Friday, December 15, 2017

Film Design: Science Laboratory - Earliest Sketches

Yesterday I posted a piece about my search for a set flat painted pattern. Film Design: Set Wall Panel Patterns featured some of my sketches for a television pilot/demo I independently produced a few years ago.

Affixed above is a very early set sketch for the same show and illustrates how the flats would be positioned in the studio. The flats at this point "floated" and were not interconnected -- that came later. Over pints of beer with a friend (and production partner) I recounted the Time Tunnel set from the old, and very bad, Irwin Allen television series The Time Tunnel.  I liked the idea of a laboratory accessed by some sort of bridge or walkway, which informed my first approach.

My Time Tunnel sketch (click to enlarge)....

And the science laboratory idea from my own project....

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Film Design: Set Wall Panel Patterns

A few years ago I designed a "science laboratory" set for one of my own productions -- a television pilot/demo show. For each 4 x 8 foot flat I wanted a pattern that would make for an interesting rhythm when each panel was fixed together as a complete wall unit.

Above is a page of sketches looking for that panel pattern. Soon I will post a picture of the completed set.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Film Design: Storeroom Concept Sketches

When I'm writing a script or story and I want to get a handle on the layout and look of a location I often sketch out what I imagine that place to be. Sometimes I'll draw up a place to give me story ideas.

I wrote a short-film script a few years ago after I watched the 1924 Russian silent feature film Aelita. The work of its designers, Issac Rabinovich and Victor Simov, inspired me to review Constructivist art. What happened was I stormed-up a story. I could not write it down fast enough.

The sketches above came from my pen when I was writing another story idea.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Toronto Football Club is a Special Team

As the CityNews website headline states: "Toronto FC wins it's first-ever MLS Cup."

The great city of Toronto has another winning team -- the CFL's Toronto Argonauts won the 2017 Grey Cup final. The NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs are playing a winning season, but in standard Leafs fashion, they will crash. ("Yeah, but this team is different.")

I love football. And I love ice hockey. But only one Toronto-based team can win my love. And it was won yesterday in spectacular fashion.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Go Toronto Football Club!

At 4 o'clock this afternoon, Toronto time, Toronto FC kicks with the Seattle Sounders for Major League Soccer supremacy.

It's possible that TFC Might might make Seattle sound.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Focusing on the Aliens of "Hyper-Reality"

A crew member holds the camera's measuring tape to check focus on the set of "Hyper-Reality".

Thursday, December 7, 2017

An Angle on "Hyper-Reality"

On the set of Hyper-Reality: Camera assistant Gary Blakeley and director of photography Dennis Pike ready the Arriflex camera on the studio scissor lift.

Up lift! Getting that high angle shot of the alien lair set.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Behind the Irwin Allen Panel on "Hyper-Reality"

If you've seen the old Irwin Allen television shows Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, or Time Tunnel, you probably remember what I refer to as "The Irwin Allen Panel". In the early 1960s the 20th Century Fox studios prop department bought surplus U.S. Air Force equipment and made some modifications, including taking the indicator lights and hooking them up to a series of chaser-boxes, thereby producing sequenced blinking lights.

The equipment was already "old" but that did not stop producer Irwin Allen from utilizing them for his futuristic television programs. (Makes sense; 1960s aliens in silver face paint no doubt would operate 1950s Earth equipment.)

By the way, the panels appeared in the television series Lost. My guess is they are still available for rent.

When designing my (as of yet uncompleted) short film Hyper-Reality I used the panels in question as a guide. The story requires a retro look.

The photo affixed above features a crew member operating a piece of projection equipment.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Mitchell, Me, on Pardee

Lensing exteriors for Hyper-Reality on Pardee Avenue here in Toronto. That building on the right is 23 FPS Studios' stage 2.

Monday, December 4, 2017

CIFS Screening Series Flyer

(click on image to enlarge)

From the archives:

The Canadian Independent Film Series

It's a bad flyer when there are no dates affixed.

The venue: The Bloor Cinema, Toronto

On the "New Voices" part 1 plan:

The Front Seat  - 4 minutes - black and white - D: Barbara Mainguy
Someone to Love  - 15 minutes - colour - D: Shawn Goldberg
Good Night  - 4 minutes - colour - D: Rick Palidwor
Crucero/Crossroads  - 28 minutes  - colour - D: Ramiro Puerta

CIFS was run by Rob Cosgrove and Chris Dwyer. The programs were well done but the series as a whole was short-lived.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Ghouls of the "Graveyard Shift" Graveyard Set

A happy set designer poses with his creation. Note the unfinished left side of the mausoleum. This was done to save money. The right side has a full wall.

The creator poses with the set's ghoul. I'm on the left. (The top photo should have been a clue.)

Friday, December 1, 2017

A Moon Break

I looked out the window and noticed the moon framed by tree branches. The moon as seen from my balcony late Tuesday afternoon.

I hope the Alphans are okay....

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Film Design: A Character Sketch; His Name Is....

Sketchpad on the lap. The 'radio' tuned to ZoomerRadio. Think of characters.

A few thumbnails pop onto the paper.

Who is this guy? How did his parents name him? I'm going to use him; I know just the project. He'll be a star.

I can imagine who he might be: He hangs around on a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) subway station platform -- specifically "St. George" Station -- but never actually boards a train. He stands there, in some sort of spiritually lost limbo, not sure in what direction to travel, and not sure if he wants to leave, if at all, via the "Bedford" or "St. George" exit.

With further imagination I begin to believe he's a former University of Toronto student; Law was his first course, but switched to Engineering Science after he figured it might be easier. It wasn't easier. And now he's drawn back to this place. Life takes an unexpected course. Can he go back and try it all over again? (That outfit he wears tells me he was the water boy for the Varsity Blues football team, circa late-eighties.)

I speak with a TTC inspector who stands on the "southbound" platform. It is important for my own sanity that I ask the big question.

"He's here almost every time I'm at this station", I offer.

The inspector answers, without editorial or judgement: "His name is Dennis."

Yes. Dennis. Dennis shall be his name!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Film Design: Matte Painting Shot - Development

A couple of hours ago I posted a piece on a matte painting concept and shoot I did years ago (Film Design: Matte Painting Shot - Almost Final). Above are sketches as part of my search for the right look.

Tomorrow: More "Film Design", but a little flesh. It's been a week of towers, tanks, buildings and machines.

Film Design: Matte Painting Shot - Almost Final

There's an interesting place here in Toronto, north of the city's beautiful "Annex" area. "Sir Winston Churchill Park" surfaces one of the city's reservoirs and provides for an interesting filming location. Years ago, with a few friends, I took an Arriflex 35mm camera and shot some "plates". Our intention was to optically composite (on an optical printer) the live action footage with a matte painting. Due to the cost of hiring an optical house to composite the footage we did not finish the composite. By the way, to make the plate footage more interesting and to avoid a single "look-off" shot, my friends and I shot a little action scene.

Not long after this shoot I started working as an optical camera operator; I could have composited this bit of business for no charge. My respective bosses, George and John Furniotis at Film Effects Toronto, and Mike Smith at Film Opticals of Canada, no doubt would have let me do this by tagging it onto a "job" (rolls of 35mm motion picture film that were going to the lab as part of normal contracts).

My next posting will show the development of an idea: the optical matte painting and its composite.

Note for above concept illustration: The bottom quarter is the live action, and the rest, the matte painting.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Film Design: Matte Painting Concepts

On the first day of the month I wrote a piece on my matte painting concept for the 1996 Canadian feature film Johnny Shortwave. As I noted the film's limited budget ultimately would not allow for matte shots of any kind.

Below are several sketches of ideas I had for extending the industrial areas of Toronto into an heavily industrialized state.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Film Design: "Graveyard Shift" Graveyard Sketch

Yesterday I posted another piece on the 1987 Canadian horror feature film Graveyard Shift. Included was a photograph I took of the completed graveyard set.

After I more or less nailed-down the mausoleum design, I sketched out my concept for the graveyard set.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

FIlm Design: More "Graveyard Shift"

I've posted a few pieces to this blog regarding work I did on the 1987 Canadian horror film Graveyard Shift. It was a fun and satisfying time for me. While I wasn't exactly front-lawn green, I had attended art school and rolled in film and design for years, and was currently in my second year of film school, working on Graveyard was an enriching experience.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Film Design: Propaganda Poster "Thumbnails"

In my previous posting, Film Design: Propaganda Poster, I wrote about a poster concept I designed for the feature film Johnny Shortwave. Above are a few thumbnail sketches.

Film Design: Propaganda Poster

Over the last few days I've posted a few pieces on the 1996 Canadian feature length film Johnny Shortwave. Above is a concept I rendered for a propaganda poster; the kind of poster expected from totalitarian states, governments -- "head office", as I like to call them.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Prop Design: "Code Card" Thumbnails

Yesterday I posted some colour renderings of a prop I designed for the 1996 Canadian feature-length film Johnny Shortwave. Above are some early thumbnail sketches I produced in my search for the final card design. At first I tried various formats of card, eventually settling on a credit-card type.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Prop Design: Code Card

For the 1996 Canadian dramatic feature film Johnny Shortwave I designed a "code card", a special identification card used by citizens of a totalitarian state. I based it on a common credit card of today, figuring the dimensions and format will be around any time and any place.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Portable Cylinder Recorder - A New View

Back on November 5th I posted a piece about a prop I designed for Johnny Shortwave, a Canadian movie released in 1996.

The above photo turned up after I wrote "Prop Design: Portable Cylinder Recorder". Here is the photograph from that article:

Monday, November 20, 2017

Fellow Canadian Military Brats: The Special Addition

Back on August 18th I wrote a piece about recognizable names who are offspring of men who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces. Titled Among the Brats: A Force From Canada, I thought my list was close to complete. Well, as I found out today when I read up on "Max Headroom" himself, American-Canadian actor Matt Frewer, it was not complete enough.

Frewer was born in Washington, D.C., which explains the "American" part, when his RCN (Royal Canadian Navy) father was based there.

All those people; fellow brats; people like Bryan Adams and Douglas Coupland. I have to get my turbine in gear.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Lost Submarines

With the current news of the Argentine submarine ARA San Juan missing at sea, I'm reminded of an event that happened when I was a child living in then West Germany.

For a few days it was top of the news. I remember the graphic behind the television newsreader: A silhouette of a submarine against a simple map of the Mediterranean. On March 4th, 1970, the French Navy submarine Eurydice went missing after a dive, and after a search effort, several pieces of the ship were found as was an oil slick. (It was known at the time that something catastrophic happened when a geophysical laboratory registered an underwater explosion.)

The ship's crew all perished. As a matter of fact the French navy lost a submarine two years earlier -- it too sank in the Mediterranean. The Minerve has to this day never been found. I hope the crew of the San Juan is found alive and well.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Christmas Music to Rock

The store/shop public address and music systems are already spilling and spewing the Christmas tunes/toons. As I've been saying for years, Christmas, here in Toronto, Canada, at least, runs a full one-tenth of the calendar year.

Go ahead; call me "Eb".

At the Gas Pumps, Apparently

In the mornings I have the radio on to give background to my daily ablutions.

Early this a.m. I realized that this may be one of the most common types of news flash:

"At the gas pumps....the cost of gas will go up by one cent at midnight."

That sounds like a song lyric to me ("Country"?).

Friday, November 17, 2017

I'd Prefer to See a Doc

I remember my realization.

I was returning to Canada from England on an Air Canada 747. Sitting beside me was a young woman -- I too was pretty young at the time -- who happened to be a great conversationalist. One story she recounted was about a video party she had with friends in London. The group rented four movies, one of which was a documentary.

In summary she added: "The best film was the documentary."

For some reason I often find documentaries to be my favourites. With an emphasis on that film form today -- helped by easy access to high resolution imaging equipment -- I too prefer on average to sit down with a "good doc". Reality trumps.

Ready to go: The Russian Woodpecker.