Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Movie Reviews--Hunger Games: Mockingjay and the Hobbit: Battle of the five armies

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

It's December and frankly I'm a little sad. There was a time when December meant great excitement for me in terms of movie releases. For a while there every year end we have two great films to look forward to, the next installment of the Harry Potter saga, and The Lord of the Rings. Good times.
Now sadly both enterprises are well and truly done and its a little sad. 

(I must mention here my loathing of all 3D movies and so we searched high and low for a 2D version and watched that. The glasses suck, and peering at the end of my nose for two hours isn't fun and gives me a headache, so no 3D for me.)

Of course, that was never going to stop me going to see the last film offering. Neither was knowing how the story ends, having read the book (s). Nevertheless I went into the theater with a somewhat heavy heart, swearing that I wasn't going to cry for any of it. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, was not going to make me shed one solitary tear. I was armed with popcorn, I would munch and make it through. 

I sat down and I swear that time sped up. I was still only half way through my popcorn when people I had come to think of as almost family, started dying in droves. I cried. You will too.There is no conceivable way to travel halfway through a make believe world with people, have some of them die, and not cry. If there is a way to do that, I haven't learnt it.

The action was good and well put together, but what else would you expect? Peter Jackson has had a little practice with this sort of thing after all. I thought the performances were good, they swept me back into Middle Earth with barely any visible effort at all. It was great to see Saruman the White as he was when he was great, and Elrond as more than an afterthought and delivering one of the movie's best lines ever! 

And then the battle proper started and though there were some gaping holes that my husband and I are still going, "What?" over (watch it, you'll know what we mean.) it was a lovely end to the Hobbit saga. Peter Jackson and his team did a lovely job again. As a film on its own this final chapter felt a little lacking, but as the final piece of the Hobbit puzzle it was just right.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1

I know that this film has been out since November but with small children you tend to miss a lot. So when my mother said she'd take my son for a few days holiday, I grabbed the opportunity to rush to the movies to see something other than wholesome family entertainment. 

I was glad I did. I had watched the other films in the series and quite enjoyed them. Katniss is a strange character and it has been nice to see her grow. This film is really very good, even on its own. I really enjoyed the character development; understanding more about their society, and Gale, poor thing, who has really been in the shadows all the way through. I found it absorbing and compelling. The performances were once again great. I didn't miss the lull in the action very much, because there was so much else going on. I felt that there was a whole lot of story happening and I'm a character and story junkie. If I love the characters, I'll forgive a lot as an audience member. Having said that, I didn't find anything that I had to bleep over to make it all work.

Part 1 is a great build up to what will have to be the downfall of Snow. I'm eager for the last installment. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Unite 4 Mandela -- Walk, Run, Ride and Dance

Unite for Mandela-- Sports and Culture Day
One man, one nation, one celebration.

The 22nd dawned bright and breezy with only a few clouds high above the Union Buildings in the city of Tswane. I know this because, like the rest of our crew (long with On PointPR), we'd been awake since before the birds even entertained the notion of singing in the new day.

The Union Buildings in the city of Tswane (Pretoria)

After a quick cuppa at the Sheriton Hotel we made our way across Stanza Bopape Street (formerly Church Street) into the spacious grounds of the Union Buildings. Officials and participants were already onsite, and the atmosphere was building.

We quickly got ourselves set up in the Media Hub and then rushed out to capture the day on film. This was a first for us, mingling with the crowd, right in among the riders, runners and walkers, capturing 15 to 30 second snippets and posting them instantly to Social Media. It was intense!

Minister Fikile Mbalula

Top 3 ladies

Some of the highlights of the day were being there to see the winners cross the finish line, and seeing the joy and excitement on all the participants', and supporters' faces. There was a wonderful feeling of unity and peace that pervaded the day, with people from all walks of life smiling, joking and supporting each other. This veteran cyclist had this to say about the day:

 The Colour Run was a wonderful fun run event that really did see all the participants united as a rainbow nation. Pelted with coloured dust the runners emerged from the event, happy, smiling, laughing and in great spirits.

 Colour Run

The cultural event was hosted on the main stage and saw scores of people standing in the hot sun, jiving along to their favourite local stars. On stage were the likes of Lira, Kurt Darren, the Parlatones, AKA, Desmond and the Tutus and others.

Kurt Darren 


From the Inkblot crew at the event, we would like to congratulate the participants in the events and tell them that they are all winners in our book.
We had a great day and hope that everyone there had one too.

Monday, 1 September 2014

National Book Week

National Book Week is a wonderful initiative from the South African Book Development Council. This group of dedicated individuals aims to make reading a national past time. They have been holding a yearly event for the last five years but this year is special, this year is big, this year they're going places. In fact they are going all over the country in a funky wrapped bus. With their new mascot Funda Bala, they are planning to hand out around R1 million worth of books to children in the various indigenous languages.

Inkblot Pictures was so very happy when On Point PR offered us the opportunity to help them design and create the graphics and TV promo for this exciting project. As awesome as we are, we needed a little help in the design and animation sectors for this, and so called on our good buddies, Paul Loubser (character design) and James Finnemore (animation). They were totally excited and pulled off little bits of magic to help us make this a wonderful, exciting graphic project.

Costume based on Paul Loubser's mascot design:
Funda Bala The NBW Mascot

This year the SABDC wanted a bus wrapped in a design especially for this week of touring. So Crispin took elements from James and Paul's work and whipped them up into a lovely wrap, that you can see here on the bus.

The covered NBW tour bus

The TV promo was not only James' excellent skills, but also required my writing, Crispin's voice direction and the mixing skills of Final Fade (another of our friendly suppliers.) to pull it off. Here it is.

And then once all of that hard work was done, the mascot costume was made and everything was ready, we received invites to come and film the launch. We were so excited!

Friday 29 August 2014 was possibly one of the coldest days of this Highveld winter. The wind was howling through the buildings in Parktown, chilling everything as it went. The only thing it didn't freeze was everyone's enthusiasm for this project. The launch was held at Emoyeni, the home of the first Minister of Finance for South Africa, Mr Henry Hull.


When we pulled into the parking lot with the Funda Bala costume blocking Crispin's view out of the back window, the first thing saw was the covered bus. We were so excited to see the wrap design on the actual bus that we almost forgot why we were there. But it was all covered in black material and we couldn't see a thing!

So we got work delivering the costume, made for us by Hollywood Costumes. Carrying the costume in the gusting wind was interesting, but we managed to get it on board the bus to wait for the unveiling. Then we found our way inside the mansion turned conference venue, to the warmth and possibly the best cup of coffee ever. It was smooth, and warm and someone else made it... but I digress.

It wasn't long before things got under way. We were entertained with poetry by Paul Said, with a great performance from Kwesukela, and insightful speeches by various speakers including the CEO and the Chairperson for the SABDC, and the Minister for Arts and Culture Mr Nathi Mthethwa.

Jenna Dover Reading to Children

Jenna Dover reading to children

While all of this was going on in the one hall, children from Cotlands had been playing quietly in another room. As we were ushered outside to see the unveiling of the bus, the children joined us, wrapped up against the cold. We all stood in the chilly air and waited as the Minister cut the ribbon, the black cloth came down and there was our handy work, all over the bus!

The NBW Tour bus

NBW Tour bus 

The NBW front of tour bus

Suddenly Funda Bala jumped out of the bus, the kids went nuts for him and soon the Minister and his Deputy were engaging with the children while the media snapped pic after pic. We even got a few.

Then it was story time and the Minister and his Deputy went back inside to read to the children.

It was a very special launch for such a great cause. We loved being a part of it.

Of course since today is 1 September, it's not only Spring Day, it's also the day that the bus leaves from Emoyeni and begins the week long journey across this fair country of ours. At each and every stop that they make, there will be fun events and Funda Bala will be handing out those precious books to the children in their own languages.

Personally I think that books are worth more than all the diamonds and gold in the world. A book can take you out of your own skin and put you in another. There is no better way to explore the world of human knowledge, imagination and experience, than through books. We can go back in time or shoot into the future, we can visit worlds that were, that are or that never will be all by casting our eyes across a page. The skill of reading is vital and without it we have seen what happens. A country that doesn't read, can't grow.

So I leave you with this fabulous little voxie from Shaka Sisulu.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Inkblot & Gaming

Gaming and The Multimedia Industry

The long awaited B.A.D blog. Here it is, enjoy.

A couple of weeks ago the guys from Celestial, a local gaming company, came to see us. And being the righteous dudes they are, they came bearing gifts-- well a gift actually. They have been developing a new game and wanted us to cut a video from footage they recorded while playing.

Inkblot is nothing if not totally excited to try something new and fab, so we said, "bring it!" They also threw in a copy of the game. So there we were all fired up and ready to edit. But in order to get a feel for the game itself, entitled, Battle Arena Drones or BAD for short, we naturally had try it out.
Shot of game play from B.A.D

The plan was to play for a couple of minutes and then get to work. But you know what they say about well laid plans and all that. Yeah this one went that way... What felt like minutes later, but was actually A LOT LATER, we emerged happy and baying for more. 
The game itself is wonderfully chaotic and seen from the drones' P.O.V with real-world physics. So for some of us it was a rather unsettling experience in the stomach area. It was awesome!
Firing weapon in B.A.D

A kill in B.A.D
Putting a video together from this material was a bit of a challenge with 3 drones' footage to combine. The idea was to capture the mayhem of the gaming experience, while making it fun to watch. This was a little tricky, so we asked Justin Greenberg from Jackalberry Studios, one of our talented colleagues, to give it a bash.
We also asked Crispin from Inkblot what it was like to work on the video since he did all the voice recordings and syncing. This is their video.

Video on working on the BAD video

To watch the final video we produced, go to http://youtu.be/b3RW_8CC2JE

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Wrapping the Blot-Mobile

The Blot-Mobile Transformation

After doing the Wrap Video a while ago, we decided to let Manny and his crew take a shot at wrapping Crispin's X Trail. It went in all gold and came out... well we're happy with it. We think it looks great.

Take a look and let us know what you think.

Friday, 9 May 2014

TV Shows

TV show renewal

By Yolanda Stopforth

This blog is mostly about me and TV. I know self-indulgent, but my other more official blog is on hold due to availability issues, and so since I need to do something for my pay, here is a little "Me Blog."

There comes a time in every TV show's life when it is under the microscope. This tends to happen for American shows at the end and beginning of the year. Most shows seem to run until around now and then the new season starts again around August. This makes May a tense time for some folks overseas to see whether they definitely have a new season or not. 

The tension also runs to fans.Will we get more time with our favorites or will we have to go and find new shows to watch, new characters to fall in love with and care about?  Will Arrow get another season? How about Revenge, Castle or even Supernatural? How much more can the Winchesters really take? Will we ever get to see Agent Ward strung up like the treacherous little git that he is? I most certainly do hope so. 

So what makes a great show great? What is it that makes people want more and more of that particular story? And how do network execs know what we want? I suppose a good way to judge if a show is any good is to see how many eye-balls are glued to the TV when it's on. Of course short of massive home invasion I'm not sure how you do that. Just working out what channel the TV is on doesn't mean a thing. I have walked into my lounge expecting to find my 5 year old glued to the screen, only to find he's off in the garden riding his own dragons. (When you're 5 who needs other people's imaginations.) and I have often used DSTV as a cure for insomnia.

Of course there is always a more logical and serious answer to what makes a great show. I believe that what makes a great show great is the whole ensemble. It's everything about the show, how its written, acted, shot and edited. It's the magic of a whole lot of people getting together to make something wonderful. Whether the outcome is truly something mind-blowingly entertaining or just another sitcom, the collaboration is the power behind the whole thing. And I admire that.

If I'm totally honest about what I like about shows then I have to own up and say: I'm a character lover. If I connect with and enjoy your character, you are guaranteed my time. However if your character is plastic, unbelievable or just not the kind of person I want to associate with, then forget it, no amount of plot twists and turns will ever get me to watch your show.  I'm just wired that way.

Some shows are very much a plot based concept like Game of Thrones which I find impossible to watch. However something that is hugely based on character like Bones or Castle is right up my alley. Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with Game of Thrones, it's just not my cup of tea or vodka. But then neither is How I met your Mother, or The Big Bang Theory. It's all personal taste. (And I like a glass of good red wine.)

Usually I find that the shows I am nuts about, like Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, or Firefly, get cancelled way earlier than I am comfortable with. This year I must say the network folk plugged into my mind and didn't cancel anything that I am currently in love with. I am such a lucky girl this time around. However if something you love got cancelled, call me up and I'll commiserate, (promise). (There might even be a glass of wine in it, although it'll have to be for own account in your own space.)

Here is a list of shows that have made the grade and you can enjoy a whole season of your favorite character's antics.
Castle, Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, Once Upon A Time, Agents of Shield and Modern Family, The Amazing Race, The Big Bang Theory, Blue Bloods, Criminal Minds, CSI, Elementary, The Good Wife, Hawaii Five-O, Mike & Molly, NCIS, NCIS L A, Person of Interest, Survivor, 2 Broke Girls, Two and a Half Men, Undercover Boss, The Millers, Mom, Arrow, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Reign, Whose Line is it Anyway?, Sleepy Hollow, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bob's Burgers, Bones, Family Girl, The Following, Glee, Hell's Kitchen, Masterchef, Masterchef Junior, The Mindy Project, New Girl, The Simpsons, American Dad, The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, Celebrity Apprentice, Grimm, Parks and Recreation, The Voice and Chicago PD. 

Check out the web for more info.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Inkblot Pictures @ Wrap Vehicles

10 and 11 APRIL 2014 – By Yolanda Stopforth
Welcome to The Inkblog. This is where all the fun, exciting or new stuff, we at Inkblot Pictures have been up to, will be highlighted.
 So what do we do? A good question. Inkblot Pictures is a Media House. Filming corporates, TV shows and short films all fall into our scope. We've even been known to pen a script or two if the muse takes us, and design a few websites, and the odd set of business cards. It's an exciting business to be in with every day bringing something new.
 This week we had a really cool job to do. We were asked by Wrap Vehicles to come and see them do something new and funky. So we said okay what you gonna do? They said that they were going to wrap a car in chrome.
 Being a bit of a girly-girl my immediate reaction was, "Chrome? What is that and why would you wrap your car in it? Seriously…?"
 Needless to say I was a little sceptical about the shoot, thinking "car, yadda-yadda, blah-blah!" And then we arrived at Wrap Vehicles, and my whole understanding of pimping out a car changed.

Wrap Vehicles and Fineline Design

 The first thing that I noticed about Wrap Vehicles was their unwavering friendliness, their enthusiasm and their attention to detail. Walking into that workshop was like walking into a totally new and funky world filled with rolls of vinyl, massive printers, heat guns and cars.
Inkblot Pictures at Wrap Vehicles

It took us a moment or two to set up and get to work filming, as a generic white Audi A1 became an awesome, driving, marketing tool. Here’s a pic of the car in its un-vinyled state.

Manny and his team of specialist applicators set about their business with a refreshing professionalism. The emphasis on detail and the speed at which they worked was truly amazing. I found myself liking them and even getting interested in the product.
And that’s when the Chrome came out. It was already cut and had the backing sheet, so I couldn’t really get the impact of the graphic, (as the pics will show) but the brilliant blue hit me like a cold morning breeze. I watched as they set it out and measured, and changed a thing or two, and then measured again, getting everything just right.


The Blue Chrome that they put on this car, is the ONLY roll of this material in the country at the moment. And this was the first time that Manny and his team ever wrapped a car in this type of vinyl. With the cost of this material being rather high, the pressure was most certainly on.

Blue Chrome on an Audi A1

The vinyl itself has the most amazing properties. It can be applied, pulled up, stretched, re-heated and then re-applied. I was totally blown away. Why can’t more things be as flexible? Like payments on my credit card.  
In light of my new-found enthusiasm, I asked Manny if there were perhaps some questions that people should ask before they have a wrap done on their vehicle, and here are his

Manny's Tips for Vehicle Wrapping
Of course since I am totally in love with the idea of vinyl on my car now, I really will have to go get the little dent in my left back panel fixed…not my fault- honest. Manny makes it all sound so easy, so simple and his in-house design team make the whole process hassle free.

So why do the vinyl? Well apart from making your car look great, it also protects your paint and if you are a business, it’s constant, mobile advertising. Now what could be better?
With the final touches applied to the car and everything reattached, all that remained was to drive it out into the morning sun:

The Chrome Wrapped Audi

Crispin and I had a wonderful time on this shoot and would like to thank Wrap Vehicles for the opportunity to work with them.

The Wrap Vehicles Team and Inkblot
The Inkblog will return…
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