Making Thunder Eagles cyborg eye

For the future rendition of my main character Thunder Eagle I had to create a futuristic looking eye piece similar to the one in the original terminator 1984. After doing some research and rough sketches I finally came up with the way that the eye piece was going to look. The look I had in mind was a piece of silver scrappy metal covered in wires, with a red light in the middle symbolising the eye. After coming up with the concept I then attempted to build the eye piece.

The inspiration for this introduction of the futuristic eye piece came from my research into  the science fiction genre. I concluded from the research i had conducted that the introduction of new technology was key to setting the films genre as science fiction. Films such as The Terminator introduce advanced technology in this case, a full alloy and robotic skeleton. The aspect i liked the most was the scene were Arnold repairs himself in the grotty bathroom of a cheap apartment, the reason i like this scene is because it shows the harmony between man and machine in the future and aspect i would also like to reflect in my film. It was at this point i decided to use the eye as the focus for my technological advancement.

The breakdown of the eye piece

The base to which everything is glued on to was a piece of a cheap plastic mask painted firstly in a grey paint primer and then in two coats of silver paint. I then covered up the eye with a piece of card which was also painted silver, above this I cut a hole for the lights battery pack, the rest of the prop was just old wires and bits of electrical equipment.



The video below is a time lapse video of how I made the prop, to provide some context I shall explain in this post what’s happening throughout the duration of the video. The first attempt at the eye prop was to make the light on the eye piece wired so that the wires would go round the back of the actors head and out of sight, after an attempt at soldering we found that it didn’t work and would be to flimsy to be used on set. Leading me to my second design.

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Props, Costumes and Characters

This post is an in depth look into the costumes of my main characters and the props they’ll be using. As my film is set on both the 80’s and the future from the perspective from the 80’s, i had to design my costumes accordingly.

The first robber 

For the first robber and the first character on screen i decided to go with the classic NWA / 80’s rapper look, which was a popular and recognisable look well associated with gangs and gang culture in LA during this time period. For the costume i used a red and black checkered shirt buttoned up to the top, a army green and brown mesh scarf, a pair of aviators and finally a new york baseball hat. I thought this would allow the audience to easily identify the character on screen as a ‘bad guy’. Below are the images of the items of clothing used in the film and photo of the look i was trying to achieve with this character.


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The second robber

For this character i decided to go for a more covert, ex-military look, someone who looks like they can do some damage. In order to achieve this but to still maintain some of the gang related themes i decided to dress this character in a german military camo jacket, and a green balaclava. This, in my opinion gave the audience a character who was easily identifiable as dangerous, the balaclava was in place to conceal the mans identity and is therefore already a shifty character as it leads the audience down this path questioning who is this man? why is he concealing his identity?



The detective 

The detective had to be like Don Johnson from the hit 80’s cop show Miami Vice, no exceptions! the cliche silk white suit with the low hanging pink vest was unavailable and we therefore had to improvise with a red and white checkered shirt with the buttons undone, a blue jacket with the sleeves rolled up, and as this is set in the future we added in some futuristic looking glasses. To ensure the audience can identify this character as a ‘good guy’ i made sure not to cover too much of his face to make him appear as normal as the audience.


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Thunder Eagle

The main character and star of the show, Thunder Eagle. Part cyborg part man and the perfect character for a futuristic 80’s science fiction film. For this character I’m going to break it up into two sections thunder eagle in the future and thunder eagle in the 80’s

80’s Thunder Eagle

For this section of the characters screen time i had to make it apparent that it wads the 80’s, to reinforce this idea i employed some cliche 80’s stereotypes, first and most noticeably the letterman jacket a classic icon of 80’s fashion, i also added some other small details including a pair of stonewashed jeans.


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Future Thunder Eagle 

I decided to go with a more terminator style for this character, i wanted him to come across as an anti hero, someone who does good using more than questionable methods after contemplating how i could do this i finally decided that i would go with the bulky ex-army look. To achieve this i used a brown leather jacket, a camo army bullet proof vest, a set of aviators, some dog tags and a futuristic cyborg eye. I thought that the eye would add to the badass look i was going for as it gave my character an edge on the bad guys he was fighting.


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Motorbike gang member

This character is the perfect image of the theme i am attempting to present, LA during the 80’s was a rough place and gnu violence was at an all time high consequently this often led to ordinary citizens becoming collateral damage as they’re caught up in gang wars and turf wars etc. i wanted to the audience to understand this, i also wanted the audience to understand that thunder eagle isn’t fighting particular people he’s, fighting injustice thats why i attempted to make the gang member in this scene similar to the robbers in the first scenes. To achieve this is dressed my character in a standard jacket and shirt, and wearing a hockey mask to once again conceal his identity. For this character i followed the sinister look of Casey Jones (displayed below)


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Hooded gang member 

This member of the gang was a simple one, a hooded and menacing figure that symbolised the threat to Thunder eagle. For this character i used a black zip up hoodie (with the hood up) and the same checkered shirt from the first scene to create a link and a possible sub plot line.

Props – weapons

Each character had a prop, wether it was a gun or a bike and so on. Below is a list of the weapons used in the film, hat they are what colour etc.

The first robber

  • pump action shotgun (BB gun) black and brown

The second robber

  • Scorpion sub machine gun with extendable butt (BB gun) black and silver

The detective

  • Glock 17 (BB gun) all black

Thunder Eagle

  • 9mm revolver silver (BB gun)
  • 9mm revolver black with scope attachments (BB gun)

 

Locations for filming 

As my film is set in LA, i need to plan my filming locations accordingly in order to not truly reveal the actual location of my film. I need to find some locations that don’t display a lot of the background, however if they do reveal some background it needs to be a city scape similar to the busy streets of Los Angeles.

The first section – the robbery and hospital scenes 

For the first section of my film I have decided to film at my grandmothers house in Bleadon, just outside Weston super mare. The house is old, which is easily visible on screen. I thought this would make a good setting for the opening of the film as the scenario is a house robbery involving two people, as the house being robbed in any scenario is usually a rich one I thought the house was ideal as on the face of it, it looks like a grand, old and rich house and is therefore the ideal location for the first portion of my film. I’ve also added in some photos of the stairs where the majority of the first portion will take place.



Other parts of the film such as the scene where thunder eagle is first introduced to the detective and where thunder eagle is placed in hospital where both shot in the same place as the robbery scene.

Part Two – thunder eagles origin story 

This portion of the film was shot under the bridge near the Weston train station. This was my favourite location to shoot at as it provided some rich scenery related to the theme for this scene. As this scene involves a gang robbery I needed the location to be easily identifiable as rough, gang territory and the bridge in Weston was ideal, at the time of filming gypsys had set up camp under the bridge and can be briefly seen in the background of one of the scenes, I thought that this would add to the mise en scene and amplify the rough and dirty theme.


  

Story board

Below are photos of the story board for my film, each frame is more or less the exact image that’ll be portrayed in my final product. Each frame shows the type of shot i.e. Close up, medium shot, long shot etc. And if the frame has any movement for example “pan left” I’ve added some arrows to clearly identify what the frame is doing. I’ve also added in some captions that say dialogue to outline where the script will be incorporated. Any other frames I add in during production will be added in this post. 

Photos of the story board will be added soon!

script

 

This post is a basic construct of the script i will be using for my film.

The two man are robbing the house, both are becoming quite nervous as the exchange a few lines of dialogue  

T – How much longer?

A – its gonna be ten more minutes (aggravated)

T – I can hear sirens comin’

I constructed the script for this scene for a few reasons, firstly the quick and snappy dialogue reflected the fast pace of the first scene i felt that it reflected the thieves plan get in and out as quickly as possible so in order to show this to the audience i decided to make the dialogue short and to the point. I also constructed it this way to further play on the tension that comes with robbery or any crime, by speeding up the rate of the response from each of the characters combined with the tense and edgy acting i felt that the dialogue successfully created tension.

The detective calls for backup and meets Thunder Eagle

A – we need back up, its a robbery!

E – you called

A – i knew they’d send the best

high five 

E – whats the situation?

A – its a robbery!

E – gimme thirty seconds

high five

This section of dialogue was constructed in order to reflect the control thunder eagle has and the power he holds, and similarly the way he exerts his power. To achieve this is constructed the dialogue in this scene to make thunder eagle appear as a relaxed super cop who doesn’t need a lot of information to act, i feel that this conversation reflected the slick cooperation between the police force and thunder eagle and how organised each of the members are this can be seen in the section after the first high five. Contrasting with the sloppy conversation that occurred between the robbers, i feel that the conversation between the police and thunder eagle was successful at constructing the police and thunder eagle as in control of the situation.

Narrative section – this is the section of the film that explains Thunder Eagles origin,the narrative explains how thunder eagle came to be and will cover a 1/2 of the duration of the film.

“That’s me, my names thunder eagle. Before i was a super cop i was just an ordinary citizen on his way home from work. One day, at the height of a gang war between L.A. ‘s most notorious gangs the crypts kings and the latina crowns, i was attacked whilst taking a stroll under the over pass in Latina territory. Anyway, as part of some initiation test these two thugs had to rob an innocent civilian to prove their worth, (pause)  i suppose it poetic justice ha. As i was on my death bed i was stuck by lightning which shocked my heart in to action, keeping me alive long enough for the medical services to arrive. An old friend from nam heard of what happened and called in a favour, as the technology to save me hadn’t been invented yet i had to wait, so i was put on a trial for cryogenic storage to await the day that technology would finally catch up. 40 years on and i was re-awoken only to find that the world had fallen into a lawless pit. I swore on that day that with my new bionic eye and metal bones that i would clean the streets and rid this world of injustice. Its that day that i became THUNDER EAGLE!”

Shotlist

This is a list of the shots i will be using in my film it will outline the shot type, rough duration and whats in the scene. Its a rough outline that i can stick to when making my film.

  • establishing shot – man drilling in a dirty room – 4 sec
  • medium shot pan up – shotgun to drilling man – 3 sec
  • close up pan down – man drilling – 3 sec
  • medium shot pan right – man aiming at a door – 4 sec
  • close up shot – man with the gun looking distressed – 4 sec
  • medium shot – the man shouts up to the other – 4 sec
  • medium shot – man upstairs turns around – 3 sec
  • close up – man replies to the others question – 3 sec
  • medium shot – man runs up into frame (dialogue) – 5 sec
  • close up – man grabs shotgun – 2 sec
  • medium tracking shot – the two run down the stairs – 5 sec
  • medium tracking shot – detective walking through gate – 6 sec
  • medium shot – detective goes to the van – 5 sec
  • close up – detective calls for back up – 5 sec
  • medium shot pan right – detective rolls along the van – 6 sec
  • close up – thunder eagle enters (dialogue) – 3 sec
  • close up – detective (dialogue) -3 sec
  • close up – hand slap 4 sec
  • close up – thunder eagle (dialogue) – 3 sec
  • close up – detective (dialogue) – 3 sec
  • close up – thunder eagle (dialogue) 3 sec
  • close up track back – hand slap – 6 sec
  • medium shot – bad guys in the house – 3 sec
  • long shot track backward – thunder eagle walking -4 sec
  • close up – glasses hitting the floor – 2 sec
  • P.O.V shot – thunder eagle aiming his guns – 3 sec
  • close up -hammers go back on the weapons – 2 sec
  • medium shot/freeze frame – thunder eagle aiming his guns – 7 sec
  • medium tracking shot (from behind) – thunder eagle walking – 4 sec
  • medium tracking shot (front) thunder eagle walking into frame – 3 sec
  • long shot – hooded man walking toward thunder eagle – 3 sec
  • close up – thunder eagle turns – 4 sec
  • medium tracking shot – the bike chases thunder eagle – 6 sec
  • long shot (shaky) – thunder eagle is chased – 8 sec
  • close up – thunder eagle is tackled and beaten – 5 sec
  • close up – man on bike dismounts, beats thunder eagle – 5 sec
  • close up – man takes thunder eagles wallet – 5 sec
  • long shot – the thugs run away – 4 sec
  • long shot – thunder eagle get struck by lightning – 6 sec
  • tracking close up – thunder eagles arm in hospital bed – 6 sec
  • close up / pan right – thunder eagles face – 5 sec
  • zoom in – thunder eagles face – 5 sec
  • medium shot/freeze frame – thunder eagle fires his guns – 5 sec

When filming, i may add in a few scenes to make the story more interesting so this shot list will have a designated section below were i will present the added shots in bold explaining there duration, whats happening in them and what type of shot it was.

Creating my Production Company logo

After coming up with the concept for my logo i then set about breaking it into 2 parts the background and the actual logo. For the background i opened up photoshop on a canvas thats dimensions were 200 by 300. I used the fill bucket tool to create a green background (so it could be keyed out on post production) i then added in an image of a grid, a typical feature of 80’s science fiction films. After this i added in a 3D object of a pyramid, to do this i went up to the tool bar and clicked on the ‘add 3D object’ option which added the object to my project i then exported this project to my desktop and opened a new one. The dimensions were the same, and i started by once again creating the green background so that my logo could be once again keyed out in post production. For the logo i selected the Viper Squadron font as i feel it had an 80’s feel about it, after selecting my font i then added a gradient to my text, i changed the colours of the gradient and added an inner and outer glow to the text giving it a brighter glow and making it stand out more from the rest of the frame as it is technically the most important part of it.

After all of the separate parts had been completed i opened final cut pro and added all the separate images to the timeline adding in some other features which included a star filled background, clouds and an old 80’s strip of film of a man in classic clothing saying “Hi Mom”. I composted these together adding the glory effect to the logo and the background using the keyframe option to animate the intensity of the effects, also combining this with a synth solo to produce an 80’s themed production company logo.

In conclusion i found that my production company logo was effective and combined all the typical features of an 80’s style logo with an added futuristic/science fiction twist .

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This is a video of the final cut of my production company logo, enjoy!

Production Company Research

The opening of any film always shows the production companies involved in the film, universal, paramount and MGM are all well known production companies that all share one thing in common, they’re all easily recognisable, from the paramount mountain to the roaring MGM lion. They only go on for about 20 to 30 seconds but that small time slot is enough to establish their  importance in the films production. I will be taking this onboard when i design my production company logo and will be ensuring that its memorable, short and to the point and as always super 80’s!

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For my logo i have decided to go with a more 80’s style, something that truly resembles the 80’s meaning i would have to look into typical 80’s cliches to make it clear to my audience what my theme is. Some of these cliches include…

  • Neon writing 
  • Bold backgrounds
  • Questionable themes 
  • Poor quality and lots of static 
  • Strange synth and other related 80’s instruments 

To ensure that my production company logo looked good i decided to analyse some retro Production company logos from the 80’s, they included Veston Video and USA Home Video both of which are embedded at the end of this post. The first (Veston) opens with a grid and some choppy synth, it then shows some bright lights which carve out the v shape, behind it is another v shape only this one is slightly more transparent than the other, they then come to gather to form the Veston logo. This is an effective logo as its shot and to the point, it has some interesting animations that are easily recognisable as 80’s technology as all though the animation is good, its its not quite avatar standard as technology hadn’t really taken off in the 80’s most films relied on SFX special effects rather than VFX visual effects. The second production company logo was the USA Home Video logo and this was slightly more interesting, it starts with a very boring FBI warning which then transitions into a grid which then has the word USA carved into it by a blue neon light ultimately leaving us with the logo. This production company logo was slightly more interesting than the Veston logo as it had more special effects in it however it was equally as good at establishing itself as an 80’s style logo.

Finally another logo i have found thats related to my theme is the Laser Unicorns logo that is presented at the start of the hit indie film Kung Fury, this logo is especially good at establishing an 80’s theme as it combines the cosmic background with the metallic logo and the swift 80’s sound effects of synth.

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Audience Research – Interview

This was the final step in my audience research the one on one interview. Out of the three i found this style of audience research the most helpful as it gave me a true insight into what the audience of my film would expect to see in a film specific to my genre ( Science Fiction). For this interview i used a member of my peer group Elijah Clements aged 16, following a semi – structured interview i asked questions that i thought were imperative but also allowed for the interviewee to give his thoughts and feed back on the subject. In order to ensure that my interviewee had no influence from anyone else i filmed the interview in the media studies room which is empty most of the time, this also gave my interview and its results more validity. The following are the questions i asked my interviewee and a general idea of the answers he gave, the full answers will be presented in the video.

  1. What makes a good film?
  2. What is your preferred genre?
  3. What would you say is key to a films opening sequence?
  4. What would you expect to see in a science fiction film?
  5. What makes a strong leading character?

The questions i asked turned up some interesting answers that will certainly help me with my production planning, for example question 5 was helpful to me as the response suggested how my protagonist should act in order to create a strong and unbeatable personality.

“they should show some kind of progression through out the film, for example start with a problem they don’t know how to solve and work through it”

I also found question 3 to be another point of interest as this was a question that was tailored specifically to my needs and wasn’t more of a general question like question 1 or 2, it also meant that the answer i received was more insightful and helpful to me.

“I think the opening scene has to introduce the main character / protagonist. They had to show the characteristics of the character and its got to be a relatable person that can either identify with or look up too, for example batman

In conclusion i found this piece of audience research to be the most helpful and insightful as it gave me some truly informative answers which i can now use when planning my production and how all of my separate parts are going to come together for example how my protagonist will be established and so on.

Audience Research – Questionnaire

To further expand my knowledge on what makes a good science fiction/action film according to the public, i decided to release a detailed online survey allowing normal  un-selected people to fill it out giving me good and unbiased answers that i could then take on board and apply to my idea. Below is the layout of my questionnaire, it consists of 4 typed response questions and one selection question, for varieties sake. All the questions i asked where relevant to my topic, i wanted to know what my potential audience thought about science fiction as thats my chosen genre and all the aspects that followed this genre i.e. what would you expect to see? what makes it visually pleasing? etc.

For the first question i received very varied answers as people had different perspectives on what made a good film, most said that the narrative should be easy to follow and relevant to the genre and theme.

The second question gave me a very wide answer base, it ranged from my genre sci-fi to love, adventure, horror etc. this told me that the wider audience enjoy different things allowing me to understand that although i can’t make a film tailored to everyone i can make a film that features small aspects of each of these genres.

The third question turned up some interesting results, the majority said yes to this question meaning my chosen genre was a popular one.

The forth question gave me some interesting information into what makes a film visually pleasing, the main answers were that the film should be good quality, it should flow ell between cuts and if special effects are used they must be well done and seamless.

The fifth question allowed for some interesting answers, many stipulated that a future that differs from ours in one key aspect, a dystopian future would be key to a good story. However some argued that the film should be more realistic and instead of having flying cars it should have normal cars with battery packs on them, many also said that this wouldn’t make for a very interesting film.

In conclusion i have found this questionnaire to be extremely helpful, the answer boxes have provided me with sufficient thoughts and ideas that i can now apply to my idea to make it better.

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