Do you remember the movie ‘Her’ when Joaquin Phoenix played a holographic motion-sensor operated video game with an adorably foul-mouthed snowball / alien child character? It was certainly one of the highlights in the film so I have embedded a recap of the scene (warning, explicit language — but cute).
Well, the visual artist David OReilly — who created the concept and animation for the game in the film — is releasing his first indie game called ‘Mountain’.
It is a mountain simulator built on the Unity engine. What. The. Heck. — you ask? It is actually a quite clever concept. The game starts off with a couple of intimate questions trying to dig into your psyche. Answering the questions you are eventually drawing up a mountain that is a reflection of you at that moment. Then the mountain will come to life, running in the background on your computer. Changing, evolving. You’ll see the change of weather, things grow and die as time moves ahead. You’ll witness nature expressing itself, yourself. There are no control functions in this game, but there is a rich soundscape, weather simulation and 50 hours of ‘gameplay’ that ‘has an ending’.
Intrigued? I am!! Fortunately don’t have to wait too long as ‘Mountain’ will be released on the 21st of June for around $1. It’ll run on PC, Mac and iOS.
Images / video: Annapurna Pictures, http://www.davidoreilly.com/
This darkly poignant but beautiful short film is by Natasha Belle, who recently completed a Graduate Diploma of Creative Technologies at Media Design School. The animation tells a tragic tale of a young bear, captured by poachers as a cub and forever-fated to perform in a circus. There has been a lot of media around orcas held in captivity lately, with SeaWorld getting an increasingly bad rep after the brilliant documentary Blackfish was released in 2013. Free is yet another example, albeit fictional in this particular case, of the cruelty of keeping wild animals in captivity for entertainment. The simple but effective story tracks the experience of a bear who is being treated meanly in a circus, as he recalls the pleasant memories of being out in the wild with his mother, and the moment he was captured. Finally, he has enough, attacking his keeper in a final attempt at regaining freedom.
The animation is rendered in lovely, soft watercolour hues when our protagonist drifts into a reverie, with grungier, darker textures illustrating the unsavory circus environment. There are some gorgeous moments set in the grassy plains. This beautiful gentle backdrop gets disrupted with the figure of a poacher, which is abrasive and crude in comparison—a nice contrast. I really like the transitions between the bear’s reality, memories and what appears to be a deservedly peaceful afterlife.
The animation may seem hand-drawn upon first glance, but Natasha went through a very interesting process in achieving this style. Intent upon translating the fluidity of hand-painted animation by computer generated means, she combined the different techniques by printing out the characters’ UV maps, hand-painting each piece and feeding them back into the software to create a wrap around the figures. Phew, all this in four months! The resulting animation style reminds me of Alexander Petrov’s Old Man and the Sea, which was created by physically painting layers upon sheets of glass. It’s interesting to see how old and new technologies can combine to achieve similar effects and Natasha Bell’s exploration is a lovely example.
Life is Beautiful’s protagonist is a particularly wretched character. About four times shorter than the slim inhabitants of his city, he skulks about with a hopeless demeanor. I bet that we have all felt lonely, slighted or lost at some point in our lives, but hopefully not to this extent. He gets kicked around, his existence unrecognised by those around him—there is a particularly comical, but cringe-worthy elevator scene where this is made clear. This guy is easy to sympathize with, especially after the clever introduction to his life up to this point, in a comprehensive pan across a wall of unfortunate childhood photos.
After miserably making his way about his day, he decides to end it all at the top of a skyscraper. Even this final undertaking doesn’t quite go smoothly. Taking on a heavy subject like this is very difficult, but the director Ben Brand does it well. The short is tragicomedy throughout and, while it gives us some serious things to ponder, it manages to stay light. When he dies, our character is beamed up to space to join thousands of other spirits on their journey towards the unknown. However, his after-life doesn’t free him of his troubles—an important detail. And I like it that the ending is open ended—nobody knows what happens when we die after all! But, this 3D short makes a worthy attempt at contemplating the possibilities. Watch it, and then check out the Facebook page for some great behind-the-scenes images.
From producer Guillermo del Toro and director Jorge Gutierrez comes Book of Life, an animated comedy with a truly unique visual style. From the recently released trailer we can tell that the concept art and character design is superb. The style reminds me of the Alebrijes, the brightly coloured wood carvings of Oaxacan-Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures.
The animated film tells the story of Manolo, a young man torn between fulfilling the expectations of his father and grandfather to become a bullfighter and following his heart by becoming a musician. Before choosing a path, he embarks on an incredible adventure that spans three fantastical worlds, where he must face his greatest fears. Watch the trailer and get lost in the magical world of the Book of Life. The film premiers on the 17th of October, in time for Halloween.
Images: 20th Century Fox
Fire, ice, x-ray closeups of rupturing organs and breaking bones in the brand new trailer for the 10th Mortal Kombat game coming next year. This brutally cool trailer brings you Sub-Zero and Scorpion fighting to the death and I can see it causing a lot of excitement in the gaming scene. The game will be coming to the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and PC in 2015.
The new instalment of the iconic cross-generational title is promising a cinematic experience and an all new gameplay with an online component. Check out this beautifully rendered trailer, but be aware — it’s not for the faint-hearted.