London MCM Expo

Came back from the madness that was London MCM Expo yesterday.

It was very busy, but fun stuff. I played some games, picked up a few trinkets and books, and also got to attend the Q&A session for Ubisoft developers Raphael Dominguez and Mathieu Gagnon for the upcoming game Assassin's Creed Brotherhood, as well as an Avatar presentation showing some exclusive never-before-seen scenes of Avatar which will be added to the new 'Collectors Edition' Blu-Ray DVD. This included a new opening sequence highlighting Jake's background, a Na'vi hunting scene along with some more screen time with Sigourney Weaver. It doesn't look like it will add much to the story, but it will undoubtedly please some hardcore fans.

As usual, there were plenty of cosplayers around dressed in all strange and wonderful costumes. Its crazy stuff, but always great to see as people unite and express their common interests. I saw Shabir at the expo, where I think he was eager to see Marvel vs. Capcom 3 in action. So perhaps Shabir will post his thoughts on the expo too.

Overall, despite some absurd prices, the London MCM Expo was good fun where I had a great, if tiring, day out.

House of Wax (1953)

House of Wax (1953) explores the horrors of a waxwork museum. It was also one of the first films to feature the use of stereoscopic 3D.

The plot involves devoted wax figure sculptor Professor Henry Jarrod, played by the exceptional Vincent Price, whose beloved workshop is burnt down by his business partner in an attempt to claim the insurance money. Believed to be dead, Jarrod makes a miraculous return with plans to build a new House of Wax - yet this time with the bodies of his victims.

The film successfully creates an atmosphere of dread, with a mix of bright colours of the wax museum in stark contrast to the dark shadows of the night. The waxworks, although beautifully made, immediately lend themselves to the uncanny valley being seemingly all too real with an eerie stillness, where the horror is fully realised as we find that Jarrod is turning his victims into waxwork models.

One can also not forget the striking images of the burning waxworks, being particularly disturbing as we see their 'flesh' melt and eyeballs pop out.

Moreover, the appearance of the caped stalker becomes particularly iconic as it captures the dreaded sense of a menacing and relentless pursuer, seemingly being everywhere at once with nowhere to run. This is no more apparent than in the classic scene with actress Phyllis Kirk being chased by the shadowy figure with a billowing cloak.

Additionally, Jarrod's unmasking has been described as one of the great shock moments in horror cinema, as his flesh peals away to reveal his scarred injuries underneath.

Being one of the first 3D films to be featured on the big screen, many attempts are used to exploit this to the fullest, from victims and objects flying at the screen during brawls to a not so subtle entertainer batting paddleballs directly to the camera. Unfortunately, there are no 3D versions of the film available in modern times, but the scenes remain crudely entertaining nonetheless.

Overall, with dusky shadows, a menacing villain, and a bizarre museum brimming with the uncanny, House of Wax remains fresh and appealing as a horror classic despite its age.

Car Modelling - Mustang 06

Sixth workshop on the car, bringing the model together as a whole with the addition of the side and rear window frames, as well as adding a temporary frame of the under body.

Character Design Workshop #05

During our fifth workshop, we began to break down the basic posture of poses. Using straight and curved lines, one is able to capture the essence of pose with a sense of weight for clear readability. This process becomes essential in communicating the right attitude and expression of a given character.

Later, we also had some fun acting some poses of our own to capture. Here were an overly eager date with a shy reaction, to a drill officer reprimanding a berated solider.

Despicable Me (2010)

Went to see 'Despicable Me' yesterday, a gem of a film that I thoroughly enjoyed. There are a number of CG films coming this fall, but Despicable Me stood out in particular with its intriguing setup and witty humour.

The plot involves supervillain Gru in his bid to establish himself as the number #1 villain by stealing the moon. When three three orphan girls become apart of his grand scheme, Gru finds that their innocent love is profoundly changing him.

An odd mix of characters work surprisingly well off each other with the imposing nature of Gru being completely disarmed by the young girls that is genuinely funny. The youngest of the orphans, Agnes, is definitely going to be a fan favourite with her infinite charm and innocence. While not forgetting Gru's minions, small, dedicated yellow creatures that bring Raving Rabbids style laughter aplenty (albeit minus the screaming).

From inflatable pyramids to cookie killer robots, the world of Despicable Me is fantastic with a quirky combination of ideas that all seemingly fit well together. The notable use of 3D is exploited to particularly great effect with scenes such as a roller-coaster ride becoming genuinely disorientating with the sense of speed and depth. As such, the bright and energetic presentation of Despicable Me is remarkably fun and refreshing.

Overall, Despicable Me straddles between action comedy and redemptive heart-puller. Where a few individual critics have felt that the film was overwrought with too conflicting many elements, I found the combination worked remarkably well in a thoroughly enjoyable way. As critic Rich Cline suggests, the film is a fantastic 'combination of deranged humour, nutty slapstick and cute sentimentality'. I heartily recommend this film for its fun and charming story, as well as being a great CG animation made by other than the CG giants of Pixar or Dreamworks.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

American Sci-Fi film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), features the arrival of a humanoid alien Klaatu and his powerful robot companion 'Gort' to a Cold War state Earth. Together, they bring a warning to the people of Earth to mend their erroneous ways or face total annihilation.

As Klaatu greets us bearing a gift and message of peace, man's initial reaction is violence by striking out with gunfire. This evidently becomes the crux of the film where the violent nature of man prevents him from his own salvation. The film effectively serves as a criticism of the destructive nature of man, particularly in wake of the Cold War and the discovery of the atomic bomb. The moral implications to this day are undeniable, imparting peace and understanding amongst the constant fear of our own self-annihilation.

Despite Klaatu being an advocate for peace, one cannot help but find it a little ironic that their answer to maintain peace is to build robots of complete destructive power to serve as ever watchful sentinels. Peace is maintained through the terrifying and relentless nature of Gort with its uncompromising judgement. To build such machines, it seems Klaatu's people are unable to resolve violence themselves resorting to threats and fear. Perhaps, even Klaatu is not here to save us, but rather to threaten us with destruction if man embarks with space travel bearing weapons.

With visuals that capture our fascination of an otherworldly alien race superior to our own, its hardly surprising to find the film has been heralded as a landmark film in the sci-fi genre, withstanding the test of time as an enduring classic [1]. Imagery of a spaceship landing in the heart of America and the machine of Gort himself have become all too iconic in the sci-fi genre.

Overall, The Day the Earth Stood Still is a profound sci-fi film unlike any other, capturing the iconic qualities of otherworldly beings and technology, as well as delivering a true heartfelt message of peace and understanding with the seemingly inevitable advent of violence and annihilation.

Car Modelling - Mustang 05

More progress with the car, refining the rear geometry and defining the roof. The overall shape is really starting to come together now - next we proceed to begin binding the individual parts together with some interior shapes and details.

Car Modelling - Mustang 04

Fourth workshop on the mustang, defining the basic shape of the rear of the car, as well as refining the overall geometry.

Character Design Development

Been a long time coming, but I've finally uploaded some of the character designs I've been working on for the second project. Refer to my earlier post for the underlying narrative behind these designs.

Theme: Soldier/Cyborgs