and it was a great break from uni work. I believe I should give myself more breaks as it helps me see my work a lot clearer.
So enough of that. This is Noodle again but in a more cute approach which I drew during the Crit. I managed to flick through some Art Books of Dragons Daniel brought with him today and got really inspired. I am not sure yet if I want to make him look cute instead of comical but I really like this version of him. He could be a mix of a dog, a cat, a mouse and a fox perhaps? He is weird, but cute.

Cute Noodle faces 1

Cute Noodle faces 2
I then tried to get his proportions right so he can be ridden by Ada. Daniel again (with his ingenious knowledge of physics! :P ) pointed me out what would work best. His sketch is the top one on the right. Thanks again Dan!

Noodle body proportion
And a few sketches showing the relationship built between Ada and Noodle...

Ada and Noodle

Friday, 21 October 2011

Character Design: Forming Wyatt 'Metal Knuckle' Morris (Face Concepts)

I am not sure how I want Wyatt to look like but I am certain I want him  to look evil. Here are a few concepts of him I did quickly. I experimented with facial features and shapes to come up with villainous elements. I think it is slowly getting there.  :)

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Character Design: Test pose for Ada

I decided to test Ada with an ordinary pose and her new look. She is finally coming to life! :D

Postmodernism: Film Review on "Scream" (1996)

FIG.1: Scream Poster

Inspiried by Williamson's Halloween and even after 15 years when the film first came out Scream still remains a rarity: a horror movie spoof that succeeds in provoking people to laugh and to be scared at the same time. Scream came out at the time when horror films were well worn, at the time when audiences were getting bored of the horror genre.Wes Craven improved this his postmodern twist in the film and revealed the cliché codes hidden behind every horror film of that decade.

FIG.2: The phone conversation
 The film features a killer maniac who wears a ghost mask to hide his face. The 10 minute opening of the film winds the tention up brilliantly with Drew Barrymore picking up the phone and talkig to the killer on the other end. The girl mentions to the stranger that she likes horror films and is soon killed brutally by the masked killer. Ironically, she lost her life in a way she thought only existed on screen. With this powerfull opening Wes Craven already introduces the audience to the film: a mystery of who's the killer amongst the teenagers who think they know everything about the films they are so familiar with.
The group of teenagers are the ones who throughout the film contemplate the rules of horror films, but soon enough find themselves living in a real life one. Wes Craven is interesed in the contrast between movie reality and objective reality. All of the central characters have watched horror movies and draw their own conclusions out of them. They constantly draw ironic referece from their experieces to what they have already seen in horror films. Williamson uses a phrase in the film which sums up the idea of these cliche ideas on scary films: “They’re all the same, some stupid killer stalking some big breasted girl who can’t act who’s always running up the stairs when she should be going out the front door, it’s insulting.” (Williamson, 1996)With a script that gives multiple reference on  a variety of known horror films and being proud of being cleverer than the features it mocks, Scream is a great example of a pastiche, a fragmented film that has borrowed facts from horror films and has created somethig totally unique.
FIG.4: The group of teenagers.
But is Scream a parody or a postmodern thriller? It can be both. It is a parody as it is borrowing something we are already familiar with and twists it. The audience knew what horror films were like during their days so Craven took those elemets and satyrised them. On the other hand, the film is also Postmodern as it is critiquing the horror genre but at the same time it is part of it. It understands  the genre it exist with in and effaces it by manipulaing the audience's perspectives. Maltbly explains that : “Postmodernist writers respond to the problem of the fictionality of meaning by, inter alia, composing texts which mock, interrogate, and subvert the “classical” realist-empiricist assumption that language can reflect or render “things as they really are.”  (Maltbly. 1991:38)
In conclusion. Scream was the film that made the start in slash horror film and created a whole new genre. It took a step further and did not resist to recreate from exisisting horror. It is an absolute practice in Postmodernity and has remained one of the most belovable film of all time.


Maltby, P. Dissident Postmodernist (1991) University of Pennsylvania Press:USA

List of Illustrations

FIG.1: Film Poster At: (accessed on 14/10/2011)
FIG.2: Phone conversation At: (accessed on 14/10/2011)
FIG.3: The grop of teenagers At: (accessed on 14/10/2011)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Character Design: Forming Noodle Part 1 (Face Concepts)

I was excited to start off designing Noodle as I am in love with cartoony characters and loony sidekicks. I am afraid I cannot work out his personality yet as it's constantly evolving in my drawings. In some he looks like a dragon teenager with frizzy hair, in others he looks more like a sophosticated old dragon. I guess I will have to decide on his personality a bit later when I am done with his look.
So at first I experimented with Chinese dragons on the web but I realised that he looked exactly like Muchu from Mulan so I wanted to find a way to avoid falling into that trap. Justin suggested to base him on Prospector Pete and give him a cute moustache. I like the idea a lot. I love how his moustache can help to depict his emotions. I am scared he looks like Snarf now though :(
Here are a few concepts of him with the moustache..

And here are the developmental Drawings..

Developmental Sketches 1
Developmental Sketches 2
Developmental Sketches 3
Yolanta told me that on this last image there is a wide range of personalities to work on. There is a teenager, an old and a wacky dragon going on...So much to choose from!

Character Design: 5th Workshop (Body Poses and Facial Expressions)

Today's lesson was pretty much focused on lines, and specifically the lines of action which are hidden in every character. The spine is really strong for the epressions in animation- it can either show strength or physical/ emotional weakess.
On the first exercise, everyone posed and we got to draw the unvisible lines formed on each pose. It's incredible how the body can tell so much without any facial expressions.

Body Language
And known charactes expressed with poses.
Body Language in Situations
Homer Simpson's facial expressions

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Character Design: Forming Ada (Possible Outfits 2a, 2b)

So a totally different design. I felt too attached to the long sleeves but I experimented with short ones and they look so much better. (And I have no idea what the chinese symbols stands for: I just wanted to experiment and see how chinese calligraphy looks like on her clothes)

Possible Outfit 2a

Possible Outfit 2b
For this outfit I used these clothes: