Freelance 3D modeller and games artist. Commenced my games industry career over 10 years ago, starting out at Warthog on the sci-fi FPS Mace Griffin: Bounty Hunter, and a space shooter of Battlestar Galactica. Most recently worked in house for Sumo Digital on a Tennis release for Sega, Virtua Tennis 2009 for PS3, Xbox 360 & the Wii, and I also worked on Sonic & Sega All-Star Racing. I have recently begun to teach 3D modelling and how that relates to games at several educational institutions including the University of Bolton on a part-time basis. Mod work includes development team leader, lore advice and modelling work for the Battlefield 2142 Star Wars themed mod First Strike.
Well that is an end of an era, and a seemingly mental move by Disney. Okay, so perhaps LucasArts haven't been at the top of their game for a while now, with some ropey Star Wars games lately like Star Wars Kinect and The Force Unleashed II. But this is still the legendary studio that brought us the classic point and click adventure games of the 90's such as Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, the classic Star Wars games series X-Wing and Dark Forces, and published great games such as Rogue Squadron, Star Wars: Battlefront and Knights of the Old Republic. They haven't been at their former greatness for a while now, but Star Wars: 1313 certainly looked like a step in the right direction. So what now for the future of that game? Tantalizingly close and then snatched from our grasp just like SW: Battlefront 3 from the looks of it. So we see another casualty of the merger to join the Clone Wars series (though we still don't know exactly what is going on with that to be fair).
So what are everyone else's thoughts on this? Mourning this loss of an iconic games developer and publisher? Or feeling pretty Meh about the whole affair?
So now it is official J.J. Abrams will be directing the next Star Wars movie while producing the 3rd Star Trek movie.
So what are everyone's thoughts on this? Prepare the mighty Lensflare-atron! And set course for a Galaxy far, far away!
Personally I think he's a pretty good choice that most people might have discounted due to his current entanglement with the other big "Star" franchise, but if you think about it, he's always been quite vocal about his love for Star Wars, often mentioning how he was trying to make the new Trek more Star Wars like in a vital, exciting and mythic way. And many a Trek fan has been quoted as not liking the new Abrams Trek due to him making it too Star Wars like in tone. So maybe on that basis he's the ideal man for the job.
Now the new Star Trek was by no means perfect, it was a thrill ride for sure, but for me lacked a little something in substance which I hope will get rectified in the sequel. though a lot of those issues could be attributed to the writers he tends to work with. So hopefully when he comes on board that won't mean a Damon (Prometheus/Lost) Lindelof re-write of the script, as we certainly don't want to see that, especially with such an accomplished writer already in place.
However J.J. Abrams did inject a much needed jolt of vitality not seen in a Trek movie since First Contact, so I must say I'm quite excited about what he could bring to the table here. He also seems quite good at homaging other director's styles while still keeping his own distinct aesthetic in the mix as proven with the Spielberg love letter that was Super-8. So I'd think him more than capable of capturing the feel of the classic original trilogy that we all know and love while still injecting some new energy into it.
The only danger I see is if he creates a new Star Wars too similar in style to the new Trek he's developed, as that is one of the things that has always made both franchises so strong. Yeah they both have 'Star' in the title, but they couldn't be more different and distinct. So we really want to see that distinctive difference remain. Other than that minor misgiving I think that this is just another very positive piece in the puzzle that will lead us towards Star Wars VII. It is now an even more exciting time to be a Star Wars fan in my opinion.
Well whether you're celebrating the news or lamenting it, there is no doubt that last week's news was a pretty big deal if you're a Star Wars fan. With Disney buying up Lucasfilm and all the intellectual properties that go with it, and in addition to that the promise of a new Star Wars film in 2015 it is a very exciting time indeed.
George Lucas will be stepping down as part of his ongoing retirement plans, and though he will still be staying on as a creative consultant, Star Wars will effectively be transferred into new hands, and fresh talent is going to get the chance to have a crack at that galaxy far, far away.Now after an initial reaction of a pitiful Vader from Episode III like scream of...
If you think about it this could very well be the best thing to happen to Star Wars in a long time. The prequels didn't exactly go down a storm with everyone though they still did very good box office, and Star Wars seems to be at its best when it is the combination of George Lucas' grand ideas, a good scriptwriter who can write great snappy dialogue, and a director who can draw fantastic performances from their actors. Yes The Empire Strikes Back, that's you I'm looking at. And with rumors abound that a Lucas treatment for a third trilogy may form the basis of this new trilogy of movies I'm cautiously optimistic. Of course it is too early to tell if this will be the greatest thing ever, or an unmitigated disaster, but one thing for sure is that this has really got everyone excited about Star Wars again which is no bad thing.
So what would I personally like to see from a new Star Wars movie/trilogy?
Well I might as well put my two cents in same as everyone else on the interwebs, my opinion will be as informed/ill informed as the next chap.
Heh, where to start?
First up I'd have to say to the new film makers don't feel that you have to somehow adhere to the already established 30+ years of EU (Expanded Universe) fiction which is majorly centered around the era of the Star Wars timeline following ROTJ, I really doubt they will anyway, but I'd not like to see any fresh creativity potentially hamstrung by attempting to please everyone and not offend any of the fans. I'm sure even the most hardcore and militant EU fan won't be complaining if the new films don't fit in with established EU continuity if the new movie is absolutely awesome.
If George Lucas has treatments covering the plots for the new trilogy (as we believe is the case), then use them, it would be good to keep the tone and essence of Star Wars alive in any new trilogy, and this is a good place to start. Whatever faults or shortcomings we can throw George's way it has to be said that the use of ancient mythology as a touch stone with the hero's journey and all that good stuff made a great archetypal basis for his galaxy spanning saga, and this was no less the case with the overall themes and intentions of the prequel trilogy. The ideas for the most part were sound, we were all chomping at the bit to find out what the story was behind the boy who would become Darth Vader, it was more the execution that let it down.
As I said above use George Lucas' treatments for the new movies if they exist, but get someone else to write the script, it is this synergy between Lucas' grand ideas and themes, and great screenwriters who can actually write snappy dialogue which really allows Star Wars to shine, as is highlighted by the immediate sequel to the original, TESB. Whedon could be a good fit with his many script doctoring escapades, not to mention the recent Avengers movie which just knocked it out the park. Perhaps someone a little more left field though? How about Frank Darabont? He has already shown cracking adaptation chops on various Stephen King properties, did a treatment for Indy that was never used, don't you wish we'd had that rather than what we did get? And is a hardcore movie geek, I bet he could come up with something really interesting from a Lucas movie treatment, and would be a confident enough talent to feel he could make adjustments where needed.
It is also an interesting time for Star Wars, the brand is still robust and obviously fiscally strong, put out any movie with the Star Wars brand at its head and it is going to make money, but the brand has also lost a little of its sheen due to the disappointment to some that were the prequels, turning some lifelong fans into a right jaded old bunch even if the movies are still making loads of money with each new re-release, the fact is the franchise isn't as unsinkable as it once was, it hasn't got that swagger it had ahead of the prequels. As such there is a lot more riding on these new movies, it'll be make or break for the franchise. This can only be a good thing. Pressure breeds creativity, this was certainly the case with the original trilogy when they were really up against it, even more so when Star Wars was a hit and they had to prove it wasn't a fluke with Empire. Arguably the least successful of the original trilogy was ROTJ because then the brand had become quite self assured with the success which had gone before it. This was even more the case with the prequels. Now the pressure is on, and without George Lucas at the head hopefully we won't get the 'Yes men' mentality which seemed to plague the prequels with everyone on the crew in awe of the fact they were working for George Lucas, and unable to believe that he could do wrong. With these new movies that should be nipped in the bud with new talent in the director's chair. Hopefully the pressure and sheer possibilities and freedom offered up by having the opportunity to do a new Star Wars trilogy will breed fresh creativity and inventiveness in spades. Other than the first film this has always been how the best Star Wars has come about, with a story by Lucas but other directors actually calling the shots. Also, lets not forget that other big 'Star' franchise. Star Trek's movie franchise entered into a totally new lease of life when after the 'Slow' Motion Picture didn't do so well and Gene Rodenberry was asked to take a back seat for the sequels, and it was in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan where they really nailed it and pretty much sealed the future for the many movies that followed, so there is form for a franchise to benefit from fresh talent taking over from the original creators and injecting some vibrant new energy into it.
Set it 30 to 40 years after ROTJ, this can make most issues with EU continuity go away since most of it takes place pretty much immediately after Jedi, so it could be ignored without necessarily contradicting it if that was a worry, but as I said earlier I don't think it should be. More importantly setting it then allows original trilogy actors to come back to their roles. Bringing back Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher to their respective roles would be a major coup in my opinion. I wouldn't want to see them as major characters in the entire trilogy, but if Luke were to take on the Obi-Wan mentor role (perhaps even dying at some point, though not in the first film, we don't want it to be a complete copy of the original), or be the leader of a new order of Jedi passing the torch over to the new young Jedi defending the galaxy, with Leia playing an elder stateswoman akin to Mon Mothma in ROTJ, that would be a real fan pleasing move, and a great continuity thread leading back to the original trilogy.
But what should it be about? Whatever is in George Lucas' bag of tricks of a treatment I guess. Personally I'd like to see something totally unrelated to EU, so sure inspiration could be drawn from interesting characters and situations, but the story on the whole should be fresh. The new movies should not be beholden to EU continuity. I think the new trilogy has to be about picking up the pieces after the death of the Empire. Their forces will still be scattered around out there, splinter factions will be rising up under various ex-Imperial warlords, so there is potential for all sorts of strife, the galaxy may even be an even more dangerous place, and it has to be about the Rebellion's transition into government (no taxation of trade routes and all that garbage, but it will be interesting to see how the Rebellion manages to bring order to a galaxy that was held in check by the iron fist of the Empire with a more softly softly touch). The underworld would be running rampant through the galaxy, the Alliance would be having to deal with trying to police the galaxy and deal with disputes. Luke would be in the process of rebuilding the Jedi Order, so plenty to choose from, just a case of where to go with it and what to focus on. I also like the idea of the potential anarchy giving rise to a more crazed and malevolent less disciplined order of Sith, so gone is the rule of their only being two Sith, and that in the furthest reaches of the galaxy a Sith army is rising, so at some point (probably at the end of the trilogy) we get a chance to see what we all are gagging to see on the big screen which is armies of Jedi vs. Sith kicking off, you know you want it.
So in short...
Don't feel beholden to the Expanded Universe, make the new movie as good as humanly possible, and EU fans won't care if it doesn't fit in with EU continuity as long as the movie is awesome.
Use George Lucas' treatments for the new trilogy, but get some great scriptwriters in there to write the script itself who can write great snappy dialogue. Whedon? Darabont?
George Lucas has to take a back seat as this will hopefully end the 'Yes men' awe and 'He can do no wrong' sort of mentality that seemed to plague the crew of the prequels. We need fresh talent in that director's chair. Story by Lucas, script by a decent scriptwriter and directed by a great director, add to that mix lots of pressure to breed creativity and inventiveness, that is when Star Wars really soars.
Set it 30 to 40 years after the end of ROTJ allowing original trilogy actors to reprise their roles, Mark Hamill playing Luke as an Obi-Wan like mentor, or leader of the Jedi Order, Carrie Fisher playing Leia as an Elder Stateswoman akin to Mon Mothma in ROTJ, but have them not be the central characters, have these be a new generation, they're just passing the torch.
Have the story be about rebuilding the galaxy after the fall of the Empire, the Rebellion's uneasy transition to an allied galactic government, dealing with lawlessness from a flourishing underworld now that the Empire's strict grip has gone. Ex-Imperial Warlords and Imperial splinter factions all causing trouble, Luke's quest to rebuild the Jedi Order, and have it all leading towards the rise of an anarchistic new Sith Order rising ditching the rule of two so they can create a Sith army, which will come to a head at the end of the trilogy with armies of Jedi and Sith kicking arse.
And lastly, as many have already said, just make it Star Wars, throw in all that good stuff that we've come to expect, action, spectacle and heart, oh and lots of space battles.
So I guess now we just have to wait and see if this new movie is going to be the best thing since lightsaber sliced bread (it's great, because it slices and toasts at the same time!), or an unmitigated disaster and the last flogging of an almost dead horse/Bantha.
Only time will tell. I'll bet there's already some fans queuing up at their local multiplex already.
Has been a long time coming but my on-line portfolio:
(I know, imaginative title yes? ; P ) gets a much overdue update. I hadn't updated it for over 4 years which is just criminal. My copy of Dreamweaver went the way of the Dodo which kinda scuppered any efforts to update it, but getting a new copy recently gave me the chance to do a bit of a clear out and spruce up, and now she's ready to set sail on the interwebs again with stacks of brand new content.
The site now features a games work specific section featuring all of my officially released game titles, which is now bang up to date with such releases as Sonic & Sega All-stars Racing and Virtua Tennis 2009. There is also a new gameography page within the about me section, and plenty of new work to check out in the miscellaneous 3d and 2d sections. And of course there is a section dedicated to the mod First Strike which features plenty of behind the scenes work in progress images and in game screenshots.
Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think.
RIP Ralph McQuarrie.
His art will be with us, always.
Sad news everyone, Ralph McQuarrie has passed away this weekend. I'm sure you all know him well, but if you don't, he is basically the creator of the visual look and aesthetic of Star Wars. It was his fantastic concept artwork which helped George Lucas sell his crazy idea to the movie executives and get the first Star Wars made. He then went on to create the majority of the concept work for the remainder of the original trilogy, together with work on matte paintings that appeared as effects within the movie too.
It goes without saying that the guy was a great inspiration to myself and was one of the key factors in my choosing to pursue a career in art from an early age, having grown up with his work and the cinematic results of that art. I still have stacks and stacks of books featuring his art and reproductions of my favourite pieces of his work hanging on my office wall.
A hugely influential talent and a sad loss to the world of art and fantastical movie making.
Below is a link to a few words from George Lucas:
I've been looking for some additional work lately (paid work, not mod related), and have just got done producing some sample work for a Storyboard Artist post that a certain games company has just started hiring for, works out well for me as it is a contract position that might just suit my current needs. Wish me luck with that.
Anyhow, it felt good to get the old pen and paper out again and do a little traditional media work, rather than all the computer based stuff I usually do. Sure I've done a little concept work here and there for First Strike, and floor plans for environments etc, but it has been far too long since I just sat down and did a more lengthy traditional media art project, besides these concept pieces tend to be a little rough and ready as they are quickly produced to get the idea swiftly across so production of 3D assets can begin. So to just be doing some 2D artwork just for the sake of it (well not really just for the sake of it, as obviously the work is geared towards getting me a job) felt good, being able to spend a little time on it, do a little mixed media. It let me know that it had been far too long, and like with all things you need to keep at it or lose it, if you don't keep exercising those muscles and keep on top of it you'll lose your game. Luckily after a bit of a slow start getting back into it, it soon started to flow and some not half bad work was produced. I still feel that I was a little rusty, and nowhere near as good as I was when this was all I did, but this has certainly convinced me that I need to keep at it and produce little traditional media pieces every now and then just to keep me on my toes and flex those other artistic muscles to make sure I stay in well rounded tip top shape.
So I wanted to produce some high end storyboard work to compliment the style of the job post I was going for, and to add to the various types of storyboards I had already produced in the past, but where to look for inspiration? In the end I didn't have to look too far. If you have followed First Strike for some time, you may remember a Fan Fiction Competition we ran the other year. When hosting this competition I decided to write an example of the sort of stories and scenarios that people could draw upon to create their own First Strike Fan Fiction, this initial piece took the form of an introduction to the back-story to the popular Tatooine: Mos Espa map, as featured in the loading screen text. It was this that I chose to expand upon for my fiction sample, and it was here that I chose to take inspiration for this storyboard sequence I needed to create. I developed a storyboard based on the opening scenes of this fiction, and I'll post the results here for you to check out. First the overall storyboard sequence, and then if you want to see the individual frames in a little more detail, check them out in the images section above.
If you wish to check out the story that this sequence is based on you can find a link to the First Strike fiction here:
Check this FS forum for the various entries that were made for this compo, there's some pretty good stuff there which is well worth a read:
In light of the new changes being edited into the Blu-ray release of the original trilogy, there has been the now traditional fan uproar. Some of the changes are inconsequential, some may actually improve the movies, and the prequels, but as ever there are some controversial changes that have not gone down well at all.
What makes all of this all the more amusing is this quote from George Lucas from back in 1988 when he was testifying before Congress regarding the plight to save the cultural heritage of classic films:
"These current defacements are just the beginning. Today, engineers with their computers can add color to black-and-white movies, change the soundtrack, speed up the pace, and add or subtract material to the philosophical tastes of the copyright holder. Tomorrow, more advanced technology will be able to replace actors with "fresher faces," or alter dialogue and change the movement of the actor's lips to match. It will soon be possible to create a new "original" negative with whatever changes or alterations the copyright holder of the moment desires. The copyright holders, so far, have not been completely diligent in preserving the original negatives of films they control. In order to reconstruct old negatives, many archivists have had to go to Eastern bloc countries where American films have been better preserved.
In the future it will become even easier for old negatives to become lost and be "replaced" by new altered negatives. This would be a great loss to our society. Our cultural history must not be allowed to be rewritten."
It does paint him to be something of a hypocrite, but they're his movies to do with as he likes, so what are you going to do? The following article is a good one on this subject and raises some interesting points:
And of course now it is time for the customary Hitler hates... video:
Hitler has never made me laugh so much.
All George Lucas has to do is release a cleaned up original theatrical release of the original Star Wars trilogy on Blu-ray and then all the fan vitriol would go away. He'd be forgiven for all the tinkering of the special editions, as long as we have a copy of the original that we all know and love. Perhaps the fear is that if he did that, then nobody would buy his special editions and he'd have to face the cold hard truth that not that many people prefer them over the original cut.
Going to head off now to lock my tin box collection of the original videos and Dvds of the theatrical release in a vault now. Sounds like they're only going to become more precious as the years go on.
If you've been following my blog for a while, you'll remember a post a while back at the beginning of the year about a fan of our mod; First Strike, who was interested in taking our unique vision for the Expanded Universe vehicle, the Rebel Armoured Freerunner, and taking that into a solid real world model form through the process of Rapid Prototyping, a process by which a computer generated 3d model can be effectively three dimensionally printed in polymers or plastics to create a real model.
Well the process goes on, and on and off over time the modeller has been sending me a number of photographs charting his progress as he paints this model and layers on the detail, as well as to ask advice on the colours that should be used that will allow him to finally give us an accurate representation of the vehicle you see in our mod. I'll hand you over to him so you can get a feel for the process that he is working through, and then finish with a few more pictures to show his progress.
'If you recall, the last photos were of the base colour-- a grey brown. After cleaning my airbrush to get all the muck out-- I used Interior Aircraft Black and sprayed a thin line of black over the panel lines or where I felt the illusion of a panel line ought to be. I then was a tad more generous with the undercarriage and the engines were pretty much covered with a mist of black. Again, up top, I gave a light misting of black to the gun turrets.
Finally, I painted the windows black.
The kit will need to dry-- but the next step will be to cover most of the hull in camouflage grey OVER the base coat and the black. This will give the illusion of shadow and make the Rebel Freerunner look battle ready.
Well here is some possibly very good news, Battlefield 3 Blog have just posted an article in which DICE's general manager Karl-Magnus Troedsson states...
“We have heard the community very loud and clear on this topic — that they want mod tools. We are considering it, back in the studio. The game won’t ship with mod tools, but we have heard it. I’m not saying that we’re going to do it, I’m saying that we are thinking about it.”
This could be great news, but obviously nothing is cast in stone, after all just prior to the release of BF:BC2 they released statements that mod tools were going to be available to help garner goodwill and an edge on their just released at the time main competitor COD: Modern Warfare 2 which was not going to have any mod tools, and we all know how that turned out, but still I'd like to have faith in DICE to believe that community pressure on this matter could make them about turn on this. It would at least show they do care about our opinion and desires, and are not just after our hard earned dollar.
Here's hoping that they have listened, heed our wishes and release those tools.
Check out the link below for the full article at BF3 Blog.
Hi guys, just thought I'd share with you all a pretty cool new development.
A fan of our work here on First Strike requested a while back to be given the 3DS Max files for one of our in game vehicles. A long time Star Wars fan and avid modeller (as in model kits and unique miniatures, not computer based modelling), he fell in love with First Strike's unique take on the Rebel Freerunner, an Expanded Universe vehicle which has been around since way back in the old West End Games Star Wars Roleplaying Game. It was from an orthographic sketch from a sourcebook from that game which I used as inspiration for my Freerunner model, just a side on view, so from this limited information I created my personal take on what the vehicle should look like.
Since that roleplaying game came out in the late 80's there have been a few new takes on the vehicle, most recently in the Star Wars Customisable Card Game which feature computer graphic images more 3 dimensional in their interpretations which show the vehicle to be a much more curvy affair than the angular approach that I took with it. I found this to be quite ugly and without any striking presence of form, quite frankly it just looked like a characterless blob to me, but then I am bias I guess.
This official interpretation of the vehicle just added more uniqueness to our model, with official movie based vehicles and assets obviously there is no room to manoeuvre and you should try and get your assets as close to their movie counterparts as possible, but with EU stuff? I like to think you can take that with a pinch of salt, they are more open to interpretation due to their level of canon (plus even official interpretations of some of these vehicles, races and characters can end up varying quite a bit depending on what media they appear in over the years), for instance recently I've seen someone's interpretation of an E-Wing Fighter from the Dark Empire comic book series which is just sublime and really improves on the original. Obviously if someone decided to do that with an X-Wing? Might not go down so well.
So in short the First Strike Freerunner is a unique interpretation of this vehicle that you'll not find anywhere else. And it was this unique design that caught the attention of this modeller. Being a long time fan of the Freerunner design from the original SW: Roleplaying Game he loved our take on the vehicle and requested the model files to help him in an interesting aspect of his modelling hobby. Not content with just the available Star Wars vehicle models that you can buy in the shops, this guy goes on the hunt for unique Expanded Universe models that might appear in Star Wars Mods like ours, and asks for a watertight version of the in game model files (watertight meaning very sound geometry). With these files he sends them off to a tooling company with Rapid Prototyping technology, a process by which products in industry can be prototyped from CAD files using a 3D printing process to create the asset carved from plastics or polymers. A similar technology to that used to prototype Star Wars figures in their initial design stages.
I found this to be a very interesting prospect. To see a model I'd built and that only existed as polygons in a computer fully realised as a tangible real world miniature model was just too good an opportunity to miss, and duly furnished the modeller with the files he needed. He showed me examples of previous Star Wars models he'd had Rapid Prototyped such as a model of a Chariot LAV and a Flurry Carrier, the results were impressive, and I was very interested to see how well the process would deal with the complex geometry of the engineering section to the rear.
Well now that modeller has sent off and received back his first copy (and currently the only copy) of a First Strike style Armoured Freerunner, and he has sent photos of the model which I would like to share with you here today. He has placed the model amongst some miniature figures to give an idea of scale, and will soon be painting the model, so as he updates me with further pictures of his progress I will update my images here for those who are interested.