Monday, 30 November 2015

Film Review - 'Edward Scissorhands', 1990

Tim Burton's 'Edward Scissorhands' can be seen as a social commentary on the destruction of individuality in modern culture. The film is entirely contrived, with Burton employing the characters and careful scene design as devices with which to symbolise the meanings and messages he is attempting to portray throughout the film. 

The film is set in 1950's American suburbia, where the modern American dream was becoming a reality through the introduction of the mass produced home, and the utopian vision of the future this created. In reality however, Burton utilises this setting to address the horrifically deadening effect mass consumerism has on society and individual creativity. An example of this is the repetitive cars, and homes, as although differing in colours, every person is still buying and using the same mass produced product, resulting in mass produced lives. Eric Drown reflects "at the end of the film the suburb becomes the place of horror, the place where difference is rejected as alien because of small-mindedness, bigotry and misunderstanding... the suburb’s odd (but coordinated) palette and its extreme orderliness seem less affectionate details of once upon a time and more sinister signs of similarity, suggesting perhaps that the fears of critics in the 1950's that suburban housing developments would encourage a “creeping consumer conformity” were not too far off the mark". (Drown, 2014)

Edward is presented as the original, the 'unique' through Burton starkly juxtaposing him to his surroundings, the first instance of this being the huge, looming, dark castle he resides in, towering above the pastel suburbia. This oddity is never addressed, furthering the separation of Edwards world and the suburban 'reality'. Russell Potter notes this in his essay 'Edward Schizohands: The Postmodern Gothic Body'; "In her recent study, "Belonging in America: Reading Between the Lines", Constance Perin argues that one thing that suburbia U.S.A. has always done, and done well, is to stare at, ostracize, alienate, and expel those (re)marked as different". (Potter, 1992). 

The film is the physical manifestation of the saying "don't judge a book by it's cover", in this instance, Edward and his home playing the part of the book. The running idea is that from the outside things can look very different and therefore scary; the dark, looming house, Edwards dramatic clothes and wild hair, and his pale and scarred skin, all trademark "villain" traits. However, if one takes the time to look into the oddity/ get to know it, it becomes clear is not so horrific as once thought, a prime example of this is that from the outside the castle looks terrifying - dark and foreboding, with a thick, dead forest, but inside the walls the garden is beautiful and whimsical. As an extension of this, the castle can be seen as an objectification of Edward, the outside appearance being dark and scary, however on the inside, Edward's personality and mind, is full of whimsy, creativity and love. 
This sweetness to his character is seen throughout the film with his initial actions done out of love and affection, for example his first bush sculpture in the Boggs' yard of the family together, and his naivety and tolerance of Pegs ridiculous efforts with Avon products, and later his unflinching love for Kim. Burton uses this as a comment on the downfall of society - that society's constant need for improvement and development is actually having a negative effect. This is reflected in 'Tim Burton: The Monster and the Crowd: A Post-Jungian Perspective' by Helena Bassil-Morozow, where she states "Metonymically speaking, Edward is his hands: his character and behaviour are determined by the fact that he is "not finished". (Bassil-Morozow, 2010). This shows an oxymoronic quiality to Edwards character, as although Edward is manufactured, literally built by inventor, he is the only one truly living as himself. 

The townspeople help to further the manifestation of the popular saying as, despite looking 'normal' to society, can be seen to embody the negative aspects of human nature, the seven deadly sins. En mass the townspeople partake in gluttony, greed, sloth and envy, through their constant vying to be the best, have the best and know the most. Examples of this include when Peg first brought Edward home, the women had nothing better to do than gossip non stop and then force themselves upon the Boggs family. Later, once Edwards artistic skill has been realised they quickly take advantage of his creativity, giving nothing in return, clamouring first for topiary shaping, dog grooming, haircuts. Here Burton is showing the greed of modern society, constantly want the next best thing, but also wanting it for free, and never being satisfied with just being. This is more clear once Edwards salon is an option, as now they will have to pay in return for his services. This, combined with the lies told by Joyce, embodying lust wrath and pride, and Edwards arrest thanks to the cruelty of Jim, quickly fuel rumours and negativity towards Edward. The townspeople quickly follow suit with no hard evidence, following like sheep, ostracising the outcast, shunning individuality as soon as it does not benefit them, literally driving him away, only being satisfied once they believe he is dead, and on top of all that, seemingly being un-phased by the fact their blind hatred has caused the death of a man who had only even been nice to them. 

The oxymoronic qualities of Edwards character and place in society are furthered from the quote from Jim (film still) "You can't touch anything without destroying it." This statement is not at all true for Edward, as although literally handicapped with destructive tools as hands, the only time he ever does anything destructive, without provocation from others, it is towards himself. Never once does he injure anyone or thing else out of his own malice. The same cannot be said for other people however, prime examples of this being Joyce, who because she didn't get what she wanted from Edward, ruined his name, and Jim because of his jealousy, embodying wrath, envy and pride, of Kims love for Edward. This once again puts across the message of not to judge a book by its cover, as although these two people look 'normal' and like any other inhabitant of the suburbia, they are actually horrible people. 

Bassil-Morozow, H. (2010). Tim Burton. London: Routledge.
Drown, E. (2014). Edward Scissorhands and the Discourse of Normalcy. [online] Medium. Available at:
Perin, C. (1988). Belonging in America. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press.
Potter, R. (1992). EDWARD SCHIZOHANDS: THE POSTMODERN GOTHIC BODY. [online] Available at:

Edward Scissorhands poster. [image] Available at:
Edward Scissorhands still. [image] Available at:
Edward Scissorhands still. [image] Available at:
Edward Scissorhands still. [image] Available at:
Edward Scissorhands still. [image] Available at:
Edward Scissorhands still. [image] Available at:
Edward Scissorhands still. [image] Available at:

Friday, 27 November 2015

Animation and Character - Life Drawing Movement Animation

In todays animation class we were taking our movement life drawings and converting them into animations. I chose the below 7 images as my key frames for the animation, creating a spinning effect.
I drew over the images in Adobe Flash, exaggerating/slightly adjusting some poses, and added in a few linking frames between some of the images, making the short flow a little better. Obviously this is just a very early start to the animation, I feel this animation will end up being quite long as I'm rather enjoying creating this sequence and I think Ill end up working into it quite a lot.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Life Drawing #8 - Callum and Colour

The first pose today was a 20 minute standing pose. I used pencil and to begin with largely focused on the face. I feel as though I made the body too big for the head.

Close-up detail. 

 The next set of poses were 5 minutes each, and I used white chalk on black paper. 

I feel the top two images are the strongest. 

The last pose was 20 minutes also, and we were encouraged to use different colours and media if we wanted. I used chalks on black paper. I chose these colours because of the orange/red light coming from the heater lamp, and blue for a complimentary shadow colour. 

Friday, 20 November 2015

What if? Metropolis - Initial Maya Modelling Tests

In todays afternoon tutorial with Simon I asked him for some advice/help on how I would go about modeling some of my buildings in Maya, as they are rather complicated, and about the water Maya vs matte issue. He helped me out a lot and showed me a really easy way to get a quick base shape down for one of the structures, which I can then go into and edit individual spines. He also showed me Mudbox, which allows you to paint onto the 3D model and bring it back into Maya, which will be really useful and a lot quicker/easier than creating a UV map for the intricate structures. Also we went over methods for creating non-generic water in Maya. In the top image what has happened is the models are duplicated and inverted, with a textured translucent plane between the mirrored models, creating the water diffused colour effect. This is very basic at the moment obviously and would be improved upon my adding  lights to the scene and more/different shaders. He then suggested I could take that and paint water effects eg ripples/waves etc over the top. This looks a lot better than the generic auto generated water in Maya.

Animation and Character - Ball Character Tweens

This week we were putting basic classic tweens onto our ball character animations. I also experimented a little with changing the colours of the cats, and found I could make them change colour across their movement.

Bouncing Cat Clouds from Pip Harris on Vimeo.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

What If? Metropolis - OGR #2

What if? Metropolis - Orthographs

Here are my completed orthographs for Sendsel. As I said in my previous post many of the buildings are just variations on one structure, so I didn't need to create a different orthograph for each individual building. Creating these was a little trickier than I anticipated, but I'm excited to start getting on and creating them in Maya. 

What if? Metropolis - Production Art

Here are my final buildings that will be modelled in Maya, numbering 1-8 from left to right across the final composition.  Buildings 1, 3, 5 and 6 are all the same structure, just rotated, cropped and scaled so I will only need to create one orthograph and model for these. This is also the case with 4 and 8. 

What if? Metropolis - Building Breakdown

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

What if? Metropolis - Colour Comps

Colour comps of my final shot exploring different times of day/different building colours in my city. I tried to keep in mind coral colours when creating these, hence the prevalence of oranges and reds on the buildings. Feedback would be great. 

What if? Metropolis - Final Concept Development - Feedback please!

Number 3 of my final shot concepts proved to be the most popular with others as well as it being my favourite, but it still felt a little bland to me, so here I have worked into the composition to create a few more developed thumbnails to see if any of these are stronger than the original. 

1 is the original, 3 and 4 are my favourites, I just need feedback to see which is best to take forward for my final composition though, I cant decide between having more coral structures below the platform, further showing the multi-levelness of the city, (3) or having it as water, showing how the city is made up of multiple coral islands.(4) 
I think I'm leaning more towards 4, but what do you guys think? Thank you in advance! 

Life Drawing #6 - Callum and muscle form

I arrived a little late to today's session due to an earlier engagement, so I missed the first pose. I think this put me off a bit because I couldn't really get into drawing with the first few poses, 5 minutes, and 3 minutes long. Especially when I thought I would try out drawing with a thick marker, which just went abysmally. Thinner marker worked better though (bottom 2 and top right).

In particular I quite like how this pose turned out. 

Next were some 1-2 minute poses, focusing on moving from one position to another. 

The last pose was 20 minutes, and we were encouraged to focus on muscle tone. I chose to work white chalk on black paper. Looking back on it now I think I need to work into the proportion of the head as it seems a bit small, and slim down the leg on the left. 

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

What if? Metropolis - Refined Concept Development -Feedback please!

I talked with Jordan yesterday in the Photoshop tutorial about how I would progress with the project, as I have a pretty good idea of how I want my finished city to be, but I was stuck on the process of what to do next to get there. He helped me a lot and said what I had so far looked good, so to move onto creating refined concept thumbnails of my city. The first thumbnail he helped me on, showing me a few techniques on how to put together the thumbnails which was really helpful and made me feel a lot more confident creating the others myself. 
I think my favourite is 3, but think 2 could also work. I'll be making a few more, but feedback on these for what works would be much appreciated, then I can get onto colour comps. 

Friday, 13 November 2015

Animation and Character #5 - Character from Bouncing Ball Animation

In today's tutorial we came back to our bouncing ball animations we had made previously and were tasked with turning it into a character/s. Obviously, I chose to make a cat. A fluffy cat.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

What if? Metropolis - OGR #1

After Effects

Life Drawing

Animation and Character

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

What if? Metropolis - Thumbnails 21 - 79

Working from my form silhouettes I collaged different shapes together to create pillars, which are the main forms of my exposed coral city. I am drawing a lot of inspiration for this from this image.

After creating quite uniform silhouettes as a base, I then started combining different forms together, creating more free flowing shapes. I have highlighted 37 and 42 here because I particularly like these structures.

I have experimented some more with combining different forms to create irregular, more natural shapes, and have also begun to draw basic details over the top, as well as taking inspiration for an apartment block-like complex from a coral. 

What if? Metropolis - Colour Picking

I created this quick colour picking page from my forms page to help me with a colour palette later on in the project. 

What if? Metropolis - Silhouettes

I really wasn't sure where to begin with creating thumbnails for individual buildings for my city, and was getting quite frustrated about how to keep the shapes in keeping with Beate Kuhns works, so decided a good place to begin would be to create silhouettes of her work, and create forms from these. 

Life Drawing #6 - Movement

Today's life drawing class was focused on capturing flowing movement, and creating base sketches we can use in Meg's animation class on Friday.

First we had a series of five minute poses, I thought there would be more then five so ended up doing them a little small, but I feel like I'm definitely getting better with proportion. I've also taken close ups of each pose so they're easier to work with on Friday. 

Particularly like the above and below poses. 

Next we worked in charcoal and had the same activity again but this time just with one minute poses, plus there was a tutu involved. 

To finish we did a pair of poses, 10 minutes long, from sitting to standing. I really messed up the proportion on the standing pose, the body is way too long, but I can fix this on Friday when it comes to animating.