Dial ‘3’ for, well, 3-D.
Having always been a fan of classic movies, and even more, an Alfred Hitchcock fanatic, I took a rare couple of hours last week to sit and watch a film. The day’s selection? “Dial M For Murder”, Frederick Knotts’ great play-turned film. If you’ve never seen the movie, do yourself a favor, and scare up a copy. It’s typical Hitchcock visionary cinema, and is so far ahead of its time, presentation-wise, that it boggles the mind. What’s really slick about the film (beyond the incredibly intimate camera angles) is the use of very limited sets. The majority of the film takes place in an apartment, by the the story makes you forget that.
Anyway, why bring up this film? The movie was filmed and subsequently released in 3D back in 1954, coincidentally, the year that the fictional scene depicted in the image with this post takes place (…it always ties together, doesn’t it?). What’s great about this film in particular is that it wasn’t the typically hokey 3D spectacle… It used the effect brilliantly and subtly. Granted, in ‘54, there were a ton of 3D movies, and most of them bad, thus, “Dial M for Murder”, shown in 3D, didn’t fare so well, which is a shame, because, as we’ve touched on before, it was done superbly and subtly.
If you’ve got a pair of the old red and blue 3D glasses laying around, dig on the first few pictures that accompany this post:
I’m a fan of subtlety, always opting to take the “less is more” route, and playing with a design to harness some serious visual impact from a well-placed modification. Perhaps that’s why Hitchcock’s films appeal to me: They are well-crafted, and sort of sneak up on you, making you re-examine a scene, study the details a bit more carefully, and pay closer attention. In a past issue of Rod and Custom, I was fortunate to have had another piece featured as their “Dream Car of the Month”, that being the ‘53 Ford moonshine runner, which illustrates this subtle approach perfectly. There’s a lot going on with this car, but it’s presented in a very subtle way (on the car itself, anyway. Racing through the woods in a custom car isn’t precisely “subtle” by any means…). It’s got many layers to dig through, and the narrative behind the image is pure fun, but it’s what was on my mind when creating it that makes this so damned cool.
When I began drawing the car, the scene was already set in my mind: there would be a dark, moonlit night in 1954 (ahhh…. it’s all tying together!), a bed of red clay, a police car in pursuit, and some moody lighting. But what made this piece unique in my portfolio was that I kept seeing this thing in 3D… stereoscopically. I set out to create multiple versions of the piece, and there had to be one that used 3D glasses. No two ways about it, that’s what my mind kept going back to, and I was determined to reach into my bag of tricks, pull out a clever technique, and apply it to this piece.
It was fun to make the trees “pop” out and recede, to make the lights gain some depth and “flicker”, and to work to make the features of the car visually sit in their rightful places in space. It’s a lot of work to get things “right” (working a drawing into 3D isn’t as easy as working from a couple of photographs, and requires a TON of planning and work… but the results are well worth it), and when they fall into place, the results are stunning. I’ve been experimenting with a number of my older pieces using this technique, and I even have prints available (with killer plastic-rimmed anaglyph glasses– comfy and stylish!) on my site at www.problemchildkustoms.com .
I have continued along this same path, creating a few more pieces in the 3D way, trying each time to concentrate a bit more on individual elements within the artwork, setting details on their own planes, and breaking-down the visual experience. Most times, it ends in frustration, with things becoming too visually jumbled, yet, every now and then, those little parts and pieces fall just right:
I’ve found that mixing organic shapes and mechanical (as well as architectural) can be extremely tricky indeed. The challenge is more in breaking-down the established planes, and then making many, many layers from those shapes and pieces, and putting them back together just as the human eye would do when discerning volume or depth. In any event, what this all boils down to is that I’m happy to be having fun with it all again, and after applying some inspiration from a great cinematic experience, I’ve embarked on a new path with my work… It’s getting to the point where I can invite you to reach into my work, and see it in a whole new way… and how cool is THAT?!
Naturally, the cinematographer in me keeps looking towards ‘what’s next?’, and, well, here’s a little peek (minus the 3D… you’ll have to wait on that just a bit, as it’s one of the most complex scenes I’ve illustrated yet) at where I’m looking to take it all over the next few months:
This being one of the many, many test panels I’ve rendered to storyboard my personal graphic novel-meets-animated-epic short. With well over 400 layers just in the 2D version, you can imagine that I’ve got some work cut out for myself!