31 March, 2007

Flash - ahaaaaa

Hi, just a quick bloget today. I'm currently hammering the new film website into shape and think it needs a bit more interactivity than it currently has: I'm thinking some games in flash would be cool. So far my flash skills are limited so I'm looking for some people that may be willing to knock up a game framework or basically do all the work while I point at things and provide drawings.

Any game developers out there that may be interested, please get in touch and I'll go into my ideas further. Notoriety and possibly money will be waved at the successful applicant.

I can't go into too much detail at the moment about content, but it's gonna be sweary - to tie in with the movie.

29 March, 2007

It's for charity, mate....

No, not for me. I generally don't give to charities as I know the sponging little funts just use the cash to eat crack and buy PS3's...

My mate Duncan (Aktoman) is doing a cross country walk (starting this Saturday) from one side of Scotchland to the other. Existing only on captured haggises and tartan pudding his trek will take him across 212 miles of the most rugged, badger infested terrain on earth... and he's doing this for fun! The walking mentalist has a heart of sponge though, he's got a link to a charity site on his blog where nice folk can donate money to the 'Gurkha Welfare Trust.'

As a big fan of the Gurkha's I said I'd mention it on me blog, and I have. Gurkha's are amazing soldiers and have been part of the British army since about 1815 - winning heaps of Victoria crosses and generally kicking the enemies arse in the name of truth, justice and freedom. To find out more about these brave chaps click here .

There is a link to Duncan's site in my links section, or click here. Please visit, even if its only to call him mental for doing the Southern Upland Way.

Various dangers Aktoman may encounter...

28 March, 2007

Production Artwork....

While I begin to get my arse in gear for the next batch of filming here is some background stuff for the movie, One Day Removals.

I'm including some costume design and colour work I've done for the main characters mostly because it was my first attempt at using Manga Studio 3 (great prog). All the line work was done using manga then exported as psd to photoshop, really quick workflow and easy to use. Best of all it was actually fun and didn't make my skull explode like some software learning curves.

Another character in the movie is the flexible corpse in a bin bag (he gets everywhere). Mark Stirton, the director chap, had a smart idea of buying shop window mannequins and getting me to articulate them with the magic of hacksaw. It is a pretty quick fix to the age old problem of fake corpseiness, most home made ones (like my last attempt) always look a bit floppy and light. When they arrived at Mark's they freaked us out as they are a bit too lifelike, but we got over that and I took the first one home to work on.

36 hours and 3 saws later I had constructed a workable stiffie - while also inhaling 50 pounds of glass fiber dust. Before you all start screaming 'twat!' I was wearing a mask but the fine dust gets everywhere - not doing that indoors again! Anyway, corpse and me are doing well and he has already survived a 30 foot a fall from a bridge and a trip on a boat. The following photoset is from the shortened and less dull 'making of corpse' blog I was going to do.

Andy - costume design (Patrick Wight)
Ronnie - costume design (Scott Ironside)

6 Stages of corpse - final version is wrapped in binliners, but still has a lovely personality...

This is my very first play with Manga Studio 3, it's supposed to be me waving a tentacle at my mate, Graham (the sound ninja). I expect to be poked roughly with a sharpened Sennheiser after he sees this, he does love his manga though, so I may be ok! (and no, I have no idea why the tentacle is smiling and yes, it does look a bit more like a snake)

26 March, 2007

Random Stuff...

As a designer and work avoiding layabout I recently did a logo for one of my mate's websites, he's a super keen hiking chap and he's named his blog after his fave tent (the Akto). The only colours I got to work with were the standard Akto ones of 'flattish green' and 'just about red.' A limited palette.

His idea was to have the Aktoman logo like the old action man one, I tried this but it was a bit dull so I ripped off the new one instead: there is no plagiarism in graphics only 'homage,' as me old art lecturer used to say. Now Aktoman has a new emblem and a spanky badge for his site I'm just wondering how long it is before the Aktosign is seen over the skys of Aberdeen?

I was out walking with him a few weeks ago and managed to vanish in feets (many of them) of snow, I'm not a natural hillwalker as you can see from my outfit. I've already linked his site in one of my previous posts so I won't repeat myself (that much).

Here's' some images.

Logo done in Macromedia Freehand and Photoshop.

My mate - Duncan 'Aktoman'

Me - Well, it was freezing and all the outside gear I have is from the last movie!

25 March, 2007

Interlude 2

Thought I'd have a break from posting film stuff to put some of my recent renders up. Recently I've been playing about with Vue Infinite 5, its a great little package and a very smart way of rendering stuff with cool atmospheric effects and lighting.

I've only done a few simple things so far but have got some nice results, the HDRI lighting is very easy to use but does take ages to render on my old system. Vue really needs a beefy system with gigs of ram to work best, not something I have yet. One of the many cool features is the environmental texturing, it actually populates your landscape with grass and trees by itself, or any thing you want really, rocks, cactus even cars! Very smart for instant forests or island foliage.

Another good feature is the interaction with Poser, figures or props can be imported straight into Vue, with animation timelines attached. One reason for me needing a supercomputer though, animation really chews up the processor in Vue when you are trying stuff at HD resolutions.

Anyway, enough gibbering from me. Here are some examples of recent tests I've done.

Texture test for image I'm working on, this is lit with an HDR image. I'm going for subtle tones and shading.

Not sure where or when this is supposed to be, WW2 Pacific, possibly.

Attempt at the statue scene from last film, The Planet, this model was imported from poser with animation. But the animation is too huge for my little machine. Poor thing.

Here's a very quick scene to set up that took 4 hours to render. Poser longship with some hills and water, took half an hour- the volumetric lighting and environment texture trees are the render sponges. Looks a bit Japanese I think, wonder if the norse folk ever got there?

Image from the corridor scene in The Planet, not my model but augmented with lots of new bits.

22 March, 2007

Bit of a rest...

This week most of the cast and crew are having a rest - filming begins again next week and hopefully we'll get more interior work done as its freezing up here in Scotchland at the moment.

In the next few weeks I'll be doing my stunt with the van, which involves me getting dragged behind it at about 25mph while shouting in German, "Haltet den verdammten Lastwagen an!" (Many thanks to me Swiss mate Ursi, for translation work).

Looking forward to it as my drag rig consits of some carpet tiles and a baking tray (and some high-tek body armour). Mark Stirton, the writer/editor/director/chief, wants sparks to come out of my bum while I'm being dragged: I think I'll manage that without any effects work.

Once again I have some photos courtesy of the photographer chappy and my mate, Mark Wyness. We used to have a photographic business in Aberdeen (about 3000 years ago) in a store owned by Graham the sound ninja. We were all mates at school, but for some funny reason Mark hasn't aged - after the filming I'm selling him to the Chinese to distill into longevity serum. I'm sure it can be done as I've seen 'big trouble in little China' heaps of times.

"Can we have our corpse back, please?" Hapless removal men lose another body. Lovely bridge though, 18th century I think.
"Now you're getting nasty!" Scott Ironside (hammer) and Patrick Wight have a moment during filming, but all is not as it seems.
Me again, this time playing with a water pump on location at a farm south of Aberdeen.
End of week 2 cast and crew photo. Niel Simpson (who owns the farm we filmed at) is in the red boiler suit, he also plays a farmer in the movie and gets a pretty horrendous death. Looking forward to that make up job for that.

19 March, 2007

Van of Death...

I've just realised that I haven't put any shots of the other main character in the movie up yet - the van. The van (known on set as "the van of death") has just as much time on screen as the leads and has a character all of its own.

A lovely old workhorse of a thing, the Ford Transit LWB van is a classic work vehicle for all manner of jobs and suits the look of the film perfectly - not too different from thousands of other transits, but with a distinct character. Minamal production design was required for the vehicle, it was already a bit old and battered, once the decals had been applied (comic sans!) all that was required was a liberal application of poster and acrylic paint to dirty up the paintwork.

Here are a couple of shots of the van (thanks again to Mark Wynes for the use of his photos).

Mark filming Steve against the van, ain't that a gnarly monster!

Some close-up work of Scott Ironside, notice the steath soundman in the van!

Here he is again, our very own sound-ninja - Graham Robertson.

16 March, 2007

2nd Week of filming..

That's my second week over, quite a full week and only 3000 bruises this time. Mark has covered most of the scenes requiring the leads now (Scott Ironside & Partick Wight) and will be onto the pick-ups and support work next week. Still some scenes to come later for the main actors, but we are arranging locations for those bits at the moment.

Lots more gore and general mentalist activity over the last few days - yesterday I had to set off smoke charges inside the van (with me in van too) and throw a burning wall of a shed off the van roof without killing the actors below. On Wednesday while I was sticking a big rusty hook through Kerwin's head the rest of the team were filing in the country with a local constable from the Grampian police media office (PC David Elrick), the addition of a proper bobby and a police car certainly made the scene with our uniformed actor, Steve Tomas.

The local police media team have been very helpful in the making of the movie and will be involved in some of the later sections too, they did wonder where I got all the police equipment and insignia from though. Ebay is great ain't it?... (pending enquiry).

Here are some photos from the last few days. (Photos copyright of Mark Wyness)

Posed shot of the lead actors Scott (beardy)and Patrick, with Steve all copped up in the background.

Hero shot of Steve Tomas in full gear.

Our Kerwin all hooked up (before huge amounts of fake blood).

13 March, 2007

A New Week

Back to filming for me, Tuesday went very well and director bloke, Mark has many good shots. We also managed not to drown Kerwin in a little boat on the fast flowing and very deep river Dee. Kerwin, who has never been in a boat before, had to row to the middle of the river, put the oars away and place a binliner wrapped corpse on top of himself before letting the boat drift downstream. He did really well and didn't freak out too much when he found out his safety net was me with a bit of rope, and the drysuit under his clothes of course - we're not that mental.

While we were getting the boat ready the rest of the team went off to film Pat and Scott throw the wrapped corpse off a high bridge over a river, that (judging by Scott's behind the scenes footage) went very well and looked pretty funny.

What's left of my brain needs some sleep so I'll not write that much and put pictures on instead.

Scott Ironside and Patrick Wight, (lead actors) finding another stiff

Me, filling a bottle of bleed

Me, making up the back of the van for my impact

Me, post impact (blood looks very red but thats the flash apparently)

Mark Wyness, (who has taken these photos) with a screwdriver in his head

09 March, 2007

End of week one (for me)

First stint of filming over for me just now. Some of the crew and cast are out over the weekend filming which gives me time to get the props and costumes for next week ready. I'm also filming the 'making of' of the movie so I'll have to get my head round Final Cut pro this weekend, should be fun and I'm looking forward to it.

Yesterdays filming was pretty intense, we covered 2 deaths at 2 different locations and got some great stuff from the leads - Scott Ironside and Patrick Wight, they were whacking each other about and bouncing off the van by the final takes, so I don't know how sore they are today. I got to stick a screwdriver appliance in Mark Wyness's head and squirt blood out of it, more fun and more strawberry jam smelling actors. (photos to follow soon)

If anyone is interested in my recipe for fake blood it is as follows:-

To make 2 litres (2. 1 quarts)

1 tin Golden (or Karo) syrup

food colouring - 3 bottles red, 3 yellow (75ml bottles/2.5 fluid ounces). Sometimes more yellow is required for digital work as the blood will appear pink.

Strawberry or vanilla flavouring - 1 teaspoon (depending on taste - if being used in mouth)

washing up liquid - 5 drops approx (helps the sticky crap wash off)

Milk (vary amount to requirement)

Warm water - about 1 litre (38 fluid ounces) depending on how thick you want blood

Instructions:- (note. unless you have a really big measuring jug you may need to do 2 loads to fill your container)

Using a suitable large measuring jug first pour half of the syrup in then half of the colouring, mix slowly with a metal spoon (unless you want a red wooden one) and add some warm water. Repeat until you have the consistency and colour you require (remember klingons have purple blood). Now put the jug with the mixture in a microwave (plastic or glass jugs only) for 30 seconds (or sit in bowl of hot water until syrup has mixed with water).

Once the mixture has been warmed mix it again until colour is even then add washing up liquid and flavouring if required. Add some milk if you need more opaque blood - it makes it more arterial (remember to get rid of unused blood at end of each day though as it will stink). I find the best container for the blood is a vacuum flask or thermos, many plastic bottles have crap tops and leak, you really don't want that.

The colour can be deepened or adjusted throughout the process so check it works ok, I usually pour some on my hand to check consistency.

Wasn't that fun! Next week I'll give you my recipe for 50 megaton nuclear warheads.

07 March, 2007

On The Move....

Just a short post today as I'm totally tired. Today's filming went really well again and the weather was great, even hotter and sunnier than yesterday. I spent a lot of this morning stuck under a van covered in sticky fake blood, not too fun but the shoots looked good and thats the point.

Here are a few shots from yesterday's filming. They show director, Mark Stirton and Kerwin Robertson (on sound) filming Graham's big pishing scene, also a before and after shot of Graham Robertson's character, 'drunk man.' He gets hit in the face by the van while wandering about on a lonely country road.

More to follow tommorrow. Hopefully I will be able to mug the professional photographer (Mark Wyness) thats doing our publicity shots and get some of his excellent photos on the blog. Poor chap's Bowen lighting kit fell in a marsh today so we're all hoping it dries out ok and isn't buggered - as he's still got a lot of shots to do for the film! Honestly, it's not fun as the kit cost more than the van we bought for the film, as we say in Aberdeenland 'ooya beastie!'

Off to bed now to die a bit until 5.30am.

06 March, 2007

Filming Begins (for me anyway)

Well, I've just returned from my first day on the shoot of 'One Day Removals,' and I'm pretty knackered! The shoot actually started yesterday (Monday 5th March), but as there was no sfx make up or general effects I wasn't needed. Today went pretty well and we covered most of the scenes and the weather was very kind to us, which was handy as all the scenes were outside. I think we all got a bit sunburnt, which in Scotlad in March is illegal or something, good for filming though.

I have taken heaps of photos but have left camera equipment at the director's today, will try and get some shots up tomorrow, especially of wee Graham who'es character is hit in the face by the van - had fun doing make up for that one. Tomorrow I become the van's second victim and have to do my own make up (bit of a challenge). I will also get covered in my own brand of fake blood, which is beyond sticky and tastes of strawberries!

We are filming out at Aboyne at the moment (30miles or so west of Aberdeen) and it a great location, lots of huge mountains, rivers and general countryside. Its not too far from the queen's place at Balmoral so it's very picturesque, but cold even with the sun we had today.

I'll sod off now and get some sleep, I'll post some pictures with the update tomorrow.