Thursday, 18 May 2017

Film Review - Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)

Kubo and the Two Strings (2016) directed by 'Travis Knight' is a film about a young boy who must go on a journey to find items needed to defeat the villain, his grandfather. The film uses stop motion animation combined with 3D animation to give a visually enticing film.
Image result for kubo and the two strings
Fig 1



The film follows the journey of Kubo, a young boy who has magical powers due to his mother. He plays his musical instrument to control his powers which allow him to manipulate different objects. We see these powers develop throughout the film. Kubo only has one eye due to his other being stolen by his grandfather. His grandfather is a magical being that needs to take Kubo's eye so Kubo can join him in his world. Kudos goal is to find three objects which will allow him to defeat his grandfather, to help Kubo do this he has the help of his monkey charm who comes to life due to magic from his mother, and a beetle samurai who they met along the way.





We can see throughout the film the use of the combination of animation techniques and how well it works together to give the film a very unique yet appealing feel. The use of these techniques managed to stay away from the uncanny valley which is very common with stop motion animation as if done incorrectly can create a feel of discomfort amoungst the viewer. Where this film has used the combination of these techniques so well it makes the viewer feel comfortable and that the world that it is set exists making the viewer want to go there.Not only did they create models for all of the characters, but to give the film the extra likability and feeling that it all fit so together they used the same character creation for the larger characters, such as the bone skeleton. But they did this to a much larger scale so computers effects where not needed to give the appearance of everything fitting together. The bone skeleton was a puppet model that they created that's was 16 foot tall. This gave the realistic scale of the Kubo, Mokey and Beetle models. The model created by Laika, the animation company that worked on the film, was made so big because the animators found it easier to work with something to scale and with bigger parts to make it move better and more realistic than a smaller model with small parts.
Image result for kubo and the two strings bone skeleton
Fig 2
F

The use of the combination of both stop animation and 3D digital animation makes this film very visually appealing. The stop motion was created by models with 3D printed face plates for the changes of expressions. The use of this technique allowed the animators to create thousands more facial expressions that would normally be possible when using models for stop animation. The style of the animation gives the film that bit extra to allow it to stand out from the norm in animation films due to its uniqueness.

Image referencing
Figure 1 - https://goo.gl/images/l1wyfq


Figure 2 - https://goo.gl/images/n2pnin

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Mary and Max (2009) - Film Review

'Mary and Max' is a 2009 stop motion animation directed by Adam Elliot. Mary and Max is a story about two pen friends across the world from each other. Mary, voiced by Toni Collette, is an eight year old girl living in Australia who seems to be segregated as from the start we can see her friends consist of homemade 'nobblet' characters. Where as Max, voiced by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, is a 44 year old Jewish man living in New York. The two are very different yet similar to each other which is what brings the two stories together so well.
Fig 1

 Max, living in New York on his own is a very disconnected man, living in his own world. He is portrayed as socially awkward and has some less then ordinary traits. This is later explained within the film when we discover that Max suffers from Asperger'a syndrome. Mary, living in the suburbs or Melbourne is a lonely eight year old girl who seems to have a dysfunctional family to say the least. Her father works screwing on the caps to toothpaste tubes, which we can see portrayed as a mind numbing job. Her mother is a thief and an alcoholic who is always seen with a cigarette in her mouth and a bottle of sherry on standby. When out with her mother at a post office, Mary finds an international phone book in which she tears off a random name and address. Mary, filled with questions about the world. as any eight year old child would be, writes a letter to this random persons asking questions about the difference between the two countries and asking about the person she's writing to. Max, who lives on his own responds to Mary's letter answering her questions and providing topics of conversation. Just from the initial letters sent between the two it becomes apparent that even though these two people are on different sides of the earth and with a huge age gap are still fairly similar in many aspects. The film uses these letters from the two to explain important life events from the two main characters and it shows how these coincide with the moods and personalities of the characters as time develops.

I feel as if the choice in the style of animation, stop motion, is a very effective way to portray the story being told. The style used also greatly impacts the comedic effect throughout the film as it allows exaggerated movement and lets you clearly see the characters development. For example throughout the film we notice Max is getting increasingly bigger and bigger. I feel as if the use of clay and stop motion animation allows us to easily notice this transformation. It makes transformations such as this look more noticeable and works better than if it was real people rather than animation.
fig 2

Another aspect of the style of animation that makes this film stand out to me is how the film addresses some serious mental health issues and at some stages some dark, real life situations. But through the use of stop motion clay animation it makes these matters feel slightly lighter and makes them watchable. If these situations where played out in a non animation film then it would be seen as a very dark film, more then likely with a high age rating for viewers. But the use of the stop motion animation has allowed these issues to be tackled and brought to light but in a manor that can be viewed and understood by everyone. Making it a very powerful film.

Image Referencing

Fig 1 - https://digitalnews.ua.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/mary-and-max-26769-hd-wallpapers.jpg

Fig 2 - https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/45/85/bb/4585bb2da3d59c41b9b31dd7803f1d00.jpg 

Maya Tutorials - Blending Weights - Lower Body

Blending the lower body weights for the skinning process in the Maya tutorials.



Maya Tutorials - Blending Weights - Upper Body

Blending the skinning weights for the Jet Pack Jones character upper body 



Tuesday, 16 May 2017