Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Influences part 18: TV adverts

I just realised how they made the advert [above] for the Honda Insight (Hybrid) a couple of weeks ago, and it really impressed me, so I've finally decided to post something about some of my favourite TV adverts...

United Airlines: Rose
Created by the amazing Russian paint on glass animator Aleksandr Petrov (The Old Man And The Sea, My Love), I think this is one of his most artistically impressive pieces.
Even though Petrov's films are vibrant and uniquely stunning in equal measure, I think his morphing painterly style works even better in these very short commercials - none more so than in The Night (another United Airlines commercial - shown in the image below)...
This second United Airlines commercial by Petrov is available to view at this website and is located on the right hand side, four pictures from the bottom.

Nike SB: Paul Rodriguez
It's a really simple 30 second advert for the Nike skateboard team, but the effective use of a basic digital/optical effect makes it stand out and live on in my memory.

Miss Dior: Cherie
From the calm summery pastel colour scheme, to the Frenchyness of the song Moi Je Joue (by Brigette Bardot); this whole advert (directed by Sofia Coppola - Lost In Translation), just has a wonderfully beguiling quality to it that I appreciate whenever it is broadcast.

Ladyhawke: self-titled debut album
I love the artwork of Sarah Larnach (Ladyhawke's illustrator), and the music video for Ladyhawke's My Delirium is one of my favourite music videos ever: so this advert (which is basically a 30 second showreel of them both) is, for me, simply stunning!

Honda Accord: Cog
This advert is probably responsible for me beginning to pay so much attention to adverts, and it also inspired my favourite college project, Die Skateboard (which I created for Sculpture during the 1st Year general course at Edinburgh College of Art in 2005/2006).

And finally of course, how could I forget that cheeky wee meerkat?

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Pigment of Imagination: Summary

Andy Macpherson's debut film Pigment of Imagination was produced as part of his final year course work at Edinburgh College of Art for a BA (Hons) degree in Visual Communication (specialising in Animation).
It is a 3 minute animated suspense film inspired by the work of Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo, I Confess) and Jean-Luc Godard (Bande a Part, Alphaville), with many other eclectic influences helping to further enhance the unique style of the work.

The story follows a young woman searching for her lost beagle in a spooky old mansion, unaware of the psychotic artist lurking behind one of the many doors.

Produced over an 8 month period from November 2008-June 2009, the film utilised live-action referencing similar to A-Ha’s Take On Me music video, and was drawn with black ballpoint pen on A6 paper to create a vibrant and much-praised visual style.
The drawn animation frames interact with watercolour backgrounds that are painted under Expressionist influence in order to enhance the unique visual style of the overall film and break away from the constraints of modern commercial animation.
Further to this, digital shortcuts were kept to a bare minimum during the production of this film, and assistance from other people was restricted in order to keep the film looking as personal and as hand-made as possible. This makes the film look like a piece of traditional artwork and helps to counter the commercial industry’s reliance upon CGI for almost everything these days, which this director feels is ruining the magic of film and television.

A 30 second trailer for Pigment of Imagination is embedded below, and more of his video work is available to view on both his YouTube profile and Vimeo profile.

Pigment of Imagination premiered on Screen 1 of the Filmhouse cinema (Edinburgh), on Monday 15th June 2009 as part of the Edinburgh College of Art animation degree show 2009, and had a repeat screening on Tuesday 16th June 2009.

His full film (plus a small selection of portfolio work) was on display along with the work of another 12 animators and 400 other graduating artists as part of the Edinburgh College of Art 2009 degree show held from 13th-23rd June.

The full film will be available to view online late-2009...

UPDATE: Please click here to watch the full film on YouTube.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Filmhouse premiere

We finally had our big Animation premiere at the Filmhouse cinema in Edinburgh on Monday night.
Despite having my debut film on show for everyone to see, the evening didn't feel particularly special to me, and when my film came on I felt really laid-back (despite expecting to be a nervous wreck)!
I'm also disappointed that the duration of our film show was so short (I don't know exactly how it compares to other years, but it certainly seemed to be over much quicker than previous years)... Although I suppose it is better that it feels compact than for it to seem to be dragging on and on.

I'd like to thank everyone who has spoken to me about my film after seeing it (either at the Filmhouse, or at our degree show exhibition space in the Evolution House cafe); but I'd particularly like to thank Hazel Leszczynska because she is the only one so far to have given me some criticism (and it isn't like I didn't try to get people to say bad things)!
My preference for criticism may seem odd to many people (particularly those at ECA), but I strongly believe that you can learn/improve a lot more from criticism than from positive comments... After all if you only ever hear about the same old good things then you are less aware of what people don't like/understand, and are therefore going to find it harder to mitigate in your future work.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Highlights from my 210 films of research

Earlier this week I reached my 400th film rating on Flixster; mainly as a result of all the film research I did for my graduation project over the past year (I've watched 210 films in 365 days)...
To mark this random milestone, and to counter all the negative reviews I tend to write, I thought I'd list some of the films that I can either critique positively or that were not great films but which still influenced my graduation project.
I've arranged some of the films by director (at the top of the list), and the rest are arranged by year of release.

Quentin Tarantino:
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Kill Bill v1 (2003)

Jean-Luc Godard:
A bout de Souffle / Breathless (1959)
Une Femme Est Une Femme / A Woman Is A Woman (1961)
Bande a Part (1964)
Pierrot Le Fou (1965)
Weekend (1967)

Alfred Hitchcock:
Rebecca (1940)
Rope (1948)
Strangers On A Train (1951)
Vertigo (1958)
Psycho (1960)

Tim Burton:
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Big Fish (2003)
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride (2005)

James Bond films:
Dr No (1962) Directed by Terence Young
Live And Let Die (1973) Directed by Guy Hamilton
Moonraker (1979) Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Octopussy (1983) Directed by John Glen
Casino Royale (2006) Directed by Martin Campbell

David Lynch:
Eraserhead (1977)
Blue Velvet (1986)
Mulholland Drive (2001)

Other films:
Bringing Up Baby (1938) Directed by Howard Hawks
The Spiral Staircase (1945) Directed by Robert Siodmak
Singin' In The Rain (1952) Directed by Stanley Donen/Gene Kelly
House On Haunted Hill (1959) Directed by William Castle
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) Directed by John Ford
Bonnie & Clyde (1967) Directed by Arthur Penn
The Amityville Horror (1979) Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Cape Fear (1991) Directed by Martin Scorsese
The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Directed by Frank Darabont
Lola Rennt / Run Lola Run (1998) Directed by Tom Tykwer
Saving Private Ryan (1998) Directed by Steven Spielberg
American Beauty (1999) Directed by Sam Mendes
Memento (2000) Directed by Christopher Nolan
Vanilla Sky (2001) Directed by Cameron Crowe
Final Destination 2 (2003) Directed by David R. Ellis
Lost In Translation (2003) Directed by Sofia Coppola
Monster (2003) Directed by Patty Jenkins
Million Dollar Baby (2004) Directed by Clint Eastwood
13 Tzameti (2005) Directed by Géla Babluani
Lords of Dogtown (2005) Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Saw 2 (2005) Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman
Final Destination 3 (2006) Directed by James Wong
The Departed (2006) Directed by Martin Scorsese
El Orfanato / The Orphanage (2007) Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona
This Is England (2007) Directed by Shane Meadows
Planet Terror (2007) Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Monday, 8 June 2009

Influences part 17: poster design

Last week I received a box full of over 500 identical postcards from the printers so that I can promote my graduation film, and as I'm not doing anything else right now (1:30am), this seems like as good a time as any to document some of the film posters that influenced the design decisions behind the aesthetics of my film poster/postcards...
In case you haven't already seen it, below is the poster design for my graduation film: Pigment of Imagination

I had always planned on making my film poster from a drawing or painting that illustrates 'something' about my film, rather than just creating a layout around an existing piece of my film footage... I suppose the original influence for this design decision may have come from Erica's hand-drawn poster for The Gardener, which both I and many others greatly admired.

I have always enjoyed painting, so I wanted to incorporate that into the aesthetics of my poster; and this also linked nicely with my favourite style of film poster - the vintage film posters of the 1940s & 50s, that were painted by hand. Some of my favourite posters in this style include those for The 400 Blows, Vivre Sa Vie, Jules et Jim, and Casablanca:

The third major influence on the design of my poster was the layout of the posters for Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho; but The Trouble With Harry and many other designs from the 50s/60s also greatly influence me.

Other notable influences include the artwork of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec...

And various Eastern European/Russian prints.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Sound design (graduation film update)

I've been working with my sound designer (Chris Bathgate) all week, getting my film ready for the Filmhouse premiere on June 15th. The film is now very nearly complete, and with all the sound added it has come together much better than I originally anticipated back in January, which is nice.

Today I got to record foley sounds; play with a synth; and create a suspenseful little piece of violin music with a computer!

It has been a fun day despite all the not-so-good stuff that happened, but this blog post is gonna remain positive... For example, my friend and classmate, Ewan Green, got a 1st Class grade for his degree today and also started his first day of work at Django Films today, meaning that he gets to do his best Forrest Gump impression as a runner for the animation company of Sylvain Chomet (Belleville Rondezvous)... And apparently after hearing my violin composition, I've been asked by Dreamworks to conduct their next animated feature....
Did someone say It's Zimmer Time?

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Sketchbook images

(Last updated: 17 July 2009).

Here's a few images from my sketchbook.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Influences part 16: music videos (part 2)

I'm hoping to begin work on several music videos after I've served my time at ECA, so this seems like an appropriate time to update part of my old "influences" series of blog posts - especially the section about my influences from the world of music videos, so here it goes:

Ladyhawke - My Delirium
It's like a big living 3D watercolour painting that is constantly moving - what else do I need to say!?
Well, it also features awesome watercolour illustrations by Sarah Larnach; some great rotoscoping in a similar style to Larnach but created by the guys at Frater (who turned Larnach's paintings into the animation); as well as demonstrating some other experimental styles of animation...
To put it simply, this is my favourite music video just now - if not ever!

Alphabeat - Boyfriend
More arty-farty goodness from those Alphabeat folks (I think all their videos - or at least the ones I've seen - are pretty quirky and cool). This song has 2 different videos, but I prefer the one linked above which was directed by Daniel Eskils.

Franz Ferdinand - Take Me Out
It just looks so quirky and different from any other music videos that commonly get shown on TV.

Ida Maria - I Like You So Much Better When You're Naked
It has a strong digital production process similar to the Franz Ferdinand video, but this one has a strong pop-art influence, which I like for the styling and bright colours.

Millencolin - Detox
Really cool camera work, that's about it really... (It's also a catchy song from a great band though).

Pink - Don't Leave Me
I can't tell whether I genuinely like the video, or if it's just because the male character (when he has a bandaged head) reminds me of Markku Peltola's injured character in Aki Kaurismaki's The Man Without A Past... Regardless of this, I also like the aesthetic of the hazy focal field in some of the scenes after the male character in this video gets injured.

Blink 182 - The Rock Show
I remember all the hype surrounding the launch of the Take Off Your Pants And Jacket album many years ago, and even after all these years I still love this song and how silly/reckless the video is.
The official video is not available on YouTube, so here is The Making Of The Rock Show instead.

The Dykeenies - The Sound Of The City
One of my friends who does crew work with The Dykeenies (and many other bands on tour), told me that the band made this video (which covers a wide spectrum of playful, yet highly creative, pixelation and stopmotion processes) by themselves.
Due to the amateur/hands-on approach by the band for the creation of this video, there is a strong vibrancy in it that I find exciting to watch because I feel as though it is missing from much professional music videos today.

Just Jack - Embers
It an interesting pan through history (if history were written by Just Jack), with lots of little models and some nice effects.

And finally, while I was searching for Not A Dry Eye In The House by Meat Loaf on YouTube, I discovered this mock video of it (AKA a literal music video) where the user has dubbed Meat Loaf's vocals for a pretty good impression that sings about what happens on screen throughout the official video footage...
I love the original Meat Loaf video, which is a re-telling of Beauty & The Beast, but this mock video is pretty funny and worth including here instead (particularly as I couldn't find the original on YouTube).