Friday, 11 May 2012

Finished Edit

Moving Image Evaluation- Last Chance

Project Evaluation
This project has been a huge experience for me. It is the first time in DP2 where we have been asked to work in a group. I found this quite difficult, after being put in a group of nine and I was assigned to be the producer, I wasn't sure on what this role entailed, I only knew that I needed to be organised. Following the seminar I researched more about the role, and began to understand the different tasks I needed to complete. Looking back over the five weeks I think I would have preferred it if I had a different role, Nevertheless, I still feel as though I have accomplished and achieved lots.

Working in a group is something which I have not done for a while; our group was made up of nine people. I feel that nine was too many, if we were broken into smaller groups, I think that we could have been more productive during the planning stages. Although at times I feel that I would have preferred to have worked alone, I know that I have gained a huge amount of experience within production, planning and editing of a project. I had a big responsibility, it was my task to ensure that everyone attended meetings; I planned locations, completed various forms and ensured that the crew and cast knew what they were doing. During pre-production I felt as though I had a mountain of work to get through; however Nick Rook my assistant helped me repeatedly and assisted me throughout the project. I feel grateful that I have been able to work in a group with people that have so much creative knowledge; this has definitely been a massive positive for me. I feel that as producer, I worked very hard to contribute towards the progress of the project.

I feel that my own personal research and development has helped me to progress through the project, without my development I would not have the knowledge to complete the edit and understand the themes which run through the film. I documented every meeting which the group had, this was part of my role as producer- but it also aided me in remembering the groups input.

From when we were handed the brief, I feel that we stuck with the same vision/theme for the script and style of the production. Because we were the last group to have 'Last Chance', it was important for us to try an interpret it in a different way. The group decided to set it in a forest, and try a transform it into a party in the woods between a close group of friends. I think we definitely achieved the style that we was aiming for. I am very happy with how the shots and edits demonstrate the vintage theme and captures the relationships between characters.

The film shoot taught me invaluable information about the production side of things, it was tiring and tedious, but the results were worth the long days. During the shoots we all came together and managed to gain all of the footage required for a successful edit. Meeting and working with actors was a great experience, we all met some fantastic people who helped us out immensely. The tasks which we completed beforehand such as, recceing the locations gave me an insight on the style of film the director was aiming for, looking back I am very happy with the decision the to make the film 'rural', it adds a different dimension to the script and characters. 

Because of the late filming schedule, we had just over three days to complete an edit. At first this worried me slightly, but because of the careful research I had completed I felt that I knew what I wanted from the script and what story I wanted to tell. After two very long days in Waverly I finished my edit, I am pleased with the result. However I did encounter several problems during the process. I've listed a few below.

Sound,  I found it difficult to match up the audio clips with the visual files. We could have solved this by ensuring that we brought a clapper board, it would have saved me a lot of time whilst editing. I also wish that we would have got a few more sound recordings of the dialogue, some on my film are a little muffled.  Looking back over my edit I have noticed that the levels of the music and dialogue do not match up, it is very simple to resolve and would improve the sound quality of the edit. 

  • Whilst I was editing I noticed that some of the shots that we had, were different in the light/colour/shadows. After I had completed my edit, I tried my best to colour correct the parts which I felt were the worst. Below is as example of one of the corrections I did. For this, I used RGB curves, which lifted the shadows, without loosing colour quality
  • Looking back, I wish that I had given myself a longer window to edit in, I feel that I could have improved my edit further once I had feedback.
  • I also would have liked to experiment with using more dialogue, my edit features quite a noticeable soundtrack. I think this takes away from the acting slightly, If I had chose mellower music, I think the audience would concentrate on the facial expressions and smaller details.

The project has given me a close insight to working with new people and having a responsibility within a crew. I feel as though my knowledge has excelled in the moving image area. I discovered that so much hard work and effort goes into a short five minute production.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Evaluation: Virtual Environment Project

To sum up this project in three words, I'd use: creative, frustrating and rewarding. Overall I am very pleased with my progress throughout the five weeks, looking back I can finally see a difference and a change as I have progressed. At the beginning of my five weeks I had no idea how to use 3Dsmax or where to start, but several weeks later and I have a finished project, complete with textures, lights and a camera. I have managed to plan, develop, create and finalise my project .

For me, planning and developing is a very big part of my project, exploring different ideas. At first I struggled to think about what way I would proceed. I knew that it was important for me to build something which was related to me as a person. The brief states: 'that best represents your secret alter ego'.  At first I could not relate anything about me to being 'super', this is when I deciding to take a step back and look at it on a different level. I have lots of various interests and thought I could pull on this to make something which is secretive and interesting. Vintage, architecture, books and looking at interiors are all interests of mine, this is how I began to think about creating a character to match this. Over Christmas I watched an adaptation of Great Expectations and was compelled by the character 'Miss Havisham' there is something fantastically haunting about her. This is where my idea stemmed from, I also looked at other influential female villains, such as wonder woman, Miss Adler from the Sherlock Holmes films and Constantine from Underworld. Each of these character possess dark traits in the their personality. Based on my interests I began to develop a character which had once been jilted at the alter, she uses persuasion to persuade grooms to leave their brides.

After developing my character, I had to think about how I want the environment to look, I explored different ideas and themes, from Egyptian pyramids to English churches. After developing for some time I decided on creating a lair which would be based in the back of a church. I have four rooms and one corridor which has a set of stairs. My main theme is gothic, so it was really important for me to convey this,  I chose to have stone walls and floors to really emphasise how it is underneath a church. When I have visited churches before I immediately feel cold, I think that is because of the how so much of the space is made out of stone, this is something I wanted to visually transfer into my four rooms. From the feedback and comments people have given me , I have achieved that goal; most people have told me how it reminds them of a church without it be directly obvious. To convey the theme further I added a shrine, this has been lit in a way which makes it the focal point of the room and also pinpoints the connection with the church and gives the audience a little more insight into the villains character.

Using my online blog and my project book has helped me greatly through the journey of this project. I use my project book like an sketchbook, it helps me manufacture my ideas and make sense of them in an ordered and chronological manner. Looking at my finished project leads me to think about what areas I could improve, I have talked about this previously in my project and I definitely would consider adding a couple more rooms, although my space was intentionally quite compact, I think if I had extended and added a dungeon it would portrayed an obvious evil dimension to my character. Another improvement I'd like to make would be  to add an outside presence, so that it could be visible through the windows.

Leading onto the software: 3Ds max. When I first saw the interface I found it daunting, however as Andy spoke us through different parts I began to familiarise myself with different commands. I wish that I could have had another week, as I would have used it to simply play around and practice with building different structures. At the same time as building the environment I was still getting to grips with how to use it. This caused me to make silly mistakes, which I could have avoided if doing the project again, for example; the camera path. However looking at it from a different perspective I feel that I have achieved and learnt a lot about virtual environments and I have grown interested in modelling and creating realistic spaces.

Improvements & Feedback

I have now completed my first version of my animation. It took 23 hours to render (I'm guessing that’s due to the volume light I used), but I now have a finished project. Thinking back to week one , I am surprised at how much I have achieved; however I still feel that I could improve in several ways.

After gathering feedback from my peers, the general opinion was similar to my views.

Soundtrack or not?
Before I had completed the video, I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to add a soundtrack onto the animation. Listening with and without it, helped me come to the conclusion that I should include a soundtrack- simply because it seems to give the sequence life. I chose a eerie track which featured choir boys singing. This instantly made it obvious to the audience that it is set in a church. A few comments from the feedback suggested that I should consider changing the music to the speed of the camera, I completely agree. By changing the music speed as the camera flies around the two main rooms would smoothen out some of the smaller issues.

I started building my walls for my project right at the beginning of the five week cycle. This was the stage when I was still experimenting with the software, I made the walls by creating different cubes and resizing them to fit, although this has worked perfectly well, I feel that it could be improved further by carefully connecting each of the walls- so that they are not separate and cannot be moved around individually. 

Bell tower:
The bell tower was created through trial and error, I wasn't sure how I would tackle making something seem realistic. Although it works well within the scene and fits together with the rest of the environment, there are some changes I would consider completing.  I have already thought about editing some parts which include creating the spire and ensuring that all the walls line up. After watching it back I would like to progress this further, I noticed that some of the windows were offset from the rest of the wall (as seen from the image below). It is particularly obvious and could be resolved easily. 

I am pleased with the standard of furniture in my environment, but looking at others work I feel that I could have pushed myself further and added more into each scene. However, I do think part of why my environment works well is the fact that is isn't overcrowded and remains quite empty and desolate. I would have liked to model a Italian style sofa and also possibly added another room such as a dungeon to expand my characters capability. The main problem was the time and having to fit my whole project into five weeks, if I did have the chance or more time to work on it, I would have  certainly added small extras.

I was surprised by how difficult I found adding the camera into the scene. It seemed like a simple task at the begginning, but as I divulged into it, I realised that I had spent a couple of hours and hadn't achieved that effect I wanted. I could feel myself growing more annoyed at trying to complete a simple task. I wanted the camera to feel like my character strolling around the rooms, remembering her wedding. To a certain extent, I feel that I did achieve that, but it some areas the camera path needs to be modified further, especially in the bell tower. The camera jerks around too much, and needs a smoother route. I'd also like to focus on individual elements a little longer, I feel that a minute isn't enough to show off the environment as well as I wanted to.

Outside Space:
Looking back over the project, I wish I had paid more attention of modelling the outside area, because the first corridor has many windows, it would have been nice to be able to see varied outside surroundings. Due to fact it is set under a church, looking outside and seeing a graveyard would have contributed to the atmosphere in the environment.

Most of the comments I received from speaking to others about my project were positive:
"How about creating flames for the candles"
"The camera reminds me of the character and how she will walk around the empty corridors reminiscing about her ex-partner,. The way the bell stays still but the you can hear the chimes, seems as though she is remembering.'
'The environment instantly reminds me of a church'
'Some of the camera movements are a little jerky, could be smoothed out slightly'

High-Res Still Images

These are the high resolution still renders from my animation. I have arranged the camera and lights in the way which I feel will be most complimentary for each scene.

Final Animation

Here is my finished fly-through animation.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Super Villain Identity

After  looking at lots of different options for super heroes/villains, I have decided on my final character idea. It is obvious through my research that I have it has helped me to decide on the direction I want to progress my project in. Looking at female characters secured my thoughts on creating a woman, then comparing ways which villains and heroes have been portrayed over the years, I decided on a villain. This compliments my gothic theme nicely.

The reference to Miss Havisham plays a large part with the persona of my character- she will wear a wedding dress (the one which she was jilted at the alter with) and also will remain in a solemn state of mind. I feel that there is something quite eerie about the way she prolongs her nightmare and that it haunts her for the rest of her life. I plan to transfer this into my character. I am a fan reading books, especially fantasy- I think this is down to the way I feel transported into a different unrealistic world. Books have definitely influenced my character type and choice- my villain will wear black, which is often a trait that could be found in mystical books.

The story behind the character:
When I first read the brief, I struggled to think of a character from the top of my head. Yelena's classes helped me to overcome this, by looking at ways shapes and animals can help to create something unusual. I needed a starting point. So I brainstormed ideas which would help me to create a story behind my choice; I felt that if I could not justify my characters motives, it would be extremely hard to make a believable environment for it.

Pulling on all my inspirations and research I had collected, I decided on a character. The character is a villain who lives under a church in the 1900s. Interestingly when she was younger she had discovered the ability of persuasion- at first she did not realise the full extent of her power. Her parents were French, but she moved to England after becoming engaged . She was hopelessly in love with her fiancé, but could not see past his false façade. She was born into a wealthy family, therefore she, herself was wealthy. On the day of the wedding, her fiancé left her at the alter, and stole from her a small fortune. This devastated her and sent her into a frenzy, she never left the church. This is when she understood the full usefulness of her power and persuaded everyone to leave her and let her live under the church alone. From this point she grew bitter and spiteful, she now spends the rest of her days planning to ruin the weddings which take place in the church where she was jilted- by using her power to persuade the man against his love and to fall in love with her. Of course she has no appeal for the men after she seduces and therefore she lets them go. However her work has been competed knowing that she has successfully wrecked another couples happiness. 

Choosing the name:
Choosing the name for my character has been a difficult progress, I haven’t had something pop into my head which I have thought would fit perfectly. To help me solve this issue I looked at female French names and their meanings.  I thought it would be really good to have a direct link to the characters origin, my favourite names were:

Penelope: Greek myth name of the patient wife of Odysseus who waited ten years for his return during which she refused several proposals of marriage by princes. The name is composed of the elements pene "needle" and lopas "spool," which is taken to mean "weaver of cunning," denoting someone whose motives are hard to decipher.
Apoline: Translates to destroyer
Emeline: Translates to rival
Desiree: Means, to be desired. Connotations of mystery.
Francette: Means, to be free
Henriette: Translates to home ruler
Leonne: Means lion
Lilliane: Translates to lily, which has connotations of death
Marceline: Means to be warlike
Perrine: Means- Rock, stone

From above you can see the collection of names which have meanings which reflect on my villain. My favourite is Desiree, because of its translation. I think it fits perfectly, her appearance is seductive, she is attractive and powerful. The meaning is mystical and compliments her story, the men she plots against her desire her too. However 'Desiree' wasn't enough, I felt that I needed a slight edge which would give her more power. I thought about 'miss' and 'ms', but this was too similar to 'Miss Havisham', it finally struck me to use the French version of Madame. 'Madame Desiree'- is the name I have decided on, I think it reflects faultlessly on her persona.

The Environment:
From the context of my character, I have had to think about this in relation of the theme I am inspired by. The theme I have been looking at is: gothic, barbaric, medieval, eerie, unearthly and spectral. The instant link I thought about was the link to English churches. Earlier on in my development I looked at Hogwarts and the work of Giovanni Battista Piranesi this confirmed my thoughts on wanting to create a space with is like a church.

The story of 'Madame Desiree' lets me be able to build a space which would involve part of a church and use the influences of the architecture to help me model my own space. I am not certain on what rooms I want to model for definite as there is more development to be considered. However I am confident that the character's lair will be underneath the church.