Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Yuki-Onna - Character Sketches, Asian Facial Studies, Final Silhouette Shape

Bit of an update here, with a mixture of different work I began at the weekend after speaking with Alan. Time is getting on, so I really need to speed up my pre-production stage to allow my self more time in production and post.

Here are some sketches I made in preparation for design of Yuki-Onna, in terms of her face. Some are more stylised than others, but I found each one was effective in exploring how she should look, instead of steaming into a full portrait, and changing my mind afterwards. In terms of hair, I wanted to try and incorporate 50's styled hair with a oriental twist such as No.2, as well as some modern influences.


However, it struck me that each one didn't quite convey the Japanese/Asian roots of the character, which is clearly a problem. So some self-medication was needed into what splits eastern features from western.


I feel I began to get to grips with the features of Asian women to a certain degree, noticing certain traits in each one:

Smallish eye-ducts
Lips that are tight around the eye that face downwards parallel to the nose
Tight skin that travels outwards
Eyes tend to be quite big
Round, button-like nose, flatter to face at the bridge
Small, plump lips

Considering this, I felt it was important to start to finalise the body. Taking Alan's advice in combining the two most effective out of my previous silhouettes, I reached a conclusion:


I'm really happy with the final one here, I feel it incorporates many of the influences and idea's I wanted, from fashion illustration to preying mantis proportions, with a stylistic approach born from Japanese waver to represent it's origin, and icicles to show her personality.

However, in terms of the 'design' such as her slots and details that make her 'Android' these I feel still need at least one more development. Incorporating elements from my previous designs, although most will literally be adding onto this design, there will be more of a focus onto it's 'subtleness' through shading and skin-tone, making her more 'human' and 'sexually attractive'.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Yuki Onna Silhouette Development

In regards to my previous experiments in ink using influences from Japanese waves and icicles, here are some more refined versions of those silhouettes, along with some detail of the body. There are variations between them, for instance poses, the size of the torso in comparison to the legs, as well as different sizes of head.

I feel the answer for my final body shape/design is here, combining a mixture of different elements, so with a little help feel free to leave a comment which ones you feel work and why in regards to my character bio.

http://bobstrife.blogspot.com/2011/10/narrative-of-tale-of-yuki-onna.html



When considering Yuki-Onna's clothing, some of these designs will be to complex and possibly clash, or be unseen, however I feel it was necessary to get a wide range to see what works. Whilst deciding on the final body style, I will be focusing on the portraiture of the character, as well as a final pose to use for alchemy when generating idea's for clothing, combing previous elements and influences from my first alchemy experiment in this project.


Once I've got the shape, I'll begin to put together some turnarounds of the body, which will hopefully allow me to start modelling next week at the earliest. 

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Alchemy Trial: Importing Images

Ok, so after a few spare hours tonight preparing for the long haul in Pre-Production, I thought I'd get a head start and see if there was a way to import images into Alchemy. This could really push my costumes designs one step further, when working with silhouettes and poses as templates, in a similar technique to fashion illustrators.

After a some disappointing hours of searching, theorizing and a few trail and errors however.....boom:


Just a quick example of what the technique could be capable of in future idea's when I've finalised and prepared a few things, but as you can see....pretty effective. Using this technique also, you can draw shapes on top, and clear, still having the background image remaining.....Perfect template tool in this instance :D NICE FOR ME! 

Hopefully I can help others use this method, if wanting to dodge the research bullet, so I'll pop down the method:

Save image as PDF 1.4 in Illustrator>Load as Sessional PDF in Alchemy 

(May Cause Problems, if so save as Sessional PDF in Alchemy, Close/Open Alchemy then Load Saved Alchemy Session)

Hope this helps anyone who thinks this could be a good investment in their project work :)


Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Stylised Silhouettes

I've FINALLY began to develop visuals for Yuki-Onna. I felt after my Alchemy visuals, the first important step was to finish everything behind the logic of Yuki-Onna, so I knew her like the back of my hand. This obviously lends itself to the design, taking for instance my Character Bio.

Silhouetting the body for me was the way forward in my Pre-Production, choosing how to stylise her body, as well as and portraying her character. I took influence from the shapes of icicles, to get the cold nature of snow/frost, which is embedded into her persona.


Talking with Alan after this step, he guided me towards Japanese Waves/Wind as a source of shapes, as the icicle shapes maybe 'too stylised'. He later suggested I could take influence from icicles and incorporate it into costume development, a creating a balance of the two.I painted the silhouettes in these versions with ink, infusing elements of traditional Japanese mediums, and fashion illustration to gain a style, as well as 'fluidity' from the Waves/Wind



I think the answer is a mixture of both these stylises. My next step will be refining this direction, by blocking
out more silhouettes, and cutting in some detail/colour, whilst playing with proportion more, as these are all quiet similar.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Proposal '1st Draft'

So here's my first draft of my proposal. Not entirely sure of what it is meant to comprise of, only that it's a brief 'of sorts' so I thought I'd get something down and see what needs to be changed, with help from either Alan or Phil.



The Narrative of 'The Tale of Yuki-Onna' & Character Biography

After spending a significant amount of time researching many different area's of influence, and trying to ground my character within these. I feel as though I've 'discovered' my own version of Yuki-Onna, in a fresh, modern twist on the Japanese folklore.

I realise this because it feels like the character couldn't  be written any 'other' way then what I've established here. There is no fat, but rather pieces/facets that tie together to form a new character born of a 'world' relative to my research.





I'm aware a lot of this is text based, hence trying out this new way of conveying it. Creating these boards are also doubling up as a making of, and a much more professional way of presenting my work in regards to previous projects.

With the Back-story in place, its helped set a world where I can ground/justify transcribing Yuki-Onna, and the motifs that surround her in the original tales. The Synopsis is just version of the Back-story, with all the fat cut away, and slightly elaborates on Yuki-Onna.

The Character Bio is the real meat in this package, an inspired mix of both Research Compilations, as well as some elements/themes I feel bring the character to life. This will act as a reference board whenever I begin to design new elements.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Extracting Filmic Influences - Blade Runner

In the final installment of Filmic References, I decided to wrap up with Blade Runner, a film classed 'Neo-Noir' a style often seen in modern motion pictures and other forms that prominently utilize elements of Film Noir, but with updated themes, content, style, visual elements or media that were absent in films noir of the 1940s and 1950s. This seemed like the right route to take, as my own work will incorporate elements of this sub-genre.

Blade Runner '1982'


In a cyberpunk vision of the future, man has developed the technology to create replicants, human clones used to serve in the colonies outside Earth but with fixed lifespans. In Los Angeles, 2019, Deckard is a Blade Runner, a cop who specialises in terminating replicants. Originally in retirement, he is forced to re-enter the force when six replicants escape from an offworld colony to Earth.

After having gathered many different references, each focusing on different elements, such as Femme Fatale, Traditional Japanese Cinema, and Revenge Characters/Tales, I watched this film for the sole purpose of capturing how it conveyed a Hybridized sense of Film Noir, through atmosphere, lighting, mood, composition, and shapes that together build an environment that represents the nature of the sequence. There was many shots in this film that worked in this way, however these particular screen caps I feel will help portray Yuki-Onna in the way I wish.

Extracting Filmic Influences - Bullet Ballet & Branded To Kill

With Yuki-Onna being reminscent of Film Noir's classic 'Femme Fatale', it seemed obvious to look at Japans reaction to the American genre, and try to extract traits that resonate within films in Japanese Cinema, such as story components and visual reference. By doing so, it will help ground my character further into a workable story of hybridized genres, and help draw out some influences, such as lighting and charatcer archetypes.

Here's a map composed of two films under the same genre. Bullet Ballet '1998' & Branded to Kill '1967'

Bullet Ballet:

Bullet Ballet has a stylised, unreal, grainy, heavily-contrasted look redolent of the true classics of 40's film noir, replete with femmes fatales, chisel-jawed heroes and evil yakuza syndicates, with stunning composition, kinetic action interspersed with amazing, pure silence and slowness, and incredible attention to detail in its use of close-ups


Branded To Kill:

A 1967 Japanese Yakuza Film. The number-three-ranked hit-man, a fetish for sniffing boiling rice, fumbles his latest job, which puts him into conflict with a mysterious woman whose death wish inspires her to surround herself with dead butterflies and dead birds. Worse danger comes from his own treacherous wife and finally with the number-one-ranked hit-man, known only as a phantom to those who fear his unseen presence.


I took these particular screen caps from each film because I felt that there were very strong, dark underlying sexual tones, each of the women used as a way to manipulate the men around them, to gain what they sought after, whilst always being in control of a situation. This switches over the traditonal pre-conception of men having control as opposed to the female, however the consequence of this portrays the female as a troubled individual. I found these images vital as reference for Yuki-Onna, in order to encapsulate their female qualities, as well as the lighting and atmosphere typical of Film Noir

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Extracting Filmic Influences - Ugetsu Monogatari

Another edition to the influences I intend to include into my character, suggested by Tom Beg, I must admit I was slightly unsure about why I was directed to this film as it takes some time setting the scene, however towards the end all became clear.

Ugetsu Monogatari '1953'


Presented in a manner as eerie as it is heartbreaking, this film is a gorgeous supernatural fable about the folly of men with dreams larger than their abilities and their women who suffer as a result. Genjuro is a potter who longs for wealth and luxury while Tobei , a farmer, dreams of the glories of the samurai to the point of ignoring his wife. Though a war rages around them, they venture to town to sell their wares. Genjuro becomes bewitched by a beautiful though vengeful ghost, while his wife is murdered by a soldier; Tobei becomes a noted warrior, while his wife descends into prostitution after being raped while searching for her husband.


The spirit in this story being my main focus, is a temptress of sorts, and has the ability to entrance men in into mindless love, and eventually death. This can relate to some characteristics of Yuki-Onna. I felt taking screen caps of certain moments, such as poses, lighting, scenery and expressions she pulled could help as a reference point, in order to capture the eerie, manipulative, seductive atmosphere.

Extracting Filmic Influences - Lady Snowblood

After speaking to Phil and Tom Beg a few weeks back about possible films to could help with ground my character into a workable story, taking influences from Japanese cinema and

Lady Snowblood '1973'

A flamboyantly blood-spattered samurai revenge picture with a twist: the implacable seeker of retribution is a slender female with a flawless ivory complexion and a dead-center killer stare. Born in prison, Snowblood is raised by a martial priest and trained to fulfill a single purpose: tracking down, and assassinating the four cackling fiends who killed her father and persecuted her mother to an early grave.





I loved this film, and as I watched, I could automatically relate my own character to the the protagonist in this film, as though I had already watched it previously. There are many simmilarites between the Yuki-Onna and Lady Snowblood, and using her as a basis of inspiration 'Facially' could evoke a similar beauty she encapsulates, as well as placing an 'asian' aesthetic into the Japanese origin of my character, as opposed to using a European face as influence

Compilation of Research - Something New

I think throughout this course I've tended to use my blog as an information dump, which is useful for me to refer back to when finalizing idea's, it sometimes clutters the pages, and is hard for outside people to know what the hell I'm actually doing.

To me personally, all the gathered research is important, and it's true sometimes I feel reluctant to leave anything out, however condensing is needed to save time for reference. So I thought I'd compile my information into a 'Spider Diagram' inspired design which is 'reader freindly' and more professional & visual.




I feel this template works well both visually and effectively, highlighting main points of focus, as well as incorporating a particular feel. I think when utilizing this information into a 'Character Bio', I'll use this method again as a great tool of reference for designing.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Alchemy: Insect Brush Results

Whilst waiting to watch some precious films that will hopefully help me pull together the last remaining parts of my Character's profile, Back story and influences, I decided to chase the 'Sexual Cannibalism' route and put together a set of brushes based off the Insects that take part in consuming their male counterpart in Sexual Intercourse/Reproduction.

http://bobstrife.blogspot.com/2011/09/sexual-cannibalism-consuming-male.html

Here's the process once more for those who might find it useful for future efforts:

Clean up>Black & White>Export Image>Ilustrator>Scale to Page>Live Trace>Expand>Crtl + 8 (Ungroup)>Export as PDF 1.4>Place into Pullshapes Folder


Alchemy Insect Pull Shapes


As you can see the brushes of the silhouettes are certainly identifiable, so using them produced some great results. I feel doing this at an early stage of the project helped me get some idea's out that a may have waited to do a lot later, and lost, which in turn has also helped me to visualize and decide what sort of direction I want to go in at an early stage.

These are clearly not designs but rather 'sketch's' to help my creative process.


Arranged by roughly the order I created each one in, there is a clear progression between 'Part 1', and 'Part 2'. In the first part, I was placing shapes down without seeing any real definition of a body, or even a face. After a few more attempts a began to pick out certain elements and elaborate more on certain shapes, high-ligting and shading with tools Alchemy, mixing other brushes in, such as Mech parts and Tech lines, and even using some colour, which is a first.


I began to see more facial shapes whilst using the brushes more than anything else when reaching the 2nd Part. I think in my personal reflection I came out with some amazing results I didn't expect, nodding back to the first time I used this technique in my 'Tezcatlipoca' Aztec Project. 

As I mentioned before, these merely serve as getting some creative tensions out, as well as exploring possible routes, ways to utilize different style approaches out of my comfort zone and doubling up to infuse 'Sexual Cannibalism' into the process. After showing Alan, he suggested once finalizing all of my characters backstory, to start using predatory spinal shapes to build my character from, enhancing the underlying nature of my character further.

The Tale Of Yuki-Onna 'Title Design'

Just thought I'd spend a little time putting together a professional looking design for future use in this project, hopefully it reflects the cold, side of the character and it's origin, as well as the fresh 'modern' twist I intend to put on the folktale. :)


Thursday, 29 September 2011

Fact Based Fiction - Japanese Technology

Giving the direction I wanted to take my project in terms of updating the essence of Yuki-Onna into a synthetic being, extracting the character in this way could possibly be a step too far and completely alienate her from the motif's & origin entirely without some form of proper grounding and integration.

In order to modernise a tale, as many have been done previously, they tend to have some sort of relation to our present society, or at least the way it is may be heading, in order to over-exaggerate the situation and allow reflection and metaphors to take hold. The best way I cans sync in the 'Synthetic' element to this character will be by basing fiction on fact, and gauge what stage current technologies have reached so far through research


Humanoid Robotics & Android Technology

An android is a robot or synthetic organism, designed to look and act like a human. Although "android" is used almost universally to refer to both sexes, and those of no particular sex, "Android" technically refers to the male form, while "Gynoid" is the feminine form. Until recently, androids have largely remained within the domain of science fiction, frequently seen in film and television.

http://androidhumanoid.com/android-humanoid-science/humanoid-robot-tech/



Reoccurring Attributes:

Self-maintenance (like recharging itself)
Autonomous learning (learn or gain new capabilities without outside assistance, adjust strategies based on the surroundings and adapt to new situations)
Avoiding harmful situations to people, property, and itself
Safe interacting with human beings and the environment
Sensing, Actuating and Planning and Control

Honda: Asimo


Timeline of Android Development

Without cramming to much text based information in my posts, here's an interesting link documenting the progress off Humanoid Robotic developments:

http://androidhumanoid.com/android-humanoid-science/timeline-of-humanoid-robot-developments/

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Latest Advancements:

Geminoid DK

http://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/latest-geminoid-is-disturbingly-realistic

This is the latest iteration of Geminoid series of ultra-realistic androids, from Japanese firm Kokoro and Osaka University roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro. Specifically, this is Geminoid DK, which was constructed to look exactly like associate professor Henrik Scharfe of Aalborg University in Denmark

Like with the other Geminoid robots, all of the movements and expressions of Geminoid DK are remote controlled by an operator with a computer, who uses a motion-capture system that tracks facial expressions and head movements. Turn your head and the Geminoid does the same; move your mouth and the android follows suit.





HRP-4C

The HRP-4C is a female humanoid robot, created by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology - a Japanese research facility. An in-public demonstration was put on March 16, 2009.[1] It measures 158 centimetres (5 feet, 2 inches) tall, and weighs 43 kilos (95 pounds) - including a battery pack.

The robot's shape and joints are based on the 1997–1998 Japanese body dimension database. The HRP-4C has a realistic head, and the average figure of a young Japanese female. It can move like a human and responds based on speech recognition. It is capable of recognizing ambient sounds and, by using the vocal synthesizer Vocaloid, can sing. Recent upgrades have allowed HRP-4C to mimic human facial and head movements, as well as execute dance steps, resulting in the most realistic performance yet at Tokyo's Digital Content Expo in 2010.




Actroid Der2


Actroid DER2 is a fembot (female robot) created by Kokoro, a Sanrio company specializing in the design and manufacture of robots. It's the new guide robot at the Sanrio headquarters in Tokyo, and has a wider range of expressions as well as thinner arms for a more attractive look; both of these are upgrades over last year's model. Other upgrades include improved smoothness of movement

Actroid DER2's limbs, torso and facial expressions are controlled by actuators powered by pneumatic pressure. She is able to synchronize voice, gestures and facial expressions.


List Of Japanese Robotics


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How This Will Effect Japan

Japan Looks To A Robot Future

Coming across this particular post is what really helped me gain a better insight in to facts based around the technological advances which are in our horizons., and the ethics surrounding them.

"To live among people, robots need to handle complex social tasks," said project leader Junichi Takeno of Meiji University. "Robots will need to work with emotions, to understand and eventually feel them. While robots are a long way from matching human emotional complexity, the country is perhaps the closest to a future — once the stuff of science fiction — where humans and intelligent robots routinely live side by side and interact socially.

For Japan, the robotics revolution is an imperative. With more than a fifth of the population 65 or older, the country is banking on robots to replenish the work force and care for the elderly. In the past several years, the government has funded a plethora of robotics-related efforts, including some $42 million for the first phase of a humanoid robotics project, and $10 million a year between 2006 and 2010 to develop key robot technologies.

The government estimates the industry could surge from about $5.2 billion in 2006 to $26 billion in 2010 and nearly $70 billion by 2025. Besides financial and technological power, the robot wave is favored by the Japanese mind-set as well.

Japan is already an industrial robot powerhouse. Over 370,000 robots worked at factories across Japan in 2005, about 40 percent of the global total and 32 robots for every 1,000 Japanese manufacturing employees, according to a recent report by Macquarie, which had no numbers from subsequent years.
Japanese are also more accepting of robots because the native Shinto religion often blurs boundaries between the animate and inanimate, experts say. To the Japanese psyche, the idea of a humanoid robot with feelings doesn't feel as creepy — or as threatening — as it might do in other cultures.

One million robots by 2025?, that's just what the Japanese government has been counting on. A 2007 national technology roadmap by the Trade Ministry calls for 1 million industrial robots to be installed throughout the country by 2025. "Robots are the cornerstone of Japan's international competitiveness," Shunichi Uchiyama, the Trade Ministry's chief of manufacturing industry policy, said at a recent seminar. "We expect robotics technology to enter even more sectors going forward."

"What we need now isn't the ultimate humanoid robot," said Kyoji Takenaka, the head of the industry-wide Robot Business Promotion Council. Still, some of the most eye-catching developments in robotics are coming out of Japan's labs. "In the end, we don't want to interact with machines or computers. We want to interact with technology in a human way so it's natural and valid to try to make robots look like us," he said. "One day, they will live among us," Ishiguro said. "Then you'd have to ask me: 'Are you human? Or a robot?'"

Which really does help give the direction I want to take my project some sort of plausibility
Quite an interesting fact that seems to resonate from this is the fact that Japan is possibly at the forefront of technological advancement in the industry. This informative research will also help me scope out possible routes to take in terms of narrative, as well as traits/capabilities that the character could have, which in turn will effect the character design.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Japanese Folklore: Yuki-Onna Origins Part II 'Yurei &Yokai'

Following on from the previous post, which detailed the first recording of 'Yuki-Onna by 'Lafcadio Hearn', and his book 'Kwaiden: Story & Studies of Strange Things' this part will explore the translation of this, involving the subject of 'Kaidan' (the Ghost Story).

Kaidan

Kaidan is a Japanese word consisting translated to strange, mysterious, rare or bewitching apparition, In its broadest sense, Kaidan refers to any ghost or horror story, but it has an old-fashioned ring to it that carries the connotation of Edo period Japanese folktales. The term is no longer as widely used in Japanese as it once was. Kaidan is only used if the author/director wishes to specifically bring an old-fashioned air into the story.

Originally based on didactic Buddhist tales, kaidan often involve elements of karma, and especially ghostly vengeance for misdeeds. Japanese vengeful ghosts are far more powerful after death than they were in life, and are often people who were particularly powerless in life, such as women and servants.

This vengeance is usually specifically targeted against the tormentor, but can sometimes be a general hatred toward all living humans. This untargeted wrath can be seen in Furisode, a story in Hearn's book In Ghostly Japan about a cursed kimono that kills everyone who wears it. This motif is repeated in the film Ring with a videotape that kills all who watch it, and the film Ju-on with a house that kills all who enter it. (I find these examples very helpful when thinking about extracting motifs).

Kaidan entered the vernacular during the Edo period, when a game called 'Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai' became popular. This game led to a demand for ghost stories and folktales to be gathered from all parts of Japan and China.
Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai



Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (A Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales) was a popular parlour game during the Edo period in Japan. The game was a simple one. In a room, as night fell, one hundred candles were lit. Guests and players gathered around the candles, taking turns telling kaidan. After each kaidan, a single candle was extinguished, and the room slowly grew darker and darker. The process was an evocation, with the final candle believed to summon a supernatural entity.

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Yurei

Loosely translated to "faint/dim" or "soul/spirit", are figures in Japanese folklore, and are analogous to Western legends of ghosts. Like their Chinese and Western counterparts, they are thought to be spirits kept from a peaceful afterlife.

According to traditional Japanese beliefs, all humans have a spirit or soul. When a person dies, it leaves the body and enters a form of purgatory, where it waits for the proper funeral and post-funeral rites to be performed, so that it may join its ancestors. However, if the person dies in a sudden or violent manner such as murder or suicide, if the proper rites have not been performed, or if they are influenced by powerful emotions such as a desire for revenge, love, jealousy, hatred or sorrow, the soul is thought to transform into a Yūrei, which can then bridge the gap back to the physical world.

The Yūrei then exists on Earth until it can be laid to rest, either by performing the missing rituals, or resolving the emotional conflict that still ties it to the physical plane. If the rituals are not completed or the conflict left unresolved, the Yūrei will persist in its haunting. Yūrei don't wander at random, but generally stay near a specific location, such as where they were killed or where their body lies, or follow a specific person, such as their murderer, or a beloved. They usually appear between 2 and 3 a.m, the witching hour for Japan, when the veils between the world of the dead and the world of the living are at their thinnest.


Yūrei will continue to haunt that particular person or place until their purpose is fulfilled, and they can move on to the afterlife. However, some particularly strong yūrei, who are consumed by vengeance, continue to haunt long after their killers have been brought to justice.

Intrestingly, Yuki-Onna is considered in 'Hearns Kwaiden' as a 'Yurei' (Ghost) when taking the translation of Kaidan into consideration. However during the Edo period in 1737, a Japanese artist Sawaki Suushi, completed in  is a collection of picture scrolls which consisted of supernatural bestiaries, collections of ghosts, spirits and monsters, of which Suushi based on literature, folklore, other artwork. These works had a profound influence on subsequent Yōkai imagery in Japan for generations. This was known as the 'Hyakkai-Zukan', "The Illustrated Volume of a Hundred Demons") and Yuki-Onna can be found within this collection. , which leaves open the possibility of two types of spirit.

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Yokai

Yōkai (literally demon, spirit, or monster) are a class of supernatural monsters in Japanese folklore.Yōkai range eclectically from the malevolent to the mischievous, or occasionally bring good fortune to those who encounter them. Often they possess animal features, (such as the Kappa, which is similar to a turtle, or the Tengu which has wings), other times they can appear mostly human, some look like inanimate objects and others have no discernible shape. Yōkai usually have a spiritual supernatural power, with shape shifting as one of the most common.

Some are said to live alongside and quietly co-exist with humans. Others are blamed for causing various inexplicable natural phenomena, pestilences, or disasters. A few could be called physical incarnations of idioms or puns. Some are helpful. Many are mischievous. And more than a few are thought to be very, very dangerous. They are Japan's bogeymen, always watching but rarely seen, stand-ins for largely unpredictable forces of nature. And once the lights went out, they are always there.


Albert Einstein once said, "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science." Japan's Yokai inhabit this very intersection. They dwell in the space between fear and wonder, superstition and the rational, the natural and the supernatural.

All of this information is vital in helping me gain a better insight into how to really understand Yuki-Onna as a character. Taking this basic research into consideration, I can begin to build a profile and piece together what the meaning behind the tale is, as well as the motives behind her actions. Learning more about Japanese Folklore has opened my eyes in terms of establishing an understanding for the direct audience of the tale in that specific period. This will allow me to brainstorm effective ways to convey it's motifs sucessfully into a modern/future setting, which evidently will lead extracting them in the correct way in order to 'transcribe' the character sucessfully.

However more research is needed into the social contruct of the edo period, as well as any morality issues surrounding that specific time, as these would have had an effect and possibly intergrated into Kaidan tale.

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EDIT:

After spending some time analyising the research I've gathered so far and formulating an idea, I still need a tad more that will help fully support my path. Here's a few links I stumbled across, with some important information in regards to...I'll post a few paragraphs from each link that I feel are vital.



Japanese Ghost & Feminist Theory
http://ricecrackerreview.com/2008/06/japanese-ghosts-and-feminist-theory/

Often these female nature-spirits of trees, snow, ants, or butterflies marry a man from the village, combining the two aspects of society ruling over nature as man rules over woman. More often the stories either romanticize the death of the nature-wife at the hands of mankind, or nature takes dominion over man as the terrible snowy Yuki-onna as a reminder of nature and women’s secret fury

In pre-modern times, this exemplifies man’s relationship to nature: they depended on its subjugation to live, but can also be ruthlessly destroyed. While vengeful females before may have used the natural world humankind depended on in order to strike, modern vengeful women in J-Horror use technology. Although technology is seen as more starkly clinical than savage nature, it now fulfills the role as an unpredictable force which we both depend on and fear


I'm going to try an propose a new and professional way of compiling research in the next few posts, steering away from more text based clunkyness, after all I am supposed to be visually active :p

Japanese Folklore: Yuki-Onna Origins Part I 'The Kwaidan/Kaidan'

Branching out from my last post, I decided to hone in on a more specialized area, namely Japanese Folklore. My reasoning is simply because I want to be able to recognise traits and motif's associated with particular traditional Japanese stories, in order to extract the morals/value put across in the Tale of Yuki-Onna. By doing so, this allows me modernise and adapt the character to a future scenario, building on what has already been established and bringing a fresh twist to the underlying symbolism's.

The folklore of Japan is heavily influenced by both Shinto and Buddhism, the two primary religions in the country. It often involves humorous or bizarre characters and situations and also includes an assortment of supernatural beings, such as bodhisattva, kami (gods and revered spirits), yōkai (monster-spirits) (such as oni, kappa, and tengu), yūrei (ghosts), dragons, and animals with supernatural powers such as the kitsune (fox), tanuki (raccoon dog), mujina (badger), bakeneko (transforming cat), and baku (tapir), as well as sacred objects and possessed objects.



Now, with Yuki-Onna considered part of Japanese folklore, it makes sense to travel down this path of research. Upon further reading into the Yuki-Onna, her origin or rather first 'recorded' telling comes from a book known as 'Kwaiden: Story & Studies of Strange Things' written by 'Lafcadio Hearn' stories that were translated from old Japanese texts. Hearn declares in his introduction to the first edition of the book, which he wrote on January 20, 1904, shortly before his death, that the tale of Yuki-Onna was told to him by a farmer in Musashi Province, and his was to the best of his knowledge, the first record of it as he states in his introduction:

'One queer tale, "Yuki-Onna," was told me by a farmer of Chofu, Nishitama-gori, in Musashi province, as a legend of his native village. Whether it has ever been written in Japanese I do not know; but the extraordinary belief which it records used certainly to exist in most parts of Japan, and in many curious forms'

Kwaiden ebook

To gain a better understanding of the area, here's a little background information on the Musashi Province:

Musashi Province was a province of Japan, which in modern day comprises Tokyo Prefecture, most of Saitama Prefecture and part of Kanagawa Prefecture (Tokyo being the largest metropolitan area of Japan and capital. Musashi sits in the middle of the Kanto plain, the largest plain in Japan located in the Kanto Region of central Honshū. The total area 17,000 sq km covers more than half of the Region extending over Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture, Kanagawa Prefecture, Chiba Prefecture, Gunma Prefecture, and Tochigi Prefecture.



The Chofu Jewel River in Musashi Province,
1847 - 1852 by Kuniyoshi (1797 - 1861)

 

Chofu in Musashi Province)
Six Jewel Rivers in Various Province 1857 (Eleventh month)





The spelling "KWAIDAN" is based on pre-modern Japanese pronunciation; when Hearn came to Japan, the orthography reflecting this pronunciation was still in use. In modern Japanese the word is pronounced KAIDAN. Following the strand of translation of 'KWAIDAN' to 'KAIDAN' which roughly translates to 'Ghost Story'.

In order to break up some of the research, I will continue breaking down the origin point of Yuki-Onna in another post, featuring in detail the term 'Kaiden' and it's relation to Yuki-Onna, as well as the classification & relation of Yuki-Onna to Japanese Folklore.

Sexual Cannibalism - Consuming the Male

Already taking into consideration some of the obvious characteristics found in Yuki-Onna, sexual involvement in consuming the 'Spirit' of a unsuspecting malewith sexual temptations, I began to relate this automaticaly to how a 'Praying Mantis' would devour her male counterpart in the midst of sexual reproduction, and after searching for the term, discovered it was refered to as 'Sexual Cannibalism'. So I decided to do a bit of research into the subject.



Sexual Cannibalism

Sexual cannibalism is a special case of cannibalism in which a female organism kills and consumes it's male counterpart before, during, or after copulation. Although other forms of cannibalism are widespread across animal classes sexual cannibalism is a taxonomically rare phenomenon. It has been documented only arachnids, insects, and amphipods, with some evidence for its occurrence in gastropods, copepods, and cephalopods.

Despite its overall rarity, sexual cannibalism is common in many families of spiders and scorpions, and can have important effects on population size, sex ratio, and even persistence. In most species in which it occurs, the female usually cannibalises the male, due to the large size of the female as a result of dimorphism.

http://ib.berkeley.edu/courses/ib160/past_papers/suttle.html.

Doing the rounds of research, here's a list of creatures that have been known to take part in the act:

Praying Mantis
Scorpions
Black Widow
Red Back Spiders
Nephila Plumipes/Golden Orb Weavers

Without going too far into the subject and over complicating the influence, taking this theme into consideration, I feel this could somewhat lend itself to a design aspect of Yuki-Onna, by using imagery that is with related to these specific creatures. This will will help evoke feelings associated with 'Predatory' nature of Sexual Cannibalism, such as sexual empowerment, dominance, weakness, fear etc.

Understanding Mythology & Folklore

After a chat with Alan about some possible routes to take, I took a moment to re-track and research a bit into about Mythology & Folklore, to gain a better understanding of how to extract certain elements from a particular tale, and moderinise them effectively. Here are some informative notes that will make this post act as a research dump to refer back to when extracting from Yuki-Onna.


Theories of Mythology:

Allegory:
A form of extended metaphor by which objects, persons, and events refer symbolically to meanings outside the narrative itself. Thus, allegorical mythology is a way of reading the objects, persons, and events depicted in myth as symbolizing something beyond the story’s plot and the literal meaning of its words

Euhemerism:
The theory, held by Euhemerus that the gods of mythology were but deified mortals, and their deeds only the amplification in imagination of human acts, reaching god like status over time.


Myth-Ritual Theory:
The existence of myth is tied to ritual, this theory claims that myths arose to explain rituals, people begin performing rituals for some reason that is not related to myth; later, after they have forgotten the original reason for a ritual, they try to account for the ritual by inventing a myth and claiming that the ritual commemorates the events described in that myth.

Personification:
That myths resulted from the personification of inanimate objects and forces. According to this, the ancients worshipped natural phenomena such as fire and air, gradually coming to describe them as gods. For example, the ancients tended to view things as persons, not as mere objects; thus, they described natural events as acts of personal gods, thus giving rise to myths.

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Folklore:

Folklore consists of legends, music, oral history, proverbs, jokes, popular beliefs, fairy tales and customs that are the traditions of that culture, subculture, or group. In usage, there is a continuum between folklore and mythology. Stith Thompson made a major attempt to index the motifs of both folklore and mythology, providing an outline into which new motifs can be placed, and scholars can keep track of all older motifs.

Folklore can be divided into four areas of study: artefact (such as voodoo dolls), describable and transmissible entity (oral tradition), culture, and behaviour (rituals). These areas do not stand alone, however, as often a particular item or element may fit into more than one of these areas.


Oral Tradition

Folklore can contain religious or mythic elements and it equally concerns itself with the sometimes mundane traditions of everyday life. Folklore frequently ties the practical and the esoteric into one narrative package.

"Folktales" is a general term for different varieties of traditional narrative. The telling of stories appears to be a cultural universal, common to basic and complex societies alike. Even the forms folktales take are certainly similar from culture to culture, and comparative studies of themes and narrative ways have been successful in showing these relationships. Also it is considered to be an oral tale to be told for everybody


On the other hand, folklore can be used to accurately describe a figurative narrative, which has no sacred or religious content. In the Jungian view, which is but one method of analysis, it may instead pertain to unconscious psychological patterns, instincts or archetypes of the mind. This may or may not have components of the fantastic (such as magic, ethereal beings or the personification of inanimate objects).

These folktales may or may not emerge from a religious tradition, but nevertheless speak to deep psychological issues. The familiar folktale, "Hansel and Gretel", is an example of this fine line. The manifest purpose of the tale may primarily be one of mundane instruction regarding forest safety or secondarily a cautionary tale about the dangers of famine to large families, but its latent meaning may evoke a strong emotional response due to the widely understood themes and motifs such as “The Terrible Mother”, “Death,” and “Atonement with the Father.”

There can be both a moral and psychological scope to the work as well as entertainment value, depending upon the nature of the teller, the style of the telling, the ages of the audience members, and the overall context of the performance. Folklorists generally resist universal interpretations of narratives and, wherever possible, analyze oral versions of tellings in specific contexts, rather than print sources, which often show the work or bias of the writer or editor.

Monday, 19 September 2011

La Femme Fatale (The Fatal Women)

Coming across this particular Archetype and expression was very fitting when thinking about my route into the minor project, especially in regards to Yuki-Onna, and the traits she is regarded to have in her particular myth. Here's a  few small passages on what the term symbolises:

The phrase is French for "deadly woman", usually 'A seductive woman who lures men by an aura of charm and mystery into dangerous or compromising situations to achieve her hidden purpose '. In some situations, she uses lying or coercion rather than charm. Her ability to entrance and hypnotize her victim with a spell was in the earliest stories seen as being literally supernatural; hence, the femme fatale today is still often described as having a power akin to an enchantress, vampire, witch, or demon.

Although typically villainous, femmes fatales have also appeared as anti heroines in some stories, and some even repent and become heroines by the end of the tale. In social life, the femme fatale tortures her lover in an asymmetrical relationship, denying confirmation of her affection. She usually drives him to the point of obsession and exhaustion so that he is incapable of making rational decisions. Her charms leach the virility and independence of lovers, leaving them shells of themselves.

To encapsulate the persona of a Femme Fatale, I did a little research into the actresses which played female characters that represented these traits, often found in 40's-50's Film Noir, putting together an Influence Map to refer to when creating Yuki-Onna






Friday, 16 September 2011

3rd Year: Minor Project Transcription Idea Part 2

After taking advice from Phil and turning towards already established La Femme Fatale's, in the form of fabled Demoness's, Spirits, Monsters. These particular fabled females, and the stories surrounding them will not only give me the chance to adapt it to futuristic setting, creating a twist on what is already established, but also give me the grounds to have a fuller story and deeper sense of character, with the origin points in time and location lending towards the design aspect, grounding it even more.

Already having such a strong, sexual character deeply rooted into this idea, It was important that I searched for a character that matched up to what I had already imagined, even if the scenario differs. There were many that fitted the description, however I felt these were possibly the most interesting out of them all.

Character 1: The Succubus


Probably the most well known sex demon, the Succubus is a female demon who assumes the form of an attractive seductress in order to seduce men, usually while they are asleep. Drawing energy from men in order to sustain themselves often until the point of exhaustion or death, in medieval times this was normally described as my 'drinking' their breath, which was often associated as a part of a person spirit, in doing so they were stealing there 'soul'. 

They are also associated with hypnotic powers giving them the ability to command and compel the male. It is generally believed that the Succubus legend came about as a result of the medieval preoccupation with sin, especially sexual sins of women,

Character 2: The Rusalki


According to most Slavic traditions, the Rusalki were either female ghosts, water nymphs, succubi or fish-women, who lived at the bottom of rivers and lakes. She was considered a being of evil force, the ghostly version is the soul of a young woman who had died in or near a lake. Such as young women who commit suicide because they have been jilted by their lovers, or unmarried women who are pregnant out of wedlock, living out their designated time on earth as a spirit and haunting the river/lake.

The eyes shine like green fire with extremely pale and translucent skin, and no visible pupils. Her hair is sometimes depicted as green or golden, and often perpetually wet. The Rusalka could not live long on dry land, but with her comb she was always safe, for it gave her the power to conjure water when she needed it. According to some legends, should the rusalka's hair dry out, she will die.

In the middle of the night they would walk out to the bank and dance in the meadows. If they saw men they would fascinate them with songs and dancing, mesmerise them and then lead the man away to the river floor to his death. While her primary dwelling place was the body of water in which she died, the rusalka could come out of the water at night, climb a tree, and sit there singing songs, sit on a dock and comb her hair, or join other rusalki in circle dances.

Character 3: TheYuki-Onna

 


The Yuki-Onna is an irresistible feminine entity in Japanese folklore. She manifests in remote areas during snowstorms. As is common in folklore, the exact characteristics of the yuki-onna vary according to the particular tale. She normally appears as a tall, beautiful woman with long unbound hair and pale skin. She is commonly clad in a pure white kimono. Some accounts depict her without feet (a common characteristic of Japanese ghosts); and some stories describe her with glowing eyes that can mesmerise any person who gazes upon her face. 

In some stories her pubic hair is visible against the white of her robes and the snow, and in others it is a splattering of blood on her robe that is visible. This ghost only is seen when it is snowing, which, with her pale white skin, all but obscures her from view.

Despite her beauty, the yuki-onna has deadly intentions. She kills by breathing a gust of frigid air on her victims freezing them solid, drinking their blood, or leading them astray to remote areas die from exposure. The Yuki-Onna may lure men with sexual temptations, only to drain them of life when any amorous act is consummated. She may even pretend to be holding an infant. When a person takes the infant from her, he or she is instantly frozen to death.

From these 3 characters, although all loosely involve the theme of the 'Succubus' (which I think is the most successful way to characterise a La Femme Fatale from my original idea), I can't help but feel more drawn to Transcribing Yuki-Onna. I feel her character has the most depth and potential to be adapted into a futuristic scenario. In fact whilst reading up on this individual, I could imagine combining her characteristics into my original idea based off the Celldweller track, as there are quite a few similarities, such as the sexual involvement with an isolated male, in a cold environment. 

That said, I aim to research further into the theme of 'La Femme Fatale', as well as looking into the tales that involve the Yuki-Onna, taking influence form them and either adapting it to my previous scenario, or pushing it into another futuristic setting.  Whilst exploring this I will also be compiling some influence maps inspired by Traditional Japanese Art & Folklore Illustrations, as well as Synthetic/Cyborg Females in order to anchor future concepts, and come in Monday with some visuals.

3rd Year: Minor Project Transcription Idea

Since before the holidays, I've been mulling a possible project involving transcribing a piece of music for some time. This can be seen from the idea's stage of the Transcription project, where I was actually going for that direction until I was advised otherwise. However I still feel there were some strong idea's to come out of several of the idea's inspired from a select few songs.

One of those that has become deeply rooted in my mind since, is my idea for the song by Celldweller known as 'Frozen'. Here's what I had proposed at the time, with slightly more detail.


This song embodies a very sexually dark tone both in it's lyrics, and sound. The effects in the song are obviously computer generated and related to industrial genre, carry across to simmilar imagery, i.e mechanical and sythentic. With strong lyrics such as 'syntheic ectasy when her legs are open' and female moaning throughout the background of the song, doesn't leave alot to the imagination how that can be interpreted.
However, this could possibly work to my advantage my leading me in a strong direction from the start. 
With this in mind, it was a pretty straight foward thing to imagine a character realting to the music and sound.  


In a nutshell, I imagine a sort of bio-mechanical/android/synthetic female character in the role of 'Queen A.I' linked up to a computer mainframe of sorts, and controls/watch's over a futuristic cryogenic facility, that has been lost to time becoming forgotten and desolate. The facility has farmed humans in cryostasis in order to timelessly study their souls/personality/dreams to find what makes a human tick.


The Queen however as time has past, has developed the ability to re-inact certain human emotions/actions after studying the human data for so long. At one moment, a human male awakes prematurely from his permanent stasis, disoriented he begins to stumble through the now distressed facility. Curious the 'Queen A.I'   watches the human as he makes his way through the facility, and begins to toy with the Male, until she eventually confronts him face to face, in an almost sexual manner as he almost escapes. This is just the general idea. and the end is still up for development as it reaches no conclusion. 

Preparing for Monday as the official first day back at uni, I pitched the idea to Phil a few days back so I could have some idea of to have ready, as well as getting the green light to take this idea further, as I do tend to spend too long in the idea's stage. Phil suggested firstly, due to copyrighting, and use of songs in animation, perhaps transcribing this piece could become troublesome, even as a starting point not being able to have it in the final piece could lose the transcribing element, and throw my inspiration off somewhat.

However, noting that I had already arrived at a strong, dark, sexual female character developed theoretically, Phil suggested I should try to research old myths, legends, folklore surrounding female demons, monsters, spirits that could possibly fit my character or scenario, taking a particular character and story, and mix mashing it with a futuristic setting to create something new and fresh, which I feel is possible the best idea for now. Hopefully I can find a good character and story surrounding it to transcribe and combine into what I've already pieced together :)

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Branding and Design: Blog Overhaul

I've been feeling for a while that my Blog wasnt really feeling up to scratch. It lacked interest, design and professionalism, that is a pivotal part of capturing a viewers interest long enough to read/see the work I've been producing. This grows ever more important in the 3rd year, reaching the moment we begin to use our Blog's as a direct way to advertise our progression and potential in the industry.


Using the rest of what time is left of the holidays I decided to challenge this now, along with addressing branding myself as an individual, which I have found very difficult in previous projects, summing myself up into a logo/ident.


Already having 'Alpha/Omega' as a blog name, I took this further and decided to use it as a Producing Brand. Researching into symbolisms old and new was an integral part of defining myself, as I wanted something to symbolise change, my studio name but also be very fresh and usable in a variety of ways.

Here's some insight into what my logo embodies:

Alpha and Omega: The Beginning and The End, The First and the Last
The Symbolisms Of Triangles: Past, Present, Future, Number 3, Creativity,
The Symbolisms Of Circles: Unity, Wholeness, Focus
The Symbolisms Of  The Number 3: Creativity, Versatility, Success, Past, Present, Future



Gathering basic research on the deeper meanings of symbolisms, these particular ones stood out to me, and it's clear to say 'Change' is a particular element i want to incorporate into my design.

Here are some developmental ideas and designs:


As you can see, the inner circle representing the 'Omega' Symbol, contacting the Triangle which represents 'Alpha', combines the Circle/Triangle theory, as well as combining my brand name. The added Sunburst design was an influence from both 'The All Seeing Eye' (representing enlightenment) and the 'Art Deco' style. I believe my design is simple and versatile enough to be used in many different genre's/instances.

Logo Variations:


Here you can see different ways and style i could utilize my design, for instance, the blue rayed logo could be used for a more 'Sci-Fi' based piece, as opposed to the rustic version which could be used in a 'Post-Apocolyptic' styled piece

Final Logo Design:

Here is the Standard version I intend to use as a basic Neutral representation of Alpha Omega Productions

Taking the branding further, I put together some Business cards that will prove useful for later opportunities when trying to get my details out to the public/industry links

Business Cards:


I feel these work very efficiently, and im proud to say quite professional. Although I can imagine the description changing somewhat towards the end of year, as well as more contact details.

I put together some poster/advertising pieces that initially started off as quick banner concepts



I think these work well as Marketing Pieces, that can be uploaded and posted on various sites. Taking these ideas further, I decided to go full steam into making a creative banner for my Blog. I took influence from my previous banner, with the rustic texture, however thought more about integrating it into my Blog design more. Here are some various steps I took to reach the final design, I think each of these could work as separate Banners, however I felt the final one was the most interesting, and eye-catching :)

Banner Progression:

After dealing with all the nitty gritty stuff that is expected in regards to presenting yourself professionally, I feel as though I can start a fresh, like a new clean slate is on the horizon. As a nice little touch th the Blog, I also created a Favicon (an image that represents your website in the tab/address bar) based off my logo design, so it stands out more.

My final step in completely branding myself will be to create a short Ident that will go before my Animations, however I feel it should vary depending on the genre of the piece, so some thought will go into this in the mean time while I prepare for my Minor Project.