All roads lead to Douglas Adams

While working on my green screen animation project I looked towards other films that use green screen and special effects.  I also looked towards things that inspired me in my project that revolves around books.  On The Matrix DVD there are some excellent documentaries involving green screen filming.  In particular the bullet time sequences, where they’re able to slow down the footage with over one hundred cameras in a circle and do a 360 degree pan around the action.  In this they use live action footage with animation and manipulated photographs, which they blend together to make it all look like live action.

What I love about the first Matrix movie (I pretend the other two don’t exist) is the way it wonderfully messes with your head throughout.  In the movie there are three realities.

  1. The people in the matrix that don’t know they’re there.
  2. The people that are in the spaceship fighting for their lives.
  3. Thos same people on the ship but their existence within the matrix.  Their reality in the matrix is different from the others because they are aware of being in it and can manipulate it.

In my personal journey during this masters degree I have found that all roads lead to Douglas Adams.  I was listening to the CD compilation Douglas Adams at the BBC and Adams explains that we are obsessed with virtual reality being the next step in computer technology.  He talks about the human brain and how roughly one million years ago it evolved into what it is now and that it hasn’t really changed since.  But our ability to invent and build things has.  So in effect any civilisation that doesn’t live as we did a million years ago is in its own virtual reality.

He uses going to Bali as a good example.  Somebody one day discovered that Bali was a great place to go to and told someone about it.  They in turn told someone else and they in turn told someone else.  Fast forward many years and you have “My mum went to Bali and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt” t-shirts, transport for the tourists and Coca Cola umbrella stands stuck into plastic tables.  This now isn’t Bali; it’s a virtual reality of Bali.  If I were to invent a virtual reality machine that could create Bali as it once was before all the trustafarians infested it, what’s to say that this wouldn’t be a more effective experience of Bali than the one you could physically go to?

So if you take Douglas Adam’s thought on the matter into considerations we have a fourth reality.

  1. The virtual reality of modern life as it is, was and will be.

I suppose you could be pedantic and say then surely 1 and 4 are the same, but I would disagree.  The reality which everyone thinks they should be in is completely different to the one they want, which is now eradicated.  But like The Matrix they nip in and out of, it can still be created.  But this is a confusing  argument for a philosophical blog and not and animation one.  Perhaps.

In a long rambling roundabout way, I am looking at these examples for creating the world for my green screen book animation.  When looking at my storyboards I was quite aware of how I seemed to be simply superimposing drawings over live action.  At this stage I’m very happy with the story and the idea, but I’m going to have a proper rethink and properly work out how I can use my animation skills to create my own virtual environment that I’ve been inspired to create from The Matrix and Douglas Adams.  I shouldn’t just think about creating a drawn world around a real character, I need to create an imaginary and improbable world around my character.

A while back I was talking with a friend and I said that I saw on YouTube a comedy animated short of a boy at the doctors.  When I got to the end something was bugging me.  Then I realised that the animation was nothing that couldn’t have been done with a couple of actors and a hand-held home video camera.  It was like they wrote the sketch for a TV show and then animated it as an afterthought.  This is what I need to avoid.

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About Mike Belgrave

I am Mike Belgrave, stand up comedian. animator, outsider music musicologist, shambolic ukulele player and music video director extraordinaire.
This entry was posted in Animation, Animation MA, Douglas Adams, Green Screen porject. Bookmark the permalink.

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