Saturday 16 April 2011

HIV research / initial story ideas @ PHIL

Having established the stages of HIV infection with Dr. Klappa, I have set about researching into the various cells and organism's that will appear in my animation.  I have The Hamlyn Encyclopedia of Complementary Health which largely consists of descriptions of a range of health related issues. I needed to find more illustrative orientated books to help drive the visual imagery of my animation. I visited Waterstones in Chatham and was directed to the Bluewater store where I found an AMAZING book called Microcosmos by Brandon Broll. The book contains 203 images taken by a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). Traditional microscopes uses light and requires the specimen(s) to be sliced thinly, or trapped under glass producing flat 2D images. The SEM uses a beam of electrons, rather than light to scan objects and reveals a microscopic world with outer surfaces and in three-dimensions. Enough talk, check out the images below;

Skin and hair follicles

Bone tissue

Vaccinia virus particles displaying DNA

HIV cells reproducing on a T cell

Absolutely fascinating images, interestingly and another example of science and art crossing over,  the SEM produces black and white images, artists then colour them digitally. With this in mind I don't have to stick to the colour palette used here. I will give this alot more thought.

As my last two projects had a tongue in cheek, humorous feel to them, I want to approach this unit from a different angle. I want it to be as scientifically correct as possible with an adult theme. I want the final animation to communicate with sexually active people (17 + years old) about the dangers of not using a condom during sexual intercourse. I want the images AND narrative story to pack a punch.

Initial Story idea @ Phil

From my research, I have discovered that in the past, drug takers, homosexuals and haemophiliacs were identified as those most likely to contract the virus. In fact, the fastest growing route for new HIV-positive cases is through heterosexual sex, and women are more vulnerable than men.

Therefore, I want to base my animation on a woman discovering she may have possibly contracted the virus. I envisage opening with a tight angle of a woman working at a desk in a busy office, literally just a shot of her arms working on a PC etc. The phone rings and we are eaves dropping on her conversation as the camera begins to zoom in on her arm. The phone call is from a guy she had a random one night stand with. The conversation reveals they had unprotected sex and he is calling to warn her she should get her self tested for "something". At this point the camera takes a roller coaster ride down a hair follicle in her arm, going right down to a microscopic level where we witness the primary infection stage of HIV, corrupting a T CELL.

Camera ride down a hair follicle?

After the HIV has reprogrammed the cell to produce more HIV cells, the camera will start to pan back, revealing other cells being infected. The pan will continue back out of the hair follicle in the arm to a similar shot at the start, this time, the woman is in a Doctor's office as he confirms her CD4 count is dangerously low, and she is HIV positive.

I like this three act structure and I am VERY keen to start producing concept art and storyboards if it get's the green light. My question is: would I be deviating too far from the brief if I interspersed the opening 15 seconds or so with live footage of a womans arms working at a desk, and transitioning into CG as we zoom in on the arm? I am asking because I have a friend who works in TV production and it maybe possible to film the live action, professionally over Easter. Alternatively I am confident I could model various CG arms at different resolutions down to the hair follicle and beyond.

I remembered an unlikely source of inspiration from Fight Club's opening title sequence....

1 comment:

  1. Hey Paul,

    The idea of interspersing professionally shot footage as preface for your cg film is not a deviation in itself. If it's done well to bookend and contextualise the information then that's fine and exciting. I suggest you progress, but remember - bad actors/acting will kill this for you; there is a risk that the live-action stuff might feel stilted or amateurish if it's not done well - but it sounds like you've got this bit sorted too. I say 'go for it'!