What I tell myself everyday.

To all the people watching, I can never ever thank you enough for the kindness to me, I'll think about it for the rest of my life. All I ask is one thing, and this is.. I'm asking this particularily of young people that watch: Please do not be cynical. I hate cynicism - for the record it's my least favorite quality, it doesn't lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you're kind, amazing things will happen. I'm telling you, amazing things will happen." - Conan 'O'Brien

December 25, 2010

The middle management in the animation/vfx industry and you. Part 2.

continuing from part 1

The following post will sound like sour and bitter gripes of previous experience. But they are all teach me something.

One of the common issues arises is when the middle management look after their own self interest 1st while preaching teamwork and taking one for the team to the artistes.

In a corporation, there are a lot of these middle managements all looking out for themselves. Hey, for a lot of people, its human nature to want to climb the ladder and be in a position of power.

A classic example would be the production manager to tell the artistes that they have to work through the weekend to get the shot out and then himself taking that weekend off to some beach resort.

Of course there is nothing technically wrong with the above scenario since its the artiste's job to deliver the shot, not the manager.

December 24, 2010

the good side.

this is the season to be ranting.. tralalalala...lalalala...

with all this perceived negativity in the air...... let me remind myself why I got into this industry.

Its a playground. You can create anything. Seriously anything that your mind can think of in CG. Entire civilizations, worlds, creatures, spaceships and for the sadder ones, digital fantasy females. And make them come alive! Living breathing digital entities. (can't shag them though but if you tried, I do not want to know).

Even things that you didn't think of via noise frequencies as well as modulation of particles and geometry. .

man.... You get to play god! How cool is that. ( I can see the messiah complex thing in a lot of guys in the industry) But seriously that is awesome.

Z-brush and mudbox man.... u can sculpt something out of a cube with no mess and almost infinite Undos. Its a awesome tool for a creative outlet. I wait for the day that we can sculpt in holographic mode.

And you can get some pretty pictures even with a simple 3 point setup, you can move and frame the camera to get the perfect composition. And animation wow..... making your creation come alive. That is the ultimate coolness.

But most importantly you want to tell stories. Stories that people can feel for and like.

But that is something that CG can't do. Which is to tell stories. It can create the most amazing worlds and creatures that is beautiful to look at but if there is no story, there is no soul to your creation. Its the stories that define and shape who the people that live in your world are. Their hopes and fears, their advantages.

And that to me, is the allure, the addiction and the magic that is animation. The POTENTIAL in all of us to tell stories with these really amazing tools.

Ideas to help improve yourself and have fun at the same time.

Often after graduation, The skill sets that you have won't be production ready. Even if you have been working in the industry for a while and you want to take the next step up in technical skills or learn a new software, its quite draining and daunting to start.

I personally found it very very hard to get motivate to start. After working long hours, how can you find the energy to do more stuff? Its a hard and long climb by yourself. Facing the computer at home after work with so many distractions not very conducive. Its like dieting,you know eating healthy and less food is good for your health but its so hard to maintain a diet especially during liulian season.

December 23, 2010

The middle management in the animation/vfx industry and you. Part 1.

Who are they, where do they come from and do they actually do? And most importantly how do they affect you as an artiste.

If you work in a big vfx/animation/games studio as an artiste, you will have dealt with these guys.

Who are they?

These are the executives who "manage/coordinate" the talent, the schedule, the budget and everything else in the middle.

Where do they come from?

From all walks of life. Graduates from art school, film school, computer animation school, business administration. People who are interested in film, movies and want a career in this industry. There are some who cannot hack it as artists or find the life of an artiste too hard/ prospects limiting/not their cup of tea therefore they will move to the production side.

There isn't a specialised technical skill set but more about their people skillz. Ability to manage people.... duh.

What do they do?

December 22, 2010

Planning for a career in animation locally and overseas.

Let me tell you something you already know....

You will not get rich becoming an animator, td or modeller in Singapore. No. Fucking. Way. For those that is stepping into the industry and harbouring illusions of owning a new Lamborgini or a BMW, definitely keep on dreaming. Life is meaningless without a goal.

But unless you wrote a software that will be bought by a major company or a game changer, its a wee bit hard to retire at 40 or even 50. Or you convince the Govt to give you money to conduct subsidized courses or open a company for outsourcing/collaboration work and you take the middle part. Even then, compared to the Shenton way crowd, the amount is insignificant.

For the rest of the people in this industry, if you are talented, hardworking, easy to work with and most importantly lucky, you should have have a fairly comfortable existence. Job satisfaction and long hours not withstanding.

The problem is long term wise, this industry is still very dependent on contract work. People work for a stated contracted period and then take a few weeks off and then start again. And even then no CPF contribution. Or if you are lucky to be a full time salaried staff, you will get a stable job but the salary won't be the greatest and more often then not, their is no bonus at the end of the year and/or the job isn't the most rewarding/challenging/satisfactory. It is very hard to break this cycle.

October 23, 2010

The Action Movie fairy Tale.

80s and 90s action movies were often maligned not just for their violence, but also for their lack of depth and psychological sophistication. "They're not important."

But these movies built a generation of men who are now in their 30s and 40s.

They didn't learn that killing is cool, which was the worry of people who didn't watch those movies and didn't understand. This violence was central to the cinematic experience, but incidental to the story.

The complainers ignored the story because they thought it was basic, trivial. Wrong. Write down the plot synopsis of every action movie, and awareness will come over you:

A marginal guy must save a hot chick from bad guys; when he does, he gets the girl


A generation of adolescent boys learned immediately three things:

1. marginal guys are the real heroes.
2. heroes never die.
3. bad guys exist as bad guys, not as good guys who went bad, or bad guys with some good in them also. Darth Vader was unquestionably bad starting in 1977, unimaginable that he was once a sweet young boy with good in his heart. That story had to wait a whole generation to be told.
4. in order to get (active verb: to obtain, procure, convince) a hot woman to fall passionately in love with you, you have to do do some extraordinary things: take out thirty terrorists, master kung fu, be in the special forces, etc.

Interview with the directors for Pixar's Toy story 3.


I found this awesome interview. Goes into the thought process of crafting the story for Toy Story 3.

Interview Highlights

On speaking to adults and kids at the same time

Michael Arndt: "Your first concern when you take this over is you're just trying to make it all fit together on a basic narrative level. ... We did 60 different drafts of the scene before we got to the final version. ... It was really only after we set up the narrative structure of [toys realizing they're going to serve their careers being played with by children and then 'retire' to the attic] that we realized how emotional it was, and how much it played into people's fears of obsolescence. ... I think everybody feels the way these toys feel — like they've given themselves over to this child, Andy, and given him 100 percent and played with him and given him so much of their lives, and now he's going away. And they don't [really] want to go with him to college; what they really want is acknowledgment, and I think that's a universal thing. I think a lot of people go through life feeling like they work really hard and they're doing a good job and they just want some sort of emotional acknowledgment."

On writing animated features vs. nonanimated features

Arndt: "You can't make any distinction between a live-action character and an animated character. They're all real characters. To me, Buzz Lightyear is as real as Olive Hoover [from Little Miss Sunshine] is. You want to take their problems as seriously as they take them themselves, and you want to be as emotionally honest and intelligent about what they're going through as you can possibly be. But it does put you in these sort of odd situations when you're a writer and suddenly you have to think, 'OK. I'm a little rag doll and I've just been put into a knapsack,' or, 'I'm Mr. Potato Head and I've just lost my parts. How do I feel about that?' There were times when I thought it was funny to be writing scenes like that, but you have to take it seriously. You have to put yourself in that position and think, 'What would I do if I were in that situation?' "

Arndt: "The great thing about animation is you get to see these actors record their lines ... and that does inform how you think and write about the characters. So you can add parts of Tom Hanks' personality or Tim Allen's personality or Don Rickles' personality to the characters. It creates this feedback loop in animation. You get to go watch the actors perform, and then you can go back and write a little bit more incorporating what they've done and then you can record them again."

On writing for toys

Arndt: "When we're in a story meeting and we're trying to figure this stuff out, we usually go to the human analogue. We don't talk about, 'Well, if I were a rag doll,' or, 'If I were a plastic dinosaur,' because you want to get to the emotional truth of this story, and you want to get to the emotional truth of these characters. So you say 'OK. Woody: He's a little bit like a helicopter mom. He's a little bit like a mom who can't let go of her child.' So we always try and figure out the human equivalent of these characters."

Lee Unkrich: "But then the fun thing is, once we have that figured out, we try to figure out ways to make their issues particularly a toy's issue. I mean, Ken [of Ken and Barbie] was a great [example], and we made endless fun of Ken. Ken is a whipping boy. We thought, 'What is it like to be a guy who is a girl's toy?' You're a guy, but you're only played with by little girls. And further, he's just an accessory for Barbie. He doesn't carry equal weight to Barbie. He's really no more important than a pair of shoes or a purse or a belt to her, and we knew that he would have to have a complex."

Arndt: "You go, 'What are going to be the issues of a character like Ken?' What's going to be the stuff that keeps him awake at night? So immediately, you go, 'Maybe he's a bit insecure about the fact that really he's a girl's toy. Maybe he's in denial of that. And then this whole sort of richness opens up."

October 7, 2010

Guillermo del Toro's words to live by.

From his book reading stint at Portland's Baghdad Theater & Pub. Some choice snippets.

  • When asked about he assembled his filmmaking team: "I draw and sculpt, but I'm not a great sculptor, I'm not a great draftsman. So you hire people who are better than you, and you are loyal to those people... The rule is to work only with people you admire or you love. Or both."

  • "When you tackle a 'B' premise, you need to tackle it like an 'A' premise," he said, noting this is the case regardless of what you're working on, even if it's something like Blade II, which some people (incorrectly) assumed was a "paycheck movie." "I'm not postmodern," he said later. "I absolutely hate being smarter than my material." He's excited beyond belief to do The Haunted Mansion for Disney, a ride he's been collecting ephemera from for years. "The flavor of that ride is unlike anything else in the world."
  • On adapting other peoples' work: "Once the material is out, it belongs to all of us." And: "Adapting material is like marrying a widow. You have to be very respectful of the late husband's memory, but at some point you've gotta fuck."
  • On writing: "If you get bored with nothing to do, you are not a writer." "We are in the business of reproducing reality from nothing. We are the biggest liars in the world, seeking truth." There will be a collection of his short fiction published, at some point, by Harper Collins.

  • He thanks people for listening to his DVD commentaries. He prepares his DVD and Blu-ray special features "very carefully" so that they're "as educational as possible." "DVDs are the most democratic way to teach film."

  • "If you're not operating on an instinctive level, you're not an artist." Later: "Reason over emotion is bullshit, absolute bullshit." And: "We suffocate ourselves in rules. I find fantasy liberating."

  • "We live in a world that creates impossible standards... I say to all of that, 'Screw you and die.' We should celebrate imperfection, because that's the one thing all of us can achieve."
  • "Do whatever the fuck you want, even if it's wrong, and then tell about it with honesty. That is filmmaking to me." And: "Success is fucking up on your own terms."

September 27, 2010

Texture Painting Notes Level Up Part III

A callout sheet is a condept design from the concept designer or art director telling you what kind of look should your final character look like. A more detailed call out sheet can also be done by you to get a buy off from them before proceeding to start the texture painting process. This can then be used too project straight on to the 3d geometry as a base map to start painting on before proceeding to clean up the seams and the stretching from the projection.

Texture painting can be boiled down to 2 basic methodology. Creating a texture map from scratch with nothing but different brushes and then photograph manipulation. These of course are not mutually exclusive to each other.

It is more about choosing which method to use to and how much these 2 methods overlap over the creating of an issue that is the challenge. Predominately, the ability to paint is essential. I have seen many painters that are over-reliant to photo manipulation whereas a few simple brush strokes here and there might just do the job.

A color corrected photograph might be a ideal place to start. And the details can be be added on top.

There is a certain feel of liberation that a brush gives you, the confidence that if the painting is screwed up, u can just paint over it. Again, how this is applied needs to be defined on which layers are to be done.

The transition from one part of the body to another is based on what kind of character it is. Amphibian or mammals etc.. Looking at different references are important to understanding the different types of surface materials and making an informed decision on the what is a suitable and aesthetically pleasing surface material for your asset.

September 26, 2010

Do you really want to step into the animation industry? Part 2

One of my previous students told me a very valid point after reading my previous post,

What I am doing, is explaining my experience of what I have gone through these few years and putting my thoughts down. As well meaning as that may be, I may have miss a crucial detail. A student's priorities and perspective is different from mine because of precisely that. They have not experienced what it feels like. Therefore it is hard to relate to it and measure it against more pressing concerns like relationships and hormone changes. And more importantly, each individual's reaction and personality will be different in the same situation.

What I have failed to also realised is that the role of a educator is to inspire and encourage as well. The students have to walk their own path and forge their own future andI have no right to deprive them of the opportunity for them to experience for themselves. I may point out the potential pitfalls and the negatives of this industry. But I have no right to discourage them. I think I finally understood this. Everyone have their own perspective of this industry and I should allow them to form their own opinion about it. They might forge their own paths or find their own niche in the industry. Or this path might led them to something else completely different and they are better for it from this experience.

But there are a few constant in life regardless of which industry that you are in.

Kindness, humility, and self-awareness are good start. Hard work and dedication is something that is a constant regardless of what you want to achieve in life. And that is something that I hope everyone can strive for. There is a article that I posted before about the anatomy of determination which I think is most useful.

Being a blowhard, egoistical and even arrogance is successful if you can pull it off and if you can back it up. How it works in the animation industry is slightly warped in that unfortunately, you do have to sell yourself to a certain extend.

For more common sense, the list below from Bill Gate's speech is a good indication.


September 15, 2010

Texture Painting Notes Level Up Part II

Just to expend a bit more for creature texture painting Color Maps, which also expends from

Color maps - Do a quick and dirty maps and set the render up b4 tweaking. Just to see how the lights are interacting with the maps. Balance out your shaders, define you color space Then Paint. Do not go back and forth, render, re-render, paint, etc... very time consuming.

1.) Have your approved reference. Remove specular highlights either by Replace Color in photoshop or clone tool or just paint over.

2.) Pick out some color values from the images and build a rough color map. Just the very rough version. You can even just slap on the color corrected reference images. It doesn't matter. We just want the color and tonal values.

3.) Run your turntable and your subsurface scattering shader if you have one. Use the color that is around the softest part of the creature for the color.

4.) Color correct your color maps and reference images to compensate for the sub surface color.

You will be extracting stuff from the reference images, so that is why you must also color correct them.

5.) Overlay your converted 8 bit extracted displacement maps over and build your color maps with brushes and stuff. Use the extracted displacement as guides. Extract low and high freq maps and overlay them if needed.

6.) PAINT.

Next up interpreting Call out sheets.

September 13, 2010

My views on the local state of affairs

This is probably a bit of old news and I wrote this in early Sept but I let it simmer for a while and and reflect on it. Its not often for me to rant, but I do tihnk things need to be put out there for some perspective.

Cynicism. But I have been reading a lot of the negative posts online about the YOG. The empty seats, the wayang show that the gahmen is putting on, that they are more interested in promoting singapore rather then letting the games take place. And of course with it, the chest beating by the local media.

I was truely agitated for a few weeks. What a waste of tax payers money... etc.. What a wayang govt we have. How hao lian we are . And the more i read, the angrier I get. But the thing that came over me was the cynism that I had. And also the bitterness that I see in some of the local websites which aggrieved the situation. What is the point. These blogs criticising the govt... what do they hope accomplish? And how am I suppose to feel. What alternative solution is there? We voted the govt in, we are also conditioned by the environment to be what we are. So why do we complain:? I feel that we are a cowardly lot. We are. It is easy, satisfying to complain. It feels like we are deferring blame on the govt. We complain about the salary that they get. The perks that comes with the job. The grass is always greener. Time to show you the mirror and ask you to look into it.

What is the best use of my time and waking life? I think that is being happy. Do you think these nay-sayers lie a happy life ? Expending so much energy complaining takes a lot of time and effort.

The old uncles and aunties pushing the clean up cart. Collecting coke cans and selling tissue papers. I feel for them.These naysayers say the govt should do something for them. Welfare etc..... Do you think they don't know, they can't see?

It can be viewed they are warning signs for the rest of society. That if we dun work hard, we will end up like that. The thought is if they help one, they need to help the next, then where do the helping stop?

I have tremendous respect for what MM Lee have done to turn singapore into what it was.

There is a juncture that you face. What do you want singapore to be like. Do we really want foreigers workers serving us, cooking our food ? Cleaning the streets ?

What kind of society do you want to be?

I tell you if you give the locals 1 million dollars they will still find something to complain. Emotional Satisfaction. That is the 2 words that I am is looking for. And I am aiming towards that.

Do you really want to step into the animation industry? Part 1.

I am typing this isn't really as a guide for anyone. This is me thinking out loud and formulating my own thoughts or ideas.But any input is helpful. I will probably be re-structuring the paragraphs as I go along.

Students told me that after knowing me their morale become low. And that I am being cynical. But am I really? I think its more of knowing what the situation is out there so that you are prepared for it.

September 2, 2010

Texture Painting Notes Level Up.

Some texture painting notes off the top of my head.

1.) Look at natural occuring patterns. See the rhythm and shape of dirt, stains. Leaves. For a painter, you need to see a lot. This is most crucial when painting skin and organics surfaces. A lot of painters face this difficulty because they have not look and study at patterns long enough. See the recurring patterns and commit to memory. When you do that, things will fall into place when u look at shapes and patterns during painting.



When designing fantasy floral and fauna surfaces, the key is believability. Not realism.

2.) Low and high frequency levels. Near and Far. Details needs to oread both from near and far.

3.) Spot the Hardness and Softness in transaction. Both in color and in tone. And how to apply them in painting.

4.) Clearly be able to dissect from a reference image, what can be created as specular, color and displacement maps.

5.) Color maps - Do a quick and dirty maps and set the render up b4 tweaking. Just to see how the lights are interacting with the maps. Balance out your shaders, define you color space Then Paint. Do not go back and forth, render, re-render, paint, etc... very time consuming.

6.) Color grading of references. Before u do this, u need to define the color space. Is it gamma 2.2 or 1.8 or whatever. Then again u can color correct and use curves to a photo to match the lighting in the turntable or shot so this is really a moot point. Just make sure that it stays between around 15%-85% brightness.

7.) Letting Go. Dun go into a detail on a particular area and focus on it. Remember you got to do the same for the rest of the model. UNless that area is in the money shots. Get a overall look 1st. U might get away with more then you know. Different people look at Different shapes, different details. That area that u been busting ur balls over, people might not even care or notice.

8.) Layers, Keep it low, keep it simple. Easy to fix. Too many overlays/softlight confuses you. Once you like a look, flatten it. UNLESS its a decal or something that needs to fix. Dun be too depend on it. You are a texture painter. Paint.

9.) Brushes and Channels are your friend. Learn them well and you will prosper.

10.) Color Picker. USE IT.

11.) Reference. Do not just use a few. For color, preferably ones that are well lit with little or no specular. For specular reference the object in different lighting conditions and with flash/no lfash helps.

12.) Reference. There is such a thing as too much reference. Pick the good ones and stick with it.

13.) See how the light hits the object. How it breaks up the surface. And also if there is any white balance used in the photo.

14.) Specular maps are ur most important weapons.

15.) Paint the full range of values for scalar maps. i.e displacement, bump and specular. no use painting only 60%-40% gray for bump. Use the full amount and then u can adjust in shader. If the shader permits, use low and high freq maps separately for greater control. Else, have them in photoshop layers and combine them as 1 map like the old days. Of a more civilized time.

Thats it for now.

June 6, 2010

Primary, secondary and teritary shapes.

From Neil Blevin's website.

This lesson is all about Primary, Secondary and Tertiary shapes, what they are and how to use them. This concept is also sometimes referred to as "Big, Medium, Small", as in, if your image has a nice distribution of big (primary), medium (secondary) and small (tertiary) shapes, the resulting image will tend to be more pleasing to the eye.

First, a definition. Primary shapes are your big shapes. If you squint at an image, the details tend to disappear and you're left with only your big shapes.

Secondary shapes are the smaller shapes that either sit ontop of, or help make up the primary shapes.

Tertiary shapes are again smaller than the secondary shapes.
First off, what should the size of these details be? Well, that depends on personal taste. I like having the primary details being huge, almost the size of the image itself. And I like Tertiary details being really small, sometimes the size of a pixel or two. From there you can decide the appropriate size for the Secondary Details. Of course, not all details should be the same size, it's more like a range of sizes, so not all secondary details should be the same size, but should be in a similar range.

So these could be primary, secondary and tertiary shapes....

Next comes the distribution of these details. Take a look at this image, it has all 3 levels of detail, but the tertiary shapes are in one uniform block...

May 21, 2010

Animation : Strive for Simplicity


notes from Tissa David's lecture on 11/16/89.

Camera moves shouldn't be visible and obvious, they should be felt.

When zooming go in a straight line [important note for motion graphics]
EXCEPTION: unless you are following an action.

Jump cut should have a visible difference in size.

Timing: correct way of saying something you feel. Leading into something
Timing will show emotions by the pacing.

VERY LOUD beat can be two frames ahead of the beat.

Gestures 6 frames ahead can help a loud beat (impact)
lead ball falling down, the effect comes after it is bouncing off.

Gestures before or after the statement are more effective.

using joint movement gives smoother, looser animation otherwise it would be stiff.

cycle: should be simple (it would be less obvious)
strive for simplicity

You need 6 frames to see anything.

[illustrated example of lifting a heavy rock]

1) anticipation of weight
2) lifting of the weight
3) actual weight

Animation is acting

Light scarf will move very slowly and flows.

leaf [illustrated example]

drop of water [illustrated example]

Fast actions will overlap.

Its not necessary to overlap action generally.

[illustrated examples: finger pushing, ball, ball bounce]

Budgeting for animation Part 1 From Asterisk Animation



This budget is a variation on the AICP budget form. That is designed for live action. That budget form contains (literally) one line for "animation". Each of the production categories are culled from there.

We figure there are 5 phases of production as far a budgeting is concerned. Future posts will explain these in detail.

In general, it's best if "animation" covers about 30% of production costs. When we get into categories, you'll see this means labor/production costs of animators, assistant animators, inbetweeners, etc.

In this model, lines A-E total $90k. All of that should be detailed in the body of the budget.

Now for the next lines.

In work-for-hire, the producer isn't supposed to mark up director/creative fees. When we get into line items, we'll describe what this does and doesn't include. It's customary for a director to be budgeted somewhere around 10% of A-E. This is listed as "Creative" under "Subtotal A-E".

"Production Fee" is "mark up". This includes a lot of things. One thing is profit. Another is contingency. Another is operating expenses (like tax preparation, water, and daily costs of running a company). This is not entirely overhead, a lot of your overhead should be covered as line items.

In the good old days of advertising, it was common to mark a 28% production fee. These days it seems like 15% is closer to the norm. Some clients will insist on it being even lower. In those cases -since the Production Fee represents many real costs -those numbers just get shifted to line items.

Insurance is another figure which doesn't figure into the Production Fee. This is figured at 1.5% of A-E.

Eyjafjallajökull Time Lapse Animation.

Awesome video of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano Time Lapse Animation.

Iceland, Eyjafjallajökull - May 1st and 2nd, 2010 from Sean Stiegemeier on Vimeo.

April 2, 2010


Synchrolux had quite a few awesome posts about Story





Very very good read.

I will break them down later,

F$%k Yeah!

From IO9.com

The 5 Types Of Fuck Yeah Moments That Make You Buy Into A Character

It’s a simple enough idea: a F*@% Yeah moment is something in a work of art that stuns you with its total coolness and wrenches the phrase “F*@% Yeah!”

1) The awesome inspirational speech.

This is maybe the most basic, and yet the most vital. Anybody can kick you in the head. (Unless you're tall, and they're short, or just out of shape.) But giving an awesome speech that gets your blood pounding — that requires some mojo.

2) Outnumbered or totally pwned, but the hero still won't give up.

There's a reason Kirk's shirt gets shredded in almost every original Trek episode — and it's not just to show off the results of Shatner's bench-pressing. His final speech (see #1) is that much more impressive when it comes on the heels of Kirk getting put through the ringer.

3) The surprise turnaround, when you realize someone was one jump ahead all along.

Otherwise known as the "Batman" category. You think Batman's about to be whupped by Prometheus, the guy with every known martial artist on a CD-Rom in his head — but Batman has reverse-engineered Prometheus' helmet and swapped it out so that the only person whose physical skills he now possesses is... drum roll... Professor Stephen Hawking. (AKA Cunning Bastard Trick)

4) The moment of amazing altruism or saving others.

Six words: "Get away from her, you bitch!"

5) Someone takes the plunge into the unknown.

Any time someone's faced with an impossible or bewildering situation, and takes a leap into the dark, it's hard not to buy into that character a little more.

Some Links



January 4, 2010

Irvin Kershner Empire Strikes Back DVD audio commentary.

I was watching the audio commentary of Empire strikes Back DVD. It had George Lucas, director Irvin Kershner, sound designer Ben Burtt, visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren and actor Carrie Fisher. All five sat separately for this compiled commentary.

Compared to the New Hope and ROTJ commentaries, I really enjoyed this one. Because of Irvin Kershner.

His notes and comments about film making in general shows a man who really enjoys his work and his time making this movie. There is a sense of excitment and purpose in the way Mr Kershner explains his experiences of making the movie. Some basic but very helpful pointers. I really wished I was in his class at USC that he is teaching.
I have compiled some of his comments into point form below for my own references.
- Within a scene, the rythm of the actors, the rythm of the speech, the rythem of the movemeent, the rythm of the staging. This is locked in time. This is the biggest guess of all
- 2nd Act of a film -> more characterisation and less action. The problems are explained and a advertisement for the 3rd Act.
- The length of the cuts are important to the rhythm of the film. Necessary to keep the rhythm of the film. On staging of scenes within the cut, I have to keep the rhythm going. So its the same pace, same rhythm. A lot of guess.
- Showing the reaction of it (an exertion) is important. like being chocked, and the chock is released.
- The more difficult you make it for the hero, the better it is.
- Hitchcockian principle - You need a terrific antagonist for the protagonist to flourish.
- Emotionally healthy
Violence isn't usually the issue for younger people. Its really how the violence is portrayed and the consequences of the violence. And what it means in a cultural context. Do they have respect for human life ?