Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Experimenting in Maya

Today hasn't been the most productive day.

Stuck for ideas, I decided to use Maya to create some basic interior sets.

My starting idea was to use a mirror as a way of spying into a room, not quite getting the full picture or the room.

I was then thinking about what might be happening in these spaces. My first thought was of a group of people, possibly a family gathering of some kind in the room. with the mirror only revealing small portion of it. I was then thinking of using shadows, cast onto a wall as I wouldn't be modeling people in the scene. this resulted in few more tests shown here. (the pillars are substitutes for people in these tests)

Going back to the original scene, I realised that the mirror wasn't showing much more of the room than what was already shown through the door.

So I moved the whole wall back to see if it worked any better. It didn't.

My final change was moving the mirror to the other wall so it could reflect another something else. In this case, a window.

This image looks OK but I feel the mirror has lost its purpose now as it isn't really spying into a room but actually out of a window. I want the viewer to feel separated from whats going on in the scene, like they are missing out on something.

I'm wondering whether or not to scrap the whole mirror idea, although I liked the idea I donut think I've been able to get it to work very well.

Please someone tell me that I haven't been investigating a dead end.

I would have hoped to have a more finalised idea by now.


  1. Online Interim Review 15/12/09

    Hey Ethan,

    No - I don't think you're at 'dead-endsville' just yet. I can't help feeling as if you might be 'over-complicating' matters a little; mirrors, remember, are themselves 'uneasy' artefacts and bring their own frisson to a scene; they always have an imminence, as if they're about to reveal something unwelcome - that's why they're always used as portals or doorways - people simply don't trust their surface.

    Instinctively, it feels as if the mirror should be used to introduce something into the scene that is otherwise 'not' in the room; so, imagine that the shot is taken from the viewpoint of someone in the room with their back to the door, the mirror would show us (the audience) what the 'character' has not yet seen for themselves - this privileging the audience over the character - which is the prime mechansim for the creation of suspense. Halloween was chockful of such scenes - as the audience sees Michael's ghostly face through windows and behind curtains - but the character does not. If, for instance, the mirror was so positioned to show the window, which was hung with long white curtains, and suddenly lit by the passing beam of a car, and the 'audience' apprehends a silhouette of someone standing behind the curtain, suddenly we're in very threatening territory; remember too, the scene in Repulsion, when the figure is revealed as the mirrored door swings open; yes, you can't model people, but what if, after close examination, the audience saw a shoe poking from beneath the curtain - as revealed in the mirror? The mirror should show the 'audience' something that the camera - or character - has not yet seen for themselves.

    The one thing about your room I've noticed is that it doesn't seem to derive its features or proportions from any actual space - I know it's early days, but be sure to ground your modelling in 'the real' - when is your scene set - what time-period - and where is your visual research? What sort of house if this? Who lives there? Create for yourself a bit of back-story to guide your production design.

    Regarding your essay, please see the next 2 posts for general info and advice.

  2. Written assignment Unit 3 Part 1

    Consider carefully the following learning outcomes for your essay and structure your assignment accordingly. You must demonstrate:

    1) Knowledge and understanding of ‘the Uncanny’.

    You should begin your essay by defining ‘the uncanny’ in theoretical terms (i.e. according to Sigmund Freud, Jentsch, and anyone else with a helpful or clear definition). You will be expected to include a quoted source by which to demonstrate your understanding; the essay, ‘The Uncanny’ by Freud is rich in useful observations – so use it; you’ll want to consider the concept of the ‘unheimlich’ and the sorts of motifs/artefacts that create the uncanny experience.

    2) A developed ability to engage in research.

    At this stage of your course, you are expected to research your subject area in order to enrich your discussion and corroborate your analysis. No essay at this stage should be written ‘off the top of your head’ or without a clear research agenda. Research might include a variety of film reviews, artist statements, images, books, critiques and articles. Research requires that you READ and take notes! For instance, if you are looking at Invasion of the Body-Snatchers in relation to the uncanny, first cross-reference lots of reviews/articles about the film. Make a note of any recurrent terms or ideas and when you come across a term you don’t understand or are unfamiliar with – investigate it! Try google searching associated terms together– for instance ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers & uncanny’ – as you may find research material that relates very specifically to your discussion.

    There are no short-cuts to an intelligently written assignment – focused research = successful essays; without research and a body of evidence, your essay is simply ‘chat’ and of no academic significance. Be significant!

    3) The ability to synthesise a range of research applied to arguments.

    Put more simply, this means that once you’ve completed your research and gathered together your key ideas, you are then able to use them to ‘unpack’ your chosen subject; think of your research as a precision tool-kit especially selected by you to ‘dismantle’ your case-study or studies (i.e. the film, image, programme, artwork you’ve chosen to discuss)

    4) The ability to clearly and academically communicate ideas.

    This is all about your writing style and your ‘voice’ – too many of you are writing as if you’re talking, and it’s a habit you need to lose asap in this context. So you must avoid slang and clichés; you’re not on the street or down the pub, you’re in a formal space with formal conventions.

    Avoid the first person; instead of writing ‘I think that Invasion Of The Body-Snatchers is about the fear of conformity’, consider instead ‘It is arguable that Invasion of the Body-Snatchers is about the fear of conformity’.

  3. Written assignment Unit 3 Part 2

    Please don’t ‘narrate’ your own research – for instance ‘I looked on the internet and found this interesting article’ – No! No! No! Your reader doesn’t give a damn about ‘how’ you came by your research – just use it effectively and formally.

    Punctuation – please use it! Try proof-reading your paragraphs out loud – if you’re gasping for breath by the end of them, you’re in serious need of some full-stops, commas and semi-colons. If you’re uncertain how to use them properly please visit http://www.grammarbook.com/english_rules.asp - and that goes for apostrophes too!

    Capitalisation – all film titles, book titles, artist names etc – should be capitalized every time you include them; Invasion of the Body-Snatchers, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover etc… Likewise, when first referring to a film please include director and release date.

    Footnotes are NOT to be used to reference quotes within the body of the essay; use Harvard Method. Footnotes can be used to include additional information external to the main body, but useful for the reader’s broader understanding of the subject area.

    Italicize your quotations!

    Double-space your document!

    If you refer to something visual as part of your argument – you must include a supporting illustration as supporting evidence.

    Finally – PROOF-READ your assignments before submission; I am not an English teacher so don’t want to be forever correcting spelling mistakes, typos or ‘right’ words wrongly substituted by a spellchecker. Make time to polish your written work, as you would your creative project work.

    Good luck!

  4. Also - if you haven't done so already, can you add the CG Arts central blog to your reading list - if you become an author, you can use it post problems and get answers from your classmates on all three years - just post your email as a comment, and Liam in the third year will set you up so you can post.

    Please join & follow http://ucarochester-cgartsandanimation.blogspot.com/