Thursday, December 18, 2008

Little Nasties

These nasty little beasties were created for a commercial a while back for Amalgamated Pest Control.

I don't have the actual ad here, but I do have a short video that was done for their annual conference. I designed them in Photoshop and then modelled and textured the critters in Maya. Grant Harding rigged and animated (as well as helped with some of the modelling, I think) all of them with the exception of the first two clips. I animated the rat in the first two.

I really think you can tell. Grant is a professional character animator and his skill can be easily seen in the subtleties he gets in the last two rat animations. I've never claimed to be a 'character animator', although it is something that continues to entice and challenge me.

I must say I am particularly fond of the rat....

Amalgamated Pest Control from Pete Mullins on Vimeo.

Lone Wolf and Cowboy

Just a couple of sketches in this post. A bear that sorta ended up becoming a wolf.

...and I'm a sucker for the show 'Deadwood'. Al Swearengen for mayor I say! There's something about the image of a cowboy standing in the mud and the rain. Anyway a bit of Deadwood inspired nonsense from me...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

More Bettie.....

Hugh Fleming and I started working on a comic featuring Bettie Page with some other well known and not-so-well known hollywood characters.

That's supposed to be Darren McGavin in the hat (fond memories of the 'Nightstalker') and with the chimp piloting the plane is Don Knotts (the 'Ghost and Mr.Chicken'). Anne Francis (Forbidden Planet) appears later on as the quintessential jungle queen.

We never finished it. Maybe one day.....

....It was good fun....

Bettie Page dies aged 85, December 11

I had no idea my previous post would turn put to be something of an obituary. It was the beautiful Bettie that introduced me to the world of the pin-up. I don't think anyone who has illustrated her has failed to fall in love with her all-at-once innocent and yet alluring image. I think she will be remembered in the same iconographic way was Marilyn Monroe or James Dean.

Ironically enough, the man pretty much responsible for the resurgence of interest in this 50s pin-up queen, Dave Stevens, had passed away earlier this year at the age of 52. I had heard that they were in contact with each and that there was a mutual respect between the two. The world this year has lost both the icon and the artist. They will be missed.

This article on Bettie's passing from the UK Telegraph:

Bettie Page, the Fifties centrefold who died on Thursday at the age of 85, made a career out of reducing men to rubble. But with her all-American physique, Cleopatran tresses, and blithe insouciance about being immortalised in states of undress, she also had an extraordinary effect on her own sex. The "Miss Pin-up Girl of the World", who rose to fame after she posed in 1955 in Hugh Hefner's newly launched Playboy magazine and became one most photographed women of the last century, she achieved that rare feat of being an object of masculine lust no less admired by women.

Her role in the sexual revolution may have been in a minor key compared with the advent of feminism or the contraceptive pill. However, her jaunty up-and-at-'em approach to matters erotic sanctioned the idea that sex was a normal – or, at times, divertingly abnormal – part of the female repertoire.

There was something genuinely radical about her embodiment of a certain joie de vivre. Page herself once observed that: "Young women say I helped them come out of their shells." By her own acknowledgment, she was the girl next door who got the girl next door thinking.

Celebrated modern-day burlesque artist Dita Von Teese, whose own brand of voluptuosity is straight from the school of Page, today told the Telegraph: "With the passing of Bettie, we have lost yet another great 20th century icon. She dared to be different all those decades ago, combining an erotic fetishism and pin-up playfulness with a little wink of the eye. She certainly inspired me, and will be remembered by the world as a daring beauty and style icon for ever."

Page's biography may not offer much by way of liberation, encompassing, as it did, parental abuse, an inability to profit from her own image, and a descent into mental illness. However, her iconography enjoyed a life beyond such squalor.

Images of Page will continue to hold a resonance, whether pouncing in leopard-skin, flashing her magnificent bosom, or, yes, even gagged and bound. Sex, as Page's many incarnations taught Middle America, is curious, complicated and, above all, fun – not least when untrammelled by dogma.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tradies, Renos and Plumbers' Cracks

After our recent experiences with bathroom renovations I thought about a new annual event to add to the Australian calendar. It's called 'The National Strangle a Crap Tradie Day'. We draw up a list of the really crap tradies out there. You know, the rude, racist, sexist, incompetent, nasty, smelly and/or pathologically lying ones.

Then we randomly select a few from the list and ritually strangle them.

Every year on the same day.

That'll keep the little buggers on their toes.


My poor neglected blog. Been busy. Work has been nuts. And the home front....well, you can always check out my Darling Wife's blog for the latest there.
Been a while since I posted any 'pin-up' stuff. I really can't remember what possessed me to draw Kirstie Alley...there had to be a reason...

....ahhh, then there's Bettie Page. These two paintings were done with real brushes and paints. You know, like in the 'good old days'. The American flag painting was published by Ray Zone of 3D Zone Comics fame.
The funny thing about the flag one is that it turned up in an Italian art book on Bettie Page a year or so later without my knowledge or any form of payment. I remember friends at the time thinking it strange that I wasn't all that upset. I thought it was kinda cute, so I bought the book.

No idea what's going with this one. When working in the black arts of 3D animation you spend a lot of time 'rendering' i.e. waiting for the software to do something. So rather than annoy my fellow workers or smoke crack cocaine...I do this. Weird.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Arctic Dinosaurs

'Dinosaurs on Ice' was re-badged and re-edited (with some additional animation) for the PBS/Nova network in the US. It would be interesting to see how this version differs from the cut we had here in Australia.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tribal Designs

I think the premise behind these designs was if a small enclave of Aztec-like people survived undisturbed to modern day. The jade masks were important for some reason...I can't remember why.

Some jungle concepts for the game. I remember seeing some of the preliminary design stuff for the Peter Jackson 'King Kong' film at the time and being heavily influenced by it.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mr Firth goes to Washington

An interesting week, with the global financial crisis deepening and the USA electing its first African-American President.

Here are a couple of shots I completed for the Charles Firth comedy documentary that went to air this week on SBS. Unfortunately, I don't have the audio with these clips.

The first shot refers to the moment when the US public woke up to the faux reasons why America went to war in Iraq. Not wanting to accidentally squash Mr. Firth, the production asked me to create a falling fridge in CG. Note the 'I Love NY' sticker. That was my little joke.

Refrigerator Moment from Pete mullins on Vimeo.

The second shot recreates the pivotal moment from the famous 2002 French documentary '9/11.'

Sept 11 recreation from Pete mullins on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pearls of wisdom from my Dad

You know, fathers have a way of saying things in a wise sort of way which actually don't really mean anything. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm looking forward to coming up with my own meaningless fatherly 'pearls of wisdom'.

This one is a favourite from my Dad's repository of wise axioms:
"If the dog hadn't stopped in the middle of the road to lick its wouldn't have got run over."

I'm not a pessimist, just a realist.

My Darling wife wrote affectionately on her blog about my natural tendency towards pessimism. This got me thinking about the fundamental differences that I think sometimes exist between
the sexes. I will, of course, preface this with the statement that I am completely aware that I'm probably generalising and that none of us are cut from the same cloth.

I have noticed, however, that we men generally don't expect technology to work. Women, on the other hand, interpret things at face value and if something is supposed to function a certain way, then that is the expectation.

I have an understanding with our lawnmower. I paid $50 for it some 5 years ago. I really didn't expect it to last much longer than a year. And so each time I go to start it I caress its spark plug, talk to its starter motor and tell it that if this is indeed the time for its passing I will respect that.
After a 10 or 15 minute ritual it splutters, then roars into life. My darling wife can't believe the amount of preparatory time I spend with this decrepit machine, telling me, 'Just buy a new one'. As if a 'new one' would perform any better than my old friend. I just know that if , heaven forbid, I buy this new, brash kid on the block it would have its own eccentricities and inconveniences.

This goes some way to explain why we blokes keep those old pair of shoes, go to the same crinkly old duffer who cuts our hair, insist on using paper clips and blue tack to keep some poor dilapidated thingy from making its way to our garbage bins. Sure it's imperfect, but that's part of the' rich tapestry of life.'

I have never owned an oven that has ever heated or cooked anything successfully according to the instructions on the food packaging. I accept that will be the case. I would be stunned if it wasn't. How can some food packaging author somewhere far away from my oven possibly know how long my oven takes to cook anything? The entire system is based on some funny little numbers painted on my oven's dial.

Not one of the many beautiful books I own is in pristine condition. At some stage every single one has either been stained, torn, eaten or creased despite my somewhat zealous protectiveness.
As one of those comic bookish types who love things to stay as they are in mint condition for the rest of all time, this really used to bother me. I think we men mature when we realise that there is nothing on this earth that can stop the 'rich tapestry of life' coming along and buggering the thingy you treasure most.
We sit back and say, 'Well done son' when he takes Darling Wife's hair dryer and glues it to a previously cherished collectible creating the latest and greatest avenger for truth and justice in his bedroom.

Decades of work and 3 billion dollars spent on the Hubble Space Telescope, of course it would be launched with a defect that causes focus issues brought about by confusion between metric and imperial units.
Overthrow a cruel, belligerent dictator and offer democracy and the free market, naturally Iraq would descend into anarchy and war.
More people voted for Al Gore than for George W. Bush in 2000, it goes without saying that W. would be in the oval office for the next 8 years.
Darling Wife and I order a new door for the laundry, logically the wrong one will get delivered.

It's the way things are, and how they will probably be next week.

If the instructions or label says that something works a certain way, women think it is perfectly reasonable to expect that to be the case. No use putting silly little small print disclaimers on things. If it's not supposed to work that way, then don't say that it does goddammit!

If there is anything arriving at close to perfect in our lives it's all down to my Darling Wife. Left to us men, doors would be held on by paper clips, certain buttons on the remote would be no go zones and irons would work only if held using a very specific grasp.

I often wonder if big world-changing negotiations were strictly 'women only zones' what the outcomes would be. Imagine a place where everyone, based on the logical and thorough arguments set out before them, were utterly convinced that process would work. No room for fudging around the edges: world this, this and this. Financial crisis: put that over there, move that here etc.

No room for paper clips, blue tack or Saturday afternoons talking to old lawnmowers.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Trying to make up for the lacklustre post volume of last week.....

Xmas card for Mercedes-Benz....The concept is that Santa has eschewed the reindeer and sleigh for a brand new Merc!! Ok, so it's not quite in the Christmas spirit, but hey, neither is having your department store decked out with Xmas decorations as early as October! ...and don't get me started about having Easter eggs on sale in January!

These were done for a game my old buddy John P was working on. It's got a sort of cutesy style. The truck was yet another design for Jonny McCannick...

This concept was for the film Inspector Gadget 2 (yes they made a second one). I was lucky enough to work on it for a few weeks. I met a lovely guy called Brad Greenwood who, after having a very successful career as a VFX make-up artist, was turning his hand to concept design. He ended up working on the film Happy Feet.
Haven't posted for a , the universe and everything seems to get in the way.
More 'Sidekick' designs. The good doctor was a sketch from the time, the color version is recent.

I like this guy.....

Thursday, October 9, 2008

BCF vfx breakdown from Pete mullins on Vimeo.

I thought this one was going to go bad. The client was really uneasy about us creating this ridiculously over sized television and all of the home theater gear to go with it. It's on of those things that seem simple enough, but don't take much to look completely wrong.
I originally had a blue screen erected on the wall for when our actor moves in front of it. As it turned out, he didn't move that much in front of it at all. In fact, removing the blue screen element from the shot was as much effort as integrating the CG TV.
You learn from your mistakes I guess. Anyway, the client liked the final result, his confidence in the idea restored.

2008 winner of the NY Tropfest award. All of it shot on a mobile phone. I think the guys who made it said it cost around $50 to make. Wonderfully simple idea, beautifully made.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Terrible Lizards of Oz finals from Pete mullins on Vimeo.

Before Dinos on Ice there was....The Terrible Lizards of Oz....

The animation and modelling chores were handled mainly by Bevan Lynch with some assistance by Andy Monks.
I textured most of the dinos and did the matte paintings and compositing. The ocean scene was Maya ocean with lots of particles etc. created in After Effects.

Once again, Ruth Berry was director/producer on the show. The documentary explored the variety of Australian dinosaurs that lived about 70 million years ago. I was particulary proud of the underwater sequences, considering that all the elements in those shots were generated in the computer.

7News 3D plane from Pete mullins on Vimeo.

Yesterday a Qantas flight from Singapore to Perth dramatically dropped altitude. Apparently the 'auto-pilot' went a bit 'funny'. Luckily they still man these planes with human pilots so a major catastrophe was avoided when the pilot took control.

I was asked by the network to animate this event. Our company is often called upon to recreate events that the video cameras missed. Michael Cox pioneered the approach we use for this style of 3D news recreation.

This style of news recreation reached an almost ridiculous stage when during the second Gulf War we were making animations with only the most limited bits of information.
As frustrated filmakers we approach each scenario with a cinematic approach. We would push the bounds of plausibility in order to make these small 'dramatic pieces'. Each time we would pump one of these out to the network we expected the hardened news producers to say 'Come boys let's keep it within the realms of reality'.

Not once did anybody have an issue with our outlandish bits of animation.

I remember once one of the Sydney news producers said: 'It will get to a stage where we won't need to come into work any more, we'll leave it to you CG guys'.

I think he was joking.....

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Quick post...more life drawing....

...and concept art for pal of mine Pete Ford. The project is called Wynter Dark...looks BIG!...check out his blog...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When I worked at ArcFX with Bevan Lynch and company I completed a couple of concept pieces for The Spierig (Undead) brothers' film 'Daybreakers' . The ideas didn't go much beyond this point, but it did inspire me to do a few more monster designs for other people.

Most notably: these werewolf designs.

What's great about working at this concept phase, particularly in the low budget world, is that initially the sky's the limit. As the realities of budget, time and investor confidence start to take precedence of course most of the high-falutin' ideas crash and burn.

Still, I really enjoy meeting people with new ideas and I love trying to interpret those ideas on paper...or...these days...on screen.
A while ago I worked on the pilot for a show called 'Thriller Science' for Discovery Channel. The basic idea was to take a premise from a thriller novel and investigate the scientific merits of it. Throughout the doco we would cut to dramatisations of events described in the book.

Because of budget and time constraints we opted for a 'blue room' approach, using CG to flesh out the backgrounds and environments. I used mainly Lightwave for 3D and AfterEffects for compositing.

The show ultimately didn't get picked up for a series, as is usually the case with most of the pilots I have worked on.

ThrillerScience from Pete mullins on Vimeo.

ThrillerScience VFX breakdown from Pete mullins on Vimeo.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The ABC program 'Catalyst' ran the 'Dinosaurs on Ice' stuff for a story about polar dinosaurs. The show has been to air already, but the story is available on their website.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

For the geeko Apes fans out there I found this intriguing online comic. Ok, I admit this one is probably only for me and Dazzlin' Daren W. The rest of you go off and make a cup of tea or something.
I was at a miniature and model makers expo/convention the other day looking through those beautiful Osprey books on historical costume and militaria. The one artist whose work always seemed to leap from the covers of those books was Angus McBride. As I expressed my fondness for Mr. McBride's artistry to the fellow behind the stall table, he informed me that Angus had indeed passed away last year.
What a great loss to the world of historical illustration. I even remember his contributions to a very influential magazine in my youth 'Look and Learn'. I've known quite a few history buffs who cite McBride's work as the most trenchant and, above all, the most beautiful. It's great that I can show my kids his paintings of ancient Rome or the Crusades and they immediately respond to them as alive and relevant.
Now to my stuff...My old buddy John Passfield and I have worked on quite a few different things together over the years. Most, alas, never went beyond ideas and drawings. This one: 'Jonny McAnnick' was a sort of parody on the Mad Max (and its clones) road warrior concepts. My favourite character is the sexy babe down the bottom, only because my darling wife came up with a brilliant name for her: 'Jealousy Burns'.Colour storyboards for a game concept. I actually took these into After Effects and did an animatic trying to impart a stylistic sense to what would be the opening video to the game.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Looking at Eddie C's 'The Amazing Remarkable Monsiuer Leotard' got me thinking about the whole circus pastiche. It reminded me of a job I did a while ago for a local radio station ad.

The brief called for a fully fledged circus environment. Suffice to say, circuses are bit thin on the ground these days. In fact, finding anything remotely resembling the sort of old style circus look we were after proved so difficult we opted for a CG/composite approach.

Raw Footage

The shot started with the actors, a few bails of hay and a blue screen. We purchased an elephant CG model and I did a fairly basic rig and animation for it. ( I certainly don't consider myself a character animator, but I knew the elephant wasn't going to do a whole lot).

I then sourced a whole bunch of other bits and pieces (trailers etc), blending it all together. The tent was a separately filmed element. I wanted to give the fella picking up the trash a bit more to do so I added the posters on the ground as a final touch.

Final Composite

I saw the trailer for the film 'Igor' the other day with the kids.

I did some designs once for a computer game idea that involved the long suffering mad scientist's sidekick getting into all sorts of trouble. It was an idea Rob (bigkid) Watson (who was working at Krome Studios with me at the time) had come up with. I thought it was an absolute corker of a concept...plenty of scope for silliness. He's kinda lovable don't you think?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thank you for the kind comments about the work.

Special thanks to Eddie Campbell whom I have had the pleasure to work for in the past. I learnt a lot from Eddie in those years. I mean, there was all the artistic stuff, but I really think his legacy to me went way beyond that. Above all, he taught me the wisdom of discipline.

There is always that point in any creative process where the temptation to run out the back door seems all too great. Eddie has the ability to push through those bullshit fears and get the thing done. He manages a whole team of Eddie's in his head, each with an assigned task.

I remember when he was doing the monthly Bacchus book keeping up a furious page rate (with me always running to catch up), he had this A4 piece of scrappy paper. On it was a list of twenty or so things that had to completed that month in order for the book to go out to the printer. Well, just one of the items on that piece of paper said "do the work".

You see, I think Eddie realised a long time ago that just being a 'creative genius' is only a small part to the story. You must make your 'bargain with fate', what you sow is what you will ultimately reap. You will, in other words, 'get what you deserve'.
Obviously things go pear-shaped from time to time. And only a fool would think he can control everything. I think it's about trying to live true to your higher nature. Not selling it short, regardless of whether you fail or make mistakes.

I try hard to live by that concept, but it ain't always that easy....

I really miss those years working for Eddie. It was by far one of the most rewarding creative experiences I have ever had.

Now... only a couple of art pieces this time. After twenty years or so, I decided to take up life drawing again. I seem to remember it being a wholly frustrating and demoralizing process the last time around. Thankfully this time I seem to be in a happier place with my work. I really try hard to produce a least two good pieces out of the evening (I go at night, once a week).

What I love about about these life drawing sessions is in some ways time has stood still. The same sort of dilettantes, fringe dwellers, young geniuses and big hearted harlequins still make it an environment deliciously vibrant and warm. I feel at home there.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Some old, some new. Here a a few images from some concepts I did a couple of years ago.
They were for a proposed kids TV series called 'Oddsox'. As far as I know, it's still in development.
I won't go into too much of the story, suffice to say, it involved a group of 'outcast' socks living in the magical world of an old attic. Originally they were going to use puppets, but then it was thought an 'all-cg' approach was the way to go.
It was a fun idea, I hope it comes off one day.

Here's more recent 'ol mate Darren Roach got me this gig with Penthouse Magazine.
Basically, they wanted to see what cartoon character ladies would look like with their clothes off.
I ended up doing 5 or 6 of them. I hadn't done any 'pin-up' work since the 90's. It was tough starting one of these things after such a long time. Love to do more!!

....also a couple of 'behind the scenes' photos of the minature enviroment I helped create for the 'Dinos on Ice' doco.

A fellow called Chris Martin did the initial form work and some of the detailing. He worked in the VFX industry in England on the 'Avengers' movie as well as 'Lost in Space'. It was cool to talk to someone who had 'been around'. He had some great stories about some the different people he had met during his career.

The miniature started life as a carved polystyrene surface on a wooden frame. Different mixtures of filler, concrete and plaster were then layered over that for surface texture. It was then painted and a combination herbs, lichen and small plastic aquatic plants were used to detail the forest floor.

It's inspired me to do more 'real' (as opposed to CG) model building. It really is great fun, and a nice break away from the computer screens.

Finally a bit of 'broadcast design'. This was an opener for a half hour documentary on how local farmers are dealing with climate change. I seem to be doing a lot of shows based around climate change lately.