Into The Distance – Webinar

April 16th, 2018

Into The Distance - Webinar

Here a couple of infos to the upcoming Digital Art Live Webinar next Saturday & Sunday. In our past webinars we used to go for a more theory based approach. I talked about the creative process of how one of my artworks was done. In the upcoming Webinar we decided to for a more organic and practical approach. Not just talking about stuff… but also showing how it’s done. Therefore we scheduled two shows since it will definitely take a little more time to go through the various things. There will be a couple of shortcuts here and there but we will cover the main aspects of the scene in detail. Of course feedback and questions throughout the show are welcome and will be covered and discussed if possible.

The best thing about it? It’s FREE!

If you are interested and you want to participate go here and register for the event. The webinar will take place in a Fuze meeting and you will get all info via email. You need to install the client software but you don’t require an account to attend the Webinar! You will also get the room number via email before the show starts.

Find the registration page: here

Part One – Start Time: 20:00 BST (London)/21:00 GMT (Berlin)/12:00 PDT (Los Angeles)/15:00 EDT (New York) – The duration is estimated to 1.5 to 2hrs. Saturday, April 21st 2018!

Part Two – Start Time: 20:00 BST (London)/21:00 GMT (Berlin)/12:00 PDT (Los Angeles)/15:00 EDT (New York) – The duration is estimated to 1.5 to 2hrs. Sunday, April 22st 2018!

This event is sponsored by the fine folks at E-On Software, the creators of Vue! Big thanks to them!

Introduction:

The Artist, Project Info, Used Hardware

JSplacement:

Creating abstract heightfields

Vue:

Importing heightfields, Setting up the terrain, Ecosystems, Adding buildings, Additional detail... and more

Photoshop:

Compositing, File Setup, Exploit hidden detail with Multipass renders...and more

See you there!

Regards
signed

XPrize: Terminal

April 15th, 2018



Terminal

Mid last year I had the pleasure to create some work for “Seat 14c” – a scifi shortstory event, held by the XPrize folks. This particular image belongs to a short story by Kevin J. Anderson. Now this is very special to me since I’ve read and really enjoyed some of his books in the past. So his name was very familiar to me. Having the honour to grace one of his stories with an artwork of mine is amazing! At first I was a little overwhelmed but after reading the story I quickly kind of knew where I wanted to go with the cover image. A dream world kind of environment. Things started to fall into place and I got a scene that is very different from what I did so far. It definitely leaves a very abstract impression but in context of the story it does make sense. =)

8000×4500 – Vue – DAZStudio – Photoshop – Lightroom

wallpapers available

Regards

signed

Victory

March 19th, 2018



Comcept 29 – Victory

I started this one 2 years ago and just wanted to have some fun. Haven’t touched it again until today. Time to release it into the wild! I did not have any specific story in mind for this one. Just some battlecruisers on their way home… celebrating victory over some unfortunate enemy. Pretty basic stuff. =) So yeah, pretty much a just for fun piece – trying myself on a square picture format.

Technically it’s business as usual with a Vue rendered plate to work with in Photoshop. I was playing around with filters to give it a more painterly look. In the end I decided to tone down the filters and highlight the depth of field effect a little more.

5000×5000 – Vue – World Machine – Photoshop – Lightroom

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

Regards

signed

The Shape Of Water – Movie Review

March 13th, 2018

movie reviewAfter “The Shape Of Water” won the Oscar I was very interested to see what it’s all about. I was interested before, but not to a “need to see this on the big screen” level. Now I made some time, had a great evening with some nice company and watched a really nice movie to round out the evening. Does the film live up to the hype? Well, let’s see.

Elisa (Sally Hawkins) is a mute, young woman working as a janitor in a secret government science laboratory facility during the early days of the cold war. We see her every day life and her daily routine. She’s kind of lonely but surrounds herself with some very close and dear friends with which she is quite happy with. One day she and her colleague/friend Zelda (Octavia Spencer) cleaning up a lab room when there is suddenly a transfer happening and a weird container is brought in. Along with the container we meet Richard Strickland (Michael Shannon). Strickland turns out to be some kind of overseer to that new project and he leaves no doubt about what kind of person he is. Dr. Robert Hoffstetler (Michael Stuhlbarg) is also there, as the lead scientist. The film doesn’t pull any punshes and, along with the characters in the film, we early on see the Amphibian Man (Doug Jones) who is captured in that container/laboratory. Elisa, right from the get go, is very curious and interested in that creature. So it happens that, over the course of the first two acts of the film, she builds a connection and friendship to the Amphibian Man. When Strickland decides to kill the creature, Elisa and her friends along with Hoffstetler, decide to break the Amphibian Man out of the lab to save him. Elisa hides him. A sweet romance starts between them. Strickland is on their heels though and trying get to the creature to kill it. Meanwhile the creature becomes sick and needs to get back into the ocean. Which leads to a nice finale, where everyone plays a part.

I’ve seldomly seen a film that manages to find the right balance between so many different genres. There is literally something for everyone in here. We have romance, character study, tiny parts of history, drama, small doses of horror and comedy in here. Even a small musical number! And it all goes hand in hand. Nothing gets in the way of the other. You could argue that a film, so diverse in the genres it’s moving in, may be too much of everything but not grounded enough in a specific genre. And yes, most of the times that is a point of critique. But I find that Del Toro made it work here. He found the right balance between the genres he wanted to cover. It just flows… like water. The only aspect I can see not working a 100% is the romance part. When you’re not watching closely you might miss a certain hint that kind of explaines why Elisa is drawn to the creature. If you miss that part, the romance elements may feel a little too far-fetched.

Acting wise it’s all perfectly solid work by all involved. There are some great scenes with Michael Shannon as Strickland, that are wonderfully disgusting. Shannon is such a good actor. You can see how he enjoyed being the bad guy in this film. Sally Hawkins, playing the mute woman and our main protagonist, also delivers a superb performance. Especially since she cannot use her voice, all her emotions have to be expressed by her face and body. She makes it work. Then we have Giles, played by Richard Jenkins, who is an out of luck advertising illustrator in his 60s living next to Elisa. Both of them have a strong bond and both of them are lonely… so both support each other. Jenkins also does a very lovely job with his character, making Giles a very relatable person. Then we have Robert Hoffstetler – the lead scientist played by Michael Stuhlbarg. Stuhlbarg manages to appear in pretty much every movie I liked recently. Another very relatable character that is mixed up in a russian spy plot within the film. There is quite some stuff going on in this film and these nice characters/actors hold it all together very well. I never felt lost and always knew what was going on.

Never feeling lost and always knowing what’s going on in a film is certainly a sign of good writing. The film budget was around $20m and it’s remarkable what quality we get. A 20 million budget could nowadays be categorized as a low budget film. At least in Hollywood terms. Technically the film appears pretty much flawless. Camera, Production Design, Presentation, Music, Script, Direction, Acting… it all works. Now the questions is, will it become a classic? It certainly has all the right ingredients. But maybe the romance part between Elisa and the creature is a tiny bit off putting for some audiences? However, I think it’s all presented in a tasteful manner and surely make the movie a little more special. It’s also notable how the films with less of a budget pretty much always turn out to be the good ones. Well, yeah… Blade Runner 2049 was plain magic and amazing with its 200 million budget… but it’s so rare with these high budget films.

7.8/10

The Shape Of Water on IMDb

The Unknown Huntress

February 20th, 2018



The Unknown Huntress

I started this one ages ago. Originally just for fun to play and learn stuff. Especially in regards to texturing within Vue. I did learn quite a bit and was able to transport my knowledge into later pieces. The reason why I turned this into a fantasy kind of direction was simply because I don’t have much stuff going into that direction in my portfolio. So, time to diversify a little bit! Is there a story to the picture? Not really to be honest. Maybe our character belongs to a tribe of hunters and is returning home from a field trip.

From a technical point of view, beside playing with texturing in Vue, I also looked at Plant Factory a little more. Especially techniques to grow stuff on objects. Which can be seen on the pillars that go along the way in the scene. There is so much stuff you can do! It can drive you crazy sometimes!

Ultimately it’s not a piece I’m entirely happy with but for an exercise it’s good enough. As usual I lost myself in too many details no one will ever notice unless it’s a neat print they look at. =D

6000×2739 – Vue – Plant Factory – Photoshop – Lightroom

Plate 1

Plate 2

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

wallpapers available

Regards

signed

The Cloverfield Paradox – Movie Review

February 12th, 2018

movie reviewWhat fascinating times we live in. Here we have a movie that was supposed to come out in theaters and suddenly falls into the hands of streaming service Netflix and they release the movie without any big advertisings whatsoever. What does that say about the quality of the film? Was there no confidence it could make some solid boxoffice cash? For the consumer it’s certainly not a bad thing. We got instant access to the film. A film that is the third installment in a series of films that are (kind of) connected. First we got Cloverfield in 2008. A ‘giant monster’ film, that left us with tons of questions. Then, silence for a while. I guess the makers thought about the direction they want to go with it. Cloverfield was quite a success and, despite its handheld point of view/shakycam filming style, a rather good film. Then in 2016 we got Cloverfield Lane. Definitely not what everyone expected. However, it was a very solid film with some very solid performances and direction. The trained eye also managed to find tons of references to the viral marketing campaign that connected both films. Rumors about a third movie spawned rather quickly. This third film now ended up being ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’.

The basic story behind it is pretty simple. In 2028, a multinational crew of scientists on a space station try to find a way to solve the energy crisis, that has hit Earth. On that orbiting station they have a particle-accelerator kind of device that, so they hope, will solve their global energy problems. After two years of tests and closing in on pure desperation, the crew decides to do another test. Of course that is where stuff is going wrong after looking promising at first. The crew finds out that Earth disappeared and soon discoveres that they switched realities. A lot of weird stuff happens along their way to find a solution to all their problems. So much for a quickie unspoiled story description. Kind of basic stuff, right? A story we’ve had before. At least when it comes to the outline of it.

This movie is a mixed bag. On the one hand we have a really solid quality production. Fantastic vfx and production design. You can see that the film was made for a bigger screen. The cast is also worth mentioning. Daniel Brühl, David Oyelowo, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris O’Dowd. Some familiar faces and names! And after seeing the film, it’s safe to say they did the best with what they had. The script itself is problematic and in parts very scifi/horror cliche. To its defense, it balances out these cliches, with some parts that really contain neat twists. But does the creativity in those twists save the film? To a degree yes. At least it never felt boring to me. There are a lot of situations where you question the decisions made by the crew though. However, in horror movies like that, you pretty much always have people make stupid decisions, to create some tension. So yes, the script could have been a lot smarter. Something that Cloverfield Lane did almost perfectly right, with a very solid and smart script behind it. The editing is also a little problematic. There are a couple of parts on Earth that do not connect very well. I at least felt a little irritated here and there. But one thing I absolutely don’t understand is why the chinese character in that film only speaks chinese. Everyone else speaks english! They subtitled her. In the established scientific environment we see in the film, surely as unrealistic as it can be. I guess the answer is ‘Asian markets’.

Camera and vfx work was really nice. Especially in the vfx work you can see that there was some money spent. The design of the station and how it presented itself felt unique. I really enjoyed the exterior shots of it. Bear McCreary did a good job with the score too. As explained earlier, the editing is a little weak… along with the script.

I guess, the success of the film surely depends on expectations. I didn’t have any. I wanted to be entertained and I think the film does a nice job with that. I wouldn’t even say that the film wants to be more than just entertaining. Try not to look for deeper meaning or some philosophical stuff. Most of the science they talk about makes no sense either, which makes me believe the film didn’t even try to be something more than an extended Outer Limits, Twilight Zone or Black Mirror episode. Which is fine to me. Is it a masterpiece? No it isn’t. Of the now three Cloverfield films it’s the weakest.

If you have Netflix and a thing for scifi… check it out on a rainy afternoon or lazy evening.

6.2/10

The Cloverfield Paradox on IMDb

Splacement 1 & 3

January 13th, 2018



Splacement 1 & 3

These two are a little experimental. I did these for the Aurora exhibit in 2017. I had not done abstract stuff in a while and felt the itch to try something. Especially with a tool called JSplacement. It creates some really nice patterns that can be used in heightfield or displacements for 3d objects. So I decided to have some fun with it. I also used my terrain freebie on pic #1 for the big sphere. Overall I had some fun with trying something new and different. Now why is it #1 and #3… well, #2 is still wip and I’m not entirely sure where to go with it yet.

JSpacelemnt – Photoshop – Lightroom

Created for AURORA – a collaborational effort of both artgroups The Luminarium & The Cosmosys Collective in a crossover exhibit.

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstation

Regards

signed

Sabrina Summer Shoot #2

January 6th, 2018

Sabrina Photoshoot #2

June last year I had the opportunity to collect first experience photoshooting a model. I learned quite a bit, we both had a good time and together we decided to give it another shot in early September 2017. I really wanted to play with her amazing red hair and some neat golden hour, natural evening light. Right before the sun disappears. It was quite tricky catching the right day but we got it. I also managed to lend me a neat Canon 200mm L lens from a buddy. Again we had nice time and managed to get some really nice shots that evening. I certainly tried to use the experience I gathered from our first shoot and in my humble opinion it does show.

Model: Sabrina Kreiner
Equipment used: Canon Eos 5D Mark 2 – Canon 70-200mm L – Photoshop – Lightroom

Regards

signed

The Hidden

January 3rd, 2018



The Hidden

The first one for 2018! This project was started in late 2017, when I decided to take a more concentrated look at a tool called ‘Mandelbulb 3d’. It’s a free, open source fractal generator. Over the past years I stumbled over a number of artists who work with it. May it be for purely fractal based images or using the fractals as plates for concept art. I’m a plate guy and love to work with them. And the possibilities of Mandelbulb 3d are sheer limitless. For more info about the tool just check the google machine or youtube. Fantastic stuff to find there!

So yes, this picture was an experiment. And for a first experiment I’m fairly happy with the result! Style wise I wanted to keep it rough and concept arty. What I found is that it’s quite the balance act to use the fine details the fractal render gives you. Sometimes the detail is almost too much. But yeah, I’m still learning the tool and already found ways to handle the fractal detail level.

I will definitely look more into it and see how I can incorporate it into future projects. I’m sure you can agree that it’s fantastic for some alien, weird looking landscapes!

4000×1708 – Mandelbulb3D – Photoshop – Lightroom

Plate 1
Plate 2

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

wallpapers available

Regards

signed

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Movie Review

December 26th, 2017

movie reviewBurn it to the ground! It surely is one of the most complicated tasks of our time, to continue a series of movies that is so beloved (almost religious) by such a crazy amount of people. Yep, Star Wars. So much mythology, so many characters, so many details! Now imagine you want to give it a new spin. You want to try to not only build on what came before but also enhance it by doing new stuff and play around a bit. Subverting expectations is something you could try, to find an entry point for something new. That ‘new spin’ you’re looking for. J.J. Abrams’ ‘The Force Awakens’ (TFA) played it pretty safe. A lot of familiar beats in that film. No question. Still, I enjoyed the film a lot and also noticed the new stuff – the film trying to open up new opportunities for future installments. But the main point it had to fight with was the resemblance to Episode 4 – A New Hope. Still, fans were into it and a lot of fan theories (which I personally couldn’t care less about) showed how invested fans were for the next film. Episode 8 – The Last Jedi (TLJ) tries and goes down an almost entirely own path. It seems the makers of the film listened to their audience. At least to a certain degree. But did the film in itself succeed? Let’s see what a new director (Rian Johnson) can bring to the series and if he is able to build on what we were left off with in the previous film by J.J. Abrams.

The first surprise is that this film starts exactly where we left the previous film. It feels like almost no time has passed between the films. After the desperate but successful attack on Starkiller base, what’s left of the Resistance/Rebels/Alliance (the good guys) evacuates the base they were stationed on in the previous film. All while a New Order fleet (led by General Hux (Domnhall Gleeson) and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver)) is trying to block the good guys from jumping into hyperspace and escape. Which brings up a continuity problem (one of many in this film). After some nice space battle action the Rebel fleet escapes. Unfortunately the New Order has a device that makes it possible for them to locate the Rebel fleet. Soon after the Rebel fleet jumps into safety, a New Order fleet shows up right behind them. That includes a super massive flagship. So now it’s Hux, Kylo Ren and Snoke right at their tails. The small rebel fleet (very very small) manages to get out of effective laser range of the New Order. The shields of the rebel fleet hold but their engine energy slowly drains. So a cat and mouse game starts. Which brings up another plot hole. Why doesn’t the New Order just start some of their fighters and long range bombers to catch up to the rebel fleet that outpaces the capital ships of the New Order? As far as I can evaluate the situation in that scenario… the rebel fleet would have been toast… space toast. In a matter of minutes. Not to mention some inconsistencies (story wise) with the shields on that rebel ship. So instead we have this cat and mouse scenario going on for almost 3/4 of the film. It maintains a certain level of suspense but feels odd at the same time.

In the meantime Rey (Daisy Ridley) met up with Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) and tries to talk him into training her. He refuses. His standpoint now is that the force (as a whole) is the root of all evil. And I’m completely on Luke’s side here. Even if the Luke we’ve seen up to this point doesn’t really represent the Luke Skywalker I grew up with. Rey doesn’t stop trying to convince him to train her and follows Luke across the island. We meet the Porgs and I actually like these guys. They (for me) represent the humour parts that work in the film. And there are too many that do not hit the mark at all. Luke changes his mind and tries to teach Rey at least some basic things. tries to make her understand his standpoint in regards to the force. That’s something we should have seen more of though. I’m very conflicted about the portrayal of Luke in this film. Luke’s character swings back and forth between the Luke we know and some other character. The argument is that we’ve not seen him for so long and people change. Still. Mark Hamill does a fantastic job with what he’s working with though. I liked his performance a lot. He managed to give Luke some depth and here and there we get that version of Luke we learned to love.

While Rey is with Luke and the rebel fleet fleeing from an overwhelming display of force by the New Order, it’s time to start a subplot for Finn (John Boyega) and a new character named Rose (Kelly Marie Tran). Finn wants to get Rey and after some misunderstandings with Rose they ultimately decide to find a way to disable the tracking device that enables the New Order to find and track the rebel fleet. For that they visit a ‘Casino Planet’. This (estimated 45 minute) plotline leads to nothing. It introduces the character of Rose, which I actually enjoyed a lot. She’s a good addition to the set of characters and the chemistry between Finn and Rose works too. But that’s not the actual problem here. Instead we should ask ourselfes why this plotline got included in the film. More screentime for an asian character to make this movie more attractive for asian markets? Sounds cold but plausible, right? I mean, it’s Disney we’re dealing with here. They try to cover up this very weak plotline with some political and social statements about the rich, poor and the face of war. It’s very on the nose and wreaks of poor writing. This whole subplot does. Finn and Rose meet a codecracker named DJ (Benicio Del Toro) who helps them with their task. DJ is a neat character too! But in the conclusion of that subplot he is completely wasted. This Finn and Rose part felt incredibly like the prequel movies. Even down to the overall CGI’y look of the Casino Planet. Very uninspired writing. I’m sure that part already got cut to the shortest possible result. But I feel there are at least another 5 minutes we could lose there.

We learn that Kylo and Rey seem to have a certain way of connecting through the force. While on the island with Luke, Rey and Kylo talk out some things that ultimately lead to Rey leaving Luke behind. She begs Luke to come with her but he refuses. A decision I can understand at this point in the film. Rey voluntarily meets up with Kylo on Snoke’s flagship. This meetup eventually leads to a confrontation with Snoke. This is probably one of the stronger parts of the film. The back and forth between Snoke and Rey. Kylo’s reactions to what’s going on. You may say whatever you want about the results of that confrontation… but it’s effective. I’m very split about this direction. The scenes between Rey and Kylo are the best though. Both actors do a good job of portraying the conflict between them.

Things on the last remaining ship of the rebel fleet become tense as the fuel levels fall. Luckily they managed to come close enough to a planet that contains an old rebel outpost. They begin to leave the ship while Finn, Rose and DJ are on Snoke’s flag ship and manage to find the tracking device. Unfortunately a betrayal happens. Which almost entirely renders Finn’s and Rose’s subplot useless.

Then one of the most epic scenes in Star Wars history happens.

For a moment it seems like Kylo and Rey team up. Finn and Rose manage to catch up with the rebels that managed to escape to a planet that was their destination right from the beginning. Everything is ready for a final battle. And a battle we get. Along with (again) one of the stupidest character moments. However, I don’t want to go into every little detail and stop the plot discussion here.

After seeing that film I feel that there will be Fans 1.0 and Fans 2.5 (Fans 2.0 would be the folks who grew up with the prequels I guess). The film doesn’t even try to hide the fact that it, almost literally, wants to burn down what came before it. And while I’m not entirely opposed to that… I really feel it could have been done with a little more respect. Not just respect for the previous material but also respect for the fans of that material. There are parts of the story that I felt were useless and could have been avoided. There is this mutiny element on the fleeing rebel ship that could have easily been avoided by the leaders just telling their plans to everyone. Wouldn’t a competent leader do that in a dire situation just to avoid unnecessary complications? There weren’t many people left anyway! Just tell them! No, instead we create some artificial conflict. A conflict that plays out kind of fine in the film but falls apart as soon as you think about it. We need to keep some characters in the dark because otherwise they would have zero character growth in this film. Character growth and how it’s handled is a general issue in this film.

Talking about respect for the material. Give Admiral Ackbar a better death! Some might argue it’s a ‘non-character’. But enough fans have read enough books (of the old, now cancelled, extended universe (thanks Disney)) where he did play a larger role. Let him initiate that wonderful epic scene I mentioned earlier! There is no need to introduce a new character just for that. Well, ok, it’s Disney… they probably want to sell some stuff with that new character. Sometimes it’s too obvious. Or is it just to diversify the cast with more females? I don’t care. All I know is that they had a perfect character for that scene and felt the need to go with someone no one ever heard of.

From a technical point of view there is almost nothing to complain about. Almost. I think it is certainly one of the most beautiful SW films yet. Some great camera angles and well composed shots. John Williams composed a nice score for it. The sound design is pretty much flawless (Dolby Atmos really brought out the best in that department). Only the writing could have been better. It is weird how at the end of the film our characters have undergone a change… but not necessarily grown. Some of them end up where they started. Even after an 2 1/2hr movie where tons of things happen. The Casino part feels staged and too much. Unfortunately the film splits up the characters we had fun with in TFA. Finn and Rey had such a nice chemistry in that first film and they don’t share anything in this film. Rey and Poe seem to meet for the first time ever at the end of this film. Which is completely odd. That said…

…I must say that I did like the film a lot better after a second viewing. It doesn’t change my opinion about it and I still stand with the flaws I pointed out. The casino part still felt misplaced. The humour still fell flat most of the time. Character development still felt weird. However, I was able to see through it a little better and here and there understood what the makers were going for. And it will be interesting to see where they go now. They managed to establish a clean slate. It could have been done more smoothly. It’s not the feared re-hash of Empire Strikes Back and now the third movie can pretty much do what it wants. I can even imagine them doing a time jump of a couple of years. And that’s as far as I am willing to venture into ‘fan theory’ town. Did the film make me jump up and say: “oh! now I really want to know how it continues!”? Absolutely not. The film left me indifferent. Much contrary to TFA… which definitely made me want to see more.

For now, let’s see where this almost clean slate brings us.

A 7.7/10 for me. Yes, it may be a surprising high vote after reading my review. It’s always easier to write about stuff you didn’t like. But there is some good in this film too. This film planted a seed for something entirely new. We may agree or disagree with elements of the film… but the fact that from now on it can really become its own thing is worth honoring. I feel it’s one of these films that need time. And I’m willing to give it that time.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi on IMDb