Monday, 31 January 2011

Transcription: Researching Music

Music plays an important role in my story, so I wanted to find some songs that could fit to the overall style and to the period of my story, the 1920's. Throughout the story, as seen on the previous post, the music changes of rhythm and melody. So what follows is a previous analyse of the 4 crucial music types in the story and my own choices for each one of them. Although not definitive, He could help me set the mood in the animation.


Music Type 1

"To describe their exact nature is impossible for one unversed in music. They were a kind of fugue, with recurrent passages of the most captivating quality, but to me were notable for the absence of any of the weird notes I had overheard from my room below on other occasions."
  • Calmer
  • Fugue
  • Captivating
For the first type of music, I found 2 possible contenders for this type of music. Not being a music expert I wont comment on the music itself, though I will give my opinion in which I found that the following songs could fit the animation.

The first contender would be Bela Bartok and his String Quartet N.6


I found that Bartok's song would work really well. Although it is quite irregular,  it is also slow, calm and captivating, something presented in Zahn's music the first time he plays publicly for the Young Man, in order to satisfy him. It would serve also to contrast with the later music, as he becomes to reveal his mystery.

Alongside that song, I found Niccolo Paganini's Caprice N.21, quite similar. Although irregular at some points, it is captivating and pleasant.


This version is played by violinist Itzhak Perlman.


Music Type 2

"Then one night as I listened at the door, I heard the shrieking viol swell into a chaotic babel of sound; a pandemonium which would have led me to doubt my own shaking sanity had there not come from behind that barred portal a piteous proof that the horror was real—the awful, inarticulate cry which only a mute can utter, and which rises only in moments of the most terrible fear or anguish."
  • Chaotic Babel of Sound
  • Pandemonium
  • Awful
  • Inarticulate cry
  • Rose moments of the most terrible fear and anguish

The second type of music in the animation, appears when the mystery begins to be revealed. The young man is outside the room secretly listening to Eric Zahn's playing, when suddenly inside the room goes crazy. In an attempt to save the old man, he bangs the door, but only after a while Zahn's answers the door, inviting the young man in he writes a note explaining what is happening.

Caprice N.2 By Nicollo Paganini.


I found this song almost perfect, as the sound that comes out of the violin resembles of a crying, which becomes irregular and inarticulate. 


Music Type 3

"It was more horrible than anything I had ever overheard, because I could now see the expression of his face, and could realize that this time the motive was stark fear. He was trying to make a noise; to ward something off or drown something out—what, I could not imagine, awesome though I felt it must be. The playing grew fantastic, dehnous, and hysterical, yet kept to the last the qualities of supreme genius which I knew this strange old man possessed. I recognized the air—it was a wild Hungarian dance popular in the theaters, and I reflected for a moment that this was the first time I had ever heard Zann play the work of another composer."
  • More horrible than ever before
  • Fearful 
  • the playing grew fantastic, dehnous, and hysterical.
  • A wild Hungarian Dance popular in the theatres
  • Song from another composer
For this song, I had an idea from the beginning, to stick with the text and find a Hungarian Dance, and use it. Eventually, I did find one by the composer Johannes Brahms, I was so determined to use this song in my animation by the end.  

The song is Hungarian Dance N.5 by Johannes Brahms 


This version is played by violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

Although the choice it was almost certain, later I felt that I would need a crazier and more irregular song. So I used my artistic license, and changed slightly the choices made by the original author to better fit my animation. The quick choice for the 3rd music type was constraining me to find another song, but luckily  after some research I was able to get a song, which better fits the situation where the 3rd type of music appears in the animation.

The song his String Quartet N. 4 by Bela Bartok


And maybe not the intention by the composer, this song strongly evokes a lot of movement, creepiness and it sounds almost insane.

I think this choice better fits the animation, as it allows fast editing, minimalism and distortion.


Music Type 4

"I looked at Zann, and saw that he was past conscious observation. His blue eyes were bulging, glassy and sightless, and the frantic playing had become a blind, mechanical, unrecognizable orgy that no pen could even suggest."
  • Supernatural
  • Horrific
  • Insane
  • unimaginable to compose
  • blind
For this last song, I though I could use the previous song and edit it with Paganini's Caprice 2 track, creating a crazy composition which lead the poor Eric Zahn to insanity.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Maya Tutorials: Car Modelling Finished

Before the official start of the next unit, transcription, tomorrow. I wanted to get the Maya Modelling Tutorials done with. So I have completed the tutorial left from last unit, the car modelling. this long tutorial, helped me a lot to understand, a more advanced type of modelling and taught me some new tools, which will help me with my following projects.

Overall, I'm pleased I have finished and now I can concentrate 200% on the next project.



Car Model Finished 






Details from Week*12





Transcription: Influential Artists

In order to aid my style, I felt the need to find some artists I could easily relate to it. Knowing the story was written in 1921, therefore maybe also lived around that time. I thought I could find the Art Movement predominant in that time and find some artists that I could easily relate to the movement and to my art direction of choice.
The German Expressionism, among others, was the movement that had its peak around that time, and therefore one of the better connected to the dark, horror, distorted world of the supernatural. It refers to a number of creative movements beginning in Germany before First Great War, and reached its in in Berlin 1920. These developments were part of a larger Expressionist movement in north and central European culture.
Being Eric Zahn of German descendant and the story maybe supposedly happening in France. I thought that this movement could perfectly fit the animation.
So I began to research in-depth some of the artists of this movement, not by their importance, but by the way their art could easily influence the style chosen for this animation.


Max Pechstein (1881-1955)




Max Pechstein was a German Painter and Printmaker, who joined the German Expressionist Group Die Brucke. Although he had really vivid and colourful paintings, what caught my attention is his work was his prints, where the dark, minimalist and distorted style was more visible. He had prints ranging from portraits to environments in which all of them shared the same quality. 

Here are some examples:


Sick Girl, 1919. From "H M Pechstein Holzschnitte 1919" portfolio


Village Street,1919. From the series Das Dorf (The Village)

I really like the graphical quality of them, something which printmaking can achieve perfectly.
Another artist having a similar style was Eric Heckel, a friend of Max Pechstein, and one of the founders of the German Artistic Group Die Brucke.


Eric Heckel (1883-1970)




Eric Heckel was a German Painter and Printmaker, and founder of the German artistic group Die Brucke. Although being a painter, all his life he dedicated more to printmaking, producing numerous works which later were classified as "degenerate" by the Nazi parties. To aggravate the situation during the World War II his studio was bombed and many of his early prints were destroyed, however he never stopped doing prints, moving away from where he lived he carried his career as a printmaker, though many the works produced of that time could not be compared to the early ones.

Here are some examples of his prints:


Sick Young Girl, 1913. woodcut print.




Zwei Manner am Tisch,1913. Woodcut print.




Beim Vorlesen,1914. Woodcut print.


After searching the artist movements, i took once again Phil suggestion and looked at the works of  Lee Brown Coye, an artist who did some illustrations for H.P. Lovecraft books. Phil directed me to look at his works because of the graphical and simplicity some have. Working in black and white, he creates astonishing pieces of work where the mark-making is clearly visible.


Lee Brown Coye (1907-1981)


An apparition, 1963. Brush and ink on scratchboard 




Railroad Trestle, 1941. Woodcut Print

I know I could be here forever naming artists that could easily influence me, however I found these ones maybe the msot influential, if I find any other artist I will update this list.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Transcription: Art Direction Decision

Today, I took the day to start officially on the research of this project. Firstly, I wanted to identify what Art style will guide me through my pre-production stage, and therefore be predominant in the final outcome.
So this and the following post will explain what style I want to achieve and what direction I want to go with the character design.

My research began with looking at 1982's short animation Vincent, by director Tim Burton, where he uses a really strong style influenced by the early German Expressionists, shots with high contrast lighting and vast shadows merging the objects in the room with them, also the minimalist sets with silhouetted objects, intensify the eeriness of the environments. A style that defines Tim Burton and his world.


Vincent, 1982, Tim Burton



After watching Burton's Short Animation, I took Phil's advice and watched the short animation The Tell-Tale Heart, 1953, directed by Ted Parmelee. This animation is a transcription from a short story of one of the most influential horror and suspense writers of all time, Edgar Allan Poe. The part of the credit of the animation has to be given to Paul Julian, who was responsible for the Art Department. As this animation uses one of the most graphical styles I have seen applied to an animation. Although a style of simple nature and aided by animation techniques such as morphing, help to drive the narrative. Minimalism is the keyof the animation, which makes our heart jump in certain situations, truly carrying the suspense of the short-story to the screen. Editing also plays an important role in it, with rapid transitions, keeping the audience drawn to the animation, with their heart almost coming out. 
A simple, effective, dark, minimalist approach to the original body of work. 


The Tell-Tale Heart, 1953, Ted Parmelee




After watching the previous animation, I did some more research and luckily found 2 Croatian short animations, which seemed to bear the same style, a dark, minimalist, and expressionist. Although lucky to find some stills of the animation, I could not find the actual animation. But by the looks of the stills it looked really promising. 


Tifusari, 1963, by Zagreb Films

Director & Scriptwriter- Vatroslav Mimica
Design and Backgrounds- Aleksandar Marks
Animation- Vladimir Jutrisa




I found this animations stills great because they clearly showed a strong dark style reminiscent from the German expressionists prints, such as of Max Pechstein. hopefully, I will be able to find this animation somehow, as I feel important to aid my art direction.
The second animation I found by the same studio is called Happy End, 1959, and once again unfortunately i wasn't ale to find of it. Although, the stills of this animation look less dark, the still bear the minimalism approach of the first, where the set is nothing more than it is really needed. however, i found this animation belonging less to the German expressionism style, but more connected to a dark symbolism or even surrealism.


Happy End, 1959, by Zagreb Films

Director & Scriptwriter- Vatroslav Mimica
Design- Aleksandar Marks
Backgrounds- Zlatko Bourek 
Animation- Vladimir Jutrisa




After looking at this 2 unfamiliar animations, I once again took Phil's advice and checked the trailer for Peur[s] Du Noir, or in English Fear[s] of the Dark. For what I found, it is a film consisting in 5 short animations by 5 of the most influential contemporary graphic artists. Although i wasn't able to get a full watching on the animation that Phil have mentioned me (the 5th one), I did find a short clip of it, and by only watching that small clip I have exactly understood why Phil, wanted me to watch it, the almost non existence set which blends with the character and vice-versa, is just brilliant and by no means affects the storytelling, on contrary it actually helps for a really easy reading of it.
The small clip showed me only what I needed for me to crave to watch it, suspense felt just by watching was great, though short as the clip finished. 


Peurs Du Noir, 2007, Richard McGuire




With no luck in finding a concrete animation with my last 2 searches. My luck changed as I remembered some of the animations showed to us last year. In the animation unit, we were shown some really dark animations, by Jiri Barta, Jan Svankmajer or Ladislaw Starewicz, however the dark meaning here is other and more related to the silhouetted animations by Lotte Reiniger.
Lotte Reiniger in her animations told most of the famous tales known nowadays in a rather peculiar way,  by using a cut-outs of the characters and a 2D detailed background, she mixed them to in order to tell the story.

Cinderella, 1954, Lotte Reiniger



Being my animation concentrated on the characters and less on the environments, i thought it could be a good technique to invert what Lotte Reiniger did, so in my case I would have 3D characters and silhouetted or dark looking props, both of them sharing the same Art direction.

in order to achieve something similar, I found a music video called The Pied Piper by Yoriyos, in this music video it is shown how CG can also have a 2D quality, and if built in layers can pretty much mimic a really good environment, I do think it could be quite effective to create my world revolving this idea, as it easily fits the style I want to go for.



And my research continues... :)

Links:
Tim Burton- Vincent
Ted Parmelee- The Tell-Tale Heart
Zagreb Films- Tifusari & Happy End Stills
Richard Mcguire- Peur[s] Du Noir
Lotte Reiniger- Cinderella

Transcription: The Music of Eric Zahn Narrative Order



Between packing up my whole house unnecessarily, as my moving was postponed for 2 weeks time, and a messy house full with boxes and packed things. I found some time to create a narrative order, just a type of text with the happenings in the story chronologically, So anytime I want to refer to the story I will have a quicker guide and wont need to read the original text. This is mainly to help me do my storyboards as well as the any alterations of script. 


Narrative Order - The Music of Eric Zahn

  1. The story begins with the young man/ narrator trying to find in the maps for the Rue D'Auseil, the place he stayed when studying his metaphysics degree at the University, then he tells what has happened to him there. 
  2. It follows an accurate description of the street.
  3. It is a description of the almost inhabited boarding house where the young man chose to live while that disturbing time. 
  4. With his room on the fifth floor, every night he could listen to an old German viol-player on the top floor, who was known as Eric Zahn.
  5. After many nights of listening Zahn's music, the young man decides to intercept the old man and ask him if he could listen him playing.
  6. Firstly Eric Zahn was sceptical about letting a stranger listen to him, however he invited the young man in, and he played the 1st type of music, a kind of fugue, with a captivating quality.
  7. When Zahn finished, the young man was not content as he knew that the song he heard many times at night in his room differed from that one, so to refresh the old man's memory, he tried to imitate the tune by whistling. the old man's face grew afraid and angry, and stopped the young man from whistling at once, and then he fixed his eyes on the window in this top floor room.
  8. The young man curiously moves towards the window in order to find out what laid ahead, however nervously Eric Zahn drags the young man away from the window, Zahn still holding to the young is  ordered to release. When Zahn calmed down from is temperamental mood, in a friendly manner forced the young man into a chair, and started to write a note to him. 
  9. In the note, he stated his mental state and that he enjoyed to have someone else to listen to his melodies, however it was songs that he could not share at any cost, so he asked the boy to move room, from the 5th floor to the 3rd floor, and all the extra expenses would be paid by him.
  10. The young man moved rooms, and found that the eagerness that he thought Zahn had of his company was not that great, Zahn didn't call the young man to have his company, and during the day he was not at home and at night, he would lock himself in his room playing those horrific melodies.
  11. Secretly the young man would climb up the stairs and just outside Zahn's room stay to listen those melodies.
  12. One night, while Zahn was playing as usual, the young man climbed up again, this time though the music played was crazy, wild and loud, and with the time it grew crazier, the young man worried about Zahn knocked on the door endlessly. When Zahn heard, he went to mysteriously to close the window, and finally admitted the young man.
  13. Shaking pathetically, Zahn forced the man into the chair and started to write a note explaining what exactly happened to him and why he was so troubled.
  14. When he almost finished to write the note always sceptical about the window. An exquisite low and distant note was played. Angry and fearful Zahn started to play the most incredible of the songs, the tune grew wilder, louder, mad. And then purposely he heard a mocking response from the distance.
  15. At that response, the playing grew insane, Zahn's eyes were bulging, and he had become blind, mechanical and unrecognisable.
  16. With all that supernatural power and the wind outside the window broke and the manuscripts and notes by Zahn flew away. The young man tried to rescue the paper but hopelessly, however when he realised what was his sight, the view from the mysterious window. 
  17. Although all that mystery, the landscape it was not what he expected, when he thought it would be lights, roads and live on the other side, all he could see was a black void, with illimitable space, an unimagined space alive with motion.
  18. He rapidly moved away from the window, and facing Zahn, tried to bring the old man to his senses. but it was too late the old viol-player was unconscious, and his appearance changed radically into this insane and demoniac being. 
  19. Luckily, the young man finds his way out from that damned room, and blindly escapes from the Rue D'Auseil, to never return. 
  20. Now that he wants to search for the place, where he lived one of the most insane, horrific and supernatural episodes of his life, he is not able, therefore never explain the music of Eric Zahn.


This guide is a short version of the actual story which is much more detailed. This version almost works as a script for the animation, however many changes will occur to better fit the cinematic world.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Transcription: The Music of Eric Zahn Findings

After analysing the body of work, and finding the excerpts describing the different elements of the text. I decided to create a list to better guide me through my research.


Characters

Young Man/ Narrator: 

  • Student of Metaphysics at the University 
  • Friendly

I have found not much was said about the appearance of the narrator, however to better fit the story I will related his appearance to the time the story is set in the 1920's. 


Eric Zahn: 

'An old German viol- player, a strange old man [...] who played evenings in a cheap theater orchestra' 

First Appearance:
  • Small, lean, bent person, with shabby clothes, blue eyes,wrinkled grotesque satyr-like face, nearly bald head and mute with long bony hands

Final Appearance: 

  • Still , Ice-Cold, Stiffened, Unbreathing Face whose glassy bulged uselessly into the void.

Psyche: 
  • Old, Lonely, Nervous, Afraid, Temperamental, a Genius, Mysterious.

Alongside this accurate description of the character I will create 2 profile sheets, where I may add some other character details.


Environments

For the environments, though I will use a minimalist yet theatrical approach to them, I felt the need to understand the world where the story is set, because it is one of its main influences. For the descriptions of the environments, I used the original description, with extra details and an accurate vision of the place. One of the reasons I love to read HP Lovecraft.


Rue D'Auseil:

"The Rue d’Auseil lay across a dark river bordered by precipitous brick blear-windowed warehouses and spanned by a ponderous bridge of dark stone. It was always shadowy along that river, as if the smoke of neighbouring factories shut out the sun perpetually. The river was also odorous with evil stenches which I have never smelled elsewhere, and which may some day help me to find it, since I should recognize them at once. Beyond the bridge were narrow cobbled streets with rails; and then came the ascent, at first gradual, but incredibly steep as the Rue d’Auseil was reached.

I have never seen another street as narrow and steep as the Rue d’Auseil. It was almost a cliff, closed to all vehicles, consisting in several places of flights of steps, and ending at the top in a lofty ivied wall. Its paving was irregular, sometimes stone slabs, sometimes cobblestones, and sometimes bare earth with struggling greenish-grey vegetation. The houses were tall, peaked-roofed, incredibly old, and crazily leaning backward, forward, and sidewise. Occasionally an opposite pair, both leaning forward, almost met across the street like an arch; and certainly they kept most of the light from the ground below. There were a few overhead bridges from house to house across the street."



Boarding House: Exterior:

"[It was the]third house from the top of the street, and by far the tallest of them all. [And the] room was on the fifth story; the only inhabited room there, since the house was almost empty."


Eric Zahn's Room:

"His room, one of only two in the steeply pitched garret, was on the west side, toward the high wall that formed the upper end of the street. Its size was very great, and seemed the greater because of its extraordinary barrenness and neglect. Of furniture there was only a narrow iron bedstead, a dingy wash-stand, a small table, a large bookcase, an iron music-rack, and three old-fashioned chairs. Sheets of music were piled in disorder about the floor. The walls were of bare boards, and had probably never known plaster; whilst the abundance of dust and cobwebs made the place seem more deserted than inhabited." 


Landscape seen from Eric Zahn's Room Window:

"It was very dark, but the city’s lights always burned, and I expected to see them there amidst the rain and wind. Yet when I looked from that highest of all gable windows, looked while the candles sputtered and the insane viol howled with the night-wind, I saw no city spread below, and no friendly lights gleamed from remembered streets, but only the blackness of space illimitable; unimagined space alive with motion and music, and having no semblance of anything on earth."


Music

The music in this story plays a important part so I found crucial to understand the type played, and the variations felt throughout the story. Overall I could identify 4 variations of music, at least the ones which play a important part in the narrative. Meanwhile, I have been looking for artists, such as
Niccolo Paganini, that could be featured in this animation. But I will leave that for another post.


Music Type 1: 

"To describe their exact nature is impossible for one unversed in music. They were a kind of fugue, with recurrent passages of the most captivating quality, but to me were notable for the absence of any of the weird notes I had overheard from my room below on other occasions."
  • Calmer
  • Fugue
  • Captivating

Music Type 2:

"Then one night as I listened at the door, I heard the shrieking viol swell into a chaotic babel of sound; a pandemonium which would have led me to doubt my own shaking sanity had there not come from behind that barred portal a piteous proof that the horror was real—the awful, inarticulate cry which only a mute can utter, and which rises only in moments of the most terrible fear or anguish."
  • Chaotic Babel of Sound
  • Pandemonium
  • Awful
  • Inarticulate cry
  • Rose moments of the most terrible fear and anguish

Music Type 3: 

"It was more horrible than anything I had ever overheard, because I could now see the expression of his face, and could realize that this time the motive was stark fear. He was trying to make a noise; to ward something off or drown something out—what, I could not imagine, awesome though I felt it must be. The playing grew fantastic, dehnous, and hysterical, yet kept to the last the qualities of supreme genius which I knew this strange old man possessed. I recognized the air—it was a wild Hungarian dance popular in the theaters, and I reflected for a moment that this was the first time I had ever heard Zann play the work of another composer."
  • More horrible than ever before
  • Fearful 
  • the playing grew fantastic, dehnous, and hysterical.
  • A wild Hungarian Dance popular in the theatres
  • Song from another composer

Music Type 4:

"I looked at Zann, and saw that he was past conscious observation. His blue eyes were bulging, glassy and sightless, and the frantic playing had become a blind, mechanical, unrecognizable orgy that no pen could even suggest."
  • Supernatural
  • Horrific
  • Insane
  • unimaginable to compose
  • blind

On the next post I will go through the narrative order, so it will help me when doing the storyboards and the script.

Transcription: Final Idea- The Music of Eric Zahn by HP Lovecraft

After thinking what story idea to go for I decided to choose the The Music of Eric Zahn by HP Lovecraft, because its artistic way of telling it, a dark, moody, supernatural  and horrific story mainly focused on two characters. After I made the choice, I wanted to read the story again, analyse it carefully, and identify any excerpts to do with the design of the characters, environments or even description of the music played. this will help me to set on my researching quest, any script alterations and draw the storyboards.

What follows is the whole story analysed and divided, to easily help me to create the aesthetic world of the story, either in character design or concept art.

Characters:

Young Man (Narrator)-     

Eric Zahn-     

Blandot (Extra) -     

Environments-     


Music-      


Response Note-     





The Music of Erich Zann 




I have examined maps of the city with the greatest care, yet have never again found the Rue d’Auseil. These maps have not been modern maps alone, for I know that names change. I have, on the contrary, delved deeply into all the antiquities of the place, and have personally explored every region, of whatever name, which could possibly answer to the street I knew as the Rue d’Auseil. But despite all I have done, it remains an humiliating fact that I cannot find the house, the street, or even the locality, where, during the last months of my impoverished life as a student of metaphysics at the university, I heard the music of Erich Zann.


That my memory is broken, I do not wonder; for my health, physical and mental, was gravely disturbed throughout the period of my residence in the Rue d’Auseil, and I recall that I took none of my few acquaintances there. But that I cannot find the place again is both singular and perplexing; for it was within a half-hour’s walk of the university and was distinguished by peculiarities which could hardly be forgotten by any one who had been there. I have never met a person who has seen the Rue d’Auseil.


The Rue d’Auseil lay across a dark river bordered by precipitous brick blear-windowed warehouses and spanned by a ponderous bridge of dark stone. It was always shadowy along that river, as if the smoke of neighbouring factories shut out the sun perpetually. The river was also odorous with evil stenches which I have never smelled elsewhere, and which may some day help me to find it, since I should recognize them at once. Beyond the bridge were narrow cobbled streets with rails; and then came the ascent, at first gradual, but incredibly steep as the Rue d’Auseil was reached.


I have never seen another street as narrow and steep as the Rue d’Auseil. It was almost a cliff, closed to all vehicles, consisting in several places of ffights of steps, and ending at the top in a lofty ivied wall. Its paving was irregular, sometimes stone slabs, sometimes cobblestones, and sometimes bare earth with struggling greenish-grey vegetation. The houses were tall, peaked-roofed, incredibly old, and crazily leaning backward, forward, and sidewise. Occasionally an opposite pair, both leaning forward, almost met across the street like an arch; and certainly they kept most of the light from the ground below. There were a few overhead bridges from house to house across the street.


The inhabitants of that street impressed me peculiarly; At first I thought it was because they were all silent and reticent; but later decided it was because they were all very old. I do not know how I came to live on such a street, but I was not myself when I moved there. I had been living in many poor places, always evicted for want of money; until at last I came upon that tottering house in the Rue d’Auseil kept by the paralytic Blandot. It was the third house from the top of the street, and by far the tallest of them all.


My room was on the fifth story; the only inhabited room there, since the house was almost empty. On the night I arrived I heard strange music from the peaked garret overhead, and the next day asked old Blandot about it. He told me it was an old German viol-player, a strange dumb man who signed his name as Erich Zann, and who played evenings in a cheap theater orchestra; adding that Zann’s desire to play in the night after his return from the theater was the reason he had chosen this lofty and isolated garret room, whose single gable window was the only point on the street from which one could look over the terminating wall at the declivity and panorama beyond.


Thereafter I heard Zann every night, and although he kept me awake, I was haunted by the weirdness of his music. Knowing little of the art myself, I was yet certain that none of his harmonies had any relation to music I had heard before; and concluded that he was a composer of highly original genius. The longer I listened, the more I was fascinated, until after a week I resolved to make the old man’s acquaintance.


One night as he was returning from his work, I intercepted Zann in the hallway and told him that I would like to know him and be with him when he played. He was a small, lean, bent person, with shabby clothes, blue eyes, grotesque, satyrlike face, and nearly bald head; and at my first words seemed both angered and frightened. My obvious friendliness, however, finally melted him; and he grudgingly motioned to me to follow him up the dark, creaking and rickety attic stairs. His room, one of only two in the steeply pitched garret, was on the west side, toward the high wall that formed the upper end of the street. Its size was very great, and seemed the greater because of its extraordinary barrenness and neglect. Of furniture there was only a narrow iron bedstead, a dingy wash-stand, a small table, a large bookcase, an iron music-rack, and three old-fashioned chairs. Sheets of music were piled in disorder about the floor. The walls were of bare boards, and had probably never known plaster; whilst the abundance of dust and cobwebs made the place seem more deserted than inhabited. Evidently Erich Zann’s world of beauty lay in some far cosmos of the imagination.


Motioning me to sit down, the dumb man closed the door, turned the large wooden bolt, and lighted a candle to augment the one he had brought with him. He now removed his viol from its motheaten covering, and taking it, seated himself in the least uncomfortable of the chairs. He did not employ the music-rack, but, offering no choice and playing from memory, enchanted me for over an hour with strains I had never heard before; strains which must have been of his own devising. To describe their exact nature is impossible for one unversed in music. They were a kind of fugue, with recurrent passages of the most captivating quality, but to me were notable for the absence of any of the weird notes I had overheard from my room below on other occasions. (Music type 1)


Those haunting notes I had remembered, and had often hummed and whistled inaccurately to myself, so when the player at length laid down his bow I asked him if he would render some of them. As I began my request the wrinkled satyrlike face lost the bored placidity it had possessed during the playing, and seemed to show the same curious mixture of anger and fright which I had noticed when first I accosted the old man. For a moment I was inclined to use persuasion, regarding rather lightly the whims of senility; and even tried to awaken my host’s weirder mood by whistling a few of the strains to which I had listened the night before. But I did not pursue this course for more than a moment; for when the dumb musician recognized the whistled air his face grew suddenly distorted with an expression wholly beyond analysis, and his long, cold, bony right hand reached out to stop my mouth and silence the crude imitation. As he did this he further demonstrated his eccentricity by casting a startled glance toward the lone curtained window, as if fearful of some intruder—a glance doubly absurd, since the garret stood high and inaccessible above all the adjacent roofs, this window being the only point on the steep street, as the concierge had told me, from which one could see over the wall at the summit.
 
The old man’s glance brought Blandot’s remark to my mind, and with a certain capriciousness I felt a wish to look out over the wide and dizzying panorama of moonlit roofs and city lights beyond the hilltop, which of all the dwellers in the Rue d’Auseil only this crabbed musician could see. I moved toward the window and would have drawn aside the nondescript curtains, when with a frightened rage even greater than before, the dumb lodger was upon me again; this time motioning with his head toward the door as he nervously strove to drag me thither with both hands. Now thoroughly disgusted with my host, I ordered him to release me, and told him I would go at once. His clutch relaxed, and as he saw my disgust and offense, his own anger seemed to subside. He tightened his relaxing grip, but this time in a friendly manner, forcing me into a chair; then with an appearance of wistfulness crossing to the littered table, where he wrote many words with a pencil, in the labored French of a foreigner.
 
The note which he finally handed me was an appeal for tolerance and forgiveness. Zann said that he was old, lonely, and afflicted with strange fears and nervous disorders connected with his music and with other things. He had enjoyed my listening to his music, and wished I would come again and not mind his eccentricities. But he could not play to another his weird harmonies, and could not bear hearing them from another; nor could he bear having anything in his room touched by an-other. He had not known until our hallway conversation that I could overhear his playing in my room, and now asked me if I would arrange with Blandot to take a lower room where I could not hear him in the night. He would, he wrote, defray the difference in rent.


As I sat deciphering the execrable French, I felt more lenient toward the old man. He was a victim of physical and nervous suffering, as was I; and my metaphysical studies had taught me kindness. In the silence there came a slight sound from the window—the shutter must have rattled in the night wind, and for some reason I started almost as violently as did Erich Zann. So when I had finished reading, I shook my host by the hand, and departed as a friend.


The next day Blandot gave me a more expensive room on the third floor, between the apartments of an aged money-lender and the room of a respectable upholsterer. There was no one on the fourth floor.
It was not long before I found that Zann’s eagerness for my company was not as great as it had seemed while he was persuading me to move down from the fifth story. He did not ask me to call on him, and when I did call he appeared uneasy and played listlessly. This was always at night—in the day he slept and would admit no one. My liking for him did not grow, though the attic room and the weird music seemed to hold an odd fascination for me. I had a curious desire to look out of that window, over the wall and down the unseen slope at the glittering roofs and spires which must lie outspread there. Once I went up to the garret during theater hours, when Zann was away, but the door was locked.


What I did succeed in doing was to overhear the nocturnal playing of the dumb old man. At first I would tip-toe up to my old fifth floor, then I grew bold enough to climb the last creaking staircase to the peaked garret. There in the narrow hall, outside the bolted door with the covered keyhole, I often heard sounds which filled me with an indefinable dread—the dread of vague wonder and brooding mystery. It was not that the sounds were hideous, for they were not; but that they held vibrations suggesting nothing on this globe of earth, and that at certain intervals they assumed a symphonic quality which I could hardly conceive as produced by one player. Certainly, Erich Zann was a genius of wild power. As the weeks passed, the playing grew wilder, whilst the old musician acquired an increasing haggardness and furtiveness pitiful to behold. He now refused to admit me at any time, and shunned me whenever we met on the stairs.


Then one night as I listened at the door, I heard the shrieking viol swell into a chaotic babel of sound; a pandemonium which would have led me to doubt my own shaking sanity had there not come from behind that barred portal a piteous proof that the horror was real—the awful, inarticulate cry which only a mute can utter, and which rises only in moments of the most terrible fear or anguish. I knocked repeatedly at the door, but received no response. Afterward I waited in the black hallway, shivering with cold and fear, till I heard the poor musician’s feeble effort to rise from the floor by the aid of a chair. Believing him just conscious after a fainting fit, I renewed my rapping, at the same time calling out my name reassuringly. I heard Zann stumble to the window and close both shutter and sash, then stumble to the door, which he falteringly unfastened to admit me. This time his delight at having me present was real; for his distorted face gleamed with relief while he clutched at my coat as a child clutches at its mother’s skirts. (Music Type 2) 


Shaking pathetically, the old man forced me into a chair whilst he sank into another, beside which his viol and bow lay carelessly on the floor. He sat for some time inactive, nodding oddly, but having a paradoxical suggestion of intense and frightened listening. Subsequently he seemed to be satisfied, and crossing to a chair by the table wrote a brief note, handed it to me, and returned to the table, where he began to write rapidly and incessantly. The note implored me in the name of mercy, and for the sake of my own curiosity, to wait where I was while he prepared a full account in German of all the marvels and terrors which beset him. I waited, and the dumb man’s pencil flew.


It was perhaps an hour later, while I still waited and while the old musician’s feverishly written sheets still continued to pile up, that I saw Zann start as from the hint of a horrible shock. Unmistakably he was looking at the curtained window and listening shudderingly. Then I half fancied I heard a sound myself; though it was not a horrible sound, but rather an exquisitely low and infinitely distant musical note, suggesting a player in one of the neighboring houses, or in some abode beyond the lofty wall over which I had never been able to look. Upon Zann the effect was terrible, for, dropping his pencil, suddenly he rose, seized his viol, and commenced to rend the night with the wildest playing I had ever heard from his bow save when listening at the barred door.


It would be useless to describe the playing of Erich Zann on that dreadful night. It was more horrible than anything I had ever overheard, because I could now see the expression of his face, and could realize that this time the motive was stark fear. He was trying to make a noise; to ward something off or drown something out—what, I could not imagine, awesome though I felt it must be. The playing grew fantastic, dehnous, and hysterical, yet kept to the last the qualities of supreme genius which I knew this strange old man possessed. I recognized the air—it was a wild Hungarian dance popular in the theaters, and I reflected for a moment that this was the first time I had ever heard Zann play the work of another composer. ( Music Type 3) 


Louder and louder, wilder and wilder, mounted the shrieking and whining of that desperate viol. The player was dripping with an uncanny perspiration and twisted like a monkey, always looking frantically at the curtained window. In his frenzied strains I could almost see shadowy satyrs and bacchanals dancing and whirling insanely through seething abysses of clouds and smoke and lightning. And then I thought I heard a shriller, steadier note that was not from the viol; a calm, deliberate, purposeful, mocking note from far away in the West. 


At this juncture the shutter began to rattle in a howling night wind which had sprung up outside as if in answer to the mad playing within. Zann’s screaming viol now outdid itself emitting sounds I had never thought a viol could emit. The shutter rattled more loudly, unfastened, and commenced slamming against the window. Then the glass broke shiveringly under the persistent impacts, and the chill wind rushed in, making the candles sputter and rustling the sheets of paper on the table where Zann had begun to write out his horrible secret. I looked at Zann, and saw that he was past conscious observation. His blue eyes were bulging, glassy and sightless, and the frantic playing had become a blind, mechanical, unrecognizable orgy that no pen could even suggest. (Music type 4)


A sudden gust, stronger than the others, caught up the manuscript and bore it toward the window. I followed the flying sheets in desperation, but they were gone before I reached the demolished panes. Then I remembered my old wish to gaze from this window, the only window in the Rue d’Auseil from which one might see the slope beyond the wall, and the city outspread beneath. It was very dark, but the city’s lights always burned, and I expected to see them there amidst the rain and wind. Yet when I looked from that highest of all gable windows, looked while the candles sputtered and the insane viol howled with the night-wind, I saw no city spread below, and no friendly lights gleamed from remembered streets, but only the blackness of space illimitable; unimagined space alive with motion and music, and having no semblance of anything on earth. And as I stood there looking in terror, the wind blew out both the candles in that ancient peaked garret, leaving me in savage and impenetrable darkness with chaos and pandemonium before me, and the demon madness of that night-baying viol behind me.


I staggered back in the dark, without the means of striking a light, crashing against the table, overturning a chair, and finally groping my way to the place where the blackness screamed with shocking music. To save myself and Erich Zann I could at least try, whatever the powers opposed to me. Once I thought some chill thing brushed me, and I screamed, but my scream could not be heard above that hideous viol. Suddenly out of the blackness the madly sawing bow struck me, and I knew I was close to the player. I felt ahead, touched the back of Zann’s chair, and then found and shook his shoulder in an effort to bring him to his senses.


He did not respond, and still the viol shrieked on without slackening. I moved my hand to his head, whose mechanical nodding I was able to stop, and shouted in his ear that we must both flee from the unknown things of the night. But he neither answered me nor abated the frenzy of his unutterable music, while all through the garret strange currents of wind seemed to dance in the darkness and babel. When my hand touched his ear I shuddered, though I knew not why—knew not why till I felt the still face; the ice-cold, stiffened, unbreathing face whose glassy eyes bulged uselessly into the void. And then, by some miracle, finding the door and the large wooden bolt, I plunged wildly away from that glassy-eyed thing in the dark, and from the ghoulish howling of that accursed viol whose fury increased even as I plunged. (Eric Zahn Final appearance)


Leaping, floating, flying down those endless stairs through the dark house; racing mindlessly out into the narrow, steep, and ancient street of steps and tottering houses; clattering down steps and over cobbles to the lower streets and the putrid canyon-walled river; panting across the great dark bridge to the broader, healthier streets and boulevards we know; all these are terrible impressions that linger with me. And I recall that there was no wind, and that the moon was out, and that all the lights of the city twinkled.


Despite my most careful searches and investigations, I have never since been able to find the Rue d’Auseil. But I am not wholly sorry; either for this or for the loss in undreamable abysses of the closely-written sheets which alone could have explained the music of Erich Zann.


By H.P. Lovecraft



Later, I will also post the art direction style I want to achieve in the animation, which will surely influence the designs in the original story. though the next post will be a conclusive list of my findings on the text, ready to start my research, and story-boarding.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Transcription: Timetable for the Following 10 Weeks

I know that the next 10 weeks of this project will be hectic, and to make my life easier I decided to organise them. I created a timetable which although it may look slightly optimistic at first, i will try as best as I can to follow, so it will facilitate my life in this project.

Knowing that organisation and hard-work are key to succeed in this project as well this course. here it is the timetable:


From Reading Week to Week 10













I have to say that this timetable is hanging in my studio so i can refresh my eyes ever so often :)

Transcription: Project Pipeline

Before I start this project, I wanted to create a pipeline to better guide in this 10 weeks, So I have exact idea of the steps I have to overcome to get this project done in time. Alongside the pipeline, I have also created a time table which will tell me when each processes from pre-production right through post- production is due,  this will allow me to better manage my time hopefully.

So based on my chosen idea, 'The Music of Eric Zahn' by HP Lovecraft I aim to create a 2-3 minutes animation transcribing the story. With some help I began to understand what stages I have to go through and how long I will allow myself to do them.

Project Pipeline: 

Submission


  • Transcription Animation 2-3 minutes 
  • Making Of
  • Technical Paper
  • Demo Reel Shot
  • Blog up-to-date and exported to PDF
  • Personal Brand, Personal Logo, Business Card
  • DVD Disk and Cover Template


Pre-Production

  • Brainstorm Ideas and Chose Final One 
  • Research and Influence Maps
  • Script Writing 
  • Storyboards
  • Concept Art and Character Design
  • Animatic w/ Sound
  • Pre-viz*


Production

  • Modelling Characters and Environments 
  • UV Layout and Texturing 
  • Rigging and Facial Rigging 
  • Skinning
  • Animating 
  • Lighting 
  • Maya Effects*
  • Rendering


Post-Production

  • After Effects: Compositing and Special Effects
  • Final Sound Design
  • Editing


Extras:
  • Demo Reel Shot
  • Making Of
  •  Blog PDF 
  • DVD Template

* If needed.


As you can see a long list, so it is better if I get back to work as soon as possible.

(Following post will have the timetable I made to guide through this 10 weeks.)

Transcription: Ideas for the Project



As I said on the previous post, for some time I have been looking for some body of works which would be interesting to transcript into a sophisticated project. Also knowing what are in CG and Animation I want to proceed (Character Artist and Animator), i will focus the rest of the projects on these areas. So the best choice for me would be to create an animated short, based around 1 or 2 characters, with slight exploration of the environments.

I decided to research some stories, firstly I acquired a Central and Eastern European folk tales book, with this choice I tried to find something dark and moody, some simple tale which will have a meaning in the end despite how dark it may appear at first.

The book Czech Folk Tales by Dr. Josef Baudis had extraordinary tales such the Twelve Months, however due to time, it wont be possible to create the animation as it would imply to create around 15 characters, a sensible decision after all.
Another folk tale to transcript would be Knight Bambus, a simple tale about fantasy and money, where a lesson is learned in the end.
From reading folk tales I have moved into searching for worldwide myths, being interested in Mythology and Legends.
By reading the Encyclopedia of World Mythology by Arthur Cotherell, I found really great myths which would be great transcript to an animation.
The Snow Maiden, a central and eastern european myth, which tells the impossible love story between the princess of winter and a human ending in a tragic yet beautiful way.




Moving to other lands and cultures I came across another myth, this time a Native American myth about storytelling and respect. The title is the Storytelling Stone, and tells the story of an orphan who was asked by his aunt to go hunting. So he set off early next morning and shot three birds. At midday the arrows he was carrying got their feathers loose so he sat down upon- a flat topped stone to mend it. Suddenly he hears " Shall I tell you a story?" , the boy not knowing where it came from started to get afraid. The question was asked again "Shall I tell you a story?", he then realized that the voice was coming from the stone where he was sat, so he replied "what are stories?".
The stone explained that "Stories are what happened in a long-ago time. My stories are like stars that never fade". Then, the stone started to tell one story after another until sundown. when the stone said to the boy that they would rest for now and to comeback the day after with all the camp so the stone will tell more stories, he also suggest the boy to tell the people to bring each a gift.
That evening the boy told the whole camp and the morning after the people followed him into the forest. each person brought a present for the stone, so the stone commenced its storytelling session, so the stone told stories, share knowledge and wisdom. When it finished by sundown, the stone said to the people:
"My stories are all told. Keep them and tell them to your children and your children's children, and so on down the ages. And when you ask someone for a story always offer a gift". And so it is according to this myth all the stories we know come from the stone and from the stones came all the wisdom we have.
The meaning of this myth lays on the respect for anything the world has to offer, in native American tribes stones are known to be the bones of the planet, therefore need to be respected. I found that this idea could work, as it mentions basically the importance of everything in the world as well respect of one another and the importance of storytelling, a vehicle to share wisdom.




From this I moved into far darker realms, last Christmas I have received Necronomicon the Best Weird Tales by HP Lovecraft, and I have been drawn to it since. Firstly I recommend it to any horror aficionado as HP Lovecraft is a genius in his own way, many stories would rather create brilliant yet horrific environments. However as I'm leaning towards a more character based animation, I found two particular stories which are simple yet beautifully told. First, and I have to say my main idea for this project is The Music of Eric Zahn, while reading this story I could imagine the environment in which is set and the 2 characters which feature the animation a young man and a crazy violinist. It deals mainly with the supernatural like many HP Lovecraft stories, but I found the most appealing in an artistic way. This story would give me a possibility to create 2 distinct characters and also animated them accordingly.

The second story is The Statement of Randolph Carter, this story one of the first I read in the book, it is just stroke me dead the first time I read, the ambiguity and the non explicitly description of the places, the story is told by the narrator which tells what happened to his friend, however by the end purposely they are omissions of the place where the narrators friend ventured alone leaving HP Lovecraft to deliver a killing blow with the last sentence in the story. I do believe at that time I could feel shivers all around my body. Once again, a simple story with not many characters implied where my focus would lay on filmic staging, character design and animation.


List of the Ideas for Transcription Project: 

  • Knight Bambus ( Czech Folk Tale) 
  • Snow maiden ( Slavic Myth) 
  • The Storytelling Stone (Native American Myth) 
  • The Music of Eric Zahn ( HP Lovecraft ) 
  • The Statement of Randolph Carter (HP Lovecraft) 


As you may see I have tried to step out in different directions with my ideas, not sticking with only one genre, however I'm more inclined to the HP Lovecraft Stories are the most inspiring ones, especially The Music of Eric Zahn, giving the possibility to create a good animation.

I guess now it is just a matter of choice, to find the one which inspires me the most or would create a good animation.  On the following posts, my choice will be made and research will take place. 

So keep tuned!! 


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Maya Tutorials: Car Modeling Week 11*

So here is another week from the car modelling, this week only some more minor details were added, details such as the side mirrors, the door handles and the antenna. So far everything is going all right, and I have to say that what I have learnt in terms of modelling has been immense.

Now only 2 more weeks left, where the rest of details will be added to the car.

3/4 


Side- Details

Transcription: Briefing



One project ended and another already began, with an official start next week, I  have already received the briefing whilst still in the narrative project.
The transcription project, as the name indicates, consists in a transcription of a body of investigation and knowledge previously published into a project that shows the aesthetics of the world demonstrated in the published work. It is asked to find an appropriate work which inspire us and that can be adapted to anything course related.
 For this purpose,  all we have learned so far in the course, from skills to knowledge and needs to be applied in order to create a sophisticated piece of animation.

Although we have to base our animation into something concrete from other artist, we are able to choose which root to go, a list of transcription methods was shown in the brief.


  • Digital Sets for Film 
  • Digital Sets for Game
  • Digital Sets for Education or Documentary
  • Character Design for Film
  • Character Design For Games 
  • Animation (Animated Short)
  • Visual Effects 
  • Medical Visualisation
  • Etc...  


Having given us a list of ways to take our transcription, we are also asked to create our own pipeline of work, from pre-production through production into the post- production, until we reach the final piece.

It is important to note that each different transcription method will ask for a different pipeline.

Since the briefing a few weeks back, I have been thinking of possible body of works which would create an enjoyable project for myself, as well as inspiring.

And so it begins another project, that iI'm ready to tackle!

Until next time...

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Inspirational Music *1: World Music

Last Year, I remember posting some music, which influences me or what really is in my playlist at the moment. So I intend to continue those posts,where some of my tunes in my playlist will feature, mainly my objective is to share some of the music I like or inspires me but also to sometimes divide the blog into a more leisure place and not exclusively work related. 
My aim is to use the blog, as a mirror of my own mind a personal yet work related professionally organised space, but also fun.

So explanations aside, here is the actual content of the post. 

Being a huge fan of World music, I recently found an album which fulfils my taste for music, the name of the Album is Calling All Downs by Christopher Tin, it consists in a  mix of different songs from different countries and dialects, which beautifully are mastered together into a single album. According to Christopher Tin's website, the whole concept of the album is to understand that all cultures, countries and religions complete each other in this planet, therefore the cyclical nature of the universe. With tracks ranging from French and Portuguese, to Gaelic, Maori and Swahili, among others, the album is divided by 3 stages: Day, Night and Dawn, where a loop in the album is created, as the last song finishes with the same note that the first begins, emphasising the whole cyclical concept. 
According to Tin's website, the album 'carries a strong message of unity: that regardless of race, culture and religious belief, we are all connected through our common human experience.'. 

Some people may identify one of the songs in the album as it is also the main theme for the Civilization 4 Strategy, turn-based game. since 2005. However, it gather a lot of fans worldwide, only now it is nominated for a Golden Globe. 

I have to say for a long time I was waiting for a album like this, where you can experience music from different parts of the world.

here is one of the tracks:


Christopher Tin- Baba Yetu ( Sawhili language)

Inka Bola, 2009, Gobelins l'Ecole de l'Image Graduated Students 2009




While browsing the internet the other day I found this short animation from the famous Gobelins College in France, although a big fun of their students animation, watching most of them until now for some inspiration, I was completely unfamiliar to this one. It belongs to the 2009 Gobelins L'Ecole de l'Image students work, and it was produced by a group of students for they final year. 

Inka Bola is a short animation directed and produced by Mélody Cisinski, Jacques Jarczyk, Vincent Garcia, Floriane Marchix, Gwénolé Oul' Chen, Patrick Pujalte, a group of students already graduated from the famous college of image and animation. This short animation features a lazy Aztec guard and a cheeky little prince, who begins by throwing fruits at the guard. when he had enough the guard takes away the fruit, however a buzzard kidnaps the little one. And there it begins a funny and painful pursuit to get the baby back. Ending in a dark humorous funny way.  

What really caught my attention in this animation, was the art direction with really effective characters completed with associated olours but also the animation, where the principles of animation are applied perfectly, where it is visible a lot of squash and stretch, staging and timing, but also the way it is edited. 

A simple storytelling where the animation speaks for itself. 

Enjoy!