All posts tagged robots

Face Off Season 6 Episode 12: Robots!

Published April 2, 2014 by vfdpixie

With Tyler coming off of his 4th win,  Rashaad reflected on how he has never had one himself.  He called for zero mistakes so he could have a chance at a win.

The 5 guys met McKenzie at the gorgeous ticket lobby of Union Station, last of the great railways stations in the U.S.  Serving 60,000 passengers a day, it was also used in movies like Drag Me to Hell and Blade Runner.  Since the ticket lobby is no longer in use due to automation, it was a good spring-board for the Spotlight Challenge.  Robots may replace humans one day.  The artists were to create a robot that takes the place of a human professional from the following jobs:  surgeon, chef, hairdresser, firefighter, photographer, and construction worker.  They had to also create an extreme functional advantage over their human counterpart.  McKenzie warned them not to go for the obvious with their design, focusing on bold elements that would impress the judges and they were off!

Niko chose the construction worker.  He went big.  Mr. Westmore advised him to go more powerful with the features and not so human.  He took his time again so he could make his chest piece look different from his last makeup.  He really went for details like tool slots for his first fabricated suit but failed to notice that all the joints were glued together, which would make it impossible for his model to move.  Thankfully, Rashaad pointed this out to him and Niko rushed to fix the problem.  The finished makeup looked cool, like it could be in the background of a sci-fi movie.  I love the safety light on the character’s head.  The judges thought that it was scruffy but all the details were addressed as he had done a ton of work.  Niko wanted it to look like the first generation of robots, so he made it bulky.  The judges noticed this but thought the robot needed more elegant proportions, although Ve loved the character, saying it was fun and the clunkiness was sweet.  She also liked the hydraulic details at the arm joints.  Neville thought there was a lot of weird stuff going on but it was cohesive.

Rashaad picked the firefighter.  His detail was 3 eyes that rotated so the robot could see more than the human eye.  Mr. Westmore told him to cover any skin that might show through, so Rashaad made the face look more mechanical.  He went for fabrication again with the body, using L-200.  He wanted this character to be a something his son would love, and his model reinforced that by calling the makeup a “little kid’s dream”.  He was really felt the pressure for a win so he could make it to the finale, and hoped for the best on Elimination Day.  His model worked that makeup!  And it was amazing.  The judges used words like “killer”  and “heroic” to describe the robot.  They loved the paint job because it looked weathered and gave the makeup history.  They also loved the profile, thought it looked great close up, and looked like it was built for a specific task which was what the challenge called for.  Ve loved it and was blown away and they all thought it was the best thing he had created this season.  He was in top looks.

Tyler created a robot surgeon.  He wanted to incorporate a human face so the patients could relate to the machine.  Mr. Westmore wanted him to make it more mechanical, and to separate the human element.  Tyler used “smart and quick decisions” to manage his time, like duplicating a piece to use for the front and back of the robot and a spandex suit to make it easier for the model to get into.  The only issue he came across was the fact that the mannequin he was working on was a foot taller than his model, but things worked out on Application Day.  His robotic surgeon turned out to be a realistic representation of what one might look like in the future.  The judges thought it made sense, was a logical and intelligent design and they liked the layers of details and his fantastic construction.   Glenn loved the harness over the face and Neville felt it hit all the medical apparatus notes to create a nice sound character.   He was in the top looks.

George went for the hairdresser.  He wanted to make the robot female, elegant and modern.  His first thought was to create blow dryer breasts, but thankfully, Mr. Westmore cautioned against that.  He told George to make sure the judges knew what they were looking at.  George reworked the design, and sculpted instead of fabrication because that was his strength.  He was worried about that decision, but carried on.  He created resin tools, a tinted visor, and a gold wash over his original paint job to make it more metallic looking.  The end result was a really elegant looking robot called V-3000 that Ve (who was flattered by the name) would let cut her hair any day.   Glenn thought it looked like a character from the original Battlestar Galactica, and that it was high fashion.  He loved the strange and bizarre chest piece that implied the female form and thought the form ideas were perfection.  Neville thought it was beautiful and loved the elegant line work.  His elegant and flowing design put him in top looks.

Daran went for the photographer.  He felt out of his element, and  struggled as he saw everyone going for big fabricated pieces.  He used his carpentry skills to create a mold for his silicone head, and went for a camera head on his robot.  At the end of day 3, the guys celebrated his birthday with red velvet cupcakes.  He was touched that they remembered, but it looked like he was running out of steam, as he missed his girlfriend and life back home.  His robot was a minimalistic creation that didn’t move the judges.  It was not complex enough for them with its “lampshade” head.  When Daran stated that he “didn’t do robots”, he was chastised for that, with Glenn stating that he should have focused on fundamental ideas of function and proportion instead of take a step back.  Neville thought the silhouette looked too cartoon-like.  This put Daran in the bottom.

When it came down to it, the judges loved Rashaad’s movie ready robot. They thought it felt like a hero and loved the crest at the neck. He was the winner of this challenge!! Finally!!  I was elated that they saw his talent and that he really stepped up.  They thought it was the perfect time to raise his game and his choices were spot-on.  Yay!!  Unfortunately, there was only one bottom look and that belonged to Daran.  The judges thought it was obvious that he was out of his element and resigned himself to his limitations.  They also thought it was obvious that he had huge talent and they looked forward to seeing his work in the future.  Daran didn’t want the ride to end, but he was amazed with his creations and still felt like a winner.  This experience inspired him to create more.  I thought he was really talented as well and I know he will find work, but he needs to open up a touch and leave some of that weird vibe at home.  I’m really excited as the finale closes in.  I think the right people are in the top four and I can’t wait to see what final challenges Face Off has in store for them!



The Last Days on Mars/The Machine: TADFF13

Published November 3, 2013 by vfdpixie

the last days on mars

2013 (1 hr, 38 mins)

Sci-fi Night brought us two great films. I was really looking forward to The Last Days on Mars and The Machine, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The Last Days on Mars takes us to the year 2036, where the crew on the Tantalus Base are wrapping up a six month mission on Mars.  They are all anxious to get off the Red Planet, especially senior systems engineer Vince Campbell (Liev Schreiber), who suffers from claustrophobia and is not looking forward to another 6 months travel back to Earth.  When a last-minute expedition to collect samples slips by their captain Brunel (Elias Koteas), the crew realize that there is a deadly discovery and some betrayal afoot.  A new bacteria has been found and kept secret by crew member Petrovic (Goran Kostic), and he doesn’t want to share the glory.  His greed for success will unleash a deadly infection and doom them to an extended stay on Mars.

If this movie is low-budget, then I’ll buy it for a dollar!  It was beautifully shot, and using the deserts of Jordan as Mars was really smart.  The cast was great. They all portray the creeping onset of what I like to call space madness really well, while also dealing with this new threat of space zombies.  Liev Schreiber delivered as a man who hides his breakdown with cynicism.  I also liked the character of crew member Kim Aldrich (Olivia Williams).  She was abrasive, obnoxious, but also the voice of reason and logic that rallied the crew to get to the bottom of a seemingly innocent mission.  And seeing Elias Koteas in a movie always makes me happy.  He was great as the straight-laced captain.  He always puts his signature quirk on every role he plays.  The shrill and symphonic scoring enhanced the suspense flawlessly,  I loved how the infected crew members had an incredible thirst, which creates a very plausible theory of how something deadly gets reanimated on a planet that once had water.  It’s not rocket science, but director Ruairi Robinson made a fun, sci-fi thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat!

the machine

2013 (1hr, 32 mins)

The Machine also takes us to a stark future where there is a cold war going on between China and Britain.  Brilliant scientist, Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens), works for the Ministry of Defense, and is close to mastering the secrets of artificial intelligence. In his subterranean lab, he experiments on war veterans, creating cyborg-like, flawed beings that are supposed to regain their lives back after injury.  Vincent hires an ambitious and equally brilliant assistant, Ava to continue his research and to create the ultimate thinking machine.  With her invaluable input they crack the mystery, and Ava agrees to help Vincent secretly restore his brain-damaged daughter’s mind with what they have discovered.  Unfortunately, Ava is killed as a sinister plot unfolds to create the ultimate war machine with their research.  She actually becomes that machine, as Vincent applies all that they have mastered into a cyborg-robotic copy of Ava.  The struggle between science for war and the general good becomes a battle that Vincent must triumph over in order to keep the peace and get his daughter back.

I really enjoyed this film.  The director, Caradog W. James, gave a quick video intro before the screening, letting us know that he did the film for under one million, and did a lot of research on robotics and autism.  It certainly didn’t look low-budget, and the special effects were really well placed throughout the film.  I especially liked the guttural, electronic “language” the re-wired, war veterans spoke, and Suri Luca (Pooneh Hajimmohammadi), the head hybrid soldier that had divided loyalties.  One of my favourite scenes was the creation of the machine/Ava, with its fluid montage of her construction piece by piece.  The director was also hugely influenced by Blade Runner (and I feel to some extent Tron), and 80’s film scoring, so the inspired soundtrack will thrill anyone like me who is nostalgic for that era’s sound.

Caity Lotz did a great job as Ava/the machine.  Her dancer’s background really added to the physicality of the role, and her deadpan delivery of the machine’s deceivingly child-like logic was on the money.  I also enjoyed the fight scenes, which were fast and furious towards the end of the film.  Anyone who loves sci-fi from the 80’s will love The Machine.  I think it’s a well done sci-fi film with shadows of Pygmalion and a dark study on the humans vs. machines debate.

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