In response to the Host's challenge in Episode 0-2 : How to visually depict the Valar

Anastasia

Member
Hello! I'm Back, I am so so so sorry for being so absent, I got a lot more work than I was expecting, and have had to hit the ground running until now.
I am up to date on the podcast, not the live broadcasts.

Bre:
Using many layers to create a whispy effect would work if we used an incredibly lightweight silk chiffon. The only downside is that no matter what you do you must hem the cloth so that it doesn't fray, so each layer will end up having a more opaque and stiffer edge on it. If you do it right, the edge can be as small as an eighth of an inch, so it probably wouldn't be very obvious on camera. I haven't been able to test anything as yet.

Ouzaru:
I have also been thinking about VFX being applied to the Valar, especially before their descent into Arda and their meeting with the elves. I spoke with the designer I was working for about VFX costumes, and apparently it is very possible, but very expensive. What the team does is the actor basically wears a motion capture suit, and the entire body and costume are created by the VFX team. Your idea about creating a colour for each Vala is a good one. Disney has used this technique to great effect with their princesses. After all, if I say "The Yellow Princess" pretty much everyone knows which one I am talking about :)

Regarding cultural appropriation:
I think that it is possible to use the idea of a native American headdress in a way that is not culturally appropriative. I think that its use, especially on a person of such importance as Manwe, and especially if we hired a native American actor (and probably some native American crew as well), would show a certain respect for the culture and the meaning behind the garment. Nevertheless I, as a white woman, do not feel that it is my place to say whether or not it is actually OK to do so, which is why I am a little squeamish about it.

Bre (the second): I really like your sketches that were inspired by the feathers of birds and how they ruffle them. I think that we could add a little circlet or crown to that and it would look quite lovely.

Regarding the Rankin/Bass:
I have never seen that film, I will have to make a point of watching it. The interpretation of the different immortals is very interesting.
 

Anastasia

Member
Hello again,
I couldn't decide whether to edit my previous post or make a new one, but since I am uploading an image, I thought a new one would be best. I have drawn a rough costume sketch of Bre's Nienna (Post elf-contact)

[GALLERY=media, 52]P1000976 by Anastasia posted Feb 18, 2016 at 8:12 PM[/GALLERY]

What do you think of my interpretation of your artwork Bre? I changed the shape of the sleeves, since I thought a bell sleeve would evoke a teardrop, does that work for you?

My only concern with this costume is one of practicality. I am worried about the veil impeding the audience's view of the actor's face, and thus impeding the performance. We have to keep a hood or veil, since that is literally the only physical costume item that Tolkien describes her having, but I'm not entirely sure how to make it work. There are indeed very transparent fabrics in the world, but I haven't seen any that would not obscure the actor's performance in some way. Bre's drawing has a slit in the front of the veil, which will be helpful, since the set costumers will have the option of pinning back the veil to allow the camera to see her face, while keeping this key piece of costuming on her head. But does pinning back the veil, or uncovering her face in some way defeat the purpose of having a veil at all? I'm having trouble visualizing the logistics of it.

P.S.
Let me know if you can see the image I uploaded, I am trying out a new image posting method.
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I agree that 'veiled' is difficult for the actress, as the entire point of a veil is to obscure the face. Arwen's mourning veil was about as sheer as you can get, but that was for one silent scene.

http://www.alleycatscratch.com/lotr/Elf/Arwen/Mourning/Crown.htm#Veil

Veils can create a sense of mystery. If Nienna's face is often obscured, so that it is difficult to tell what she is thinking....this could be a positive thing, if we want to heighten that aspect of her character. But...probably not.

It would be possible to have the veil down in some scenes, and pinned back in others. A costume design that has that versatility to it would be helpful, I think.



As for FX costumes...I agree that having all of the Valar be in motion capture suits throughout season one is just too much. I think we would be better served by using prosthetics and FX makeup to achieve the other-worldly looks we want. Perhaps one motion-capture character...but not all of them! We don't have to go as far as Jim Henson's creature shop...but that is another option for some characters.
 

Bre

Active Member
What do you think of my interpretation of your artwork Bre? I changed the shape of the sleeves, since I thought a bell sleeve would evoke a teardrop, does that work for you?

My only concern with this costume is one of practicality. I am worried about the veil impeding the audience's view of the actor's face, and thus impeding the performance. We have to keep a hood or veil, since that is literally the only physical costume item that Tolkien describes her having, but I'm not entirely sure how to make it work. There are indeed very transparent fabrics in the world, but I haven't seen any that would not obscure the actor's performance in some way. Bre's drawing has a slit in the front of the veil, which will be helpful, since the set costumers will have the option of pinning back the veil to allow the camera to see her face, while keeping this key piece of costuming on her head. But does pinning back the veil, or uncovering her face in some way defeat the purpose of having a veil at all? I'm having trouble visualizing the logistics of it.

P.S.
Let me know if you can see the image I uploaded, I am trying out a new image posting method.
It looks good! Glad to see my drawing was clear enough, since you seem to have it all there in your own drawing. The addition of the tear shape to the top chest area is a great idea; I think I had mine more squared off.

The teardrop-shaped sleeves are a good idea, and traditionally fits this style of dress more than what I had. One idea to add to that sleeves is to keep the shape you have, but an an extra layer of detail by making a portion of the sleeves slightly more opaque so that opaque shape also is in the shape of a tear:

nienna_sleeve01.jpg

As for the veil blocking the actresses face, I think it adds to her character, or at less visually supports Nienna's character as already depicted in the text. Hiding almost everything but her eyes means there's an emphasize on her eyes; so we have more eye/tear motif stuff. Also, covering her mouth is fine because she's a character of little words , and it provides a challenge to the actress to convey more things just through her eyes, which adds acting variety and would personally be more interesting to watch.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
We do have a near-unlimited budget to work with.... Just saying.
It's not just a budget issue. When your set consists of a bunch of people in motion capture suits interacting with each other in front of a green screen....well, you are quite likely to get lousy performances. Actors rely on their interactions with other actors, so...

Christopher Lee discussing a swordfight with an opponent who isn't there:
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Examples of sheer veils:

[GALLERY=media, 55]Vaire Veil by MithLuin posted Feb 20, 2016 at 3:04 PM[/GALLERY]

[GALLERY=media, 54]Vaire Veil 2 by MithLuin posted Feb 20, 2016 at 3:04 PM[/GALLERY]

I apologize for not knowing the source of these photos. They were from a fashion blog on tumblr, which I no longer have the link to. (I also have to admit that the only reason I have those pictures of veils on my computer is because I intended to use them as inspiration for a Vairë costume, should I ever make that.)
 
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MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
I was wondering if maybe a lace veil would be helpful? Not that you'd typically wear a mantilla over your face, but it could perhaps prevent some obscuring of the face?
 

Bre

Active Member
Since it's relevant to this discussion, I'm going to start hosting some art streams of me working on Silmarillion concept art, and I will probably be spending the first several sessions figuring out costume for the Valar.

The first stream is later today (Feb 27th); more info here.
 

Karita Alexander

Administrator
A veil would be a challenge to act and emote through successfully; however I agree that in this case it lends support to the character of Nienna. If we assume that her veil will not be down for her entire screen time, how and when her veil is drawn back will add impact scenes that feature her. Does she draw back her veil before she speaks, or only before she says something especially momentous like in the case of pleading on Melkor's behalf? What about when she is taking part in the creation of the trees? The impact of those moments can be highlighted beautifully by the choices we make with her veil.

A veil is a garment that is easily laden with symbolic and emotional meaning. I think it is an interesting wardrobe choice for the character associated with sorrow because it raises questions about the character (why does she wear the veil? is it to shield herself or to shield the people around her?) as well as questions about the place of sorrow in our lives and our relative comfort with the expression of mourning.
Speaking for my own home and the culture of it, we are not comfortable around outward expressions of grief..even at a funeral, there is such a thing as crying too much and a palpable pressure for someone who is experiencing sorrow to "move on" as quickly as possible. I don't think that this is because of a general heartlessness or lack of compassion as much as a discomfort with perceived problems that have no easy solution. The quality of being able to muscle through hardship and come out smiling on the other side is celebrated, while the quality of being easily moved to pity or to tears is considered by many to be a sign weakness or naivety.

It is also very visually striking. When I first looked at Bre's Nienna, the veil was the element that caught my attention and imagination most strongly, because it was a choice that I had never considered myself, but made me ask all kinds of questions about how well I really understood the character.
Great work, Bre.
 

Karita Alexander

Administrator
I've been thinking about Ungoliant quite a bit lately and brainstorming some costume ideas for for her.
Being a jewelry person, my mind went to chain art and body necklaces since having a monster-spider-lady is the perfect time to do some impractical things with lines and strands.
I would like to keep the choice of chain fairly lightweight, since it is supposed to evoke spider silk and because I don't want to be too overtly in the territory of what people might consider kinky-sexy getups.
Doubtless there is a time and place for bedazzled body harnesses, but it is not this day.

This is a fairly simple version of something along the lines of what I am imagining:

http://journalistinajumpsuit.com/2011/04/26/lusting-over-nous-savons-chain-art-necklace/

If I made something, I'd try using some spiral shapes that you see in spiderwebs like so:

http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=spider+spiral+web&view=detailv2&&id=E7ECFFCDCD0B40E64AF0EDB2E410C349EF8C27F3&selectedIndex=5&ccid=mciLDIhn&simid=608041703568313686&thid=OIP.M99c88b0c8867f46a02669db9faf0ab82o0&ajaxhist=0

There would be the added challenge of balancing it just right so it doesn't "travel" (ever wear a necklace where the clasp constantly circles to the front?), but we might be able to attach specific points of the jewelry to cloth as needed to circumvent that.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
As pretty and intricate as those outfits are, I kind of think they're too much. Maybe I've spent too much time looking at Grecian art, but I've always imagined the Valar as barely clothed. It seems like another way to underline their understanding of how the children work, too, if they mostly avoid covering themselves until the Children show up.

I haven't got a lot of time at the moment, and am kind of thinking out loud, but my gut reaction to the sketches above is that they feel more like Noldorin costumes, not Valinorian.
 

MithLuin

Administrator
Staff member
Karita, I love the idea of chain jewelry for human-Ungoliant. :) Please look at the costume for Elrond for the Lord of the Rings stage musical - it has allllllll the chains!


Visible at 0:46 and 2:12 in the above promo video, and more clearly below:

 
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Nicholas Palazzo

Well-Known Member
As pretty and intricate as those outfits are, I kind of think they're too much. Maybe I've spent too much time looking at Grecian art, but I've always imagined the Valar as barely clothed. It seems like another way to underline their understanding of how the children work, too, if they mostly avoid covering themselves until the Children show up.

I haven't got a lot of time at the moment, and am kind of thinking out loud, but my gut reaction to the sketches above is that they feel more like Noldorin costumes, not Valinorian.
The only thing I would warn about here is how the Valar, before the arrival of the children at least, would not necessarily look like near-perfectly shaped human forms (as actors/actresses generally tend to have). Having them be at least partially obscured by costume/makeup kind of avoids dealing with that, not to mention keeps the nudity to a dull roar.
 

ouzaru

Well-Known Member
I would be way into maybe some body-paint type make up combined with CGI touches here and there.

And no nipples on anybody, for maximum uncanny-valley creep-out factor.
 

Anastasia

Member
Hello everyone,
I really like all of the points that have been made so far! I have not yet listened to the most recent podcast episode (the war to begin all wars) so forgive me if I have missed anyhing.

Bre: a teardrop within a teardrop in the sleeve can be done. Do you want it to be a less full opaque bell sleeve inside of a fuller transparent sleeve, or do you want it to be an added piece either as part of the bell sleeve or separate from it? (I really need a better way to describe that...) I'm sorry I missed your last livestream, please let me know when you host another one.

Ouzaru: I think that you are right in terms of how the Valar should look before they make contact with the elves, but the images I have been posting have all been post elf-contact, and I have therefore drawn them in human from with clothing. Your concern fits in very well with the concerns MithLuin has been having about CG Valar prior to their discovery of the firstborn.

MithLuin: Regarding MoCap I had a discussion with a VFX artist recently, and he said that it is possible to have many actors being motion captured at once, allowing them to bounce their performances off of each other, which I think would solve the issue you brought up about the performances of the actors. I also think that if we hire good actors this will become even less of a problem, after all, Andy Serkis did an amazing job as Gollum. Based on this, what do you think about having the Valar be mostly CG prior to elf contact? Does this alleviate your concerns at all?

Regarding Nienna's Veil: You have all succeeded in convincing me that the veil is not only not a problem, but will be a really cool character feature. Now, have we divided on a shape? There was some discussion about having her eyes visible, but not the rest of her face, this will be challenging given the current shape of the veil. If we keep the current shape of the veil and just use very transparent fabric, then her whole face will be obscured equally.

Karita: I love your ideas about Ungoliant, I can't wait to draw a concept for them! Ungoliant is as interesting character from the pre/post elf-contact perspective. The consensus seems to be that the Valar take on human shapes after they meet the elves, but I think I remember in the episode about the capture of Nessa that Ungoliant has a more human/pretty shape when she tries to corrupt Nessa, and then takes on spider shape when she realizes that Nessa will not be corrupted. How do you think we will make this work within the framework of elemental Valar before elf-contact, and human-shaped Valar post elf-contact?

I think a really important thing we have to decide right now is exactly how elemental the Valar will be before they meet the elves. The discussion seems to be circling around it but not directly addressing it, and I think we all agree that there will be a difference, but there is confusion (at least for me) about how marked that difference will be. I am all for very elemental shapes with humanoid faces to allow the audience to identify with the characters, I am particularly thinking about the difference between Bre's original concept of Manwe versus my costume sketch. In this case we will rely heavily on the colour scheme of each Vala to identify them pre and post elf-contact. In addition, I would advocate for having the same actor portray each Vala throughout so that at least the face is vaguely similar, despite any elemental changes we might make to it. what does everyone think?
 

Bre

Active Member
Bre: a teardrop within a teardrop in the sleeve can be done. Do you want it to be a less full opaque bell sleeve inside of a fuller transparent sleeve, or do you want it to be an added piece either as part of the bell sleeve or separate from it? (I really need a better way to describe that...) I'm sorry I missed your last livestream, please let me know when you host another one.

Ouzaru: I think that you are right in terms of how the Valar should look before they make contact with the elves, but the images I have been posting have all been post elf-contact, and I have therefore drawn them in human from with clothing. Your concern fits in very well with the concerns MithLuin has been having about CG Valar prior to their discovery of the firstborn.

MithLuin: Regarding MoCap I had a discussion with a VFX artist recently, and he said that it is possible to have many actors being motion captured at once, allowing them to bounce their performances off of each other, which I think would solve the issue you brought up about the performances of the actors. I also think that if we hire good actors this will become even less of a problem, after all, Andy Serkis did an amazing job as Gollum. Based on this, what do you think about having the Valar be mostly CG prior to elf contact? Does this alleviate your concerns at all?

Regarding Nienna's Veil: You have all succeeded in convincing me that the veil is not only not a problem, but will be a really cool character feature. Now, have we divided on a shape? There was some discussion about having her eyes visible, but not the rest of her face, this will be challenging given the current shape of the veil. If we keep the current shape of the veil and just use very transparent fabric, then her whole face will be obscured equally.

Karita: I love your ideas about Ungoliant, I can't wait to draw a concept for them! Ungoliant is as interesting character from the pre/post elf-contact perspective. The consensus seems to be that the Valar take on human shapes after they meet the elves, but I think I remember in the episode about the capture of Nessa that Ungoliant has a more human/pretty shape when she tries to corrupt Nessa, and then takes on spider shape when she realizes that Nessa will not be corrupted. How do you think we will make this work within the framework of elemental Valar before elf-contact, and human-shaped Valar post elf-contact?

I think a really important thing we have to decide right now is exactly how elemental the Valar will be before they meet the elves. The discussion seems to be circling around it but not directly addressing it, and I think we all agree that there will be a difference, but there is confusion (at least for me) about how marked that difference will be. I am all for very elemental shapes with humanoid faces to allow the audience to identify with the characters, I am particularly thinking about the difference between Bre's original concept of Manwe versus my costume sketch. In this case we will rely heavily on the colour scheme of each Vala to identify them pre and post elf-contact. In addition, I would advocate for having the same actor portray each Vala throughout so that at least the face is vaguely similar, despite any elemental changes we might make to it. what does everyone think?
In regards to the teardrop sleeve: an already semi-transparent bell-sleeve with another slightly more opaque tear shape sewn in on the inside. So together, one solid piece.

As for the veil, we do have the bit on the neck that can be pulled up to cover her mouth and lower face, but as for the upper part that drapes down from the headband, which can cover her eyes, that piece is more transparent so we can still see her eyes anyways... plus I imagine her eyes having a subtle light emanating from them to keep them quite visible.

However, would it be possible for that part of the veil covering her eyes to have a transparency gradient somehow? What I mean is can the top part of the veil be more see-through and the lower part more opaque? Maybe just a darker blue dye at the bottom would create an illusion of this... that and the fact that the bottom bit would be covering the darker neck region anyways, making it's transparency less apparent. Hopefully, I'm making sense...

And yeah I think we all agree about keeping the same actors and colors schemes through the Valar's look transitions, but there are a lot of other things thatcan be done as well. For instance, keeping certain motifs that subtly change with each transition, like I have with the bird plumage on Manwe's head slowly lowering with each costume change until it turns into just hair with decorative feathers on a headpiece.

PS The next stream is today (March 12). Same time, same place.
 

Kyle Latino

New Member
I'm a comic guy, and as soon as I started to read the Silmarillion, I immediately started thinking about Jack Kirby. That guy could make any fantasy look credible, no matter cosmic. Whenever he wanted to separate man from gods visually, he did so with ridiculous armor. The solved a similar problem the same way in the Marvel "Thor" movies. We see Kirby's farout design work especially well in movie "Guardians of the Galaxy." In my sketchbook I'm keeping for this project, I want to try messing around which how the Ainur would change greatly in appearance over the different ages. The
versions from the Ainulindalë would certainly look different than when they enter Middle Earth. When Melkor is knocking on Fëanor's door, surely that's not supposed to be a 100ft tall giant, dressed in black plate armor and licking tongues of flame.
8ca8d371f1b8d1f75e872522e28a168c.jpg maO9UtE.png
 
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