This Major Project will be Hell

  • The page that follows was my first suggestion that Imps! should become the theme for my Final Major Project.
    This was drafted and put forward for consideration within days of having the idea in December 2003.
    See this 128k Acrobat pdf for the actual MA proposal submitted in March 2004.
  • The bibliography - a list of useful books has been updated as a Web page.
    This Gantt chart plans and tracks progress on the project.
    Other work from the Master of Arts interactive Production course - 'MAiP'

Summary of Major Project: create an animation using stop-motion and computer generated 3D set in Hell. To increase the level of interactivity I will present this with a DVD interface and create a Web site to support the DVD.

The first ideas for this emerged during the planning for our Practice 2 group interface. We were considering creating a computer game in a similar style to Grand Theft Auto. I favoured introducing a karma meter - a third status bar to accompany health and wealth, representing a player's actions on a scale from angelic to satanic. On the player's death this might influence the choice or the circumstances of their next character's goals and motivation.

Working on the sound track to the group interface I became interested in Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights triptych. John Lasseter of Pixar has asserted that a big part of creating a successful computer generated animation is in devising an environment suited to the medium. He cites the settings for plastic toys (Toy Story), insects (Bug's Life) and the underwater world of Finding Nemo. Chris Wedge, the director of Ice Age said that his Blue Sky Studios were attracted to that project as no-one had brought that scenario to life before. Dinosaurs have been done to extinction. I began to cast about for somewhere interesting but unexplored and hit on Hell.

Hell can be interpreted through a variety of cultures and styles from cartoon to horrific. It offers endless potential for outlandish characters for demons and imps. In addition famous personalities from history and those currently living could be introduced and parodied. I have been looking for a suitable stop-motion animation project to introduce the concept to multi-media students at Southampton City College. Lighting is a consideration that can really make a project - I want to light the models from below to make them look more sinister and unusual.

The look of the Balrog from Peter Jackson's film of Lord of the Rings: the way light and lava heat works its way out around darker solid sections of its rocky skin would make for an excellent terrain which would emit light from below. I plan to prototype this from blocks of painted polystyrene set on a frosted perspex base.


Professional 3D character modelling is often digitised from clay masters using expensive equipment. Micah Gates introduced us to RealViz ImageModeller, which can provide a pathway from real 3D sculpting to a computer generated environment using just a digital camera and sophisticated software. Canon's 3D S.O.M., D Sculptor, Photomodeler and Photo3D provide similar options. Human and semi-human characters could then be animated in Poser. Poser shares its interface with Bryce which may prove to be the right software to create the demonic setting.

"I'll be Damned"? "Damnation"? Any names for the project, characters (an imp called Hieronymus ?) and plotlines gratefully received!

December 2003

Imps! home page  |  project in progress  |  3D links


Lord of the Rings

ice age