Avengers: Infinity War – Movie Review

May 21st, 2018

movie reviewThe very fact, that this movie even became a reality, can only be applauded at this point. I tip my hat to what Marvel Studios achieved in the past 10 years. They carefully crafted storylines for all these different superheroes to lead into this first part, of a two part (kind of finale), movie. Who would have thought that all these different superheroes would even work for an audience? Back then I was more than skeptical when they announced a Thor movie! Well, the first one wasn’t too amazing but still worked in bringing this universe closer together. The more fantasy and magic based stuff in the Thor storyline enabled a Doctor Strange movie for example. Another character that most people didn’t even know existed. Plus so many characters that didn’t get their own film and were introduced along the way. It very rarely did not work. And that’s fairly amazing. The downside is… you will be completely lost watching this film, without having an idea what else happened throughout the other films. The upside is… they did not need to waste time introducing characters and jumped right into the story.

The bigger weakness of all the past movies were the villains, the bad guys. In this film we finally get a baddy that comes with the full package. Thanos (Josh Brolin) has a compelling backstory and a motivation that is relateable. That instantly makes him much more dangerous because you don’t really know what he’ll do. He’s not a cliche. His set of motivations can lead to different outcomes and his relationship to Gamora (Zoe Zaldana) is almost heart breaking. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) still struggles with PTSD from what happened in the previous Avengers films. And rightfully so. A lot of stuff happened and some deal with it better than others. So there are some real life issues tackled by this film. Which is always a good thing to have, since it allows the audience to connect much better with the material they see now and have seen in the past. Every film made the previous films better. Most of them managed to build on each other and overall made the universe as a whole richer.

The film starts pretty much where we left off with Thor: Ragnarok. Right off the bat we are confronted with Thanos and get a taste of his powers. Thanos is looking for six infinity stones. Each stone has a specific power that would allow him to literally control the universe and what its made of. We follow Thanos collecting these stones. Which actually makes him the main character of this film. The Avengers themselfes often feel like they aren’t actually the main part of the film. The heavier and more meaningful parts always include Thanos. I really enjoyed the depth they gave him. Of course we get to see our heroes do their hero stuff and it’s fantastically choreographed action sequences. I rarely lost oversight of what was going on and the way they shot these sequences works nicely. A lot of ‘tag team’ action where our heroes combine their abilitys and powers. They did that very nicely in the past and continue to do that here in the best possible ways. To get all these characters into one big film is a task. Especially to give them all something to do! Naturally some are more reduced to just being there, while others get larger moments to shine. Captain America (Chris Evans) felt very flat this time. Which he never was in the past. He was always one of the more interesting characters. So looking at the end of the film it can be argued that the old guard will get their moments in the second film. While the newer characters got their action in this first movie to take a step back in the next. Due to all these heroes doing stuff, the film jumps around quite a bit too. Lots of different locations. Which, in other films could have been problematic, but here it kept the whole thing fresh, in regards to the long running time of the film, another accomplishment. The different locations also helped to keep the heroes divided (which normally sucks but was clearly necessary here) into groups. These pairings were thought out very well and enabled some inspired scenes and interactions. They clearly had their fun writing these parts.

I wasn’t super hyped for this film. I still haven’t seen Spiderman: Homecoming and Black Panther. I even contemplated not watching Infinity War before I watched these two. I figured that I haven’t watched all the other films (over 10 years) for nothing and that I really deserved watching Infinity War in big and with superb sound. The theater was almost empty and it was perfect! =D I also thought that the two films I missed did not seem to have a too big story impact on Infinity War. Luckily I was right. This film worked for me.

Are there some negative points to this film? Yes. It is very long. 150 minutes were definitely needed to tell that story but it’s still very long. The ending feels very abrupt. Thanos is entirely CGI and in some parts it does show. Even though they did a very good job for most of the time. Half (if not more) of this film is entirely CGI… why not go full CGI at this point? I ask the same question with the Transformers film every single time. Near the end there is a scene with Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in the Hulkbuster armour and it looks like shit. Sorry, whoever worked on that part, it looks really really badly integrated. But I digress. I’m still no fan of the music/score in these films. Yes, the Avengers theme is somewhat memorable but the rest is/feels like noise. I don’t like the Avengers theme. It doesn’t feel epic at all. It’s just good enough to serve its purpose. Like pretty much all the music in these Marvel movies. That’s still a shame.

So yes, this movie is the spectacle everyone wanted and even a little more. My surprise is Thanos. I liked him a lot. I know, he’s the bad guy but still, finally a bad guy that has some gravitas. I saw the film in 2D and Dolby Atmos sound… it was perfect. No 3D needed. I’m event interested in the upcoming Captain Marvel and Infinity War 2 now. Another accomplishement!

7.7/10

Avengers: Infinity War on IMDb

Dunkirk – Movie Review

May 13th, 2018

movie reviewAfter finally seeing it at home, I kind of regret not having seen it on the big screen, in a theater. Christopher Nolan certainly knows how to put together a film with great images. Images that suck you in and create a dense feel for the atmosphere he intents for his films. Dunkirk has these images as well and creates an almost ghostly feel throughout the entire picture. It’s a film that makes you want to say that it’s a typical Nolan movie. But that’s not entirely right. Now if you would break it all down it would probably point to a lot of ‘Nolanisms’… stuff you can find in every one of his films. But it still feels very different. I was disappointed by Interstellar. I felt he wanted to do too much stuff in there that he’s not exactly the best guy for. Dunkirk was perfect for him.

It’s 1940. British, belgian and french soldiers are trapped and surrounded by the germans on the beaches of Dunkirk. After a failed offensive to free france, almost 400000 soldiers are trapped by a german military at its peak of efficiency. Evacuation moves slowly due to constant bombing runs and submarine attacks. Up to a point where the british don’t want to spare ships anymore and start to requisit and send out civilian vessels to get the soldiers out. History. From what can be found/read, it’s safe to say, the film treated the historical events fairly accurate.

What really sticks out is the ghostly presentation. Especially some of the beach scenes are shot in a way that shows the soldiers more as shadows instead of appearing like real people. Combined with the underplayed, humming music by Hans Zimmer it creates a very special atmosphere. It is no typical war movie with lots of action and explosions. Instead we get a closer look at the soldiers and how they tried to get away from an almost certain death by german forces coming closer and closer to the beach. The constant fear of Luftwaffe attacks and their bombers.

Technically we get 3 movies in one. All three of them different and interesting in their own ways. First we get the soldier story. Here we follow three soldiers on their journey trying to get home. The second piece follows a man, his son and a friend that embark to save some soldiers with their ship. The third part shows two RAF pilots who try to keep ships safe from Luftwaffe bombing runs. Of course all these parts come together at one point. There are time differences in their stories though. I had no problems following the strings but I can imagine this to be a little problematic for an audience that’s not fully ‘there’. All three parts give a nice shift in perspective and the editing to keep everything in a good flow works very good. It surely wasn’t easy to edit all the elements, so the audience doesn’t get confuse. Same goes for the filming. Scenes you experience with the fighter pilots earlier, do come back later, from a different perspective, but you recognize the connection due to behaviour of the planes and their moves. That’s masterfully done.

Due to the different parts and the way they are presented, we end up with some inconsistencies here and there. Especially when it comes to the weather and light situations. Granted… it’s pretty much always stormy weather and so the lighting situations between scenes naturally differ from scene to scene. But in some parts the difference are a little too obvious. That’s just a minor nitpick though. That’s what happens when you film on location and not in a studio.

So ultimately this film comes almost appears like an experimental film. Its appearance for a war movie is very different. There are pretty much no heroes in this film. Except for one character maybe. Don’t expect a super bombastic movie. Nonetheless it’s quite fantastic, relevant and a good watch.

7.9/10

Dunkirk on IMDb

Parsec City

May 10th, 2018



Parsec City

Not too much to say about this one. Originally a commission, I did have some real fun with it. Earlier this year the rights fell back to me and so I decided to show it to the world! The pic is four years old and the cool thing is that it holds up. I still really enjoy this piece.

Vue – DAZStudio – Photoshop – Lightroom

Concepts

Atmosphere Study

wallpapers available

Regards

signed

Vue Basics Tutorial on Artstation

May 9th, 2018

Vue Basics - Tutorial

A while ago I was approached by none other than one of the (if not THE) biggest websites for digital art professionals. In the recent past they ventured out a little and try to also bring people tutorial/walkthrough videos to certain software packages. Now it seems I’m known for using Vue quite a bit. =) So they were asking for a quick run through the tool and what it’s able to do. I sat down and took “Port Fenster“, one of the projects in my Endeavours series, to help me explain the strengths of Vue. Maybe I’ll get the chance to cover some more detailed stuff in a later video. For now we have the basics. Enjoy! =)

Find the video: here

This video is sponsored by the fine folks at E-On Software, the creators of Vue! And, of course, Artstation. Big thanks to both!

Regards
signed

A Quiet Place – Movie Review

May 5th, 2018

movie reviewAfter hearing a number of good things about this film, I decided to grab a good friend of mine and have good evening! I did not have this film on my radar too much. Only recently it created a blip on said radar and the film’s runtime, of just 90 minutes, looked very attractive to me. Now if you have seen the trailer you probably understand what the film is about. A world where sound can be your end. Did they manage to create a believable world for that concept and do the performances work? Let’s see.

As far as I understand it’s the second movie by John Krasinski. An actor who made his name by being part of the US version of ‘The Office’. Which I have never seen a single episode of. But I know the British original and the German version. So he’s clearly coming from a comedy angle/background. He recently ventured out and tried himself on other stuff and, from what I can gather, with success. He’s a very charismatic actor and, it seems, very talented director as well. “A quiet place” certainly leaves an impression!

The movie follows family Abott, in a world that’s gone quiet. Evelyn (Emily Blunt), Lee (John Krasinski), Regan (Millicent Simmonds), Marcus (Noah Jupe) and Beau (Cade Woodward). Throughout the film we get some hints to what happened to this world, and very early on are confronted with the tragedies that are possible in this world. Evelyn and Lee do their best to protect their children from this world. And certainly try to prepare them for a life in this world. Therefore it is very easy to slip into the skin of all the characters and their thought process behind every decision they have to make. The script is also smart enough to show and explain how they manage to survive in this world. The subject matter and the execution of the film is very efficient and only goes into detail where it’s absolutely necessary. It does not talk down to its audience and wants the audience to connect certain things on their own. And no, it’s not a complicated film. It is easy to follow. Still, so many films nowadays find it necessary to explain even the most unimportant details. Not so here. And it’s welcome.

As soon as the film starts we understand that the environment the Abotts live in will demand sacrifices and we’re waiting for them to happen. We’re with the family until the end and the film fokusses purely on them. So we see how they manage to live their daily life and what obstacles they have to overcome. The characters are believable and the actors get as much out of the script as possible. Which is great acting by all involved since there really isn’t too much dialogue between the characters going on. Emily Blunt and John Krasinski have good chemistry and it’s nice to see Emily Blunt in a horror movie. She can literally do anything. She’s that good. And John Krasinski, with this film, will put himself on a list for not only hip actors but directors as well. I’m certainly interested in where he’s going next.

So yes, it is a good film. There are some small down sides though. Like so many horror movies these days, we get a number of jump scares here as well. Unfortunately most (not all) these jump scares feel very constructed and just being there for the sake of being there. A tiny bit more info about how the world turned into this mess would have been nice too. Maybe one or two lines. Not more. As stated earlier I did welcome the condensed runtime of the film. But 5-8 more minutes to create some more atmosphere would have maybe worked out nice too. But that really is a minor nitpick. The film, at no point, felt rushed.

It certainly was an interesting experience watching such a quiet film in a dark theater. Probably the best way watching this film! So if you can still catch it… try to!

7.7/10

A Quiet Place on IMDb

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

The artwork on:
DeviantartArtstationCGSociety

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