Monday, 5 September 2011

Starting early!

Hello everyone!

Welcome to yet another new blog of mine.  This is going to be my blog for documenting my third year work.  The summer holidays aren't quite over yet but I go back to uni on the 20th, so I have decided to start things early.  The reason why is that I have finally come up with a final film idea that I quite like, and I have started doing some concept work for it which I think would be good to document here.

I'm really happy that I finally came up with I film concept that I wanted to settle on because I spent a lot of the summer frustrated out of my mind that I could not come up with something decent; but I finally did in the end.

My film concept is about two characters, a hero and a villain that live within an 80's arcade game machine; these two characters form a close friendship.  However, this all changes when a boy inserts a coin and plays the game.  Once a coin is inserted, the two characters completely loose their sense of self-awareness and free will, merely to become entities within the game that must fight one another for the player's amusement.  When the hero character kills the villain, the game is complete and the hero regains his awareness only to discover that he has killed his friend.

I got the inspiration to do an arcade-style piece of animation for my third year final film while at was at the Reading Festival the weekend before last.  The final performance of the weekend was that of Muse; which was utterly amazing and a fantastic spectacle consisting of on-screen animation, light shows and even pyrotechnics.  One particular piece of animation that played during the song Stockholm Syndrome which featured a lot of motifs of retro arcade games.  Here is the BBC3 coverage of that performance, unfortunately they don't have many shots of the animation itself (focusing more on the band and crowd for obvious reasons) but hopefully it is enough to give you an idea.

The animation really blew me away and I decided then and there that my concept would consist of vibrant colours and would explore the contrast between the virtual world of the gaming and reality.  I am not sure which animator they commissioned to make these but I have tweeted both the band and the official Reading twitter account to try and find out.

For the time being, this concept is pretty loose; I have not yet decided on the names of my characters and I am trying to consider what genre of arcade game this should be (i.e. a fighting game like Street Fighter, a platform game like Donkey Kong or a good old fashioned shoot em up like Space Invaders).  Another idea that I am considering is whether to make it just a close friendship, or to make the characters male and female and make it somewhat of a doomed romance.

Another thing that I am going to consider is incorporating elements of live action into this film piece.  I was thinking about having the "real world" of the arcade in live action, in which case I would probably need to get hold of a child actor and an arcade machine; and then have the world of the game in CG animation.  My tutor Mike suggested that I consider this as it will display directorial skills and that I have considered the mise-en-scene of my piece thoroughly.  I would also like to have elements of the 1980's in the live action elements, in order to establish a context as to why this is an arcade machine that we are dealing with and not a modern day games console.

I am also thinking about whether just to have one boy playing the game, or maybe having two children (perhaps 1 boy, 1 girl) playing a two player game such as a fighting game.

As far as concept art has gone, I have managed to do some basic sketches for the main protagonist.  I drew this one yesterday and I loosely based him around the character of Commander Keen (pictured above), the protagonist of one of the many computer games that made my childhood.
I have made him look quite mature and warrior like.  I decided to make him look quite mature, so he seems believable and the audience can relate to him.  I wanted to make it clear that this is a virtual character that merely exists to be a fighter that is controlled by an outside power; but at the same time, possesses very human qualities.

This is the second design that I did just today; in this one, I decided to make him less like a warrior and more cute and child-like.  In this design, I wanted to amplify the innocence of the character; he has a loving nature and has no desire to kill or fight; but unfortunately, he was designed for that very purpose, and this is what he becomes once a coin is inserted into the machine.

I based this design loosely on that of the Pokemon, Mr. Mime, because his design is humanoid, but it is also consists largely of circular shapes.  Mr. Mime, much like the majority of Pokemon characters, has quite an innocent and friendly appearance, but despite this, they are trained by to fight other Pokemon and resolve the conflicts the their masters get involved in.  Coincidentally, my character is in a similar sort of situation.
If I come up with any more designs for this hero character, I will be sure to post them up here.  As for the villain character, I am not sure what direction I am going to go in with the design, but I will post up some brainstorms.

Along with character designs, I will be posting up some reference material that I have used (i.e. films and imagery that inspire me), along with any environmental designs.  I am also going to write a short screenplay along with a few redrafts which I will post up here, and also a storyboard and an animatic.

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