Monday, 31 January 2011

Final Idea... The City in The Sea by Edgar Allan Poe..

After some really helpful and inciteful feedback from Phil today, it has come down to the moment of truth; whittling my research down tomy final idea, hopefully bringing my idea, an art direction/style and some thumbnail sketches to the table when i speak to phil tomorrow...

The City in The Sea by Edgar Allan Poe

Early on in my research for this unit, i established that i wanted to go with something quite dark, surreal and possibly gothic. I think The City in The Sea is the perfect opportunity for this, being a poem about a city ruled by death, that lays beneath the sea.

The Idea:

I will produce an environment based on the description in the poem with some small animation in terms of camera movement, lighting and fog, but my main focus will be producing a thorough pipeline for this unit going from pre-production right through to post-production without missing any stages of the pipeline out.


As i mentioned above, i imagine a gothic and surreal city that is in ruins. I also feel that this idea could possibly use some steampunk designs and the intricate details that can be found in The Brother's Quay work, particularly Street of Crocodiles which has some beautiful dusty and rusted textures. I've also considered the possibility of intigrative some textures using biro which i often use to draw and crosshatch on pieces of paper in my room.

The Poem:

Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.

No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently-
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free-
Up domes- up spires- up kingly halls-
Up fanes- up Babylon-like walls-
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers-
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye-
Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass-
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea-
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.

But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave- there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide-
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow-
The hours are breathing faint and low-
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.

The first paragraph will be the focus of this unit, as it describes a town/city where death had created a throne in which he overlooks and watches the land he rules. This town/city is set under gloomy waters, being a place of rest, but not to be mistaken for hell, as it states 'Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best have gone to their eternal rest.'


  1. Good Ethan - the first thing I'd try and do is get a voice-over artist to record this for you; get someone suitable, and get the whole poem voice-tracked. It will inspire you no end - and you can use it as an evocative soundtrack to accompany your cg environment. Having a voice-track will excite you - trust me. Your next job then is to identify a style - can I suggest you swerve steampunk - yawn - it's a bit of cg cliche to be honest; I suggest you look at the date for the poem and then look at the artists/painters/engravers/architects etc. that were operating at the time and take legitimate production design ideas from them. You're also going to need some music ultimately to accompany the piece, so start looking at composers too, from the same and surrounding period. Allow the source material to give you the world you need.