Thursday, 17 February 2011

A talk with Phil

This morning after the leture, me an Phil had a conversation about improvements and directions on how this stroyline can unfold. We both had the same view when it came to the train; that view being that it felt like a thrid wheel in the story, that it had been added just because I was given it. Phil pointed out that if the train would hit this captive, then that woul easily kill him without the sword being there. I explained my point of the sword was for the sword swallower to end the lives of his critics by using the sword that he used on stage and now has ended his career. But that wasn't highly clear, so it needed work.
Phil gave me an idea that would pull away from the train just a little but was still allowed. He mentioned that instead of the train, I could use a pump trolley/Hand car/ Railroad car... Depending which term you want to use. The Pump car would be a great way to add some comic effect to the story plus get rid of the extreme collision of the train. The impact of the cart wouldnt kill the critc; this would make more sense for the sword to be on the machine.

The most important development we spoke about was the structure of the story. What we agreed on was having to different story locations and having them mix we eachother in a non-linear style. The first story wil be the one of the sword swallower failing on stage and the second would be the story of sword swallower driving the pump car towards the victim on the track. When these two storylines inter-lace with eachother, it will become highly dramatic and also action packed. Hopefully this effect would show the panic in the captive.


Image 1 -

Image 2 -

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Landscape painting with the train - speed action

I thought of creating the curve of this image to portray speed from the animation below. This animation is called 'Le Grand Arch', I was really impressed with the way the curve showed a lot of speed in the image.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Landscape painting

A quick painting to show and clarify how I'm imagining the desert scene. The range of colour is key for this area. Warm and dusty colours will work best.

The Treatment, The Step outline, The Premise

The Treatment

1. The first scene opens out in a vast desert, with large brownish orange rocks in the distance and some in the foreground. Also there will be weeds growing in the sand and tumbleweed blowing about, with several cacti around. The view will float down slowly, and a steam train speeding along a track comes into focus. The camera will start have sudden shots of the speed from the train. One shot of the wheels turning at highspeed, couple of shots of the steam blowing from the top of the train, also a side view where the train speeds past. The view will then change to the top of the train and will start speeding forward, then through the smoke and past the train.

We'll start speeding along the track fast than the train, until there is focus of a tided up man on a small platform on the track. This man will have a contraption on head, that causes his mouth to be constantly open again his will. The device will look like a head brace keeping the head back slightly and a jaw clamp attatch from his jaw to the patform, keeping it open. We then look down the track, viewed from over the shoulder of the tided up man. The camera will then shoot to the front of the train, were we see a Large Format Camera attatched to it. and we start moving down where we see a large sword attatched to the very front of the train. We then shoot to the window of the train, were we see the head of a man with a determind face on, we follow him out of the window as he looks out.

We then jump back to the captive and we see over his shoulder again, we see the train come closer and closer, up tot he point where the two are almost in contact, and then the camera will flash. Blinding the camera's view, and the vision is then faded out.

2. This scene will fade into a red light lit room, the first thing we see is a photo image on the captive screeming head on. This is in a bowl of liquid. A hand picks up the image and places it up the wall. Now next to this image is a range of image that look just like it but with different people in them. This view of the images will be viewed from behind the shoulder of the main character. The character would be wearing a dirty/dusty shirt with locked brown hair. We'll follow this character on side view across the room. Until newspaper articles come into view, we'll zoom into these article and scan them all. One these articles there will be two images next to the writing, each article having two different images. One of these images will be of a failed act of sword swallowing and the other will be of the person who wrote the article. We'll make a comparison and realise the failed sword swallower, was the guy driving the train and the critic will be one of the guys in the captive photos. this comparison will be made with all articles. We'll hear the opening of a door.....

3. We'll see a view from outside the door, were the character comes out of. As the character leaves, we'll see a train set on a table, on the track there will be a little model of a man with a train coming straight at him. Then knocking him of the track. Once again there will be a fade out and credits will start.

Step Outline

In a desert scenary a train is hurting towards a tided up victim on the track. The train is driven by a failed sword swallower secking revenge again his critic that ended his career. The sword he used to swallow for his acts is attatched to the front of the train. As a viewer we assume that the train has hit the captive.

This scene is in a room in the characters living quarters, his own photo developing facillaty. Through the images on the wall it noticable that this train crime has been done before and camparing to the article also in the room we clock onto his revenged plan.

The scene is outside the last room, all that is in focus is the revenged plan being shown on a train set.

The Premise

The extreme vengence of a dying act against it critics.

Research into the character, train, camera and location

History of sword swallowing

To get a better idea of what to do with the character thats a sword swallower, I found myself needing to research on the history of the art. For a starting point I went to wikipedia and found a load of information. The art of Sword swallowing originated from India in 2000 BC, performed by Fakirs and Shaman Priests and it was used as a demonstration of devine union and power. The moved one to Greece and Rome in the 1st century, then to China in the 8th century. When the art moved to Europe, it quickly become an act, and was joined up with juggler, magicians, prophets and other performers. These quickly became Religious targets, which lead them to become condemned and executed as heretics, witches and practitioners of the dark arts. The art of sword swallowering soon died out and now there is less than 100 sword swallowers in the world.


For the location, ideas have been bouncing around, but an old western dessert looks like the best place. North America has some beautiful areas.

In relation to the scenes here, I found an artist called ' Evelyne Boyston Grierson', in my opinion she captures the beauty of colour from these deserts in her paintings. Truely inspiring and also an effect that I could use in my piece.


Keeping in relation to the North American Western area, I looked at trains that would be around in the victorian times in these deserts.







Friday, 11 February 2011

A talk with Paul 2

Up to this point the development of my possible storyline hadn't gone the way I would have like it to. So to cure that I used the advantage of having a writing partner. Paul and I got together earlier and dicussed more possible ideas about where I could take this storytelling unit. Keeping in mind about Phil's comment, we tried to find away to bring the train into more of a focus and use its potential as a machine to create a story.

Together we came up with a few ideas that we bounced of eachother and tried narrowing those ideas down and also putting some together. What we also did was try to find problems in the story that might lead it to not be at it's full potential. What we came up with is in the following Step Outline;

Step Outline

Scene opens up in a old Western desert, zooming in slowly up to a train speeding down a track. Further down the track will be a person tided up on a platform that is on the track. This train will be hurtling towards the captive on the track, the train is driven by a retired sword swallow with a thirst for vengence. Attatched to the front of the train is the sword he used in his acts. Also at the front of the train is a camera. In a short amount of time the train will drive into the captive, just before contact is made the camera will shoot a photo. (to save this from being gruesome, we wont see the sword of train actually hit the victim, but it will be played in such a way that the viewer will assume it happened. this scene will fade out.

A new scene will fade back in. The new scene is in a red light room the living quarters of the retired sword swallower. He'll remove a newly developed image some water in a bowl. This image is the photo of the face of the captive taken from the front of the train. He'll pin this photo onto the wall, surrounding this photo will be other photos that are simular but with different people in each image. We'll follow the retired sword swallower out of the room, passing some newpaper articles that have photos of critics att he top of an article they wrote. These critics will be the same people in the shocking images from before. The last thing we see is the title of the last article ( writen by the last victim) saying something like 'what a failure!' with an image of the sword swallower looking foolish.

As we exit the room we see a quick glance of a train track with a small figure on the track with the train coming at him. ( showing he has planned this )

I really like this idea, we came up with a lot in such a small time. I know there is loose ends that need tidying up but i'm looking to develop it further. I interested in painting the set of a western desert area, I think the colours could be beautiful to work with. I'm also looking forward to creating a very dramatic scene with the train. There is so much in this idea that make it flurish.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

@ Phil - response to your comment

I was reading the comment you wrote on my three act post, about the storyline being too literal. I completely agree with this because the way I was going was leaving me with very little development storyline. I also agreed with the lack of connection between the train as a set and the sword swallower. Whilst walking home I had a couple of ideas flowing through my head, and those ideas also slowly developed as I walked. When you mentioned that the sword swallow doesn't literally have to be a sword swallow, it could just be a short period of time where something is accidentally swallowed. This got me thinking into what area I could go into for a new idea. At first I came up with an idea of having a baseball game, where the pitcher would throw the ball to the batsman, where then the ball is smacked back at the pitcher, causing it to go into his throat. But with this idea, I can't see there being any form of train but a possible camera.
With your idea of being subtle in the storyline in the sense of my 'lucky dip' it lead me to think that I don't want the set to be a train but rather have a train on set. Combining these two as well as visual research of a cartoon golfer in a shop window, I came up with the following story...
The story will be about a golfer, the golfer is will be dressed in the required clothes to be allowed in a golf club. basically, cardigan, studded shoes, shirt and checkered trousers. The story unfolds in a crazy golf course, but the way the beginning is filmed, the audience are pulled in to a sense of the scene being an actual 18 hole course. This main character will do every hole, starting with the windmill hole 1. He will successfully putt all holes until he reaches the 18th. Throughout the putting, families around the course are looking at him in wonder and awe. The 18th hole is a long stretched of green and a train set at the bottem with two tunnels. As his shot reaches the train, the train will come out of one tunnel hit the ball (rebounding that ball) and will enter the other tunnel. The golfer is a little frustrated due to his first miss of the day, he'll attempt it again, but the same thing happens. At this point the golfer is highly frustrated, and uses a big swing to hit the ball back down the green. The ball will rebound of the train, come back at him, it will go through his mouth and hit the back of his throat bounce back and hit one of the other objected holes (i.e windmill). This could be where there is  aview from a security camera, and the ball wizzes past and hits a child in the head. Again the ball will rebound again and again, eventaully coming over the head of the golfer and landing on the green, bouncing and slowing rolling along the green. The ball then missed the train and goes in the hole.
For this story I can imagine a dramatic entrance, to cause the sense of being somewhere important and I want to make it look as if the golfer is highly sucessful until we see where he is.

I really like this idea, and it gives me a lot more freedom with creation and development than the last story. Please let me know what you think and if you have any improvements that I could add.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

3 Acts

Act 1

The scene starts off with a black screen, with a voice over playing over the top. This voice over will be a recording from a previous act the main character had been performing. This performance however is the performance where the character dies. The voice over will start with an introduction from a voice on a loud speaker, introducing the character, 'Scott Lone'. Scott will appear on stage and perform a sword swallow, this is where the audience start to scream. The voice on the loud speaker will ask everyone to leave because there has been a terrible accident. Around this point, the voice over starts to fade out. When Scott is introduced in the voice over, the screen turns from black to the viewing of an old poster of that act promotion. When the audience screams, the poster will tear off of a wall and float to the right. The camera will follow this poster going up and down, in the flowing motion of the paper poster. 'Scott Lone' will come into focus in a long black over coat with a large hat that covers his face, but reveils his chin, to let the audience know who it is. The poster will float off to the right out of shot.
Scott will make a grunt of some sort and start walking to the right. The camera will position right behind Scott showing the direction he is heading. This is where a abandoned train comes into view, with a read curtain covering the main door. A light is piercing through this curtain. The character approaches the curtain and goes to open it.

Act 2

At the start of Act 2 the camera will jump from outside the train, to the inside of the train. As an audience will we see 'Scott Lone' jump through the curtain, dressed in his showbusiness/stagey clothes, instant change from when he was outside. Giving an illusion of 'the show must go on' type of feel. Now, Scott will jump from behind the curtain, with a large grin, arms out wide, expecting a huge cheer. The shot will then shoot to a widescreened side view angle to show 'Scott' on stage but no-one in the train seats that he has laid out for possible viewers. Then theres a close up on the face of 'Scott', showing an immense amount of disappointment.
We'll seen 'Scott' pick up a camera, place that camera on the front chair of the audience (possibly on a stack of books on top on the chair to give the camera the right height). When he turns the camera on, our view of him is then viewed from the camera. He will start to perform an act of Sword Swallowing, making it look very professional, but instead of swords, it will be substitute items. These items will be 1. an umbrella and 2. a pool cue ( may need further thought on this item, it will be very important item at this stage, but the cue could be too large). First he will swallow the umbrella and hooking it over his mouth, (at this point he will open his shirt and show it poking through this rib cage). He will take the umbrella out and go for the pool cue, he will swallow this is some stlye, let the cue go, which is why it will drop through him and hit him on the foot. At this point he will jump in pain (going for a over-exaggerated cartoony jump), when landing, the train will shake, the camera will fall of the chair, land on the floor and crack the screen.

Act 3

Theres a lot of grunting coming from 'Scott' as well as footsteps that get closer and closer to us, which is when the camera is picked up by 'Scott'. We view the train all the way up and on to the character, up to the point where we are at his face, he'll push a button and the screen will fade out to black.

I need an improvement

Whats bothering me is in the last act, as of the moment, there is no problem solving. I want there to be a problem at the end, because I want the piece to seem as if would go in a cycle, as if the man character practices every day, even with no crowd. But I was thinking maybe a small problem solver right at the end could be a shot of 'Scott' placing a tape in an envelop and on that tape say 'you've been frame'. It will then show that he got to entertain in one way at least, but then can loop on to attempting it again another day.

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Premise and The Logline

The Premise

1. For one Sword Swallower, the show must go on.
2. Nothing should stop his act, not even death.
3. The determination of a soul to continue an act that seemed certainly over.

The Logline

"Scott Lone" is a Sword Swallower who died in a freak accident during his act in New York, America. But that never stopped him. For he still proforms his act, unfortunatly, its not to the audience he is used to.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Character Design

I wanted to see what the character will look in fleshed form and then move it into the skeletal form, because i'm finding it difficult to have a way of creating expression in a boned face. Through drawing the fleshed face, I've come to realise that I want to keep the eyes in becuase there is a lot that can be taken from the eyes. Also when it comes to the bones itself, I want them to be almost like rubber, giving me the chance to mold the skull when needed ( for example the 'eyebrows'). With that in mind, I will need to make sure it still looks like a skeleton.
There is also a full bodied drawing of the fleshed character, I have given the guy a flared shirt with a vest top, showing class and show business, I want to work on this a lot. Seeing as this will be my only character (as of the moment) I want to have a lot of focus on what the guy looks like.

A talk with Paul

The Other day Paul and I had a quick chat about possible storylines for both our storys. When I explained mine to Paul he said he imaged the two films below because of the style. The style I thought could be quite useful, as of the moment I hadn't thought of a possible style but with the feedback form Paul, It's become easier to see the final look. I'm happy that Paul could also see the story unravelling and become fleshed out.

First Life-Drawing of Semester 2

I think my attempt on motion capture drawings were not as successful as I would have hoped, but it's a first time thing so I hope I will improve. Some of the drawings are okay, and slightly capture some motion, next time I will have to free the hand more.

Old Character Drawings

Here are my first character face designs in pencil form. I started creating normal faces but I wanted a character with a destictive feature or two. I made a couple of rough pen marks to create a random feel. At this point my favourite face was the long straight face, so I developed that a little. I liked the idea of a large chin, expressing the mouth ( the main area of the body on a sword swallower). I wanted to have a bit of a storyline in the character itself, so I created a dead character, which at the moment is just a pure skeleton. The skeleton could be old and tattered and molded but that starts to create a scary, eerie feel to the character. I'm looking more for a character that the audience will like and can relate to, improving the show business stage act.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Maya Bouncing Ball

This tutorial has been very useful, and it's a great feeling to finally get some animation under my belt. the second video i went on to adding a little bit of cartoony style on to it by over-exaggerating the level of bounce.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Storyline Idea

The Storyline- The once amazing sword swallower (name coming soon..) died on stage of a trick that went horribly wrong. The body remains of that Sword Swallower (mainly skeletal form) roams the area of a train graveyard, close to the cemetry that he was once buried in. Now living in one of those abandoned trains, he still practices his art of Sword Swallowing. Who is the audience? A camera he found in the train, that luckily still works. Unfortunately his swords were not buried with him, which leaves him to use his imagination and use other objects to swallow.

Plan of Action - I plan to use many camera positions to show a great deal of the set and the charater. When the character sets up the camera, that camera will be the only point of view for the audience. I want there to be a lot of panning and side sweeping action to show the length of the train graveyard. I also want face on camera views to show the expression on the character when he performs an act....
I want there to be a reason for the camera to full other, possibly have the act go wrong in a certain way, which knocks the camera. I'm thinking of have the object that is swallowed to go through the hollow chin on the skeletal character. Hitting his foot, causing him to jump up and when landing, he falls over, causing a knock. I think the view from the camera at this point will be a very experimental camera view which I look forward to working on.

Review on Alfred Hitchcock's 'Rope' (1948)

'Rope' is directed by Alfred Hitchcock and stars James Stewart as 'Rupert Cadell', John Dall as 'Brendon Shaw' and Farley Granger as 'Phillip Morgan'.

What's instantly seen in this film is the length of the shots taken to achieve it. The Whole set, characters and story line are all created too an extreme standard to have a controlled environment to have full ten minute shots throughout the film. In the time of 1948 the reels of film only lasted 10 minutes max, so to work around this Hitchcock made sure the end of the reel was filmed at the darkness of a suited jacket and then the new reel started at the same place. Giving an illusion of continuous filming. 'Hitchcock was interested in seeing whether he could find a cinematic equivalent to the play, which takes place in the actual length of time of the story.' (Canby, 1984). The continuous shots were a perfect way of creating that play like feel, as the audience watches the film theres a over-powering feel that they are at the theatre watching this on stage.

A very strong part of the film is the scene where the maid is cleaning up. All the audience witnesses is the maid slowly clearing up the chest with the body inside, while shes oblivious to what's inside. The only dialogue that is happening is the guests and host talking about how murder could be the right thing to create a better world, only filled with smart people. As the maid gets closer and closer to uncovering the murder, the audience becomes more tense and that tense grows larger every time she returns. Brandon stops the opening of the chest just in time, at this point, tension is at a high. The way the Maid was directed to move was beautifully teasing, in any other shot the focus would not be on her, but the need to know what would happen, keeps us glued on her.

"Also commendable is the way that Hitchcock is able to still maintain the semblance of a passage of great time, despite it all taking place in real time.... We start the film in broad daylight, only to see the view get progressively darker, until we see the night sky toward the end of the film.  It's a subtle trick, but it works, as it feels like a great deal more time has passed naturally." (LEO, 2008).  This point is very interesting, it is indeed very subtle and without this quote nearly unnoticeable to me. although recapping on the film, it becomes highly obvious. This trick is definitely effective, it really gives the illusion of time pasting a lot faster than is being shown.

The storyline is straight away focused on the murders being caught. This is created by having the murder happen at the beginning, theres no scenes about what happened before, which leaves it up to the rest of the film to unravel. This cleverly makes a situation where all action and storyline happens in one open planned location. Giving that awesome location for one shot scenes.

"It may not be action packed or thrilling, but the psychology and subject matter of the film could be talked about for hours." (Aloisi, 2010)


Canby, Vincent -

Leo Vince -

Aloisi, Michael -

Image Bibliography

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Research - A useful website

The website above is about the Sword Swallower Dai Andrews and the history of the art. The Site has become quite an interesting read, and I'm already learning a lot about the art of Sword Swallowing. When it started, where it came from, etc. On the site was a passage from the book  "Magic: Stage Illusions and Scientific Deceptions" (New York, 1987, by Albert A. Hopkins), the passage reads; "The Individual comes out dressed in a brilliant costume. At one side of him are flags of different nationalities surrounding a panoply of sabers, swords and yatagans, and at the other a stack of guns provided with bayonets. Taking a flat saber whose blade and hilt have been cut of the same sheet of metal, the blade being from fifty-five to sixty centimeters in length, he introduces its extremity into his throat, taps the hilt gently, and the blade at length entirely disappears. He then repeats the experiment at a single gulp. Subsequently after swallowing and disgorging two of these same swords, he causes one to penetrate up to it's guard, a second not quite so far, a third a little less still and a fourth up to about half its length...
Pressing now on the hilts, he swallows the four blades at a gulp and then he takes them out leisurely, one by one. The effect is quite surprising. After swallowing several different swords and sabers, he takes and old musket armed with a triangular bayonet, and swallows the latter, the gun remaining vertical over his head. Finally he borrows a large saber from a dragoon who is present for the purpose and causes two-thirds of it to disappear. As a trick, on being encored, the sword swallower borrows a cane from a person in the audience and swallows it almost entirely."

This passage gives me an insight into the art and also the description of a show that has already gone on. I can create ideas from this show and it will link to what that show business looked like. For example, it doesnt have to be a sword that my character swallows, it could be anything that is substituted for it, like the cane the artist swallows in the passage.

Below is a clip of Dai Andrews.

Dan Meyer Sword Swallower!

After doing a bit of research, I found out there is just under 100 Sword swallowers in the world (understandable!). One of the greatest Sword Swallowers going is Dan Meyer, this man has buckets of talent. He even appeared on 'America's Got Talent'. Below is some clips of him doing what he does best.


Skull Pose

Here I'm just having some fun with the possible character, I was thinking that if I can create poses for the character then maybe it will help to fully create him. I like the idea of having the character as a show off, because with the prop of the camera, they link quite well and shows his failure didn't techniquley stop him from trying again.

First set of photoshop character designs

I want my character to have the most amount of personality eradiating from the face. I also want the character to be easily recognisable, just incase I distort or warp a certain part of the character. I have done some thumbnails (which will be put up soon), when I started to relax and not care about the look of the character, I managed to create something with a large chin. it definitely has character and through expression there will be personality.
The skull was a idea that jumped in my head when I was thinking about possible story lines. If the character was a failed swordswallower for example, how could show that... make him poor, or have him dead. This shows a backstory that could have headed many ways.