Friday, May 31, 2013

Terrible Terror Info Card

This is the second info card I sent my friend. It is of the adorable Terrible Terror! I actually asked him his favorites before making these things, so he hopefully got exactly what he wanted! I honestly feel that my gift could never live up to his! You should have seen the stuff he got me! Some day we will have to write out exactly how it all happened! For now, I hope you like the info card! 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Toothless Info Card

This is one of two little cards I made for my great friend AddyD!! I sent them to him for Snoggletog, so these little photographs actually come to you from Germany. Anyway. The idea is to have a small nifty little image on the front of the card, and some useful dragon info on the back. The back has three sections: First a basic intro and description of Toothless, then a series of quotes that concern him, and lastly the stats that were given by the Book of Dragons. I like the card idea, and I may wind up making more!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to Train your Dragon! My favorite movie of all time...why? Entry 11

Next entry! Wow...eleven already! I wonder how many of these I will be able to do. Hopefully lots more! Eleven definitely does not even begin to explain the why I like this movie so much! Alright, this entry will once again be on the graphics and design of HTTYD rather than the heart and soul of the film. Still, as I have said before, the spectacular quality of the visuals was a HUGE aid in conveying the powerful story of the film!

This entry will be on texturing! Texturing in animation is just giving surfaces a, well, texture! It is also called surfacing, and it is one of the most critical things in an animated movie. Why? Surfacing is what gives a movie quite a lot of its realism. Along with lighting, texturing has a huge affect on what the audience sees the movie as. With a dramatic or thematic film, you can often have texturing and lighting that are not realistic, but they drive the point and the feel home to the audience. So what was the texturing of HTTYD?

How to Train your Dragon's graphics team strove for the absolute BEST texturing they could achieve. You can really tell! Some movies do not try and be hyper realistic with texture because it clashes with the feel of the film. Tangled would be a good example. The texturing in that film was intentionally a bit smooth and overly perfect because it was meant to be a gorgeous fairytale. HTTYD is NOT meant to be a fairytale! The surfacing is hyper realistic, and it is almost shockingly deep! Characters' skin will have scars, scuffs, and even dirt! Hair is not perfect. Vests and leather are scratched and worn. Wood is stained, and rock is smoothed by wear. The dragons' scales are gorgeous and yet the have little scuffs and scratches from a lifetime of battle. The film's texturing is gobsmackingly real! So what did this achieve?

For one, the "Impressive Factor" shot through the roof! People who watch the movie come away amazed at the technical artistry and beauty of such a realistic world. In a day where animated movies are all at each other's throats over who can come out with the most stunning visuals, HTTYD stands tall. It draws the viewers into a world of fantasy, but the world is so realistically lit and surfaced that it feels like you can walk right in! It is a POWERFUL way to connect with an audience. You want them to care about the hero, the problem, and the plot, so how do you make them? Well one way HTTYD did was by making them feel that this world was REAL. It is not a fairytale; it is not some children's fantasy. The movie lives and breaths like an action movie, and in doing so it puts itself on the level with AMAZING films, even LotR (please don't strangle me! It is just my opinion!)! Audiences find themselves wishing they could walk into this world because they feel so close to it already! They see how real it is, and it makes them feel that maybe, just maybe, all this could exist. THAT makes them care! Hiccup is no longer a cartoon, he is a person in a world that feels shockingly real and yet shockingly beautiful. The texture, lighting, and animation were extremely powerful tools in this film!

In the end, with all this texture, who wouldn't want to reach out and touch this world? Who wouldn't want to have a Forbidden Friendship with Toothless? Who wouldn't want to reach out, trust, and then suddenly feel that living, breathing, trusting, scaly snout pressing into your palm? That is the power of texture, lighting, animation, and PLOT!!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hideous Zippleback Sepia Drawing

This is another of my relatively quick sepia sketches. Just a line art; no shading or real color. I really love the Zippleback, and it is quite a fun and challenging dragon to draw. Usually it is tricky to draw one really good looking dragon head, but with the Zippleback, that challenge doubles! They are very complex and beautiful dragons. Honestly I don't think they get half the love or respect they deserve! They are just so unique, cool, interesting, and vibrant! Definitely one of the most unique and amazing dragons I have seen in fiction (but it still does not hold a candle to Toothless)!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

An explanation that needs to be given!

I think I would like to explain something about my art. Hopefully this entry will not bore you, but I want to write it so as to explain a weird trait I see in myself. Maybe this could be interesting, and it will certainly keep you from coming to a wrong conclusion about what I think of the film!
Alright, the thing I am going to discuss is Toothless. There is a funny thing about him and my art, and that is that I draw TONS of him! Over the last three years I would not be surprised if I drew around a thousand rough sketches of him. I LOVE this dragon, and so I have watched the movie over and over again studying every little detail of him. So...what is the big deal? Here is what I want to explain. Of my hundreds of HTTYD drawings, there are honestly very few with Hiccup. Why? Do I not like Hiccup? Is Toothless actually my real favorite character? Do I not like the bond between them enough to draw them together? My answer to all these questions would be no. If I HAD to pick a favorite character in HTTYD it would be a really hard choice! Luckily I will not make that choice. I like Hiccup and Toothless fairly evenly, so why do I draw hundreds of Toothlesses and only a couple Hiccups? I think the answer is a strange one...
I draw Toothless a lot because that is what Hiccup does! When I sit down to draw Hiccup, I suddenly feel a bit odd. I feel strange tacking a Hiccup sketch to the wall. Why? I think it is because you rarely see Hiccup drawing himself, but he is always drawing Toothless. In a way, I feel like drawing Hiccup is, well this is odd to confess, kind of drawing myself! I feel odd plastering the walls with the pictures of the guy who I really, really want to be like. Maybe it is because it a reminder that I am NOT him!! Anyway, that is a brief explanation on why I do art the way I do! In many ways I draw and admire Toothless because Hiccup draws and admires Toothless, and hopefully we draw, admire, and love him for the same reasons!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Toothless is feeling hungry

Hello friends!
I just felt like using my video-program again to do something dragonific.
This is what I came up with:

Let me know what you think of it in the comments below :)

Greetings from Dresden, Germany

Thursday, May 23, 2013

HTTYD Pet Peeve number 2

When you really like HTTYD, certain things suddenly bother you. Tiny things that most people wouldn't notice. You're not going to KILL anyone for doing them, but they irritate you seriously. My first pet peeve was listed earlier as being blue Night Furies. Honestly, that pet peeve probably only bugs me HALF as much as this one I am about to discuss. Thankfully, as far as I can see, this annoyance is relatively rare, but it is still there. My second pet peeve is Hiccup haters!

Whoa, hold on. What do you mean by Hiccup haters? What I mean by Hiccup haters is pretty broad, but I can think of two types of them and these two types often merge together. The first type is the one who simply criticizes him on a surface level. They talk about him as a movie entity and they criticize things like voice acting or animation. They attack what they consider to be plot holes or ideas that he has that they feel are stupid. Granted, these people really bug me, but I can listen to them and try and defend my little hero. The other type might be worse! These people watch the film and root for everyone except for Hiccup! That can be anyone from Snotlout, to Astrid, to Alvin! I honestly have found a lot of them to be super dedicated Astrid fans. I think the connection could be in the way Hiccup thinks and acts and the way Astrid thinks and acts. Hiccup is a risk taker and a world changer. Astrid is a much more traditional person, and she does not rush into plans until she knows she is prepared for them. So Astrid is often critical of Hiccup (sometimes for a good reason) in the film and series, and that leads to the Astrid fans being critical of him as well. The general pattern I see in these kinds of people (not just the Astrid fans but Hiccup haters in general) is to watch the movie or the episodes and literally cheer when bad things happen to Hiccup! They sit back and give a "Ha, you asked for that!" I can think of many instances where they do it. One would be when Hiccup is struck by lightning. Are they concerned? No, they think it is funny! Next might be when Hiccup frees Mildew from the Outcast jail. When Mildew betrays Hiccup at the end these people sit there and say "Well duh! I mean, what kind of idiot frees his enemy?" The Hiccupish kind of idiot who also freed a downed Night Fury that's who!! So anyway if you want to be nice to me, please don't attack Hiccup. Don't insult him. Don't try and pull out his flaws. Don't call him whiney, rebellious, aggravating, or stupid. It really actually does bug me!

Oh, and please don't think that I am not an Astrid fan! I like her a lot, it is just that I often see a connection between hardcore Astrid lovers and people who are hyper critical of Hiccup. If you are one of these people, that is perfectly ok! You can like the movie and the characters in your own way! Just please don't sit next to me while we watch the episodes and vent attacks on Hiccup's personality!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Cheat Sheet: Replica

This is Hiccup's Test Drive cheat sheet! I did this drawing a couple of months ago, and I do rather like it! I usually keep it hung up in my room (along with around twenty other HTTYD sepia drawings and sketches). You can see it clearly in the scene when he is pointing at. This picture looks better in person because I am not a great photographer! It is close to actual size (at least if Hiccup's hands are the same size as mine!). It is fairly accurate in color and sketching. Also, I did pay close attention to how the edges of the paper were cut in the film, and this replica is accurate-ish in that respect. Hope you all like it. 

How To Train Your Dragon! My favorite movie of all time...why? Entry 10

Alright, it's been a little while since I've posted one of these, but my internet has been trying to kill me! These entries take a little bit more time and a little bit more thought to create, but I believe I have gotten my thoughts together and my schedule in order! This will be another entry on the medium of HTTYD, not the heart of it. As I said before, the heart of the movie is what really matters, but the medium expresses it, and the medium of HTTYD is stunningly moving and beautiful! I can't just overlook it because it is really such a huge part of why I love the film even if it is not the main reason.

This entry will be on animation. Now, I need to define that term. Animation in CGI movies is really just making things, particularly characters, move. So that sounds pretty simple, right? Well it may be a simple thing, but it INCREDIBLY important! If the animators don't do a good job making the characters move, then you wind up with a movie that is dead and lifeless. If you get good animators, you can practically read a characters mind just by their hand gestures or facial expressions! HTTYD had GOOD animators! It is often subtle, but it is incredibly human. Hiccup, Stoick, Astrid, Gobber, all these characters have a certain human feel about them because the animators did their job! They were not sloppy, each character has a way that he or she expresses themselves. Wether it is Gobber throwing a sarcastic look or Hiccup pleading with his tight and then flailing hand gestures, all the animation is ridiculously brilliant! It makes the characters feel real, feel alive! You don't want to connect your emotions to a robot, you want to connect your emotions to a person! A big part of being a person is expressing yourself through your movement, wether you notice it or not! 

I particularly love Hiccup's mannerisms in the film! If you will note in the image above, Hiccup can actually pull some gestures that his mentor and father do as well! Realism! You think he just comes up with these on his own. His hands, his face, there is such a depth and range of emotion that he displays in the film! It really is brilliant, and it brings him out as such a great character! You feel like you know the guy! You can connect with him because he acts so much like a real person! He uses his hands to talk, he uses his facial expressions to convey emotion. Animating is a TOUGH job! One slip and a perfectly human character comes across as being robotic. No such slip for Hiccup. He is wonderfully fun to watch, and I love even the way he moves!

Next, Toothless! Good grief! If ever there was an award for character with the best animation, that dragon would win hands down! Why? Toothless cannot speak. Hiccup can talk, and even though we often feel his emotions through his facial expressions and gestures, he does eventually tell us how he feels. Toothless is not so lucky. The dragon's mood is only able to be expressed by his animation. He is an animal character and does not have many humanoid traits. This makes it all the harder. He must remain bestial while conveying humanish emotions. Complexity heaps upon complexity! How on earth are you going to get the audience to know what this dragon is thinking, feeling, wishing, dreaming!? Then into this fray jumps Gabe Hordos! He was Toothless's head animator, and he did a spectacular job! Toothless has many traits of common pets like dogs, cats, and even horses. Why? Because people know how those animals express themselves, they know what it is like to bond with that kind of animal. Now take out all of the less pleasant pet traits, toss in some epic dragonish ones, and you get Toothless! The result is stunning! There is no question about reading Toothless's emotions! The audience can see them like an open book! His movements remain realistic and animal like, yet he can express emotions that are deep and human! His range of thought is not just, happy, angry, hungry, sad. He can come across as thoughtful, curious, compassionate, caring, loving, grieving, teasing, and many, many more extremely deep emotions! He is not just a surface level character, and his animation allows him to express himself in a truly open way! It is really quite something, and I have yet to see any animated animal be handled better!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

HTTYD Funnies number 2

So, when you spend an HUGE amount of time thinking about HTTYD, sometimes funny things happen, and sometimes they are only funny if you get the context. This next HTTYD related funny is probably the oldest one! Yep, three years ago. Man time has flown since then, but I still love Hiccup and Toothless just as much (if not more).

Alright on to the story. After my younger brother and I watched HTTYD we were immediately humongous fans! We bought up tons of merchandise, and I wound up buying the video game even though I did not have a system to play it on! We put all this merchandise in one room, and when friends would come over who had a game system, they would bring their system and we would play the HTTYD video game. Then that wound up also being the room in which we watched the HD trailer for the movie over, and over, and over, and over again! So, yes, this story has something to do with this particular room. While all this cool HTTYD stuff was happening someone gave my mother potpourri, and my mother did not really know where to put it. It wound up in that certain room. At first it was noticeable, but before long we never noticed the scent and we went on playing the game in that room, watching the trailer, messing with the merchandise, and just doing typical fan stuff. Then we left to go to my grandmother's house. We were gone for a week, and when I returned something really strange happened...

I walked into that room, smelled the extremely strong potpourri, and I thought to myself "It smells like How to Train your DRAGON in here...". But then I thought, "Oh no, that is just weird and stupid! Orange peachy scents have absolutely nothing to do with HTTYD, so why do I even think that?" I walked out of the room for a minute and then came back in. My brother was standing in the middle of the room sniffing. He gave me a thoughtful look and then said, "Man, it smells like How to Train your DRAGON in here!" My jaw dropped! It was hilarious! Who would have thought that weird potpourri would make us both think the EXACT same thing! We could not believe it! Funny how fandom works that way. Weird things happen when you live in the world of dragons and vikings!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dragon Journal pages 9-10

We are sadly drawing near to the end of my Night Fury pages, but that still leaves a Nadder and a Gronckle! These pages are dedicated to the Night Fury in battle. All of this is free hand. Some of these techniques are a little tricky to notice in the film, but they are there. I hope you like them! As usual there is a translation key for the anglo saxon runes in my first post concerning this journal.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Dragon Journal pages 7-8

These next pages are dedicated to the lifestyle of Toothless. That means pretty much eating and sleeping. Other dragons' lifestyle pages will include how they act as infants and how they interact with their own kind, but due to his solitary status, we have never and may never see those kinds of things with Toothless. These images were all free handed, so you never actually see Toothless doing exactly what these images portray. That makes drawing them harder, but in the end it really is worth it! If you want to translate the page, the translation key is with the first of these journal posts. Hope you like it!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Looking Back...

This is one of my earliest HTTYD drawings. Man, the dvd had not even been released yet! Those were the days when HTTYD was everywhere! Advertisements, conversations, events, birthday parties, everybody loved that film! There was a lot of hype and excitement, and I was right in the middle of it! I convinced at least twelve people to go and watch the film, and I went to it three times in theaters. Then the hype and excitement died down, and we got no new HTTYD stuff until GotNF thirteen months later! That was a long wait, and it has been a really strange, but really cool three years of loving this movie! What is strange is that I think I might love the movie even MORE now than I did then! Even with no hype, even with no crowds wanting to discuss it with me, even with no birthday parties, or theater showings, HTTYD is STILL just as amazing! I feel like it has gripped me even more as I have watched it over these years, and I honestly hope and think that I will love this movie just as much as I do now for the rest of my life! 

HTTYD Funnies

So, after having been a fan for about three years now, I have had the rare, but fun, experience of events that happen to or with me that are both funny and HTTYD related!

I'll post these occasionally. I already mention the arena spectacular incident with the lady not know what a Night Fury was and then telling me that it was blue. I will tell that whole story sometime because there were a couple other hilarious events after that! This entry will be on something a little less  epic than the arena show.

I was out with my dad. He was shopping for clothes. It was really pretty boring. We got into a section of weather jackets. He started trying some on, and I started just browsing around. I was not all that interested in anything, but then I saw a sleeveless, brown, vest like jacket. Funny thing was that I was already wearing a long sleeve green shirt. Just to take a look, I slipped it on and started to walk to a mirror. My dad saw me, and said "You like sleeveless jackets?" Before I got the guts to tell him what I was doing, he started and gave me a really funny look. He was just mid sentence about some fashion related statement when he stopped and went, "Oh NO you DON'T! I know what you are doing!" I couldn't help but laugh! He was chuckling looking at me standing their in that brown vest. He couldn't believe that I was going to use a clothes shopping trip to try and look Hiccupish, but he was familiar enough with Hiccup's outfit and my personality to figure out what I was up to REALLY quickly! No I did not buy the vest, but it was funny to see that he guessed what I was doing immediately!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A really cool gift!

Haha! Someone actually made this for me as a graduation present! It was completely unexpected! Man, extremely cool that they thought of me! This is the second Toothless cake ever made for me, so that is pretty cool!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Dragon Journal pages 5-6

Next journal pages! These pages are dedicated to Toothless's head, both its anatomy and its range of expressions. Hope you like it. Honestly, I am considering expanding this page sometime in the future, because two pages simply are not enough to capture all the properties of his head and his expressions! As usual, the image is in full HD, so if you open it in a new window, you should get to see the details. If you want to read it, there is a translation key several journal entries back. Thanks for looking!

Monday, May 13, 2013

How To Train Your Dragon! My favorite movie of all time...why? Entry 9

Alright, sadly we must now move away from the real "heart issues" of HTTYD. Those were tons of fun to write, but I think I have expressed all of them that I can think of to the best of my ability. Still, a great story needs a great medium to flow through. I scratched the surface of this in my fifth entry, but I am coming back to it now. One of the reasons HTTYD is such a great movie is the visuals. As if the story was not beautiful enough on its own, DreamWorks used their amazingly talented artists and technicians to make the look of the movie every bit as beautiful as the heart of the film itself.
First off, I already have mentioned that it was filmed like a live action movie. In entry five, though, I was mostly referring to the plot and physics. In these next entries, I am referring to gorgeous lighting, texturing, animation, voice acting, camera work, and soundtrack. All of these facets of the movie contributed highly, and they made the amazing plot into an incredibly beautiful, pleasant, and gripping experience. 
My first filmography based entry....the LIGHTING! Good grief this movie had the most splendid lighting! Roger Deakins intentionally made the lighting highly realistic. Each day, the light is slightly different. You have certain days where it is overcast and others where it is brilliantly sunny. The surfaces absorbed these different lights, and it gave the movie an incredibly realistic and pretty look! Some scenes are dark because they would realistically be dark. The scene where Stoick rejects Hiccup is a great example. Light comes only from the door. This leaves characters faces often in the dark, but man the realism and terror given off by just that simple minimalistic lighting is brilliant! The light in the movie bounced into the environments and brings them to life. The ocean, the cove, the dragon arena, the romantic flight, all these scenes are brought to life by the simple beauty of light. You have sunsets, you have moonlight, you even get the aurora borealis! The different lights used in different times really helped this movie feel like you could stand up and walk right in. This was a perfect mix of semi realistic shapes, astonishing texturing, and gorgeously convincing light. I will deal with those former two later, but for now, I would highly encourage any of you reading this to appreciate the simple beauty of the light in HTTYD. Look how it bounces off Toothless, watch the glint off of Astrid's axe, and appreciate the intense look of the dragon mound. The lighting in this movie was one of the many things that drew me in and made me love it! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Digital Painting of HTTYD 2 Hiccup

So, after about 12 hours of work, I have finally finished my digital painting! This is Hiccup in his aged, HTTYD 2 version! His costume is pretty complicated, and the images I have seen of it have been vague, so my painting is probably not completely accurate. This image is HUGE! Please open it in a new window in order to see it fully. I really hope you like this. Doing people is challenging for me, and I have a difficult time making digital paintings look good. Please enjoy it, and feel free to comment! Looking forward to HTTYD 2!!

Friday, May 10, 2013

HTTYD pet PEEVE! Number 1

Know one knows how it happened, but sometime in the dark, rough, and dangerous path of production, Toothless was advertised as being blue, and ever since the blue Toothless has remained to haunt my life! I can't stand him being portrayed as blue! He is CLEARLY black in the film! Yes, in certain lighting he can have a bluish tint, but he is still black in natural lighting. In certain scenes he looks grey, but do people tell me he is grey? NO! They just ask me why he is portrayed in advertisements as being blue.

True story. I walked up to the shop of the Arena Spectacular (you have no idea how excited I was), and I began to point out the objects on the shelf I wanted to purchase. I pointed to the Toothless plush and said, "Can I have the Night Fury plush?" She responds, "Which one is that." I try and ignore her ignorance and naturally say, "The back one." She turns around looks at it and says, "It's blue." I was seriously tempted to ask her to step aside and let me hand out the merchandise!!! Yes the plush was very dark blue, but there was a bright blue Nadder sitting right next to it. I am glad to see that the adds for Riders of Berk, the toys for Defenders of Berk, and even the promotional images for the second movie have displayed Toothless in his proper color, deepest black! I know it is a little thing, but it ticks me off severely! I've watched that movie more than 75 times, and through at least half of those I've focused on every detail of that beautiful dragon. So when vendors tell me that I should wise up and notice that the plush is blue not black, I feel at least slightly justified in my annoyance! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


Ok, to those of you who are following, first off, thank you! Secondly, I am here to explain the sudden lull in posts. I am working on a digital painting. It is quite large, and hopefully when I am done, it will be well worth the time I have put into it! Check back in a couple of days, and hopefully I will have completed it. Thank you very much for following!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Night Fury Graphite

This is one of my older drawings. It was actually the first one I did using the parchment colored paper. I used graphite pencils to shade. Unfortunately it is really reflective, so getting a good photograph was difficult. I actually was copying an image from The Art of How To Train Your Dragon which is an amazing book! Hope you like the drawing! Sorry I could not get a better picture. It looks a little nicer in person.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Dragon Journal pages 3-4

Here is the next set of pages. I have taken two pictures to try and show what it looks like. They are both the same pages. Anyway, if you want to read them you can use the translation key I posted in the first  entry on this leather journal. Hope you like the way they look. I have quite a lot of journal entries, but these first Toothless ones are probably my favorites! 

Video "Dear Friend"

Hello again,

when my friend Toothless became an admin on the wiki, I just felt like putting my congratulations and my general regards to him into a little film. Before I explain, how I did this, just watch it first :)

Well then: Here's how I've done it:
  1. Preparations
    • I needed a video-cutting-application, so I bought Magix Video Deluxe 2013
    • I copied all the transcripts from Berk's Grapevine and transformed them the way I needed them (Quite a hassle, since I only had the source code of the previously downloaded pages to crawl with pretty complicated regular expressions and stuff like that...). There were some parts missing, some spelling errors and a big number of inconsistencies in formatting. I omitted everything that was not spoken, so that I only had several text files left with the names in the odd and the spoken sentences in the even lines of those text files.
    • I've programmed a little application to process those transcript-files. This program was able to order by names, by episodes and so on...
  2. Now I've written my letter to Toothless:
    Hello good old friend,
    since I know that you really love quotes what I say, I thought this might be a good idea. I thought pretty long about what to say here, but no matter what: Nothing can picture our friendship that wouldn't break in a perfect way. You're one of the best friend I ever had, so thank you bud, you're amazing! It's really cool, that you're now one of the chiefs of the "Viki". Who would have thought that? As you know, if you need a hand, you can always count on me. Plus it would make me perfectly happy if you wouldn't mind let me help you. Maybe one day we both might be running it together. Well I have to admit, you're the best to draw Dragons I've ever met! You made me smile so often, that it hurt my face more than once. Yep... that's weird, I could tell. Our best idea yet was to send each other snoggletog gift(s). Write you always makes for a good day. Very well then. I hope you really enjoyed this moving picture. See you tomorrow!
  3. I looked up the words and word-groups to piece this letter together from tiny movie-snippets
  4. While piecing this together, I had to rephrase some things in my letter, because for example the word "quote" was never said in any episode, short or the movie. For this I choose a piece where Hiccup says "[...] what I say [...]"
Well... That's it :)
Let me know what you think about it in the comments :)

Greetins from sunny Dresden

Saturday, May 4, 2013

How To Train Your Dragon! My favorite movie of all time...why? Entry 8

Alright, after seven rather lengthy posts on why I like the movie HTTYD, I believe I have reached my last "deep" reason. After this post I will probably be dealing with "shallower" topics like the animation, voice acting, texturing, and soundtrack. Those will be much less important than these first entries, but they have their own critical role to play in making HTTYD my favorite movie of all time! Now, onto my last "deep" entry. I hope some of you have been reading and enjoying these posts. It has been nice to express my thoughts!

The next reason I really love HTTYD is because I find it emotionally stirring and at parts heart-wrenching! Hold that is just odd. You watch a movie because you find certain parts sad or stressful? Yes, of course I do! I enjoy watching a movie that can engage you. If a movie has a sad part, but it does not make me feel sad, then there is something lacking. Movies like HTTYD have the ability to make you really engage and affiliate with the characters. You wind up caring about them. If a movie has unmoving events and characters, then I am fairly unimpressed. As I said in entry two, I found Hiccup extremely easy to affiliate with, and I believe many other HTTYD fans have felt the same thing. As soon as you begin affiliating with a character, you start to care about them. When something goes wrong, you are worried, stressful, or grieved. When the character triumphs, you rejoice along with them! I think a great example of another movie that does this for me would be Lord of the Rings. When Gandalf "dies" in the first film, it is an incredibly powerful emotional moment. You watch as the characters are facing the grief in their own ways. That is the kind of power I admire in a story, the ability to make you care about the characters!

HTTYD had this at many, many points! When Hiccup was in danger, I know that I was actually afraid for him. When Hiccup was picked on, it bugged me. Then when Toothless becomes Hiccup's first real friend, we are all happy for him. When they do their first successful test drive, I feel the exhilaration and excitement of the moment. Then there is the rejection by Stoick. Man that scene! As I said before this movie can be heart wrenching! Hiccup is absolutely desperate, absolutely helpless, and in the end, absolutely crushed. His father's rejection leaves him on the ground with his senses and emotions completely shatter. I watch his mannerisms, words, and expressions in that scene, and I feel so gripped by the stress and sadness. He is begging for his best friends life, he is trying to apologize, he is pleading with his father to not go and get himself killed, but Stoick will not listen. Even after watching the movie over seventy five times, that scene is still powerfully sad. Nothing quite compares with the ending. There is such a mix of emotions. Hiccup wakes up to see his best friend at his side. Then he realizes something is wrong. The look he gives Toothless when he discovers his leg is missing is so painfully sorrowful. He deals with his grief, and decides to push through. Toothless helps him, and that might be one of the most beautiful moments in the film. Then to Hiccup's great surprise, he steps out into a world he has transformed! Everyone looks up to him, everyone is grateful, and his father is finally proud of him. The deep despair washes away and I leave the movie with a feeling of triumph and joy! That is what I call a powerful film. This is a film that can draw you in and make you feel what the characters are feeling. So that is (for now) my last "deep" reason for loving HTTYD. It engages the emotions. It makes you care for the characters, and in the end it makes you feel like they are real people, almost person friends! Even more than that; at times I watch Hiccup, and I feel like "I looked at him and I saw myself."And that is why HTTYD is my favorite movie of all time!

Friday, May 3, 2013

How To Train Your Dragon! My Favorite movie of all time...why? Entry 7

"Everything we know about you guys is wrong." That may be the most memorable and defining quote of the film. This seventh entry will once again be a little Hiccup centered. Didn't we already deal with that? Well, yes in a way. Still, Hiccup is so central to the film that I feel this entry is legitimate. I will focus mostly on what kind of protagonist Hiccup is. Just like last entry talked about how HTTYD had a "parent versus teen" plot, this entry will talk about the other major plot crux, which is that Hiccup sees that everything the vikings know is wrong and he has to change the way they think.

This again seems to be another relatively common plot type. In a way it really is. There are many movies that display the hero as the one who has discovered the truth and now needs to convince the others of it. In these types of plots, the protagonist usually acts in one of two ways. He can be a cocky, self confident person who has seen the problems with his culture and is determined to expose them, or he can be a more humble, selfless hero. The first generally has the attitude of, "I'm right. You're all wrong, and you're gonna see in the end!" The second usually has thoughts more along this line, "Man, they are all so much better than me in so many ways. I wished once to be like them, but now I see they are wrong. I have to try and convince them even if there is no way they will listen to someone like me." The second is much more like Hiccup's attitude! I was very pleased with that. He did not attack the viking culture for the sake of being a revolutionary. He did not want to stir up trouble; he really just wanted to fit in, but then he discovered that fitting in made him do something that was clearly wrong! He is now at a crossroads. Will he stand alone and risk being mocked and rejected, or will he swallow his conscience and conform. Hiccup choses the first, and he does wind up changing everything the vikings believe.

So yet another reason I love the movie is that they handled the "everything my culture thinks is wrong" type plot in a very honorable and admirable way. Hiccup was a great protagonist. He was not self promoting; he was self sacrificing! He was a protagonist who thought he could never fit in and that deep down he was a disappointment to everyone, but then he discovers that he is a hero in his own way! At first he really wants to look heroic, then he gets the opportunity of a lifetime, then he sees the problem, then he gives up any hope of ever being admired, and finally through his sacrifice and courage, he proves that he truly is a great hero!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Awesome Quotes: Entry 1

"Look, I gave you this academy because it's the best thing for Berk. Now you have to do what's best for the academy, and I'm sorry son, but what's best is very rarely what's easy."

--Stoick The Vast, episode 2: Viking For Hire

Ok, so this entry will be a quicker one! I love this quote! I intend to post lots of quotes from lots of different sources. Most will either be from or be applicable to HTTYD, but some might just be special to me. Anyway, Stoick has a great point! Lots of people will tell you that you can have great stuff and do great things with no cost, but the simple truth is that we are to do what is best. That is very, very often hard! Still doing what is right and best is what I want to strive for, and if that means I have to push through hard things, sacrifice, be misunderstood, or mocked, I still want to strive to live in the most Christ like way because that is what is best!

Dragon Journal Page 1-2

This is a page from my custom Leather Dragon Journal. I have made it in an attempt to mix the book of dragons and Hiccup's journal. It is written from Hiccup's perspective, so I guess it is supposed to be his journal in which he keeps all the facts he is learning about dragons. I have really enjoyed doing it, and I hope you will all like them. I have taken this image with a much better camera, so if you click on it, you will be able to see it on a very large scale. I will also give you a translation guide here at the bottom just in case any of you are willing to put in the work to translate and read it! Keep an eye out for these because I hope to post lots of them!

How To Train Your Dragon! My favorite movie of all time...why? Entry 6

Six entries? Come on isn't that a little overkill? I still have quite a lot more to say, and I intend to say it! I am pulling back onto the plot/character centered reasons why I love the movie. Post five was more on the style of how it was done. Now they do tie in together, but I am going to deal with another one of the more relationship and character based reasons in this entry. My next reason for loving HTTYD was the tension in the relationship between Hiccup and Stoick. you are happy that the movie shows a teen struggling with his parent? Well, sort of! It is  yet again a realistic feeling that I can associate with. Lots of movies have a stereotypical teen or child versus parent plot where in the end the teen proves the parent is wrong or at least gets their way. HTTYD did this plot, but it was in a remarkably and beautifully different way! Most teen versus adult plots revolve around the teen wanting something and the overly restrictive parent not giving it to them. Another scenario is that the teen rebels against their parent's ideas and beliefs just for the sake of rebelling. Hiccup did not do either of these things! Though he and his father butt head (leaving Hiccup figuratively on the floor every time), Hiccup deeply wants his father's approval. When he begins to tame Toothless, it is clearly not just for the sake of disobeying his father. It would have been tempting to do something to spite Stoick just because Stoick was not accepting him, but Hiccup trained Toothless with pure motives. He wanted to do what was right, but at the same time he deeply did not what to displease his father! That is great! He loves his dad enough to try and not disappoint him. He tries and tries to conform to the viking world so that he can please his father. It is miserable for him, but he still just goes on trying. He only stops trying when he realizes that what his father and the vikings are doing is wrong. He looks at that dragon lying terrified on the ground, and he suddenly feels that something is wrong with what he is about to do. He has been in Toothless's position his whole life, helpless. Now he sees the dragon and a reflection of his own fears. He can't kill it. He frees it, and then he tries to go home and explain his feelings to his father. He does not want to blatantly fly into his father's face, so he just attempts to slip around the issue and go on living a normal mundane viking life. In the end, he actually loves his father enough to defy him! That is much harder than just sneaking around behind his back and telling everyone how wrong his dad is. He bravely stands up against his father because he sees what his father is doing is wrong, and he cares about Stoick and the tribe enough to tell them they are wrong. That is an incredible decision! He wants his father's affection deeply, but he is willing to never get it if he can help the vikings to see that everything they know about the dragons is wrong!

What a great use of the teen parent plot! Both of them love each other, but both are ridiculously different! They both want to show each other love, but they really don't know how. Hiccup wants to please his father, and that is a very good thing, but he is willing to lose that for the sake of what is right. I am a first born son in my family, and I know the strain of wishing to please your father! It is such a critical thing for me. You look up to him, you admire him, and you really desire to have him appreciate and affirm you! Thankfully, my father does, but I still can easily connect with Hiccup's feelings toward Stoick. I can see how much he sacrificed when he stood against his father, and that makes him all the more admirable!

The end of the story is such a happy one! Hiccup and Stoick continue to grow closer and closer to each other! It is beautiful to see how Hiccup's bravery actually did eventually deeply impress Stoick! The final "You just gestured to all of me." moment was priceless! I must say that the father son relationship was handled in a unique and very good way in this film! You had no cocky, arrogant, typical teen who flies into his parents face. You had a boy who deeply respects his father, and he respects him enough to try and show him that he is wrong! And that is yet another reason I love HTTYD!