Friday, 28 March 2014

Karl Foster MA Journal 2011 - 2013



October 2011 I have spent the last five years looking at graphic novels and comic strips analysing the developments of this mainly print-based genre and its recent overlaps into filmed media.
I have been in contact with many creators and commentators on this subject and believe I have a story to tell myself. I had a brief foray into comic strip form with my ‘Adventures of the Rubber Duck and Neon Chicken.’ I used humour to emphasise sensitive political issues. I feel I need something broader and deeper to get my teeth into.

100 DATES is the title of my MA research project. I have made the decision to deliver my story in 10 episodes/ instalments. Each story will be told from the POV of a separate protagonist. The first 9 stories can be read in any order but the 10
th story must be read last. The first 9 stories will also contain a short additional feature called ‘The World of 100 DATES’. This structure will allow me to explore different aspects of storytelling techniques. The art of storytelling is what this work is really about (but I still want it to entertainment).

I’m keen on subtext, complexity and subtle samples of sound and other historical visual or aural forms. I will draw on the early films of Riddley Scott and the whole canon of Alfred Hitchcock and jazz music. Film Noir has heavily influenced the lighting and mood of my dystopian tales, most notably the Hollywood era of the 40’s and 50’s. This alternate world needs to contain relatable points of reference to the world we live in.

It should be possible to create at least 14 more episodes/ parts. These will be told from the POV of supporting characters. I’ve also considered that London/ New London is the main narrator of the story (I now know this is a very unrealistic plan).

This project changed twice during the course but it still contains at its heart my purpose, which is to tell stories and to explore meaning through narrative. I am intrigued by the skill storytellers have to elicit emotional reactions to this medium.

My research has led me from Graphic Novel to a storyboard for a possible film then onto a title sequence motion graphic. After Unit 1 feedback it was clear that my story 100 DATES is too obscure for its intended audience. I reviewed my work and realised that my sequence would have to act as a possible trailer for a production that might be a film a TV show or piece of fine art. Final description for this work is in fact an Animated Storyboard Trailer.

Using a combination of media ranging from photography and printmaking to live drawing and animation software I have discovered what interests me most and will use this to motivate me over the next few months. I am also very happy that my studies are feeding directly into my teaching practice. Teaching is my priority I want to help students.

I have worked a great deal with digital software as this has helped me shape my project using the accepted professional tools recognised by the design industry. I absorbed a wide range of reference materials and have reviewed all my work at regular stages.

My project I feel reflects my concerns about human relationships and the futility of love. I have returned to my experience of being brought up in a world that has rejected the real me. As a boy I was always told this or that was impossible. My project is a reminder that the world is full of restrictions but thankfully you can’t keep human beings down they will always try to revolt and have the will to challenge the status quo. I raise my glass to the hope that the apple cart will remain upset for many years to come.


Here is a list of my inspirations and influences:

Alan Young my former tutor on degree course
Bernard Herrmann Composer (Psycho, The Day the Earth Stood Still
and Taxi Driver)
Black Narcissus Film 1947
Buster Keaton
Ennio Morricone Composer (Cinema Paradiso, The Thing
and The Good the Bad and the Ugly)
French Cinema (1910 – present)
George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue performed by Lang Lang
and Herbie Hancock
Gil Scott Heron Poet and Visionary
Hogarth Father the of Narrative Illustration
Jack Cardiff Cinematographer and Film Director
James Brown Godfather of my Soul
Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David
London, England
Manchester, England
Michael Eade my former art tutor at Secondary School (Masseread)
New York City
Richard Serra Artist
Riddley Walker novel 1980 by Russell Hoban
Sergio Leone Film Director (The Good the Bad and the Ugly, C'era una volta il West
and Once Upon a Time in America)
Spanish American Cinema
Spanish Cinema
Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy
Test Cricket
The Barbican, London
The Chauvet Caves in France
William Blake Visionary
All these have shaped my ideas and the focus during my studies.

I will need to create a logo/ brand for the title perhaps linked to the narrative. It might be a tattoo or serial number. The company 100 DATES will of course have the same logo.

I’ve decided that Jobsworth’s serial number will be the same as the tattoo on both Desta Finn and Williams Frank’s left nipples.
I’ve broken down the title 100 is binary code and the AT stand for DNA proteins. Tattoo could be SETAD 001.

Desta is an anagram of DATES.
For more background read Philip K. Dick novels ‘Total Recall’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ and writings about the influences of these novels.

Geostationary Orbit for communication satellites for broadcast. Pompas Glass is able to use these to his advantage and he also discovers a broadcast embedded under a Satellite signal that is instructing robots and Wilkinson Corp headquarters in Mannheim Germany.

Scenario 1 Why is the world the way it is in the story? Michael N’Aissem developed a weapon of mass destruction the genetic weapon’ for the USA government. It was only to be deployed in the event of a war with the USSR. The war was averted because the ‘genetic weapon’ escaped from the lab. It adapts human DNA to make all forms of flu fatal. Two thirds of humanity was destroyed in just 5 years. Those who had survived had some resistance to the ‘weapon’. It was decided that humans could only breed if they passed on these resistant genes. Governments feared a regressive ‘vulnerable gene’.

100 DATES is a company that helps to enforce the established specialist-breeding programme to avoid the spread of ‘vulnerable genes’. 100 DATES screens people so they can find compatible genetic partners. Once cleared to breed couples must form a legal union. Citizens who ignore these rules run the risk of sterilisation and also of their offspring being susceptible to the ‘genetic weapon’. 100 DATES agency is at the heart of human survival.

There is no cure as the genetic weapon is part of the earth’s ecosystem. It doesn’t affect animals or plants. Some governments suspect it is mutating and they want to create walled enclaves to wait out this new threat. The disposal of so many bodies over the years has led to ‘dead areas’ around most large human habitations. In London South East London was sacrificed. The Peckham Badlands are where the incinerated bodies were placed. In the Badlands are the people who live on the edge of the new societies the one’s to be kept out of the new walled cities. The death of so many humans led to the development of sophisticated robots that perform the menial tasks that keep societies functioning. They are accepted because humans have no choice. These robots a self-sufficient and come out of fully automated plants. They are the exclusive creation of Matthew Bent and Bruce Wilkinson.

Plot development: bodies burned and buried in southern Southwark – 30 years since last mass burials and the area became known as the Peckham Badlands. East London was also used as a mass burial site (now underwater) and is still a biohazard.

Plot development: In the Badlands people breed outside the law but the risk of outbreaks is high and the Government are making plans to change this.
Plot development: Crowd the scene develops then we close in on the narrative action. Michael Messian (as Michael N’Aissem) develops the genetic weapon – for an USA corporation – he is fired for suspected espionage and FBI called in. He escapes but the weapon has been released by accident (he does feel responsible the four billion deaths that occur). The ‘Plague’ then rages for 20 years. It manages to wipe out two thirds of the earth’s population. Scientists and biochemists work for the next 30 years to find a cure. There is no cure but a genetic breeding system is implemented to ensure only resistant genes are passed on.

The human faces of this ‘genetic breeding system’ are agencies like 100 DATES. Marshall Law has been enforced across the world in order to implement this policy. Tensions have broken out across the world and decades that threaten to destabilise nations.

How have the human breeding restrictions affected the characters in the story and their right to procreate? 


Nat and John O’Brien (no children)
John and Jane Doe (1 child kidnapped 20 years earlier and divorced)
Sleaze and Annie Jones (no children)
Hugh and Claire Wycombe (1 son and expecting a second child)
Bruce Wilkinson was married to Arlene (5 children all deceased)
Matthew and Amelia Bent (3 children only James Bent survives)
Joris and Tatiana Bonnsson (6 children)
Livington and Jean Louise Ken (3 children)
The Jazz Evangelists
Augustus Winter (2 children)
Camp (1 child)
QC (no children)
OP (4 children)
Maggie Frank unmarried (2 children)

September 2012
Life seen through a lens floating as a ghost across the daydreams of my mind.
What is the correct format for my film?
Original Recording, Naturalism, Impressionist, Expressionist, Romantic, Documentary, Surrealism, Neo-Realist, Nouvelle Vague, Third Cinema, Independent, Blockbuster, Post-Modern, Meta Film, CGI, Animation, Comic, Parody, Cyber Punk.

Themes: Melodrama, Period Drama, Reinactment, Based On A True Story, Biopic 

Genres: Musical, Gangster, Western, Comedy, and Historical

November 2012
I'm in the act of producing an essay that will help me to construct a much better practical solution for my design work. The reading and thinking I have conducted for my research essay has led me to believe that my interests will be sufficient to help me with a PhD question. I am enjoying writing (despite the fact that my spelling skills are in decline) and will continue to build on my knowledge.

The deadline of 28 November 2012 is looming.
P.E.E.L. use this structure to help you write the paragraphs
P = Point (what is the point that you are making?)
E = Evidence (you have to use a quote to illustrate your point or back it up)
E = Explanation (provide and explanation for your point or use of evidence quote)
L = Language (this is an academic essay aimed at the knowledgeable)

Mainstream cinema opening credit convention:
Production Company presents
a NAME LASTNAME production
Lead Cast
Supporting Cast
Casting Director
Music Composer
Costume Designer
Associate Producers
Production Designer
Director of Photography
Executive Producer

December 2012
December is here again how did that happen? I'm recovering from my encounter with my MA Research Essay, which kicked my ass to the maximum. Despite that I feel I am not capable of writing more academic papers in the future and also the essay will provide me with source material for my PhD application. In my essay I tackled a subject that I knew a great deal about but hadn't ever focused on its importance to visual communication. This has now been addressed and I intend to continue exploring the subject through contacting the academics and practitioners I discovered during my research and analysis of the subject. What is this subject you ask? The design of Movie Title Sequences is the answer. In my essay I reviewed what are considered very important phases in the production of title sequence form. Analysed here are Lotte Reiniger’s 1926 film ‘Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed’, Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Lodger: A Story of London in the Fog’ from 1927. The titles designed by Saul Bass and also Orson Welles’ ‘Touch of Evil’ from the 1950’s then finally the work of Kyle Cooper, Daniel Kleinman and Tom Kan in the 21st Century. The examples I reference can be said to contribute to the ‘graphic world’ we live in.

In conclusion I believe the desire to engage or entertain the gathering audience in the auditorium when coupled with the designer or artists eye for sensitive and meaningful image sequences raises not only the quality of the story but also gives us pause to reflect on the significance of what I call the ‘introduction etiquette’ of cinema. The communication of complex ideas to a diverse but visually sophisticated audience is still paramount. Even after more than a 100 years of cinema we still need our emotions catered for. 

The research essay was a disaster for me but it did wake me up to some useful facts for my future direction. I’m going to adapt my essay so it can be delivered as a lecture or seminar as part of my commitment to Teaching and Learning. My desire to gain a PhD might be misguided. I work with a couple of MPhil/ PhD students and from our discussion about the requirements of this level of study I am now worried about the form used for writing these papers.
I think a period of further reflection is required and also more research into possible alternative curricula. I want people to read my writing and for it to enlighten the reader. I don’t want my work to sit on a shelf or lie in a database only occasionally to be read by MPhil/ PhD students. I need to speak to some published authors and soon. I’m sad about this turn of events but at least I discovered this early enough to change direction. Overall the MA has reinvigorated my making skills and made me think about very different methods of pursuing my life as an artist.

June 2013
The use of humanoid machines and technologies that hark back to the 1940’s gives me the opportunity to open up my story and to add more drama and questions in the narrative of the piece. I have used my knowledge of science and technology to support the motivations of the manufactured being. The state of being a machine with human qualities is always going to be of interest. These large noisy Droids exist online a suspicious human population. Are they threat or saviour that is the question I want to analyse further? As my invented world turns it inhabitants human and machine will have to find a way to co-exist. 
I will be glad to get this work finished the plan is to have everything completed by the start of August. This will give me two weeks to review everything and make amendments as required.


December 2011
Reflective Review of term here
Over the last couple of weeks I've been reflecting on how information is usually communicated in a comic to the audience/reader. I decided two years ago that thought bubbles are of no use to me in this context. You cannot read other people's minds in real life so this should be the same in a graphic narrative. I like the challenges this poses also.

Dialogue is very hard to get right but it is only required to help the reader understand the motivations of the characters in a story and to lead them in certain directions. It may be unavoidable but I will try to minimise the amount of speech bubbles in the 10 stories I'm writing. Finally it is clear to me that the narrator's voice is the most powerful of all in the her/history of western literature. I will try to use only narrator captions to drive the stories along and of course rely heavily on the power of the visual content.

The biggest challenge for me is to get audio into this 2D medium. More later.

March 2012
Time to reflect
Found a photo of myself aged 20. Boy I was young then. I also found some artwork from those days it made me remember how hard we worked to get our degrees. Tough then, tough right now. Students, work hard, believe in your worth and fight hard to be successful.

Noir, noir, noir
Noir is my middle name. Now to find a blonde bombshell, a femme fatale, a scarlet woman, a crooked cop, a bent lawyer, a sadistic doctor, an ex con going straight and a good man in the wrong place at the wrong time a four-time loser.

After my group crit to today it seems that I have been avoiding the truth. I need to accept that '100 DATES' text is for a screenplay and my illustrations contain the information for a Storyboard. Thanks to my tutor Chris Brown for this suggestion. I've got a lot of work to do.
At my tutorial with Jan Woolley I was introduced to the work of Romare Bearden 
It's cool stuff and it's about something important Civil Rights and Jazz.

I'm investigating his output to see if I can use some of his ideas to help me with the mise-en-scene for my storyboard project.

We also looked at the classic 60's British films dubbed 'Kitchen Sink' Dramas. 'Cathy Come Home' (Dir. Ken Loach 1966)
Poor Cow (Dir. Ken Loach 1967)
and 'A Taste of Honey' (Dir. Tony Richardson 1961) to see if the staging used in them could help me construct believable environments for my characters. Austerity Britain looks just like these films.

Review of Spring Term
My focus was poor I got lost a bit because of the demands of my full-time job as a lecturer. How to achieve the things necessary to gain a good degree mark and still support 200 undergrad students to the best of my abilities.
I got back on track though will no small help from my MA tutors and my partner. I’m looking forward to a fantastic summer when my mind will grow some more.

Started reading The Seven Basic Plots: Why We Tell Stories written by Christopher Booker. I’m finding it useful and it covers much of what I’ve been investigating myself over the last five years. It a big book so it’s taking me some time to get through but rewarding non-the-less.
I haven’t read many graphic novels lately as I have immersed myself in films and the dissection of the storytelling through editing process. This feeds directly into my Storyboard artwork.

May 2012
Is teaching part of living the dream? When I started out over 18 years ago to interact with curious minds as a lecturer did I have any idea where this would lead me? One of my MA peers is always mentioning that she's “living the dream” and we should all do the same. I'm beginning to feel that I should adopt a similar attitude to hers. I do have a problem however; I've forgotten what the dream was. One dream that is coming true is the arrival of a 2-screen cinema at the end of my street. In September Barbican Cinema 2 and 3 will emerge and I will be a mere 5 minutes away from projected happiness.

I am organising my work so it is ready for my 2nd Tutorial (with Jan Woolly) and the Part-time Year 1 Mid-point review.

Feedback notes from the Mid-point review tutorials
• One or two stand out when put up against the wall, it looks completely different when viewed from different angles. Take a step back from the work and place against a plain background in order to see what works best; this can help with the final presentation.

• Time management is an area to look at, creating a timetable including what hours within a day you are able to work rather than what days are ideal. This will allow you to see the amount of work that can be achieved but also to give yourself a variety of possibilities and outcomes from your work.

• Try to step away from individual panels, you can become so involved that you end up with too much information and sometimes too much detail.

• Look at using more conventions of storyboards, try to keep them simple.

• Using a small amount of spot colour allows you to direct the viewer to areas you would like to highlight, this will guide the eye in order for you to portray exactly what you intend.

• Have a look at Bruce Block, in particular his book 'The Visual Story". This book allows people interested in cinematography, production design, directing and screenwriting a clear view of the relationship between the story/script structure and the visual structure of a film or video. This will be good for your work to look at the contrast, affinity, space, line and shape, colour and movement of your storyboard.

• Experiment with the use of angles in your work, use different angles to create unusual directions this could make the piece more interesting to look at and create composition on the page. This also applies to the camera angles within each panel; these can be inconsistent as to create a dynamic visual experience within the work. Consider trying a widescreen angle in the panels this will allow more areas to be covered.

• Have a look at 'Hit record',, this website allows you to upload work and for others to be able to edit your piece. This will allow you to become less protective over your panels.

• is another useful website to look at, this allows every member to upload their diary, using single images to sum up a word such as 'Love' or 'sadness". This website is multidimensional way of looking at stories.

February 2013
After reading my feedback for Unit 1 I have realised that my intentions and the purpose of my project has not been understood by the teaching staff on my MA. I will need to make sure I make everything explicit in the future. I don’t want people to misunderstand my work that was never the point. It has left me feeling that my direct and decision-making is not as obvious as it has felt to me.

March 2013
I need to mention all the source materials I have used to help me with my project. I have worked towards achieving excellent results for my MA Certificate and want to apply this knowledge and experience in the classroom and beyond. I’m not sure why I have mentioned so little about my working methods. I think I assumed that at this level of study it was taken as a given. I hear my own words used when advising students on their project submission coming back to haunt me.

April 2013
Interim Exhibition at Beach London. 28 students hung their work in this Brick Lane gallery. I was able to show my 100 DATES three act moving image piece. This exhibition was not as well organized as the one as the interim show in 2012.

Unit 2 for this you need to make sure you have printed evidence to show what your focus is and how you constructed your concept and storytelling process.
Tutorials it would be good to speak with Chris Brown about my recent direction. It is clear that the production of storyboard design and moving image will be my future output.

From ‘City Of Quartz’ by Mike Davis (1990) Verso
Chapter four – Fortress L.A. pg 251, 252
Technology helped insulate this paranoid esprit de corps. In doing so, it virtually established a new epistemology of policing, where technologized surveillance and response supplanted the traditional patrolman’s intimate ‘folk’ knowledge of specific communities. Thus back in the 1920’s the LAPD had pioneered the replacement of the flatfoot or mounted officer with the radio patrol car – the beginning of dispersed, mechanized policing. Under Parker, ever alert to spinoffs from military technology, the LAPD introduced the first police helicopters for systematic aerial surveillance. After the Watts Rebellion of 1965 this airborne effort became the cornerstone of a policing strategy for the entire inner city. As part of its ‘Astro’ program LAPD helicopters maintain an average nineteen-hour-per-day vigil over ‘high crime areas’, tactically coordinated to patrol car forces, and exceeding even the British Army’s aerial surveillance of Belfast. To facilitate ground-air synchronization, thousands of residential rooftops have been painted with identifying street numbers, transforming the aerial view of the city into a huge police grid.

My fear of the police state has led me to use the POV for my trailer of CCTV. This technology is everywhere in London. I once counted over 200 cameras on the 12 minutes walk from my flat to Liverpool Street station. The majority positioned high up on buildings but a significant amount were approx 4 metres from the ground. In many of my scenes the CCTV appears at just above eye level. I prefer this position as it allows you to see the action better. A more conventional 45 degree angle from above would give me a more realistic view but like the case in the novel 1984 by Orwell I want these evil watchers to be right among my characters giving them no where to hide. The square identity framers show that this technology is using facial recognition to track individuals. This is a technology under development and could be coming to a high street near you soon. Watch out!


The Unreliable Witness
I'm thinking about how story makers weave truths and half-truths together to form engaging content and I keep finding myself drawn to the notion of the 'unreliable witness'. I like the way you can convince the gullible of almost anything and how you can fool the world if your lie is big enough. I think of the Adolf Hitler quote that alludes to the same (fucking hate Hitler). Are there really people out there like Desta, William and Kathleen? Will you believe them when they narrate their tales, I wonder? I am trying to locate texts that are exemplars of the 'unreliable witness' rule. The plot for '100 DATES' appears as fantasy or fable but could some of it be true?

February 2012
Film Noir?
I realised that I want to create a neo noir look for my comic. Watching Jules Dassin's 'Night and the City' I got nostalgic about a lost and forgotten London. I want my story to make the reader long for something lost. The story could be described as elegiac or melancholic. The characters are out of time on many levels. Loss and longing is very cliché and this is well traveled ground but I think this will make my alternate world more believable if I can tap into the human emotions that we all have. Monochrome city shot mostly at night, underground or in claustrophobic rooms. Narration in, speech bubbles out. Time to get back to drawing this project.

Progress of sorts
I've finally made the decision that my graphic novel will serve the purpose of explaining how storytelling works. Each of the ten stories will retell the same story from the perspective of the protagonist. Now to finish writing the blessed things and draw the bastards. Oh BTW the noir post below is on hold since I discovered Self Made Hero have published 'It's Dark in London' featuring top flight artists and writers. I want to create something that will rival this type of book.

10 episodes set in a 'hotel' room. 10 interweaving narratives that may or may not be told by unreliable narrators. 'Hotel' room inspired by the Nostromo set for the movie Alien. Looking at documentaries about the making of a movie has been instructive if a little too much like Geekdom. It seems the more successful (or cult) a film the more critical embellishments are desired. I’m mostly interested in how a Director goes about their job and how lighting a set is integral to the narrative tone and momentum of a filmed story.
All narrators are unreliable. Because we are susceptible to untruths and we are able to suspend our disbelief the human imagination is a perfect receptacle for stories. Enjoy my stories, fables, myths and legends.

January 2013
iMovie. When I first saw this feature on my Mac I thought meh! this is just for peoples boring holiday snaps. I was wrong. I discovered that I could shape a crude narrative and include music to accompany the sequence. This basic construction made me think more about how we ‘read’ moving images. When I decided to change my project into a Storyboard design for a possible film I also decided that I would look more at the possibilities of using iMovie or Final Cut Pro to help me understand timing and sound design. This has proved very fruitful and is already feeding back into my teaching at LCC. The conversations I now have with students are framed by my conviction that Moving Image is the dominant format for Graphic Design communication of the near future.

I have made several short film sequences so far. ‘Dirty Prototype’ (with full mix), ‘Sequence Experiment’ i, ii & iii, ‘Title Sequence with adapted titles 27.12’, ‘Act II Cityscape shots’ 1b & 1c, ‘100 DATES sequence’ 1, 2, a, b, c & d, ‘MAVA 100 DATES promo’ and ‘MAVA 100 DATES publicity.’ I also made an attempt to create a Brand identity for my production company. Narcissus Productions that I set up 10 years ago is how I sell my work to industry when that happens. I realized that the new work, I have embarked upon this year needs to be represented in a more strategic and appropriate manner.

Sound design is a technology taught at Undergrad and post grad level at LCC. I want my work to contain sound files that help the viewer feel more for the images that pass before their eyes. I have recorded sounds available in London and on the North Norfolk Coastline.

February 2013

Title Sequence process – Hours and hours go by as I refine the link between sound and vision. I want to discover how to maintain high quality imagery from iMovie to QuickTime movies. I recorded some live action pieces using a Flip camera but the results are pretty useless. My photographs and illustrations meet in Photoshop software. I have a definite vision for my dystopian London and so far the photographic, hand drawn and archive textures

March 2013
Optical experiments. I’m keen to use reflections, mirrored and light. I want to build an environment that I can light. After visiting the Marcel Duchamp exhibition at the Barbican on Good Friday I was impressed by the way organized elements from the readymade objects could evoke a sense of the theatrical. I live near part of London Wall and I have photographed these old structures and will adapt the images to serve as the backdrop to my animated figures and machines.

April 2013
Flash software – What a delightful tool to help me achieve real movement in my narrative. I have produced some moving type, a cityscape contaminated by a red mist and my characters moving up and down left and right around the cityscape. These are quite crude and very, very basic. However I have now grasped the full power of the programme and created a 10 seconds sequence showing animated Binary Code. My investigation of this software continues and the work I have produced has helped me to control the pacing of story.

June 2013
I have spent many hours working on my project to get to the point that the story works and the timings run out correctly. This work will get to the stage when it is right and I will feel some satisfaction. In my use of software I have maintained my creative spark and pushed interpretations and myself to locate a visual style that is open to adaptations. Though much of what I tried didn’t really ‘work’ in the end this never stopped my desire to create original outcomes. I returned to my sketchbook and film visual references to keep my thinking fresh and to allow me to stay loose and not to fret over perfection or slickness. I am not slick I am sincere and I want that to be visible in my art.

July 2013
I’ve looked at the work of Roman Bittner and some of his free associations have made me remember that every inch of the canvas has it’s role and dead space is anathema to all great artists. I’ve also realized that parts of my trailer should be calm to counterpoint the faster action and pivotal events in the narrative. All round feeling invigorated and ready for the challenges ahead.


December 2012
Latest version of my title sequence project. Composed of 36 key frames using simple cross dissolve transitions. 56 seconds of information that helps me think about where I need to go next with it. My sound design is coming on to. Mixture of Garage Band loops and recorded live sounds. More to follow shortly. Posted on my blog.

Here is a variant on my previous post. This one features my full mixdown audio. I had some trouble syncing this one but it's getting there. Artwork and sound © Karl Foster 2012.
Here is my design with the first set of titles added. This is only my initial design so look out for more advanced versions in the near future. The sequence is 65 seconds long at present. I'm working on an audiovisual version that will last 120 seconds in total.

January 2013
This is the outcome of my initial investigations into title sequence design. The work is still fairly crude and needs to look and sound more professionally polished.
The process of designing and developing this artwork has helped me to understand exactly what I wish to communicate and how I might achieve this.

This sequence lasts 79 seconds but I will eventually design two designs for my MA project that fully express my intentions and progress in this area of visual communication. Enjoy the piece and look out for a very different approach in the next installment of this project.

Handed in my work MAVA Unit 1 Research, Development and Practice on 29.1.13. I predict a D grade for my research essay and a C grade overall.

February 2013
I spent time producing very short length pieces that might express my brand for my company ‘NARCISSUS PRODUCTIONS’. They were all pretty poor and not suitable but I manage to gain useful knowledge about how elements can be manipulated using iMovie. I moved away from the ‘films’ to concentrate on the storytelling I’m so fond of. In my desire to create a title sequence that not only incorporated my own musical compositions and voice over but also the ability to understand timing I forgot about visual storytelling. My draft title sequence was visually vey unrewarding and did not do justice to the sound design. I received quite a bit of negative feedback on this part of my work. I’m really shocked that a tutor wrote on my Unit 1 feedback sheet that I was not working hard enough on my MA. I haven’t had more than four days off in the last year from the MA and my full-time job. I haven’t been lazy at all. My slow production rate is due to me trying to develop a new visual language that does not rely on what I made before when I was a freelance illustrator. I want to make films and help students to make films. Storytelling has always featured in my life and I may have lost my way somewhat.

I have returned to the story the characters and what this project is all about – Communication. Now I’m working in sketchbooks to work through my process. It is clear to me now that I am the only person who is intimate with my story. I need to tell the audience who is in the story and what their role might be. I have drawn out a storyboard that works on three levels at present.

• The drawing or sketches that show what is going on

• The camera movements and edits (CUTS)

• The visual transitions (Where the eyes are meant to look during the sequence)

These elements are all incorporated into a Master Storyboard that breaks down each shot into 1-second intervals and divides each frame into a Continuum Grid. The 121 seconds Title Sequence is shown in 3 Acts. This will help with the timing and also the narrative rhythms.

Act I - Introduction that contains the production companies and Title ‘100 DATES’ Dur: 00:45:00 seconds

Act II – Exposition the peril of London Dur: 00:22:00 seconds

Act III – Cast list on the ‘incident board’ Dur: 00:54:00 seconds

March 2013
I watch a lot of films and one of my favourite genres is American Film Noir of the 40’s & 50’s (incidentally I like Film Noir no matter where it appears). I have plowed through several including ‘The Maltese Falcon’ John Huston 1941, ‘Murder My Sweet’ Edward Dmytyrk 1944, ‘The Big Sleep’ Howard Hawks 1946, and ‘Night and the City’ Jules Dassin 1950. These films and many others have given me some inspiration for the stylization of some of the clothing and vehicles shown in the sequence. I have also decided to pay homage to the great cinematographer John Alton whose work on ‘Raw Deal’ 1948 and ‘The Big Combo’ 1955 stands out. The visual qualities to express tone and atmosphere need to be harnessed to get my work to shine again.

The tone, mood and visual style are the important thing about these films rather than the crime story plot at the heart of each. I want the law well away from this story but perhaps I can use crime to establish the drama and it is universally relatable. The locations are specific in some cases and not in others. But they are all places where something wrong could be happening. ‘Sunset Boulevard’ 1950 has a specific address in mind but has more to with the bauble of La La La Land and what happens to the sanity of the people who live and work in this fantasy world.

For my story I don’t want it to look too Sci-Fi. Super slick technology and polished robots – after all 2013 would look super advanced to someone living 150 years ago but the world is still filled with grubbiness, bile, blood and ecological disasters. Humans are still behaving like idiots. The future 2000 years from now will look rancid to the contemporary eye. Human advances always lead to waste, regrets and dislocation. ‘Our Nature’ is at odds with or ‘Invention’. I must try to ensure styles I borrow work on more than just a superficial level.

April – July 2013

In this period I have been able to use four main software packages to help me to express and control the sequences I am designing. Photoshop – this has helped me to prepare files for print and conversion into elements for export to Flash, Aftereffects and Illustrator. This new knowledge with Photoshop means I am working at a faster rate and I can anticipate problems before they arrive. Illustrator I’ve used principally to help me create graphic objects that will contrast with the more subtle tonal variation in my hand drawn line work and digital drawings. Flash a web design package helped me to get the timing right on my moving image ideas. Though labourious and ultimately not suitable for the final trailer this software allowed me to see in real time how a narrative could progress and what parts of a scene actually drove the narrative and what might interrupt the flow of the action. A very valuable experience for me without which there would be now moving image project. I achieved many of the things I set out to.

Finally the best for last I was lucky to be instructed in the use of Aftereffects by an award winning animator Steve May. Steve spent two sessions with me helping me to shape my story and to overcome the limitations set by Flash software. He taught me editing, key frame discipline and how to publish my scenes correctly so they would function as finished moving image piece. I have been using a selection of recorded and manipulated open source sounds as well as my composition ‘Mixdown Three Three’ and ‘Mixdown Three Three a’. The combination of these sounds with my vision is resulting in a richness that my static hand drawing has never been able to achieve. I am fully converted to the idea that my work will move from now on. This course of action has given me the confidence to approach industry with my work. It’s a long road ahead but I have been able to rely on my visual acuity to help me produce an engaging piece of work that will leave the viewer wanting more. My use of video recording, sound recording, location drawing, photography and technical specification documents has resulted the augmentation of my making skills. I am able to present my work to a range of audiences through my competence in all forms of audiovisual and digital media.


January 2012
Ronald Searle 3/3/20 - 30/12/11 passed away peacefully in his sleep with his family beside him. He requested a private cremation with no fuss and no flowers.
One of the legends of cartooning has passed into a shadowy veil aged 91 years. A major influence on myself my contemporaries. Master Searle's lines soared and his draftsmanship excelled. Oh to make at least one mark as good as his. My favourite story (though rather grim) was when his Japanese captors broke his right hand to stop him drawing. He was of course left-handed and kept on drawing the most haunting images.

I raise my glass of Perrier Jouet to you and yours, cheers!
Check out and

Craig Thompson in the UK
Craig Thompson in Conversation with Marcel Theroux Comica Event at the St. Alban's Centre was an excellent diversion after a days teaching.

Craig Thompson almost single-handedly answered my MA research question. I came away with lots to reflect upon and feeling very inspired. It's nice when someone confirms that you are right in your assertions. If you don't know Craig's work check out 'Goodbye Chunky Rice' (1999) 'Blankets' (2001) 'Carnet De Voyage' (2004) and 'Habibi (2011). You won't be disappointed.

March 2012
The Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists
Friday 30 March 2012
Q&A for 'The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists' chaired by my good self went very well. Jonny Duddle answered many questions from the audience. The film was hilarious and very entertaining. 

Jonny was the Character Designer for the film working very closely with legendary Director Peter Lord. He spent four years working on this project for Aardman. Jonny also spoke about his work as an illustrator and author. 

I enjoyed the experience and would be happy to do this type of work again. Big thanks to Tamlyn Francis at Arena Illustration (Jonny's Agents) for asking me to chair the event.

30 March 2012 Q&A with Jonny Duddle at the Stratford Picture House
Welcome Jonny. We’ve just seen The Pirates and the audience clearly enjoyed the film. I want to discuss with you your involvement in the production of the film and your work as an author and illustrator.

Q1. So far in your career you’ve spent a year working on a square-rigger vessel, touring the UK dressed as a pirate, teaching children. You've also worked in the games industry as an artist on the ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ computer game. You've also written and illustrated 2 picture books about Pirates, ‘The Pirate Cruncher’ and ‘The Pirates Next Door’ two wonderful books. Can you tell us why PIRATES seems to be a big theme in your life?

Q2. You're obviously very qualified for the job of character designer on a film all about pirates, but what exactly is the role of a character designer - can you explain the process to us?

Q3. What motivated you to get into the film business?

Q4. What qualities do you think you need to have to succeed as a character designer?

Q5. How has working with Aardman Animation influenced your illustration work?

Q6. Finally what projects are you working on at the moment can you tell us about them?
I’d like to open this up to the audience; does anyone have a question for Jonny?

April 2012
‘From The Loom Room’ MA students exhibition
After a successful private view on Thursday 12 April I thought you might like to see some images from the exhibition. There has been a steady flow of visitors to the Gallery with work sold and artists commissioned. Get yourself down there if you want to see top quality work by some of the brightest illustrators out there.

April 2013
MA Illustration Interim Show at Beach London - The small basement space for this exhibition was disappointing but all students made the most of it by being pragmatic and professional. The PV for this show was rather disappointing for me as only 1 person out of the 200 I invited attended. Exhibitors plus their close friends attended the PV. Our MA tutors were there too. It was clear to me that many of my peers are inexperienced in organization and preparation. There was also an incident when a disgruntled neighbour told some students that they had to close the show early, as we didn’t have a Liquor License for selling alcohol. He was wrong we served drinks but we were not selling them. We didn’t need a liquor license. If I had been present at the time I would put this man straight. The teething problems on this show should help us to identify weaknesses and we have time to address these before our Final show.

One positive of the show that has helped me to think about what I might do with my new skills once the course finishes was discussed in my conversation with Alison Eldred Artists Agent and Simon Bartram Picture Book Illustrator. They both pointed out that they liked my trailer and maybe publishers of e-books conventional books and event promotion could employ my storytelling techniques. They noted that the market contained rather obvious examples of promotional design that had no independent internal integrity. A thinking maker such as myself would bring ideas and engaging content to this type of commercial project. I intend to explore this possibility further.

April 2013
I went to ‘Pick Me Up’ again this year and it struck me as I entered the initial exhibition space that something was very wrong with my work. Twelve creative’s were selected and a sample of their work was on show. Each had a space to display in and the quality of the work was very high. As I read the biographies of these artists I realized that I was between 20 and 28 years older than each artist. I started to feel shame. I had so much more experience than these artists but my work for my MA was nowhere near as good. It was a shock and I realized that I was kidding myself that what I am doing is good enough for me. I have resolved to make a change and to focus much harder on using my skills with more purpose. I am capable of so much and will demonstrate that in Unit 2 of the MA course.

Simon Bartram’s Solo Show at The Illustration Cupboard. I went to the opening event for this show and spoke to a designer from Templar Publishing. I was told about a new project that would be launched in October 2013. After the discussion it was agreed that I would write a review of this product from the perspective of my role as a tutor for Design studies.

August 2013
The final degree show has arrived. The spaces needed a lot of TLC. The majority of students seemed engaged with some notable hard workers who deserve praise. In every exhibition I have been involved in over the last 30 years there have been shirkers and workers. I don’t believe this will ever change. One innovation this year is the A1 – A0 single artwork on the wall has been replaced with framed and large pieces on the walls with majority of works held to wall by magnet system. These changes give the show a more polished and professional look plus the students are learning important skills in how to represent their work for an external audience with a strong emphasis on commercial viability of their individual vision of image production.

My own contribution is an iMac with my Trailer running on it as a loop atop a white plinth. Two headphones attached by a splitter connection to the iMac will cover sound output. In addition I have designed had professionally printed a 4 pages newspaper that can be used as a record of my concept for 100 DATES and give the audience a richer reading of the trailer and story it promotes. Now that my work is in place I can feel more relaxed. Now only the anxiety of the marking and final grades is left to tax my mind. I have invited over 200 persons to the degree show all linked to art design and communication subjects. I look forward to when the exhibition opens to the public on 4 September 2013 and greeting these guest and other visitors. It is my hope that commissions and academic opportunities arise from my efforts to bring 100 DATES to a wider audience.

Karl Foster August 2013 

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