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.

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