Seizure is a film set in a “dystopian near-future where a young woman – suffering from memory loss caused by an epileptic seizure – suspects that her live-in boyfriend is actually a dangerous psychopath conspiring against her.” The director of the film happens to be my mentor and dear friend, Rajneel Singh (Blank Spaces, Big Bad Wolves, The Fanimatrix – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1516423/). The film is gaining popularity in a few New Zealand film circles so keep your eyes peeled! (Pre-production is currently in full swing) I personally bowed out of the project due to some moral objections, but not before leaving behind a few pieces of concept art. So here’s my character art for Seizure from 2009.
For a little bit of fun trivia, Betty’s profile and figure with the striped shirt in the sketch above are actually off of pictures of me!
A 7.1 earthquake hit the Canterbury region (specifically Christchurch) of New Zealand on September 4th at around 4:30am. Although, thankfully, no fatalities occurred, it was still one of the biggest natural disasters in New Zealand history. As the aftershocks kept rolling in (and are still going as of today!), I wanted to help out, but was at a loss of how to. I would have loved to have been able to grab a shovel and a pair of Wellies to scoop of debris or volunteer at one of the shelters. But alas, I’m on the other side of the ocean.
Borrowing an idea of NYC’s Fashion’s Night Out, I designed a t-shirt with the hopes of pitching it to the directors of New Zealand Fashion Week. The idea was to create a shirt design combining both elements of an earthquake (in this case, a seismograph) and fashion. Then find a screenprinting company in NZ to print up the shirts and sell them at the main desk at NZFW, with the proceeds going to the Canterbury Relief Fund (how much of the proceeds, I would’ve left up to the directors of NZFW). Sadly, despite some high-level interest, the project never took off. But here are my designs for your viewing pleasures.
One for the gals…
One for the guys…
Priscilla (I think I’m going to go back and redraw the final sketch. Her pose is really awkward…)
And last but not least! Here is the final costume design for the Shadow Warriors (modeled by the lovely Roane in this shot). They are “fallen” Guardians, those who fell prey to the Dark Way during the Great Battle. However, unlike demons, Shadow Warriors have retained their physical beauty, enhanced with brute size and strength. Their attire deviates from the heavenly Guardian uniform to a cross between their master, Dagar’s mortal apparel and his minion’s soldiers uniforms.
I was approached to do an A/C fan unit designed for lower-income households. Although the client went in a different direction with the fan (and therefore rendered my design nil), it was an interesting project. I had never done product design before. So here we are folks – a first!
Coldblade © F.C. Rabbath. All Rights Reserved.
Here is the bookmark for Allon: Insurrection (book two of the Allon series).
Avatar © Shawn Lamb 2009. http://www.allonbooks.com
February 2010 -The Lamb Family Enterprises has been hard at work producing a new promo video. It was a joint effort in the creation of the artwork, the composition of the music, the vocal recording, and the final video. Enjoy!
The artwork was drawn by both my father and I. (I did all the faces, with some bodies – Avatar, Wren, Kell while Dad created the original poses, Vidar and Armus’ body and all the group/environmental shots).
For the music, I composed the theme and beginning/ending portions of the music, while Mom smoothed the transitions, and Dad was responsible for the levels in audio (the rest was composed in Garageband). The final voiceover was done by none other than the authour herself(aka Mom).
I made a wonderful discovery today at the library. After doing my usual scan of the film section, I travelled over to the art section and found myself staring at four massive books, all of which I promptly snatched off the shelf, checked out, and drove home with. They were the large-print Disney books: The Art of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Art of Mulan, The Art of The Lion King, and The Tarzan Chronicles. (also known as The Art of Tarzan). In truth, I had read these books before when I was younger, but I didn’t have nearly the appreciation for them as I do now. (I actually went rummaging through my desk drawers and found sketches I had done from the books when I was grade school!)
Flipping through those pages stoked the embers of a fire that was reawakened in me last semester at Uni. I had taken a class on children’s literature, concentration on folk and fairy tales. Needless to say alot of time was devoted to studying the Disney versions. Although I had always liked the Disney classics, I fell in love with them all over again. I found myself excitedly watching and staunchly supporting my beloved childhood favourites: Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, etc. Thanks to modern criticism and entering the “adult, grownup world” my love for Disney had been slammed back down my throat. Even the word “Disney” has become synonymous with cutesified, cartoony stories. But I used to love those movies, and I, for one, fancied myself a pretty mature kid. There was no thought of funny, cutesy things. I was swept up in the stories, by relating to the characters (Belle, anyone?), enthralled by the lyrics, and not seeing much difference between the 2D animated features I was watching on the small screen to the cinematic features on the big screen. (Did you know that Beauty and the Beast was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar in 1992? In fact, the whole category of Best Animated Feature was created because of the movie.)
I’ve been pleased to find out that still holds true today. After all, the Disney films are made by adults who have lived full adult lives. They are made through very complex, multi-year long processes. That’s not to say there aren’t mistakes made and duds here and there. But on a whole, I truly believe many people are missing out on what Disney truly has to offer.
Which is why it breaks my heart to have not seen a see 2D Disney feature-length film recently. Now don’t get me wrong, I like 3D films (Toy Story 3, The Incredibles, and Kung Fu Panda are my favourites) but I have always been a big advocate for traditional hand-drawn animation. There’s just nothing like it. And for me, there’s certainly nothing like thumbing through hundreds of pages of concept art, rough animation, and storyboards by Glen Keane, Paul Felix, Chen-Yi Chang, Peter de Seve, and other Disney artists. I can recall countless hours of my childhood spent watching their creations come alive on screen, then running to my Dad’s behind-the-scenes books and drawing as many of the characters as I could. (It was in this process that I found the technique for using a non-photo blue pencil for preliminary sketching. You’ll notice it pop up in my sketches, especially the costume designs) But here I’ll stop my expose on Disney 2D (believe me, I could rant on for days. My poor professors have had quite a few essays and finals from me on the subject!).
I’ll sheepishly admit, though, Disney’s foray back into 2d animation – The Princess and the Frog – does not intrigue me. Nevertheless, I sincerely hope that it did well enough to jar the corporate moguls into realising that trying to kill of the 2D department wasn’t the brightest of ideas.
So here’s to Disney – may we see a third Golden Age yet.
Last August (2009) I decided to delve into the world of animatics. (Little did I know that I was going to find it so addictive!) I gave myself a self-assigned project to storyboard a scene from a select film. The purpose was to study the particular framing of each shot within the scene. Afterwards, I turned the storyboards into a basic animatic. The first one was the opening scene from Mulan where Shan Yu and his henchmen attack the great wall of China….
The progression then jumped from a completely unoriginal scene to a semi-original scene. The characters and setting are obviously not mine, but the story and dialogue are original. Here is the second scene from my Star Wars fan film, The Sovereign Dilemma.
Mulan © Walt Disney Studios. All Star Wars characters and universe © George Lucas & Lucasfilm.
April-June 2010 – Somehow conversations at my work (Starbucks – I quit back in June to pursue art full-time) ended up getting turned into artwork….So here’s some of the crazy awesome folks at Smyrna Starbucks (also known lovingly as “Smyrnabux“) as Disney characters.
Sam as young Simba
Judy as Mulan
Marcus as Scar
Anna as Alice
Rabeeh as Gaston
Shanlee as Snow White
Wendy as Pocahontas
Amy as Ursula
Casey (undoubtedly the best boss I’ve ever had!) as Wendy
Sarah as the Cheshire Cat
Victor as Aladdin
Renee as Cruella de Vil
Chris as Tigger
*All photographs are copyright of their respective owners. All artwork is copyright to me*
It was a feast for the eyes, most assuredly. From the bioluminescent flora to the soaring heights of the floating mountains, the world of Pandora was an amazing experience. And yes, it was truly breathtaking in 3D (although I’ll admit, seeing it at the IMAX did end up making me sick as the sound messed with my inner ear imbalance). I’ve seen a few 3D movies and epic landscape-heavy films, but none of them were like Avatar. None of them were as wholly immersive. None made me feel as if I was truly on Pandora. I felt like I was running through the trees behind the Na’vi, flying on my own banshee, or experiencing the destruction, the mayhem, the distress, the love, the victory. Many movies and video games have tried to give that feeling, but at least for me, they end up coming across as nothing more than annoying. They have never succeeded in placing me in the moment…. until now. Being a production artist, I can usually put myself in that sort of position normally, but it is a very different experience to view a movie where it has been done for you. For once, I was able to let the creative side of my brain take a rest while I went on the ride that James Cameron, the cast, and crew had prepared. And what a ride it was!
For me personally, it was not unlike New Zealand, a real land with mystical quality. I could very much relate with Jake in the beginning of the film when he narrates that he had grown up hearing and seeing pictures of Pandora, but never thought he’d actually be going there. I never actually thought I’d have the chance to go to New Zealand, but I was blessed with the opportunity to do so. Granted there were no blue-skinned natives to look for, but nevertheless, the country proved to be the proverbial Land of Opportunity for me. (In fact, it was where a majority of Avatar was made.) But I digress…
Many cite the visuals as being the highlight of the film, which on the one hand is true. The CG was absolutely amazing, especially in terms of the Na’vi, the indigenous natives of Pandora. By the middle of the film, I couldn’t tell that the Na’vi were not real. Bravo to the crews at Weta Digital, ILM, and the other production houses for their masterful craftsmanship (and succeeding at not falling into the uncanny valley). But even so, the power of the film laid in the infusion of both the visuals and the time-tested story, the emotional connection with the characters, and leaving the theater feeling like you could jump into your own avatar and dive right back into the world of Pandora.
Now some have argued that the story is trite, the dialogue dull, and it’s all riding on the coattails of the visuals. I beg to differ. Not to say that the movie was perfect, but I think a lot of people overanalyse and over judge this film. After having viewed the movie multiple times, I checked to see if there were any inconsistencies. I found relatively little, if any. As for the “dull” dialogue, I would challenge someone to come up with something better. Honestly, if I were in the same position as most of the characters, I would’ve said almost the exact same things. (Ex. When Jake tells Neytiri that, “I fell in love with the forest…. I fell in love with you,” I think of trying to talk to someone who speaks only a little English. You try to explain things in the simplest terms you can so they can understand. Goodness knows you aren’t going to quote Jane Austen at them!) The characters spoke exactly what they were thinking, succinctly, and plainly as possible. As a moviegoer, I did want to see more unique dialogue. But after having observed how people behave lately, how they socialize, and the manner in which most people communicate, I found the dialogue to be right on the money. Most people these days talk like ‘sound bytes’. Rather than focusing on the breadth and eloquence of language, people have boiled down their speech to short quips, usually with simplistic terminology and laden with slang terms. So I think, for the characters of Avatar, the dialogue worked just fine.
As for the story, many critics have pinned the plot as the weakest part of the whole production. While I was first tempted to agree, I stopped to think, “James Cameron has been working on this film for fifteen years, surely it’s not that weak.” (As well as the facts that many intelligent people well versed in storytelling have liked Avatar.) Then the next question would be – why? Why does this seemingly simple, archetypal film resonate with some of us?
I will agree that the story is familiar; it is one that we’ve seen before. But it is an archetypal story that works. We have seen the Hero’s Quest, Boy-Meets-Girl, Industry (man) vs. Nature, and a few other story staples that have been done and redone in literature and movies. They are stories that speak to us on a fundamental level. If anything, the formulaic plot was rather reminiscent of Greek theatre mythos. There’s the struggle of man against a foreign foe (though in this case 10 foot aliens rather than Olympian gods) and even a bit of manifest destiny. The journey itself isn’t that unpredictable, but how much of life is truly unpredictable? How many times have people fallen in love (seriously, for those who groan at young romantic comedies, have you seen how cheesy teenage romances are in real life?!). It’s not so much about the type of stories as it is how it is told. So yes, we have seen the story of Avatar in Pocahontas, Dances with Wolves, etc. (And honestly, every movie is derivative). But we’ve never seen it on Pandora. We’ve never seen it with Jake Sully, Neytiri, Quaritch, Selfridge, Grace Augustine, Trudy, Tsu’tey, or Mo’at. Even Cameron said that the film shared themes with At Play in the Fields of the Lord and The Emerald Forest. So due to its universal state, it starts to work on an emotional level fairly early on. One isn’t burdened with too much exposition and so the action keeps you engaged.
In the case of Avatar, Cameron deliberately played on the audience’s heartstrings of innocence, spirituality, love, love of nature, and justice – themes that are common to man, even if they come in the disguise of a 10-foot tall blue alien. The movie pits corporate greed against a native people who live in harmony with their surroundings, to annihilate them in selfish exploitation. Though not necessarily peaceful, the Na’vi still commune with nature, respect it, and live their lives according to their spiritual beliefs. The intrinsic desire to be at peace with one’s environment is hardly a new theme (just as protection of one’s people, the reluctant hero, combative lovers, and hidden agendas are not new either). But even more than that, I believe the movie appeals to people on a more visceral level. Avatar touches on an innate desire for understanding, to attain peace, something to love, something worth fighting for, from the personal relationship of Jake and Neytiri to the overarching plight of the Na’vi against RDA.
The corporation, RDA, are radicals so bent in their twisted philosophies that they can justify their actions against the Na’vi. Because of that they have a blatant disregard for anything sacred. One could connect that most to a secular vs. religious deal, but I think it can go in other directions as well. It can also be the idea of the big corporate giant against the people, the soulless giant against the Mom & Pop store on the corner that everyone loves. It boils down to the essences of heart vs. no heart, soul vs. no soul, respect vs. no respect.
Then there are the main characters. Jake Sully is a sort of ‘everyman’, one that people from so many different walks of life can relate to. Not much is painted of this character in the beginning other than being another standard fully self-interested human. It’s not until he connects with the Na’vi does one see any change in Jake. I’ll admit at first I felt the beginning of the film was rushed. There didn’t seem to be enough set-up. That was until I realized the film itself is told from Jake’s perspective. The audience see things through his eyes, only knows what he knows.
Tying back into the thematic, there is a clear connection between Jake’s avatar experiences as a metaphor for the ‘double life’. There is a scene where human Jake begins to wonder which world is real (though in his case, both are). His “double” life as a Na’vi becomes much more enjoyable, satisfying, and even authentic. Even so, it takes a toll on him psychologically as he is, after all, a human paraplegic. He struggles with his sense of self – is his identity the one he was born with or the one he’s been given in the form of the avatar? Towards the end of the film, Jake let’s his real body go; he stops shaving, shuns sleep, and scarfs down food (almost force-fed by Sigourney Weaver’s character, Grace) in a rushed attempt to link back to his avatar. And so the connection for some people is the obvious connection to online presence (the fact that people can create any identity online, including through the use of profile pictures or “avatars”), gamers who shirk reality to live in a fantasy RPG world, or even anyone who presents themselves as one type of person in one situation but a completely different person in another. There have been a lot of psychological studies and commentaries surrounding this growing phenomenon of duality and escapism. So I thought Avatar was a rather clever commentary from James Cameron on the issue.
Speaking of commentary, Avatar has become the most talked about films lately! I’ve seen it bring discussions to the table with the masses of whom I think would have otherwise glossed over it. For the most part, most people don’t venture out to the theatres to see “message” films. So I give Cameron props for presenting the messages that he had in way that was palatable to the masses. (It may not be a good message depending on your point of view, but you’ve got to give the man props for have the guts to put it in this kind of film.) Online and in person, I’ve heard people talk about good vs. evil, insurgency, capitalism, environmentalism, spirituality, religion, creativity, technology, biodiversity, – a lot of heavy, deep debates over a movie that people call, “Dances with Smurfs.” It’s a deceptive film in the fact that at first it does look like ‘visual fluff’, like a popcorn flick. But after watching it, the layers get peeled back, perceptions change. The audience comes out rooting for the underdog, the afflicted, the side of justice…and then wonders, “wait…why I was rooting for them instead of the other guys?”
As with most art, Avatar allows the audience to project their own experiences onto the film. Not all are positive, but it does add extra depth. For example, I already mentioned my connection between New Zealand and Pandora. There have been other examples I’ve read of paraplegics who could identify easily with Jake, wishing they had a second chance at having working legs or on the negative side, people who had felt Avatar was simply another Iraqi war commentary.
On that note, while I don’t believe Avatar was completely an Iraqi war commentary, I do believe that Cameron drew parallels to it nonetheless. There are parallels that can be drawn to many other conflicts and dark points in human history such as the Trail of Tears, September 11th, and roughly any colonization in any point in history by an overlording race to a native people. But despite modern parallels, counterparts, Avatar is still science fiction (albeit with a fine dash of high fantasy). As one commentator put it, “Science fiction is about speculating on what human civilization could become in the future, and when the future it envisions is grim, it is used as a social commentary to say if we don’t change our ways now, this is what we will BECOME.”
And therein lies the beauty of the film. Not only are the visuals stunning, but the story, however simple, proves to be thought provoking. In the end, it’s what made me love it – the majesty, power, and the beauty. Not beauty in the sense of the superficial, but in a deep aesthetic allure. I loved the design of the Na’vi. I was intrigued as soon as I saw them online. Aesthetically I thought they were beautiful, yet impressive creatures (not “smurfs”…). I also have an affinity for gold eyes, long braids, feline-esque looks, movement, tall, and thin stature. (So I knew going into the film, even if it was absolutely terrible I would still love the creative design of the Na’vi). But the Na’vi turned out to represent more than pretty visual fluff. As Cameron stated that, “the Na’vi represent something that is our higher selves, or our inspirational selves, what we would like to think we are…and that even though there are good humans within the film, the humans represent what we know to be the parts of ourselves that are trashing our world and maybe condemning ourselves to a grim future.” (Boston Herald, 2009.) I don’t know about “higher selves” due to my personal beliefs, but I definitely got Cameron‘s correlation.
Here I must give praise to Zoe Saldana for the stealing the show with her raw emotional performance as Neytiri. I wasn’t expecting much other than a different accent, but I underestimated Saldana. She managed to wrench tears from my eyes even through her CG character. I won’t tell you which point I cried at as I don’t want to spoil any particular scene for those of you who haven’t seen the movie). Stephen Lang was also superb as the malicious Colonel Quaritch. The last film I saw him in was Gettysburg, so it was quite a different beast to watch! Sigourney Weaver was lovely to watch, as always. I’ll admit, I wasn’t too impressed by Sam Worthington (at least in comparison with the other actors). His acting felt weak too me as he tended to be overshadowed when there was another actor in the scene. I’m still trying to figure out if that’s the just the character or him as the actor.
I’m not one to quickly jump to say I liked everything about the movie. In addition to Sam Worthington’s acting, I didn’t like the pantheistic Gaia-like spirituality in the movie due to my own beliefs in God, but it is just a movie and I’m strong enough in my beliefs to not waver. (Ironically, the film raised more questions in my mind about my own faith – “I wonder what humans in their pure form, pre-fall, as God intended, are supposed to be like…” “How far does our earth relation go? We are made of dust and return to dust, but we worship the Creator of the earth…what are the new heaven and new earth going to be like? Hm…”). Another thing I would have liked to see was more fleshing out of Colonel Quaritch’s speech in the beginning about the ‘fierce battle raging between the humans and the Na’vi,’ about hell being a rest area compared to Pandora. I never really got that other than the ferocity of the Pandoran fauna. I also could’ve done without the ‘almost’ sex scene between Jake and Neytiri (and sadly, I hear they’re putting the full sex scene on the DVD. I do hope it is skippable).
The music by James Horner was absolutely superb. It lent itself so much to enhancing the story. I have an extra affinity for it due to my experience as a classical musician. I can still picture every scene; feel every emotion with my eyes closed simply by listening to the music. It from undulating highs to lows with a wonderful infusion of classical instrumentation, pure vocals, and riveting tribal sounds.
And so everything in the film comes full circle. Everything Jake was taught, he used in interactions or the final battle. Everything the other characters say and learn is used. The film, at its core, is one large cycle. As Jake said, “One life ends, another begins”…
Here’s some sketches from my figure drawing class last year. It was definitely an interesting experience (as I had never taken a figure drawing class), and I’m keen to do it again!
February 2010 – Sometimes, no matter how good the pitch, a company doesn’t always get the project. This is a spec storyboard I did for a local company for a Homeland Security project.
The idea behind this shot is a slow motion walk of these characters (representing various departments of Homeland security – police, EMT, bomb squad, SWAT, paramedics, etc.) towards camera.
Some sketches of details for Shannan’s costume.
March 2010 – Considering that history was made last night, it would hardly be right for me to not comment on it. On March 07, 2010, the first female in the history of the Oscars was awarded the prestigous Best Director award (as well as going on to with the Best Picture and four other awards). She came wrapped in an impressive, almost 6 feet tall, inspirational frame.
I’ll admit that I had never heard her name before chatter began surrounding the war-time film, The Hurt Locker in mid-2009 . I was too enamoured with studying directors such as Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, and James Cameron to notice if there were actually any female directors of repute out there. I had some knowledge of Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola, but as their movies didn’t quite strike my fancy, I didn’t take much notice. But somehow Bigelow slipped past my radar.
February -May 2010 – Mom asked me to create an actual tangible costume for Shannan (the heroine in Allon) to accompany the artwork in publicity. For background on the character, Shannan is the female lead from the novel, Allon. From birth, she is destined to bring back the return of the mysterious Guardians and help Prince Ellis take his rightful place as ruler of Allon. She is a strong, but caring girl, wise beyond her years (and needs to be to deal with a young, hot-headed Ellis!) and an expert hunter. Her grandfather, Sir Niles of Pollux, whisked her away upon her birth as she was marked for death by the Dark Way (why? Well, you’ll just have to read the book! ). As such Shannan lives in the secluded forest of Dorgirith away from prying eyes and invasive questions.
Being costume-centric as I am, I was quick to take up task. Though, being me, I added a few other challenges to the mix. For one, I already had a costume design for Shannan, but I wasn’t really satisfied with it. So I am currently working on updating her costume. This particular costume is from the beginning of the book where her character is introduced. It a forester’s costume in basis, but with it being in the world of Allon, we’re trying to stay away from the cliched medieval look. The era of costume design for Allon is designed roughly around the renaissance period, but with a fantasy aspect as well as Allon is a fantasy world not unlike Middle Earth. Stealth and ease of movement in Shannan’s clothes would be essential. So I have designed the costume to have nothing dangling off of it as not to deter movement as well as keep things in a utilitarian fashion. However, she and Sir Niles do operate out of a cave so her equipment (such as her bow) would be short range.
This was my first attempt at designing Shannan’s costume back in 2007. First I started out with sketches of various ideas I had. I liked the look of the gorget combined into the actual bodice rather than a separate piece. I also gave her wispy sleeves (as I did with Wren) to bring some femininity to her outfit) and boots like her grandfather. The rest, I’ll admit, I generically designed.
- I changed the collar from a cowl to double funnel collar (to act as camoflauge in terms of the colour of the fabric as well as protection like a thick scarf)
- I completely did away with the original bodice and went for a more moulded leather jerkin after a couple reference photos I came across on Google images. Shannan’s jerkin now resembles a shape similar to the one Wren, the Guardian of the forest (and Shannan’s protector in the beginning of the book), wears. The flaps at the front do not extend all the way around the back for ease of squatting (and hopefully easier movement through the back of the legs for running or jumping). However, the side flaps extend down to protect her hips and top of the breeches.
- I kept the pleated sleeves for a few reasons.
- 1. In a predominantly male (and secluded environment), Shannan has had to live off whatever she’s been given to wear. For the most part, it has been borrowed clothes or clothes to hide her lest she be discovered. But it’s not completely uncommon to have a woman in the woods, so she can get away very subtle hints of femininity.
- 2. They are the same sleeves (though of lesser quality fabric) that are on Wren’s jerkin. I have no doubt that would dote on Shannan every so often to remind her that she is cared for and loved (as Shannan’s duty and future role in Allon is a heavy burden).
- 3. If I can find the right pattern, they will move as leaves rustling in the wind so in movement, they add another level of diguise for Shannan.
- The quiver, straps, and arrows are much the same. With being on a deadline, I had to get the costume design done first, props later. So again, I put down something relatively generic to be fully designed later.
- I redesigned the belt from a simple leather belt to a more complex two-strapped belt similar to the ones the Guardians (but again, much more rudimentary).
- I thought the typical laced bracers would be too generic, so I came up with a different pattern. It is designed with similar seam lines as Shannan’s jerkin (and no doubt made out of the same material – perhaps the same hide as the animal skinned to create the leather) And yes, I’ll admit they’re a variation on the bracers from The Chronicles of Riddick. *raises a guilty hand*
- The pants and the boots are exactly the same as the original.
However, the design still up for revisions. I took the design to Mom and she asked for a few changes.
- Mom wanted to keep the detachable cowl, so I changed the collar back to a full cowl (as in the original design) and did away with the funnel collar.
- I changed the bracers to a more standard lace-up as I felt the buckle ones looked too bulky and “blocky” as one friend put it.
- The boots didn’t pass inspection as I had given Shannan the same boots that the guardians do (but out of much more rustic materials). So I changed them to lace-up boots to match the bracers and front of the jerkin. For the toe of the boots, I referenced the design made for Faramir’s boots. However, I don’t think I’ll be able to find a cobbler on a budget anywhere…
Sadly, my design proved to be too complicated to actually make. So the design was paired down to something easier for the costume to sew, but still have a feeling of the original design.
Once the costume is finished, a photoshoot will happen. I’ll post those photos when I get them!
Shannan © Shawn Lamb, 2009. http://www.allonbooks.com
*Note: These are all sketch studies from the How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way book (1978).
Many of you have been wondering what in the world has been going on with me for the past few weeks. Now I can break the silence.
My silence takes shape in the form of a contest, but with the prize of a temporary film job. It is the Your Big Break contest presented by 100% Pure New Zealand in conjunction with Peter Jackson and Barrie Osborne, both of The Lord of the Rings fame. The ‘mission’ is to create a 3 minute script encompassing the tagline of “Capture the spirit of 100% pure New Zealand – the youngest country on earth.” The catch is, it’s not a commercial. It is a short film. Along with the script is to be submitted a 60-90 second video pitch. I was originally going to bypass the time limit and do a full animatic (animated storyboards), but I realised there would be no concise way to present it. However, I only came to this conclusion AFTER I had drawn 32 pages worth of storyboards! Not that any of it was wasted, mind you. Nay! Through drawing the entire film in storyboard form, I found that some sequences fit in perfectly with the director’s commentary I had written for my pitch. So off I went to the editing bay…
Five finalists will be chosen for this contest and will be flown to New Zealand late next month to film their shorts. Four out of the five will be chosen by a panel of Academy Award-winning producers, editors, and filmmakers. But the fifth will be chosen by popular vote. And so, I have a gargantuan favour to ask to any and all who read this…..
So go get your parents, your coworkers, your mates, and your mate’s aunties to vote for this!
Comments on the entry would be very much appreciated (as the judges do read them). Many of you know my background so you know that this contest offers two of my greatest loves – filmmaking and New Zealand. It is a great opportunity for any aspiring film director as well as a chance for me to return to my beloved home of Aotearoa, even if just for a little while.
December 2009 – Here is a snapshot of the groundbreaking process used to create the effects seen in James Cameron’s Avatar (from an article I recently came across on popularmechanics.com. You can view the original article here –> http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/industry/4339457.html)
1. The Volume
Most of James Cameron’s space epic, Avatar, was shot on a performance-capture stage, known as the volume, in Playa Vista, Calif. The volume was rimmed by 120 stationary video cameras, which could record the movements of all actors at once in 3D, with submillimeter precision. Data from the cameras was streamed into Autodesk software, which translates actors’ movements into digital characters in real time within a low-resolution computer-generated environment. So riding a fake banshee mockup onstage instantly translated to CG footage. Multiple cameramen were used on set for reference video, but because the volume essentially captures performances from every angle at once, Cameron could digitally render whatever angles and shots he wanted after the performance, adjusting the camera movements while viewing playback.
2. Digital Closeup
Like many actors in Avatar, Zoë Saldana plays a fully computer-generated character, Na’vi princess Neytiri. To map her movements to her digital doppelgänger, Saldana wore a motion-capture bodysuit with reference markers and stripes. She also wore a head rig designed by Cameron that aimed a smallvideo camera at her face. That camera tracked green ink dots, painted on Saldana’s face, throughout the scene, giving Cameron closeup-level detail of changes in expression to map to Neytiri’s CG face.
3. On-set Playback
To shoot a scene within a totally CG world, Cameron had virtual production supervisor Glenn Derry rig up augmented-reality cameras. Cameron could watch from the sidelines as his actors’ performances were instantly mapped to their CG characters and displayed via an on-set screen. Or he could use a portable, motion-tracking virtual camera to walk through the volume and view the CG environment of the movie on its LCD screen.
4. Final Render
November 2009 – The first shipment of Allon bookmarks arrived at our home yesterday. Needless to say I was utterly ecstatic. I was holding in my hands a professionally made bookmark with not only my mother’s book on it, but my artwork as well!
November 2009 – In an attempt to discipline myself more with art, I’ve decided to randomly pick out one of my art books to study. My random book-o’-choice was my dad’s 1978 How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema. As told by the date, Dad has had this book for a while, but I’ve never really stopped to read it. I’ve just used various poses from the pages here and there for some of my sketches throughout the years. I started with Chapter One: The Tools – And the Talk- of the Trade!
The next day was a full day of drawing with Chapter Two: The Secrets of – Form! Making an Object Look Real during the daytime and figure drawing class at night.
Next was the start of Chapter Three: The Power of Perspective! I’ll just start by saying that I am fairly convinced that my ruler has it out for me…
As a sequel to my “A Question Oft’ Asked” post, I have decided to share my art inspirations. Just as there are movies that spark my filmmaking creativity, there are artists who inspire me as well.
October 2009 – For the past few days, my parents have been working on creating a promo video to be shown at book signings and events for Mom’s book series, Allon. (http://www.allonbooks.com)
October 2009 – At work, people kept inadvertently taking my notepad. I kept having to rewrite my notes again and again, so I decided to put a stop to the madness….
My notepad hasn’t been moved since!
October 2009 – I’ve often been asked what type of film it is that I wish to make. I can’t easily answer that as it’s not so much a matter of genre as it is style. I have ideas for projects all across the board, from drama to comedy to action-adventure to fantasy to feature animation. As I am still forming my artistic vocabulary, I can only point to other visual media as examples of the style of projects I aspire to do. I would be very interested to see if you, dear readers, see any trends in the following clips…