Friday 23 May 2014


As I have created a range of work over the years, and want to illustrate this. I made a 'generic' showreel that depicts the main pieces of work I'm proud of.

Hopefully it shows a range of skills, a willingness to work with others, and interest in film and art design.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Wear Sunscreen

I have been thinking about the nature of planning when writing my essay and a friend recommended this video. It's a nice positive outlook on life and worrying about the future. It's a comforting thing to hear when we're about to finish and everything's uncertain. 'Choices are half chance'. 

Ruddigore Trailer

This is the trailer I made for OperaSoc's 'Ruddigore'.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

A bit of extra comping

In order to reach the deadline, I've helped out Luca a little with the VFX he was working on and masked the eyes of U-1 in two shots. 

This involved creating a solid shape, feathering it, then animating it to follow U-1s head, covering the gaps or eye that you could see in the original shot. Other than adding gauze to the box in production (which wouldn't have helped the already compromised vision wearing it entails), I don't think seeing through the eye holes could've been avoided. When others viewed our draft of the film, a relatively large amount of feedback centred around being able to sometimes see this, and confusion as to whether this was intentional. If it is distracting to the audience, then it seemed right to mask them out and draw their focus back into the story. The process itself is a little tedious but seems to cover what we want without being obviously CG. 

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Cereal Box Final Shots

 Following the tests and developments for the hologram, I added Ryan's performance to the cereal box shots. This included having to mask out elements of the shot, such as the boot smashing down, and any rocks and plants in the foreground.

In each shot the cereal box is crushed underfoot, so I had to animated the hologram composition to shrink and move as it the box distorted. This was helped through adding more static and glitches in the composition, to give the appearance of the hologram breaking and avoiding having to 'fold it'.

Overall I think they work well, not seeming too over the top (which is something I worry about with VFX). I think, due to the colours, the blue version works better. This is not only because blue is a little more futuristic, but in the box design, I'd lightened the center, which gives the implication of light. I attempted to mimic this in the red cereal footage in After Effects, but it didn't appear natural.

Title text and possible poster designs/promo stuff

We've been considering the 'promotion' side of our short film, mainly how we would present and advertise it during End-of-Year show, and possibly during film festivals etc. Tom took a range of landscape and portrait stills from our location shoot that we could use. Looking at both horizontal and portrait, there was a trend in certain poses/layouts and what we liked. Mainly, the silhouetted character with their back turned in portrait.

Feedback during our last crit highlighted the difference between our 'title/logo' design, and the content of the film. Accordingly I started to try something simpler that would work both for the film, and any promotional material. The content of the film is quite minimal, and 'empty', so a simple text seemed fitting. I messed with case and overlay/textures to try and find something that worked.

In the end we decided the overall poster should be relatively minimal too, as we hadn't much to write on it (yet). We ended up with this poster design (showed bottom left), which isn't too telling of the plot (or even shows U1's face), but does show the character and the overall 'tone'. At the moment I've just left placeholder text, which would be replaced with things such as showing times and a brief blurb for the film.

When looking at film posters, there was a trend for quite illustrative designs too. I decided to experiment with this idea, using the box head as it's quite a simple yet obvious design. We could possibly use this design as teaser cards, or cards with information on the team and each of our roles, to be left out during end of year show. It could also be an alternate poster or flyer, to drum up some interest for our film. Again, once we have details, we would fill it in accordingly. 

Sunday 11 May 2014

Mask in film

Something that's appeared in film recently that is relevant to our project is the film 'Frank'. It looks really good and I'm interested to see it. I'm very interested in how it was to work with the head piece, as with our production, the box head became a little uncomfortable for Ryan to wear over the course of three days. By the looks of the trailer, the head creates an endearing character, even if slightly creepy sometimes. It's interesting to see a film that covers the face of it's star, and how that can still be successful and work well, illustrating that performance and story are key to selling something.

"It's pretty comfortable now. I'm used to it," explains Fassbender during a break. He has taken the head off and it really is him beneath it. "It was kind of weird in the beginning, the way it sits on your head. You feel a little bit vulnerable because you've not much peripheral vision. You can only see straight in front of you. You can't hear that well either. But it's quite liberating as well, in the way that masks are. It's amazing how many emotions that face manages to convey. It can look vulnerable, it can look sinister, at times it looks confused."

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Hologram Cont... (Colours and cropping)

Continuing the hologram tests in After Effects and how they look on the cereal boxes. Whilst blue is a common 'futuristic' colour, the redder version on the left still seems to work ok. I think this is due to the vibrance/ colour dodge nature of the edited footage. However, there should probably be a little more light source, or some sort of glow, emitting from this first box (the second shown in the film).

Initially, the holograms were to sit on top of the box (as shown in the blue right hand side box), whilst this works, it creates a little separation between it and the box. By masking the box and putting the hologram between the adverts (seen left), there seems to be a little more depth added. This is probably how the hologram will be added in the real footage. 

Monday 5 May 2014

Helping out a friend

Since I gained a lot of practice drawing background hills for our extended project, I was happy to help Siobhan with a quick background for her animation project. 

Whilst I've been more focused on film/production based things this year, I still really enjoy more 'traditional' art things, such as painting etc. Therefore it's nice to practice and a bonus to support a friend's project.

Thursday 1 May 2014

Hologram test

Using the green screen footage I'd taken Monday, I have begun testing out ways to create a hologram effect, which can be used once I have the main footage to comp onto.

For this test I have been following this tutorial:

This tutorial reminded me of little things such as typing in expressions to repeat actions e.g, loopOut("cycle") , that have proven very useful.

I'm aiming for a traditional 'hologram' style, that of lines and slight static, as seen in the vid below.

Whether or not we have light coming from the box illustrating where the hologram is coming (as seen above) will be decided once I've view the main footage the hologram will be comped on.

The fluctuating lines and slight flash give this sense of hologram. I will refine it, and key the timings slightly better in the overall shot. I feel the timings will depend on the main footage, therefore I may also have to incorporate jump cuts into the hologram in order to 'make it fit'. Obviously in this there is still elements of grid line, which I would avoid having in the final thing. It's possible that the form of this hologram is too solid, and I may have to look into distorting it, especially when the box is crushed in the shot.

The above is a quick illustration of where the hologram would be on the box. At the end Ryan goes out  of the lines of the box, however this is when it will be crushed so the hologram itself will probably be more distorted too. If this box is being found in a scrap heap, it seems like it should already be glitching, this is something I will try and further investigate.

I need to consider the light source, or a slight glow in the hologram. As well as make it a little fuzzier and 'impure'. For example the hologram's in Muse's Knights of Cydonia music video sometimes come from a source, and I should consider how the box is effected by the hologram in our film.

Tuesday 29 April 2014

Cereal Boxes

The green-screening done yesterday will hopefully be composited on two cereal boxes, one in the first scene, one in the last. I tried to create similarities and slight differences in the designs of the cereal boxes as they were different products from the same brand. Looking at the colours surrounding our short film, using a mix of muddy colours seemed fitting whilst also giving a slightly retro-future feel. Ultimately the hologram should be the main focus, so the overall design shouldn't distract.

The props were made by printing these designs and glueing them to existing cereal boxes. Whilst this is not the most solid way of creating them, it seemed the most practical in the time I had (we are hopefully shooting tomorrow). Luckily as we're going for a battered 'junk' theme, the slightly frayed edges/scruffy elements should play to our advantage.


The cereal-boxes in the film are to have a guy advertising on the front of it (as previously discussed and designed here: This is going to be the same guy, but on different boxes. As Luca and Tom were location scouting, I offered to do the green-screen for this with Ryan who kindly acted for us (again) and needed the green-screen for his own project. 

It was a simple set up, by facing the pop-up green screen at the window we were able to use natural light which provided a relatively even light. As the shots are going to be heavily edited to create a 'hologram' effect, the main concern was for the green-screen to work, the overall quality of the shot (this was not shot in RAW) hopefully won't be noticeable. 
To record audio we used a rode mic, which has seemingly worked alright and keeps with the performance. Doing it this way allowed it to be done quickly and without much hassle. This was enjoyable to shoot and saw the first real use of dialogue (not including 'voice-overs') in the film. We had a little time to play with performance and ham it up, as he's a seedy salesman. 

The flat light made keying out the green-screen very easy in After Effects, so I am confident the footage will be easy to use in the final shot. 

Monday 28 April 2014

Making the Robot Head and U1's costume

Though the robot's head is meant to literally be a cardboard box, I felt that it should be made rather than actually using a box. This allowed a little more control in it's design and strength. Initially I made a prototype in order to work out the structure and sizes (shown above). 

Then refined these measurements to create a net. The cardboard available wasn't big enough for a full net, so the front, side and top are connected and the back section is a separate panel. This allowed the front of the box-head to appear a little smoother, as if it were a whole thing. The net was intentionally slightly sloped at the front to achieve a slight asymmetrical look.

To distinguish it a little from 'just a box' and give it a little personality and age, I added eye bags. This coincided with the designs I had done previously. This was done with cardboard and then paper-mached over with brown paper, giving a slightly sunken feel to the eye holes. The box had tabs and flaps in order to cover the neck and attach to other pieces.

To secure the box to the head I fixed a headband inside and added a few extra panels to strengthen it. 

Overall U1's costume is very similar to it's design. By spray painting the high-vis jacket to look a little dirty, the overall grimy effect was achieved without having to spoil clothes that were borrowed.

Thursday 24 April 2014


Due to a tight schedule we decided upon the shot list a few days before shooting. This drastically effected the time I had to create a storyboard, roughing out the shots at the time, then rendering them nicely later that same day.

Rough notes whilst going through shot list
In 'Storyboarding Essentials' it is stated that drawing to the same ratio that the film will appear in is helpful, I decided to try this out. Whilst this wasn't being used as an animatic, etc, it did allow a level of consistency in the drawings, (unlike the slightly inconsistent frames drawn in the rough notes above).

Final Rendered storyboards
Whilst the storyboards gave us a rough idea as to how the shots would look, it transpired we mainly referred to them as a 'shot list' on the first day, rather than following them perfectly. Therefore it didn't seem time effective to draw more for the next day if we were not to use them at all. In hindsight we probably could just have referred to the rough notes/shot list, rather than needing a 'rendered out' version.

Rough fillers for an edit or reference before we shoot on location

Sunday 20 April 2014

Dressing the set

The set consisted of two walls, one with a 'functional' door, and one without. Once these were built we painted them white as a base layer, in order to match the real walls we were using.

Once these were built and coated with a base layer, we needed to muddy them up in order to give it an old run down feel. By mixing a few paints together and applying them thinly to the walls with paper towels or a sponge, I could build up layers of dirt in order to give a 'lived in' feel. Scratching and sanding the walls also helped add some texture to this.


Whilst the set initially is very minimal, it slowly (through the narrative) builds in clutter and 'junk'. An idea, as seen in some initial concept art, was for U-1 to try and fashion nice household things out of junk, such as some flowers.  To create these I used drink cans and cut petal shapes out of them, twisting and folding them into shape. Then I attached them together with wire, and added stems and leafs. By using metal material originally, we didn't have to worry too much about faking what it was made of, only having to spray paint the backs of the petals in order to hide branding of the cans.

Other Props

Other props included a rug, made from parts of jeans and other materials. This took a lot more time than anticipated, but gave a rough handmade effect.

Friday 11 April 2014

Poster design

I think set dressing and extra detail in design are important in selling the overall environment. Therefore I thought we should have at least one poster that illustrates the 'world' a little, or at least supports the script. Therefore I thought I'd do a simple instruction poster to explain the basic principle of the relationship between Jenny and U1, as this is one of the key elements of our film. Whether or not this would be fully shown on film was irrelevant, it was just to add a little depth.


I wanted clean silhouettes that could be quickly identifiable, so therefore toyed a lot with how Jenny should be represented etc. This coincided with the design of Jenny so was dependent on what we built. Ultimately the simpler the design, the clearer it was. So U1 was simply a box head (as he is anyway), and Jenny a rectangle .

The final element was to dirty and rip it up in order to make it seem old, and in-keeping with the rest of the set.

Sunday 6 April 2014

Thinking about Colour

Initially I had been looking at reference that uses reds and browns to create a rusty/dirty effect, as I felt this corresponded with our 'junk' theme well. However due to the subject matter there is a slightly concern it could seem too similar to Wall-E. Also, there is meant to be a 'lack of warmth' in the room our robot character inhabits which may not be shown as clearer with this previous colour palette.  If we were to go completely 'blue' though, there is a chance it could look too 'high-tech' and cold, as well as losing the battered and cardboard style. Instead, I've been thinking about trying to adopt a more grungy colour style, with off greens and yellows (such as the colours used in Fight Club).

I've adjusted the colours of some concept work to see how this would feel. Overall I think the colours leaning more towards the greeny/blue spectrum work best. The colour design of the set and props should follow this, they should also be a bit run-down and desaturated.


The 'Dispenser' is meant to be linked with our robot-character, it is it's true 'companion'. However, this doesn't necessarily mean it has to take a humanoid form. Most of the warmth and 'companionship' it is meant to be offering will hopefully be achieved in the way it is interacted with and it's sound design. On development of the script, the Dispenser is no longer just there to charge the robot and now serves as a recycling unit. This hopefully gives a more dependent relationship between the dispenser and robot, therefore I feel the design should be slightly similar to, or at least take elements from, the robot-characters design (head). 

I'm a little wary that the whole film could seem a little like Wall-E, therefore aim to create (or at least try) and create a visual difference. (This will also hopefully be achieved by differentiating the colour design, - despite previously referencing it in this blog). Since we are limited with budget etc, we are using what we have. This includes a microwave that can be used as the area where junk is recycled in the dispenser unit. I've therefore designed around this, thinking about how it can be incorporated.

We've discussed having a 'screen' or something that will be composited in post-production, whilst this will help give the 'futuristic' and 'technology' vibe of the dispenser, I'm a little hesitant to involve too much CG. I've included a small screen in the design, however this could perhaps be ditched and instead the black oval could serve as a 'screen' if needed.

By adding a cardboard texture/element to the dispenser I'm hoping the link between the robot-character is clearer. This is also hopefully mirrored by the simplistic square design. I'm aware overcomplicating things could confuse the viewer if it is not made clear, therefore stickers/branding logos etc added to the design will hopefully help. Again, the sound design for this particular 'prop' is very important.

Friday 4 April 2014

Cereal Box

One of our opening shots involves a discarded cereal box with a futuristic/hologram style advertisement that directly addresses the character. This would be something we film and comp into the shot, it's intention is to establish a slightly futuristic/technology-developed setting as well as the 'tone' of the film. The concept is similar to that of the game show host in Requiem for a Dream (who talks through the tv) and therefore advertisement-wise, we are playing with the concept of a cheesy-host character that is advertising the cereal, a character that looks a bit seedy and acts quite hammy and over the top.

I like the idea of it being blue/quite muted but glowing colours, as it will (hopefully) clash with the outside/junkyard exterior, that would have slightly 'natural' colours. The lined-screen should flicker and seem a little distorted, as if used and broken, as it is meant to be discarded. The scan lines can further flicker and break once it is stepped on (which is the intention in the film). Ideally I'd like the image itself to be a little distorted (with sound to fit). 

Thursday 3 April 2014

Mannequin Companion.

The companion of our robot-character is to be built by him, however it needs to be simple and easily identifiable. Therefore the idea of using a mannequin, and putting a box on it's head, seems appropriate and achievable within our budget/time constraints. Whilst I like the design of it having no arms or legs (so is pretty much 'useless'), we are being flexible, and will use what is accessible to us. The 'box head' hopefully clearly illustrates a link between the character and it's attempt at creating a companion, it is trying to make itself so it should look in someway similar. He draws on a face, so this should look rough and almost child-like. A very 'cliche' idea of beauty.

The robot-character could also come across as quite bashful, and realise the mannequin is naked so try and clothe her in over-size shirts etc. This'd offer a little humour as well as further the idea that he is trying to make a friend/companion and is focused on the idea of it being 'real' more than anything else, (e.g an object of attraction).