Category: Film Review

Digital 3D Design by Simon Danaher covers a complete range of topics and aspects of 3D, covering mostly the basics and intermediate levels of working with 3D.  The book covers the history of 3D; 3D graphics in the working world; the links between 2D and 3D design; core concepts and theory; recommended tool set; and some advanced tips and tricks, and an analysis of existing works such as a storm scene (Chapter 6 p162-163) and compositing 2D and 3D imagery (Chapter 6 p166-167).  The book also previews works such as Russian artist, Pavel Fedorchuk’s Golden Grifon [sic]

The book starts by giving an overview of the history of 3D animation, including the importance of motion blur in the first successful animated movies. One of the first movies to use 3D graphics was Disney’s Tron (Directed by Steven Lisberger, 1982), although the movie was a ‘flop despite huge investment’ (Digital 3D design Chapter 1, p12).  Danaher goes on to say that the movie was held back by its highly stylised treatment due to poor 3D technology at the time.  What would have helped the film was motion blur, it was only in 1993 that Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park featured fully photorealistic CG dinosaurs, complete with motion blur, that 3D was a fully viable option.

Although Tron was not a visual success, it is still a major landmark in the development of animated computer graphics, originally inspired by the also iconic Pong game, a sequel of Tron is set to return to screens in  stereo 3D during 2010.

The book also explores the use of 3D graphics in games and for use in broadcast, then goes on to suggest some future advances in the field such as overhauled workflow in Modo and the possibility of virtual reality, and real-time photorealistic rendering (Chapter 1, p22).

The book also briefly explains how stereoscopic 3D, such as what we are seeing in current films and selected TV programmes today, works.  However a more in-depth explanation of how it works and history can be found in issue 14 of 3D Artist, p36-41. This article details how the technology works currently, and looks into the possibility of 3D TV without the need for glasses.  This is a very exciting advancement for the 3D artist and all eyes will be on how this technology develops.


Digital 3D Design by Simon Danaher

Chapter 1 page 12, 22

Chapter 6 pages 162 – 163, 166 – 167

3D Artist issue 14, “Get Set for Stereo” pages 36-41


Creativity in Digital Media is one of the most important aspects in the success of a design, composition, animation, game etc… There is so much material available through the Internet, TV and Advertising; that it has become commonplace.  According to Brand Republic (Mar 17 2010, 02:08 PM by Danny Morris) advances in CGI have dramatically reduced the cost of advertising, which is especially advantageous in the current economic climate.  This has also been fuelled by advances in technology such as 3D TV and Films.

There are many aspects of digital design such as Motion Graphics; Special effects; programming; typography that all contribute to the overall experience, and achieving high-end results has become far more accessable over recent years.  For example, software such as After Effects, Photoshop, 3DS Max, AutoCAD etc have made it possible for the average user such as myself to produce work of a decent standard.

There is no ceiling on the work we could do, take James Cameron’s Avatar for instance, we’re always striving to reach beyond realism, create effects to achieve things that can’t be done in reality in a completely believable way.  The only ceiling there is, is the one we put up for ourselves.  There is no limit on creativity, only the boundaries we ourselves put in place.  The ultimate goal is to create a reality beyond realism

In the following video for The Discovery Network, James Cameron discusses the effect of character attraction to an audience with the extent that character looks like a humanoid.

Even though Avatar was a visually amazing; heralding the coming of serious 3D visuals and becoming the highest grossing film of all time at $2 million (Worst Previews Jan 26th 2010), the storyline was cited questionable and clichéd by some. (Davie Cook, 29th Dec 2009).

If this feature had not spent 14 years in the making it would have not been such a success, it had to allow for technology to catch up before the creative aspects could be achieved.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010); although receiving a rating of  52% compared to Avatar’s 89%; was in my opinion a far more creative film.  Alice achieved both aspects of creative narrative and amazing visuals, you can’t get a better example of creativity than the works of Lewis Carroll.  The use of nonsense words, dragging you into this make-believe, impossible world and then making it real through the special effects.

It’s the little details in any piece of media that make it special, it’s the things that someone has thought about, got involved with and has been enthusiastic about.  I loved the way that the people who surround the Red Queen use false ears, noses etc…to make themselves appear like the Queen.  That little detail doesn’t necessarily add to the story, but it adds a certain embroidery to the atmosphere of Underland, as it is actually known.  (The reference to Wonderland is made when The Hatter says to Alice that she got the name wrong, calling it Wonderland during her first visit as a child)

Certain references to Lewis Carroll’s other works are made throughout the film; Depp recites part of the Jabberwocky poem, from what was actually Wonderland’s sequel, ‘Through the Looking Glass,’ (1872)  in a Scottish accent, as it was written; in fact, most of what we know from previous adaptations are in fact a mixture of events and misconceptions from both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the looking Glass.  Tweedledum and Tweedledee are often depicted as characters in the original story, however only appear in the sequel.  This version also includes characters and events from both works, but tell more of a separate series of events, which is far more rewarding than another retelling of the original story we all know.

There’s not much justice I can do for all of the little details that have filtered through from the imagination of Lewis Carroll and then the brilliance of Tim Burton, as it is such a layered story, hundreds of references to social factors and pieces of trivia, it is definitely a film that you can analyse.

Usually when watching 3D films, I end up analysing the creative process,  thinking  about render settings, lighting and materials, poly counts etc… You know when you’re a 3D student when you’re admiring the reflections in a material…  Alice was no different, but I was also admiring the creativity at the same time; it was more about the small details like actor interaction with CGI characters, composition, and the level of detail that makes the characters so believable in the environment. And that’s what I love about the media industry.