Tuesday, 23 April 2013

TENDRIL REACH OUT



TENDRIL is a design, direction and animation studio based in Toronto, Canada. Formed from the ongoing collaboration of Brazilian-Canadian directorial team Chris Bahry and Alexandre Torres, 'It is a place where directors, designers, and artists from diverse backgrounds create powerful, visual storytelling experiences,' says producer Molly Willows.
Not afraid to be experimental, 'we dare to be naive and see every new client and brief as an opportunity to create our best work.'




TENDRIL's amazing short film for STYLEFRAMES NYC is a good example of what is created when commercial constraints are removed: An ominous piece of 'sci-fi noir', in parts reminiscent of big-budget studio films DARK CITY and TRON:LEGACY, it depicts an anxious creative guy on an all-nighter at his desk. He's trying to come up with a pitch, yet haunted by conflicting creative muses. 




In the film, the aforementioned muses - or 'The Gods' - were an idea by co-director Anthony Scott Burns, and proved to be the project's eureka moment: 'The Gods are the ones we challenge when we accept the invitation to unlock new avenues of self discovery,' he wrote in his presentation to Stash Magazine, the event's organisers.




As a series of conferences and seminars, STYLEFRAMES attracted speakers from such notable companies as The Mill, Zaha Hadid Architects, and advertising heavyweights BBH. It focussed on that singular moment in any creative's life: 'The Pitch'. As such, TENDRIL's movie perfectly captures the late-night paranoia of the looming deadline. Check it out - 




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Interview with Styleframes Co-Director, Anthony Scott Burns

MONOBLOG: It's an impressive piece of work, considering that the team didn't have very long to work on it. What are your thoughts on the experience of the STYLEFRAMES production

Thanks so much for your kind words. Firstly, it was a pleasure to collaborate with Chris Bahry + Tendril, and John Black of CypherAudioAll throughout my career I have created work almost completely solo because I have never been able to find collaborators who see things so similarly. Chris, John, and I clicked immediately.

I think we all saw that this was the right project for us all to blend the best creative qualities in each other. We had all been wanting to work together on something for years, and Styleframes couldn't have been a better project to do this. It was an ambitious & short schedule, but I think we all loved the intense method of creating this piece.


MONOBLOG: After all the hard work, what was the reaction to the film?

The reaction so far has been great. I'm glad people have responded so well to it. It really was a labour of love for all involved.


MONOBLOG: When I first saw it, my first thought was 'I wish these guys had done Tron: Legacy'. If you had a wishlist, what would you love to work on?

My dream projects would be Tron 3The Black Hole remake, and Daniel Clowes' graphic novel Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron.

MONOBLOG: Great choices. So what are you working on, next?

I've just finished my newest short film "Manifold". It's a science fiction mystery, and has already been picked up to be made into a feature. I had many of my good friends involved, including Ash Thorp ( - see elsewhere in this edition ) who was instrumental in all the design aspects of the film. The eight minute piece also has a dark synth score by the immensely talented Makeup and Vanity Set

My album Pilotpriest is going to be released this year on vinyl, and I hope to be primarily developing/making feature films from here on in. Ash and I have been building stuff for months, and as soon as we're ready, we'll unleash these on the public.

By the way - my new film is a black and white, too!

MONOBLOG: That's what we like to hear! Thanks Anthony. Congratulations to you and the team on this beautiful piece of work.

For additional interviews and background details, check out Motionographer.



Credits
Production Company: Tendril Design + Animation
Directed by: Anthony Scott Burns and Chris Bahry
Music and Sound Design: John Black of CypherAudio
Editor: Chris Murphy of Relish Editing
Executive Producer: Kate Bate
Creative Directors: Chris Bahry and Alexandre Torres
Producer: Molly Willows
DOP: Anthony Scott Burns
Costumes: Jessica Mary Clayton
Make-Up: Stacy Hatzinikolas
Grip: Chris Atkinson
PAs: Howard Gordon, Derek Evoy
Man at Computer: Travis Stone
Gods: Iain Soder, Jessica Mary Clayton
Motorcycle Rider: Kris Sharon
Guy with Binoculars: Dennis Pikulyk
Gods Concept Art: Marco Texeira and Vini Nascimento
Additional Gods Concept Art: Ash Thorp
Environment, Prop, and God Design: Anthony Scott Burns, Vini Nascimento, Chris Bahry, Andrew Vucko
3D Modeling: Vini Nascimento, Marcin Porebski, Renato Ferro, Andrew Vucko
3D Rigging: Renato Ferro
3D Animation: Vini Nasicmento, Marcin Porebski, Renato Ferro
Textures: Vini Nasicmento, Renato Ferro
Lighting, Render: Brad Husband
Compositing: Chris Bahry, Anthony Scott Burns, Brad Husband

ASH THORP - WE CAN RENDER IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE

Ash Thorp is a concept artist and illustrator who has come to prominence in recent years, working on blockbusters such as TOTAL RECALL, THOR, IRON-MAN 3, PROMETHEUS, and many others.

He is regarded by some in the industry as an 'uber-artist', which means he has a skill-set that allows him to pretty much do anything in terms of concept & design. What's all the more mind-boggling, is that this is a man who says he only started to take his career more seriously 'four years ago' - that's pretty good progress! 


MONOBLOG is proud to present ASH THORP.




Above: Concept art for Styleframes NYC.

MONOBLOG: Ash, what's your art background, and where are you now based?

ASH THORP: I attended a local community college and then a Cal State college. I obtained an AA and a BA in art and design. I currently reside in the northern outskirts suburb of San Diego County, in California. 

You obviously think in 3 dimensions. Can you describe how you get from thumbnails all the way to the bewilderingly complex images we see on screen..? I'm thinking in particular of the TOTAL RECALL GRAPHIC USER INTERFACE ( GUI ) content. Describe the process and how you collaborate with your colleagues on the project.





Above: GUI design and still from TOTAL RECALL ( 2012 ).

Ahhhh, this is a hard one. I think I always just kind of see them in my head, the rough sketches are reminder notes like a note on the fridge not to forget to buy milk. I use them as a bookmark of thoughts to come back to. ( See below ).





It’s a language I probably understand only to myself. I then begin to build the idea in Photoshop or Illustrator. I like to try and keep that flow of energy from my original idea. It’s hard to maintain the soul of a creation when you confine it to the rules and regulations that must fit within story-telling formats like film, but I try nonetheless. It is a big back-and-forth journey, as I add and subtract and add more and pull away until it feels right. Often times I am rushed to push things through and have to release ideas and work that are still very undeveloped, but that is the nature of film and this industry. Everything is extremely fast-paced.

What are your influences? You seem to be able to adopt any style - I see Kirby, Sienkiewicz, Mignola, Clive Barker etc, in your painted work.




Above: Three proposed figures for the Styleframes NYC movie short.

I have SOOOO many influences. I find it key to pull inspiration from all different walks of life, as it gives my work and personality its own voice. That being said, I love being inspired by other creatives. I grew up on comics and cartoons, which later turned to anime and film. I love such a wide array of things that it’s hard to pin down. Some things that hit hard for me are the art by Frazetta, Moebius, Otomo, Kubrick, Lucas, Kawajiri's films, Shirow… all the great stuff, too many to list.

Talking of Otomo, give us the scoop on your AKIRA art.


I am doing it out of passion and fun - I am trying to rediscover myself as an illustrator and using things I love to take me there. They are opening some great doors of opportunity, and we will see what comes of them as time progresses.



Below: Ash Thorp's interpretation of KANEDA, a character from Katsuhiro Otomo's graphic novel series, AKIRA.



In your portfolio, you also have some digital 3D pieces. Tell us about those.


I have very basic 3D skills, nothing too far beyond what a newer user in such programs might be. It's just a tool for me to expose ideas. I think some great programs to use are C4D, Zbrush, Modo, Maya, all those. Depends on what your going for. They all offer interesting results.

How did you get to work in the film industry? I'm sure many aspiring artists would love to know.

I decided to take myself and my work seriously about 4 years ago. I worked very hard after hours of a full time job and being a family man for 3 months, to build a portfolio in the hope I would get hired at a studio that I could go and grow at. That opportunity came when I was hired by the studio Prologue ( makers of opening titles for The Walking Dead, X-Men: First Class, etc ). I spent a year there working as hard as I could, and did my best to progress and learn. The big catch with this story is that Prologue's office is 2-3 hours away by car, one way. So I would spend about 5-7 hours of my day commuting from my home to the office up in LA. It was an extremely taxing year, on both me and my family, but it paid off. 
From that experience, I took everything I learned and am now able to work from home and love what I do. 

It’s a true blessing to comfortably say I love what I do for a living.


Below: Sketchbook




Below: Ash Thorp's compilation of Graphic User Content from TOTAL RECALL ( 2012 ).



COMIC-BOOK LEGEND JACK KIRBY, AND THE CIA's ARGO CAPER



In the 1960's, it was the teaming-up of artist Jack Kirby and writer Stan Lee that began Marvel Comics' dominance over American pop culture. During their hugely popular and prolific early tenure at Marvel, many modern-day myths were born: The Fantastic FourThor, Iron Man, The Hulk, and The Avengers, among others.

However, later in the seventies, a dispute with Marvel over ownership of original art and royalties caused Kirby to drift away from mainstream comics, to work on his own pet projects for smaller publishers, as well as for film and animation studios.

It was during his time away from the spotlight in 1978, that Kirby contributed designs for what was to be a movie adaptation of Roger Zelazny's Hugo Award-winning novel 'Lord of Light'. In its scope, Kirby's beautiful concept-art is reminiscent of the sci-fi vistas seen in The Fantastic Four, and also in his lesser-known comic works, such as the New Gods, The Eternals, and his expanded adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey. 



It seems the artist was very much attuned to counter-culture fads for alternative religion and New Age thinking ( such as Erich Von Daniken's non-fiction best-seller 'Chariots of the Gods' ) and it was these prevailing ideas that inspired his elaborate depictions for the proposed film.



In light of what has happened to international relations between the West and the Middle East since the Iranian Revolution, Kirby's quote ( as reproduced on the Lord Of Light website ) is painfully ironic: "This film is going to have a tremendous impact in the world, it will show enormous strength. It will allow the Eastern man and the Western Man to relate to each other. And once mankind relates, they will never again have to fight. They will understand each other's needs and idiosyncrasies."

Ultimately, the film production of Lord of Light never happened: The concept - and Kirby's art - was left languishing in development limbo. That is, until it was hastily dusted off a year later, and used in a real-life CIA operation, by secret agent Antonio Mendez. Mendez' mission was to sneak into revolutionary Tehran and rescue six American diplomats who had gone into hiding at the Canadian Embassy. He was to 'exfiltrate' them across the Iranian border, disguising them as a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a science fiction film called Argo. To back up the story - in case any Iranians were curious enough to do a background check - Mendez placed bogus notices in Variety, and Kirby's art was included with a script, to give the project credibility.



The diplomats were safely rescued, and these events were thrillingly portrayed in the 2012 movie Argo directed by - and starring - Ben Affleck.

It was perhaps only due to the critical and box office success of Argo that Kirby's Lord of Light concept-art surfaced at all, even though they were unable to use his originals in the Affleck film. Ironically, the movie allowed Affleck to find favour in Hollywood again, after several years in career doldrums following his poorly-received comic-book movie adaptation, Daredevil ( a comic that Kirby had also worked on, back in the sixties ).

Kirby, who died in 1994 at the age of 76, was not able to benefit from his cultural profile, or the billions generated in merchandising and box office revenues from blockbusters such as The Avengers or Captain America. But he nevertheless leaves a lasting legacy: Stylistically, he has inspired a diverse generation of comic-book talent such as John Byrne, Michael Allred, Jaime Hernandez and Shaky Kane. And perhaps most satisfyingly, his dispute with Marvel led to creator-owned properties being the norm in the comics industry, rather than the exception.


Below: Argo poster for the CIA 'caper', and ( right ) artist Jack Kirby.




...and finally...Kirby Couture..?!

MONOBLOG spotted these beautiful Classic Marvel-style outfits while researching this article. Looking closely, we think we can spot designs and stylistic signatures by legends John Byrne, John Buscema, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko...


From an article by Shitika Anand, with photography by Allan James Barger.






Hit KA-THOOM for the bigger, full-color article, True Believers!


With thanks to Tania Brauk√§mper and our friends at FASHIONISING.COM