Thursday, May 27, 2010

poster concepts

Hey there Ricketeers! I don't have much for you this week. Been workin' on storyboards and Concept art a lot(man there's a lot of fancy art deco building references). I wanted to do a Rickety Rat promotional poster similar to the classic noir posters of the 40's, but I haven't decided on composition yet. Here are a few of the ones I'm deciding between:

I like this one in which the characters are interacting with the title. Rickety is off to the side looking lost and small while Rascals is dropping cigar ash on his head.

This is a simple one in which you can see the contrast between him now and his former self in his faded poster.

This one Rickety is far off, maybe in a movie theatre with the side characters having their own individual posters.

This is the only horizontal one I have. Rickety is standing next to three posters, Comedy(with Stumbles), Action(with Racals), and Romance(with Dolly), while he stands under an empty frame reading "Drama".

This is a nice little concept Dolly blowing a kiss and Rickety looking tired and almost badass.

This is a cool poster idea in which Rickety is alone on stage and the audience are all the secondary characters.

This is my new "everyone has a gun" poster. I kinda like this one(even though Blusto isn't going to be in the animation) because it's very similar to the overly dramatic noir posters I'm trying to emulate. It's got gangsters, femme fatales, downtrodden heroes, and guns!

I also had an idea with Rickety sitting at a bar with a drink and about to put out a cigar with Dolly in the ashtray about to be stubbed out and Stumbles drowning in the bottle, but I haven't figiured that one out just yet. I'm still deciding. Which one do you like the best or think captures the heart of noir?

This week on Noir Review, I'm going to drive you Gun Crazy! From 1950, Gun Crazy is the story about Bart Tare who's obsessed with guns and his crazy gun toting wife Annie Starr as they go on a downward spiral robbing banks and running from the law. Storywise, it's a strange ride, and you know it's not going to end well for anyone, but Peggy Cummings and John Dall carry the film with some wonderful acting.

What you really want to take notice from this are some great cinematography tricks. You can see how they started to experiments with new ways of telling the story. One of the best sequences in the whole film is one long take in which the two drive up and rob a bank. The entire time, the camera is stashed in the back seat of the car as if the viewer were a passenger. You get to see them talk about preparation as they drive up, the tension as Annie is waiting for her hubbie to rob the bank, then the suspense of them getting away. It's a great take.

It's not one of my favorites, but it's still a classic worth checking out. Overall, I'd give it a 45 out of a 63. See you next time, detectives!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pigsy and the pyramid

Hey there Ricketeers! It's all about concept art this week! I've got my third tutorial out explaining how to have moving characters with static textures! Take a look!

You can check out the finished product as an animated Gif here.

Also, I managed to do a RIcketyFolk© Class pyramid, so you can see who's on top:

EDIT: I forgot to mention the rules I go by so you don't think it's all random. Generally, the cleaner and more domesticated the animal, the higher on the scale. So domesticated cats are high class, but wild cats are low-middle class. Most wild animals are considered low class, unless they're somehow exotic. Also, the further you get form mammals, the lower on the pyramid. Insects and reptiles are pretty low class. A wild animal can get higher if he's a smooth talker or just persistent. I didn't base it on the animal kingdom, more like animals + social politics.

It's just a preliminary, and I'm sure I've left out some very important species (if fish wanna be in my town they can learn to breath air like proper Americans!) so there's a chance I'll make a nicer version in flash or illustrator. Perhaps someone would like it as a poster to put on their wall?

I really enjoyed coming up with all the different species and giving them different personalities. If you can't make out the faces you can see them more clearly here:

I've been doing a lot of research on 1920's and 30's clothing(still haven't found a lot of resources for old 1920's buildings. Any thoughts?). It's somewhat complex because I have to convert clothes made for tall slim figures into clothes for short, round figures. I was thinking of just having all the ladies tall and thin, but it's strange, the closer I make them to real humans the more out of place and odd they look.

Also, I found all these cool 1920's cartoon advertisements for women's clothing, so I'll be doing a couple of those sometime. And perhaps a few mock smoking ads. Smoking's the next being thing dontcha know! (Also dying)

And hey, did I tell you about the new Rickety Rat incentive? Well gimme and ear and I will! I started a facebook fan group for Rickety Rat, and I'm doing characters for anyone who gets a bunch of people to join! You can have your own lil' animalian noir avatar! Maybe a bear in a tux? Or a snake in a porkpie? Up to you! Get 10 friends of yours to join the facebook group and I'll ink you your own character! Get 20 friends to join the facebook group OR 10 friends to join the blog, and I'll give him the full on flash treatment! Textures and all! Just send me a message saying who you brought and an email address and I'll send you your cute cartoon character. Wouldn't that be cool to show off to your friends? I'm only going to do 10 of them, so you'd better hurry and get people liking!

This week on Noir Review, I'm talking about Touch of Evil! Directed by Orson Welles and staring Orson Welles, Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh! It's about a small town just bordering Mexico. A car blows up, and Charlton Heston, the good cop, and Orson Welles, the dirty cop, take it upon themselves to figure out who did it. Things escalate when Heston starts accusing Welles of messing with his cases and Welles starts setting Heston up.

Made in 1958, this is one of the last noirs of the classic noir period. And when Noir goes out, it goes out with a bang! Who wouldn't want to see a movie directed by the great Orson Welles and staring Charlton Heston as a hardened cop, Janet Leigh as the blond bombshell wife and Orson Welles as a tired old dirty cop? Being directed by Orson Welles, it has some interesting techniques including the use of big expansive open areas with a camera that pans and tilts to follow a character down the street, minimal use of cutting, use of steady cam, and more realistic dialogue in which characters speak over one another. Because of this and because it's so late in the fifties, it has a different feel than your usual noir.

It has some amazing acting(who doesn't love Heston and Welles? And Leigh is easy on the eyes if you get my drift) and some great film techniques(one I like is keeping the camera set in the room on a couple of characters while another character goes off screen, but they're still talking. You'd think the camera would follow them or cut, but this has a more natural feel) but, I don't know, it still doesn't have that classic noir feel. But still, it's a great film and a nice way to end the noir era. I would recommend picking it up. 42 out of 53. See you next week!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A pig and a cow walk into a bar...

Hey there Ricketeers! This week I have what you've been waiting for (all three of you), the tutorial on how to make those fancy textures! Aaaaaaand it's less than ten minutes! Go me.

I hope this helps guys! Next week I'll show you how to animate characters while the textures stand still. Won't that be nifty? There's still a lot of animation to be figured out, so maybe as I get further along with it, I can do more tutorials. We can learn together! It's like we'll be best pals! And then you can spot me $5.

Unfortunately I don't have any new sketches or pieces of concept art. Although, I did pretty thoroughly figure out the class system, which I'll diagram out next week. And my sound guy is finished on his other projects he was working on and is back on track for dealing with Rickety Rat audio, so hopefully we'll get to see a mock up of the animated opening.

Oh wait! I lied! I do have a sketch to show you:

This is the waitress from the Rodential, a low-class nighclub Rickety works in. She's of bovine descent(because you never call a lady a cow, even if she is one).Her name is Donna Daisy. Donna Daisy, the girl with two names. The waitress with double D's. Man, I really have to stop designing characters or I'll end up falling in love with all of them.

This week on Noir Review, I watched the Fritz Lang's M. It's a German film from 1931, the noir film before there were noir films. It's important to note that Fritz Lang is the director of the great silent sci-fi epic Metropolis, not because M is very science-fictiony, but you can tell it's from just after the silent movie era.

It's about a child murderer loose in a small German town, creating mass suspicion and paranoia. People start suspecting each other of being the heinous criminal. Cops start cracking down hard on everyone, especially the criminal fraternity, which makes them band together and go after the murderer themselves. The criminals are actually more organized, and more effective and can do things and go places the police can't.

It's a great movie for cinematography wise, creating some very unnerving shadowy shots, and the acting is all top notch. The stand out performance is Peter Lorre as the crazed child murderer. It's worth a viewing for the acting alone.

But the problem of this being too close to the silent era is two fold. First it does a great job of setting up this sinister mood, but then it destroys it with a slapstick joke. It's hard to tel sometimes when it's a comedy and when it's serious. Second, there's little to no sound design. There's no music whatsoever and in some parts it's just silent. And I'm not talking about tiptoeing-through-a-library silent, just blank no sound at all silent. There will be cars screeching and people scurrying but no sounds. You can tell where they either couldn't afford to record, or simply thought it was unnecessary. Though, looking back, I was watching the super special awesome redone with extra scenes version, so who's to say those scenes weren't added after the fact. But still, it's weird.

Anyways, I'd give it a 32 out of a 43. It's a great sinister movie with some incredible acting, but it's probably only for the most avid noir buffs.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to use a line and boxing

This week, I have part 1 of my video tutorial on creating those nifty textures! This one shows how I use the line tool because some people barely know how to use it, and I find that a travesty! I regret that it's so long, and that I had to split it up into 3 parts, but this is usually the longest part of the process anyways. I hope you find it interesting and helpful and not too boring.

Although I was uploading it and I realised I didn't say anything about the pencil tool, of course I don't really use it all that often. It's like the brush tool, but using a line, so it's helpful in setting up the framework, but if you're not master of it, you need to go back and connect all the lines anyways. Perhaps I'll do another tutorial in the future on that.

I've been doing more storyboards, but not as many as I'd like and not nearly s fast as I need. The main problem is that I I've just gotten done designing the main characters, but I'm still in the process of designing the general populous, the environment, and the general feel. I still need to do ALOOOOOT of research and ALOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT of concept art, which I'm kind of doing at the same time as the storyboards/animatic. Man I wish I had someone who could do awesome backgrounds.

Anyways...this week on Noir Review, I have to tell you about the amazing gunless, Scoreless Noir: The Set-Up! Honestly, I was putting off watching this one because it's about boxing. No detectives, no guns, that can't possibly be something I'm into. But it had Robert Ryan (who should be in every noir movie cause he is the quintessential tough guy) so I finally picked it up. And boy, am I ever glad I did!

The Set-Up is about a down and out boxer named Stoker(Robert Ryan) who's trying to get back into the big leagues by winning his next match after losing countless others. Except what he doesn't know is that his manager made a deal with a local gangster that Stoker would throw the match. Stoker's lost so many other times, he couldn't possibly win this night, could he?

It does a great job of building tension by having Stoker see all the other boxers get ready, all of them hopefully optimistic that this will be their big chance to win. But the outcomes of their fights have a huge impact on his courage. There's never any narration, but every time Stoker is off to the side watching the Doc trying to revive someone, you can see it in his eyes, "Is that what I am? Washed up?" And then another fighter comes up saying how he's going to win it big and Stoker's smile says, "Nah, it's my lucky night." And that's what makes it a true noir movie, that glimmer of diminishing hope in a dark world, about to get snuffed out.

This is one of the best Noir films I've seen because it has so little of the noir cliches that you're used to seeing almost to the point of defining the genre. As I said before, there're no guns, no detectives, no voice over, no score! (Sure there's background music, but still, for a music person, that's big!) One of the best punching-a-cliche-in-the-face-scenes is when Stoker is talking about his old days, and it's honestly the perfect place for a dreamy-eyed flashback, but he just sort of looks off into the distance and then everyone goes about their business.

The cinematography is amazing. Most Noir films (and films in general) have a substantial amount of cutting, but in The Set-up director Robert Wise took a very minimalist approach and instead used more panning, tilting and dolly shots. There's a great scene in the opening where the camera tilts down and pans around at the various characters as they converse. It's a great shot that must have taken a good amount of planning and set-up to pull off so beautifully. I feel like this is one of those movies that was a huge influence on Quentin Tarantino or Wes Anderson.

I couldn't recommend this more. Personally, I think this is better than Raging Bull, but that's a different kind of film. So many noir films are filled with overdone cliches that they lose their inner spirit (and you always hope that's not your film), but this is a film that's stripped away all it's porkpie bells and trnech coat whistles and all its got left is spirit. I don't give this score to many films, but it deserves it! A 43 out of 43!

Oh and here's a fun little symbolism exercise when you do watch it; count the number of clocks and consider what the director is saying about time.