Friday, 10 December 2010


I have been invited to participate in Kodak competition this year. The director is a fellow SFX/VFX artist, Nicholas Thompson. The idea is about piracy and how it is destroying the film industry. The idea is to play out the final scene from Casablanca.

My task is to recreate the some of the background namely the aircraft and the car in which they get out of at the start of the scene. The plane in the original is stationary but in the short it will be taxi-ing in the background and starting its engines. The car will be partially built, probably just the doors, part of the roof and maybe part of the bonnet. I am unsure of the framing but I think if I build a little more than we need then it should be fine.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Film Props

The short module at Millennium FX has come to an end. It has been a great experience to see how the prosthetics side is produced and get a huge insight in how long the process can take. The module serves as a intensive short course in Prosthetics as well as a container for the SFX gags in our film. The class has been making a full head prostheses, a partial face prosthesis, finger extensions, a prop arm - complete with balsa wood bones, a large gouge that will be augmented with CG and several small wound pieces including a handful with silly glass wedged in them.

The characters also have makeshift weapons and a few pistols, I took the props on board and played around with casting the Axe and Knifes. The Axe initially didn't work which was probably to do with the fact that the A&B mixture had been out overnight and was contaminated with other chemicals in the extractor room. The knifes worked from the start but one of the molds had problems letting the fast cast mixture right to the end but I did manage to get a partial knife from it which will serve as a prop to decorate.

The Knife was coloured using a mixture of silver spray paint which was sprayed straight into the mold before the fast cast mix was poured. This gave a great base coat for applying a textured brown to the handle before I added layers of acrylic paint to try and create depth and with a coat of Shellac which gave the knife a rust colour before finally rubbing back a few layers to make to look well used.

The pistol was a simple plastic replica that (Peter Tindall) had lying around. Painted using the same technique as the Knife but more metallic in its appearance, again it had to look well used but also like 'Conway' had used it a lot. I tried to get a worn wooded look for the handle and painting the two pistols exactly the same was fun.

Finally the two main weapons were cast using a soft foam mix with piano wire threaded down the center to add rigidity and stability or they would flop. They are both soft but if you were to swing at someone it would still hurt. Painted using acrylics and shellac to create the worn down and dirty feeling. To add a little more I wrapped some scrim around the handles to make it look like they had been personalised and were used a lot for killing. Scrim is simply a soft string netting that comes on a giant roll. Paint was added to stain the fabric.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Blood's A Rover

Before the summer break I worked as a SFX assistant and a VFX artist on a fantastic book trailer. It is a competition run in partnership with 'Folyes' book shop and the idea is to advertise four of the summers biggest novels.

Full Trailer

Saturday, 3 July 2010

18 Rounds...

A little gratuitous vanity here, me firing a SIGG 552. Just before the video started I had already popped off 2 rounds as singles and decided to finish the clip on full automatic. The video is very short and the short burst dispenses 18 rounds - If that was real I would be reloading every couple of minutes. The armourers said that I looked like I knew how to hold a weapon...


Friday, 2 July 2010

The Last Boy Scout

Part of the MA at NFTS involves an introduction to the role of an 'Armourer' in film. Even got to fire these...

SIGG 552



Tuesday, 29 June 2010

VFX Breakdown

The interior shot and its elements are finished, I am currently working out the render passes so I can just concentrate on the animation. It will something subtle just appearing by the door and running away when the dog is ushered out of the scene. To show companies what sort of skills you have and also compositing everything was great and I am pleased that I am showing all the different passes that are need to create VFX and integrate it into live action footage. This is a rough template for the finished render and the template for my other two shots. There is some pacing issues and I would like to hold the wipes for longer, so the viewer can clearly see the passes.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Interior Shot

After a long time working on the master shot, I have finally moved onto something new. Although I have been back and forth with tweaking the shot to iron out a few of the flaws. The new shot is an interior which is great change of pace and completely different. It's main advantage is that the shot is around 6-7 seconds instead of the massive 50 second master shot. This has been a godsend when using PF Track as previewing track points and solving is much faster and has allowed me to try new things and get results quicker and therefore I have been able to explore the software.

For this shot I wanted to create something that was real but simple, I opted for lots of wooden beams to hide the main areas where the set ended and added the start of a small staircase in the back right of the shot. I wanted to try and create a larger world scenario and make it looked like it was lived in. So far I have only added in the colour maps and the lights, I plan to use the specular maps and bump maps to give the wood a little more reality and presence in the shot. The Duke will also make an appearance as the main reason for the shot is that Abigail (Production designer) shews out a 'invisible' animal and as there is a dog in the master shot, I will composit the Duke into the shot.

Original Plate

Set Extension Plate

The above shot is my work in progress so far and its beginning to turn out the way I wanted it. I have still have work to do to make sure that there is sufficient shadow around the beams, although I think that I can get that from the occlusion pass. I am pleased with how the lighting is match the original plate and that it is given a realistic look to the beams.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Take One Painting

Today marks the end of the first 5 weeks of the course here at NFTS and the work is beginning to pick up pace. I have been given the painting for our 'Set Extension' task and had my first production meeting - very low key but I still got to Meet my production designer, who I'll be working with over the course of this module. There is lots to do for this and will be a huge learning experience which is great and I am thoroughly looking forward to jumping in at the deep end.

The Painting is 'Scene In a Courtyard' by the Dutch artist 'Ludolf de Jongh' and is painted using oil on canvas. The painting itself is a traditional scene from Europe and exhibits an everyday occurrence which is perfect for our task. Below is the original, which is a fantastic piece of work and the second image has the 'green screen' areas indicated to show which are the sections which I will be responsible for.

Original Painting

Original with Green Screen Mask

Basically from looking at both of the images, I have been charged with the virtual creation of the background elements, the trees and the hand full of structures that can be seen poking out from behind the wall. I have a few ideas for the look of the buildings and this will be reinforced by another meeting with my Production Designer - Laura sometime next week and see the scale model they have made before the full scale set will be constructed.

I have also given myself a side project, the first thing I noticed when I looked at the painting was that there was a dog. To be honest that was the only thing that I thought about and I have decided to make him. I have begun the modelling stage, although it is proving very tricky, I am making progress and have only realistically spent about 12 hours on it. I plan on finishing him by next week so I can begin the long process of Rigging and animating him. I have been researching rigging and texturing techniques and hopefully will be ready and not let this distract me from the main goal of the set extension. Below is two screen grabs of the Greyhound/Whippet/Lurcher and I have given him the nickname of 'The Duke' - he will be beautiful.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Mr Benson

This week has been dedicated to learning about all aspects of the film industry and I have had the pleasure of being guided through this by a very talented and incredibly warm and honest practitioner - Roy Benson.

Through the week I have been subjected to clips from some of the most famous films ever made to experimental films that only Roy knew about - which was fantastic. He had such a great and refreshing approach to teaching us and I took in so much information that at the end of each session I was exhausted!

Roy Benson told us that he always wanted to get into films and he got his first chance by knocking on doors in Soho and someone gave him that chance. He has worked with many great talents and he had some many stories about the Beatles because he had worked as an editor on the film.

A Hard Day's Night

Roy also worked as a Post Production Supervisor on Rambo 4, although I hadn't seen the film, Roy showed us some of the Rushes from a few scenes and then the completed edited version to show us how much film stock is wasted and how many shots must be covered to give the editor as much choice as possible. Also treated us to a version of the final battle - I was amazed with the technical aspect of the scene and even though the piece lasts for about 5 minutes it took weeks to finish.

Rambo 4

I am so pleased that Roy gave up his time to come and talk to us for the entire week and his stories will be something that I always remember from this and if you ever read this, all I can say is...

Thank you Mr Benson

Terry Gilliam

My first week at NFTS and I was treated to an amazing master class - Terry Gilliam. As soon as he walked into the room everybody went quiet and sat in awe for about an hour. Terry talked about lots of films and picked on a few of his favourites from 'Time Bandits to 12 monkeys'. He discussed his views and opinions on Special effects in films and how he as a director approaches the use of these as visuals.

Terry gave a incredibly honest story of Hollywood and how he likes to do things his way and the pressure that directors get from the money men and studios. The whole talk was a great experience even though I didn't manage to get any questions across I learned a lot from listening to him.