Monday, 28 November 2011

Research and Methods Presentation Draft 1.0

This has been hanging over my head so i sat down to draft out a version. Based on the mind map I made I've tried to distill some of the information required for the final Research and Methods presentation at the VRC on 6.12.2011. It needs to be cut down further as we have a maximum of ten slides and I feel its too wordy [and probably full of spelling mistakes] but there is a little bit of time to edit it yet. At present I think Filmic inspirations, Artistic/ Architectural Inspirations and Philosophy and Ethics slides can go....

Sunday, 27 November 2011

The Shape of Things To Come

Updated projected production schedule produced for the Research + Methods presentation...

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Storyboard 1.0

Formatted storyboard version 1.0. To be read in conjunction with animatic 1.0, see this earlier post :

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

HDRI Studio Tests

These are three HDRI tests I took earlier this evening with a garden "gazing sphere" I bought off amazon and a SLR camera which I could only borrow for a few hours. So what is it I'm trying to achieve? By creating a set of High Dynamic Range Images (HDRI's) for the sites in Edinburgh I can then create panoramas of the lighting of the sites which can be used in Maya using Mental Ray's Image Based Lighting (IBL) effect. This means that the images are what is driving the light and reflections of the scene making any 3D objects placed within it integrate better with the live action plate. Regardless of the outcome which seems too dark at present, it was very fun and I look forward to going through to Waverley in the next week once I've perfected the technique to get some final ones.

So here we have the studio corridor, the studio itself and the external studio roof. The first set of circular image are the Photoshop HDR's used by combining 5 photographs of different levels of darkness together, the panorama is the two images merged in Nuke and the final is a 3D red sphere in Maya where I have tried to used the HDRI's as Image Based Lighting. Long way to go but a start.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Mind Map of The Blog

In preparation of Wednesday's presentation for the research and context module I have created an online mind-map of my blog linking the posts together and where they sit in the wider context of the project. Despite my initial skepticism I have found this a useful exercise, and one which will come in useful not only for this week's presentation but for the one to be presented in the DCA later this month as part of our final assessment. there is a link to it below, it may be slow, for it is a bit of a mammoth project so bear with it!

SpicyNodes: Blog Map

Monday, 21 November 2011

Skyline Timeline

Revenge of the neo-classicism. This is a pretty nasty image I threw together quickly to highlight the ages of some of the key buildings around the Waverley site. Its interesting how many were either built or being worked on around the time of the Futurist movement [1909-1914] and it puts Sant'Elia's train station proposal of 1914 into context within Edinburgh's existing skyline. 

The Italian Futurists

Many people have been asking me about the Futurist movement and why I find it so interesting so I thought it was worth putting up a bit about Futurist theory and history in relation to the ideals for the Futurist City. To save me re-writing things I have already researched here is another extract [sorry its rather extensive]from my dissertation for the final year of my undergraduate degree. 

Futurism and early urban representation 

Italian Futurism emerged in Milan in 1909 and was amongst the first aesthetic movements to celebrate and exploit the potential of the modern metropolis. Led by Filippo Marinetti, the Futurists embraced the then new concepts of mechanisation, mass production and electricity, celebrating the impact of ‘the modern’ in a series of passionate manifestos on cultural topics such as art, cinema, and architecture.  Marinetti, who came to be known as ‘the caffeine of Europe’ [Bozolla & Tisdall 1977:8], fervently welcomed the changes developing in the industrialising world. Marinetti single-handedly formed 
the Futurist movement and with his Founding Manifesto of Futurism [1909] declared his desire to replace the traditions of the past with a new Italian society founded on the speed and dynamism of the machine ethic: 

       ‘We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind…we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervour of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke- plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke…’ [Apollonio 1973:19]. 

Marinetti published the manifesto on the front page of French newspaper Le Figaro on 20th February 1909, using the new technology of mass communication media to transform it from an academic exercise into potent propaganda. This increased the diversity of his potential readers and brought him a greater chance of achieving his driving objective, to bring like-minded people together and ‘transform the mentality of an anachronistic society’  [Bozolla & Tisdall 1977:7]. The first group to respond were the painters. With few precedents to follow, they experimented with styles such as Divisionism, Cubism and sequential motion studies before settling on the concept of Universal Dynamism. Universal Dynamism allowed them to draw all the objects in time and space together creating an overall impression of the subject. In 1910 the painter’s published their findings as The Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting which revealed the urban basis and mechanical 
application of their approach: 

        ‘… the motor bus rushes into the houses which it passes, and in turn the houses throw themselves upon the motor bus and are blended with it[Apollonio 1973:23]

Despite the ambition of the first wave of Futurist painters to portray modern urban situations, their work did little to replace existing perceptions of the growing metropolis. Boccioni’s The Street Enters The House [1910-11] demonstrates the Futurist interest in depicting city bustle in its ‘fusion of urban tumult, broken brushwork and heightened colour’ [Bozolla & Tisdall 1977 26-27]. Nevertheless, his representation of the Milanese street-scape offered little that was new in its static arrangement of architectural form. In 1913 painter and theorist Carra offered a more developed description of the ideal Futurist city  in his 1913 manifesto The Painting of Sounds, Noises and Smells: 

      ‘When we talk of Architecture, people usually think of something static; that is wrong, what we are thinking of is an Architecture…found in the movement of colours, of smoke from a chimney, and in metallic structures when they are expressed in states of mind which are violent and chaotic’. [Apollonio 1973:42]

Despite their ambitions, Futurist architecture remained a construct that had still to be realised. In 1913 Marinetti famously exclaimed ‘we have all the arts but not Architecture’ [Bozolla & Tisdall 1977:124]. There could be no true Futurist representation of the city until a suitable candidate emerged to portray it. 

Futurism and the architectural representation of the metropolis 
The name which would become synonymous with Futurist architecture was that of Milanese architect, Antonio Sant’Elia. Initially a Symbolist influenced by Mackintosh and Loos, by 1914 Sant’Elia was increasingly preoccupied with Futurist ideals: ‘his dreams…were to be of power stations, not archaic temples’  [Bozolla & Tisdall 1977:126].

Sant’Elia’s mechanised vision portrayed cities not as individual structures but integrated entities condensed around the dominant presence of a power station, the ‘cathedral of the electric religion’ [Bozolla & Tisdall 1977:129]. It was this correlation to the Futurist ideal which attracted Carra’s attention at the New Tendencies exhibition in 1914. Carra introduced Sant’Elia toMarinetti and the Manifesto of Futurist Architecture was published later that year. In line with the Futurist slogan ‘No architecture has existed since 1700’ [Apollonio 1973:160], Sant’Elia’s drawings which accompanied the manifesto embraced the Futurists’ founding concept of impermanence: 

        ‘this architecture cannot be subjected to the laws of historical continuity. It must be as new as our state of mind…’ 
        [Apollonio 1973:160]

Thus, deliberately devoid of context, decoration or locating elements, Sant’Elia’s visionary drawings portrayed the modern urban environment as one which reflected the Futurist ideal: 

       ‘the street will no longer lie like a doormat at ground level, but will plunge many storeys down into the earth, embracing the metropolitan traffic, and be linked up for necessary interconnections by metal gangways and swift-moving pavements’ 
[Apollonio 1973:160]. 

The clarity and energy of these line-based sketches ensured the legacy of the drawings as precursors of Corbusian ideals of inter-war urban modernity which informed global architectural thinking in following decades: 

      ‘this equation of the beauty of the straight line and of the machine is prophetic of the aesthetics of the 1920’s’ [Banham 1966:127]

In addition to their modernistic simplicity, Sant’Elia’s drawings illustrated the modern city in a new way and were: 

       ‘certainly the first by a European architect to project a vertical city, one composed not only of towers, but also of stacked layers of streets, plazas, and the mechanical movement of cars, trams, and trains’  
[Woods 2009: Nov 2]

Sant’Elia imagined a modern metropolis with multiple levels, external mechanical lifts and illuminated advertisements; where elements of the city, buildings, and traffic were organised by function and technology rather than geography or tradition. His influence can be seen as early as 1918 in the plans by French architect Tony Garnier for Une Cite Industrielle, which  illustrated his belief that: 

        ‘industrial requirements will be responsible for the foundation of most new towns in the future’ [Bozolla & Tisdall 1977:126]

Sant’Elia’s vision also inspired Mattè Trucco who designed the innovative and utilitarian Fiat Lingotto factory in Turin. Described as ‘the first built invention of Futurism’ [Bozolla & Tisdall 1977:128] and constructed between 1916 and 1923, it was hailed by Corbusier as ‘one of the most impressive sights in industry’ and ‘a guideline for urban planning’ [cited in Glancy 2005: June] and remains one of the only true Futurist building ever constructed. In the realm of theoretical architecture, the work of architects in contact with Sant’Elia highlights the cinematographic qualities of his vision of the new city.Chiattone who exhibited alongside Sant’Elia at the New Tendencies exhibition produced designs for apartment blocks in 1916 which were articulated in colour and filmic in character, while aspiring Futurist architect Virgilio Marchi ultimately used his skills in architectural drawing in the theatre and film industry.

Apollonio, U., (1970) Futurist Manifestos, translated from the Italian by Brain R., London, Thames and Hudson 
Banham, R., (1966) Theory and Design in The First Machine Age, London, Architectural Press 

Bozolla, A. & Tisdall, C., (1977) Futurism, London, Thames and Hudson 
Glancey, J., (2005) Architecture and the car: as the automobile evolved in tandem with modern architecture, it created myths, legends and new building types, The Architectural Review, (June 2005).  Stable URL:
ai_n14809376/  [Accessed 26 July 2010] 
Woods, L., (2009) Sant’Elia’s Words, November 2 2009. [Accessed 24 July 2020] 

History of Waverley Station [Abridged] and Why I Chose This Site


Waverley Station, Edinburgh is the second largest station per floor area in Briatain and catering for over 19.2million people a year is the second busiest in Scotland [Glasgow Central being the first]. Waverley lies between the old town and modern Edinburgh, adjacent to Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle and the Princes Street Gardens in the heart of the modern city centre which has also been awarded a protected UNESCO world heritage site title. The station was originally built on the site of a loch which was drained throughout the 19th century and first opened in 1846 and then was subsequently rebuilt between 1892 and 1902. During 2006 and 2007 parts of Waverley were extensively refurbished, including two new through platforms and the electrification of Platforms 12 to 18 in preparation for electric trains from the Airdrie-Bathgate Rail Link and future lines in Scotland to be electrified.From 2010, the glazing of the roof of Waverley station is being entirely replaced with new strengthened clear glass panels replacing the old 34,000 m2 of cloudy wired glass. Part of a £130 million upgrade, this will increase the amount of natural light in the station. Also included are plans to refurbish the station concourse and main building exterior together with upgrades to the Princes Street and Market Street entrances providing escalator and lift access.
There are a number of factors why I decided that Waverley would be an appropriate site for the project:

+ From a technical point of view there a good visual aspect as it lies in the centre of Princes Street Gardens and due to its central location can be filmed from a virtually 360 degrees. 

+ The site is a bridge between the old and the new town making it a curious crossroads of style, history and a functionally busy thoroughfare for traffic both pedestrian and vehicular.

+ Waverley was originally built and is surrounded by the type of neo-classical buildings which were created at the end of the 20th century/ early 21st century which is the era in which the Futurist’s were writing and embody the style of architecture and representation of society at the time which the Futurist’s were opposed against. 

+ Although visually I do not wholly approve or agree to the impact of placing a Futurist Railway station within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I feel that this is exactly the type of site that the Futurist’s would have chosen due to the historical nature and context of the site.  I feel that this project will add to the already controversial debate surrounding Futurist theory while presenting a new story and application to the site of Waverley which is a well documented site both by scholars and modern tourists. 


Sant'Elia Comes To London

These are images from the architectural visualisation firm Atkinsen+Co who in 2009 for the 100 year anniversary of the publication of Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto on 20th February 1909 which sparked the movement, created images of Sant'Elia's buildings as if they had been built in London.

This is such a lovely idea and executed well. This really sums up what I am trying to achieve with Waverley and although Atkinsen+Co did not create moving images of it and nor did they use the train station it is the best example of a visualisation of Sant'Elia's work that I have found yet and really like the way they worked in London buses etc.  I think it is interesting because this is another great example of architectural visualisations who like Alex Roman in Third and Seventh also have a strong drive towards photography, suggesting that to make a successful architectural visualisation piece that a knowledge of lighting and material renderings is very important. It also reinforces the impact of the Futurist manifestos and interest in the movement today and suggests at the validity of my proposed project.

Atkinsen+ Co Website:

Question Time

After writing the 250 word extract for Jeannette and having met with both my supervisors I have been trying to narrow down the driving question which I am trying to answer in for my main Master's project proposal. As the project develops the wording and aim will no doubt develop into something else however for the end of this semester's assessment I have narrowed it down:

Project title :

New Waverley: Futurism as a Means of Exploring Narrative in Contemporary Architectural Visualisations

Project Question:

Can a believable narrative be introduced to architectural visualisations in order to strengthen the visual imagery of a proposed project? 

Personal Definition of Animation

I've been giving some thought as to what animation means to me. For me it is a way of creating the world in which I want to live, based mostly on reality but with some surrealist elements thrown in [I've possibly read too much magical realism stories]. I find it much easier to accept the reality of a situation if I think that there is something else to this world and I feel that above all the arts that animation arguably presents the right tools and techniques to do this.  This view is something which will no doubt change the older I get and the more varied work I do however as I currently stand my definition is thus:

Animation :

A man made technologically aided process to make the impossible believable in order to enhance our perception and visually make sense of the world in which we [want to] live.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Problem With Architectural Visualisations

V+A At Dundee, most recent 3D Visualisation :

One of the main driving factors with my project and one which I have been trying to explore within my storyboard and animatic is the level of realism within standard architectural visualisations. The majority of project proposals present the public voting on designs with images which can border on proposterous. While I feel this does not negate the validity of the design themselves it presents an image of an unrealistic environment, which is potentially great for marketing purposes but ultimately unsustainable and unreal. One has only to look at the most recent video of the Dundee V+A proposal to know that there are not as many dolphins, yachts or jet ski's in dundee as it portrays and while I am a fan of the actual design, feel that the video does the proposed master-plan very little justice architecturally and its pretty boring as a film/animation piece. In a way its a good example of what I am trying not to do with my project and why I am trying to explore narrative, realism and composition with my project, and how animation can make architectural visualisations relate-able and used in a way which does not reduce it to lego. Comparing the V+A video to Alex Roman's the Third and Seventh there is no competition between quality, selling ability and watchability. Some may argue that they have different purposes but I take the stance that they are both essentially promotional shots of buildings and if you can do it well and engagingly then why would you do it any other way.


Sant'Elia Revisited

University of Florence Sant'Elia Revisited 2014:
 July 2011

This is a project undertaken by the architecture faculty at the university of Florence. It is part if a CGI requirement of the course which was created by some master's students. The project was to create a 3D model of Sant'Elia's train station sketch [the same building which I am proposing to place on the site at Waverley Station Edinburgh] and create an architectural visualisation as if it had been built and was now 2014. Although it is a nice idea, the model is fairly crude [possibly due to time constraints, i have eamiled the university for more information on the model and the approach] and remains devoid of context making it an interesting exercise but not very nicely executed. It has however helped me envision the sketch in 3D and assisted with creating the 2D CAD drawings and will remain another source to reference throughout the project. It is also nice to know that I am working on a building which is still considered an important architectural idea but that I am trying to do something mote different and dynamic with it.


Peer Tutorials

One of the best things about studying animation at DOJ is the participation between years and peer groups in relation to work. I was asked by some undergraduate tutors and students to give a presentation/ workshop on how to scan and format 2D frames once they have been drawn so that they are then ready for the extensive 2D colouring process. This is something which is not directly taught by tutors but modified and instinctively found out through doing it, so it was great to pass on the notes which we had created during our final year to students in need. I feel that it was pretty successful as a workshop and I also have full notes to the process should anyone need, so do feel free to contact me and ask questions! 

Supervisor Meeting - Chris 1

I have been assigned two supervisors for the duration of the course due to the nature of my project. Having met with Jeannette the previous week it was time for Chris Rowland. Chris's background is in groundbreaking visualisation techniques used for generating accurate images of shipwrecks etc. on the ocean floor and is therefore very practical and technologically minded. We discussed the 3D aspects of my project and scruitinised my model so far which was great as I now have a much better file size and work flow set up. The specific points which were discussed were:

Meeting Notes/ Conclusions
- Approach to creating the 3D model and Chris confirmed that using CAD drawings as reference was appropriate
- Using Maya more effectively to reduce file size by explaining how and when to use instance and duplicate and ways where items should be kept as separate groups/blocks and layers
- Discussed other ways to clean up the file in order to make file size easier
- Went over the basics required for gathering HDRI's of the live action site
- Discussed the validity of the project and the possibility of experimenting with different textures and visualisation styles once the model was mapped.

Animatic Version 1

See what you think...

Very rough. This will be an evolving process as it will be live action mixed with 3D so much of the final shots will be created ad-hoc depending on the outcome of the model. Where this animatic is useful though is in outlining the shots where live action is needed and working out a loose narrative. There will be parts of the Futurist manifesto being read out on the tannoy/ train systems etc and I do not own the rights to this track [it is echos by the band Digitalism] but ideally I would like a similar soundtrack for the final piece. So not even nearly there but a rough idea!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Three More

I was intending to get the storyboard finished today however I think tomorrow with an animatic by Wednesday is more realistic without causing problems by setting the schedule back too far. In the meantime have some more panels.I think I will have to photograph the final ones, the scans are making the drawings look far uglier than they really are..

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


I wanted to do something for Remembrance Day. Not only do I feel its an important cause to support and should not be taken lightly but the date this year is particularly special. It is just a very basic typography piece which was put together in a few hours this evening. I would have loved to have spent more time on it alas I'm short on time as it is and listen to the line "We are the dead" over and over is deeply saddening. I do not own copyright to the recording [but did buy it] and it is from "Listen To Britain"[dir. Robert Garofol © Classic Pictures, 2002] and is an excerpt from John McRae's 1915 poem "In Flander's Fields". Since Higher English I've always liked the war poems by McRae, Sasson, Owen and this is one of my favourites, more information on it can be found here. I hope you all go buy a poppy or two. 

Many of the Italian Futurist's were pro-war and were amongst the first european troops who signed up to fight. This resulted in the death of many of the key members of the movement and resulted in the end of the first wave of Futurism. Sant'Elia, the Futurist architect who is my principal inspiration this year died in 1914 and it is interesting to speculate on what he would or could have achieved had he lived. After WW1 Futurist attitudes were seen as being pro-war and socially un-savoury in places and design and architectural theorists and practitioners such as Le Corbusier and Mies Van Der Rohe began to invent the Modernist movement throughout the 1920s and 30s instead. 

Industrial Gardens

This is the shot looking down from the Walter Scott Monument which will pan from the national gallery across Princes Street Gardens and up to the station. Bit of a fish-eye going in the drawing but it was fun to do regardless.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Hmph. This is my first attempt at sketching the main train station hall. Now this is tricky because the Futurist's never built anything and all their architectural sketches were of exteriors so its a bit basic at present [ and contains no trains which will be there in the final edit]. However when it comes to modeling the final space I want to play around with glass and light and scale in Maya and have a feeling it will become a more organic process when modeling begins. This is also the only internal shot and the final thing I envision with a lot of shiny materials, television screens, light streaming in from the windows and perhaps a cheeky pigeon or two...

Inspirations for the final hall will be taken from....

1. Les Cites Obscures a French series of graphic novels with amazing colours, landscapes and play on scale. Thanks to fellow animator Kieran Baxter via our life drawing tutor Reinhard Behrens for that!

2. Richard Roger's Llyod's Building. Inside out architecture with services on the outside and a clever  exploitation of modern materials. Futurism in our times I think.

3. Airship hangers from the inter-war period

Monday, 7 November 2011

Supervisor Meeting - Jeanette 1

Due to the nature of my project I have two supervisor's : Jeanette Paul and Chris Rowland. Just completed my first supervisor meeting with Jeanette. This was the first meeting I have had with her and it was nice to talk through my project rationale with someone who I had never been a student with before. Jeanette's background is in architecture and she previously used to work in several firms within Edinburgh itself which is incredibly useful in terms of my project. Because Jeanette has no animation experience it was interesting to hear her take on the narrative and some interesting points were made. Ultimately it was a good, positive meeting and I feel that it will become invaluable to have as many opinions on the project as possible.

Meeting Notes/ Conclusions
- The project is coming along clearly but deciding on the final narrative will be tricky and I should find
  ways to create a framework or decisive stance which will limit the possibilities and decisions in the
  direction which this project will take.
- Consider the potential atmosphere which could be created with sound.  Should it be mechanical noises,
  realistic, that of the building being constructed, a classical or delicate piece to contrast with the building,
  a Futurist piece of music, a voice-over of the manifesto...or something else...
- Keeping the images simple and more realistic is working to highlight the contrast between Futurist
  theory and the historical context and is in-keeping with what the Futurist's would have done by simply
  putting a building on an unrelated site [Should look at Battersea Power-Station London]
- Public reaction and shock value will be important so public opinion on images and the film along the
  way could be interesting to investigate : considering a series of images with questionnaire
- Creating a series of Tourism/Advertisement posters is not a bad idea of investigating the dichotomy
   associated with Futurism and writing a project rationale for the degree show in the style of a manifesto
   could be a good exercise.
- Colour is important so by building up a photographic texture library of Edinburgh and looking at
  1930's artwork is a good way to create the final pallete for the piece.
- Keep going and work on the storyboard/animatic so that after much chop and change a narrative can

Script v1.0

Its been tough trying to create a script around a building without characters so this is attempt 1. I have tried to use the futurist architectural manifesto as a narrative framework with the intention of working in subtle hints [such as neon signs/ billboards/graffiti and train tannoys] to visually and orally explain key lines from the text throughout the script. The main aim of this script is to aid the story-boarding process in an attempt to help lock down what shots I will need and in turn help me plan them. I aim to get an animatic soon and it wont be until a lot of chop and changing then will I be closer to a final plan. It's hard to read here but its done and the animatic/storyboard will be more engaging...

Chat with Matt

This morning I went to have a chat with Matt Cameron who completed the master's course earlier this year and is a talented film-maker whose work can be seen here on his blog. Matt took some time out from his busy schedule to give me some advice for the live action element of the film before I go wild with story-boarding and planning. Distilled notes below

- I should not expect to get the piece completed fully for Master's submission for weather-wise it is now
  to dark in the quiet early mornings for me to get the plate required for the main revealing shot of the
  station. It its better to have a good plate to work from and do it well than place a good model onto a bad
- Using low angle shots in the mean time will remove the problems of rotoscoping people and vehicles in
  the mean time
- Plan out the shots well in advance so the quicker I can get through and take professional still shots of
  the exact locations the better.
- An HDRI can also be taken now so ask Malcolm for help
- Limit the shots to about 4/5 involving the scenery, use reflections and close up of the model for the
- As there is no central human characters inhabitation or occupation of the space can be represented by
  using objects such as signs or lamp-posts in the foreground
- When filming zoom etc in post-production not during actual filming.
- Dolly shot with crew should be used to show off a 3D camera move and comprise the main shot of the
- I should keep rotoscoping to a minimum, concentrate on the details and ensure that the computer
  model is as good as it can be.

Saturday, 5 November 2011


Just wondering if any of you Maya users out there could give me any advice on if I'm modeling this behemoth in the best way? I'm enjoying the process but it's slow going especially when it comes to all the curves and having not done this before I'm curious as to weather this will actually work...

Paintings, Trains and Automobiles

I am currently in the process of script writing and attempting to work in a narrative to the Waverley film so that I can get away from the straight-forward architectural visualisation. Having identified pieces of their manifesto I aim to work into the film I am now leaving Sant'Elia alone in favor of more artistic images which capture the spirit of modernism, speed and transportation which I can try to incorporate and hopefully have some fun with....

1. Jospeh Turner. Probably my favourite artist of all time. The sense of light, speed, scale and colour in his works truly symbolise the excitement and daring nature of early modernism and remain sublimely beautiful and romantic while remaining dynamic. This is his Rain, Steam and Speed - The Western Railway which was finished in 1844 and depicts a steam train crossing the Maidenhead  Railway Bridge over the Thames.

2. New York's Grand Central Station as photographed by John Collier in 1941. Arguably one of the more famous sequences of railway station photographs and certainly one of the most cliched. Still, the atmosphere is wonderful and the sense of space and scale shown in the image is representative of the modernist desire to use modern technology to get as much light and covering over a single space as possible, while the regimented layout is almost classical in proportions.

3. Speeding Train by Ivo Pannaggi 1922. Not my favourite style or cubist painting however it is very representative in composition and layout of the Futurist painters and posters which many artists got commissoned to do. The modern, bold colours and texture is typical of the period while the deliberate abstraction of the form creates an impression rather than direct representation of the object. interesting.

4. Train Wreck at Montpernasse, 22nd October 1895. From the first time I saw this image I instantly loved how chaotic and surreal it is. The train derailed after overrunning the buffer on the track and while everyone on board survived a woman below was killed by debris from the partial collapse of the building. The sheer improbability of the image makes it impossible to look away.

There are of course hundreds more images which will be of use to me in the coming months but I wanted to include these as a diverse starting point. If possible it would be great to hear from you all if you have any favourite images of trains, train-stations or even early modernist representations of technology as its always good to gather other people's impressions.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

250 Word Abstract

As part of the module we had to write a 250 word extract about our proposed project and the rationale behind it. I found it a useful exercise as felt that it was worth posting to clearly outline what it is I am aiming to do for the main project.

Futurism as a means of exploring narrative in contemporary architectural visualisations

Throughout the early 1900s, Western society looked towards an increasingly technological future with expectancy and curiosity. Trains, the most exciting transportation method in the period, were a frequent subject in contemporary art as well as in the emerging medium of cinema. In 1903 Porter stunned audiences with his film ‘The Great Train Robbery’ while Futurist architect Sant’Elia’s 1914 sketch for a train station intrigued and angered viewers, sparking debate in the practical and theoretical realms of architecture. Showcased in Sant’Elia’s ‘New Tendencies’ exhibition, the design embodied Futurist architectural principles and remains influential in the medium of contemporary cinema. Despite its influence however, the design was never realised on an actual site, solely existing as a single perspective sketch.

By combining CAD and live-action footage, this project aims to create a short film which visualises Sant’Elia’s Futurist vision imagined upon the site of Waverley Station Edinburgh, the second largest station in Britain catering for 19.2 million passengers per annum. Waverley’s urban situation, between the historical Old Town and more modern New Town, makes it ideal as a ‘Futurist’ metaphor. In visualising Sant’Elia’s design at Waverley, this project aims to explore the role of narrative within the field of commercial architectural visualisation using Futurist models as a framework for theoretical debate to elicit an emotional response from the viewer and re-establish creativity in an increasingly unimaginative environment for as Venturi argues: “Architecture is the most fragile of all the media – it has a practical application as well as an artistic application”.

Electronic Resources

Network Rail, (2010). About Edinburgh Waverley. Stable URL: [Accessed 23 October 2011]
Porter, E. S. (1903). The Great Train Robbery. Stable URL: [Accessed 22 October 2011]
Vidler, A. (1993) The Explosion of Space: Architecture and the Filmic Imaginary. Assemblage, No. 21 (Aug. 1993),pp.44-59 (article consists of 15 pages). Published by MIT Press. Stable URL: [Accessed 20 October 2011]
Woods, L. (2009) Sant’Elia’s Words. November 2 2009.
[Accessed 23 October 2011]

Apollonio, U. (1970)  Futurist Manifestos, Translated from Italian by Brain R., London, Thames and Hudson
Banham, R. (1966) Theory and Design in The First Machine Age, London, Architectural Press

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Jean Baudrillard

This morning as part of our Context and Review module we were split into groups and given a theorist to investigate for an hour. Kieran Baxter and I ended up with one of my favourites to argue about: Jean Baudrillard. Below is a series of the notes we quickly made which would allow us to discuss his theory in the context of critically reviewing an animation.

Baudrillard was a French sociologist and theorist who extensively commented on technological advances throughout the mid twentieth century and had a particular interest in the ongoing state of the medium of cinema.

Despite being an avid lover of cinema he was concerned about the integrity of the medium believing it to be an artistic degradation of photography, believing that sound and movement diluted "the purity of the [photographic] image"

Concerned with the impact of manufactured images promoting a hyper-reality Baudrillard argued that we should get away from the cinemas and experience the community on the streets instead.

"The media's way of replacing any event"

In practice one should consider honouring the reality one is replacing with as much integrity as possible.

Concerned with locality and individuality Baudrillard argued against Marshall Mcluhan who promoted technology as creating a global vision and instead believed that the constant bombardment and search for symbolism in the modern world was creating a diluted community which was becoming increasingly nuclear and unstable.

He believed cinema should be in creative not commercial hands and was against the realism and global commercialism of the media throughout the 1980's.

Sooo...How does this affect our personal approach?

By doing a visualisation project based on an existing location it has made me reflect upon the way I will be approaching the existing site and location. By nature the project will be altering the audiences perception of the space and does retain the integrity of the site so it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction or interpretation the viewers project. Whereas I believe that film can be an extention of the purity of say a photograph of the same subject I agree with the fact that the globalisation which occurred in the eighties and early nineties did erode some kind of artistic integrity within the medium of cinema and consumerist society as a whole but feel with the rise in the awareness of sustainability that there is a drive in certain works [definitely not all or most] to recapture the original excitement and message of cinema. The line between actual and fabricated reality however continues to be every blurry...

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Construction Commences

Having never modeled a building in Maya before I foolishly thought that it would be easier than an organic character. Four duplicated edges loops and too many floating vertices later and I realise how wrong I was. Still work has commenced and it is slowly but surely getting there. At least UV mapping it should be straightforward!

Metropolis 1927

Metropolis  1927
Dir. Fritz Lang

I wrote so much about this film for my dissertation last year that I felt the best way to describe why I find this film particularly influential would be to upload an edited version of what I wrote on this film. It truly is a visual masterpiece of cinematic history.

If one movie can be described as the definitive ‘Futurist film’, it is undoubtedly Fritz Lang’s Metropolis [1927]. Metropolis has come to represent a defining expression of modernist theory in cinema and is still widely studied and highly regarded today. Theoretically and technically, Metropolis is a classic example of stylistic storytelling in cinema whose most memorable element is that of its Futurist inspired architectural representation of the city. As Neumann [1996:94] points out:
‘Above all, Metropolis is a film of powerfully expressive architectural metaphors, a gallery of contemporary visions, and an important turning point in the development of film architecture’
Prior to film-making, Lang had trained as an architect in Germany and was able to combine a theoretical knowledge of architecture with inspirations from reality to create cinematic architectural visions. Although the script had been written before his visit, Lang had been deeply inspired by a trip to New York in 1924 where he decided to create Metropolis visual style. After spending a day in Manhattan,  Lang wrote [cited in Jacobsen and Sudendorf:2000:9]:
‘The buildings seemed like a vertical curtain, shimmering and very light, a lavish backdrop hanging against a murky sky, dazzling, distracting and hypnotising... I knew that I had to make a film about all these impressions.’
To convey these impressions, Lang looked towards the architectural representations of Sant’Elia and worked closely with set designers Hunte, Volbrecht and Kettelhut whom he had previously employed on Die Niebelungen and Testament des Dr Mabuse. The combination was powerful and never before, and arguably since, has the Futurist vision of a city been so dramatically realised. Futurist influences were visible in Metropolis as early in production as the provisional concept sketches [see figure 1]. Echoing the work of Saint’Elia [see figure 2] with theirdirectional interplay of sharp angles and straight lines’ [Ricciotti: 1984:56], the sketches depict a multi-levelled city composed of tall stepped profile structures, a dominant presence of glass and technology, and high level roads densely populated with pedestrians and traffic.
The complexity, scale and confusion of the final Metropolis sets, such as the cityscape [time, figures 3, 4] were deliberately engineered and created by building small scale models up to six metres deep allowing camera access and movement. As explained by Jacobsen and Sudenhof [2000:23]:
‘Unfathomable is the only way to describe the geography of this city. Cars ride by, but no-body knows where they are going. Planes circulate between, but not above the building...all attempts at orientation are useless’. 
The seemingly endless network of modern buildings, transportation systems and social flux were representative of the Futurist metropolitan ambition to create a:
‘vertiginous city of towers, congested, chaotic, and teeming with technological gadgetry’ [Willis:1980:50]. 
Lang’s vision, though Futurist in design, was anti-Futurist in sensibility and he used Futurist expressions as a statement against the movement itself. Lang was reacting against social divide, mechanisation and destruction of the past which had come to be associated with World War I and pre World War I movements. Thus, not all elements of Metropolis design were Futurist;  significantly a German Gothic Cathedral features heavily in Metropolis’s latter scenes [ time, figure 5].  Contesting the Futurists’ statement  ‘architecture cannot be subjected to any law of historical continuity’ [Apollonio 1973:160], this seemingly anomalous inclusion is representative of a later German Expressionist trait to find spirituality in tradition and re-humanise the modern movement [Collins:1968:313-314]. Despite this inclusion, Lang removed the cathedral from the main city cityscape replacing it instead with a Futurist skyscraper dubbed ‘The New Tower of Babel’ [time, figure 6], thus visually linking the Futurist movement to a negative prediction of man’s ambition for the modernist city. 
This adverse approach to urban modernity was a popular post war trait and was explored and commented on internationally by European directors. Following Metropolis came Murnau’s anti-urban morality tale Sunrise [1927] which according to Neumann [1996:104] through its lavish use of modern set design [see figure 7] ‘ brought modern architecture to America’. Although influential, both Metropolis and Sunrise remained stylistic in setting and negative in their approach to Futurism and modernity. Nevertheless Murnau and Lang’s cityscapes were some of the first backdrops to trigger theoretical debates in the architectural world. Luis Bunuel, surrealist and director, was one of the earliest critics to notice the significance of Metropolis when in 1927 he wrote:
‘Now and forever the architect will replace the set designer. Film will be the faithful translator of the architect’s boldest dream’. [cited in Neumann 1996:98] 
Whether this has been realised fully is debatable although what is indisputable is the successful and extensive representation of Futurism in film as opposed to the physical world. However, not all early films which represented a Futurist sensibility towards modern cities were fantastical in setting. Metropolitan centres such as New York or Berlin which were rapidly modernising and displaying the physical influences of Futurism were  regularly used as real modernist backdrops.  Far from showing the more negative aspects of modernity, these films approached Futurist ideals with a more positive and often inventive stance, exploiting the cities development in a form of pro-urban propaganda.