Progress: Rigging

Recently I’ve rigged my character using The Set Up Machine. As you can see below I had to tweak few things, such us influences on the skin, so the jacket would act naturally and wouldn’t dissolve in the character’s body. What’s ahead of me is the final animation. I’ve decided to slightly change my story. Now I want to do it in one camera angle and completely focus on characters faces. He’ll be sat by thinking about his past. I want the expressions to be clear to the audience and want the audience to empathise with the character.

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Progress – Mudbox and painting the character

This is a recent a progress I made with my character. His skin looks slightly different on these screenshots than it looks in Maya on the PC, which is slightly worrying me. I’ve added an extra paint layer on which I’ve added some pink onto his face, to make it look better as the colours seemed to me to be very cold before. I mainly painted in “Flatten to UV” mode, as it is probably the easiest and quickest way to do it in Mudbox. His face seems to be a bit to shiny, I’m guessing some lighting setup was also imported from Mudbox, but I think I can go around it in a final stage, when I set up my own lights in the scene, so I’m not too worried about it right now.






“Into the Wild”(2007)

After watching “All is Lost”, which I’ve mentioned in the last post, we were asked to watch another, similar movie. We had a choice between five films that were similar and somehow related to “All is Lost”. Originally I wanted to watch and write about Gus Van Sant’s “Gerry”(2002) but I had a problem with finding a copy, so at the end I’ve picked Sean Pean’s “Into the Wild”. In contrast to “All is Lost”, “Into the Wild” is based on a true story of Christopher McCandless, who just graduated university, who decides to abandon his comfortable life and start traveling with his final destination being the Alaskan wilderness. The movie itself is divided into four chapters. In each of them he meets people that leave impact on his life and keep the story moving forward.

Christopher strikes me as an intelligent and idealistic individualist, but he’s also egoistic and naïve. In my opinion his entire journey is caused by his issues with his parents who were in a clearly not working marriage. Chris decided to run away not only from them, but also from the society that I think he also blamed. At one point of the movie he says he doesn’t need money, he donates all of his savings, destroys his credit cards, burns his remaining dollar bills and even starts using a fake name, Alexander Supertramp. He associates money with what’s wrong with our world. In a conversation with Wayne he even says that he doesn’t understand why we, human beings can be so bad to each other. I think he blames his parents’ problems on the society, as we know that his parents were quiet wealthy. In a sense he can come across as a spoiled child. To run away from the problems at home he found refuge in literature. He has his own moral code shaped by the books he read. At one point his sister says that his favourite writers were Tolstoy, Jack London and Thoreau and that he could “summon their word to any occasion”. On the road he seems to be pushing away every person that cares about him, his only goal was to get to Alaska.

In is journey he meets a lot of people who have impact on his life. He befriends a pair of hippies who almost understand him, but still want him to contact his parents, he befriends a young girl who has a crush on him, but I think the biggest impact on Chris had Ron, an old veteran who at first only gives him a lift but then both of them become friends, to the point in which Ron wants to adopt Chris and become his grandfather. But even then Chris only wanted to continue with his journey because he believed that “You’re wrong if you think the joy of life comes principally from human relationships“. In a way I admire his idealism, even that I disagree with that statement. Again, I think that his dislike to human relations comes from his parents’ marriage problems. The problem I would have with him is that he was selfish person. Even that he claimed he wanted to be alone he made a lot of people care about him and then leave them in pain.

Chris evolved as a person during his adventure. In the beginning we can see that he’s not able to kill a reindeer because there was a young one following him, but later he manages to kill a moose. However, as he was underprepared and didn’t have enough knowledge, he didn’t know how to preserve the meat in a right way which later lead to his starvation…At that point he realised that he’s scared and lonely. I presume he was trying to find a new place to camp, or maybe go back home, but the river got bigger and he couldn’t cross it. He was trapped. Chris tried eating plants but again his knowledge of survival wasn’t good enough and he managed to get poisoned by eating wrong plants. His digestive system was slowly shutting down and there was not much he could to do save himself. I think it’s interesting that in his last hallucination before the death he saw himself getting back home and seeing his parents again. He also decided to use his real name by then when he quoted Boris Pasternak’s book “Doctor Zhivago”: “For a moment she rediscovered the purpose of her life. She was here on earth to grasp the meaning of its wild enchantment, and to call each thing by its right name. By its right name.”. He came to peace with himself, his family and everything he was trying to run away from.

Christopher McCandless was definitely a different character from a main protagonist of “All is Lost”. Robert Redford’s character stayed calm for the most of the film and knew what to do next to survive. Chris was much more childish, which of course we can’t blame him for it, as he was only a young man trapped in Alaska. Did he die as a happy man? I think that he actually did. Of course he was in pain, all alone in the wilderness but Chris did something that many people are scared to: he lived his life how he wanted, didn’t follow any social norms or conventions. He had a one goal that he wanted to reach and he did it. Of course he was a troubled, naïve man, that he should have taken more advices from people on survival, be prepared for his adventure in Alaska(at the beginning he doesn’t even have rubber boots).

“All Is Lost” review

In our first film screening workshop  we’ve watched “All is Lost”(2013), film which was written and directed by J. C. Chandor. It was an interesting film for two reasons. First, there was only one character in it, “Our Man”(at least that’s how he’s called on played by Robert Redford. It was also intriguing because of the lack of dialogue in the film, there were only few short lines at the beginning of the movie. It is an interesting approach to filmmaking, something that is very popular in films these days. Some may even call it a modern silent movie. It proves that  great story can be told without any words, but with pictures and acting instead. As an animator I came across short animations that didn’t use dialogue, I would say that it is rather a popular trend, especially when it comes to student film, but seeing a live action movie like this was a new experience for me.

The character played by Robert Redford came across as a very strong and brave individual. I don’t see many people cruising around ocean alone like he did. He showed a great will to survive and through the most of the film he seemed to be calm and clear thinking, which really surprised me, especially in the storm scene, when his boat rolled upside down. Normally I would expect people to panic but he knew exactly what to do in order to stay alive and turn the boat. What is interesting is the fact that we, as the audience do not know a lot about the character. We don’t know his background, why is he traveling alone, we don’t even know his name, but we still empathise with him.

Cinematography was amazing in that film and I’m surprised it didn’t won any awards for this(however the film itself got a positive feedback from film critics). One of the shots that really impressed me was the one in the picture above. And there were many shots like this. It was a very good way of exposing character’s loneliness, vulnerability and mortality.

Overall the movie carries a message of not giving up but also it shows the struggle of the man vs nature, his weaknesses and death. The ending scene was quiet odd at first, as I’m used to seeing something slightly different in films like this, but then I’ve realised that if it was done in any other way it wouldn’t have worked with the convention of the film and would be totally out of place.