Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Reading Between the Lines

A Christmas break from my Film & TV course has allowed me to practise more 'drawing' of human anatomy. As discussed in an earlier entry of my blog (see Stickfigures), we can limit ourselves remarkably well to lines only when drawing a human figure.

Or in 3D we can use the same concept of the stickfigure.

Click to play: Free Your Mind - Plastic Man

In an attempt to come to re-usable 'skeletons' of stickfigures I have used my drawing pen to get a side view, a threequarter view, and a front view of just the essentials.

Side view3/4 viewFront view

The above images are replications from sketches by Andrew Loomis, redrawn in Adobe Flash software by myself.

With these bare lines I will be able to draw whichever human being, either small or tall, funny or fierce, fixed or in motion. Whoopie!

The simpler the lines, the easier to animate and the faster to storyboard. The effort should go into the facial expression and body language rather than hair colour or shoe size ;o)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Depth of Field

So you have your camera at hand...

But now that you have decided not to use the automatic settings or the default lens, what choices need to be made? I will discuss one of them; depth of field.

Depth of field relates to the compression of the front-to-back distance in your image. The larger the perceived distance, the larger the depth of field. A long lens tends to give a larger depth of field. A short lens or wide lens does the opposite.

I found a useful demonstration of this on Understanding Depth of Field ...

The above image is that of table, whereas halfway into the distance the image is sharpest. Compare the sharpness of the glass in the front with that in the middle for example.

Using depth of field effectively can change the perception of the viewer, thus assisting in telling a story. Examples are pictures that at first sight look like miniatures, but are a result of what is called tilt-photography.

Example of a tilt-photograph using depth of field by The Bitter*Girls

An in-depth (no joke ;o) explanation of tilt photography is available at

16 millimeter filming

You haven't made a film, until you filmed on film.

That was the outset of my first experience with filming on 16 millimeter film in a KODAK competition.

So WHY is filming on real film so 'cool', compared to filming on video? Here's what the experts say:

For the record:
"If what you want to shoot is precious to you, try to shoot it on film. If it is to "practice", shoot it on (video)tape. Most people advise beginners to shoot on digi, to save the money. I say, if you are drawn to film, you will be looking at it again at the end of your life, and it will look the same as the day after you shot it." - cineman at

For cost-savings:
"Try to shoot on film.. It may not be as bad [in cost] as you think. You can always borrow the camera free (any major equipment house will lend cameras to students), you can do a deal with Kodak and a deal with the lab. All these people really try to help students for good sound business reasons, as well as the fact they are all nice guys. Don't forget your costs are the same once that image is on tape." - cineman at

For looks:
"Neither is better, but they are different. Most people prefer the “look” of film, for it’s grain, it’s texture and it’s tactile qualities. But if you need to shoot a lot of material (like interviews) then (digital) video might be a better option. Again, it depends on the kind of magnification that you will be subjecting the image to: if you end up viewing your film on a video/DVD player then the 8mm footage would not be as “different” as would be the case if you are final viewing on 35mm or 16mm. Don’t forget also that digital video can mean a host of things, from very low-end consumer formats to very high-end Panavision/Sony 24P." - cineman at

Being offered 10 minutes worth of film recording stock by KODAK, we've been filming on film. 10 minutes of film correspond to ca 400 feet (120 meters) of filmroll. A professional filmmaker will be charged about 12 pence per 1 foot of 16 millimeter film stock, whereas a student gets it at a discount for 8 pence.

The film is called 8, 16 or 35 millimeter depending on the width of the filmstrip.
8 millimeter film strip, each image in an aspect ratio of 4(width):3(height)16 millimeter film strip, each image in an aspect ratio of 4(width):3(height)super 16 millimeter filmstrip, each image in an aspect ratio of 16(width):9(height) called anamorphic or widescreen35 millimeter film strip, the wider the more image, hence sharpness and cost.

We filmed on 16 mill. with aspect ratio 3:4, but will end up with widescreen therefore cropping the image. In order to not loose vital information in our image, we made sure we had abundant 'space' on the top and bottom part when recording.

Cropping 3:4 to get 9:16 (widescreen)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


All art including human beings can be downsized to the plain and simple stickfigure. If drawing a storyboard for a movie, an animation for a comic book, or designing your Christmas card for Santa, you can start with a simple shape.

Stickfigure 1
This is the basic stickfigure. You can see the head, torso, arms and legs. You can't do much with this one, except practising the proportions of these body parts
Stickfigure 2
With this version you can do something more. You get to decide the proportions of the arm- and leg-parts.
Stickfigure 3
Now this must be the most advanced stickfigure there is: I bet you never saw any kid draw it this way! Added are the width of shoulders and pelvis.

Simple to Advanced Stickfigure

The basics of a good stickfigure is that it is anatomically correct. It has a head, arms, legs, and a spine in the right proportions. Only then can we as a viewer relate to its emotions and behaviour.

A wonderful example of how a simple stickfigure can tell a compelling story is shown below.

Paper Wars by Ed Skudder

I will use stickfigures for drawing storyboards and visualizing ideas I have for movies.

I hope to show you some examples during my Christmas break.

Try if you can draw Santa as a stickfigure, or perhaps your cat or next door neighbour and see what great story there is to tell.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Any Body Home

"The trick to a good pet photo is to capture the pet's personality."

- School of Photography

This can be achieved by communicating with the animal, such as simple commands to the animal.

Another way is to put it through a favourite routine like a dog catching a Frisbee. Whatever the pet, they all have their "party pieces" that keep you amused. In most cases these acts can be captured on a still image.

With this in mind I am currently planning on filming an advertisement for KODAK's new digital camera. My main actor: a turtle.

Turtle from The Aquatic Centre, Edinburgh (UK)

This fellow is 'on-rent' as he costs a mere £150 to buy. Like wine, aging pushes up the price ;o)

And here is my concept:



We see a TURTLE on display, tail, legs, and head hidden inside its shell.

Next, a HAND appears into view with a WHITE FEATHER, which tries to move the turtle's tail by its tickle.

However, the turtle does not respond.


We see the same TURTLE on display, tail, legs, and head hidden inside its shell.

Next, the HAND appears into view with a BRASS BELL, which tries to wake the turtle up by its sound.

However, the turtle does not respond.


We see the same TURTLE on display, tail, legs, and head hidden inside its shell.

Next, the HAND appears into view with LETTUCE, which tries to attract the turtle by its smell.

However, the turtle does not respond.


We see the same TURTLE on display, tail, legs, and head hidden inside its shell.

Next, the HAND appears into view with KODAK's New Digital Camera, which tries to capture the turtle by its lens.

The sound of a snapshot followed by a flash!


Image of the turtle fully unfolded and looking into the camera with a smile.

KODAK ... everybody included.


As always I have done some research into the topic. Have a go at being a tickle yourself!

Click to play; courtesy Axe Feather Girl

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Face Transformer

Ever wanted to change your origin... upload your (passport)picture and play with it below...

Face Transformer Image Upload

Please select a JPEG (.jpg or .jpeg) or GIF (.gif) image on your computer that you want to transform.

Please fill in the information below to register this image.

The sex of the face in this image is

The age group of the face in this image is

Please select the face below that is most similar to the face in this image:





Courtesy University of St Andrews

Saturday, December 09, 2006


So, you want to know who played Santa Claus this year. Or who stole that old lady's handbag. Better, you what to try on a pair of glasses with a moustache, although you are hardly 13 years of age ;o)

Well below is your pen palet... click the link, go ahead and put the face pieces together as you see fit!

Pen Palet
Courtesy of Artem Melnikov at

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Moonlight Serenade

This night we celebrated my girlfriend's birthday.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Virtual Figure Drawing

An amazing discovery... nowadays one draws life models from computer screens; Virtual Figure Drawing.

Virtual Pose (source

Friday, November 17, 2006

Soundtrack - The End of Alfredo

Well, what to do if you've been given a video without the corresponding soundtrack? You create one yourselves...

That has been our assignment at last weeks Art College Lecture.

The underneath image shows the story of an elderly man, who experiences his passing away.

Meet Alfredo, and listen to what we've come up with regarding sound.

Click below image to download and watch the movie "The End of Alfredo".


Movie of The End of Alfredo, soundtrack added

NOTE: To play this movie, Quicktime - available for free at - is required.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Artificial Intelligence Markup Language

Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML) is for textual-responses with a 'robot', where Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) are text and images for a web page.

Since HTML is most familiar to you, as you look at web pages everytime you read my weblog, I will show what AIML is next.

As a good example of the use of AIML, look at the example below, and try and type some questions in the little SAY textbox at the bottom followed by the <ENTER> key on your keyboard.

For example, type: What is your name?

Courtesy Yuichan at

The code underneath this 'intelligent' dialogue is what is called AIML and looks like:
<pattern>What is your name</pattern>
<think><set name="topic">Me</set></think>
I name is Yuichan, but you can call me Yui.

See the enormous source of information about AIML and its use for the Artificial Intelligent ALICE at

Combine with a human-looking image this could well be our future helpdesk assistant.

One day I hope to answer your questions on my blog with the use of AIML... if I am able to give intelligent answers ;o)

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Augh... that hurts!

This morning early (1.00 AM !) I was acting as a henchman (= bad guy) for a film called A Fatal Murder. I had to approach the table of Detective RADAR in a bar and generaly make a fool of him. My boss, VAN HEEMSTRA (notice the inclusion of my family name in this movie), would want the girl VANESSA that was hiding underneath the table.

At the point of confrontation, RADAR would throw the table at me and my fellow bad guy. He would next hit me on the head with a (prepared) chair!

Chair fight as seen in Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much"

In reality, RADAR managed to break the chair on my head, leaving me with bloodstains and a wrecked chair to the ground.... CUT! Yes, that was luckily all filmed in one go.

Head hurt

I would not have opted for a second take of my 'stunt'.

Sometimes reality creeps into film, and the scars remain with the actor. I hope VAN HEEMSTRA will deal with this detective to get even ;o)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Showing Fog

Today I have to crack the mystical formula of ... fog.

Fog is a series of particles, primarily water vapor, that obscures our vision.

As such it is a great attribute in film making, to (dis-)cover part of a scene or set focus to the main object of interest (such as your knight riding through the forest).

'Knight in the mist' by Coen de Moor;
Fog used as a storytelling attribute

Fog seems to want to lay flat in the lower areas of a scene, whereas smoke tends to move upward. Obviously the further away from the viewer, the thicker the fog.

Now here is why I had to learn how to show fog. I am drawing a storyboard for a story named "Stealers of Light", by Martin Yuille. The opening scene is as follows:


Fog obscures our view and we can hear inaudible menacing whispers
in the distance. A figure enters from the left, wandering
and searching as if lost.

Confused he moves into the fog, we follow.

The whispers gradually grow nearer and the fog grows thicker...
From the previously cited website I found out that to show/draw fog we need to layer two effects on top of each other;

1) The fog - a blurred shape that moves from side to side.

2) The actor - a silhouette who changes in opacity (see-through vs solid colours) and possibly moves as well.

Starting with the first layer, the fog itself. For this layer I have used the photo editing software called Photoshop ( To end with the image underneath, I applied the Filter > Render > Clouds effect to a black rectangle a couple of times (see tip). Then to make the left and right edge form a seamless joint, I widened the rectangle's canvas by 200 percent and stuck the previously generated clouds on the righthand side in reverse.

Fog, created in Photoshop (75% transparant)

This foggy layer we can then move from left to right continuously to act as the fog.

Next, we need fixed objects (e.g. a tree) and our actor on layers below the fog.

Silhouette of our actor.

Now if above image is reduced in size (smaller if further away) and made slightly transparant during the movement, the illusion of this person walking through fog is achieved.

In addition, to increase awareness of where this person is walking we add a tree, that alternates in transparancy too.

Tree image, courtesy cornell college

Illusion of a figure walking through fog

Monday, November 06, 2006

Right for the Job

Hello and welcome back to the world of make-belief!

I have had the honour to participate in one of my fellow student's film, about a job interview... a particularly scary one.

Still image from Job Interview (left-to-right; Vicki and Willem)

Still image from Job Interview (Willem as Interviewer/Monster)

Ah well, maybe not the most subtle approach to find new recruits ;o)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Camouflage - The Movie

This week's assignment was to make a movie that has NO DIALOGUE, as so-called Silent Drama.
Drama in this case means 'a story'. Hope you like it as much as I when I acted as the army guy (note: no gun was used, instead I carried a tripod ;o)

Click below image to download and watch the movie "Camouflage".


NOTE: To play this movie Quicktime available for free at is required.

Camouflage still image


Thursday, October 26, 2006

One Shot - The Movie

To stimulate our creative thinking in film making, the College of Art required us to make a movie without stopping the camera. A so-called 'one shot' movie. This is different from movies where one scene leads into another by means of 'cutting' between scenes. The assignment thus made us think of ways to change the scene environment whilst recording.

I liked the idea of taking the One Shot concept literally and wrote underneath script for our movie:




SFX: Startup and playing of a gramophone
(Morriconi: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)

(loud, through megaphone)
[camera: sepia] Action!
[clapper board in view with title: ONE SHOT]

In the house two cowboys are seen, near to the legs of a woman on the floor.
BAD COWBOY 1 (BC1) zips up his jeans and buckles up his belt.
BAD COWBOY 2 (BC2) takes furniture out of the house (leaves view on the right).
BC1 leaves the house (from the left).
BC2 returns into house (from right), takes the mirror from the wall.
The wall rotates to the back, opening up the scenery behind,
whilst BC2 leaves (on the right).


GOOD COWBOY (GC) is seen on the left, trembling from fear.
BC1 walks up to him (from right) pointing his gun at CG.

(John Wayne like)
Pull your gun and you're a dead man!

You SCUM. Rape my wife and plunder my house.

BC2 crosses the stage (right-to-left) with a mirror under his arm,
revealing the DIRECTOR.

(John Wayne like)
And now we take your life too... [shoots twice]

(loud, through megaphone)
[camera: take sepia off, CUT!
quick zoom out to reveal ...]

SFX: Gramophone scratches

(whilst walking up to BC1)
ONE shot! ONE shot, damn it.

DIRECTOR (cont.)
(taking the gun from BC1)
We need ONE shot.

ACTOR2 (=BC2) puts down mirror.
ACTOR1 (=CG) picks up a bottle of water.
Torn and bloody WOMAN walks off the set.

DIRECTOR (cont.)
SFX: Music stops. (pointing gun at BC2, and fires)

SFX: Skipping record sounds.
ACTOR2 falls dead into the backdrop sheet
and the sheet comes down to reveal the wall behind,
that has on it as text:

SFX: Music comes back "FIN"


Click below image to download and watch the movie "One Shot".


NOTE: To play this movie Quicktime available for free at is required.

One Shot poster


Note: No cowboys or cowgirls were hurt during the recording of this movie ;o)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Wiki University Film School - Story Board

The next step in making a film as we have started, called "Seduced by the Dark Side" is to breakdown the script in lines with numbers.(source

For example,

EXTERIOR - The local movie theater - NIGHT

(1) The Young Person and Old Person stand looking at the movie poster outside the theater.

(2) Young Person: "That was a great movie..."

(3) Young Person (contined): "but I do not understand one thing."

(4) Old Person: "What's that?"

(5) Young Person: "How can anyone be seduced by the Dark Side?"

(6) The old person thinks for a while.

(7) Old Person: "What computer do you have at home?"

(8) Young Person (eagerly): "A Macintosh!" (return)

(9) Old Person: "But what computer does your father use at work?"

(10) The young person thinks for a moment.

(11) Young Person (amazed and excited): "Seduced by the Dark Side!"

(12) The Old Person smiles.

(13) Old Person and the Young Person walk toward home together.

(14) Fade to Black.

The End

From here on we can start drawing tiny pictures of the numbered lines (scenes) that when put in sequence form the storyboard.

Position of the heads
    In simplest terms, a storyboard is just the location of the heads of the people in the scene. If you can clearly show the position, size, and expression of each person's head, most everything else is clear.

Body Optional

    The body of the actors can also be represented but not required. By drawing the body, you can show how each actor relates to the others in the scene.

The Lens is the Thing
    The relationship of the characters in the shot is not about acting but about the lens that will be used to film the scene. Draw the storyboard to show the relationship between the actors and you will also explain what lens is needed to capture this image.

Wiki University Film School - Story

Hello and welcome back to my blog on Film making!

From this day on YOU will have the opportunity to participate in making a film (all be it a short one) like myself through a FREE workshop at Wiki University, see

In the next couple of blog entries I will keep you up to date about my progression through this course of film making.


Lets start with what is called "THE STORY"

The short film is titled "Seduced by the Dark Side" (courtesy Robert Elliott of WikiUniversity) and goes as follows:

An very old and wise person and a young person (about 12 years old) are outside a movie theater. They have just seen the movie, Star Wars and are going home. They now stand in front of the theater, looking at the poster of the movie on the wall outside the theater.

The younger person says, "That was a great movie... but I don't understand one thing." The older person says, "Hum, what's that?". The younger person says, "I don't understand how anyone can be 'seduced by the dark side'".

The elderly person thinks for a while and then answers, "What computer do you use at home?"
The young person immediately responds eagerly, "A Macintosh."

Then the elderly person slowly says, "But what computer does your father use at work?"
The young person thinks for a while and then smiles in amazement, exclaiming loudly, "Seduced by the Dark Side!!!"

The old person smiles knowingly at the young person. The young person is very happy knowing he has just learned a very important lesson. Now the two have formed a bond that will last a lifetime.

They begin walking slowly home together.

The End.


Next, we will FORMAT THE SCRIPT so a film can be made from it.

Here is the information you will need to type the script:

  • The location

  • The time of day (Day, Night)

  • The names of the characters

  • The dialog

  • The action

  • The parenthetical descriptions for the dialog

  • The transitions


Scene Introduction (INTERIOR vs. EXTERIOR)?
Since we are outisde we use exterior which is abreviatted EXT.

The Location?
Just say Movie Theater for the location.

NOTE: The Movie Theater will later in editing be 'painted' onto the screen, rather than shot in real; using a technique called 'matte painting'. With a matte painting, you must build a partial movie set. This partial movie set must be as big as the movement of the actors so the actors never walk out of the partial movie set. Then the rest of the movie set is a painting... created with paint, with a 3D model, or with special effects.


The Time?
The time will be Night since the most movies end at night. However, we will probably film at dusk so we have better lighting.

In sum, our script reads:



There are only two speaking roles in our movie. Extra people such as people in the background are never listed in a movie script.

The old and wise person will be simply called OLD PERSON. The young person will be called YOUNG PERSON.

We don't want to limit our choice to one gender.


We need to write down just the words that are spoken. This is the meat of the script.

That was a great movie... but I don't understand one thing.

Hum, what's that?

I don't understand how anyone can be seduced by the dark side.

What computer do you use at home?

A Macintosh.

And what computer does your father use at work?

Seduced by the Dark Side!!!

NOTE: The text between parenthesis is called parenthetical descriptions for the dialog.


The actions is what goes on in the story which is not dialog. For a movie script, this must be very short. NOTE: A book takes sometimes 2 days to be read, whereas a film of that book lasts only an hour.

At the beginning of the scene, all you need to write is
An old and wise person and a young person stand in front of a movie poster.

At the end of the scene, all you need to write is
They begin to walk away.


At the beginning of the script all you need to write is

At the end, all you need to write is:

And here is my script: Seduced by the Dark Side.pdf


In next blog we will cover how to STORYBOARD this short film.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Samir Mehanovic, Director

Visiting speaker: Samir Mehanovic

Friday 13 Oct, 2-4pm

Main Lecture Theatre,
Edinburgh College of Art,
United Kingdom

Ex Master of Design (Mdes) student who won a BAFTA award 2005 for Best New Director with his film “The Way We Played”

Excerpt from The Sunday Times - Scotland, 27 November 2005

Left to right: Darius, Samir Mehanovic, Suzanne Shaw

Samir Mehanovic escaped Bosnia to find sanctuary in Scotland. He has now won a Bafta for a short film in which he revisits a painful history.

Samir Mehanovic was saved by art. Not in the poetic sense, but practically and arbitrarily: one spring evening in 1995 the young Bosnian director left Tuzla’s central square for a theatre rehearsal only minutes before a bomb fell there, killing many of his friends.

Ten years later, his eyes fill with tears at the memory of 72 young cafe-goers slaughtered by a Serbian shell in one of the defining moments of the Balkan war.

Arriving at the Edinburgh Fringe a few months later, the boom of the one o’clock castle gun caused Mehanovic to throw himself to the pavement in terror. Unable to face going home, he claimed asylum and used the dramatic arts to explore his motherland’s rupture from afar.

The Way We Played, a 13-minute short that won him the prize for best first-time director, is both self-exploration and great cinema. Filmed entirely on location in Bosnia, it tells the story of two young boys, a Muslim and a Serb, playing together on the eve of a war that will make their friendship impossible.

‘It’s been a long journey,’ says the 36-year-old graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, proudly displaying his statuette on the table in Edinburgh’s Elephant House cafe. ‘This means very much to me psychologically. It feels like a long drink of water after a marathon.’

Thursday, October 05, 2006

EMPS on the Web - Part 2

This is the second part of the web design for Edinburgh Movie Production Society (EMPS). For the first part, please visit EMPS on the Web - Part 1.

In the first part I have explained that a direct link from a web browser to a web page on the web server is not a good idea.

Example of a link to a nested web page, a BAD design

In addition, I have defined two words for this design.

  • the web browser is named the VIEW

  • the web page is named the MODEL

  • A direct link from a VIEW to a MODEL is NOT recommended, because of the complexity of maintaining this 'spaghetti' of links by the web designer.

    What IS recommended is the use of a central point of entry, through which the underlying web page(s) are called.

  • the central script on the web server is named the CONTROLLER

  • If, for example a script 'index.php' is stored on the web server than each link from a web browser (VIEW) to a web page (MODEL) is as follows:

    An example of circuit is 'public'
    An exampe of fuseaction is 'pageView'


    This solution, that 'hides' all the folder information from the web visitor, is following a design pattern, known as Model-View-Controler (MVC).

    Hence, I will give an example of how this has been used for the web design of EMPS. Ready... here we go!

    The request for a web page by means of the MVC design pattern

    STEPS (summary):

    1 - An EMPS web visitor requests a web page by typing in the browser [view details]

    2 - The request for public.pageView is received by the script 'index.php' in the default web server folder, named 'htdocs'. This script forwards the request to the script in the sibling folder, named 'scripts' and further down into the 'fusebox' folder. [view details]

    NOTE: for security the htdocs and scripts folders are siblings, not nested. This prevents direct access to the scripts folder by web visitors.

    3 - The 'fusebox' folder holds the logic that may direct the request to the 'controller' folder. Hence, it is in the 'controller' folder where requests are orchestrated. [view details]

    4 - After a lookup in a list of requests by name, this particular request is forwarded to the 'view' folder. [view details]

    5 - The 'view' folder holds scripts that format information and generate a web page, which is sent back to the Internet. [view details]

    6 - The Internet delivers the web page to the browser, it appears on the web visitor's screen. [view details]

    A lot of navigation and orchestration one would think, does that have an advantage over direct access to the web page?

    To answer that question with "YES", I will have to explain the inner workings of the FuseBox.

    Hold on... it is a bumpy ride !

    STEPS (detailed)

    1 - Although it is possible that a web visitor has enough information about the web site that (s)he decides to type the full request in the web browser, it is more likely that (s)he just hits a hyperlink on a previous web page that starts the request. For example, the previous web page has a button "Next Page" that can be clicked. This does not influence the effectiveness of the MVC design pattern.

    2 - The script on the Server that is referenced in the request, hence 'index.php', has the following content:

    Content of htdocs/index.php

    Because of the fusebox application path code line: "../scripts/fusebox" the script will automatically forward the request to the file fusebox.xml.php in the scripts/fusebox folder.

    Content of scripts/fusebox/fusebox.xml.php

    This needs some additional explanation:

    FUSEBOX (by


    3 -

    4 -

    5 -

    6 -

    Friday, September 29, 2006


    A new enterprise has seen the light today!

    I have brought my skills in magic performance to the commercial scene at


    From now on... anyone in need of a Magician can surf to my web page (although still in the making) and 'order' a stage performer for their birthday party, business dinner, or sales promotion.

    Have a look and I hope to have you as my audience ;o)

    Thursday, September 28, 2006

    Horror and Thriller in a Cinema near You

    The Story (by Germaine Gilbert, director):

    It is a gothic horror movie in the style of the expressionist films of the 20's such as Nosferatu. It is set in 19th century. The central character is a professor of psychology and parapsychology. He has come from london to Edinburgh in order to study and disprove the existence of paranormal activity. He is told of a local legend involving a ruined 15th century chapel. They say that every time a person walks around the chapel whilst the church bells are ringing on a Sunday morning, you summon the devil himself. Intrigued he tries it out, only to conjure terrible phantoms from his past that he is desperate to forget.

    The characters needed for this film are:

    Friar Tuck

    The Friar: Male, 25 + years old. The director is looking for someone with the right 'look'. A character face that could potentially look mad and terrifying.

    This man rings a phantom bell inside the chapel in the hope that people will hear and come to worship once more. He is angry to see that the parish chooses to ignore this bell and as a result bitterness has decayed his mind.

    The Girl: 15-21. A young lady who could pass for a 13-16 year old.

    The girl is innocent but she has a seductive and sinister nature that leads the professor to commit great evil.

    Academics (Several required): 17-25. Short hair. Preferred if without facial hair.

    These are the bright young things of the scientific community. The professor meets with them in order to present to them the results of his research.


    This Sunday I will audition for the role of Friar.... an order of the church considered lower in rank than a monk. Is it the age, or my spiritual believes that would make me a suitable candidate for this part? I don't know. At least I get a chance to scare the hell out of my audience ;o)

    Speaking of which...

    We have started the Freshers' Film project as part of the new membership program of the Edinburgh Movie Production Society (EMPS).

    As a mentor for one of the five groups, our film genre will be horror cq thriller!

    Film Genres and their main point of attention

    So far we have come to the description of our Main Characters:


    • 30 years of age, poor, he can be charming.

    • His parents want him to study Economics.

    • He failed in the 2nd year, because he didn't care.

    • Worked in Tesco petrol station.

    • He is unemployed and angry, and he stole money from the station.

    • Jim looks dangerous, so girls like him, but employers don't go near him.

    • He plays football.

    • He has a bad temper on and off the pitch.

    • His rich family disowned him, because he was a Uni drop-out.

    • Only his big mad dog pays attention to him.

    • Jim likes his dog better than people.

    • He is bitter, since he was betrayed when he was younger.

    • With brown hair, a slight tall figure, brown eyes and a dark jacket, wearing old clothes with two ear-rings, Jim looks distinguished.

    • He likes mainly his own company, and spends a lot of time in a quiet pub.

    • The only one he respects is his older brother, but he is bitter because his brother doesn't like him.

    • Jim is selfish.


    • Suffers from a personality disorder, like Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde, two extremes.

    • She drugged her parents as part of her disorder.

    • We are unaware of her current mental state.

    • She is HOT, European.

    • Her age is between 18 and 19.

    • She has an illegal state and a foot fetish.

    • Eloise feeds her pet rat, named after her brother.

    • Her looks are a facade, she steals and commits credit-card fraud.

    • Her characters - Ella & Louise - drink doggy liquids.

    • There is still a lot unknown about her...

    Hmmm... can you imagine a story coming out of this?

    Next week we will describe the relationship between them and what happens to them that will make this Freshers' Film .... scary!!!!

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006

    You can Count on Them


    "... when a movie begins, the audience immediately starts looking for who the Main Character is, so they can take part in the story.

    Give it to them. Make it clear. Make the Main Character's first appearance be a metaphor for the person he or she is, or an allegory for the journey he or she is about to undertake.
    " - Dan Decker, The Anatomy of a Screenplay

    So characters make a story.

    And the making of a story can be very healthy, for us, characters, too!

    Listen what Daniela O'Neill, professor of psychology at the University of Waterloo ( I know a story about this?) in Ontario, has to say.

    "...[We have found] a relationship between math and specific storytelling skills. Kids who ranked highly on certain language skills at age 3 or 4 did better on a math test two years later."


    Testing time

    O'Neill and Co. rounded up 48 Canadian kids who did not have learning disabilities and showed them "Frog Goes to Dinner," a 12-page picture-only book that shows a boy visiting a restaurant -- with his pet frog.

    The amphib gets into a bucket of trouble. No duh! The tester gave each kid a puppet and asked him or her to describe the book's action to the puppet.


  • Taking a character's perspective. At one point, the frog jumps into a lady's salad. As he pokes his amphibian snout from the escarole, the diner silently screams. A child who could take the character's point of view might say, "Eek, there's a frog in my salad!" O'Neill observes. "They are going into her shoes, speaking for her. ... We looked to see how well the children captured the movement of events from character to character. Some children would tell only about the frog's action, and you would hardly know there are other people in the story."

  • Number of events the kids noticed. A more detailed picture of events in the story predicted better math skills two years later.

  • Using mental-state terms. Some kids could express what the characters were feeling. For example, when the frog appeared in the salad, O'Neill says, these kids might observe that the unlucky diner was "surprised."

  • Conclusion

    The brain circuits that help us move through the various parts of a story also help us look at the world from a logical, numerical, mathematical viewpoint.

    More research has found yet another means of healing through storytelling. Jody Koenig Kellas of San Francisco State University and Valerie Manusov of the University of Washington conclude in their paper 'What's in a Story' that:

    "The construction of narratives has been shown to assist sufferers of emotional or traumatic events - such as the ending of relationships - in making sense of and coming to terms with the event."

    Monday, September 25, 2006

    Audition for Edinburgh Magic Circle

    It had been raining all day.

    Me and my Magic Books had cuddled up on the bed and cards, coins, and ropes could be found all over my room. Tonight was AUDITION for the Edinburgh Magic Circle.

    History of the Edinburgh Magic Circle, courtesy Richard Phillips

    A long history of magical performing exists here in Edinburgh.

    Professor John Henry Anderson, The Wizard of the North, one of Scotland's greatest ever magicians, performed here in the late nineteenth century. The original 'Wizard of the North' was the writer Sir Walter Scott. The title was later, and more fittingly, applied to a magician.

    The Wizard of the North, John Henry Anderson

    Anderson who was a showman in the grand manner, is credited with moving magic from fairgrounds to the theatre and was believed to be the first conjuror to ever pull rabbits from a hat.

    He had some wonderful tricks and illusions in his act. These included: the Inexhaustible Bottle, which produced any drink requested by the members of the audience, and the Great Gun Trick, in which Anderson was seemingly able to catch a bullet fired at him from a musket.

    The Gun Trick was described as "the most wonderful feat ever attempted by man; an extraordinary deception" was always kept as the finale of his act in order that "ladies might withdraw, to avoid witnessing the Gun Trick".

    Early in the twentieth century, a brash American performer named Houdini packed the theatres for an extended run. A few years later, in 1911, another famous magician, The Great Lafeyette, died in a theatre fire in Edinburgh on the site of the current Festival Theatre.

    Several amateur magicians began associating, and in 1912 formed the Society of Scottish Magicians.

    Soon, however, the lights were going out all over Europe, and not only in theatres. The members of the Society of Scottish Magicians were not to see them lit again in their lifetime. By the end of the Great War the Society of Scottish Magicians had ceased to exist. However, there were many professional and amateur magicians in Edinburgh during the next two decades - as in most cities.

    Several boys who had recently left school began associating to practise magic, and in the summer of 1939 resolved to form the Edinburgh Magic Circle after the end of the summer holidays. But the stormclouds were gathering again in Europe.

    === They agreed that whoever returned first from the war would found the new Circle. ===

    The Edinburgh Magic Circle was eventually formed in 1946. In its early years it performed a full evening show in a theatre every autumn, and took a coach load of members to the magic convention at Newcastle.

    With the rise of television, live performing declined, and fewer places existed for magicians to perform. There were still children's magicians, but few adult stage shows. Instead, adult performing began to turn to close-up magic, at dinners and other functions. Magic also began to be popular for corporate entertaining and promotion.

    For many years the Circle has held the Scottish Young Magician of the Year Competition, and also had a junior section. It now meets in licensed premises, and has no juniors at present.

    Edinburgh Magic Circle continues to be a lively club with a Day of Magic convention in the autumn, an Open Night in the spring, and a high proportion of active performers.

    ... some of them will be me, hopefully ;o)

    So, what to startle my professional magician brothers with?

    No rabbit at hand, I decided to do some close-up magic tricks.


  • First, a slik handkerchief tighly knotted to a preexamined piece of rope mysteriously de-attached itself from the rope with a pinch of magic salt.

  • Next, the Royal Family in the deck of cards had dinner with me at the magic table. Whenever they got separated in a shuffle, they always returned in their seats, next to their husbands or wives!

  • Then three fellow magicians have been invited to sit at my 'dinning' table and eat cards for supper ;o)
    Of course, since it was a Royal meal they had to borrow coins of me to pay for each dish. Whilst turning away, I could predict who would borrow which coin of me; 1 pound, 2 pence or 50 pence. Again applause!

  • Moreover, each of my 'guests' left a coin in one of three glasses, then filled them up with Scottish mineral water (see figure below). The moment I was blindfolded and tasted the water I again could tell them which coin was in which glass. Amazement!!

  • Coin prediction trick by me, the great Tornaldo

  • Finally, the Grand Bet. I betted with two assistants that the one who would empty their glass of water with a straw first would keep all coins. After the count of three, we al sucked our water out of the glass, but no wonder mine got emptied first.... I got to keep all coins ;o)

  • -----

    NOTE: Would you like to win a bet with your friends? Try the Great Bet as I did at the end of my audition.

    Make sure you first pierce a hole halfway straight through each plastic straw, with a needle... and secretly cover the holes whilst you suck the water out of the glass with the coin. Your friends will have a hard time getting any water out of their glasses.... You win all coins!


    In two weeks time from now the Edinburgh Magic Circle will have come to a verdict. Either I have become an honourable member, or they will turn me into a rabbit... eeeeks.