Thursday, 31 January 2013

Adaption: Exploring Old Western Art

It was recommended that I try to seek my own unique art style that corresponds with the wild west, so for the moment, I'm looking at various examples of old western art and photographs for inspiration.

From what I've gathered so far, it looks like I should be heading towards a desaturated palette filled with warm, earthy colours and a slightly painterly feel. This should be reflected in the design of the characters in terms of how I would draw them.

Maya: Explosion

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Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Initial Hero & Villain Sketches

Since Alan, while giving feedback for my Pitch, mentioned that a squirrel wasn't the best animal to portray my hero, I decided to look at other animals native to the Old West in North America.
So far, I'm liking the Lizard and the Ferret.

Lenny's Personality: Confident, reckless, boisterous, free-spirited.


I also looked at the villain to try and see how I could make him unique.
I'm definitely liking the bat and the vulture figure: number 4 and 7.

Phil's personality: Greedy, suave, conniving, patient, manipulative.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Adaption: Pitch

Adaption: Yet More Changes (Victorian to Western)

After the group presentation, I considered Alan's feedback to try and solidify the characters and the plot. This was promarily around the issue of the zoo; the large cast of varied creatures would make for many potentially useless characters. I also gradually found the setting of victorian England to be less and less relevant to the plot and needlessly complex in terms of how these characters would make their way over the Atlantic Ocean to South America.

I looked at the source poem once more and considered the fact that it was inspired by the California Gold Rush. I remember Alan, during his feedback of my presentation, first thought that my story took place in the wild west, so I thought to consider actually turning that into a reality, since it would make much more sense as a setting in relation to the source material and its origins than a victorian England backdrop.

In terms of characters, I would now much rather prefer a smaller cast of characters instead of a zoo-full. The hero of my story would baybe meet up with these characters along his journey to Eldorado, instead of all of them turning up at once at the beginning of the film.

Western movies often give the feeling of adventure and dangerous quests for a MacGuffin. In this case, the MacGuffin would be the Golden City and riches beyond the hero's wildest dreams, but the hero would eventually see he must use these riches for the greater good, or maybe realise that some things are best left undiscovered and unspoiled.

Old west small/medium-sized animal examples:

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I'm heavily leaning towards a squirrel for my main hero, either a snake or vulture as the villain and the shrew as the intelligent bookworm sidekick.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Adaption: Thinking about Characters & Environment


Because I wanted the story to begin in London, I decided to base my main hero and his family on a traditionally British animal. The story begins with a small family of animals who come from outside of the London Zoo who have made their home among the zoo animals. Because of this, they would need to hide from the humans who work at the zoo, so they cannot be enormous like a deer or a horse (the exception to this being a fox as they are traditionally seen as being sneaky). They would need to be small and stealthy like a mouse or rat. However, mice and rats are very much overused within animated stories where the heroes are rodents. I decided to look at other small mammals native to the British Isles.



Again, because the setting begins in a zoo, this gives me limitless oppertunities to create some interesting characters since not all animals in London Zoo would be from around the British Isles. I looked, in particular, at animals from both Britain and South America, since they would be most related to the story narrative.

Matching animals with Personalities

Hedgehog: Nervous, Paranoid, Timid, Prone to curling up into a ball when scared.

Bat: Grizzled war veteran, used to be a 'pilot'. Always loves to segway to stories about his times in the royal airforce.

Pidgeon: Upper class, posh, looks down on others.

Sloth: Slow to speak, wise, absent-minded.

Golden McCaw: Talkative // (New Arrival Parrot which tells zoo about El Dorado: Grizzled, Eccentric)

Greater Yellow-Headed Vulture: Manpulative, greedy, sneaky, conniving.

Toucan: Flamboyant, eccentric, boisterous



Because the animal world would need an equivilent for El Dorado (the human El Dorado would be much too large of a scale) I would have to size down the legendary city to scale with the 'miniature' story that would take place within the human world. I came up with the idea of a secret, ancient vault of gold hidden in South America filled with treasures that would be adapted by the South African wildlife into a sprawling city; cups and chalices turned into miniature houses, coins as tables and wheels and carved into cogs, jewels as mirrors... etc.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Adaption: Using Other Short Poem and Story Ideas as Source Material

Since it was very much agreed that I try to branch out to new ideas regarding other short, classical stories and to use the less obvious, well-known ones, I thought to research other, more obscure authors and writers in search of interesting stories to adapt. Alan recommended for me to look up on a few writers including Edgar Allan Poe and Isaac Asimov. I found a -lot- of interesting works by Poe. Here are a few which I had attempted to adapt.


Idea number 1:
“The Gold Bug” (Possible Adapted Genre: Adventure/Fantasy/Steampunk/)

Set in the 1800s, The Gold Bug is a high seas pirate adventure which is set on Sullivan's Island and begins with the main protagonist, William Legrand, who was recently bitten by a golden bug. His servant, named Jupiter, seeks out the aid of an unknown narrator because he fears that he is losing Legrand to insanity. However, he takes Jupiter and the narrator along on an adventure in search of the buried treasure of Captain Kidd. The story is told from the narrator's point of view.

Adapted: Possibly a steampunk/sci-fi universe similar to Disney's “Treasure Planet”. Anthropomorphic people as a universal norm instead of Secret of Nimh-style talking animals among humans.


Idea number 2:
-”Masque of the Red Death” (Possible Adapted Genre: Modern/Sci-Fi)

This short story is set in the middle ages and follows a Prince named Prince Prospero in the midst of “The Red Death”, a strange plague that kills off a large portion of his kingdom's population. Because of this, he retreats to his castle with a select few royalty and knights. However, a stranger in the guise of a Red Death victim finds his way into the castle, too, and confronts the Prince after leaving a trail of dead nobles.

Adapted: Modern/Scifi themed universe. Post-apocalyptic world where most of Earth's population has been wiped out by a man-made plague. Only the select elite few such as Prime-Ministers, Presidents, Politicians and the insanely rich have been selected to stay in a sterile fortress to hide from the plague. A few survivors fight through a desolate world to confront them in their fortress. Anthropomorphic people as a universal 


Idea number 3:
-The Haunted Palace (Possible Adapted Genre: Fantasy/Horror/Modern)

This short poem depicts an ancient palace which was once ruled by a long-dead king. The king was afraid for his own safety and his castle from forces of evil, but the castle eventually succumbs to this evil and the royal family that inhabits it are killed and their spirits are turned into phantoms.


Idea number 4:
-Eldorado (Possible Adapted Genre: Fantasy/Steampunk/Adventure

This is another short poem by Edgar Allan Poe, inspired by the California Gold Rush, which tells the story of the legendary city of El Dorado and interprets the journey of a knight on an adventure in search of the legendary city. Eventually, after growing old, he finds a stranger or 'Pilgrim Shadow' as described in the poem who shows him the way through the “Valley of Shadow”.

Adapted: Anthropomorphic talking animals, much like the Secret of Nimh who have adapted their technology from stolen items from the human world they inhabit. The main hero discovers the map to their version of El Dorado: a secret hidden, vast treasure vault in South America in which animals have adapted into a city made of gold.

Maya: Airship Scene

(For some reason, the upload button in the blogger post editor seems to not be loading. I'll have to upload the still image render when I get home)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Adaption: A Change of Plan

During my first tutorial meeting with Alan, it became clear that I had taken a huge step away from what my strong point was. I had reached a that strong point during the character project, filled with inspiration from anthropomorphic Don Bluth films and dark-Disney, but had then retreated with my tail between my legs into something completely different with the idea for a realistic, scientifically accurate interpretation of a Mermaid.

Alan noted me of this and recommended that I get back to that strong point of creating anthropomorphic universes and characters to do what I do best.

I enjoy the theme of dark fantasy and high fantasy, especially the Lord of the Rings by J.R. Tolkien and the fairy tales of old. Not the happily-ever-after stories that we often think of when we hear the term 'fairy tale', but the original, dark, terrifying stories told by grown-ups and used to scare children. These tales had underlying messages to them and were the perfect 'weapon' against misbehaving children.

I also draw lots of inspiration from Disney and Don Bluth in terms of anthropomorphism. I especially loved Don Bluth's "The Secret of Nimh" where it turned its back on the stereotypical kid-friendly talking animals of Disney and plunged the characters into a dark fantasy based on the themes of scientific experimentation, dark magic, dependence and the freedom from dependence.

We discussed how I can apply these to this project, which got me excited. Even more so than the now seemingly dull idea of recreating a mermaid. Logically, we reached the conclusion of combining both dark fairytale fantasy or classical stories with an anthropomorphic universe.

For a classic story, I wanted something dark to adapt and after looking into well-known classic stories, I remembered the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It is a tale deals with psycological horror and the issue of split personalities, which, when done right, are very dark subjects indeed. There are many iterations of the story, but after looking into the story of Jekyll and Hyde, I noticed that it was a very long and complicated one, so I instead decided to attempt to adapt the 1931 film "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", since it had a simpler plot to follow.

The plot of the film is as follows.


The film tells the story of Dr. Henry Jekyll an English doctor in Victorian London who is thinks that within each man lurks impulses for both good and evil. One evening Jekyll attends a party at the home of his fiancee Muriel Carew and informs her father that he wants to push up their wedding date. Later, while walking home Jekyll spots a bar singer, Ivy Pearson, being attacked by a man outside her boarding house. Jekyll drives the man away and Ivy begins flirting with Jekyll, but Jekyll fights temptation and leaves.

Jekyll develops a drug to release the evil side in himself, thus becoming the violent Mr. Hyde. Hyde returns to Ivy, and offers to tend to her financial needs in return for her company. She agrees and the two move in together. Hyde terrorizes Ivy, being both abusive and controlling. However, when Hyde soon leaves her for a while. Ivy goes to see Dr. Jekyll, hoping that he can free her of the abusive Hyde. When she arrives, Ivy sees that the celebrated Dr. Jekyll was the same man who saved her from abuse just months before. Jekyll promises Ivy that she will never have to worry about Hyde again.

While on his way to a party Jekyll, without the use of his drugs, suddenly changes into Hyde. Hyde angrily confronts Ivy about seeing Jekyll and, just before murdering her, reveals that he and Jekyll are one and the same.

Hyde escapes and heads back to Jekyll's house. Desperate, Hyde writes a letter to Lanyon, his collegue, from Jekyll instructing Lanyon to get certain chemicals and have them waiting for him at Lanyon's home. When Hyde arrives, Lanyon pulls a gun on him and demands that Hyde take him to Jekyll. Hyde tells Lanyon, his collegue that Jekyll is safe, but Lanyon doesn't believe him and refuses to let him leave. Hyde drinks the formula in front of Lanyon.

Henry Jekyll's life continues to spiral out of control. Jekyll tells Muriel that he must break up with her and begins to leave. Jekyll begins to change into Hyde once again after watching her cry. He then reenters the Carew house through the terrace door and assaults Muriel. Her screams bring her father and their butler, Hobson. Hyde then viciously murders her father out in the garden by striking him with Jekyll's cane, then runs off into the night towards Jekyll's home and the lab to mix a new formula to change himself back.

Lanyon tells them that he knows whose cane that is and agrees to take them to its owner. The police later arrive at Jekyll's lab looking for Hyde and find only Jekyll, who lies that Hyde has escaped. They begin to leave when Lanyon arrives and tells them that Jekyll is the man they're searching for. Just then a nervous Jekyll begins changing into Hyde before their shocked eyes. Outraged at Lanyon for betraying him, Hyde attacks him. Hyde then tries to escape from the police but is fatally shot before he can again hurt Lanyon, and Hyde transforms one last time back into Henry Jekyll.

Almost immediately when I thought of putting Jekyll and Hyde into an anthropomorphic universe, I thought that Hyde's appearence might be similar to Professor Rattigan from "The Great Mouse Detective" (1986), especially during the final act when he attempts to kill the protagonist Basil.


Perhaps I may be able to use this as inspiration for what kind of anthropomorphic universe I want to create.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Adaption: Initial Ideas

Idea 1:

An abstract music video based on Ronald Jenkees' "Stay Crunchy"

This idea originated from a very old one from a post way back in the first year. After hearing this piece of music for the first time, my imagination wandered into a daydream and I found myself imagining all of these weird, colorful, psychedelic visuals.

0:00 - 0:13: A single spark of imagination lights up in the blackness of a never ending void and creates a single flower. Its leaves flourish as the spark reaches the tip of the blossom.

0:13 - 0:40: The spark ignites in a glorious explosion of colour, branching off like a great tree into the void, creating stunning landscapes and sparking life into plants, trees and forming enormous mountains which stand tall and proud. The sky lights up in a bright shade of sapphire blue as clouds streak across the sky.

0:40 - 0:54: The camera switches to a view from orbit. The colourful spread of imagination slowly engulfs the surface like wildfire. After a while, the camera hurtles through the atmosphere back to the surface.

0:55 - 1:08: We drop down to a over-the-shoulder view of a branch of light as it hurtles over the landscape, spreading life and colour which zooms past the camera.

1:09-1:24: We switch to another camera which slowly pans over the now finished world, basking in its sheer beauty and glory.

1:25-2:15: The light suddenly hurtles upwards towards the sky, zipping through the atmosphere and out into space. We see the black void of space with nothing in it. We pan back to the colourful planet with darkness in the background. Everything but the planet seems completely lifeless... until...

2:16 - 2:58: The blackness suddenly EXPLODES with colour, spreading across space with a tie-dying effect. We see many, many beautiful patterns which also resemble galaxies and novas.

2:59 - 3:32: We switch to another over-shoulder view of the light. We can hear faint thunder as colourful dust swirls around it, briefly lighting up with the thunder as it creates the universe. spreading branches of light in its wake as cosmic clouds swirl around to form galaxies and planets

3:33 - 4:07: The camera slows down and pans away from the branch of light. We slowly move past the clouds of novas and other branches of light towards a lonely solar system. We cam past a star and down onto the planet Earth...


Idea 2:

Designing, modelling and rigging a realistic, scientifically accurate depiction of a mermaid.

This came from a talk with Jackie on what ideas I could come up with for the project. Since my initial idea for a full-length trailer for my previous project's "Experiment 9" was scrapped, it was suggested that I take on something simpler and less extravagant, saving the trailer idea for the third year.

I told Jackie about my "Stay Crunchy" music video and she suggested searching for other, additional ideas that were more along the lines of what I wanted to end up doing professionally, so I looked at character design.

Since I wanted to be enthusiastic about this project even after my let-down with being unable to create a trailer, I looked to other things that I'd be interested in and how I could relate them to character design. Mythical creatures is a very prominent thing that I'm interested in, as well as creature design, so I looked to myths and legends.

During an evening in one of the computer rooms, I noticed one of the 3rd years' previous "Adaption" projects where the student designed her own take on the Kraken and how, in folklore, the Kraken is only usually shown as tentacles in the sea, never the whole creature. Taking advantage of this, she designed the creature as a sort of giant, submerged mermaid-esque looking creature with tentacle hair which penetrated the surface of the water; a truly unique take on the traditionally viciously depicted Kraken of ancient myth.

That's when it inspired me to look at mermaids and luckily enough, I stumbled upon a video about a similar creature religated to myth and legend posted on YouTube which was part of a playlist series of a programme called "Dragons World: A Fantasy Made Real" from the Discovery Channel. It takes on the question of 'what if?' and puts it in scenario which looks at how dragons may have realistically evolved if they were real. For this idea, I wanted to do the same with mermaids.

Part 1

Part 2