Thursday, 28 October 2010

Way Of The Samurai

So, I've somewhat havent had to the time post as much as I would have liked, mostly becuase I've been in between pieces of work that havent quite been completed to the standard I would have liked.

That aside, I've fallen behind in th character design work slightly, because I really wanted to take the time to research the Samurai properly, and not half-heartedly on popular culture, hence my characters still being up in the air...

Moving on, here's the background information I gathered on Samurai's, and there way of life:


Is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan.
According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, this was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau. In both countries the terms were nominalized to mean "those who serve in close attendance to the nobility," the pronunciation in Japanese changing to saburai."
By the end of the 12th century, samurai became almost entirely synonymous with bushi, and the word was closely associated with the middle and upper echelons of the warrior class.
The samurai followed a set of rules that came to be known as Bushidō. While they numbered less than 10% of Japan's population samurai teachings can still be found today in both everyday life and in martial arts such as Kendō, meaning the way of the sword.


The term 'Bushido' literally meaning "Way of the Warrior", is a name in common usage since the late 19th Century which is used to describe a uniquely Japanese Code Of Conduct adhered to by Samurai since time immemorial.

The Seven Virtues of Bushido:

Associated Virtues:
Filial Piety
Elderly Care


As de facto aristocrats for centuries, samurai developed their own cultures that influenced Japanese culture as a whole. The culture associated with the samurai such as the Tea Ceremony, monochrome ink painting, rock gardens and poetry were adopted by warrior patrons throughout the centuries 1200–1600.


In general, samurai, aristocrats, and priests had a very high literacy rate in Kanji. Recent studies have shown that literacy in Kanji among other groups in society was somewhat higher than previously understood.
For example, court documents, birth and death records and marriage records from the Kamakura period, submitted by farmers, were prepared in Kanji. Literacy was generally high among the warriors and the common classes as well.


A Samurai was usually named by combining one Kanji from his father or grandfather and one new Kanji. Samurai normally used only a small part of their total name.

Marriage (Shudo)

The tradition of love bonds between a seasoned and a novice samurai was held to be "the flower of the samurai spirit" and formed the real basis of the samurai aesthetic for some of the high ranking Samurai class. Even amongst the high ranking samurai, it was in the minority.
This practice is commonly believed to have originated from the beliefs in Bushido.
It was one of the main ways in which the ethos and the skills of the samurai tradition were passed down from one generation to another.

Bidō (The Beautiful Way), was also another term used for the bonds between Samurai. The devotion that two samurai would have for each other would be almost as great as that which they had for their daimyo.
Indeed, according to contemporary accounts, the choice between his lover and his master could become a philosophical problem for samurai.
It should be noted that bidō also was a term for a close friendship that was often not sexual, but Sempai and Kohai.


Bushido teaches that the Katana is the samurai's soul and sometimes a samurai is pictured as entirely dependent on the weapon for fighting.
They believe that the katana was so precious that they often gave them names and considered them as part of the living. After a male Bushi child was born, he would receive his first sword in a ceremony called Mamori-gatana. The sword, however, was merely a charm sword covered with brocade to which was attached a purse or wallet, worn by children under five.
Upon reaching the age of thirteen, in a ceremony called Genpuku, the child was given his first real weapons and armour, an adult name, and became a samurai.

A list of the weapons Samurai were known for using:

Katana/Wakizashi (Daisho)
Kanabo (Club)
Tanto (Small Kinfe)
Yumi (Long Bow)
Yari (Spear)
Teppo (Arquebus-Gun)


Here's a breakdown of the pieces worn on a full suit of Samurai Armour:

Kikou - Full Armour
Kabotu - Helmet
Mempo - Face Mask
Do - Torso/Cuirass
Sode - Shoulder Guards
Kote - Armoured Sleeves
Kusazuri - Skirt/Apron
Suneate - Shin Guards
Haidate - Thigh Guards


Samurai - Those who serve in close attendance to nobility
Bushi - The name given to the ancient Japanese soldiers from traditional warrior families

Buke - A martial house or a member of such a house
Mononofu  - An ancient term meaning a warrior.
Musha - A shortened form of bugeisha, lit. martial art man.
Shi - A word roughly meaning "gentleman
Daimyo - The term referring to the powerful territorial lord
Seppku - Ritual suicide by disembowlment
Uruwashii - A cultured warrior symbolized by the kanji for "bun" (literary study) and "bu" (military study or arts)
Tsuwamono - An old term for a soldier popularized by Matsuo Bashō in his famous haiku. Literally meaning a strong person.
Ronin - A Samurai with no lord or master. A Samurai became masterless from the death or fall of his   master, or after the loss of his master's favor or privilege


Most samurai were bound by a code of honor and were expected to set an example for those below them. A notable part of their code is seppuku, which allowed a disgraced samurai to regain his honor by passing into death, where samurai were still beholden to social rules.
Whilst there are many romanticised characterisations of samurai behaviour such as the writing of Bushido in 1905, studies of Kobudo and traditional Budō indicate that the samurai were as practical on the battlefield as were any other warrior.
Despite the rampant romanticism of the 20th century, samurai could be disloyal and treacherous, cowardly, brave, or overly loyal.
Samurai were usually loyal to their immediate superiors, who in turn allied themselves with higher lords. These loyalties to the higher lords often shifted. There were, however, also notable instances where samurai would be disloyal to their lord or daimyo, when loyalty to the emperor was seen to have supremacy.

Quotes about the Samurai

I gathered a few of these to give more depth to the Samurai

Stating that a warrior looked forward to a glorious death, It is a matter of regret to let the moment when one should die pass by. One's main purpose in throwing away his life is to do so either for the sake of the Emperor or in some great undertaking of a military general.

When one is serving officially or in the master's court, he should not think of a hundred or a thousand people, but should consider only the importance of the master.

Those who are reluctant to give up their lives and embrace death are not true warriors. Go to the battlefield firmly confident of victory, and you will come home with no wounds whatever.
Engage in combat fully determined to die and you will be alive; wish to survive in the battle and you will surely meet death.
When you leave the house determined not to see it again you will come home safely; when you have any thought of returning you will not return.
You may not be in the wrong to think that the world is always subject to change, but the warrior must not entertain this way of thinking, for his fate is always determined

The way of the Samurai is in desperateness. Ten men or more cannot kill such a man

In matters both great and small, one should not turn his back on his master's commands...One should not ask for gifts or enfiefments from the master...No matter how unreasonably the master may treat a man, he should not feel disgruntled...An underling does not pass judgments on a superior

If a man does not investigate into the matter of Bushido daily, it will be difficult for him to die a brave and manly death. Thus it is essential to engrave this business of the warrior into one's mind well

It is not the Bushido to be shamed and avoid death even under circumstances that are not particularly important. It goes without saying that to sacrifice one's life for the sake of his master is an unchanging principle. That I should be able to go ahead of all the other warriors of this country and lay down my life for the sake of my master's benevolence is an honor to my family and has been my most fervent desire for many years

So....after gathering all this Information, I finally feel like I can grasp the nature of my characters to my fullest understanding.

Now onwards to researching the appriopate gear for each type of warrior... :)

Monday, 11 October 2010

Post-Modernity vs Scream

This film, in comparison to the many other horror films that fit into the 'slasher' genre, is possible the most stand alone from the group, because it 'self-aware' to all the cliche's and even pays homage to some of the more classics, such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, even as far back as Hitchcocks' 'Psycho'.

From the very first few scenes, these comparions can be seen, with the phone converstation Drew Barrymores character is having with a complete stranger, discussing their favourite Horror Filmsthat scene ending on a simmilar thread to the killing of the female character in 'Psycho', never seeing contact of the plunging knife. Infact, most of the film seems to revlove around the discussion of 'real-life' horror films, and the comparisons, and realisim between them.

Examples of these:

Biggest star in the film, killed in first five mins (simmilar to psycho)
Ratings of films based on sexual activites.
Sidney's self-awareness to horror films generics (challanging them) playing out the parts seen in so many films, whilst constantly anaylsing the situation, aware of the dangers.
Janitor dressed as Freddy Krugar (pin stripped top, and hat) and referred to as 'Freddie'
Horror Formlua's discussed in the video store, discussing Villians in Horror Films.
Characters state that 'It's the Millenium, Motives are Incidental'.
Reference to how the events are starting to sound like a Wes Carpenter flick (Mix of John Caprenter and Wes Craven).
Constantly stating that Horror Films have lame motives.
States that Virgins are innocent, and always survive, at the same time as Sidney loses her own, suggesting that the 'slutty girl' doesn't deserve to live.
This event also at the same time as a horror movie the group downstairs are watching, in which they are having sex.
Character states that life is infact 'One Big Movie', and you just 'Can't Pick A Genre'.
Great scene that mainpulates the 'mirror in a mirror technique' where the characters are watchina  film, the the characters are being viewed from cctv, and finally we ourselves are watching them.
Group watching film discuss the 'rules of horror'.
At the end, when we find the killer, he quotes 'Norman Bates' (Psycho) 'We All Go A Little Crazy Sometimes).
Fake blood used by killers, taken reference from the film 'Carrie'.

In that sense, it's almost as if Wes Craven is using this film, as almost a dig at how genric and simmilar 'Slasher/Horror' films have become, spinning the genre on it's head, by creating references you would only understand, if you were 'In on the Joke' a very Post-Modern way of thinking.

Lip Sync 2

Oka, so here's my version of the second lip sinc, using Genric Guy.....I found this slightly more harder, so I think some practicing after final completion will be great.

This mainly focuses on the movement of the lips, in comparsion the jaw previously.

Post-Modernity vs Mullholland Drive

Well, it's safe to say that this is definitely a David Lynch film, from that point on, if anyone has seen any other his other pieces, such as 'Blue Velvet', be prepared for a strange ride.

Mullholland Drive, in a nutshell, is a mind-fuck to a certain to degree, as it consistently manipulates you into a false sense of direction, allowing you to judge just what type of film it is, then suddenly, completly shifting the genre, as well the narrative of the story.

An example of this, is the constant character swaps, which appear at first to be completly unrelated, then begin to merge into one story. At this 'apparent' merging of the characters stories occurs, they suddenly explode and fragmentate into different directions, as well as presepctives, acting almost like a labyrinth in that sense.

The film includes numerous elements of genre's that would otherwise not fit the intial 'criteria' of the first
few scenes, for example such elements as psychology, porn, crime, horror, dreams, hollywood, all appear within this film.

Mullholland Drive, in this sense, merges these different themes, and completly 'disobeys' there genrics, almost making the statement that 'why should films be so genric and linear', and using this theme to portray the inner pshyique of an indivduals mind, who uses these elements to overcome issuses in her life.

As much as I found this film 'weird' on a number of levels, it definitely is a must see, and perhaps after reaching the end, another watch is needed to get the most out of the film. In relation to post-modernism however, this film seems to portray how 'undecided' the subject is, and undefined :)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

To Become the Ninja..

Okay, so today after our 3rd lesson with Jusin Wyatt on character design, I felt it was time to move onto some of my character work, and delve right into the research behind what it is to be a 'Ninja'. I read up on the subject, and went in deep, rangin from everything such as weapons, to tatics, almost feeling like I was in training myself lol.

So here's what I found out about the Ninja:

A Ninja/Shinobi was a covert agent/mercenary of Feudal Japan, that specialized in unorthodox arts of war.
Essentially, Ninja were stealth soliders/mercenaries hired by Daimyo's (powerful terratorial lords)

Roles Of The Ninja

Espionage  - Information
Sabotage - Arson
Infiltration - Buildings/Social
Assassaination - Figureheads
Open Combat - In Certain Situations

Countermeasure's taken to prevent the activites of the Ninja include constructed traps/tripwires/alarmbells, concealed weapons in floorboards/lavatory, winding labrynthine routes in castles, blindspots/holes in walls for surveillance,' nightingale' floors (suspended on hinges for noise when stepped on), gravel in the grounds, and segregated buildings to prevent whole compounds burning down.

In modern times, the required skills of a Ninja as become known as Ninjutsu, but not nescissarily tied under one sigle discipline beforehand. Modern misconceptions have identified ninjutsu as a form of combat art, but historically, ninjutsu largely covered Espionage and Survival skills


Covert Warfare
Survival/Scouting Techniques
Long Distance Running
Stealth Methods
Profession Knowledge


The Ninja never did not always work solo, Teamwork techniques were vital in situations, scaling walls by creating a 'Human Platform', on one another's back and assiting inviduals to gain higher ground. Deception in infiltration an army with numbers, and attacking their own colours cuases confusion and breaks ranks.
Most ninjutsu techniques recorded in scrolls and manuals revolve around ways to avoid detection, and methods of escape. These techniques were loosely grouped under corresponding natural elements. Some examples are:

Hitsuke - The practice of distracting guards by starting a fire away from the ninja's planned point of entry. Falls under "fire techniques" (katon-no-jutsu)

Tanuki-gakure - The practice of climbing a tree and camouflaging oneself within the foliage. Falls under "wood techniques" (mokuton-no-jutsu)

Ukigusa-gakure - The practice of throwing duckweed over water in order to conceal underwater movement. Falls under "water techniques" (suiton-no-jutsu)
Uzura-gakure - The practice of curling into a ball and remaining motionless in order to appear like a stone. Falls under "earth techniques" (doton-no-jutsu)


Ninja made use of a range of disguises, some of the more notable forms:
Fortune Tellers
Ronin (Masterless Samurai)  


Ninjas utilized a large variety of tools and weaponry, some of which were commonly known, but others were more specialized. Most were tools used in the infiltration of castles. They owned a wide range of specialized equipment including:

Climbing equipment
Extending spears
Rocket-propelled arrows
Small collapsible boats


Although Ninja are reknowned for appearing clad in black garms, there is no written evidence that this is infact true, although artisticly early drawn references show them appearing like this to portray there 'Invisiblity'.

Clothing used were simmilar to the Samurai, however loose garments were tucked into either the trousers, or a belt. The Tengui (Cloth used in Martial Arts) had many functions, and could be used to form a belt, assit in climbing, or cover the face.

A number of tools known to be used by the Ninja for Infiltration and Espionage:

Grappling Hook
Kunai (Weapon/Climbing Pin)
Mizogumo (Wooden Water Shoes to distribute weight)

Despite the large array of tools available to the ninja, the Bansenshukai warns one not to be overburdened with equipment, stating 'a successful ninja is one who uses but one tool for multiple tasks'.


Ninja's always made the best use of what they had, hence why there are many different types of weapons(some which have a primary use as a tool), and each having a functionality and praticality in and out of combat. I gathered a list of the weapons Ninja were known for using, as well as any secondary use:

Kaginawa (Grapple Hook) Climbing
Shuriken (Ninja Star)
Kusarigama (Chain & Sickle)
Kunai (Kife/Crowbar/)
Yumi (Bow)
Tekagi-Shuko (Claw)

Interestingly enough, although alot of the weapons above have secondary uses, the one with the most is the Katana, with over several uses beyond normal combat.

In dark places, the scabbard could be extended out of the sword, and used as a long probing device.
The sword could also be laid against the wall, where the ninja could use the Tsuba (Sword Guard) to gain a higher foothold.
The katana could even be used as a device to stun enemies before attacking them, by putting a combination of red pepper, dirt or dust, and iron filings into the area near the top of the scabbard, so that as the sword was drawn the concoction would fly into the enemies eyes, stunning him until a lethal blow could be made.

However there were many other swords around that period that were used, some warriors (Especially Samurai) equiped more than one at a time for different ranges. The Katana (Long), and the Washizaki (Short) was a combination found frequently in more mordern times of Traditonal Japan. All though this was not the only combination between long and short, this paring of opposing sizes in knwon as 'Daisho' (literally meaning large, small).

Legendary Abilites

Superhuman, or Supernatural powers were often associated with the ninja, some legends include:

Multiple Body Splitting
Animal Summoning
Control of the 5 Elements

Kuji Kiri
This is the Nija practise which involves a string of 9 words spoken through chant/incantations, allowing the Ninja to enact Superhuman feats.
The application of this was Kuji Kiri to produce the desired effect was known as 'Cutting'. These intended effects usually range from physical and mental concentration, to more incredible claims, such as rendering an opponent immobile, or even the casting of magical spells.

The art which has derived from the practise proportedly used bu Ninja's, encompassing Martial Arts, Strategy, Tatics, Unconventional Warfer, Guerrilla Warfare, and Espionage.

Here are the 18 Disciplines involved in the study of Ninjutsu:

1.Seishinteki kyōyō (spiritual refinement)

2.Taijutsu (unarmed combat)
3.Kenjutsu (sword techniques)
4.Bōjutsu (stick and staff techniques)
5.Sōjutsu (spear techniques)
6.Naginatajutsu (naginata techniques)
7.Kusarigamajutsu (kusarigama techniques)
8.Shurikenjutsu (throwing weapons techniques)
9.Kayakujutsu (pyrotechnics)
10.Hensōjutsu (disguise and impersonation)
11.Shinobi-iri (stealth and entering methods)
12.Bajutsu (horsemanship)
13.Sui-ren (water training)
14.Bōryaku (tactics)
15.Chōhō (espionage)
16.Intonjutsu (escaping and concealment)
17.Tenmon (meteorology)
18.Chi-mon (geography)

An important peice of text translated 'Sea of Myriad Rivers Merging' and is a collection of Ninja knowledge widely regarded as being written by Fujibayashi Sabuji, Fujibayashi Yasutake, or Fujibayashi Yasuyoshi. Written in 1676, it is a culmination ofPhilosophy, Millitary Strategy, Astrology and Weapons.
The Ninja, using covert methods of waging war, were contrasted with the Samurai who had strict rules about honor and combat

And on that intresting final note, and after 5 hours of intensive research/typing (no lie), I knwo for a fact atht this has really helped me, not only becuase I wrote it twice (notes and post) and known most of the information quite clearly, but also it's really helped develop Excellant idea's in contrast to plot/depth/art driection, as a result from gaining this knowledge

So, I'll be focusing now this week, on gaining more Influence Maps, in correspondance to this information. And I'll create a simmilar post for Samurai Next Week.

Night Everyone :)

Monday, 4 October 2010

Ninja Character - Synopsis Idea's

Okay, so I've been thinking for a while about how I can add more depth to the story of Ninja, and I had the thought, of there being a realtion between both Ninja, and Samurai, as they both are warriors, dervided from Japan. There would obviously, be some sort of fight between the two, which is intresting, because they use very different styles of fighting.

As well as having the cyborg element in the works based slightly in the future, I really think this could be visually stunning, and exciting, bringing a fresh new edge to the styles.

I'll be posting a few more idea's soon, starting with more Influence Maps, exploring Samurai's also :)

Lost In Mancha,'Terry Gilliam '2002'

A documentry turn film, this footage tells the story about the downfall of Terry Gilliam's adaptation of Don Quixote (a novel from the 1600) and the delcate balance between hit or miss in the production aspect of films.

In a nutshell, this film portrays how one man's desires and aspirations for a film, can be blown apart by a series of 'worst-case scenario's'. It's a really great insight into what can go wrong in the film industry, but can also be applied to may others, such as CG, which is probably why it was shown to us, as a guide of 'what not to do', and to also have the ability to comprimise. There may have been a solid Pre-Production behind the film at that start, but this soon started to bleed into Production, with things such as cast, settings etc left to the last minuite.

While watching the film, and obviously knowing the outcome of the film, having been breifed about it prior to watching, I became disappointed because I felt as though the film itself actualy had alot of potential to be great, with it's strong artistic direction, staying true to novel, (which from what I can tell was a lovely imaginativre piece) as well as adding some modern twists, and great locations. The cast as well, seemed to be perfect for the part also, however, this itself became the eventual downfall of the film, losing the main character to what seemed like fate, everything after followed suit downhill, with heavy thunderstorms washing equipment away, and military jets blasting past, ruining the audio in the scenes they manged to shoot.

Alongside this, their seemed to be a split in the team, where doubt began to tear them apart, which is a constant remindedr to make sure there is proper discussion about what is 'best' for the production, as well as the relationship between Director and Producer.

All in all, this film was very good reality check for us, and I will certainly take on board what I have seen, especially at the time of our group project, as it opens our eyes to how much planning and preparation really is key to sucsess, and not letting your ambitions cloud your head so much you cant see what is wrong.

Re-Influence Map - Ninja Character Research

Okay, so here's my re-designed Influence Mao. I really wasnt happy with my last one, so I spent some time going over to look more professional...

Obviously because I got Ninja/Ninja, I've had to focus slowly on this, but it's left me so much variety, that I could pretty much place this theme in any frame of mind I like.

I found myself, leaning more towards the 'Cybotic' Ninja, seen in games like 'Metal Gear Solid'. I think it'll be quite an interesting twist, even Justin Wyatt suggested this from looking at my Map, so I'm going to start chasing this idea.

I'm going to go ahead and post more Influence Maps in the future, about different area's of the 'Ninja' theme, such as weapons/lasers etc...and then possiblly traditional japanese landscapes, mixed with modrn cities, and so on, to get more a variety.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Ed Wood, Tim Burton '1994'

Ed Wood is a bio-pic based on the legendary cult filmmaker Edward D.Wood Jr, and his journey through the Film Industry in the 1950's. It mainly focuses on the struggles he experiences in trying to make the big time, with his quirky sense of dedication, to honour his idol 'Orson Wells', in particular his piece 'Citizen Kane', which involved him writing, producing and starring in his own film.

Ed Wood also had an obsession with his favourite horror film actor Bela Lugosi, who he befriends and stars in all of his films, emcompasing the 'Evil' in most of his productions, as well as this he used a majority of the same cast in each film, playing simmilar parts in each one. Though his films were terribly accepted, he still carried on trooping, finding funding from where ever possible, and we witness this throughout the film.

It seems however that his personality somehow leaked into his filmamking, as though some sort of reflection of his quirky, almost dysfunctional sense of direction, never paying much attention to his 'errors' (possible due to his 4 day limit) which he found a 'realistic portrayal' of life. It felt as though he was blinded from his own mistakes, somthing that would of course condemn him in immeadiate times, but years later lead to him being one of the most reknowned sci-fi filmakers of his time, eventually reaching a legendary status, dubbed as the 'worst filmmaker ever' and known as a 'Z-List' director. Although this film is possibly an over-dramatised version of his actual life, I'd have to take my hat off to Ed for his percerverence. :)

Personally, I thought the film itself portrayed he Ed Wood, that we sympthasised with him. That said, my reaction to the film, wether it had been aimed to portray it or not, made me want to cringe, just like any other B-Movie. As a result sorry to say, I didn't enjoy as much as what I probably should have.
In that respect, Tim Burton done a great job at employing this 'B-Movie' style, as well as incorporating his own into it (such as the Black & White, coveying a great 50's aesthetic), that Ed Wood was so well known for, and in terms of research for our current project, (based on 'Retro Film's) superbly helped me to understand it a great deal more, and also deal with it by finding it slightly comic. :)

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Void Canvas Updates - 2 Weeks

Ok, so seeing as we have to post on both blogs our work, I feel it's probably more appropriate to update my own blog weekly, with the contributions I've made to the Group one....

Here's where what I've done in the last two weeks....

Logo Sketch's

Symbol Design

Font Logo Development

Trailer Title, Font Development

Logo Development

 Text Development

Final Logo Compostion/Colour Palette Test

In-between the the development of the Logo, and establishing meeting times, I've also helped put a majority of the story together, with the help of Yola and Ethan, trying to stay true to the 'retroness' of the theme. We found that if we were to make a strong and defined plot-line, we'd have more to work from, and sequence the final piece would make alot more sense....the story can be found in the following link....


With the story being so defined, only telling the necessary details, I was able to construct a summary of the film in the shape of a synopsis, trying to further add the '50's' feel to the piece. I found a good way of actually writing in this particular style, is to 'put on' the stereotypical 'cheesy' voice, to see how it sounds. The synopsis can be found here...


So this is pretty much what I've contributed to the group over the last 2 weeks. I think we're at a good stage at the moment, with a solid idea of what we are trying to achieve. Next week I'll be heading up Character Design, and more R&D :)