Monday 31 October 2011

Mustang Modelling progress

Character Design -Week 5

For this lesson we were assigned a persona and told to do quick silhouettes, trying to emphasis a character archetype. I was given Elvis impersonators. The second part was the same theme but with more detail with emphasis on folds in clothes. For this I was assigned pirates.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Best Worst Movie - Review

Best Worst Movie - 2009
Director - Michael Stephenson

1) "Best Worst Movie" Poster

Plot Summary / Review:
Best Worst movie is a documentary about a film made in 1992 called "Troll 2". Made by Italian director Claudio Fragasso, "Troll 2" quickly became considered the worst film ever made. Written by Fragasso's wife Rosella Drudi, the film doesn't actually have any "troll's" in the feature. Instead, vegetarian goblins with sub-par prosthetics and visual effects, terrorize their victims; morphing them into trees.

2) Young Michael Stephenson

Starring a group of inexperienced actors from suburban America, "Best Worst Movie" documents the effects starring in the movie had on their lives. Suffice to say, none of them pursued their acting careers. However, one of the young stars of "Troll 2" Michael Stephenson, steps behind the camera to direct this documentary. Stephenson and his co-stars give an honest account of their experience making the film. Although nothing came from the film initially, a clear bond between the actors is evident. Particularly between Stephenson and his co star George Hardy.

3) Grown up Stephenson
4) The nicest guy in America

It's through Hardy (possibly the nicest guy in America), we discover that "Troll 2" evolved from the worst movie to a cherished cult classic. Now running his own practice as a dentist, Hardy recollects gradually being recognised by his patients as "the guy from that movie". We follow him to numerous screenings and events with crowds of adoring fans. Hardy clearly revels in his new found stardom, perhaps getting a bit carried away with it. "Stephenson follows Hardy to conventions where only half a dozen people attend his panel. He films him standing at the “Troll 2” table at a horror exhibit, completely ignored. Hardy is reduced to drumming up business: “Have you heard of ‘Troll 2'? You haven't? You should see it! It's the worst movie of all time!” (Ebert. 2010). In this curiously emotional scene Hardy is clearly deflated when he realises cult fans can be often considered bizarre or eccentric.

5) Hardy at conventions

"Troll 2" demonstrates that a bad movie can still find an audience. Through late night screenings on American TV and word of mouth, "Troll 2" found it's audience. It is a fascinating insight into the world of cult fans and how far the movie has spread; however "it never digs particularly deep in its examination of why this film, rather than untold others, has so fully captured the imaginations of so many bad movie lovers." (Scheck. 2010).

This is not to say it is not an enjoyable watch, "in its more amusing and accepting moments, Best Worst Movie captures the geek-joy fizz when fame morphs into notoriety, and artlessness becomes its own art." Stephenson shows skill behind the camera and has put together a well made documentary. Some scenes involving Stephenson and Hardy trying to re-assemble the entire cast for a screening seem unnecessary, almost mocking their former co-stars. Stephenson's tongue in cheek approach maybe over stepping the line. However it is amusing to see deluded Fragasso's response to the fan's and actors some 20 years after he made the film. Perhaps the funniest moment is the news that he and his wife are working on a script for "Troll 2: Part 2."


Able, Robert. Los Angeles Time Review

Ebert, Roger. Sunday-Times Review 28th July 2010

Scheck,  Frank. Hollywood Reporter review 7th July 2010


1) The Best Worst Movie poster. Accessed 25/10/11

2) Young Michael Stephenson Accessed 25/10/11

3) Grown up Stephenson Accessed 25/10/11

4) The nicest guy in America. Accessed 25/10/11

5) Cult status Accessed 25/10/11

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Character development sketches

I've started blocking out shapes for all of my characters, including Dylan, Snitch and Albert Snare. I'm still struggling with Dylan's anatomy, particularly his legs. I've tried putting a dog's head onto a human body to see if that would work. Having a lot of fun with Snitch, although his basic structure is quite similar to Dylan.

Friday 21 October 2011

Kill Bill Vol. 1 - Review

Kill Bill Volume 1 - 2003
Director - Quentin Tarantino

1. Kill Bill Volume 1 Poster

Plot Summary / Review:
"Kill Bill: Volume 1" was the long awaited fourth film from Quentin Tarantino following "Pulp Fiction" (1994) and "Jackie Brown" (1997). The plot is simple when compared to his previous films but Tarantino keeps the audience interested with his trademark non-linear approach to editing. Uma Thurman stars as an assassin who has left her former life to raise a baby. The film opens with a suitably gory close up of "The Bride" after she has been beaten by her former team (the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad) and her disgruntled boss, Bill.

2. The Bride

Miraculously surviving the onslaught and a bullet to the head, "The Bride" wakes from a coma four years later. Compiling a "kill list" she vows to exact revenge on Bill and his gang, hunting them down one by one. Like "Pulp Fiction" and "Resevoir Dogs", the audience are introduced to the rest of the cast through Tarantino's non-linear structure. "Dogs" and "Fiction" places plausible (if not eccentric) characters in realistic environments, paying homage to his favoured action-exploitation films. "Kill Bill" differs, "now, it seems, his interests have swung in the opposite direction, and he has immersed himself, his characters and his audience in a highly artificial world, a looking-glass universe that reflects nothing beyond his own cinematic obsessions." (Scott. 2003).

3. Death List Five

Kill Bill is a truly post modern film. "It's a martial- arts movie universe where the normal laws of economics, police work, physiology and gravity do not apply: a world composed of a brilliantly allusive tissue of spaghetti western and Asian martial-arts genres, on which the director's own, instantly identifiable presence is mounted as a superstructure." (Bradshaw. 2003). Tarantino's passion for American and Asian cinema is evident throughout, dressing his Western revenge thriller with references to Eastern cinema's most iconic films. Most notably, "The Bride's" yellow jumpsuit, a direct replica of Bruce Lee's outfit in "Game of Death".

            4. Bruce Lee - Game of Death                           5. Uma Thrman - Kill Bill Volume 1

Audience may find the clash of genres peculiar and the non-linear approach to storytelling incoherent, but none can deny it's intensity and visual splendour. Kill Bill Volume 1 is an adrenaline fuelled, hugely enjoyable movie directed by Tarantino with skill and enthusiasm."Few filmmakers have ever had the freedom and resources to make such a piece exactly as they wished, and Tarantino takes it so far that it becomes a highly idiosyncratic and deeply personal excursion into a world of movie-inspired unreality." (McCarthy. 2003).


Bradshaw, Peter. The Guardian 10th October 2003

McCarthy, Todd. Variety Review 29th September 2003.

Scott, A.O. New York Times review 10th October 2003


1. Kill Bill Vol.1 Poster

2. The Bride 

3. Death List 5.

4. Bruce Lee "Game of Death" .

5. Uma Thurman "Kill Bill Volume 1".

Character Design -Week 4

For this lesson we looked at body shapes and positions and how they convey the emotions of their characters. Taken turns with our class mates, we posed in variations positions and quickly sketched out their outlining shapes...

We then moved on to faces. Taking examples from other characters, we had to change the emotion from the original picture altering the size and shape etc...
My characters were Disney's Hercules and Winnie the Pooh:

Wednesday 19 October 2011

The Skeleton Key On Broadway - Animatic / Storyboard

Glass Key Studios (Alex Zephrin, Ryan El and myself) present the animatic for our movie trailer - The Skeleton Key On Broadway.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Lost In La Mancha - Review

Lost In La Mancha - 2002
Directors - Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe

1) Lost In La Mancha Poster

Plot Summary / review:
"Lost In La Mancha" is a fascinating documentary about English director Terry Gilliam's efforts to adapt Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra's "Don Quixote de la Mancha" into a movie. "The Man Who Killed Don Quixote" was a life long ambition of Gilliam's, funding the project through European investors, (as opposed to Hollywood) with a significantly lower budget. He cast Johnny Depp as a man who accidentally time travels and is mistaken by Jean Rocheforts Don Quixote as his faithful side kick, Sancho Panza. With a surreal storyline and fantastic visual's, the movie promised to be a perfect vehicle for Gilliam's vivid imagination.

Gilliam's enthusiasm and passion for the production is clear from the start, particularly when Rochefort is dressed as Don Quixote for the first time in pre-production. Gilliam describes watching the movie over and over in his head and we are treated to glimpses of this through the former animators storyboards and art work. 

2) Filming starts

Despite early problems assembling the cast, Gilliam and assistant director Phil Patterson juggle their schedules and filming starts. Shortly after the first few scenes are in the can, more problems begin to emerge. Unrehearsed extras slow down filming and then fighter jets in training roar overhead, playing havoc with the sound recording and in general a big distraction. Gilliam and his crew persist and change location, only to be halted by an act of God. Thunder clouds loom and the crew are bombarded with rain, hail and a flash flood which washes away props, sets and equipment.

3) Act of God

After the freak bout of weather, filming is not able to resume as the sodden landscape would not match with the footage shot before the storm. It also emerges that Rochefort is struggling with health issues, perhaps Gilliam's determination rubs off on him as Rochefort nobly tries to continue. However, after an hour trying to mount his horse and three crew members helping him to get off it again, he returns to Paris for medical advice. Production is shut down, except for one last day of filming in front of many of the films visiting investors. 

It's hard not sympathise for Gilliam as we see his dream slip away from him via events out of his control. He is infamous for clashing with studio executives and producers throughout his directing career. His morales and loyalty to his crew are put to the test as Roger Ebert from the Chicago Sun-Times explains: "There are many sad sights in "Lost in La Mancha." One comes when the producers try to evoke the oldest rule in the book: "Fire the first assistant director." Gilliam stands firm behind his longtime assistant Patterson. It is not his fault." (Ebert. 2003). When the inevitable eventually happens, the pain and raw emotions is clearly evident in Gilliam's face.

4) Shut down

"Lost in La Mancha" is an intriguing look behind what it takes to make a big budget movie. It demonstrates the drive and determination a director must exhibit to realise their creative vision whilst managing cast / crew and the expectations of producers, studio exec's and investors. "It also makes for compelling viewing, offering terrific insights into the commercial cinema's absolute dependence on money and how a massive enterprise can be brought down by the smallest problem." (Andrew. 2006).

The story of Don Quixote seems destined never to grace the silver screen. Gilliam was not the first director to attempt to bring this story to life. Orson Welles himself also devoted years of his life to Don Quixote and also failed. Despite the tragic circumstances of this documentary, film enthusiasts can enjoy glimpses of what could have been. Particularly "some hilarious scenes, mostly involving the casting for three angry giants. Animated versions of Gilliam's storyboards bring his vision to life, as do clips of the scenes that actually got shot. Hopefully one day we'll get to see the real thing." (Bushell. 2002)


Andrew, Geoff. Timeout Review 24th June 2006. Accessed 18/10/11

Bushell, Laura. BBC Review. 29th July 2002. Accessed 18/10/11

Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun-Times review. 14th February 2003 Accessed 18/10/11


1) Lost in La Mancha Poster Accessed 18/10/11

2) Filming starts Accessed 18/10/11

3) Act of God Accessed 18/10/11

4) Shut Down Accessed 18/10/11

Thursday 13 October 2011

Character Design -Week 3

For this lesson we were assigned a random word and told to draw inanimate objects from that word and give them personality. I was assigned the bedroom:

At the end of the lesson, we were given a random cartoon character and told to draw a prop using the shapes and personality of the assigned character. I was given Jafar from Alladin, so I tried to design a suitable throne for him:

First attempt:

Second attempt:

Designing Dylan

I have established my main character is a humanoid dog. To start I looked at some images of Alsatians and did a couple of sketches to understand their anatomy and basic shapes.

With a basic understanding of dog anatomy, I have started to block out some shapes and begin designing Dylan. I have shown these images to Justin as I was struggling with the legs. He recommended clothing could suggest the shape of a dog's legs and feet in a humanoid form.

Monday 10 October 2011

Dylan the Canine Ghost Hunter - Treatment

A few tweaks and amendments to my treatment following Justin's advice and now with character biographies, I introduce:

Dylan the Canine Ghost Hunter

In London, England reports are growing of supernatural sightings and paranormal activity.  What started as unexplained phenomena in the suburban areas surrounding London has spread to the inner city. Hospitals are inundated with people literally frozen with fear. The more the ghosts scare people, the more powerful they become. People are afraid to walk the streets at night. Ghosts are a very real problem.

In an attempt to combat the scary spirits, the British Government commission Dr. Winston Newton (a brilliant scientist), to research animals and their sixth sense like ability to detect ghosts. Using his beloved pet Dylan (an Alsatian), he attempts to isolate his genes and harness his sixth sense. However, an accidental radioactive explosion in his lab mutates Dylan’s genetic structure, giving him the ability to walk and talk like a human. Using Dylan’s heightened sense and superhuman strength, and Dr. Newtons scientific know how, they hunt down the ghosts; expelling them back to the netherworld using Dr. Newton’s invention, the Exorkismos-ray gun. Dylan becomes known as the “Canine Ghost Hunter”.

In retaliation to our heroes, the ghosts resurrect an evil Victorian veterinarian called Albert Snare, arch nemesis to Dylan! In Victorian London, Albert was perceived to be an honest vet by day, but by night he performed evil experiments on his victims. Now with ghostly powers he has returned….

In an attempt to replicate the conditions that created Dylan, Albert captures a common street rat and experiments on him. However, his attempt was not completely successful.  Apart from gaining the ability to speak, the only other side effect to the rat was a slight increase in size. With his limited intelligence, the rat is easily corrupted and becomes Albert’s loyal sidekick… Snitch.

The Step Outline
The citizens of London, England are being haunted by ghosts. The Government hire Dr. Winston Newton to investigate animal’s sixth sense ability in an attempt to combat the ghosts. A radioactive explosion in his lab mutates his pet Dylan into a humanoid figure. Using his new abilities and Dr. Newton’s inventions, they return the ghosts to the netherworld.
The ghosts resurrect an evil Victorian Vet called Albert Snare to fight back against our heroes. Albert and his loyal sidekick, Snitch (a rat Albert experimented on) attempt to thwart our heroes on a daily basis.

The Premise
Weekly cartoon series about Dylan, a mutated ghost hunting dog and his attempts to rid the world of evil spirits. Each episode brings new conflicts with his arch nemesis, Albert Snare, a resurrected Victorian Vet and his sidekick Snitch, a rat he has experimented on.

Character Biographies
Name: Dylan
Age: 3 (21 in Dog years)
Height: 6ft 1inches
Hair / fur colour: Brown/Tan/Black
Eye colour: Brown
Profession: Ghost Hunter
Back story:
Dylan started life as traditional canine. One of seven pups, he was reluctantly given away by his family to the local pet store with his siblings. There he was adopted by kind scientist Dr. Winston Newton. Dylan’s highly active nature and willingness to learn kept Dr. Newton on his toes. A strong bond formed between the pair, Dylan is extremely loyal to his owner.
One day a radioactive accident during one of Dr. Newton’s experiments mutates Dylan’s genetic structure. His body changes into humanoid form and his intelligence increases dramatically, giving him the ability to talk. With his new found abilities and Dr. Newton’s inventions, he vows to rid the world of the growing ghost problem.

Name: Dr. Winston Newton
Age: 42
Height: 5ft 8inches
Hair: White-frizzy
Eye colour: Blue
Profession: Scientist / Inventor
Back story:
Winston Newton showed scientific flare from an early age. Encouraged by his parents, Albert and Barbara Winston, he attended Oxford University and was a prominent member of the OUSS (Oxford University Scientific Society). After graduation he gained fame amongst the scientific community in a variety of work including the study of genetic structures and radioactive energy. A self-confessed workaholic, Dr. Newton never found the time to raise a family, instead finding companionship in his beloved pet Dylan, an Alsatian dog.
Commissioned by the government to understand the sudden rise of ghostly activity in London, Dr. Winston examined Dylan’s genetic structure in an attempt to understand canine’s sixth sense ability to detect ghosts.  An unfortunate accident involving radioactive energy changes Dylan DNA, transforming him into a walking, talking dog. Together they form a team of ghost hunters, Dr. Newton helping his colleague with his scientific genius; inventing tools such as the Exorkismos-ray gun that enables Dylan to send the ghost’s back to the netherworld.

Name: Albert Snare
Age: Unknown
Height:  6ft 5 inches
Hair: Black
Eye colour:
Victorian Vet / resurrected ghost
Back story:
Originally from the 19th Century, Albert Snare was once a respected member of society. Well educated for his time, he was a valued animal Doctor even trusted to work with Queen Victoria’s pets. The public were shocked to discover he used his patients to perform evil experiments in an attempt to take over the world with an army of animals at his control. After his true nature was unveiled, he disappeared. Cause and time of death are not on record.
In an attempt to fight back, ghosts in modern day London resurrect Albert Snare who prominently becomes Dylan’s arch nemesis. Resuming his evil experiments, he captures a common street rat and turns it into his sidekick Snitch.

Name: Snitch
Age: 1
Height: 30inches (including tail)
Hair / fur: Black
Eyes: Red
Profession: Street scavenger / loyal servant to Albert Snare
Back story:
Snitch’s early life was tough, even for a rat. The runt of a litter of 15, he was small compared to the rest of his siblings. Struggling for survival, he scavenged the streets of London for any form of food. One day he is captured by Albert Snare and subjected to one of his evil experiments. He gains the ability of speech and even though he grows in size and strength, he still has the physical appearance of a rat. Despite being the victim of Albert Snare, Snitch develops a sense of loyalty towards his captor and becomes his obedient sidekick.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Character Design -Week 2

This week we looked at the basic shapes of cartoon faces. Our first task was to draw simple faces and experiment with sizes, shapes and positioning of eyes and noses etc.

From here, we looked at bodies. Examining examples of famous characters we had to determine key areas of mass and how these shapes define the character:


Slightly out of proportion Superman: 


Getting to grips with the basics, we were free to experiment with the shape, size and positions of these keys areas of mass and see what kind of characters we could create: 

Character research images - Sidekick

Taking Justin's advice, my sidekick is going to be villainous rat. Although he is a victim of Albert Snare's experiment, he has developed Stockholm Syndrome and is a loyal companion accomplice. I started by looking into rats' anatomy:

Some examples of rats in other cartoons to draw inspiration from: