Archive for May, 2010

Worst Adaptation…Ever

I have never been so disappointed in my life by a movie adaptation of a book than when I saw the movie of Eragon (2006). The first part of my favourite series of books by the genius that is Christopher Paolini. Since the director was changed for the third installation of the Harry Potter series I have always been quite sceptical about film adaptations of books. I remember the excitement I had when I first to see “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” (2001) and I was not disappointed with either the first film or the second. However when I went to see “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (2004), I noticed a dramatic change in the whole look of the film. The costume designs were totally different, all the props were given this “used” look, and the whole atmosphere had changed. Even though the books are great, I found myself loosing interesting in the film adaptations until the point that I now have no idea which book has been the latest adaptation into film.

Part of me had this scepticism, yet part of me was hopeful that the Eragon film would be great and so would the sequels. Unfortunately my sceptic side was right, most of the dialogue sounds like rip-off dialogue from “The Lord of the Rings” and the storyline has become unrecognisable. I was especially disappointed in the characters; no effort was given to even make a difference between the different humanoid races. The elves had no pointy ears and the dwarves (who play a quite important role in all the books) were completely non existent!

Since the film did so badly any chances of a sequel have been eliminated. I was really glad to hear this news; I couldn’t bear to see another great book insulted by another crappy adaptation.

Bibliography

Eragon. (n.d.). Retrieved from IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0449010/

IMDB. (n.d.). Retrieved from IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/find?s=all&q=harry+potter

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Charles And Ray Eames

I really admire Charles and Ray Eames, in this case I don’t mean because of their work, (which is a thing I admire in itself), but because they are one of the very, very few couples (which I know of) who have successfully mixed their marriage and their work in their lives. I have done some research in this area of married couples working together, and what I have found out, unfortunately, is exactly what I suspected. According to the website Bankrate.com  “The problem in the case of a spouse is the potential emotional boomerang. Usually what happens is, if it doesn’t work out, the employee leaves and you never see them again, but in this case, if it doesn’t work out, you go home and have dinner together. That’s where the problem lies.” I guess this could cause all sorts of problems in a marriage which later on could lead to a divorce.

Not only have Charles and Ray Eames managed to just work together while keeping their marriage safe, but they have made such major contributions to modern furniture design and architecture and produced some of the most awesome and creative work in their time. Could their work itself have been the reason that they were in a successful marriage? Maybe they were so motivated by their work, that, almost as if it was their child, it was the reason they stayed together. I also think that the fact that they worked in a creative environment and not a corporate and business environment helped them out too.

I am pretty sure that as in all marriages (according to my mum, as I don’t have experience in that area), they had their problems, but I respect the fact that they stayed together despite all the risks.

Bibliography

McDonald, J. (2001, May 25). Married, with business: Love alone won’t keep you together. Retrieved May 10, 2010, from Bankrate: http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/biz/Biz_ops/20010525a.asp

Wow…Just…Wow

I can honestly say that in the five years that I spent studying science in secondary school, I hadn’t learnt as much about the universe as I have just by watching the ten minute film “The Powers of 10” by the office of Charles and Ray Eames.

This film totally blew me away; it really gave me a different perspective of how I view the world. It made me feel really, really small, but at the same time really, really big. Before this I had never even thought about the universe outside of our solar system, or never thought about anything smaller than an atom. How ignorant was I! I have always wondered how scientists would calculate the size of something as big as a universe. After some research I found out that two factors are taken into consideration according to the BBC website: the age of stars and the expansion of the universe since (following the theory of the Big Bang of course).

As a Christian who unlike most others believes in evolution, this film has also made me think about the big bang. Most other faiths and religions that believe in a higher being that has created them, teach their followers that God has created the earth in 7 days. According to the website Universe today.com, scientists believe that the universe is around 13.73 Billion years old. In my opinion, who is to say that our calendar is what God was thinking about when he told us humans about the creation of the universe? Even from here to one of the closest planets, lets say Mars, the amount that a year lasts is more than 365.25 days. Which would prove my point of the insignificance of our modern calendar compared to the creation of the universe.

Who is to say that maybe the Big Bang wasn’t started by God?

These are my views, inspired by this wonderful film.

Bibliography

O’Neill, I. (2008, March 28). 13.73 Billion Years – The Most Precise Measurement of the Age of the Universe Yet. Retrieved May 2010, from Universe Today: http://www.universetoday.com/2008/03/28/1373-billion-years-the-most-accurate-measurement-of-the-age-of-the-universe-yet/

Whitehouse, D. (2004, May 28). BBC News. Retrieved may 2010, from BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3753115.stm

Why all the Straight Lines?

It is definitely very interesting to see how the London underground map has evolved over the years and how important to it was and still is the contribution made my designer Harry Beck.

Before 1933 I think it would have been a wonder for anyone to get to where they would want to using the old underground maps. To me they all seem so confusing just at the sight of them. Especially the ones that were leading up to Harry Becks design. I am especially given a headache when I look at the map from the year 1913. It looks to me like someone dropped a bunch of liquorice strings on top of a map of London and then stepped on them. Of course these maps are obviously more geographically accurate, but they lack something, or better put, they have too much. I think the term “less is more” comes to mind.

This is the wonderfulness that Harry Beck brings to his designs: less.

This whole situation reminds me of the film Helvetica (2008) and the way that the typeface made such an impact when it was introduced in the design world. It went from the cheesy hand script font graphic design into the very clear, crisp look that we use today. Come to think about it this is the way that most modern design is done nowadays.

By having less detail on the map one is more able to concentrate on the task that is at hand: getting from A to B. the whole map has a more “cleaner” look, it is much easier to read and understand. Although now the tube routes are just a series of straight lines most of which have 90 degree angle bends, I really don’t think anybody cares, its pretty dark down there anyway.

Bibliography

A History of the London Tube Maps. (n.d.). Retrieved may 10, 2010, from A History of the London Tube Maps: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/clivebillson/tube/tube.html

Digital 3D Design Review

The main topic in this book is generally about 3D design. It is about computer aided design instead of a physical type of 3 Dimensional design. The front cover is very eye-catching, the biggest image on it is of a 3D model of a woman’s head which instead of realistic textures and materials, has a very interesting colour  to it. It is uncertain whether the colour is caused by either the materials assigned to the model, or by the lighting added to it. Or it could be a mixture of both. Either way it did its job as a cover as it caught my eye.

I would say that the audience for this book would be anyone who is interested in an overall look at 3D design in general, the different techniques, different 3D software, processes etc… The layout of the book is very effective, almost like a timeline of 3D design, from the beginning, to how it is now.

Unfortunately it is not a book that shows step by step tutorials, (which is one thing that us 3D designers always look for in a book), but I have learned a whole deal from it. For example I have always wondered about what would be the quickest and easiest way of getting a photorealistic look on renders of my models and animations. This book didn’t tell me how to do it step by step on a particular 3D program, but mentions tips and tricks throughout the book which mostly use camera functions,( such as lens flare, motion blur, etc.) that would help me get that look and apply it to any 3D program.

It is very interesting that this is one of the very few books I have seen on 3D design as it is generally. I guess that because it’s just an overall look at it that these sorts of books are not that popular. I have, however, seen a massive amount of magazines about 3D design, most of them which come out monthly with the latest tips, updates, and sometimes even free material that comes in a CD. These £5-10 magazine series would certainly be more convenient for a 3D artist to buy instead of a $24.99 book which doesn’t come with freebies, and in a few months will be out of date anyway.

Bibliography

Danaher, S. (2004). DIGITAL 3D DESIGN. In S. Danaher, DIGITAL 3D DESIGN (pp. 13, 58-59 ). The Ilex Press Limited.

Evaluation of my Proccess

In this essay I will critique my work and evaluations done for Graphics in Motion. I will first start by talking about my own work process, how I start with doing the research, which lead to my initial and final ideas, and how I finalized them. Looking at, and analysing my processes and evaluating them to see in which areas I can improve.

Once given the project brief, the initial process that I take is firstly to do some brainstorms on the subject of the project, or write down a list of ideas that come into my head. I know that most designers, or any professional who works in an environment where he or she needs to be creative mostly use things like brainstorms or spider diagrams, but that always doesn’t work for me, whilst in the middle of my research I found a really interesting article by Marc McGuinness on which Richard Huntington, Director of Strategy for Saatchi & Saatchi in the UK, contributes his opinions “I hate brainstorms…They waste huge amounts of time and talent …Death to the brainstorm. Long live great ideas.” Sometimes ideas just come to me after I sit down do think, maybe as I am falling asleep, or the bus on my way to university or really any random time of the day. This process seems to work for me most of the time in order to get my initial ideas. This is how I came up with the concept for my web banner and the basic storyline. Since the banner is to advertise the new Masters degree in 3D animation, the first thing that came to my head was that 3D design would be better than any other type of design, in which case most of them are 2D. So I thought that to make the banner more interesting I could make characters to represent both kinds of designs. So the basic story-line was that a 2 Dimensional character would be struggling to walk as he looked like he was made of stiff cardboard, he would fall, and as he would be trying to get up, a 3 dimensional version of the same character would drop from the top of the screen and stomp down on the 2 dimensional character. Which after the presentation I found it proved to be successful. The main thing now for this project was to finalize the look of it. I wanted the viewer to see this new course as something that they would have fun doing, so I thought that since the basic story line already had some humour, that the best option for me would be to create cartoony characters. The banner size that I chose is quite small so I decided that if I was to create very detailed characters, most of the detail would have been lost and I would have been a waste of time and effort. The characters did turn out to be successful, I showed them to some of my classmates and asked them what they thought of them and they did confirm that they were humorous.

At the same time, whether I take the path of either the brainstorm process, or just thinking about it, there is also the need for doing research on the subject matter. I guess for me this part of the process is mainly to come up with the “look” of the final product, by looking at other similar products for inspiration, I can either take similar approaches or come up with one of my own.

This is when the final ideas come together, from a combination of my initial ideas, and the results from the research. One of my biggest weaknesses, however, is when the final idea is developed, and it works from my point of view, but it doesn’t work from other designers’ point of view. I really struggle to change the product to something new. This means to me that I have do go back to  my research and try to look at other different products. For example, once I came up with a product for an ident for channel 4 and presented it, after the feedback I got it was clear that some aspects of it were not working, and didn’t completely fit with the concept and purpose. the concept was “the old versus the new” and it showed the first channel 4 logo which would “morph” into a new channel 4 logo that i had designed. The transformation of the logo consisted of all the different coloured parts of the ‘4’ mixing with each other, expanding and once it contracted it would turn to the new ‘4’ logo with a rock style sound, and an image of the show that would be shown after the ident reflected on its surface (in this case it would be an image of the Simpsons which I picked as it is one of the most popular shows on channel 4). It was made clear to me that the weakest parts of the product were the transition from the old channel 4 to the new channel 4, and the music. I had tried to come up with a new way of doing the transformation and after some tests on Adobe After effects, I had come up with a design that definitely didn’t work, it was a more simple transformation, as my limited skills with the video editing software prevented me from doing any more complicated transformations and the music that I came up with had a more techno feel that it had from the original. This made the product, in many ways less interesting and eye-catching. In the end I had to scrap the new product, and use the original for the presentation with some minor modifications (which was taking off the reflection of the Simpsons and changing the material into something more metallic and adding the word ‘Music’ next to it which I think fitted the look and music better, changing the purpose of the ident a bit from being something that would show every day before every program, to something like a special that channel 4 would do. In his case it read 4 Music and it would be part of channel 4 “music week”.

Since I knew the story so well, it was very hard for me do use any techniques like brainstorming in order to come up with ideas for my title sequence, which has been made for “Brisingr”, the third and latest instalment in a series of books by author Christopher Paolini called the “Inheritance Cycle”. The story is set in a fantasy world called Alagaesia where a boy named Eragon finds one of the last remaining Dragon eggs and follows the great legacy of the now dead Dragon riders. Since there has been a film made for the first book in the inheritance cycle, I decided to first research the opening sequence for it. It was basically a short narration of the history of the fantasy world with matching footage. At first I was thinking of this project more of an opening sequence, than a title sequence, I decided to adapt the concept of the pre-told history of this fantasy universe into a sequence that summarised the story of the first two books to show before the third book showing images in a style that looked as if they were hand drawn on old parchment paper. It would be like an actual record of a “true Story”(for the people living in that fictional universe). At the presentation I was reminded that it was not to be just an “opening” sequence, but a “title” sequence. It lacked the very important typography elements. I did not, however, want to chance the concept of the title sequence, as it would be very useful for it to be a reminder for fans of the first two books about what had happened so far in the story, but it would also be informative for readers who have never read the two first books, as it would set out the basic plot for them as an aid for them to understand the story so far. So I decided to exclude some drawings from the original sequence and replace them with “written” information, such as details from the book, authors name etc.

Towards the end of the title sequence the parchment paper starts to burn from the middle and as it burns out completely, a wall of fire is revealed, with the title “Brisingr” showing in front of the fire. Originally all the typography was done with the Blackadder ITC font, as it looks like a medieval type of calligraphy and then rasterized and edited in Adobe Photoshop in order for the letters to have a worn out look, which suited the product very well. However I had forgotten to add any 3D elements to the piece. It was a big mistake that I didn’t keep this fact in mind as I was coming up with the whole aesthetic approach for this sequence, as end result looked more like a “hand made” piece. So I had to pick the part of the piece that would most likely be successful if I added any 3D elements to it, which would be the typography. I used the same font in 3D Studio max and added an Extrude modifier to the letters for them to have volume. I animated a camera slightly moving from left to right so the letters weren’t so static so as to make it a bit more interesting and then rendered the animation as a Targa sequence so it would have a transparent background when I overlaid it in front of the fire in Adobe After Effects.

After the feedback I had gotten for the title sequence, there was a highlight of an issue that the piece had regarding the way that the fire appeared after the images were shown. It didn’t completely fit with my aesthetic approach. At that point I felt really confused, not because I didn’t understand the feedback, but because I didn’t know how to change it at that point, the fire is a very important theme in the book, “Fire” is even what “Brisingr” the title of the book translates to.  I had thought about removing the fire and just showing the title as another image showing on the parchment, but I knew that it wouldn’t be as meaningful without it, I had also thought about basing the whole sequence on the theme of fire, maybe making all the images look like they were made out of fire, but unfortunately time wasn’t on my side and my skills with Adobe After effects limited, so I decided to keep the original concept and stick with the piece, the only change being the 3D typography.

Throughout these three projects I have definitely learned a lot. About the important things in the creative work process that ultimately affect whether the final product turns out to be successful or unsuccessful in the end. One of the most important things in my opinion is to not be afraid of changing an idea whether you think it’s good or not, especially if it is a design product is aimed at an audience, since I think that most of it is judged in a biased way, depending on the different opinions of the audience it is very smart to listen to advice given to one by people who have more experience and are more successful in this industry, which is very much a “dog eat dog world”.

Bibliography

MARCUS, C. (2008, September 21). Brisingr has dragon saga fans elated. Retrieved May 5, 2010, from theage.com.au: http://www.theage.com.au/national/brisingr-has-dragon-saga-fans-elated-20080920-4knc.html?page=-1

McGuinness, M. (2009 , 01 26). Mark McGuinness . Retrieved may 05, 2010, from Is Brainstorming a Waste of Time?: http://lateralaction.com/articles/brainstorming/

HELVETICA STARTED THE WAR!?

After stating that “if you used it, it meant you were in favour of the Vietnam War” designer Paula Scher then goes on to say that Helvetica also started the Iraqi war. The first thing that came to my mind after hearing those words was “it’s a font! Just a font! How can people get so worked up about a font?” This feeling came to me as I was sitting down in a lecture watching this film.

Helvetica started the war. Not my words, but the words of a woman with exaggerated views (well in my opinion) from a documentary made on Helvetica [2008]. I do understand the importance of different typefaces and how they portray or influence certain feelings or emotions to a reader, however I certainly do not think that something as meaningless (compared to other things that influence a war) as a simple typeface could possibly start a war.

It is very interesting to see throughout the documentary how different designers see Helvetica, some hate it, and some love it (like designer Wim Crouwel) and only use Helvetica.

Mike Parker describes the design of Helvetica of it all being about the negative spaces, “the shapes between characters and within characters”. So that in a way, the shapes outside, “hold the characters”. Which give it a very firm look. “Its brilliant what he’s done with it”. Originally Helvetica was meant to have a very clean, clear, readable look, which is why I suppose that big corporations used it a lot. This was the reason, (going back to my first point), that Paula Scher uses as her reason to believe that “if you used Helvetica that means you were in favour of the Vietnam War” as she saw the big corporation which used Helvetica as sponsors for that war.

I personally feel rather neutral about this typeface, (or typeface in general). However even now as I am sitting down finishing this article I am beginning to change my mind about my opinion about Paula Scher’s views. I still don’t agree with them but I do understand the power that a certain typeface can have in the right circumstances. I guess it depends on your own experience, the time era that someone lives in, for example Paula Scher was a designer when the Vietnam war was happening, so that’s why she sees Helvetica this way, however I am studying design many years after that, and Helvetica is “just there” I definitely hadn’t given it any notice until I had to watch this film in a lecture.