Thursday, 22 December 2011

How to IP design

Hi Folks,
Seeing as I am probably not allowed to share anything commercial for the next ten thousand years, lets go one better than look at the thought that undergoes the design of design.
Hopefully, this can be more of a interactive conversational aspect that may pique folks interest.
Lets start with a look at sacred cows - IP franchises

How to design/re-design on a existing IP 

Above is a comparison of two stills. On the left (Prometheus) and the right (Alien 1979)
When the original film is re reviewed (minus the lens of nostalgia), it stands up to the test of time, admirably well. This is primarily because of good old school basics, good use of live action, miniatures (kit bashed0 built with skill and  a good eye of maximising (the most from conventional means - another great example was the recent movie Moon)
Sometimes less is more, and although Alien probably represents cutting edge VFX in 1979, you could say we have advanced the pioneering front further. BUT, in many many ways we have lost (collectively) our cutting edge eye in the unholy name of digital

Digital, is just like another tool, akin to a a saw or a hammer or a screwdriver. Each has its purpose, although sometimes commonsense seems to be lost - much like trying to drill a hole with a screwdriver, instead of a drills or worse, emptying a bathtub with a thimble

Developing a Good Eye
Some of the great visual artist have a rock solid foundation in basic art skills (be this traditional or being able to sketch down one's ideas effectively) and being able to communicate this coherently to the viewer (client)
What is lacking of late, is the critical eye
There is sometimes a total dis continuity  of practical applied design, favouring wild fanciful aesthetics, or whatever is used to make a image look "pretty". As a illustration that is totally the right approach, but the forethought on design is often missing. And it is this aspect, that can really sell and enhance the believability of any illustration or design further

Much akin to allowing someone to run, without going through the steps of learning to stand, walk or crawl - have you ever noticed that its only toddlers who run around aimlessly with pure joy. but as soon as it confronts obstacles or needs to stop, it becomes hesitant/unsure what to do. This is the fundamental crux that may confront most current artist - they enjoy the flight of painting pretty pictures, sometimes just going into the zone (but this is really painting on autopilot like a mindless zombie, without much active cerebration)
Getting back to design and fundamentals, it is thus vital to instill a sense of practical design and reaching a nice blend of design forethought without getting too bogged down in a illustration.
Once a illustration gets too firmed up, its far too easy to render and noodle details and before you know it, some parts of a image may look great in isolation, whilst other elements languish
So, with that lengthy preamble, let us analyze the idea of tackling a existing IP

Body Suits
The newer Prometheus body suit designs tend to reflect a more contemporary slimline look and feel. The bubble helmets become suddenly clear thoughout, and the more conventional cosmonaut look/feel has been ditched.

For a producer, this can create some creative pains.

Does one stick faithfully to that of old for the sake of continuity, or does one re intepret it totally from scratch eg. JJ Abrams Star Trek reboot and give it a new lease of life (in a new alternate timeline)
Ridley Scott keeps some of the main defining cues, and probably with the lens of experience has decided to ditch that which is clunky (that may look quite out of date) and go with a compromise of new and old

Reintepreting existing old IPs in a new lens is a total minefield, and if one is faithful to the source, there can still be space to produce somethign fresh and liberating as long as one has a skillful hand to curate what is needed to tell a good story

Next time: Old CRT and monitor displays vs newer flat panel displays, sexy holographics and User Interface. 

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