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Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Great Rift Valley?

What Is the Rift Valley?

Africa's Great Rift Valley is a 6,000-mile crack (fissure) in the earth's crust, stretching from Lebanon to Mozambique. One of its most dramatic sections slices through East Africa, dividing Kenya into two segments. Geologists know that the Rift Valley was formed by violent subterranean forces that tore apart the earth's crust. These forces caused huge chunks of the crust to sink between parallel fault lines and force up molten rock in volcanic eruptions. Evidence that this process, called rifting, is still in progress comes from the many active and semi-active volcanoes, located along the Rift. Evidence of volcanic activity along the rift is provided by the presence of numerous boiling hot springs.

Why is the location important?

Partially, the location is important because the story is supposed to take place in Africa and from a story stand point it is important that RA have a "Last Showdown" as it were. John Kilner, the avatar, has spent a great deal of time forcibly occupying other countries and in a modern society not all that diiferent the current US New KMT has recieved a mixed image from the public/media of who John Kilner, the avatar of RA is. The African Military wants to show the public that it is capable of dethroning the tyrant and governing and a final showdown after a "Coup d' etat" is the all too familiar solution in Africa dating back to post-colonialism times. From an aesthetic standpoint the crowd movements over and through terrain presents the most visually striking solution.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Story Synopsis

Hopefully a couple of people are itching to know what the story is behind this "Nommo: New Story of RA" thing is, because there have only been disjointed bits and pieces up to this point. Here is an updated draft of my Thesis treatment that will hopefully pull all of the random pieces I've posted, so far, together. Feel free to ask any questions you'd like.

NOMMO ->“Word Magic”

{i n t r o}

Nommo is a West African term for “Word Magic” or "The Power of Words" and it is an important part of the title of my thesis project. The story is one based in the long lineage of fantasy/science-fiction storytelling, but with a twist. For me, it’s important to declare that it is a story of fiction, so that it is perceived as “A story being told” not just a sequence of fictitious events being given to an audience. I would like to establish the story as the beginning of a new kind of modern mythology that blends futuristic technology elements with elements of the ancient African cultural aesthetic. The premise of the story is the demise and redemption of John Kilner, the avatar of Ra. (Egyptian mythical God) Because this will be a CG short story/trailer, the challenges will be the amount character animation/ design/modeling that will be necessary and the creation and rendering of natural rural environments.


The McGuffin - “A man with the power of God that began as a hero and became a villain choked out by his own villainy.”

The story "NOMMO: New Story of RA" takes place in the distant future of earth where the countries of Africa had united and become one powerful country in the world system, under RA. The transformation/reshaping of Africa took place as a direct result of the intervention of John Kilner (aka., The Avatar of RA.) As the Avatar of RA Kilner was only supposed to oversee and intervene as minimally as possible with the activities of the universe. Greed, lust and frustration with the "Order of Things" corrupted him and he abused the power he was given. The birth of New KMT was the result. (KMT ->Kemet -> “Place for the Blacks”/ "Black Land") KMT is the original name of Egypt and was adopted by the new United Africa. For some of the citizens of New KMT life was more than fair, but for most it was egregiously unfair. Disparity of justice and inequality under a tyrannical government lead to strife and civil unrest, which lead to a coup. Kilner falsely accused of a murder was stripped of his governmental position, hunted down and killed in a nameless ravine in South Africa. Carthegians lead by a descendent of Hannibal pursued, the Spartan Army of Zaire pursued, The Royal Marine Corp. of Johannesburg pursued, and the Elite cloud forces of Nigeria pursued. Kilner's end came after being surrounded in a valley by armies charging from peaks of the cliffs, mountains and plains surrounding the barren, desolate, sun beaten valley {ravine.} (The trailer is ultimately about laying out the "Chase Scene.") The Mountains and cliffs on one side were beige, like a desert with sparse foliage. The other side was green with dense foliage and many trees and in the distance were snow covered mountain peaks. RA was in the rift attempting to escape while others closed in from the outside. This area most resembles the Great Rift Valley in Africa today.

{m y m o t i v a t i o n}

The "Ra" fantasy/mythology story is one that I had developed fairly extensively three years ago. The developed story, for me, represents an amalgamated creative structure for me to continue to explore a couple of areas that I have always been intrigued by: ancient African history, culture and art, science fiction, fantasy and mythology. The “Ra” story was originally conceived as a novella/graphic novel, but can easily translate to a more cinematic presentation format. While "NOMMO: New Story of RA" is different from the RA stories some of the characters and the storyline follow the same path and there is quite a bit of back-story development for me to pick and choose from in the original fantasy/fiction stories. The new story takes place much further in the future and includes aliens from the farthest reaches of the universe as well as technologocally advanced or even enhanced humans.

Stylistically, I always intuitively lean towards “Clean Lines” and geometric pattern while wanting to do grunge work. The largest influence on me, in terms of overal design of "Look and Feel" of futuristic environments and specifically for this project is Syd Mead, a world renowned Cinema Set/Art Director. Syd Mead is most well known for doing most of the conceptual art and set design for the film “BladeRunner”, "Aliens", "TRON", "Short Circuit", "Solar Crisis", "Star Blazers: Yamato 2520" the animated series and "Gundam".

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Cloud Army Concept

The cloud army concept is something that just kind of popped into my head at some point and many of the things I learned in my Particles and Dynamics course with Jean-Micheal Mistrot really filled in the gaps, as to whether I can realistically get the smoke effects I would want. Below are images of the Human Torch, because I can't really find any reference of of the same look using smoke gotta use the imagination God gave me. The idea of the look, for me, is to replace the flames with smoke, or "Clouds." The characters will appear "Hawkish", or short tempered. They will be flying feverishly towards the center of the terrain area and swarming roughly in the shape of a sphere. It will look like a cross between a moving bee swarm shaped as a sphere and an atom with positive and negative charges speeding around it.

Different variations of long draping leather-like costumes, partial armor plating, primarily white with red accents, "Pilot" goggles, "Spitfire" bomber style leather pilot helmets.

(Image Below is by Skottie Young)
"Human Torch" is © Marvel Comics group ® All rights reserved

(Image Below is of stutue Sculpted by Thomas Kuntz/ Bowen Designs)
"Human Torch" is © Marvel Comics group ® All rights reserved

Friday, April 01, 2005

"The Messenger"

This is John "The Bike Messenger." He's a computer/graphic art/ Traditional art guy that I used to shoot the breeze with at my beloved Empryean Cafe, which is now closed. John likes some of the fantasy and sci-fi stuff out there, loved the idea of being turned into a 3D character, so he'll probably get a kick out being the leading general of my cloud army.

The Bouncing Stilt Walker Concept

The majority of the visual "Weight" in my piece is coming from four armies converging to one spot. Since I will have cutaway shots getting closer into the armies I can really open things up a bit and make the armies and their movement/design more dynamic. I decided to make all four of the armies very different. The bouncing stilt idea came from seeing performers on bouncing stilts at the grand opening of the World Class Kimmel Music and Theatre center in Philadelphia. The dynamic bouncing movement that these stilts lend themselves to idea of "Acrobatic Super Soldier" very well and will add believability to the kind of movement I want. These things are real and there are many types and variations. Right now, my designs will more closely follow the Poweriser design. Below are images that hopefully will describe what I mean in a more clear way.


Bionic Boots