Monday, 25 April 2011

Freshmen year...what it's over already :O

Hey people!

So this is the last assessed blog (though by no means the last, you'll still have to hear me witter on in personal blogs :P), where I see all my strengths and weaknesses and evaluate the here goes...

The GA course is fantastic. The people we get to hear from and the lessons we have I have really enjoyed. I mean if you know me you'll know I really panic over my skills sometimes - and if you remember the lecture from Blitz with the fox in pants...that really settled me. To know that I didn't have to be so perfect and that that was some of the stuff they were getting; was one of the first things as a first year to truly settle my nerves. So yeah, more awesome industry talks please!

Secondly, I love the visual design lessons especially when we go out to places. This has helped me organise my own little trips as going to say Bradgate park first with a group has given me more confidence to plan such trips. One of my favourite outings was the pumping station, where being a Leicester girl I watched about all the history and really got into drawing the massive wheels - which to date is one of my favourite pieces of work. In areas where I have found difficulty help has been on hand even with one to one help which I really benefited from.

- My pumping station final, a piece of work which via it's quality I think shows how much I enjoyed the day.

3D is good too, although I feel sometimes it is a little fast and hard to pick up straight away; this may be my problem though as I do struggle with it. Constructively, I think the tutorials could be a bit more detailed or made easier to understand, and keep the Guru/grasshopper thing going, it's extremely beneficial to people like me who haven't had all that experience.

The Blog and Critical studies I have really enjoyed - I wish our class would speak up a bit though ;) it's a little quiet! I don't know if you've enjoyed my ramblings but I have found it very fun putting humor into them...especially doing my rave-esque really was awesome. I have liked writing about issues to do with gaming (see 'Hello my game is...and I have a problem') and showcasing my other talents i.e. my singing in personal blogs.

So what about me?

Overall, I have had a big adjustment with this course. It is hard going from being excellent to a pool where pretty much everyone is excellent...and then some. My biggest hiccup has to be the 3D stuff, It makes me so stressed that i still can't stick this stuff...although that dosen't mean i'm giving up! After completing like my 10th church today I know i will get this. I'm also looking into what extra tuition is out there and i've been offered some training on a project re-imagining the lost theatre in London (randomly my singing teacher's daughter's husband is a 3D artist running the project :D) so hopefully that'll help too. 

Reflecting on myself I really need to stop worrying and over-thinking things. This is really hard as how I am does make me obsess... but I am trying step by step to manage the feelings of stress about everything. I also think practising better time management can help me achieve better results. A lot of my dilemma relates to my own lack of self confidence also.

So yeah, That was everything on me, myself and the GA from the saff


Sunday, 3 April 2011

The great outdoors: environments

Hey people!

So environments? After starting shooting for my music video to 'find your way' today (my single with  Lacky C & Duv) I've actually had to think quite carefully about environment today. Environments, in games support the characters and gameplay and are one of the most immersive parts of a game. In some games it can be the shellshocked deserts of Afganistan, in others the colourful simplisitc areas of the Johto region (Pokemon), In our video today it was the Saff streets and the graffiti outside Goldhill park...why? to give the 'hard' attitude of a rap music video.

Films make envionments all the more easy to evaluate and in critical studies we looked at the influences of Edward Hopper on Dark city. Similar to the simple devices I talked about in the character blog, this used the same dreary colour palette of Hopper to convey a grim, ill picture of WW2 America. The city in Dark City is described by Higley as a "murky, nightmarish German expressionist film noir depiction of urban repression and mechanism".

A comparison of the opening shot from Dark City and the works of Edward Hopper, just so you can clearly see the similarities in the colour palette.

So what else can environments tell us? Well they can tell a narrative (as in the scene from Black Hawk down) or even illustrate scale (The Tripods; War of the Worlds). A favourite example of environments of mine is Dr Who. Now It just happens that my other half is a raving Dr Who fanatic - so last wednesday we went to the Dr Who experience (London Olympia). If you haven't been, seriously go it's amazing...but why am i mentioning Dr Who here? Well it's Time and Relative Demension in Space or the TARDIS! Just look at how the TARDIS environment has changed over the years to express the different emotions or outlooks of the doctors. The most significant being the new generation of the doctor, starting with christopher eccleston. The Tardis takes on a more organic (with the coral like beams), rejuvenated outlook and for the first time the doors are on the inside. Also, the dark colour palette suggests the rage inside the doctor. When designing the new TARDIS the organic feel was used to signify the new modern series. Expanding on this even more the updated Matt Smith series sees the TARDIS being enlarged and revamped further with new gadgets and gizmos on the TARDIS console showing the current doctor's flamboyant, erratic nature.

Pictures from the Doctor who experience, London Olympia. The David Tennant/Christopher Ecclestone TARDIS compared to the 1970's version.

Following on from the Art Direction Blog, I also have some pictures from the exhibition showing the art direction offices at the BBC that make Dr Who. They show just how much it takes to get a character or environment sorted:

Pictures I took from the Doctor Who experience showing the BBC offices used for art direction.
And you all thought my moodboards were extensive!

Now let's look at the basis of an environment within a game. I'm looking at Inception.

Now the film is amazing, and if you haven't seen it i would totally recommend it. But what would we do with it if we wanted to make it into a game? An article from World of level explains just how inception is a game level designer's dream:

 "Throughout the film words such as architect, creating levels, worlds, creating boundaries (closed loops) for believable worlds and designing layouts are discussed in Inception."
"Many things in Inception directly relate to level design and creating game worlds. Here is what I learned in Inception about creating worlds.

  • As a level designer you have a chance to build worlds, to design levels. You create a world out of an idea, a single thought you have in your mind. Simple idea becomes something tangible for someone else to experience. Player has a chance to explore your creation. Something that started as a simple idea in your mind can become a game world. Do not ignore a simple idea of a world you want to create. 
  • Continuously create. Never stop creating. Always design and build something new. 
  • Design with story in mind. Make sure the player has an objective you want them to fulfill. Make it clear, make it interesting. 
  • The world you create is about visuals and emotion. The feeling you want the player to experience, reinforced by the visuals. 
  • Never create from memory. Always use reference to create worlds. Use your memory to communicate the feelings of spaces and environments you've been to, but when designing use reference to make the world believable."

Sound familiar? I can pretty much hear Chris reading this! (My Visual Design lecturer for those who don't know). Fully reading this text aligns all the major factors of creating an environment or level, or anything for that matter. Idea, Create,Story,Emotion and Reference are the first tools in creating a believable environment. I mean would you dream of tackling modelling a character without decent reference? this is just like the Edward hopper comparison that was used as reference to create the dark city world. And just look at all the reference and hard work behind the Dr Who designs...

Ultimately, environments screw with our emotions...just like the adverts on tv. They add to the overall feelings we feel - like an artists dummy they bend us with their use of colour, smell and style. 


PS: the audio 'Find your way' is on youtube:
full video coming soon :D


Hey people,

So when I first saw this blog was about character I initially thought of myself. People usually say I am quite the character...the word 'eccentric' or even 'idiot' has been thrown around; but what makes me that character? Say we're making 'The GA from the Saff' the motion picture and I have to cast myself? Just what would I be looking for? (apart from someone taller and way more stunning - I'm thinking Megan Fox).

This is just what this blog is about. We need to define just exactly what makes a character, and just how to go about designing one. In acting, a discipline I used to cover, the first step was visualising that character, everything from their job and natural processes to their feelings and situations. It is pretty similar in the world of gaming and film. 

"Issues that you’ll work to define:
  • The character’s natural activities, as part of his or her job.
  • The challenges that these sorts of actions suggest.
  • The character’s primary emotional attitude, and how that is displayed visually and in language.
  • The character’s visual appearance and movement animations, both voluntary and involuntary.
  • Attributes and powerups that might affect the character’s abilities, and how they grow.
  • The character’s natural environment, and enemies that may be found there."

When creating characters a lot of different techniques are used to make them more believable, genuine characters although I think a lot of it depends on the genre. For example the lead slasher in a horror film isn't going to be coloured pink and have a cheery disposition, but with moody lighting, intense music and rough stylisation he becomes the dark Freddy Kruger we all know and love.

I think an easy example of the design of characters is within the movie 'The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Lion, The Witch and The Wardobe." Here we see the evil witch and the heroic Aslan in ways which don't really depend on the script or much of the acting (Aslan being just the voice of Liam Neeson). The stylisation of both characters from the shining lion to the cold witch, even imprinting on the scenery around them suggests their characters. For example the witch is bathed in ice and her costume also suggests this. Everything about her is telling the audience she is evil whereas Aslan is a golden, shining lion and his setting (following the books Christian theme also) is always sunny and like spring. In the film they have played up to this brilliantly, I can't think of a bigger contrast. 

^ pictures from the Chronicles of Narnia - the lion the witch and the wardrobe. notice how everything on the witch's picture is cold and sharp whereas the lion Aslan uses warm colours predominately orange.

In visual design, the amount of drawings and research we've done for projects like 'reef' have also extended this. If i make a swamp like creature with gloopy, dreary colours it will express the character as such, whereas my final piece was a colourful coral based lady which immediately suggests she is good. Techniques as simple as this create compelling characters which ultimately create a realistic game world.

"To create a truly immersive game experience with a compelling fantasy world, you have to populate that world with real characters. Not just characters that behave realistically on the screen, but characters that ARE real to you, the game’s creator. The more you know your own characters, the more real they will become, and the more they will help draw the player into your game’s imaginary world."

So there you go! characters are very important within the game and film world. without believable characters we'd all just be down the the stick men...