Nightcrawler – Movie Review

August 22nd, 2015

movie reviewPraised as one of the best thrillers done in the past couple of years, I was of course very interested to see it. I didn’t manage to see it in theaters and had to go Bluray for this one. Even though I must admit that seeing it on the big screen would have been a treat. Especially for the beginning of the film.

The film starts with a nice moody buildup, for the overall atmosphere we are operating in, with this film. Really gorgeous night shots of Los Angeles. It builds a mood much like ‘Drive’ did in its opening minutes. The impression of a very fascinating city that still leaves no doubt that it will eat you alive when you’re not up to its speed. We meet Louis Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) who immediately gives a very shady and weirdo impression. The praise Gyllenhaal gets for his performance really is deserved. He’s borderlining ‘over the top’ with his play… but manages to stay in believable territory. A very fine balance act he pulls off there. Louis tries to make a living with collecting scrap metal and sell it. He doesn’t shy away from illegal action and that’s made clear very early on in the movie. On his way home from, what seems like another night of trying to get some cash, he drives by a car accident. Creepily fascinated he stops and watches how two cops try to free a lady from a burning car wreck. Suddenly a van stops next to him and Joe Loder (Bill Paxton) rushes out. With a camera in his hand, he storms the scene and captures video material. Louis is immediately fascinated and tries to understand and find out what Joe is actually doing. Louis is hooked and knows what he wants to do. Crime journalism. He starts setting up his business and gets some low grade equipment to find a starting point. The driven intensity Gyllanhaal puts into his character is frightening. Louis is someone who has no conscience whatsoever. Now for him all that counts is to get the perfect material. He finds a local news station that buys his material and meets Nina Romina (Rene Russo) who is in charge. These two develop a really weird relationship throughout this film. Louis also hires a partner (Rick Garcia) to help him getting to find and get to locations faster. Together they ‘Nightcrawl’ Los Angeles, listening to police radio and try to collect crime material. Things start to spiral out of control when they manage to arrive at a crime scene before the police.

This movie is roughly 2hrs long and there is not a single second that did not glue me to the screen. The fact that parts of the movie seem to not be too far away from the truth of that business is really a scary thing. Gyllenhaals performance of a ruthless sociopath is mesmerizing. I honestly can’t believe he did not get an Oscar nomination for that. He’s the driving force in that movie. And while performances of Rick Gacia and Rene Russo are very good too… it is Gyllanhaal who really adds the depth and creep factor here.

From a technical standpoint I can only say that it’s solid work. I’m not sure if I would categorize it as a ‘Los Angeles movie’ like Drive or Collateral. But it certainly has the same nightish mood going on, that paints a great picture of the world that surrounds that city. The way the camera is using light, shadows and colours is a feast for the eye. The writing surely wasn’t easy for this film since it constantly balances the over the topness of Louis Bloom and the more grounded world that surrounds him. And except for a couple of times it completely works.

All characters in this film, even the far out Louis Bloom, have a realistic foundation to them. The rare action sequences are no big explosion fest and completely rely on buildup. Later in the film we have a car chase that leads to the finale of the movie. That car chase is photographed in a way that makes you feel like you’re right there with Louis and Rick. you feel the movement and kinetic energy. The moments when Louis is on a locations and shooting material… that glare in his eyes, his morbid fascination and drive to get the best material possible… is just fascinating to watch.

Overall I would highly recommend this film. It’s one of these rare movies that show things happening all around us in this world… yet it feels like it’s a completely different universe.


Nightcrawler on IMDb

Quest For Eternity

August 12th, 2015

Quest For Eternity

This pic was an experiment. I started it August 2014 and saw it as a prequel to my, earlier in 2014 released, ‘The Eternals’ artwork (hence the rather cryptic title for this one). In said picture you can see rather prominently a ship zipping by. I really liked the look of the ship, so I thought “wouldn’t it be funny to see where it came from?”. And that matched with the experiment I had in mind. I wanted to try and work in 16bit colour depth. It was also a test to see how my machine would be able to handle the load. It did well… but saving a larger Photoshop file in 16bit… literally takes ages. Naturally I wanted to have a quite striking image in terms of colours. So the colour depth would make sense. And I hope I got something neat for the eye with that.

If you ask me what this place is then I honestly don’t have an answer. I was fiddling with C4D when I stumbled upon this spikey shape. It instantly made me want to play with it in Vue. After some trying this and trying that I had a scene. Everything fell into place. In the end it was something like a docking or landing area for ships. The spikey things… well, let’s say it’s some ‘modern’ architecture thing. It adds a nice abstract component to the scene. =D

Usually my work is loaded with detail. That doesn’t always work. So ultimately I wanted to do a very clean cut pic for once. Something that’s simple and yet eyecatching.

6000×2739 – C4D – Vue – Photoshop

wallpapers available



Domes Of Hope

August 4th, 2015

Domes Of Hope

Here we have another collaboration piece. My second in a short period of time. After not doing collabs for a very very long time. Now I do enjoy the outcome of these projects and may do more in the future.

This time I had the pleasure to work with GTGraphics’s very own Tobias Roetsch. He’s also a pretty well known Scifi and Fantasy artist that enjoys some vast and grandiose environment vistas. He explained me his idea and I started to do work in Vue to created a serviceable plate. That includes the landscape and the design of the domes. While working in Vue we both talked about how to bring in a good composition. Then I rendered the material in several passes and combined it in Photoshop. After adding some detail, fx and textures I sent the Photoshop file over to Tobias.

Tobias did his magic with adding the city, additional landscape details and a very neat sunset atmosphere. Then it was my turn again with adding some more little details like the ships and some fine tuning. After that… we pretty much had it. I tried to play a little more with the overall colours but always ended up throwing my adjustments away. The atmosphere Tobias created works pretty much perfect.

Vue, Worldmachine, C4D, Photoshop – 6500px wide

Please check out more of Tobias’s work here:

wallpapers available



Making Of GalCiv3 Art

July 21st, 2015 news

Here we go with a lengthy article I wrote about how I approached creating the seven artworks I did for Galactic Civiziations 3. It’s includes concepts, render plates, render passes and insight into the techniques I used. Hope it inspires and may even teach you some things! Feel free to check it out here on Behance.


Galactic Civilizations 3 Artwork – Pt 2

July 16th, 2015

Here we have the second batch of additional three pictures I created for Galactic Civilizations 3. These were made for some sort of a Tech-tree screen where you can choose special skills for your civilization. Said screen is divided into three key aspects (benevolent, malevolent, pragmatic) that represent a certain set of skills to choose from.

Skillscreen – ‘Benevolent’

This first image is used for the ‘Benevolent’ screen. It’s a light and bright setup to represent a more friendly approach with good intentions.

Galactic Civilizations 3 - Skillscreen 1

For 1920×1080 Wallpaper Click Here

Skillscreen – ‘Malevolent’

This second image is used for the ‘Malevolent’ screen. It’s a dark, aggressive and very industrial influenced approach.

Galactic Civilizations 3 - Skillscreen 2

For 1920×1080 Wallpaper Click Here

Skillscreen – ‘Pragmetic’

Here we needed something that felt different from the other two looks. So we took the approach of the ‘golden middle way’ and tried to incorporate a slight golden color scheme into it. It ultimately turned out better than I expected.

Galactic Civilizations 3 - Skillscreen 3

For 1920×1080 Wallpaper Click Here

These projects were done with Vue and Photoshop. As usual a combination of multiple renders, manipulations and overpainting.



Fallen Sanctuary

July 2nd, 2015

Fallen Sanctuary

The best description for this one would be just two words: happy accident. I had a nice conversation with a fellow artist about 3d stuff, modeling and sculpting. We came to our current projects and I saw a screenshot of a model she worked on for an exercise. She had no further use for it and I asked if she could send me the model so I could play a little with it. I immediately had some fun with that model playing in Vue, which made clear that we got something nice there. So then we decided to do a collaboration piece.

I’m not a big collab artist since I have a very specific set of tools I work with. And combining that with the workflow of a fellow artist can get messy fast. Nonetheless we agreed to try it. I was able to find a good composition and a working scene very fast. It even surprised me how fast I had something that really worked. We decided to keep that and I started render out my usual load of plate material for Photoshop.

I started and combined the different plates, began with adding effects and details. Then I sent it over to my friend and she added her creative magic. She sent it back to me and I did finalizing touches. The result works really well and we’re both pretty happy how it turned out. What does it show? Well, not sure. But it could be some giant ancient mysterious alien ruins of sorts.

Vue, Worldmachine, ZBrush, Photoshop, 3500px wide

Find my colleague here…
Nora Nirvaluce on Behance
Nora Nirvaluce on Artstation

3d model fun render #1 // 3d model fun render #2

Quick Concept


wallpapers available



Jurassic World – Movie Review

July 1st, 2015

movie reviewJurassic World is a fascinating phenomenon. This movie is breaking records left and right at the moment. I honestly didn’t expect that at all. Back in 1993 I fell victim to the big dinohype Jurassic Park spawned. I was a huge fan. Jurassic Park is also kinda responsible for my huge love of movies. I saw every movie in the theater and enjoyed them for they wanted to be. Of course I had to see this one. Still… I did not have high expectations.

So it’s 25 years after Jurassic Park and they built a bigger park. That new park can hold up to 25.000 visitors and has a lot more dinosaur attractions than the original. We also see the park working, without any problems and tons of visitors there. Two kids have an invitation by their aunt, who is overlooking the park and trying to keep it running. In the beginning we follow the kids and basically see what the park has to offer. That’s a fun part in the movie actually. They came up with some neat ideas and the movie works well in there. The first act is also sprinkled with introductions to certain characters that will drive the movie later and a lot of exposition talk. The movie is also constantly reminding us how dangerous dinosaurs can be. Saying that this park is actually a very very bad idea. Well, we all knew that since 1993! No new territory here. We’re introduced to Chris Pratt’s character who’s basically the Raptor Whispherer. I won’t lie… as stupid dumb the shit he’s doing there appears… it’s kind of fun to watch. I feel like I need a shower now. Not sure if it’s Pratt’s charisma working there… but he can’t do wrong at the moment. Now the cliche’s begin. Pratt’s character had a thing with Aunty (Bryce Dallas Howard) at one point. Of course. Since Pratt is so awesome with his dino skills, she wants him to check a cage that was built for a cross-breed sort of dino. We later learn that they pretty much threw everything they had into a pot and looked what happened. The ultimate killer dino! We learn that this creature is very smart and soon see how it tricks the humans to break out of the, oh so damn safe, cage. Too easy, for that creature. Oh and people get eaten too. And while it really had some cruel impact in the 1993 movie… it really falls flat when people are getting killed by dinos here. I don’t know what it is. So now the park is going into evacuation mode. Aunty, who didn’t have time to keep an eye on the kids, suddenly remembers/cares and wants them to be safe. She can’t do it by herself and begs Pratt for help. In the meanwhile the kids are still on tour and in the middle of a safari. When hell breaks lose all over the park.

That’s all I want to say about the story. There are more things in the movie and I constantly thought to myself how ‘constructed’ this movie feels. As if they had a checklist of things to cross off. The movie actually is a remake of the first one. They changed and updated it just enough. Implemented one or two extra story elements to make it just different enough. After a while I even recognized the pattern/movie structure of the first one. This felt so ‘by the numbers’ that it’s not even funny anymore. And the worst thing of all… it wasn’t that bad. It wasn’t superbly amazing either! It was just good enough to never let me slip into boredom.

The characters we’re presented here are all very flat. There is pretty much no dimension to any of them. The best characters, and it sounds weird, are the kids! They have at least a tiny bit of depth and they work well together. Normally the kids in these movies are the worst thing ever. But these two were not so bad. It would have been interesting to set the movie around these two kids alone. Trying to survive what’s going on. Instead we have this giant mishmash of I don’t know. I never felt that any of the main characters were in danger. Except for the kids in one or two situations. Most of the time I was mentally screaming “get the fuck out of there you dumb shit!” when one of the characters once again just stood there staring at something. The characters overall felt very strange. A weird mix that doesn’t always work so well. Especially that weird pseudo chemistry between Mr. Pratt and Lady Howard.

While writing this review I have this weird feeling that this movie mighy become a guilty pleasure for me. And I don’t even specifically know why. Maybe it’s all the little references to the other movies they placed in there. At one point in the tram someone is reading a book with Ian Malcolm’s face on the cover. Or Mr. DNA on one of the info screens. Maybe it’s exactly that why I can’t hate this movie. It has a lot of little things that spawn memories of the first film and work really well. For me, well enough, to balance out the outrageous stupidity we’re dealing with at some other points. And I won’t even go so far trying to understand why there is a park at all. After all the things that happened in the other movies. I’m not even sure if the second and third movie are still in the continuity with this fourth one. But overall it’s plain stupidity and greed that starts the crazy in this movie too. And it didn’t even need a huge tropical storm like in the first one. This time the disaster is all man-made.

Before this movie came out there was a lot of controversy about the quality of the VFX. Why the 1993 movie still holds up with some of the best VFX ever made. Even by todays standards. And so many newer films struggle with creating believable VFX. No one can really explain why that is. And while the effects in this fourth movie surely aren’t bad… they’re no stunners too. Is it because we’re so spoiled at this point? Or is it because VFX got so big and complex that the creators lost what’s important when it comes to believablity? Some of the VFX in movies nowadays are so big and complex that I can’t even imagine how much work goes into them. Same goes for Jurassic World. Is it maybe because they look too good? Too perfect? That the VFX from 1993 had to fight so many problems and needed so many tricks and workarounds that they have just that slight bit element of imperfection that make them work so well, even today? Ultimately what I want to say is that the VFX are fine. But by far not as overwhelming as the experience I had in 1993. Which is understandable since it was groundbreaking in 1993.

Another thing I noticed was the soundtrack. A lot of parts from the 1993 original by John Williams. Nowadays the music in movies almost only seems to consist of loud DOOOOOOOOOOOH DUUUUUUUUUHM noises. No melodies anymore. Just loud sound. Hearing these John Williams tracks made my heart almost blow up. Almost. Because, except for the beginning, all the tunes were pretty much wasted and used for scenes that did not deserve these musical masterpieces. At one point we travel in a helicopter over the island. And we hear my favourite part of the Jurassic Park soundtrack. When the track peaks in the end… you expect a visual orgasm… which you don’t get. Real bummer.

The fact that they refer to the dinos as ‘products’ is a funny thing. Even though it might be not so far fetched in today’s world. So there is a tiny satire element in the movie. Talking about products… – the product placement in this movie war faaaaar too present. In some scenes they almost throw it into your face. And it took me out of the movie every single time. Again, bummer. I also saw the movie in 2d and don’t think it’s worth the extra bucks for the 3d.

Ultimately I have to recommend watching it on the big screen at least once. Not just for the visuals but for the sound. The dino roar’s just work much better in a theater environment and help to elevate the overall experience. I enjoyed the film for what it was. Will I see it again? Probably not too soon. Maybe when the bluray is out… to check if it holds up with my memories.


Jurassic World on IMDb

The Eternals – Making Of On Behance

June 26th, 2015 news

Here we go with some time I invested to write a little bit about the creative process behind my “The Eternals” artwork. It includes a lot of testrenders, how the project progressed and descriptions about the overall process. I also included a couple of testrenders that show a different perspective on the scene. Feel free to check it out here on Behance.


Gaming Liberalization in Japan…

June 22nd, 2015

movie review…could give us galactic gambling. If there is any place in the world where the greatest sci-fi dreams have the highest chance of coming true, it would be Japan. Home to some of the world’s most advanced technology and robotics, Japan has been at the forefront of bringing futuristic plans to life, making headlines this year when they announced that in July, they would be opening a hotel run entirely by robots. The Henn-Na Hotel in the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in the Nagasaki Prefecture will be operated by 10 robots capable of making bookings, carrying luggage, and cleaning rooms, and the robots are so realistic, they just cross over into Uncanny Valley.

Japan is constantly breathing life into pet projects that seem torn right out of the world’s best sci-fi novels, and with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe still pushing through with his plans to legalize casino gambling in the country, it’s not unlikely that we may see the world’s first galactic casino come to life as well. While it hasn’t yet introduced gambling and integrated resorts, Japan has become known for its lavish theme parks, and with Caesars Entertainment and MGM already having expressed an intent to invest in casino resorts in Japan, the future is looking quite bright.

What might we expect from a futuristic casino in Japan? For starters, robotic dealers would help many gamblers feel more at ease. As Intercasino explains in great detail, “the card dealer plays a great impact in making your casino game memorable, fun and interesting” as not only the dealer’s level of experience can affect how much you enjoy your game, but even their temperament and how they treat you can have massive impact as well. Robotic dealers would result in a uniform experience, allowing users not just to rest easy knowing that their dealers are sufficiently skilled, but that there will be no biases resulting from the dealer’s own personal preferences.


Designs for these futuristic casinos will also be awe-inspiring, as even now, Japan has already come up with several building designs that seem snatched right out of brochures from the future. With skyscrapers built on top of each other, mega-city pyramids, and floating self-sustaining cities, it’s clear that Japan has no shortage of plans for futuristic buildings.

Mad Max: Fury Road – Movie Review

June 16th, 2015

movie reviewA little late in the game, I finally managed to watch this, oh so highly praised, action spectacle of a movie. Does it live up the hype? Naw, not really. But it’s still a damn good and entertaining action movie! My review will probably be a mashup of other reviews I read, saw and listened to over the past days but well… who cares, since I mostly agreed with them.

Let’s start with the story! Max (Tom Hardy) literally stumbles into the adventure we’re presented with here. He gets captured by some strange wasteland warriors who bring him to the Citadel. A sorta kinda death valley big rock island in the middle of a desert. A place ran by a family of deformed and mutated warlords. They’re in control of the water and over the past decades seemed to have built a religion that takes parts from all kinds of different beliefs we know today. The movie throws us into this world without much of an explanation and I find that rather refreshing. What’s to explain there. Take a look around. The world’s gone to shit. Not even that… it’s more the dust that’s left of a pile of shit when the sun constantly drains it from all its fluids. I surely don’t want to live in that world! And the movie does a good job making you understand that it’s not a cool place to be. All that without too much of an explanation. It’s textbook “show, don’t tell” George Miller executes here.

The movie shifts into next gear soon, when Charlize Theron’s character Furiosa prepares a truck for a gas run, visiting a place called Gastown. We never get to see that place except for silhouettes on the horizon. Furiosa managed to free a group of women that belong to Imortan Joe, the leader of the Citadel. These women are basically used as sex slaves and are only there for breeding purposes. When Joe finds out that his wives are gone, he immediately starts to hunt down Furiosa.

In the meanwhile, after a not so successful attempt to flee the Citadel, Max gets strapped to the front of a car. To serve as a bloodbag for one of the warriors! I think it’s never really explained in the movie but these warriors are, I guess, sick from radiation and try to extend their life by filtering their blood? So Max ends up as this living bloodbag for one of these guys called Nux (Nicolas Hoult). Nux is probably the only character who is having an arc throughout the film. Hoult does a fantastic job with the material and in the end you kinda like that character a lot. Now the big chase for Furiosa begins. And that’s basically the rest of the movie. With a couple of short breathers here and there.

Now I went to see the movie with two friends who didn’t like it very much. At least one of them is an action movie fan. While the other one is more for movies that have something to say and make you think. From what I gathered their main opinion was that the movie was stupid. Action fine and good but ultimately… stupid. The main reason for that probably is the decision our characters make in the middle of the film. When they decide to turn around and drive back to the Citadel. In that scene Max tells them that driving further into that one direction will get them nowhere except to the neverending salt flats. Now I read that what Max actually meant is that they reached a point where once the ocean started. And crossing that vast area of nothingness surely doesn’t make sense. But they don’t mention the word ‘Ocean’ in the movie. I, honestly, wasn’t able to put 1 and 1 together while watching the film. And I guess that my friends didn’t either. While the Wives and Furiosa don’t look very old… I guess Max is the only character old enough to remember the oceans. Other than that, yes… it’s the purest kind of an action movie. And in that respect it is very well done.

This movie is exactly two hours long. And it’s the first (in a very long) time, that a movie (for me) felt shorter than it actually is. All these blockbusters nowadays are so goddamn overlong. I welcome a barebone action movie that focusses on what it wants to be. Instead of trying to please every nonsense demographic that ever existed. It gives you an outline of the characters and that’s all you get. The movie doesn’t bother delivering all the backstory of each character and why they’re there and do what they do. Some might say that it would be nice to have that stuff and while normally I would agree… I’d have to disagree in case of this particular movie. It does not need that over-explanatory cheap sugarcoating. Instead you get a movie that’s easily among the best choreographed, easy to read, explosive action movies of all time. And the movie doesn’t want or strive to be more than exactly that.

From what I gathered there is a lot of sublevel detail that you will only notice in futher viewings. The costume and vehicle design alone is amazing. It almost hurts seeing all these cars blow up! It also delivers characters that leave a lot of room for interpretation. The movie doesn’t waste too much time on them. Remember Boba Fett? He’s in probably roughly 10 minutes of the original Star Wars trilogy… and he became one of the most iconic characters ever. You know why? Because he was a mystery! No I don’t want to compare the Fury Road characters to Boba Fett… but the approach on how to handle characters isn’t a bad one. We don’t know too much about Furiosa for example. But I can guarantee that her character would surely serve well for a fantastic comic prequel kind of thing.

The stunt work and VFX are seamless. I can only praise how well they worked with the practical effects. It all looked realistic and the fact they used real cars surely plays a big role why this movie became a success. It’s also funny how an over 70 years old director has to show all the youngens how to shoot action! It seems like none of the younger generation of directors know how to shoot action anymore. It’s all shaky cam and quick cuts. Not in Fury Road. The action was fantastic and easy to follow. In comparison to the action sequences in Age of Ultron, Fury Road is lightyears ahead. Whenever an action sequence in Ultron started I, more than once, thought “get it over with!”… that thought never came up in Fury Road once. Again taking Ultron as a reference when it comes to dialogue. Ultron is a very talky movie. Fury Road on the other hand minimizes dialogue to an absolut minimum. And again I have to disagree with the friends I saw it with. I found the dialogue very efficient and sometimes a short grunt is enough to say what other movies would have used a whole sentence for. Some would call it lazy writing… I call it well observed, appropriate and efficient.

So is it the masterpiece everyone says? No it isn’t. For a masterpiece you need a little more than just action. No matter how good the action is. But for the time we live in it easily is one of the best action movies in a long time. And for that alone it’s worth a recommendation.


Mad Max: Fury Road on IMDb