Cosplay Shoot: Harley Quinn
Katie rose to 9gag fame with her cosplay shoot of Harley Quinn some time ago. So when she started working as a model in Manila (thanks to LVX Talent Management), we just had to do something along the same lines. So cosplay was the theme for my second shoot with Katie.
I got the bikini from the DC booth in SDCC last year knowing it was the same costume used in this comic book cover. That Suicide Squad version has been to used and abused ever since the movie came out, so to deviate a bit we went for the comic book inspired bikini design.
Since Katie was already dolled up as Harley, we pressed with the idea further and thought of putting the Harley look various situations.
This last bit was out of the original plan. There was a plaid shirt lying around the studio, and Rosie the Riveter got in mind. Characters such as Harley (and by extension the Joker), can impersonate other notable characters, spoofing them in a sense. So yeah, we tried experimenting with the Harley look making a parody out of Rosie.
I know I’ve posted this before but better to accompany it with the end-result photos.
- Make-up: Ara Fernando
- Hair: Toni Santos
- Styling: Hannah Kim / Raffy Tesoro
- Production Design: Raffy Tesoro
- Digital Imaging: Ryder Aquino
- Model: Katie Kosova (LVX Management)
For those interested in my commercial work, check out pointblankstudios.net and follow us at @pointblankmnl in IG.
Movie Review (IMHO): Suicide Squad
*** BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE, THIS LITTLE OPINION PIECE OF MINE IS SPOILERS-LACED. DON’T BITCH ABOUT IT IF YOU GO ON READING. ***
I’m not the type to get affected by critic’s reviews of the movies, and would watch something regardless. Actually, all this bashing of the movie got me more curious to watch it. Hence, on opening day, I squeezed the chance between meetings.
Off the rack, story-telling is lack luster. It felt rushed. Too many characters to introduce and take care of. As we flipped through Amanda Waller’s portfolio at the start, a good intro was made for Deadshot and Harley, but quickly died down for the rest of the squad. Captain Boomerang and Katana even came in as an afterthought with little flashback to fill in their backstory. The movie tried hard to connect the characters to the audience only to fall short of explaining anything. If you’ve been reading the comics, then perhaps your stock knowledge can fill in the gaps.
A huge chunk of the movie is all about the setup, but the rest of the movie was spent just walking around Midway City. The action sequences were nice when they were there, but the rest of time was rather boring to watch. Nothing really significant happened. It even slowed down when they all decided to go for a drink, while Enchantress was building whatever weapon she was building. Which is also another point of contention: what the hell was she making? And… how did they know it only took a bomb to destroy everything?!
I have to commend the actors though for trying to uplift and make use of what was left salvageable in the story. There is only so much Will Smith and Margot Robbie could do. Jared for the lack of screen time couldn’t make much of a dent. The rest of the characters are easily forgotten in the mess of the story. With one just being introduced while they about to deploy, only to be killed off when he dared to defy Ms. Waller in the middle of the mission.
A reasonable amount of fans and critics are complaining about the Joker — a lack there of, being one of the iconic villains in the DC universe. More so that it is Jared Leto, and as expected, his performance was top notch. The problem: this isn’t a Joker movie. It’s about the Suicide Squad. Hence, no matter how good a Joker he may put up, his role would really be a glorified side kick to Harley, at least for this flick.
Now there is also the absurdity we have to consider. I can understand the plot holes in the story, but there is a major mismatch between the anti-heroes and the main villain. Most of these characters are the brawler-type, often fighting on a street level. The Enchantress runs on a magical show. She along with the brother could’ve easily made quick work of the squad, but committed the dumbest mistake for the sake of pushing the plot forward and giving the team a fighting chance. Personally this, seemed like forced issue. They could’ve opted for another villain within the DC lore that has the same nature in terms of strength and abilities. Then it would’ve been a fair fight. Given the cameos of the Flash and Batman, I was starting to look for them during the final confrontation given the size of the scenario. Heck, wish Wonder Woman was there, at least that would have leveled things off nicely.
I think WB’s biggest weakness is trying to play catch up with knee-jerk reactions rather than setting their own pace to tell a story. They are trying desperately for the audience to feel for the characters who have only been introduced for a few minutes. Unlike Marvel movies, which took several years in the making.
That being said, I suspended disbelief and did enjoy Suicide Squad to some extent.Check out my youtube channel for your regular glimpse behind the scenes! While you’re at it, drop buy the online store and get goodies from your favorite models!
For those interested in my commercial work, check out pointblankstudios.net and follow us at @pointblankmnl in IG.
Shooting Cosplay: A Creative Journey
The Creative Frustration
Shooting cosplay came from two polar creative fronts: my frustration of illustrating and love of photography. Back in high school, I was one of those doodling kids who wanted to draw what I read in the comics. The stuff I used to read were several Marvel X-Men titles and Batman. What resulted out of it were crash courses through summer art school and glorified stick figures. I also left several unused easels and drawing boards in the wake of my pursuit. I slowly came to accept that I couldn’t draw, but somewhat had an eye for graphic design. I knew how to put together pieces of a creative puzzle but couldn’t make them on my own. I dabbled as the art director in our school publication but it was in college when the camera was first introduced to me.
My cousin was taking up weekend photography classes in another nearby university and would often bring home sheets of paper to develop alongside the manuals. Started reading them on the side, learning the process of developing film in the darkroom. From there, I stared saving up for a camera through side projects I used to do as graphic / web designer. The shutterbug firmly bit when finally got an apprenticeship with a family friend. I guess the rest is history.
My journey in photography certainly wasn’t a straightforward one. It’s a series of glass ceilings after another – often seeing the next potential yet can’t seem to get there. It was that frustration that led me to start searching for my own handle in taking pictures. I had to ween off making bad attempts copying how other photographers light their images. I had to own my pictures. How became the biggest question.
It wasn’t until I was shooting for several years when I thought of putting together my love for comics and anime with photography. I started to get drawn to images entailing certain levels of production design. The bigger, grander, more complicated… the more I welcomed the challenge. I started referencing inanimate objects (e.g. dolls, mannequins, etc…) into our early work. When we finally got to mount my second exhibit “Pop Nostalgia” with the Crucible Gallery in 2009, I had an inkling pop culture was becoming my anchor for creativity.
- Make-up: Ten Franco
- Hair: Charlie Manapat
- tyling: Hannah Kim
- Costume Production: Badj Genato
- Production Designer: Raffy Tesoro
- Art Direction: Javey Villones
- Digital Imaging: Ghani Madueno
- Model: Rhian Ramos
Just like how I dabbled with graphic design, it had parallels with my photography. I wasn’t really good at generating my own ideas, but learned how to reference more known genres and imagery. I didn’t even know about the term “cosplay photography” until a couple of years after. That was when people started calling our work as such. Personally, I just wanted to give homage to pop culture icons of my youth.
Regular pictures of people in costume was out of the question. We wanted to push the imagery, to bring it back to full circle, blurring the lines between a picture and an illustration. This came about several trial and error experiments for a few years partnering up with advertising creatives. The body of work during these early years produced a variety of results, but never the full satisfaction of accomplishment. There was big room for improvement, and that feeling of “what-if” always lingered after every shoot was done.
- Make-up / Grooming: Noel Flores / Charlie Manapat / Nadia Bouhou
- Styling: Mico Calma / Badj Genato
- Art Direction: Jay Tablante / Angelo Lico
- Production Design: Raffy Tesoro
- Digital Imaging: Angelo Lico
- Models: Alodia Gosiengfiao / Ashley Gosiengfiao / Natalia Santiago / Faus Ongtengco / Maria Dolonius
In 2010 was perhaps when we stumbled upon a milestone when we produced this mash-up interpretation of Tim Burton’s version of Alice in Wonderland called, “The Tea After Party.” It was only then when we had a resemblance of synergy between photography, make-up, styling, set design and post production. Of course we still regretted a lot of things we wished could’ve been done, but that’s already a lingering frustration from every work we do. It was from this image where a dramatic shift in our current style has stemmed from.
Having past experience in publishing and advertising prior to photography proved to be valuable as we started to streamline the thought process of coming up with cosplay shoots. It wasn’t enough to come up with one-hit wonders and then forgetting how the process was done. We wanted something that can be repeatable. Creativity energy is preserved and targeting towards a particular goal.
Every advertising shoot doesn’t push forward without a pre-production organizer. It can come in various formats, but the most common is a PowerPoint presentation. If we are to follow a full-blown version of such a deck, it would contain the following:
- Team Members involved
- Character background
- This puts everybody in the same page when it comes to character design since a lot of characters have various costume designs.
- Make-up pegs
- Illustrations aren’t exactly the best sources for make-up since it’s an approximation of the human form.
- Styling / Costume design
- This shows the details of how the costume is made, from the fabric to the fitting sessions with the model.
- Art Direction
- This tackles the situation and pose the model would be doing. This is commonly mistaken with photography.
- This is accompanied with a composite (a.k.a. “compre” in local advertising parlance) of how the final image is going to appear.
- Lighting Treatment / Photography
- The approach in lighting style and method in achieving the look set by the art direction.
- Production Design
- This tackles the props sourcing and an idea of what the set / location would look like.
- Post Production
- A guide for the selected image/s to be worked on
- The kinds of composition and clean up that need to be done.
- Who the model is for the shoot.
This pre-production organizer is the heart and soul of the shoot. This sums up the current progress and the checklist of things to be done before anything gets done.
This is one aspect of commercial shooting we strive to introduce into cosplay photography. This level of organization funnels creativity from a spray into a powerful hose targeted to achieve one image. When everybody is uniformly briefed about the concept, the team is put into one focus.
Taking these factors in, it may seem to be complicated for any newbie to start shooting cosplay, but it all boils down to solving one problem at a time. As each problem is solved, the process becomes clearer. When you finally come up with an image, repeat this method until you get the hang of going through the creative routine.
It took our team several years before we have developed a system of coming up with cosplay shoots, and it is still far from perfect. But the advantage of having one is following a logical flow of solving a creative problem of coming up with an image.
Sharing below some behind the scenes of our past shoots over the years.
Geekology 2.0: Analysis of Archetypes
Author’s Note: Hindsight is always 20/20. There’s always something you’d end up skipping when you write things the first time around. So if you happen to purchase the 2nd book and been patient enough to read the text, you could all this an append to the Archetypes section.
Just a quick refresher from the book, an archetype is defined as the basis from which all character design comes from. They are either created by a single person or group of people, then introduced into the public as fact.
My first example from the book would be The Joker, and how his archetype is broken down to the visual elements you see. Any other clown not wearing the same clothes, or make-up simply isn’t akin to The Joker. Much the same way as how we know what makes Batman, well… Batman — by recalling the visual elements that reminds us of the overall archetype.
Characters are created through a variety of ways as vast as one’s imagination can offer. This oversimplified list is by no means an attempt to classify the only ways to come up with characters to a few methods. I suggest viewing this as something like a skeleton road map to understand how our imagination can come up with all sorts of creations specially to building archetypes. Something where we could get some points to jump off from to get the thought process started.
More often than not, as original as some characters may sound, at the heart of their creation, they would always be inspired by some other outside source.
References and Amalgams
These are archetypes created from historical context — either from actual people or a mixture of several. One solid example would be Kenshin Himura (Samurai X or Rorouni Kenshin). The events in the anime was based from Japanese history to begin with, but Kenshin’s in particular was from this actual samurai, Kawakami Gensai who was known for his legendary swordsmanship skills during the late Edo period.
Romanticized ReferenceUnlike historical sources, these characters are built upon the foundations of older mythology and literature. Superman was partly inspired from biblical and mythological characters such as Samson and Hercules as Siegel and Shuster later on explained in interviews.
These are the characters whose archetype design is based on more established “templates”. The referencing can be a direct relationship, or an amalgam of other sources. Eventually as other characters are created, the established ones become the references. Bizarro is anchored to Superman and without the latter to establish the archetype, the character in question (Bizarro) doesn’t gain much foothold.
These are characters born from a generalized set of parameters not akin to any particular person. We derive a persona from nameless traits describing a particular set or subset in society. In a sense, the character created from this method can either be a championed or stereotyped version.The Japanese school girl or the sailor fuku wardrobe in particular has spawned numerous characters based on its generic archetype design. You could see them from 90s arcade games (e.g. Rival Schools), movies (Gogo Yubari), the zombie anime (High School of the Dead) to classics such as Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The amount of referencing varies between character to character, and doesn’t have any strict requirement to follow. Furthermore, the discernment of a character’s source inspirations are at the discretion of the creator. “The Bride” in Kill Bill as portrayed by Uma Thurman is a homage to Bruce Lee, but the iconic tracksuit was just as far as the “The Bride” character references from him.
Character and Aliases
We also have established characters such as Superman and Batman eventually having gained secondary names and references:
- The Caped Crusader
- The Dark Knight
- Man of Steel
It’s like having another layer of fiction encapsulating an already established one. This only happens when certain characters gain a level of popularity and cements their existence in pop culture.
Cosplay for a Cause: Typhoon Yolanda
Our awesome cosplayer friends from the US, Yaya and Riki are helping out by releasing a limited edition print of our Black Cat – Cat Woman. All proceeds are donated to the Philippine Red Cross.
To pre-order, you could check out their Store Envy link.
Thanks so much guys!Check out my youtube channel for your regular glimpse behind the scenes! While you’re at it, drop buy the online store and get goodies from your favorite models!
Jim Lee is my Comic Book Hero
Jim Lee recently posted a bunch of his rejection letters back in the day when he was applying for both Marvel and DC.
|That Jim Lee Uncanny X-Men #1 gatefold cover|
I reverted back to that 10-year old giddy boy when he looked at the Rogue (Rhian) image and said, “I knew where you got this idea.” Personally, it was probably the best compliment we received.
Of course it was impossible to get it exactly like the card, but at least we tried.
“What are those things at the back?”
“Oh, that’s CG” I replied, then realized that was a facepalm answer.
“Well duh I know that…but what are they supposed to be?”
“Rock formations in Genosha”
He went on…
“I don’t mind the battle scars and such, but leave the legs less wounded. The sex appeal drops when there’s too much gore on the legs. It’s fine on the shoulders.”
“Space out the rock formations at the back. Always consider breathing space for your elements.”
(that’s more or less I could remember)
The brief critique on Psylocke was summed up with Scott Williams (the guy left of Jim in the picture) by saying, “you just got art directed by Jim Lee!” It was a creative smack down I gladly accepted.
Joe and I were just too starstruck listening to him for 10 minutes. He (Joe) just happened to say after he left the line, “wish we videoed that.”
Thanks for bringing that up after we’ve been on the line Joe.