Monday, 29 November 2010

JoJo in the Stars by Marc Craste

I presented this film at a Context and Review session to talk about techniques for creating mood. This film does this in so many ways, from the haunting music deployed whenever the hero and JoJo are together to the monolithic overpowering nature of the environments.

Some brief thoughts on how this works are below:

Environment design:
buildings and interiors are huge and monolithic. More like soviet architecture than a place for fun. Characters are dwarfed by the strong vertical lines, and later on these verticals reoccur as bars that constrain the performers. Overall we are given a sense of foreboding and powerlessness. Then when the hero is with JoJo they appear to be literally transported into the stars in an environment that resembles a nursery mobile. Perhaps this symbolises love's power to transport us away from life's everyday concerns, and give us a more innocent idealistic outlook.

B&W: the use of black and white gives a period feel, creating a sense of nostalgia. the strong lines and lighting work well with black and white photography and these combine to give a noirish eerieness to the whole thing

Leni Riefenstahl: some of the cinematography reminded my of work by Leni Riefenstahl - a talented  filmmaker whose reputation was tarnished by her links to the 3rd Reich ( This certainly helps create a mood of oppression and fear. Sometimes I think that we see links that were never explicitly in the mind of the author of a piece of work . . . and I'm fairly sure that Marc Craste wouldn't cite Riefenstahl as an inspiration. But some shots reminded me of her work so there you go.

Weather: the weather also influences the mood. Ominous clouds gather as the audience congregates, portending tragedy: and when the hero makes his rescue attempt the wind is blowing a storm both symbolising and contributing to the tragedy that follows.

Title cards: I love the use of title cards. Again they give the whole piece a retro and yet somehow timeless quality, and for me they are reminiscent of both silent movies and also fairground posters. I think that they prime the viewer to enter a stylised and somewhat fanciful world.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Views from my kitchen window

I'm looking at how light helps create a mood so in the name of research I've been taking some photos out of my kitchen window. Even though the whole idea was to see what a difference light can make I'm still surprised by how diverse these look.

This  made me think about what time of day to use for the different scenes in my script. For example, morning can signify rebirth & new possibilities whilst evening can be more melancholy. Conversely in stories like Human Traffic the evening signifies a release from the grind of daily life and the advent of an exciting alternative nighttime lifetime full of much more exciting possibilities.

I'll need to pay attention to time of day and also season and weather when trying to create a specific mood in my animation.

Emotion Sketches


I'm interested in portraying emotion so I had a go at sketching some different facial expressions. The aim is to get a feel for how our facial muscles produce different expressions. Hopefully this will help with modeling blend shapes further down the line.