post-apocalyptic film and design

Street Alteration: Final stages and set dressing

elements of street dress

After working on some of the CGI background and graffiti I needed to turn my attentions to the actual set dressing that would  include rubbish, signs, a burnt out car and dirty streets in general. I designed a replacement sign for the fish bar above and changed it to the burger bar in the story. I also needed to dirty the brick work of the existing buildings, board up some of the windows with designed wooden boards. The background also included an abandoned train carriage. This was collage’d in from a photo and would be part of the CGI background. The car was also collage’d in but would be a set dress rather than CGI.

street alter with shop windows a

Theses pictures show the addition of set dressing components as they were added.

Below picture shows the dirtying up of the building fronts.That would be done using water-based paint so it can be removed easily. It also includes the burnt out train.

street concept stage 4

Below the image shows the addition of some fly tipping on the far right and the burnt out car. I have also added some street lights as it’s night and one or two of the buildings are inhabited.

street concept car lights

The final stages were about filling the street with bags of rubbish that hadn’t been collected, loose rubbish and papers, alteration of lighting and just generally blending and tidying the image. I also added a larger bin into the foreground and some blending of the figures so they fitted the scene.

 

street concept car rubbish 3

 

Final stage from this….

alteration 1

….to this.

street concept final orange

The final image.

The street alteration needed to look like a dystopian society that had a more post apocalyptic feel. The city is generally uncared for, rubbish is left, people are rioting and setting fires. But the streets are still inhabited, so that meant there had to be life and places where people lived and worked. There is a burger bar, there are places in the city that will sell cigarettes, papers etc albeit limited stock. It was about creating a scene that incorporated CGI and potential post production techniques as well as traditional location scouting and set dressing.

The visual needs to portray the background to pass onto the digital matte painters. It will also need some visual effects due to movement in the background of search lights, maybe a moving train, movement in the clouds etc. to create a dynamic, believable scene.

There were some other items that could have been added such as a shopping trolley, dead flowers etc. I tried adding the shopping trolley and some more piles of rubbish and it started to look a bit too staged, after all it is a street that is still used with people running a business or a shop albeit dirty and run down.

I decided to keep the sky a murky orange green to show the fires off in the distance and the pollution. In heavily built up areas skies do take on an orange glow, this of course is emphasised for this scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: MA Practical Project, MA project, Post Production, post-apocalyptic film and design, sketchbook and visual diary, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Case Study Breakdown

My case studies are a combination of academic research, question and answer sessions, work shadowing/ observation and studying elements of design that have come before. Each case study will have its own focus and approach and will encompass more than one genre. What will link them will be what I want to find out to answer my MA question:-

Given the post production techniques available today, what is required from the Production Designer at the pre-production stage in terms of scenic design?

From this I will look at the Production Designer and their role, write-up any observations or research relevent to the pre-production phase and how it follows through to production/post production. I am looking in particular at what needs to be done in the early stages of design, the planning that goes into design for later stages particularly in film and the relationship between the designer and the art department/director/director of photography. One of the most important parts of the research will be how it informs my own practical project, so each case study will have a reflective element. The majority of my findings will be based on qualitative research rather than quantitive as it’s more relevant to the question, as is the hands-on approach to some of the enquiries.

Case Study 1:- The Role of the production designer in pre-production/production: Matthew Gant

This case study comprises of several research approaches:-

An overview of the designers work

Q+A session

My work shadowing and observation of his role (2 days)

Reflective write-up and how it relates to and informs my work

Conclusions

 

Case Study 2:- The role of production designer in science fiction film: Alex McDowell and Minority Report

An overview of the design/designing the future

The relationship between the designer/director and post production

The future of the film industry/production design role

How designing science fiction and post production relates to my work

Conclusions

 

Case Study 3:- Production design in the post apocalyptic and horror genres: Various designers of The Walking Dead

An overview of the design and designing the future/adapting the graphic novel

Production design relationships with post production/special effects

Horror/futures in TV

How horror/post apocalyptic genres relate to my own project

Conclusions

 

Case Study 4:- The Production Designer in Derren Brown’s Apocalypse: A different kind of Apocalypse (Dom Clasby)

An overview of the designing of a reality TV show

Production designer role

Q + A session

How it relates to my own project work

Conclusions.

 

 

Categories: Case Studies, MA project, post-apocalyptic film and design, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Production Design: The concept or visual

Concept drawings are impressions of the set, often starting out as simple pencil drawings and becoming full colour renders that encapsulate the look of the film (LoBRUTTO, V., 2002). These can take on many forms from rough sketches to paintings with many being produced using computer software like Sketch Up or Vectorworks. The concept or visual is also used as a tool to show the set or character with possible colour schemes and overall mood of the scene ( BARNWELL, J., 2004). I have always had a fascination with the concept and while researching my project I have come across so many different styles. The following images are taken from various dystopian/post apocalyptic films and TV shows. Here they show how the concept creates the atmosphere and gives an overall impression of setting, props, lighting and colour.

road3

road2

Above: A visual concept from The Road found at  http://liveforfilms.wordpress.com/tag/concept-art/page/3/[sourced on 5/3/14]

TWD_prison_concept_1

Walking Dead 9.jpg-large

Walking Dead 8.jpg-large

Visuals from The Walking Dead found at http://www.thewrap.com/tv/column-post/walking-dead-showrunner-unloads-stash-concept-art-exit-photos-75131 [sourced on 5/3/14]

largecom

largecom3

Visuals from The Children of Men by Peter Popken found at http://abduzeedo.com/astonishing-movie-art-concepts-peter-popken [sourced on 5/3/14]

References:-

Visuals:- http://liveforfilms.wordpress.com/tag/concept-art/page/3/ [sourced on 5/3/14]

http://www.thewrap.com/tv/column-post/walking-dead-showrunner-unloads-stash-concept-art-exit-photos-75131 [sourced on 5/3/14]

http://abduzeedo.com/astonishing-movie-art-concepts-peter-popken [sourced on 5/3/14]

 

Books:- LoBRUTTO, V., 2002. The Filmmakers Guide to Production Design. New York: Allworth press

BARNWELL, J., 2004. Production Design: Architects of the Screen. New York: Wallflower

 

 

Categories: dystopian film and designers, post-apocalyptic film and design, The production designer and art department | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Photographs of Abandonment: The post apocalyptic landscape

This is a selection of photographs showing places around the world that have been abandoned for many years. These serve as inspiration for my scrapbook and also show in conjunction with my previous  post https://amandafullwoodma.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/the-post-apocalyptic-landscape-location-and-production-designthe-road/ that potential locations do exist and provide a wealth of visual information for the Production Designer.

nr chenobyl

Pripyat, a city of nearly 50,000, was totally abandoned after the nearby Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

The Ryugyong Hotel –Abandoned for 16 years.  In 2008, work started again and although a lot of the interior is still abandoned and incomplete, the outside is now coated in $150 million worth of glass and has paying guests.

fakfafas

Abandoned Coal Plant – France

hashima

The abandoned Hashima Island which was once rich in coal, with over 5000 miners once living on the island.

power

Abandoned Power Plant – Belgium

The Domino Sugar Factory in Darkness

Abandoned Domino Sugar Factory — Brooklyn, New York

281 rigs

Originally built during World War II to protect the River Thames.

References:- http://distractify.com/culture/arts/the-most-spectacular-abandoned-places-in-the-world/ [sourced on 28/12/2013]

Categories: post-apocalyptic film and design, sketchbook and visual diary, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

The Post Apocalyptic Landscape: Location and Production Design(The Road)

When  watching films and TV programmes I am always trying to guess which locations are real and which are built sets or have been altered with CGI.

Being fascinated with derelict buildings and looking at the photographs that I have recently documented I am turning my attentions to actual locations that have been used, albeit slightly altered to suit filming. From a production design point of view, it’s interesting to see how and what informs the decision-making for the Production Designer/Director and whether it is story or budget or both that influence these.

 

Here are a few actual locations used for post apocalyptic films/TV so far:-

The Road

Much of the filming was done in Pittsburgh and not in the studio as the budget was small and the story  called for multiple locations. Chris Kennedy talks about his location experiences to Rochelle Siemienowicz.

“AFI: And was it always going to be a location-based shoot? Was there ever any talk about doing it in a studio?

CK: Basically it was an independent film and always had a very small budget, so there wasn’t really the money to do it in a studio. Also it’s a journey story and needed a lot of different locations. So straight away that meant asking the question what kind of landscapes can we use? Straight off the bat, what country can we go to? Russia would be good – Chernobyl! Those kind of landscapes. Iceland was one idea. Even thought about Australia. But what about the gum trees? And blue sky? A lot of people just think, ‘oh post-apocalyptic, oh go to the desert.’ But of course the  book isn’t set in the desert. It’s set in North America. So I spent a fair bit of time online looking at places in America and found all kinds of places. Eight miles of abandoned freeway in Pennsylvania, a beach in Oregon, an abandoned amusement park. Started putting together a list of locations, the ideal plan. We had to do a certain amount of it in Pennsylvania due to tax incentives. So a lot of it in Pittsburgh rather than where we wanted to. We found pretty much what we needed. Abandoned coal piles. And Pittsburgh itself is pretty much an abandoned city. Back in the early 20th century  basically half the population left…so that all came together pretty well.”

http://www.afi.org.au/AM/ContentManagerNet/HTMLDisplay.aspx?ContentID=9954&Section=Turning_words_into_pictures_An_interview_with_production_designer_Chris_Kennedy [sourced 30/12/2013]

The following images are taken from the film and are courtesy of Dimension Films. They are of locations in post Katrina New Orleans, Pennsylvania and Oregon.

road_beach_1200-660x277

An Oregon beach location.

The Road excerpt:
They stood on the rock jetty and looked out to the south. A gray salt spittle lagging and curling in the rock pool. Long curve of beach beyond. Gray as lava sand.road_bridge_1200

Abandoned freeway in Pennsylvania.

road_suburbs_12001

Post-Katrina New Orleans.

road_industrial_1200

“One of the more compelling aspects of John Hillcoat’s 2009 adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road is the fact that the film’s post-apocalyptic landscapes are not computer generated but largely shot on real locations in the United States.”( Cited Chiarella 2009: 91).

The below statement is taken from the blog post  It’s All out There:-

“Production designer Chris Kennedy scouted a number of locations in post-Katrina New Orleans, including the devastated neighborhood pictured above. He also found Pennsylvania to be a treasure trove of desolate settings. “The state has depressed socioeconomic situations in suburbs like Braddock and Keysport and devastated mining areas with coal piles and fly-ash piles that looked like a blackened landscape,” Kennedy said in a statement.” (Landskiper.BlogSpot.co.uk, 2011)

 

For the most part The Road was all about location and America provided many opportunities for filming. Some CGI was used in the bleaching out of colour particularly when dealing with sunnier places such as New Orleans to create the desired effect. America and other large countries will provide many locations similar and it would be interesting to see if the same can be said for the smaller more heritage influenced UK.

road_lede

Director Hillcoat discusses the film’s use of CGI when dealing with the New Orleans location above. Image courtesy of Dimension Films. Sourced from http://landskipper.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/its-all-out-there.html

“This maritime wreckage was filmed in Louisiana by an Imax documentary crew two days after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the surrounding area. “Cormac’s material felt so familiar, like we’ve already seen it,” Hillcoat said. “That’s why we went to the leftovers of Katrina. Then we used CGI to take out the bright blue sky and green grass.”

References:-

SIEMIENOWICZ, R., 2010. Turning words into pictures:An interview with production designer Chris Kennedy [online]. The Australian Film Institute. Available at: www.afi.org.au/AM/ContentManagerNet/HTMLDisplay.aspx?ContentID=9954

http://www.wired.com/underwire/2009/11/the-road-page-to-screen/3/[sourced 30/12/2013]

2011. It’s All Out There. Available at http://landskipper.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/its-all-out-there.html [sourced 30/12/2013]

Cited sources from Chiarella, Tom (2009) ‘The Most Important Movie of the Year’ Esquire June: 87-91.[sourced on 30/12/2013]

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Designing the future: Clarifying dystopian and post apocalyptic

Designs of the future can be divided into utopian or dystopian in their  underpinning conception. The surface design tends to fall into a limited set of styles, defined as futurism, retro futurism, realism, gothic and post apocalyptic” (BARNWELL, J., 2004: pg 100)

I have already looked at some futurism art references so I will now turn my attentions to post apocalyptic futures and what dystopian actually means in terms of society, film and literature.

When dealing with film and fiction, dystopia and post apocalyptic are usually categorised as separate types of film although some stories encompass both situations.

Dystopian:- The antithesis of utopian: figuring a nightmarish world in which rational impulses to engineer society back-fire dangerously. (KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000)

dys·to·pi·a

noun

a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.(online. available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/dystopian?s=t  [sourced on 21/12/2013]
So looking at recent films I can start to clarify what films are classed as dystopian:-
min rep
Minority Report (2002) Picture and budget courtesy of IMDb.com  :-
In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0181689/
Production Designer:- Alex McDowell
Director:- Steven Spielberg

Budget:

$102,000,000               (estimated)

Utopian:- An imaginary state of ideal harmony and perfection derived from Thomas More’s Utopia (1516).  (KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000) For the purposes of comparison.

Post apocalyptic:-

a·poc·a·lyp·tic

adjective

1.

of or like an apocalypse; affording a revelation or prophecy.
2.

pertaining to the Apocalypse or biblical book of Revelation.
3.

predicting or presaging imminent disaster and total or universal destruction: the apocalyptic vision of some contemporary writers.
(online. available at http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/post-apocalyptic?s=t [sourced on 21/12/2013]
So anything set after  apocalyptic events such as large-scale environmental disasters, widespread viruses, biblical events, wars etc. Living in the after times is termed as post apocalyptic.
the road
The Road (2009) picture and information  courtesy of IMDb.com
A post-apocalyptic tale of a man and his son trying to survive by any means possible. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898367/?ref_=nv_sr_1
Production Designer:- Chris Kennedy
Director:- John Hillcoat

Budget:

$25,000,000               (estimated)

The films and books are often categorised together as there is often a cross over of ideas, situations or causes. The same audiences or readers are drawn to both kind of stories as seen in on-line book groups such as Apocalypse Whenever found at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/967-apocalypse-whenever. Both types of story are generally about forms of survival.
What I will be looking at as part of my research is the audience/social context  through engaging with fans of the genre but also as a designer thinking about such questions as:- Are there differences between the two strands of dystopian and post apocalyptic stories in terms of design? Do they present the same problems in terms of budget and approach?
At first glance at the two example films above, there does seem to be quite a difference between the size of budgets. I will look at this in more detail in future research.
References:- BARNWELL, J., 2004. Production design: Architects of the Screen. London, New York: Wallflower
                        KING, G., & KRZYWINSKA, T., 2000. Science Fiction cinema: From Outerspace to Cyberspace. London:
                        Wallflower
                        Online sources :- https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/967-apocalypse-whenever
                                                        www.IMDb.com
                                                        http://dictionary.reference.com [All sourced on 21/12/2013]
Categories: Dystopian and post-apocalyptic philosophy, dystopian film and designers, post-apocalyptic film and design | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Case studies and films: Starting points

I’m compiling a list of potential films and television programmes with their Production Designers that will feature in my research over the next few weeks. Which ones that will become full case studies will depend on the amount of information I can gather and whether I can have contact with them in order to ask the relevant questions. This list is work in progress, so will be added to.

Post-Apocalyptic

Gae S. Buckley:- The Book of Eli

Dom Clasby :- Derren Brown’s Apocalypse (TV)

Chris Kennedy:- The Road

Greg Melton:- The Walking Dead (TV)

Mark Tildesley:- 28 Days Later/28 Weeks Later

Grace Walker:- The Walking Dead (TV)

Dystopian

Jim Clay:- Children of Men

Andy Nicholson:- Divergent

Philip Messina:- The Hunger Games/Catching Fire

Other sci-fi

Alex McDowell:- Minority Report

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Case Studies: Thoughts and practicalities

I now have to consider the next phase of my project which includes the gathering of research, information, skills etc that will inform my final project. My project is mainly about the role of the Production Designer in a technically advancing world, particularly focusing on the pre-production stage. It may well be that this progresses to include the changing role of the PD in regards to how much they are involved in all three stages–right through to post production, and possibly overseeing elements of the CGI process.  I may want to consider whether PD’s want to, or feel it necessary to do this? Whether budget would permit it? Whether what the PD does at pre-production is enough to visually guide the film later on?

Over the next month I will gather a selection of designers to study, focusing on my chosen genre of Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian film/TV. I will also look at the films/programmes that have been produced in the genre that will inform the case studies, my own design processes and see how they relate to the current contexts and trends in the genre.

After having a look for details of a handful of Production Designers it seems clear that contacting them may present some problems, particularly if I want specific designers that worked on my chosen productions. Some are on Linked-In, some are represented by agents and some don’t seem to exist on the internet or social networks.

With this in mind, I see the case studies/research films being split into primary and secondary sources. The first group being those that fit the criteria in terms of genre and that include contact with the designers through some kind of question and answer session. The second group will mainly rely on research sources such as films/behind the scenes documentaries, on-line articles and Q & A sessions initiated by others. I would like to have at least 3 case studies that include email contact with my chosen designers and possibly a further 3 that will give me other forms of information which contain less detail but will still be relevant for my practical work.

Categories: dystopian film and designers, General research, post-apocalyptic film and design | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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