Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Film Review - The Blair Witch Project (Daniel Myrick, 1999)

Fig 1. The Blair Witch Project Poster.

One of this films key strengths is the proximity of the characters to the camera, this means that the audience connects emotionally with the three characters very quickly and effectively (See Fig 2). As such the audience shares in the troubles and traumas that the characters experience. This is of course a crucial element in any horror film. Another thing that this film did very effectively is the way it brought a sense of horror, trauma and even stress into its world. It created horror subtly and steadily increased the intensity of events until the bitter end.

Fig 2. Extreme Close-up Shot.

Roger Ebert states in his review of the film ''The movie is like a celebration of rock-bottom production values--of how it doesn't take bells and whistles to scare us. It's presented in the form of a documentary. We learn from the opening titles that in 1994 three young filmmakers went into a wooded area in search of a legendary witch: "A year later, their footage was found." The film's style and even its production strategy enhance the illusion that it's a real documentary.'' (Ebert, 1999). The power in this film is in its world, this is because it isn't a created world, its the real world. The film is about the filming of a documentary in a real town and about a real legend. Its horror lies in peoples own fears of the woods, the mysterious sounds and the feeling of endlessness seen in every direction. When the characters feel lost, the audience does as well. The film uses sound exceedingly well, almost all of the horror in the night scenes are created out of the panicked voices of the characters and noises with unknown origins. The viewer is regularly faced with complete darkness and unsettling noises, which leaves it up to them to imagine what is happening.

Janet Maslin states in her review ''Five friends who had come out of the University of Central Florida's film program realized that the best way to make a movie without sets, costumes, music or special effects would be to incorporate that spareness into the story. With no easy formulas to fall back on, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez (who are jointly credited with writing, directing and editing) give their audiences no easy idea of what to expect.'' (Maslin, 1999). Thanks to a lack of refined scripting before shooting the film, it is not a predictable plot. It is a series of events that regularly jump ahead in time, much like a real documentary. This of course easily lends itself to the films basic plot about the filming of a documentary.

Peter Bradshaw states in his review ''As the three principals, Donahue, Leonard and Williams give sickeningly convincing performances as the three scared, overgrown children, screaming mutual recriminations and descending into inarticulate panic and horror as they realise their deaths are at hand. These improvisations, cajoled from them by the directors, who appear to have effectively sub-contracted to their cast the business of making the film, go beyond a case of "acting themselves". They are as near as dammit being themselves. This film is a vivisectional experiment in anxiety.'' (Bradshaw, 1999). Another element that boosts the film significantly are its characters. The performances they give are disturbingly real, and the camera viewpoint makes the events all the more plausible. That is of course what makes this film so potent in the horror genre, its disturbing realism. It plays on real fears in real environments. Completely believable and horrific events play out and are only logically picked apart after the end of the film when you have caught your breath. Overall, an imaginative, effective and surprisingly gripping experience.

Illustration List

Myrick, D (1999) Figure 1. The Blair Witch Project Poster. (Accessed on 25/03/15)

Myrick, D (1999) Figure 2. Extreme Close-up Shot. (Accessed on 25/03/15)


Bradshaw, P (1999) (Accessed on 25/03/15)

Ebert, R (1999) (Accessed on 25/03/15)

Maslin, J (1999) (Accessed on 25/03/15)

Life Drawing - 25/03/15

Maya Tutorial - Faked Rim lights

Final Render

I found this tutorial hard to follow at first and it took me longer than I thought it would, but about halfway all of the procedures became routine and much easier to follow.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Film Review - Reservoir Dogs (Quentin Tarantino, 1992)

Fig 1. Reservoir Dogs Poster.

A considerable strength within this film is in its storytelling. The story is split-up and mixed around so that the film follows a completely non-linear track. As a result, the audience is constantly faced with past events in strange orders, that don't completely tie in or make sense until the grand finale of the film, which is finally in the present. Usually this would be a risky manouver for any director, but it is done extremely well. Details slowly become known at a steady rate and the audience can keep easily. The story in this film feels just as organic as any linear story.

Roger Ebert states in his review ''The movie feels like it's going to be terrific, but Tarantino's script doesn't have much curiosity about these guys. He has an idea, and trusts the idea to drive the plot. The idea is that the tough guys, except for Tierney and the deranged Madsen, are mostly bluffers. They are not good at handling themselves in desperate situations.'' (Ebert, 1992). The film certainly focuses on the downfall of each of the characters, one by one they are revealed in more detail to the audience and eventually meet their timely end. Using each character to drive the plot works very well in this film, there is a clear focus on specific characters throughout and it feels like they are telling you what happened from their perspective during the job. By interacting with each other through heated debates, the audience is slowly fed information about what happened outside the confines of the warehouse. This certainly made the film more interesting as it does mostly take place in the warehouse (See Fig 2).

Fig 2. Warehouse Still.

Anne Bilson states in her review of the film ''while the survivors are trying to work out what went wrong and whether one of them is an undercover cop – the film fills in vital information via an assortment of flashbacks. This is an ambitious structure, but Tarantino pulls it off with panache.'' (Bilson, 2014). The plot consists of a present in the warehouse rendezvous and flashbacks from the characters to fill in key information. As such the audience is regularly faced with the aftermath of something they haven't seen the cause of yet. This is an effective tool and the audience is, as a result, constantly eager to find out what is happening and why. Flashbacks are used extremely well as a plot device in this film.

Jeff Dawson states in his review ''Choosing to concentrate on the aftermath, he veers off instead - within the claustrophobic confines of the hideaway and in the context of Real Time - into psychological drama, with the paranoid hoods recounting their own version of events in a bid to determine just who might be the rat in the house responsible for tipping off the cops.'' (Dawson, s.d.). The character conversations and arguments in the warehouse consist mostly of accusations and suspicions about who the rat might be. This fact is of course left until the bitter end and they are only seeing the rat himself for a short time before the final scene. Before that they treat every character with as much suspicion as they do each other, this is because they know only as much about the individual characters as the characters themselves do about each other. As the scenes in the warehouse mostly consist of endless bickering, the audience doesn't form any real connection to any of the characters. They are treated with an apathetic and curious stare from beginning to end. Overall this film has too many strengths to count and very few weaknesses. An entertaining and shocking experience from titles to credits.

Illustration List

Tarantino, Q (1992) Figure 1. Reservoir Dogs Poster. (Accessed on 22/03/15)

Tarantino, Q (1992) Figure 2. Warehouse Still. (Accessed on 23/03/15)


Bilson, A (2014) (Accessed on 23/03/15)

Dawson, J (s.d.) (Accessed on 23/03/15)

Ebert, R (1992) (Accessed on 23/03/15)

Maya Tutorial - Maya Fur Presets


Maya Tutorial - X-Ray Shader

Maya Tutorial - Double Sided Shader

Self Portrait Studies in Photoshop

I really enjoyed this session and I'm pleasantly surprised with how they have all turned out. It's a shame this is our last session of year 1.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

FV Possible Tree Designs

If you have a particular favourite, or an idea of which one works best against a white background, let me know.

Friday, 20 March 2015

First Slime Mold Texture Tests

Taking Phil's advice and starting to work on finding the texture I want for my character in maya. What I had originally planned to do was to use solid colour (like in texture 3) and after these I still feel that it is the strongest. I will probably do more texture tests to make absolutely sure however.

Storyboard Revisions (Leaf Trail and Showing the Slime Mold Eat)

Background Shader Technique with an Orb Motion Path (Rendered)

Found this quite interesting, could certainly get some interesting shots if the camera doesn't need to move.

Thursday, 19 March 2015