Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Sadly I haven't seen the Swedish version of this yet but I will do and I might do a comparison of the two afterwards. I'd like to do this movie because for me it's been the best film I've seen in a very long time.

The movie opens up with a man in a vintage looking office talking to someone on the telephone. It's cut so you can't see his face but you know it's someone old and in distress. It pans to a gifted wrapped photo frame with a faded plant flattened inside.

From a grey dull lit room to a bright marbled corridor where a man rushes down and finds himself bombarded but journalists and photographers. He's dressed in a navy coat but stands out somehow from the rest of the dark clothed crowd. The angle of this shot points to him which a lot of the camera angles do in this. It's always positioned on someone and in some cases follows them through an area. I like this kind of camera shots because it reminds me of the camera work used in Oldboy.

You meet the female main character at this point and you get a real sense she's different from everyone. Her really dark and obscure clothes make her stand out but make her seem fragile as well. In every scene she's in she's the focal point, the first thing you notice in the shot. It's quite an interesting colour move that really does catch your attention.

The areas themselves are lit well and...well are in Sweden so the lighting is completely different to what you would find in a US based movie. It always seems to be in a perpetual state of sundown and it gives the sky a beautiful colour in the shots and also the snow as well gives off a lovely blue frosty shine.

The houses you see for the family in this movie are quite drastic in difference. A couple of them are very old Victorian style buildings and then you have an almost all glass house that's out on the mountain side and all you can see if the light coming out of it, almost like a beacon. A couple more almost look like run down houses so the island that all these houses are on seems like a small village almost but deserted!

The shots done in the UK are very grey compared to the Swedish shots and you really feel it's in a different place especially with the London buildings in view. They aren't here for very long but it has a purpose to the story so when you see them in a typical aeroplane scene drinking some alcohol and looking at the window, it's a nice transition to the different areas.

The movie is lit well and portrays are sense of age and mystery. It's quite a long movie but the story kept me captivated and the scenes were just amazing to watch. I really enjoyed this and it's something I would reference if I ever do a cold winter setting in a drawing.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Dr. MacKenzie Thorpe

Back in October last year I went up to Middlesbrough to see my partner and he told me about this exhibition that was going on at his university so I dandered on down to take a look and see what kind of artist he is.

When I first saw the artwork I was a little surprised to find how different it was to what I was expecting. I thought it would be more fine art but it was very expressionist and exaggerated. It was only a small gallery of works but it was enough to get a feel for what he was trying to show you. He wanted to show how he saw Middlesbrough, as he was from there, and the way he saw the colours around him affect the environment he was looking at. All of the art he drew was based on the past of Middlesbrough when the industrial age was thriving there. You see artworks of men on scaffolding working hard and women doing house hold duties. The thing that struck me most about his works though is that the people he painted were faceless and almost marshmallow-y looking.

In this painting you see the man has no face like all the other men behind him. They're also all wearing the same thing apart from the man in front who is the subject. This shows the working class man as they were in those days. When I think back to that time myself, I think of men that were workers who loved football and would be in the pub constantly so looking at this I get that sense of how I saw the past the same way he had experienced it. 

These two represent the mothers that would take care of their families and do everything on their own. Again you see the faces are blanked out as if none of them really stand out from being normal. They're all buying the same thing, wearing similar things and going on about their lives just being normal. In the first one you see the women's feet are larger than normal which is also another trend he does in his paintings. I'm not sure what it represents other than that's just the way he painted them to fit his marshmallow figures. 

He was definitely an interesting artist to go see. A unique style to the way he paints so it's something I'll recognise later on if I ever come across his works again. This piece here is my favourite out of the small gallery he had. The vibrant colours for the sky really stands out from the men and the dock. The long cables under the men's feet and the small planks showing what a dangerous job they were doing and how many of them were actually doing it. His idea on shaping people the way he has may mean a strong and proud city of people but that all of them were the same, normal people that worked and socialised together. 


I actually enjoyed watching this. It was sort of a typical story but it felt like a human reaction to everything that happened. When I saw Sam Rockwell I thought this might not be a role that he'd be good at. I saw him in other roles and he seemed to upbeat or funny for what he was supposed to portray but in this I found him convincing.

As the movie opens you get a bit of a back story to why he's there. When it cuts to him running on the treadmill you get the feeling he's used to what he's doing. His over grown hair and beard show he's not bothered to how he looks as no one else is there to look at him. His colour is quite pale showing signs of how long he's been there as well as all the stains and dust all over the base.

When it shows him going out onto the lunar surface I get the feeling that it's all miniature models. Reminds me of Star Wars. The grey tones everywhere showing nothing is around apart from him. Inside the buggy is white a reflection of being.

Inside he's recording videos constantly to log his progress. He's put faces for every day he's been there in the bathroom showing how he feels and all the pictures around the base as he constantly doesn't want to feel alone. He has life in him when a message from home comes through but during it you can see him have a longing urge to touch/be home as he listens to his wife. When you see the video cut you immediately feel like something is being hidden. This is wear you see him slowly lose himself. When you see the girl in the yellow dress you really feel lost. She's the focal point if the bright colour she's wearing and he subtle movements makes you watch her intensely.

He continues his work, chatting to Gerty, his only source of company. He sees something else, tries to brush it off while taking medication for a sore stomach he mentioned. As he ventures out again into the cold, grey lunar surface you see something in the distance and curiosity gets the better of Sam and he crashes. As you watch the inside buggy flash red you feel worried for him especially as the lunar dirt piles up on the windows.

Suddenly it's very bright, he has colour in his face and he looks almost like new in a way. As you watch him struggle to get up you pass it off, relating it to the accident. As Gerty is sitting talking to two men and as Sam blunders in Gerty covers up what he's doing. Here I felt Gerty might be keeping Sam from returning home.

Sam does Gerty's tests, getting agitated it suddenly goes back to Sam running his normal days. Sam seems different. More hot headed and less tired and used to what he's doing. Sabotaging the pipe makes everything yellow. The colour feels of danger and when Gerty suddenly turns the lights back on everything seems normal until Sam notices his usual suit is missing.

Venturing out again it's very grey and dull as usual and as he pulls up to the crashed buggy from before, see the light flickering inside you feel like he shouldn't check. Something is very wrong. When he discovers the body and brings it back you feel confused. Then he drops him, Sam yells at Gerty to tell him who it is. It clearly looks like Sam and Gerty confirms this. Gerty's face seems confused too but he knows. When the body wakes up you see it's Sam. The Same Sam that's drained looking. As the 'newer' Sam watches him wake up Sam feels confused, maybe feels delusional. Things become interesting when Same wakes up.

Newer Sam is colourful to continue his freshness. Sam is confused and upset. He's broken at what he's seen and it slowly develops in him being less and less well. He continues to degrade as he conflicts with the newer Sam. They fight, accuse each of being clones and after a bloody scuffle they bond a little. The lighting stays neutral and cold. Sam is dressed in drab colours while Newer Sam is still dressed in vibrant colours. It reflects how different the two of them are. This theme continues through the rest of the movie. As they discover the secrets of the base and the impending 'rescue mission' on it's way Newer Sam comes up with a plan to get back to earth. They find what's jamming the signal home and find the mass amount of clones underground. The way it's lit down there reflects the dead silence and sleeping clones. The light at the end of the tunnel maybe a symbol of when they wake up gradually one by one.

As the story draws to a close and you see them wake a third Sam for the plan home, Sam is drastically worse. He can barely move and as Newer Sam leaves him where he found him and sets up a harvester to help the next Sam contacting home you get a sense of acceptance of who he is. As you see the journey home and the Eliza crew finding Sam you want to know what happens. Gerty is reset for the new Sam and you want to know if he'll be the same. The closing scene with the ship entering earth's atmosphere and the radio/televison transmissions talking about Newer Sam giving evidence and you wonder will he expose what's going on or will it continue to run how it's always been?

Game Review: Skyrim

I will be reviewing The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. I've been playing this like mad and I've enjoyed every minute of it.

Skyrim is the fifth title in the Elder Scrolls series. Realeased in November 2011 and created by Bethesda you have an automatic bar for how good this game should be. The opening sequence of the game is beautiful and chilly. As you have a small conversation with NPCs, introducing you to the massive customisation for your character. After you spend hours tweaking the features for you character you continue to your demise? You lay there at the block and suddenly the entire feel, atmosphere and calm of the situation changes. You suddenly find yourself running for your life! What an opening!

When you run through with the NPC out into Skyrim's fabulously beautiful open world you can run around and do what you want. You have the options of being a high elf mage or a heavy armoured sword wielding nord! As you start your unique adventure around Skyrim you get a sense of how epic the lands are and how beautifully crafted they've made the sky and surrounding mountains. The cities you visit are all unique and each have a different feel to them. The music accompanying your scenic adventure is nothing short of amazing. It feels so rustic and authentic to the world you're playing in and the subtle change between your nice gallop through the hills and the roaring drums and intense violins let you feel as well as see you're in combat.
The downside is the combat is somewhat disappointing. It feels slippery or non existent at times. When fighting certain enemies you feel a little in the dark in how to fight them. The first time I saw a Giant I shot at it with my bow, I didn't run and as it struck at me I found my character flying through the air dead. Quite a laugh but frustrating when you didn't expect it.
There is an abundance of skills you can talent into to improve your character in certain areas. You could be a master smither to make the best armour around or barter your way through crimes and markets. It's a lot of skills to talent in to but they are worth it in the long run and you really notice the good skills you get as you play your game.
Questing and Story development are plentiful and it certainly fills you with plenty to do. Over 300 hours worth of quests and a good sized 30 plus hour story line you won't be running out of things to do for a while.
The whole game feels like a breathing and living world and it's a pleasure to play. You can venture to different terrains and experience a different environment or crawl through dungeons and receive nice treasure for your troubles. The graphics are beautiful and bright and the weather effects in the game actually effect how you play or fight. Everything in the game including the weather has a use, the story is progressive and keeps you interested. The quests fills your time but a big let down I felt with this game was the dragon fights, the centre of the story, continue to be the same over and over again. The only unique thing about them is when they show up. The dragons act the same every time you fight them and sometimes it's hard to get the dragons to land which is more frustrating then it sounds when you're after the gold they hold!
With every dragon you kill you absorb a soul to unlock the unique abilities to you as a dragonborn. Shouts are unique to you though you do come across enemies that shout but don't have the vast amount of different shouts you have. Your voice booms loudly towards your enemies and you can freeze, set fire or force your enemies of a cliff!

Skyrim is a well rounded game, it lacks smoothness in areas, especially shadows that glitch constantly, and there are some graphical issues in the terrain but how stunning and picturesque the game is you can brush that over while you get busy questing.

The graphics are the most impressive and the music is a very close second.

The sounds can be a little off or not play at all but with so much going on it's hardly a bother.

Combat is a little airy but is overall full of options.

Quests are generic but fun to do and the storyline is quite epic.

 Dungeons are everywhere but some lack the interest to complete when you've been through the same layout before.

Skills are plentiful and add to your unique character.

Skyrim is great game and Bethesda's best game yet. Hopefully they can continue making stunning games like this and hoopefully fix those little bugs flying around on the screen!

David Hockney

I was watching BBC news this morning and came across a story about David Hockney. I've never heard of this guy but I vaguely remember hearing about an artist who used his ipad to paint. It would appear David Hockney was the man I heard about and opening at the Royal Academy of Arts this year is a major exhibition of his works his done over the past few years.

There was a couple of previews they showed of some of the landscape pieces he'd done around Yorkshire. The colours he's used in a lot of his work is so vibrant but portrayed so realistically it's such a stunning gallery to look at. He uses oil paintings for the very big, patched together canvases and the smaller pieces are what he had done on the ipad. The ipad paintings are just as detailed and colourful as his oil paintings and it shows the season developing so beautifully. The colours he's used in the smaller paintings are more subtle but still show a vibrant flare to his paintings. I might try and venture down to see this gallery while it's open this year because it seems such an unusual style towards landscape paintings it'd be lovely to see them up close with all the brush stroke details.

A link to the preview of the works in his gallery:


Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Semester 1

Semester 1 flew by. I'm quite shocked but when I look back at all the weeks of work I've done I can see why it's flown past. I feel since week 1 I've progressed well in my art and in 3D. My last assessment before the Christmas break showed this. I was very pleased to find all my classes had moved up one grade. I hope to do this again by the next assessment. Slow steady progress. It's been a really long time since I've had to work like this and it's a struggle to keep my mind focused on it but I hope during this second semester I can improve on that. I thought I'd post the final pieces of each week to see how I've progressed. 

Week 1 was the one point perspective. We went down to the canal by the University and drew along the canal. There are several bridges we were able to draw but for my final I drew the stone bridge. I felt it was more interesting then the other metal bridges and also gave me more of a challenge to draw the brickwork properly which is off at the front but considering I hadn't really been taught perspective this turned out pretty well for me.

Week 2 was again continuing with one point perspective. This week we were taken to the old Turret, Medieval Gate right behind the University. It's a very quiet, picaresque area. I wanted to include the lovely garden just before the gate. I think perhaps on reflection I should have gone closer so the gate is more visible. I really enjoyed doing this despite the massive amount of detail I put in it. I think it overwhelms the drawing so I think I'll do a lot less detail the next time similar brickwork is drawn.

Week 3 was learning 2 point perspective. We walked about Leicester picking buildings to draw. I thought it was quite easy on some buildings but I found it more challenging when you could see the roof of the building. I enjoyed getting used to 2 point. It was an interesting experience to see how my buildings looked compared to not using this method. I think a little more practice with this would be required. It's not quite there in places but overall I'm pleased with it.

Week 3 was drawing cars in perspective. This week was...a real challenge for me to enjoy. I understood the method of how to draw the cars and what I needed to do but when it came to me doing it myself I just failed time and time again. I did extra work over Christmas to try and get myself better at it but I still find myself struggling with it. I can draw cars a lot better with a horizon line and length line which is how I did this drawing. I really just can't wrap my hand around the box method. I'll keep trying to get better at it but right now it feels like an unbeatable war.

Week 4 was rendering dinosaur bones. We ventured to a near by museum and sketched all the pretty bones in their glass cases or the gigantic figures dangling over our heads. I enjoyed this. I'd never attempted to draw dinosaurs or dinosaur bones so it was interesting to see how I did first time. It's quite complicated it some areas of the skeletal structure which threw me off a little. I settled on something a little simple for me to do as a final piece. I did this in photoshop and it took me a very long time. I need to improve on how fast I work in photoshop. I'm used to taking my time in there. I really enjoyed this though and I'm super happy how it turned out. There are a few areas that are too big, too small but it over all thumbs up!

Week 5 was a cold, rainy day in Bradgate Park. It's a really beautiful place and I'd never been there before so I loved seeing all the oak trees and rocks everywhere smooshed together or just placed randomly in the grassy hills. I chose to do this area in Bradgate Park because it seemed the most fantasy to me. Trees growing out of a rock face on a slope. Tilted slightly by the hill the grow from. I had a go at painting this. I have painted in a long time so this was fun. Again it took a really long time and something I should improve on. I enjoyed painting the trunks. They were so detailed and contrasting in color I hope I painted it well enough. The grass and bushes are a little flat but I don't really know how else I would have painted it without taking away from the trees.

Week 7 we went to the National Space Centre here in Leicester. This was a fun day out. I enjoyed shading all the metal and smooth surfaces in this place. I think my rendering really improved from this week. This is in the entrance when you walk in. It simulates a take off every now and again and it bellows out smoke and glows orange to pretend it's taking off. I think I might add an orange tint inside the engine to give it a bit of interest. I enjoyed blending this and using my putty rubber to make the smoke. Still off with my ellipses but hopefully I'm improving on them.

Week 6 was a test week so I don't have a final piece for that but it consisted of a lot of objects on a table that we had 1 hour to draw. I think I had a brain fart during this because when the time stopped I found myself with a half finished piece. The day before I made sure that I was working fast enough so I would struggle but I think my mind just gave out and did it's own thing. It was a good lesson. Made me realise I really need to think about my time more wisely which I hope I can pull off in Semester 2. 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

SOPA. Are you for it or against it?


I thought I'd make a quick entry on something I've been watching over my Christmas break. I don't agree with this at all and I wondered what other people might think about it? I know a lot of people don't know about it over here unless you go to certain websites that like talking(arguing) about this. It effects America at the minute but if this is past it could spread everywhere. Spain is already doing there own version of this (thanks to the US basically threatening them) and it could very well happen here in the UK. I already know that there is something similar a-float and I am ready to protest the hell out of it. If this manages to pass in America I'm pretty sure the UK will follow behind like a little puppy and if that happens I'm moving to Sweden.

I know why the companies who are siding with this agree with what it's trying to do but this won't just effect file sharing this is basically censorship of the internet and I'll be damned if I let that happen!

An oddly childish video but it explains it if you don't want to read about it.

This whole SOPA bill is so the rich can get richer. Typical of America.