Saturday, September 16, 2006


In 2002 I teamed up with two Swedes to create a virtual pop band in the vein of Gorillaz, but aimed at a pop-loving audience. Well, that's a little misleading. The Swedes had already created it. The music was in production and the characters were being designed.

Sasan and Mike though, for all their talents and strong jawlines needed a hand to bring the characters to life.

A meeting was swiftly assembled - Ikea-style if you will - and I began to sculpt Sasan's characters in 3D. On a computer of course.

Sas had established a strong, distinctive style (above) and we were keen to keep the look when we came to animating them. The band consisted of Kurano (lead singer), Ninni (diva) and The Plot (the mastermind behind the music).

At the time, this cell-shaded 'cartoony' look was seldom seen in 3D animation and the drugs needed to inspire A Scanner Darkly had yet to be swallowed by a drug mule on her way to the United States.

The above image shows an early version of Kurano before the cell-shading.

The music itself was Britney Spears-inspired and aimed to be as over-the-top poppy as possible. Although later in the track there is a bit of a Daft Punk moment. We were going for a young audience which is also why the characters are so simple. The original brief stipulated that a child should be able to draw them.

For the video, I devised a scene in which Kurano, the lead singer was trapped in a wind tunnel. The wind tunnel was also something of a sports arena, with large markings on the gym floor surface.

Kurano had to battle against a giant fan at one end before being helped by a large speaker playing his song at the other.

In experimenting with the cell-shading, I also exported some test movies in Flash format, using a plug-in called Swift 3D.

was an early practice at lip-synching.

Getting Kurano to strut with the attitude of a rock/glam star was also key. Take a look at the walk cycle.

So, after all that... here's the final video. You'll note it didn't quite get finished. This was a drawback of being an out-of-work amateur animator who shortly after starting the music video started getting paid to work. Rest assured in the end Kurano was sure to defeat the fan and it would blow up or at least break down sufficiently to allow our hero to straighten his strange red hair.

And what came of all this? Not much.
I did get a phone call from Shane Walter, keen to show it at onedotzero film festival two years ago, but my excitement quickly ended as Shane asked me: "Can you finish it?".

I couldn't finish it, but here it is anyway. I hope you enjoy it, or at least you dislike it enough to make your day more interesting.


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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The friend, the girl, their mates and your brother

Opening sentences containing the word MySpace are a bit of a bore I know, but assuming you’ve made it this far I have a brief but worthwhile observation to share.

Like most observations this one is right there for all to see. And in the eyebrow-raising event of you being someone that reads this blog more than once you’ll note that most of my posts begin with fairly mundane observations. However, I do have a passion for considering the greater implications of simple happenings -- like the impact on a local dry-cleaners when falafels take off in the neighbourhood, for instance.

So, to begin with the ‘unsurprising’ (another observation would be my over-use of the word obvious), it occurred to me recently that joining the MySpace network meant that everyone you know in that sphere would have one, singular ‘you’ to interact with.

What interests me is the impact of this on how you project yourself and how that might affect your personality and your relationships in the real world. I am surely not alone in my multiplicity. To some degree, we all vary our personality depending on whom we’re with. For simple proof just listen to the pitch of a man’s voice change when he answers the phone to his girlfriend.

I am on the chameleon-end of the multiplicity scale. I feed off different versions of my alter ego depending on my company. I can think of at least five different social groups that know a different version of me. None of these Andys are a lie. I just choose not to limit my exposure to the world by making my behaviour immutable.

Back to MySpace.
I finally joined a few weeks ago. The reasons were myriad but rather defensively I can justify to myself that I’m there for research and I wasn’t really longing to be kept in any loops. Ahem.

Creating my profile, however stirred up some of the concerns I’m sharing here. This profile was a distillation of my personality – a SINGULAR distillation! No longer could I vary my humour or flex my tone. This was it. This was me, to anyone and everyone that happened across my page.

The saving grace is that (for the time being) MySpace attracts an incomplete cross-section of people my age. If I were 18 I’d really be in trouble. But there’s plenty of people I still haven’t told I have a profile. It’s not because I’m embarrassed or have something to hide, particularly. I guess it would feel like diving into ice-cold water to have everyone arrive there at once, whereas I’m more of a little-toe-man.

Everyone knows that nervousness at big parties when different social groups are mixed together for the first time. At least in those occasions you personally are only in one part of the room at any given moment. Imagine a banner on the wall with your profile on it and a queue at the door of all your friends-of-friends.

Technology makes the world smaller and social networking is turning it into a well sign-posted bungalow with a novelty-size welcome mat. It’s not my intention to put a damper on it. Like everything else this new social matrix is something I will learn to adapt to, but as new options open up forgive me for keeping an eye on the ones that might be disappearing.

There are endless technologies being developed to exploit the social networking phenomenon. While you decide which of them is for you, why not consider which ‘you’ is for them.

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