Monday, 22 March 2010

'Pigment of Imagination' on UK-edition DVDs & Blu-rays of horror hit "Paranormal Activity"!

Pigment of Imagination, the short animated film that I made during my final year at Edinburgh College of Art, was last month shortlisted in an online film contest hosted by Icon Film Distribution (the company co-founded in 1989 by Mel Gibson); and it will now be appearing as a Bonus Feature on all the UK-release DVDs & Blu-rays of hit horror film Paranormal Activity, which is released today!

The contest, called Film Your Own Paranormal Activity, was run on Icon Film Distribution's PrepareToBeScared YouTube profile for several months until the end of January, and allowed UK residents to create & submit their own 3-minute horror films made in the style of Paranormal Activity.

I don't personally consider Pigment of Imagination to be a horror film (it's more a suspense film), however its setting within a derelict house does perhaps evoke a spooky sense of mystery and darkness similar to the classic horror films that helped inspire it such as: The Haunting (1963), The Innocents (1961), and Dracula (1931).
With that opinion about the genre of my film I didn't expect it to do too well in the YouTube contest, but then again, its success perhaps shouldn't have been such a great surprise...

...The only reason I submitted Pigment of Imagination to the contest was because I got informed about it by the promoters (via a YouTube message) who said they really liked my film. They asked me if I would like to re-edit the film down to a regulation duration of under 3 minutes, then add the edited film to their YouTube playlist of contest entires for the public to watch prior to the closing date.
The original cut of my film (as shown at the Edinburgh College of Art 2009 Degree Show) had a duration of 3:48, which was at least 48 seconds over the regulation play length for the contest. If I was going to enter the contest I really didn't want to cut anything from the story because the story was already running very bare in the original version: but luckily those last 50 seconds were end credits for the Degree Show premiere at the Filmhouse cinema last June - and because I already had the main credits featured at the start of the film I could simply cut the end credits to conform to the regulations while keeping the original story of the film intact.

Throughout the contest my film was displayed on the PrepareToBeScared YouTube profile along with more than 130 other short films. In the two weeks prior to the submission deadline my film had attracted little over 100 views (which was one of the lowest view counts of all the films), and an average rating from two people of 2.5 stars out of 5, which didn't look promising. However my film managed to get shortlisted to the top 50 at the end of January, and then a week later I was informed by e-mail that my film had been selected as one of the final 10 films and would be appearing on the UK-release DVDs and Blu-rays of Paranormal Activity!
If getting shortlisted into the last 50 was surprising for me, being told that Pigment of Imagination will be appearing on all the DVDs & Blu-rays was even more shocking because it had been my understanding upon entering the contest that only the one winning film would be featured!
Thereafter I had to e-mail a digital file of my film to Icon, sign official release forms, post the forms back, and then wait for over a month to publicly release this news today (the secrecy wasn't an official part of the contest regulations - I just wanted to do it that way - but it's felt like a really long month)!

The Final 10 films have been publicly available on the PrepareToBeScared YouTube profile for several weeks: Indeed the contest has already been reviewed (a couple of weeks ago) by Pete Stanton at Moviefone UK, who gave outstanding praise to both my Pigment of Imagination, and to Killer Flies From Mexico by Ollie Bostock & Johnny Eveson.

Stanton wrote that my film is:
A beautiful animation that shows more flair and imagination than Paranormal Activity and Heebie Jeebies [the overall contest winner] put together.
You can read the full review here. And you can click here to head straight over to the PrepareToBeScared YouTube profile and watch all 10 shortlisted films (as will appear on all the UK-release DVDs and Blu-rays of Paranormal Activity from Monday 22 March 2010).

I'd like to take this opportunity to again thank everyone that helped me with the film:
- Darryl Ryznar, Actress - sorry the day of filming didn't go entirely to plan.
- Chris Bathgate, Sound Designer - thanks for doing an awesome job with all the audio in such a short space of time!
- Annalise Wimmer, Filming of Snoopy the Beagle in Budapest - thanks for taking time out of your Christmas holiday to film all that reference material for me.
- Claudia Menting, Filming of myself as the Artist - Cheers for providing your camera & time.
- Alan Mason, Tutor - Thanks for providing all those film references, DVDs, Friday Film Sessions, and helping with the refinement of my script.
- Marianne Gallagher, Studio Assistant / friend - Thanks for providing support, and encouraging me to get the film finished!
- Ewan Green, animation classmate - Thanks for always being so cheery, knowledgeable, and for providing so many good suggestions over the years.
- All the students that I helped with their films prior to making my own - thanks for all the experience & tips.
- My parents - "for providing me with food and shelter; and for putting up with my all my equipment taking over the living room (for the past 12 months!)" - as it said in the end credits.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Portrait painting 4

I just realised that I have never posted this portrait painting onto my blog, so I'm doing it now at long last. (It's been on the facebook fan page for ages!)

It's a watercolour painting from back in October 2009, and is a portrait of my artist friend Nicole Volbeda.

Nicole came over from the Netherlands in 2008 to study on the MA Animation course at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in 2008/09, which was the same time that I was in the final year of my BA Animation course.
We met online in the months leading-up to the start of her new course, so we kinda new each other before she even got here; and around that time she started a new blog to document her adventures in Edinburgh and keep friends back home up to date. In relation to that information, this painting was based on a photograph from her first "pre-move" visit to Edinburgh in the summer of 2008 (as published in one of the earliest entries on that blog).

While she was at ECA, Nicole developed a proposal to create a new children's TV series called Lilly Knows It All, which would have a bunch of short episodes (roughly 2 minutes each) starring a cheeky 5 year old girl & her strict mother, with the plot for each episode being a fun interpretation of traditional sayings being put into conflict: For example, one episode might focus on a conflict between the sayings "silence is golden" and "the squeaky wheel gets the grease"; while another episode (like the one Nicole animated at ECA) is about Lilly's strict mum ("know your enemy") being forced to buy a puppy because Lilly - in protest at not being allowed to get a dog - chooses to cause more trouble around the house than a dog would ever cause ("if you can't beat them join them").

Towards the end of my academic year (June 2009), I spent a few days helping Nicole with the digital colouring of that Lilly Knows It All episode using TVPaint on PC and a bit of Michael Jackson music blaring out through the otherwise empty studio (cos we started working together in the morning after MJ's sudden death)...
You can watch an "in-progress draft" of the full episode featuring some of my colouring by clicking on this link to the relevant post on Nicole's Lilly Knows It All blog.
You can watch a 1-minute introduction/sample of the fully finished episode on YouTube by clicking here.
And you can read all about the concept and development of the series on the Lilly Knows It All blog at:

Nicole has now moved back to the Netherlands, having graduated from Edinburgh College of Art in November 2009, but you can check out her latest artworks (drawing/painting/animation) and other wonderful creations (knitting/sewing) on her new blog at:

Saturday, 13 March 2010

12fp(s) - painting 20

This is the most recent piece from my series of Film-inspired Paintings, created in February 2010, a month or so after my exhibition at the Filmhouse last year.

The original film source has a stunning vitality to its aesthetic, with strong colours and bold lighting - it's a perfect example of the 1950s Film Noir style reincarnated in the 21st Century. And it was this wonderful visual style that attracted me to painting the image in the first place.

While working on the painting I knew that using colours alone would look horrible. So after laying down all the colours and letting the paints dry, I went over the painting with black outlines and texture (in a process similar to some of my favourite paintings from recent months) in order to improve the visual depth of the image and make the finished piece come to life.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Film/TV caricatures

...And finally for just now [regarding all the posts about my caricature work], here are some Film & TV caricatures that I made since the end of the Winter Olympics.

Quentin Tarantino (Film director)

Carey Mulligan (Actress)

Bradley Cooper (Actor)

Rab C Nesbitt (TV character)

I'll get back to posting some 'proper' artwork tomorrow...

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Winter Olympics caricatures

Throughout the 2010 Winter Olympics I found myself glued to the TV for way too many hours (I was watching Curling or Snowboarding during the afternoon/evening, and Ice Hockey through the night). As a result I found myself spending very little time on my artworks, but at the same time, the short breaks in live sports coverage did inspire me to start trying some caricatures.

With a near-empty sketchbook, a big pile of old newspapers (full of pictures), and nothing else to be doing during the two 15 minute intervals of every Ice Hockey game, I realised that it would be the perfect opportunity to experiment with some caricature work... If nothing else, it would prevent my drawing and painting techniques from getting rusty!
Over the past three weeks I've made about 20-or-so caricatures in my little sketchbook: They've been a bit hit-and-miss so far, but I've been enjoying the learning/development process. Here are a select few:

Lindsey Vonn (Skiing)

Wayne Gretzky (Ice Hockey)

Jarome Iginla (Ice Hockey)

Jackie Lockhart (Curling)

Amy Williams (Skeleton)