Tuesday, 23 March 2010

London BFI, V&A Decode

A couple of weekends ago I headed down to London for the day for a trip out with some friends. :) We were on a quite a tight schedule but managed to fit in lots of things we wanted to do. :)  It was a very nerdy day out with lots of interactive experiences, so I thought I would share some of them on here.  Our first stop was the V&A where we checked out the exhibition Decode: Digital Design Sensations.

Mehmet Akten, Body Paint, 2009
This exhibition was a lot of fun! ^-^ The exhibition shows the latest digital and interactive art works in development and looks at three themes, Code, Interactivity and Network

" Code presents pieces that use computer code to create new works and looks at how code can be programmed to create constantly fluid and ever-changing works.  Interactivity looks at works that are directly influenced by the viewer. Visitors will be invited to interact with and contribute to the development of the exhibits.  Network focuses on works that comment on and utilise the digital traces left behind by everyday communications and looks at how advanced technologies and the internet have enabled new types of social interaction and mediums of self-expression." 

We had loads of fun messing around with all the installations.  I generally love any kind of interactive thing, so I was in heaven.  Most of the pieces reacted to your movement, sounds or touch creating some really cool unique images.  There were also pieces that took advantage of the recent app culture using iphone applications and the internet to allow people all over the world to contribute to the exhibition. Below are some of my favourite pieces from the exhibition.

YOKE, Dandelion, 2009
Large projected Dandelion which you can "blow" using a hairdryer.
Ross Phillips, Videogrid, 2008
A video camera on a tripod captures a few seconds of footage at the press of the button.  It is then added on a loop to the screen on the other side.
I really loved this tree because it reminded me of some designs I had for my old website. :)  Its was so pretty and animated to sensors catching the wind outside the V&A. :) Very clever. 
The exhibition is on until 11th April 2010 so if you are around London or can find the time to visit then I really recommended you check it out.

So the next stop was the BFI Southbank where I finally got to see 'The Secret of Kells' on the big screen.  We had a mad run across London to the cinema though (stupid closed tube), and we missed the first ten minutes of the film.  However it didn't spoil the awesomeness, its one of the prettiest looking films I've seen in a long time.  I loved it! <3 I'm thinking of buying the DVD now which is avaliable from the Cartoon Saloon online shop.

After the film we had just over an hour before we had a reservation at the restaurant Inamo.  So we decided to have a quick stop at the Tate and explored this giant box of nothingness.  It didn't really feel like nothing to me though as there were lots of people in there and it was just darkness and noise... not very interesting.  The Tate shop though was a different story... had lots of fun in there looking at all the nice books I want to buy but can't afford. :)

So finally we got to eat! :)  Inamo is quite a new restaurant in Soho that provides and interactive dining experience.  Instead of ordering your food with a human everything is done through the interactive projected screen on your table.  

This was a lot of fun and I was really excited as I had been itching to go to this restaurant since I saw it advertised over a year ago!  You can preview all your food and drinks and as soon as you place your order it goes straight through to the kitchen.  Whilst you are waiting for your food you can play games on the tables, change the 'table cloth' decoration and watch the chefs preparing the food via 'chef cam'.

The food was delicious although quite expensive for what it was. I didn't mind paying a bit more though as it was great to have such a fun dining experience. I won't be going there to eat on every trip to London but would definitely like to visit again.

I had such a good day out even if it was some what rushed. It was so nice to see uni people again and spend the day being a little nerdy. We finished with some bubble tea from China town before heading back home which was yummy as well as satisfying. It was all in all a great trip, I can't wait for the next one now! :)

p.s. I am sorry if the layout for this post is displaying weird.  Blogger has recently updated the features for writing posts so I decided to give this new version of 'Compose' a try.  Instead of being easier than before I am finding myself getting very frustrated with the lack of control I have over the layout.  From my next post I will be back to writing using good old 'Edit HTML'. ^-^

Saturday, 6 March 2010

The Princess and the Frog Review

So this week I finally got around to seeing The Princess and the Frog I really enjoyed the film but I don't think it's going to become one of my new favourites.  As this was the first film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios since John Lassater took over I was quite anxious it see what affect he would have on the production. Lassater made a great decision by deciding to take Disney back to traditional animation.  He brought back Ron Clements and John Musker (writers for Aladdin and The Little Mermaid) to do the screenplay for this film and as expected the end result was a brilliant.  The animation was amazing and the story worked really well.  This is a new Disney film that finally had some of the old Disney feel I remember as a kid.  The soundtrack by Randy Newman gave the film a Pixar-ish feel, which I personally found quite comforting... it was like hearing the voice of an old friend. :)

The film had some brilliant character designs, beautiful painted backgrounds and as I mentioned previously some amazing animation. Some of my favourite scenes were those with the Shadow Man, Doctor Facilier. They were slightly freaky with ghostly shadows and scary masks and most definitely had the best songs. The night time fireflies sequence also stood out to me as a piece of beautiful animation, I think it was all the lights and pretty colours that made it feel really magical. My favourite piece though would have to be Tiana's dream sequence, "Almost There". I love the 1920's poster style which made this short sequence a very refreshing part of the film.

Tiana's dream sequence - 'Almost There
Image courtesy of Jim Hill Media

I really loved our new Disney princess!  Tiana's character is so different from the princesses I remember growing up with.  Aurora and Arial have always been my favourites, I thought they were great when I was a little girl and wanted to be just like them.  Looking back on them now they don't really seem to be great role models for children.  Thankfully I didn't grow up to be like those two :) I do still love them but their soppy dreamy and lovestruck behaviour doesn't really appeal to me anymore,  I guess they are just characters of their time.  Tiana on the other hand is the total opposite and similar to many hard working women today.  She is independent, motivated and determined to achieve her dreams through nothing but her own hard work.  The fact she pushes aside all social time reminded me a bit of myself when I'm in work mode... no time for anything or anyone else but my work.  Luckily Tiana learnt that it is important to have a balance between work and relationships, something I need to remind myself of every so often.  This just goes to show that Disney doesn't just create movies that teach children important lessons. :)

Prince Naveen and Tiana as frogs

As a Disney prince I found that Prince Naveen didn't really do it for me, not as much as some of the previous princes.  This is probably because he was a frog for most of the movie but his personality didn't help. :)  He was obnoxious, lazy and a womaniser,  he actually reminded me a lot of Emperor Kuzco from the Emperors New Groove.  Even though he did annoy me with his extreme laziness it was nice change to see the latest Disney prince have a bit of personality.  As much as I loved Prince Phillip and Eric they were pretty boring characters.

The sidekicks in the form of Louis the alligator and Ray the firefly didn't really stand out to me that much.  I did like the fact the alligator played the trumpet but other than that I found them a bit annoying.  Mama Odie was a great character, I loved her wrinkly face! It was a shame she didn't have a bigger role in the film.  Lottie, Tiana's childhood friend was my favourite side character in the film.  She was as annoying and spoilt as Prince Naveen but she just had some of the best lines and character animation.

Environment artwork

After seeing the film I had a little browse online for images for this post.  I found some beautiful concept art on the Princess and the Frog Official Website (see the Art Of section).  This might take a while to load up but it's definitely worth it.  

So overall I thoroughly enjoyed this film and would definitely recommend it.  I think there are just enough funny parts to make it suitable for adults and lots of songs and talking animals for children.  Also as an animator and a HUGE Disney fan it is great to see the studio return to traditional animation. :)  This film really is a great comeback for Disney and I'm now once again getting excited for the studios next production, Rapunzel! :)