Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Ken Recommends: Various Comics

It's been a while since I've suggested some comics to you guys and boy howdy is now the time to do so more than ever with new titles coming out this month now is a great time for new readers to get into comics! So, lets Dive right in!

Galacta: Daughter of Galactus
written by: Adam Warren
Art by: "Elsevilla"

This one shot issue re-introduces readers to a Galacta who first appeared in "Marvel Assistant-Sized Spectacular". People then voted amoungst the characters in this issue they would like to see again and Galacta came out on top. Being a single issue with no prior reading knowledge of story lines just knowledge of who Marvel's characters makes this a great issue for new readers to start on. Galacta is beautifully illustrated and the story is a cut away from the norm of super heroics focusing on Galacta trying to stave of her indomitable appitite (she is the daughter of the World-Eater Galactus of course!). With some good lines and an enjoyable main character this should be a good little pick up for collectors and partial readers. At the end you can email marvel if you really enjoy telling them if you want to see more of Galacta, here's the email if you don't spot it! mondomarvel@marvel.com

iZombie #1
Written by: Chris Roberson
Art by: Micheal Allred

The first issue in a limited series from Chris Robinson and Micheal Allred about your average girl, Gwen and her average friends. Whats the twist? well she just happens to need to eat brains every month to stop from turning into the shambling undead and her friends arn't that much different such as her Ghost house mate and the werewolf down the road with a crush. It's a mixed up world with an excellent concept and great artwork from star artist Allred. If you're looking for something a little different to add to your monthly list iZombie is what you're after, with a great plot starting out in this first issue it's exciting to wonder where this issue is going and with a new twist to zombie mythology. And at a special price of $1 you can afford to give it a try!

The Avengers #1
Written by: Brian Micheal Bendis
Art By John Romita Jr.

Siege is over and Steve Rogers is back! Enter the Heroic Age with The Avengers! This issue is great for new readers as every #1 should be re-introducing the new line-up of the team assembled by Rogers none other than himself to help show people what heroes are all about. This issue also sets up a new threat for these Avengers to face, with some great dialogue going off between characters such as Tony Stark, Thor and Rogers himself (except Bendis's wierd fixation by making Spider-Man the comic relief of the group, but I guess some one has to be...), the art work in this comic as with all of Romita Jr's stuff blew me away and in my opinion JRJR's art style is perfect for the flagship title to usher in the Heroic Age. This issue sets up a great adventure for The Avengers to embark upon including a threat from the future, which I always enjoy when pulled off well!

Written by: Frederic L'Homme
Art by: Arnaud Bouboiron

A part of Marvel's ever expanding Soleil line in which they translate and publish European comics for American audience. Husk is a piece of classic Sci-fi, imagine A Scanner Darkly mixed with any generic Mecha Anime, that's pretty much what Husk is. Enter Husk pilots, trained to be used in avariety of situations including law enforcement. Follwoing the story of Sarah we're introduced to what it's like to Pilot a bio-mechanical behemoth and her desperate struggle to balance the sensation outside of her Husk and without an unknown "Brain-Hacker" on the loose this makes and interesting comic to read! With some of the best art and writing I've read in a long time this is a monthly mag' to keep your eye on!

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine #1
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Adam Kubert

The final one on my list of recommendations is one for the tights, Astonishing Spidey & Wolvie. Described as an odd couple to team up (usually wolverine almost goes to far and spidey convinces him not too) it's good to see Aaron shaking things up. Whilst it's clear the two don't like working together this issue makes a set up like no other I've seen, unfortunately I'm too giddy about other people reading this to give away what it is but what I will say is that it's far different from what the cover hints at. The writing it's great and the art suits the tone perfectly. Whats more is that this is 100% friendly for all readers old and young, long standing Marvel readers are going to enjoy other aspects of this magazine too (you'll know what I'm talking about when you see). What's really great is that this is a limited run so you won't be buying loads of issues and the formula won't get stale (hopefully!).

Well look at that 5 mini-reviews! surely that makes up for the lack of comic suggestions? Any ways True Believers, keep an eye out for more Ken Recommends ranging from films, video games and comics and who knows maybe a few odd ball things in the future!

And remember recommend this site to your friends, lets get up to 1,000 hits before the end of May!

Digital Film Production: First day of shooting

So the first session of shooting has been wrapped up but, there were a number of challenges my team and I had to face such as getting the lighting just right to eliminate shadows, learning how to use the boom mic correctly and finally learning to use the limited space of the Infinity Curve to the best potential to achieve the shots I wanted. I got lots of great help from Ben and David in setting up the equipment as well as helping documenting the filming for easy editing next week, my actress Jessica was a great help as well considering most of this day was off the cuff and it was the first time she had seen the script.

We all had a great dynamic when working with each other, and I tried to make sure to manage people without pushing them or being unreasonable. I've learned that when making a shoot you have to make sure everyone is enjoying themselves otherwise it may become a big strain, and through being organised and friendly with everyone I feel I got everything that I needed for this scene but I confirmed with everyone that if I needed to re shoot any scenes would they be available? and Luckily they agreed, so I feel I have built up a good relationship with my cast and crew. Below are some photos taken during filming, as always click to enlarge!

Digital Film Productions: Storyboard

With the script and storyboard completed, cast and crew all collected for the shoot. Everything is running very smoothly despite the hiccups in scheduling but hopefully shooting and sound recording shall be completed by the end of this week and I should have a rough edit to work with by next week. Below I've included a copy of my storyboard which are more of a starting point to work from due to my unfamiliarity with the infinity curve on which I'll be shooting on. The main concept is that the character is in a place with a vast amount of undefinable space whilst having a conversation with an unseen character. It'll propably be quite difficult to try capture my concept but I'll just have to wing it. Enjoy the storybaords.

The style is pretty rough as I just wanted to get the essense of the shot so forgive me for the sloppy "art". Hopefully these will come in handy when shooting.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Digital Film Production: Securing an Actress

Well today has been quite fruitful as I have managed to secure one of my friends as an actress to appear in my film who seems committed to helping the production of the film, I feel much more confident about the production as more pieces fall into place especial with a final written version of the script. I talked through everything that would be required of my friend, Jess such as the bath scenes, audio recording and she seemed more than delighted to be able to help. I feel very lucky to have got a hold of Jess for this production as her outer persona fits very well with the character I've written hopefully I'll be able to get a good performance out of her, in any case I'm grateful I have people on board to help my production.

Unfortunately I will have to reschedule shooting time to accommodate Jess's time period as I had planned and booked equipment a bit prematuraly expecting everything to go according to plan but that is why I made time for any hiccups or complications to be smoothed out, so there hasn't been much of a set back. All that's left is to type up the final version of the script and to finish the storyboard which hopefully shall be finished in the next 24 hours. All that will be left will be to find at least 2 other people to help crew. Everything is quickly falling into place, I still need to discuss with my tutors about how to pull of some effects but it'd shouldn't cause too much of delay in time as I have all of this coming monday for preperation.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Check This Out: Flip Note Studio and Other Things

So recently I purchased the Nintendo DSi and after much suffering with the internet and trying to get it to connect but it was successful after an hour of staring at this screen below:

Once the DSi was all set up the first thing I wanted to do was check out "Flip Note Studio" as I had heard so much about it and reall wanted to try it out! So after downloading it at the low cost of 0 nintendo points I was rearing to go! and below is the outcome of that first 15 mins with Flip Note Studio, for other animations I think I will plan it out a little better and spend more time on them.

Overall the interface to use Flip Note Studio isn't all that hard but I have to say it's quite difficult at first when working with such a small screen and kind of makes me wish I had opted for the DSiXL but nonetheless I'm happy with this, expect to see some more Flip Note Animation from me in the future. For those who have as DSi of any variation I recommend giving Flipnote Book studio a try, really simple, really fun and if you keep at it you can create some really cool things!

Check out the Flip Note Studio Home Page where you can view and share Flip Note animations!:
Flipnote Hatena

On another point though, whilst the DSi connects using the advance settings why is it the one machine of my various consoles that doesn't connect to my router. Why does the wii work with my current settings but not my DS games?? I wish Nintendo weren't so weird about online connectivity I mean, I like the security settings as it is, it keeps all my valuable information safe but they're apparently too tough for the DS's games. If anyone knows of a solution to this without the changing of my security settings on my router or buying the overpriced and obsolete (doesn't work with windows 7) nintendo wifi usb connector please tell me! I Want to race on Mario Kart and trade pokemons!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Doodles: Nick Fury Edition!

It's been a while since I've done this so it's time again for some little doodles that I work on in my spare time. You've already seen my big thanks for over 500 hits and judging by the way things are going I'll have to make the 1,000 hits picture soon too! so thank you for that!

A doodle of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick fury as I loved Iron Man 2 and want to see more of this awesome Fury!

The second two are roughs that were for biggin imagines one for branding my internet channel with and another piece I want to work on after playing the excellent game Mirror's Edge. A piece I plan to try complete to a higher standard than my previous pieces of art work.

And this was drawn on the pack of a package for an eBay customer who bought quite a few comics from me (mainly spidey comics obviously!). Don't forget to check out my Portfolio or Deviant art Account, links are found below my profile on the right.

Digital Film Production: Production Plan

With three weeks left until I have to present my short film I've devised an action plan to utilise my time as effectively as possible. I feel I'm almost out of the planning the stage and the vision I have for this film is becoming much clearer.

  • Week 1, 17th May: Complete storyboard, final version of script, fill in all nessary paper work and find crew and actors.
  • Week 2, 24th May: Start shooting in locations make rough edit to work with and start rotoscoping.
  • Week 3, 31st May: Finalise all effects and editing and create final version for viewing.

This plan if followed also allows for extra time but ideally I hope to finish this film a full 24 hours before the deadline. Keep an eye out for the storyboard that'll be posted here later in the week.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Ken Recommends: Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2
Release: 29/04/10
Running Time: 124 mins.
Studio: Marvel Studios
Genre: Action/Adventure
Rating: 12+
Director: Jon Favreau
Writer: Justin Theroux
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Don Cheadle, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson with Rickey Rourke and Samuel L. Jackson

Landing in just before the annual summer blockbusters Iron Man 2 boasts a sequel that will match and exceed the fun, action and storyline of it's predecessor. It's safe to say that Iron Man 2 delivers and then some.

Taking place 6 months after the first installment it seems all is going well for Tony Stark (Downey jr.), he's the most popular man in America, saved the world from almost certain destruction and still has that amazing home in Miami. Unfortunately the United States government wants "The Iron Man Weapon" under their control claiming it to be the next step in weapon technology that the world is racing to and when a man appears out of no where wielding technology on the same level as the Iron Man tech all with Tony coming down with an incurable disease things begin to get hot under the collar and this time he can't go in alone.

One of the biggest gambles with Iron Man 2 was the re-casting of James "Rhodey" Rhodes from the previous Terrance Howard to Don Cheadle, and it fits! There's even a possible nod to the change of actors in the opening few minutes of the film, see if you can spot them. Cheadle's portrays Rhodey as a close friend to Tony but with his loyalty to the military creating a bit of friction between two which adds to the story but doesn't try to take precedence. The introduction of Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko, a Russian genius with the obsession of destroy Tony Stark and his legacy. Rourke's portrayal of Vanko is well received as he creates quite an intimidating and hulking presence when in the scene but his genius also shines through, Tony is going to have a tough time beating a villian who's just as smart as him.

Of course Downey jr., Paltrow and even the film's own director Jon Favreau create a great performance to watch and the interaction they have between each other and the other characters create more than couple of humorous scenes. The dynamic between the different characters is definitely one of Iron Man 2's strengths and it really pays off.

The special effects in this film are through the roof making it an extravaganza for the eyes that'll keep almost any sfx fanatics happy. There's also a great amount of little touches in this film such as the updated design and layout of Stark's workshop, the new types of technology that appear and of course the suits! The Computer Graphics have been updated and the already realistic armour looks phoenominal then theres the actual suits built for closer shots that make these things seem achievable in the next few years.

As mentioned Iron Man 2 builds on and delivers everything you would want from a super hero film, with a strong story and even stronger characters, Iron Man 2 is a great way to start off the summer blockbuster season and will leave you talking about it for weeks to come, mostly conversations that started with "Wasn't it cool when...?"

Oh and watch after the credits, Comic fans are going to love it.

Digital Film Production: More Final Cut tools

As I will be using Final Cut Pro to edit my short film together, today in class we had an exercise where we had to create a coherent sequence using the multi-shot ability in Final Cut Pro. A multi Shot sequence is a video clip inter laced with other clips which at the click of a mouse allow the editor to jump between shots more easily making the editing process on a certain scene easier. So for instance if you have a shot of an explosion by getting several cameras to film it you'll have many different angles to view the scene from giving the editor a wide range of shots to use and because all the scenes of the same thing the audio should match up fairly easily.

Below I used a multi shot of a scene from the tv series "Monk" and editing them together to flow easier as a sequence. I used four different shots to create this short sequence, two were of the same conversation over the two characters' shoulders, one of a different take of the same conversion which included a different shot and finally one was of a close up a character.

I also used the "Roll Tool" to scrub and settle on sections where the shot changes camera. This tool is very useful in fine tuning a squence whilst editing and was agreat help in making my sequence look as smooth as possible in terms of the flow of conversation.

These tools and techniques will no doubt prove to be very useful when it comes to creating my own film, it might even be a good idea to sign out more than one camera.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Digital Film Production: Rotoscoping test

After going through a tutorial with a green screen and the processes of taking greenscreen film and working with it to seperate foreground props and actors from the background I decided to develop some of my own skills in special effects. As previously mentioned in one of my concepts I would quite like to include some rotoscoping so Idecided to take some green screen footage from a class make and work on creating a rotoscope of the same length as the footage. I exported the movie as a collection of images using After Effects and started by drawing over each frame in photoshop after about 5 or so frames I decided that I would miss out every second from as it wasn't required that I needed every single frame to be animated.

After 2 hours I had a collection of just over 50 frames equating to 2 seconds as the average frame per second rate for animation is 24fps, when played back at this rate the movement seemed too fast and unhuman, so I halved the frame rate to 12 as I had missed out every second frame from the film and it soon moved much more slowly. The result is below.

At a conversion rate of 2 hours of work for 4 seconds it works out at 6 hours for 10 seconds which would be a good amount of time to apply the special effect in the film. I'm quite eager to try work this into the script of my more conceptual based film idea. At least now I can say I've successfully rotoscoped a piece of film.

Digital Film Production: Developing a Concept

With the first film out of the way it comes down to creating a new concept for a film in which I will have complete creative control, I've had some difficulty trying to come up with a concept to start working with and I've narrowed it down to a few concepts of a previous many. The first one is a fairly atmospheric and is inspired by the viral marketing adverts for the Halo video game series much like the one below:

The idea is to bring a cinematic/blockbuster type of feel with over dramatics to playing the Halo video game, I even went as far as to write out a script outline what would happen. The film above and other block buster movies would most likely lead the influence in the direction of the short film but I feel the concept maybe a little too long to fit into one minute. I even thought about adding in a narration of some point to help build the emotion of the scene. Much like the last film I made this one plays with the audiences expectations and it would be pulling of the reveal which would require the most work.

My next concept is a follow on from my short graphic novel I created at the end of a previous course, this time following on either the same character's story or one from a similar situation (it's not imperative that it be the same character) coming to terms with the workings of the world and that the pain caused by others is marginal compared to the pain of utter loneliness, for this I envision a fairly blank set allowing me to easily add some SFX. It would be interesting to try some rotoscoping to emulate the art work that was featured in my comic (an example is below).

The main idea for the content in way of script comes from both this but a specific scene from the television series Neon Genesis Evangelion, in which a character goes through a similar transgression of realisation. I really feel the asethtic from this sepcific scene would suit well in continuing the narrative of my graphic novel. Below is the scene.

Both these films will require a huge amount of work in the direction and editing, whilst being very different. Such as one being more blockbuster influenced and another being more conceptually influenced but I feel that if I focus on which ever idea I choose I should be able to create something that should look quite impressive. Before I leave you in this post you will find below is an image of the rough drafts of the scripts I've written for both concepts, enjoy I guess.

Digital Film Production: The Final Cut

Below you will find the final cut for the first film my team and I set out to do, for the sound we decided to try use the tracks from the BBC sound FX library to see how well they could match up. We also cut the whole scene of the character walking through the building as we felt it didn't really add much to the narrative and felt more forced in.

We learned a great deal from this exercise such as how to tackle sound, after completing this we decided that further ventures in filming would require us to bring sound recording equipment along to get accurate sounds that represent the locations we're filiming in. We also learned that we need a motion stablizer when completeing tracking shots. As a first effort We feel we've learned alot that will allow us to create a much better production the next time it comes to this and the experience we've gained in organisation of shooting and the amount of paperwork that goes behind it is important to making the process of editing much more easily navigational. Overall this first film has been a fun and interesting introduction to the course in both educating about use of equipment and working in teams

Digital Film Production: The First Cut

So after a week of organising and preparing me and my team went out and shot everything we needed over two days, we decided to shoot the interior shots of the college in the evening as it would be fairly quiet and deserted. We opted to shoot the outside scenes fairly early in the morning as it would be quieter making it easier to shoot the scenes we needed with less interuptions from people walking into frame. After that I created a rough cut using the Storyboard as a guide to outline the bare bones of the production, I put some music from an album I had on my harddrive as currently I'm unsure of how to tackle the sound aspect. I will discuss this with my team. Below is the first cut.

We used Ben as the main character and I played the stalker, some of the trickier shots were the tracking shots of the feet and faces but overall it was a fairly painless experience, except for the running scenes. Overall I feel we have a fairly good outline of a film to start working on further with.

Digital Film Production: Principal Photography

Once we had our storybpard all set out it was time to do some scouting for locations to shoot the film. We decided to keep the locations fairly locale to where we would be editing as it didn't matter too much about the location. We settled on the Leeds college of art building, blenhiem walk and a small section of hyde park to film in as the three string together fairly well and should help with the representation of progression of distance through the narrative.

We tried to get shots that were fairly accurate to the storyboard and in all honesty when I was drawing it up I had the college's layout in mind so it only made sense that we should shoot there. These are just 4 examples of the principal photos we took, we also took some footage of the locations we wanted to use that will appear below here once it has been edited together. What's next? shooting!

Digital Film Production: The Story Board

Below is the storyboard I threw together to illustrate the types of shots me and my team want to try get. Recently I've watched a few Coen Brothers' films which motivated me to put in detailed and varying shots of people walking to help build atmoshpere and keep things interesting for people to watch. This was an interesting challenge as we hadn't quite outlined where we would be shooting making this a very slapped together piece of film, none the less this storyboard should make things much easier whilst on location.

The concept is to build up an idea of tension and to mislead the audiences expectations, it'll be a challenge to try create this within two minutes. So far things are going quite well though.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

It's a bit late I know but...

Thank you so much for over 500+ hits! I never expected to get even 100! You guys make it all worth while posting on here. Expect some more doodles and reviews (including a review of Iron Man 2!!) as well as work stuff in the future!

Thank you!