Saturday, 27 March 2010

A bit of a waffle on Animation

I've always liked the idea of animation, but I have to confess I don't have the patience to pull it off successfully. But digging through my old harddrive and the old site, I thought I would stick this post up to show my efforts.

I think one of the things, that have always put me off, is I've never found a comfortable workflow for executing my ideas. The main thing I used was macromedia flash and also tried toon boon studio.

The first "breakthrough" came when I worked out how to use motion paths in flash and this was my first effort. Frank the Robot Bin - To Binly go, where we all like to go

Next up, to learn  rotation in flash, I pretty much copied a Terry Gillingham animation from The Mony Python days, adding my own bit at the end.  I bow in his greatness, as he did his version by hand and  it took me all of a weekend for my effort.  

Next up, and probably my most popular (especially with 3-5 years old so I am told) is The Gallery. I do have some further ideas for this character, but the way I created it in flash, it would involve starting to build the character from scratch again, which I have struggled to do. Lesson Learnt from this about, creating characters separate from the main timeline.

Next up,  not the most original idea, but an animation very loosely inspired by Emily Dickinson poem She went as softly as the dew. I had a very clear idea on doing the water droplet to star idea, but it took quite a few attempts to get it right technically. I didn't enjoy the process at all, and I think this is one of the reason's why I say I don't have the patience.

Next up, is the kind of animation I would like to do.  When I was a kid, I really liked the pink panther cartoon show (couldn't stand  that ant eater thing though) . I think what I liked most was the style of the backgrounds. They would be this scratchy ink style with block shading and strong contrasts.  I also used to like the pyschedelic shaking from the Rhubarb and custard cartoons.  I did the backgrounds on this, with a really shite cheap non pressure graphic pen and the character, ship and sea monster with a mouse. So technically not perfect by a long shot, but stylewise I am happy with it.  The song is "Pour Un Flirt Avec Moi" Michel Delpech. I have no idea what he is singing about, but it sounds right for the cartoon.  

Finally, this is unfinished and when it gets to the corridor scene. Nothing else will happen, except the music playing. For this animation, I bought a fancy wacom tablet and tried out a few new concepts, such as having the characters turn and having objects in front of the action. This was also going to be the longest piece, with several locations and a good old fashion Mummy Chase.  The timing is off in the below, and things such as shadows are missing, and feet occasionally vanish (also the edges arent masked). But it should give you an idea.  The plan was to extend the corridor scene, introducing two new characters; The museum curator and a belly dancer  who would join in the chase, before turning the action back outside,  and giving a suitable "Deus Ex Machina" ending.

The reason, it is unfinished, is I switched from a PC to a mac, an no longer have macromedia studio and my wacom broke. If anyone wants to ahve a go at finishing it off, then please give us a shout, I will gladly send the files over. 

I am not turning my back on animation per se, more giving up on flash animation. I emailed today infact an idea to a fellow Leeds Savage Club member, about doing a very short, live action /animation short entitled "Space Cheese". I would also, like at a later date, have a go at producing some cartoon shorts, in the style that I would like to achieve.

Friday, 19 March 2010

More Fridayflash Statistics, Writing and a New Tale From Tiberius...

It's been a few weeks, since I have done a fridayflash. Mainly down to my work in getting the Leeds Savage Club up and running, plus there has been a lot going on around my film Mortus Illumina. I 've also got quite a few longer pieces in progress, including an early transatlantic crossing attempt, an archeologist and a whole load of dead Romans and a return to Break Creek

My Novella progress monitor hasn't moved since December, mainly because as mentioned here, It would always be the first thing to go on the backburner - which it has.

But, A new tale From Tiberius O'Donnell this week, entitled "The Right Rollicking Race" set around the university town of Oxford, and a penny farthing race.  You can also get the first six Tiberius O'Donnell stories for your Kindle here and they will be appearing in the reading room soon(maybe even today).

I also notice, I am up to 22 stories on the DAC (not including Mount Norfolk) and when I did the first 10, I posted some statistics which you can see here, so I thought I would do the same, with the next ten stories.

This Period is December 11th 2009 to February 18th 2010, covering the ten stories posted in that time.
There were a total of 809 Visits (up 52 from last time) from 29 countries (14 last time) with the bulk of my traffic coming from United Kingdom, United States and Canada (Germany knocked down to 6th spot)

The most popular story was "The Nth Page of Henry Lamberton's Journal " with a 138 visits. In the last ten, it was "The Backstreet Berlin Brawl" with 114 visits

The most commented story was "A Northern Swan Song" with 26 comments, compared to "E Tu Brute" which had 22 comments

and the story with the highest comment to post ratio was The Sabotaging Swede with 24% compared to 36%, which was "E Tu Brute" in the last period.

On average, I got 86.5 reads per a story (up 10.5 from last time ) and I can expect 1 in 6 people to leave a comment (down from 1 in 5)
The least read story was  Queen of Sheba with just 45 views,  which was just one above The Most Blasted Blizzard  from last time.  This was also the lowest commented with 8 comments, compared to the Blasted Blizzard which only had 4.

Titles Visits Comments Perc
The Nth Page of Henry Lamberton’s Journal 138 19 13%
A Northern Swan Song 112 26 23%
Wisdom From the Chorus Line 102 19 18%
The Complexing Conundrum 99 16 16%
The Foreign Looking Fellow 97 16 16%
The Sabotaging Swede 77 19 24%
At the Village Doctors 71 10 14%
A Letter Home To Mammy 66 13 19%
Speranza 58 11 18%
Queen of Sheba 45 8 17%

Finally, The Top Five stories all time from my fridayflash contibutions are;

The Backstreet Berlin Brawl
Day 8
The Nth Page of Henry Lambertons Journal
The Last Page of Henry Lambertons Journal

Of course, what post on statistics would be complete without a good picture of a dangle. Pictured is Brit Ekland and you can find more photos on this unappreciated pose at Film Noir Photos

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

The Prophet

This is a book, I pick up every three to four years. It is a very short, but satisfying read. Before jumping to the main bulk of this review, a quick bit about the edition I was reading.

Its the Pan Macmillan edition 1991, with a green cover and some font, which looks like it should be saying Lords of the Ring. For some reason, the text inside is double lined and the illustrations are not reproduced that well. I bought it, as I fancied rereading it there and then, and the only other two versions in the shop was a Penguin Classic version at £8 and a hardback illustrated version at £20. This cost me £5, which is a bit steep for the quality - there are not even the chapter headings. 

Onto the book itself, it is one of my favorite things I have ever read.

The Prophet has lived in a city called Orphalese for twelve years, awaiting for a ship to take him back to his land of birth. He has come to love the city and is sad to be leaving. As he makes his way to the ship, the people of Orphalese come out to meet him. They love him, as much as he loves the city, and the priestess asks him to speak to them all, which he does. He answers their questions on such things as Love, Death, Good and Evil, Time and Religion.

Whilst there are many a good saying in the book, its not actually the philosophy side that is my attraction. I like my philosophy a bit more Stoic, and recently, I'm enjoying getting confused by dualism. However, what I do like, is the land that is created in The Prophet. I can visualise it very very clearly, and as The Prophet answers the questions from the people, the place of Orphalese becomes very real.

It is also, very beautifully written. Kahlil Gibran considered this to be his greatest achievement. He said: "I think I've never been without The Prophet since I first conceived the book back in Mount Lebanon. It seems to have been a part of me... I kept the manuscript four years before I delivered it over to my publisher because I wanted to be sure, I wanted to be very sure, that every word of it was the very best I had to offer."

It has an almost biblical type meter (I know there is a posh word for this, but it escapes me) but a lot more musical in its delivery, which makes reading this effortless, and a pleasure.

The hard line Dawkinist out there, might be put off from reading this, as the word God is mentioned a few times. There will also be a few who will be put off, as it sounds a bit Dirty Filthy Hippy - I was originally. I would, however highly recomend reading this, no matter what your beliefs are. It is very universal in its appeal.

The Prophet - Amazon Link
Online Version(Text only)
Online Version(With the original illustrations)

Thursday, 4 March 2010

The Men Who Literally Dance The Night Away

In the middle of the Bolivian jungle, is an island surrounded by the sea, where the giant pygmies live. It is there, they literally prance the twilight away.

A highly literate tribe, the Tiki Waki’s who rely on oral tradition, have for as long as anyone can remember, performed the Bola Bola Ritual. Eight nights a week, five hamsters a month without fail, regardless whether it has been raining or not.

The ritual begins when it gets dark and ends when it gets light - not that you, the reader needed that explanation. I am sure you could of gathered that information from the title, though I did once get a letter from a reader in Shropshire, who complained I did not use enough full stops.

It is performed by the eldest members of the youngers of the tribe, who gather on a platform made of  toads and small logs, it is there they then proceed to wave their arms, legs and other bits and pieces till sunrise - not necessarily their own I might add.

Normally, the chief of the tribe JoK O’ Ta, plays the elephant, accompanied by the women of the tribe, who join in by blowing millipedes. You might thing, that the noise would be somewhat basey and clunky, but I found it to be of a most uplifting nature, reminiscent of the gospel song Joshua Fit The Battle of Jericho.
The whole ceremony is of course performed naked. Except for Tjoik, who has a phallic birth mark on his back. Some of the elders feel, that this takes away from the seriousness of the ritual, so instead he is allowed to wear live wombats.

The other males of the tribe, sleep whilst this is going on, otherwise no one would be awake in the day and who would do the stuff that the tribe needed to be done in the day time.

You may think the tribe, perform this ritual,  because they believe that they can control the time between days, but you are wrong. They do it because, they worship the Wiggalloo Bigalloo  a violent gekko like god, who the tribe believe is the creator, of all things, not made by Loric Ghorri.  A pleasant lama type creature, they don't worship, because he is to polite for such praise.

To the western observer, The world of Jok O Ta Tiki Waki’s, with their Wiggalloo Bigallo, Loric Ghorri and Bola Bola’s might seem an alien culture, but having had the pleasure of  helping Tjoik put on his wombats and witnessing these magnificent people. I couldn’t help but feel I was apart of the Quo Vadis

Lengthy explanation behind this one, this was done for a Leeds Savage Club task entitled 'How to Write a blackwood article '

Blackwood’s was a well established literary magazine that ran from 1817 to 1980 (link below).
Blackwood's Magazine

It had contributions from a number of famous writers and was seen by many as an influential standard of literary quality that was unmatched by other publications. It was also, however, seen by some as being overly conservative and somewhat obsessed with certain issues. Edgar Allen Poe once satirized the magazine in the short story ‘How to Write a BlackWood Article’ (link below).
How to Write a BlackWood Article

Inspired by this story, this week’s task is to write an article that the editor of Blackwood’s would consider publishing. Based on the alleged values of the magazine, we have summarized the three editorial guidelines that your article should abide to:

1. If you mean 'bread and butter', do not by any means say it outright. You may say anything and everything leading up to and around it. But, If 'bread and butter' be your real meaning, be cautious, and never say it.

2. Every article must include a misquoted French, Latin or Greek saying, such as the use of 'cul - de - sac' in the article 'The Spanish Fly who Never Stopped Dancing' : "I put down my good dancing ability, due to being born with a certain cul-de-sac...."

3. The article must be, objectively and positively, absolute nonsense!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Mortus illumina 2nd Incarnation

Read about the first incarnation here

I've mentioned in the first incarnation, that not much changed in the script, from its initial conception to the first shoot, and at last nights Bettakulcha (video going online in the coming week) - which was a fantastic night, get yourself down to the next one. I mentioned that the first and second shoots were mainly driven by enthusiasm. Which is great, but no substitute for planning.  In hindsight, if we had spent, even just an extra three months before shooting, on rewriting and rewriting the script. That would of probably saved about a year in post production. As it was, there were several rewrites as we went along.

The 2nd Major incarnation of the script came immediately after the first shoot. We had spent nine days at a Country house in Norfolk, filming the hammer horror incarnation. So we had plenty of footage of nuns - doing erm nunning things, and some really weak scenes, down to a poor script.

There were, however some good scenes in there, and one of the major reasons for a shift in direction was down to the fifth night of filming on that shoot.

The fifth night, was the filming of the car scene. Which you can see a quick snippet of, in the original trailer.  To bring you up to speed, we had lost our original planned location for this shoot, very near the shoot date itself. We had less than a week to find another location, which we did, but it threw our original shooting schedule out the window.

We lost a day on location, due to having to familiarise ourselves with the surroundings, which put a huge damper on morale. Also, facilities weren't great - we ended up smuggling  several crew and cast into nearby Norwich university to use the showers. Catering wasn't great and the first few days of shooting were something of a slog.

Due to the low budget nature of the film, as most of our shoots were inside, we only hired internal lights (far cheaper) but we had a few external shoots to do, one of which was the car scene.

Now the differences between external and internal film lights, is effectively down to the grounding and insulation, also to note, we are not running on domestic voltage here.  We are running from a 120 amp feed.

You can use the lights outside, not a problem - as long as it doesn't rain...

It rained.

Now, we had set up the lights, late afternoon and the car (a 1920's Jaguar) arrived on set around 6pm and was due to be on set for four hours. We were waiting for it to get dark and everything was in place, so we could move quick.

Before it turned dark, the first spout of rain came down. It was only drizzle and the crew went around putting black bags over the lights. Then it began to pour and all the lights were bought inside.

Then it stopped

and the lights went back out

Then it rained

and the lights went back in

It was now dark and fast approaching the time, when the car should of been returning. The guys who lent us the car were happy to wait a bit longer and we kept them entertain with tales and food around the fireplace, in fact all the cast and crew were around the fireplace as there was nothing else we could do.

By about ten o'clock, there was a break in the clouds and we got all the equimpent back outside; camera in place , cast in make up and costume  and we were about to turn over. ... When the heavens opened. Once again it was the mad dash to take the lights in and every availiable hairddryer was aquired and put into use.

Come midnight, and amazingly the car hire guys were still happy to wait and myself, the DOP and lighting director and the production manager had a emergency meeting. It would be possible to turn the lights on in the rain, but once they were on, they would have to stay on. We would effectively be creating a live circuit. It was a huge risk (if a bulb went, there would be no way to replace it there and then ) but manageable. The call was made. The crew then jumped into action and starting putting up the lights and insulating cables as best they could. The
production crew, went into health and safety overlords as safe paths were marked off , risk assesments done and lines of death drawn.

The moment we started shooting, we would have to shoot continuously, which involved the crew and cast being out in the rain for several hours. Everyone, and I mean everyone went above and beyond the call of duty that night to look after each other and make the shoot happen. A continued supply of hot drinks were rushed to the front line, Chocolates and sweets distributed and warm jackets at the ready, for those few breaks that were taken.The cast did a great job both in front and behind the camera.  For those hours we shot, until the sun came up, battling against the elements, there was a fantastic feeling of camaraderie - one of my favourite times on a film shoot.

After this shoot, I felt that the script was not doing justice to the effort that had been put into it.  I went straight into changing the script. There were about four or five drafts to the second incarnation and below are some of the major changes.

  • The introduction of the character doga (pictured right). Originally , Veil and the beach scenes would just be himself and the character Rico.
  • Mary's and Rico's back story was expanded.
  • The whole universe and the book Mortus illumina was made central to the storyline. Mainly through Doga.
  • A shift away from the Hammer head horror, to a more supernatural tale of horror.  

This incarnation of the script, lasted between 2001 and 2002 and was used as the basis of the:

2nd shoot (Beach/Deadlight scenes)

3rd shooot (London shoots)

4th Shoot (Chapel Shoots)

This trailer was cut, shortly after the 4th shoot and should give you a feel for how the second incarnation would of looked.

In part 3, I'll explain the reason for the shift to the third and final incarnation, but below is a  storyboard sequence, from the second incarnation that was never filmed. It was going to be the opening of the film.

Finally, to end, if you click on the read more, there are some emails from cast and crew at various stages, talking about the shoots.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Hard Hats, Not Feathers -The Leeds Savage Club

Originally uploaded by
February was a hectic month. You would be surprised at how much work it takes to resurrect a late turn of the century organisation. So much so, after signing and agreeing the constitution this Saturday gone. I am taking a well deserved break and will lazy copy and paste to a couple of other articles. Actually , I am very hectic getting the site up and running ( we are missing a web officer at moment), but I will pretend, I am being lazy and enjoying that break.

From the Culture Vulture Site

A portion of Leeds’ Victorian history was brought to life this weekend at privately owned Temple Works in Holbeck, when the newly reformed Leeds Savage Club signed their constitution in the building. The enormous former flax mill built, by John Marshall in 1836, is in the early stages of repair for re-use as a major cultural venue, acting as a much-needed destination for the regeneration area that is Holbeck. During this period it is opening its doors to a wide variety of arts organisations who want to help build up the project. Though repaired, its raw state will be maintained as such – a perfect context for the “noble savage”.

Continue reading here 

and from Temple Work Site

On Saturday afternoon about a dozen people gathered in the boardroom of Temple Works to resurrect a roguish Victorian writer’s and artists’ group, The Leeds Savage Club. I can’t pretend it was the most incendiary meeting I’ve ever attended. How can you make poring over every sentence of a constitution and discussing every jot and tittle of a necessarily dry document exciting? Article 2, Paragraph 5, Clause 2 did cause some mild controversy, however, but not the heated debate I was hoping for. The boardroom was freezing. We were there for three hours, feeling the temperature slump by the minute. In the end people were wearing gloves, wrapping scarves around their ears, and hugging hot cups of strong tea. One guy even kept his hat on, though I suspect that’s some sort of Bohemian affectation. The constitution was ratified and rubber stamped though, and the Leeds Savage Club is raring to go and recruiting once more. Here’s more information from The Chief;

Continue Reading Here 


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