Thursday, January 31, 2013

You Are My Medicine

Another quick post. I've actually been very busy lately, not just with school (today we learned more about cameras and compositing in after effects) but also because I'm becoming a bit more involved with the community over at Channel Awesome! I feel like I'm finally starting to get a voice in the site, although I admit that it's been no one's fault but my own that it took so long. I just can never take that first step, I'm kind of shy that way. Honestly, I never would have thought that this one website would be such a huge part of my life.

Jess is doing a wee bit better! Yaaay! Maybe we'll both be able to sleep the full night tonight!

Movie of the day: Batman: Year One. I hadn't read the comic, but I'm guessing from the content that this is pre-decline Frank Miller. Commissioner Gordon has always been one of my favourite characters, and it was great to see a story revolve almost entirely around him. I'm of the mindset that the best batman stories are ones where batman almost takes a back seat. I HATE the affair part, though. Maybe it's because I'd rather floss my teeth with my own spine than cheat on my pregnant wife, but also it's commissioner freakin' Gordon! The only truly straight arrow in the entire mythos! Don't take that away from him.

Oh, and when they flash back to Bruce's parent's death, the firtwords out of my wife's mouth were, "AGAIN?! How many times do they how to show this thing in every perceivable medium? We get it!" I love this woman.

Song of the day: Melancholy Hill by Gorillaz. I love Gorillaz in general, and it's always fascinating when they do a chill out song. About a manatee, of course.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Now Darkness Falls

Well, maybe I should just resign myself to the fact that I'm just never going to get into the morning routine ever again, or at the very least stop talking about it to pad my entries. At least I am still reliably updating daily, so enjoy that while you can.

Poor Jess hasn't been doing so good, we still have 3 or so weeks of the first trimester left and she still feels like crap. The fact that we found out the anti-nausea medication we'd been using might not be safe didn't help either. I've been learning at a breakneck pace at school lately (track mattes, anchor points, differences between rotation and orientation etc), now we just need something to use it on!

Good (maybe) news, though: I have discovered that there MAY be a full-time job position opening up for me in America soonish. I must admit, maybe it's because I have an American wife, maybe it's because I've only had good experiences there, maybe it's because I'm apparently the only non-american in the world who loves the taste of american fast food,  but I would really like to move there. Not to mention it would mean that I could actually attend cons! Wouldn't that be something? Let's hope it works out.

Movie of the day: Batman/Superman: Public Enemies. This was my first foray into the DC animated "mature" dvd movies. I haven't read the book, but the premise was intriguing and I only looked at my watch a couple times. There was one part that really killed it for me, though: Lex Luthor was played by Clancy Brown, who did an excellent job aaaall the way up until the end when he's captured. He accidentally lets a little of his Mr. Krabbs voice come through and BAM! immersion is gone. Right at the end, too, it's a shame.

Song of the day: Gollum's Song by Emiliana Torrini. Yeah, I thought it was Bjork until the end of the credits, don't you judge me! This is one of the most thoroughly depressing songs I've ever heard. If you ever want to take a break from feeling happy for a while and just wallow in self pity (at least for a couple of minutes), make this your soundtrack. Be honest, sometimes it can be quite theraputic.

Monday, January 28, 2013

I Am Iron Will

Now THIS is better, however I still want to be able to write at an earlier time, just so I don't have to sweat about it later.

School's gone into slog mode currently, working from a textbook and so forth. Learned a lot about mattes, though. The fun never stops... My wife's sister stopped by for an impromptu act of kindness by cooking us dinner. It was wonderful and a real load off of both of us. Thanks, Rachael!

I actually managed to play a couple of demos recently, so I'll give my thoughts on them. First was the beta for Dust 514. I was kind of disappointed for two reasons. First was that I thought it was meant to be for those who wanted to get into the Eve universe but felt intimidated by the exceedingly complex interface and unusual play style. Well, the play style is certainly more conventional but holy cow is the interface just as complex! There's like a hundred different menus and sub-menus! I felt intimidated by it, so I guess they failed in that regard. The other disappointment was that one of the screenshots clearly showed one soldier wielding blades, implying a stealth melee class akin to the Spy. No such luck. A shame, I guess I'll just have to continue waiting for Star Citizen...

The other demo I tried was Metal Gear Rising: The Revenginator. All goofiness in plot and character aside, I'm very surprised at how bland the combat is. Block being the same button as attack is salvageable  but no dodge roll? Come on, now! That and no free-running whatsoever makes it seem like a very bland hack-n-slash, but we'll see.

Movie of the day: Iron Man 2. Good, clean fun. I dug that they dealt with his alcoholism, Mickey Rourke and Samuel L. Jackson were fun and the action scenes were just awesome. You know why? Because the action scenes were storyboarded by the legendary Genndy Tartakovsky himself! I was blown away when I found out! One step closer to your own animated action movie, Genndy... I'll be there...

Song of the day: Spirit Never Die by Masterplan. I went into this song in AMV Heaven, but let's just say you can't listen to it without feeling like you could punch a mountain afterwards. YEEAH! Speedmetal at it's finest.

That Boy Needs Therapy

NYArglesplargy! Am I perhaps doomed to rush through my blog like a madmen every night, trying desperately to hold on to my resolution like Mark Wahlberg to his dignity? This is not the way to do it! I will do my blog again tomorrow morning, because that is when my mind is fresh, my day is before me  and I DON'T HAVE FIFTEEN MINUTES LEFT! Consarn it!

Luckily, the day was pretty mundane. I did learn how to make a held keyframe in after effects, then learned about soft skills to help me get a job. It's a thrill a minute around here. I also tried Dust 514 and Iron Man 2 while my wife finished her latest video (I should probably take her lead). More on all three tomorrow, ie in about 6 hours. Sigh...

Movie of the day: Tremors. A Diamond in the rough (much like the main characters), a b-movie with real heart and intelligence. The characters, faced with a horrific menace to fight, AREN'T STUPID. That would normally be enough novelty for a b-action horror but it also throws in subtle character beats, clever set pieces, and as my good friend whom I never actually talk to known as Todd In The Shadows would say, "It's a movie where the heroes EARN their victory". My absolute favorite "big dumb b-movie" that isn't so bad it's good, it's just good.

Song of the day: California Sky by DJ Mighty Mike. This mash up of "Dani California" by RHCP and "touch the sky" by Kanye West began my love affair with Mighty Mikes awesome mash ups. I don't know how he can pick 'em, he just does, and does it good. Those who have been with me since my return will recognise it pretty quickly.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sketchbook Sunday, Part The Second

Hello and welcome again to my lazy Sunday post, where I put up some pieces from my sketchbook for all to be underwhelmed by. Let's dive right in, shall we?

Left to right: Blur The Peripheral,  Aurisath of Serelet, Carapace Arcana, and Daimhyo Angus-Born

This is my party from The Legend Of Grimrock, a seriously awesome throwback puzzle-rpg game available on steam now. I particularly liked how the game introduced an awesome idea for a playable race that I'm surprised hasn't been explored that often in fantasy: An insect race. We've had lizard people, minotaurs, cat people, orcs... Why have fantasy authors in general ignored the fascinating premise of an insect race? I look forward to seeing how it ends.

Keeping on the theme of fantasy, I drew these two ages ago when I was considering writing a fantasy of my own. I wanted to portray Elves and Dwarves somewhat differently than they were normally portrayed. Elves were pretty much glorified hippies, living a scant existence in lazy squalor. I kind of imagined them like Lion prides, in that the females do all the work while the men just lie around and be spiritual leaders. It's traditional for males to wear their hair long as a sign of status and females to have very 'boyish' hair, cropped extremely short. I also wanted to base the dwarves on an ethnicity that actually has a reputation for industry and scientific progress: Arabic and Indian culture. I also wondered why on earth dwarves were portrayed as having piggy little eyes when I would have thought living in a subterranean environment would cause them to develop large eyes to capture as much light as possible. I also gave them that reflective pupil cats have too help them see in the dark, as well as look freakin' awesome.

Lastly, to round off my fantasy kick, here's one I did today just to experiment with different styles of armour. This was meant to be some kind of 'spirit of the hunt', so I can be as outlandish and impractical as I wanted. You can see how my drawing ability kind of deteriorates the further down the body I attempt to draw. I do like the helmet, though, I thought it turned out pretty good.

Movie of the day: Ever After. This is my favourite chick flick. Wait, let me rephrase that: It may well be the only non-Austen chick flick I can actually stomach. It's clever, sweet without cloying, geniunely funny, very quotable, has lots of action beats and still gives you the fuzzy feeling you want. It also helps that Angelica Huston is fantastic as an ever-so-slightly complex stepmother and we have Richard O' Brian (New Zealander and writer of the Rocky Horror Show) playing a villain so gorgeously grotesque you wonder why the guy doesn't get more work. Drew Barrymore's accent may be all over the place but it's a small niggle.

Song of the day: When The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash. I absolutely love it when a song sends shivers up my spine, and when I heard this in the opening credits of Zack Snyder's Dawn Of The Dead, it did just that. Sublimely serene with an effortless twist of malice, it was an amazing marriage of image and music and elevated it to one of my favorite movie openings. I think it's the three notes that play just before Cash sings the title lyrics that really cement the mood. Sorry, bit of a geek-out there.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Meet Me Halfway

Good evening. I leave this missive, to you, my loyal readers, late in the evening. I wish to keep my resolution., and I shall. I must simply keep it brief.

Not too much happened today, mainly tidied, was a tiny bit disappointed in my fans and then got over it (documented on twitter), and caught with a friend I hadn't met in ages. He's one of those friends where we can go for months without seeing each other and still chat as if it hasn't been any time at all. It's always good to have a friend like that.

Right! See you for some art tomorrow!

Movie of the day: Wallace and Gromit: A Matter Of Loaf and Death. yeah, I know it's technically a short film, but one of the things I just love about Nick Park is that he can bring such scale and action to such a short run time and such a mundane setting. I think it's impossable not to at least be charmed by his films.

Song of the day: Meet Me Halfway by The Black Eyed Peas. This one's also somewhat of a guilty pleasure, but almost not so much as this just doesn't sound like a BEP song. It sounds like a forgotten 80's "new wave" ballad and it discusses the surprisingly mature subject of compromise in relationship. I actually really like it despite the rip off of the guitar from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Baby's In A Cage

Okay, I seem to be working my way back to the usual time, hopefully I'll be able to get back in the groove soon as it gets really annoying to have the thought of doing it niggling at me all day. I'm hoping that having this blog will help to hone my discipline, as I still have trouble with getting distracted.

At school we're currently still learning the ropes of After effects, and today was an introduction to expressions. Oh my. I can see the power they have, but you really need to have a love of coding to make them yours, and that's something I just don't have. Luckily, as I implied before, they're only for the real zen masters of after effects. For my purposes, I'm still doing very good.

I finally saw the 'Review must go on' video. I thought he raised some excellent points in it, and it inspired me to do better. Please remember this, you guys. I may be back, I may be releasing videos, but I am nowhere near at the top of my game. I plan on using everything I'm currently learning to put myself and my videos five levels higher. We'll just have to wait and see...

In other news, we went to the hospital today so that Jess could get an ultrasound to find out exactly how far along we are. Answer? Eight weeks, so that means the actual birth will most likely take place on September 1st. Ultrasounds are CREEPY, man! "Oh cool, so that's her stomach, and this is the uterus, and that's... Oh sweet Helen of Troy, I can see it's head! That is a human being in my wife! my wife now has two heads! Two freakin'... Wait, wait's that vibrating thi... THAT'S IT'S HEART?? Half my dna has a freakin' beating heart? How does that even oh my gosh it just stretched. Excuse me. *thud*"

Movie of the day: Frost/Nixon. This film was very good at keeping a brisk pace, despite being about what potentially be portrayed as a rather dull process. I think it's good that films remind of very interesting things that happened in the past, even if they are exaggerated. Stuff like this needs to be seen. The standout though is Frank Langella, dang can you see everything that's going through this man's head. I'm kind of surprised, you'd think it would be a difficult transition from broadway but no, it's almost worth seeing for his performance alone. Camera was a bit to shaky at times, though.

Song of the Day: My Body Is A Cage by Arcade Fire. I love songs that build up to an explosion of sound (only if it's done well, obviously) and this one is one of the best. John Carter may have been a disappointment, but I can at least say it led me to a awesome song.

Watch Out For That Deadline!

There! Ha! I said I'd update every day and by golly, I meant it! Of course, I only have 20 minutes to write this until the clock hits 12am, but dang it, I must! Funny how that works, doesn't it? You break the pattern JUST ONCE and you might as well have scrubbed your brain with steel wool for how well it retains the pattern.

I was able to hand in my graphic design project in on time as you know, but today was when we presented them to the rest of the class. The tutor seemed impressed (always good) and it seemed to be on par with the others. I don't know though, I really don't see myself making a career out of photoshop and illustrator, I just can't quite seem to hit the 'literate' stage, they still overwhelm me somewhat. Now After Effects, on the other hand... THAT I seem to be getting the hang of. I'm learning lots and it's staying with me. In fact, I'd probably use my newfound skills to make shiny new intros for my reviews... If I had any time. At the moment I'm still struggling with the script of Pokemon 3 (It's still on track for the end of the month, though) and helping out while Jess is still in Trimester 1. However! I have just now completed the next chapter of Nancy Drew, and it's up on blip now!

 Don't tell anyone on twitter, this shall be a treat for those actually read my blog. Now that I've gotten back into the groove of it, I might be able to release them weekly! Fingers crossed!

Movie of the day: George Of The Jungle.  Every critic has at least one guilty pleasure, and this one's mine! I don't know why, but so many things in this movie just clicked with me. It has such a brisk, fun pace and most of the joke are exaggerated, but not obnoxious. The horse scene is one of my favourite examples of tenderness and wacky humour mixed without jarring. I thoroughly reccomed it as long as you leave 10 or so years at the door.

Song of the day: Till The World Ends by Britney Spears. Guess I'd better follow up a guilty pleasure movie with probably my ultimate guilty pleasure song. I honestly don't even know why, I just dig it. I like the tune, the energy, and the beat, even if it does cause me cognitive dissonance to do so. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm so so sorry. Please forgive my blasphemy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rushed Post For A Rushed Day

Thanks again to everyone who participated in the 'market testing' yesterday. I was surprised at how the overwhelming majority preferred option 1! I was a little bummed that hardly anyone dug the second one, I was quite proud of how it turned out (maybe because I was never able to use an anamorphic lens flare before). I'm not saying to change your opinion or anything, it's just interesting. Actually it's kind of  uplifting, in a way, now that I think about it. Although I worked hard on the second set, it was meant to be a 'slicker' and 'safer' choice, one that really wouldn't look out of place on today's television. I thought I owed it to my 'client' to offer a more commercially viable opening to make up for the slightly different and unusual first set. It's comforting you all appreciate the need for something new. I'll be sure to upload the complete title sequence once it's done for you guys.

Jess had a great birthday yesterday, with a fine haul of candy to go with her games and comics. A favorite gift of my parents is to give us luxury versions of the food we buy the cheap versions of, eg Heinz Ketchup instead of the budget tomato sauce we normally get. Yeah we're an odd family.

Into the fire from the figurative frying pan, we go from finishing graphic design into hard core motion graphics without a chance to catch our breath! Urgh, this is going to be heck on my schedule.

I've set my schedule for the next part of my Nancy Drew let's play, it'll be out this friday (or thursday for you north hemisphere types). Look out for it!

Movie of the day: Hanna. Awesome music, great build up, great twist on the child assassin shtick. but it does drag on at times. It'd probably be better as a short film.

Song of the day: Africa by Toto. You're hearing it in your head right now, aren't you? You're welcome.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Only YOU can help me finish my assignment!

All right everyone! I need your help! In order to pass my grade in my Graphic Design assignment I need feed back from the target audience, which would just happen to be... you guys! Or at least all you guys in the 18-39 year old demographic.

How it works is simple: Simply look at these two sets of style frames. Each is meant to represent a pitch for an alternate title sequence for the TV show Fringe. Look through each of the sets, read the description, then place your comment. Please give your age, gender, your choice of which set appeals to you the most and why, and any improvements you think I could make to said set. All right! Here's the first set!

 We see a single thin line travel up the screen, suddenly exploding into multiple paths. The camera pushes in until the screen becomes black with white stripes.

The stripes start branching out in all directions. The camera whips to the right to reveal where three of the paths are headed.

These paths branch out more and more to reveal hundreds of connections. There are minor zooms in time to the music. The camera then pulls all the way back...

...To reveal that the whole thing was just one of the little paths extending from the logo. 

Now, time for Set Two!

We see a mysterious and shiny band of three colours. We pull a superfast zoom out to reveal...

...It was just a pixel on a computer screen, Several subliminal frames of formulae and graphs flicker until a flash cuts us to...

... a book. The camera moves very slowly around the book, when a few flashes cut us to...

...The title on the inside cover.

Well, now it's your turn! What do you think? Which fits the show better? which do you personally prefer? Your answers will be taken into account and used for my upcoming motion graphics project. Thanks again and good luck!

It Is The Summer Of My Smile

It's my wife's birthday, everybody! Hooray! She's spending it feeling like a truck hit her! What a great present to give her, right? It's the gift that keeps on giving! Actually, through a great stroke of luck she's been feeling pretty good this morning, hopefully it will last to her birthday dinner (waffles). The presents I actually got her was the set of all four original .Hack games for the ps2 (we managed to find them cheap-ish on ebay) and a file at the only dedicated comic book store in town set aside for the My Little Pony comics as they come in. Both Jess and her sister really love the show, her sister especially since she grew up with the original, retained her obsession with horses into adulthood, and needed a show for her and her little kids to watch that was fun and not patronising. You might say the show was a perfect storm of awesomeness for her, especially when you consider that she's very talented when it comes to crafts and now she makes plushies for extra money. She even got paid $200 to make a celestia! Here's her DA: As you've probably guessed by now, She's the one that made my Vinyl Scratch plushie. I'm technically a brony, but I'm not an obsessive one. I watch each episode when it comes out and I love the humour and art style, but I don't own every piece of merchandise that has ever existed. We do own a lot of mini figures, though.

Lots of work to do today! I'll be finishing my style frames (sort of a storyboard for an ad) today, as well as finally recording some new episodes of Nancy Drew. Once the frames are done I'll be asking you guys' opinion on them which will also count towards my grade, so watch out for that later. Once more into the breach!

Movie of the day: The Raid. Technically this indonesian martial arts film's english title is "The Raid: Redemption", but I don't agree with that as it makes it sound like a sequel and the 'redemption' is more of a b-story to the main focus. What is that focus? Punching, dear boy. This movie is the Sound Of Music of punching movies: It does everything it needs to do well. It's ludicrously fast paced with insanely clever set pieces and camera techniques I'm shocked haven't been used before. The camera is kinetic and rough, but here's the thing. It stays still and pulls back when there's a fight scene so you can see every single move. Novel, right? I have only two problems with this movie. For one thing, the subtitles were done by a guy with Tourette's, it seems. Are there really words in the indonesian language that directly translate to swear words? This is a pet peeve of mine, especially in anime when the subbers hear the character talking strongly and loudly and decide, "let's throw some f-bombs in there!" That's more subjective, though. The other thing I couldn't get over, though, was that the main character is a zen master of the nightstick. He demolishes an entire floor of knife-wielding punks with one. So WHY doesn't he ever pick it back up after said fight? he just steps over it! I don't know, that just really bugged me. Otherwise, gritty martial arts at it's best.

Song of the day: The Rain Song by Led Zeppelin. I don't need to tell you how awesome and influential Led Zep was, but I can tell you my favourite of their songs. I learned a few things from this number: one, that when a good band releases a song called "The ____ Song" It's usually pretty good (see also Immigration song, Pyramid Song, The Campire Song Song), and that when rock bands do big and orchestral, they do it good. One of the best mellow songs out there.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

In A World We Must Defend...

Not much has happened since last I wrote, so I hope you'll permit me to ramble a bit. I'll have plenty to talk about tomorrow, as we have to finish our graphic design project by Wednesday this week. I'll actually need to call on you guys to help me out at some point before then as 'market research'. That'll probably happen tomorrow but for now, I just need to get it done.

Yesterday I got to the victory road section of Pokemon: White 2. You know, from what I can see so far, I actually feel like the story is really much weaker than the original White. It really was basically "Plot point at the beginning. Occasional appearances by mysterious figures throughout. Throw EVERYTHING at the end." I wouldn't really mind except the aforementioned end where everything story-related actually happens only takes maybe an hour, and that's if you have a lower-level team at that point. If it was like a whole separate quest that'd be one thing, but the whole dang thing is just shoehorned in and it makes me feel a bit cheated, to be honest. This was meant to be the first real direct sequel to a Pokemon game since Gold and Silver, But it treats the player as if this was the first one hey got. As I said, it's a lot worse than the first one (I thought White's story was the best since, again, Gold and Silver) and I'd almost argue it's worse than my least favourite pokemon game, Diamond. At least in Diamond there was a constant threat by Team Galactic and you had to fight them at regular intervals. Here it's almost like there isn't a team at all!

HOWEVER, I must stress that it is only in the story that White 2 severely underwhelmed me. Everything else was stellar. Awesome to see trainers animated, tons of endgame content, the movies are a blast (and surprisingly strategic), and YOU GET TO FIGHT RED. Also. the auto-repel system was a godsend. So I liked the game in every aspect except story. Some other time I'll go into the new pokemon designs, and for those curious, my current team is Absol, Lucario, Samurott, Electivire, Scolipede and Excadrill. Aura Sphere is awesome.

Movie of the day: Russian Ark. Just to show I don't automatically love ALL movies, behold one of the dullest films I've ever seen! It's a shame as this is an incredibly unique concept: A 90 minute movie done entirely in one take. Now to make that work, you need one heck of a narrative, right? Well, yes that is right. Too bad the filmmakers decided not to include one! It is a 90 minute guided tour of the admittedly stunningly beautiful Hermitage museum in Russia, with some Lynch-esque dialogue thrown in for good measure. This is an interesting concept, but if you want to capture the beauty of a place for posterity, there are better ways to do it than with a steadicam with the iso turned up too high. Just ask Tarsem! Really can't recommend this.

Song of the day: Cosmic Love by Florence + The Machine (SEVEN LIONS REMIX). Annoyed by Florence's ugly collaboration with Some Dance Guy, which seems to be the hip new thing for female vocalists with actual talent to do? I know I am, but I counter it by listening to this awesomely powerful remix done by Seven Lions. It might be a bit blare-y for some, but if you can stomach it, this is dubstep at it's prettiest.  

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Sketchbook Sunday, Part the First

Well, it's completely over, and we slept until 11:30 this morning. I haven't slept in that late since I was a teenager, I guess the Babysitting Battle Royale took more out of me than I thought. Well, since today is quite literally a lazy Sunday afternoon, I hope you don't mind if I take it a little slower today.

One thing I always enjoy doing on a Sunday is sketching. It gives me a good, complete change of pace from what I normally get involved with and gives my brain a break from active thinking. one of my favourite things to do on a Sunday is sketch some weird character (or play pokemon) while Jess and I listen to either something church-related or a good old-time radio show (usually Dragnet, sometimes Our Miss Brooks). It gets me into a really zen state of mind and refreshes me for the week ahead. What kind of characters do I draw? well, let's just see here...

"How do I get out of this thing...?

This picture is a perfect example of what I like to do when I want to just leave my brain at the door. As you can see by the needles detail, it's kind of a half doodle, half serious piece. I also like just trying very different styles to change things up. This was my attempt at a widely-spaced-eyes style and I was quite pleased with the result (although it took me ages). I like drawing swirl patterns on clothes, you'll probably find this out yourself once I put more of these up. I'm glad I put those horn-things on her shoulders, they help pul the focal point back to her head. Any others?

"I've come for your hat..."

Someone commented that this looked like a LoL champion. I don't know about that, but I do know that that hand was a total fluke. I'm terrible at drawing hands normally, but for some reason this one just clicked. I admit the collar was a bit of a cheat to avoid drawing the facial features, but I like how it works with the collar. I'm also quite pleased with th shading on his hat. It's the weird little things with stuff you draw...

I really enjoy designing creatures and characters, but I'm somewhat crippled from doing anything professional with it by the fact that I have no experience or practice with anatomy. The creation gets exponentially uglier the further below the waist you get. Oh well. I might make this a regular thing and have a Sketchbook Sunday each week, since I won't be doing much else on the day. Sound good?

Movie of the day: Thor. Out of all the recent Marvel movies that focus on a single hero, I think I like this one the most, mainly due to the wonderfully bombastic direction of Kenneth Branagh and the effortless simplicity of the main character. Everything's just so BIG. The sets, the costumes, the acting... it really is just a comic book come to life in the best way. I also completely agree with Doug in that it is so refreshing to finally watch a fish-out-of-water story where said fish is actually nice about it. "Another!" *smashes cup* "what ar you DOING?" "It is tradition in my homeland!" "Well, we don't do that here" "Oh... very well." He views it a a learning experience rather tan a chore, and it's kind of disgusting how unique that is in this kind of story. Don't know what's up with all the dutch angles, though. A lot of them seem out of place. Here's hoping the new director does the sequel justice!

Song of the day: Everbody's Gotta Learn Sometimes by Beck. One of Beck's absolute best songs, and it's only available on a soundtrack. Hypnotic, haunting, poignant... It's just a great piece with an awesome string section. Not sure about that guitar solo, though...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Don't Bring Me Down

Oh, my goodness... It has been hell in a handbasket this weekend so far (for those not in the know, in New Zealand Friday was yesterday and today it is Saturday. Sunday comes afterwards) Taking care of five kids with different personalities and needs, one of which is blind and autistic, while similtaneously housesitting two houses that aren't our own, with four kids living in one house and one living in the other, and one of us going through the worst of the first trimester... You can begin to see why this entry's a little late. We have not had a single moment to breathe until now, and even then it's still with 4 kids acting their kiddiest in the background. You know what? Say what you will about a Christian religion, disregarding all opinions one way or the other, it's actually one of the most theraputic things ever to be made by your conscience to take one day off from everything. I think I'd have a perforated ulcer by now if cognitive dissonance coupled with a sense of spirituality didn't force me to relax once a week. At least it's pretty much over now, and I can get back to worrying about my usual things.

Speaking of which, a cautionary tale for you all: Procrastination is bad, mmmkay? I thought that the redo would be only a couple hours work, so I put it off and off and off until the last minute. Then, of course, when I finally sat down to do it, I discover something that I hadn't noticed before which required more time to fix than I had. So I lost a potential ten points added to my grade simply because I let my project fatigue (the feeling of wanting nothing more to do with a project once a certain milestone has been reached) get the better of me one too many times. Live and learn, I suppose...

Even though I was off my feet most of the time, I did get an incredibly short amount of time to try out my parent's 3DTV. I tried out Batman: Arkham City and Shadow of the Colossus (the only two 3D games in my library) and maybe it's because 3D doesn't really hurt my eyes, but I really dug it. It really sucks you into the world of the game. I don't think it's anywhere near worth the price (yet) but I think it's awesome. I just wish Skyrim was 3D compatible!

Movie of the day: The Secret World Of Arrietty. It may not be Miyazaki at the helm (although he did storyboard it, which is almost as good), but it still delivers the warm feeling to your gut that Ghibli films are required by law to provide. The problem I have with Ghibli is that now that there's been a slew of films based on western books, it not only makes me worried that they'll stick to that rather than do original stories (where Ghibli usually shines the brightest), but it also gives me false hope for others that might be given the treatment! Imagine a Ghibli Redwall! It'd be flippin' off the hook! Or a Ghibli Eragon that wouldn't suck! Heck, what about a Ghibli Harry Potter? Really think about that one...

Song of the day: Youth by Foxes. This song is pretty obscure, at least over here (I can't even find it on iTunes!) but it has a vibe I really like, melancholy yet energetic and hopeful. It sounds like the artist is really serious about making a fresh start, and she's optimistic about it although she's failed at it before. That and it has surprising yet very effective percussion choices and a really kick-butt instrumental break! Also check out the explosive remix by Adventure Club, it adds an awesome new dimension to it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

They call me MISTER DuFresne!

Yesterday was pretty darn hectic, having to babysit four cousins, my brother and my pregnant wife simultaneously in the same house with nothing but rice, tuna and Nickelodeon. Luckily Jess has some new medication that seems to be working well, so it wasn't a solo effort. Exhausting though!

Today I am experiencing firsthand the evils of procrastination: I have to not only work on my new project and upload some of my work, but because I put it off so long I also have to finish my redo of my old project by 5pm today! Let this be a lesson to you, boys and girls, never do today what you can do yesterday! Wait...

If all goes well (and probably if it doesn't, let's be honest) I'll have a shiny new episode of Suede Played Nancy Drew up tomorrow! Enjoy my confusion and mild discomfort!

Well, I must dive back into Audition and create non-suckitude for the benefit of my future career! Don't wait up!

Movie of the day: In The Heat Of The Night. Very nice cinematography that doesn't show it's age nearly as much as many other 70's movies (occasional cheesy freeze frame notwithstanding), it has an intriguing mystery that pays off well at the end and the race relations subplot is delivered well without hamfisting it. The chemistry between the two leads is very good, mainly due to Sidney Poitier's always quality performance. It's same there aren't many real powerhouse african-american actors in the film mainstream these days, the only ones I can think of that really bring the shakespearian gravitas to their roles are Morgan Freeman and Samuel L. Jackson, maybe Lawrence Fishbourne. Poitier Is just awesome in this role, and you can feel the importance of the moment where he retaliates against a former slave owner. That was one of the very first times a black man fighting back was shown in the movies, and it's just really satisfying.

Song of the day: Imagine A Jump by DJ Mighty Mike. I love mashups. There's an awesome air of mystery every time you try one out? Will this one be good? Will it be crap? Will it respect both songs? will it be better or worse than the original? This one is one of my favourites, adding hidden depth to one of Van Halen's simplest tunes simply by backing it differently. The chords match up creepily well, too.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Good, The Bad, And The Exhausted

Have to rush this morning, both my parents and my in-laws decided spontaneously decided to do something that requires me and Jess to babysit their respective kids simultaneously. Since the aforementioned in-laws have to leave early, so did we. I'm actually typing this on the school computer before class starts. Oh well, at least I'll be able to try my parents 3D TV they just got! Should be interesting, I just hope Jess can handle it in her state...

Speaking of school, we as a class just completed an exercise that was given to us after we got a refresher course in illustrator and photoshop. The task was to use a picture of  anyone we could find and Obama-fy it, aka make it look like the 'hope' posters. Here's what my entry looked like!

No, he doesn't have a tiny hat, that's the shadow cast on it.   I should have added an extra line.
I was rather pleased with it, although I do see some flaws. If I had the time I'd probably do "Bad" and "Ugly", but I don't. Mostly because we're moving on to the main assignment of the graphic design segment of the course.

We have to choose a brief and create a set of style frames for a motion graphics project we'll actually develop said project in the motion graphics segment, but for now it's just the graphic design work. I chose to do a redesign of the opening titles of "fringe". Fun, fun!

Movie of the day: Rear Window. Hitchcock at his most famous period, with Jimmy Stewart putting in a very non-George performance. I've noticed it's a lot easier to accept him as an actor when he plays down his trademark accent. The production is tight as you'd expect, the premise is great and the tension really starts to rack up near the end. However, there is one way this movie has not aged well, unlike Psycho or Rope: Near the end of the movie there's an action-y scene after all the tension that's been built up, and it'd be great... If Hitch didin't decide to film it in fast motion. Ruined the mood completely. I'm not sure how the audience in the 50's didn't find it hilarious, but maybe it was a different time. Otherwise excellent.

Song of the day: Que Sera by Wax Tailor. Sure, the constant sampling can grate a little but to be honest that's one of the reason I like it. It's a pretty song that's also a love letter to old movies. The full ablum is fantastic, I wish I could find the bleeding thing in my house!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mini-review: Mangirl

     First off, this is not Suede, but Suede's other half, so to all you interneters our there, just call me Jessica!  I'm going to try to post mini-reviews as often as I'm able, so I hope you enjoy!  Leave a comment below with any suggestions, general praise, or what you'd like on your pizza.

     We're kicking off the winter titles featured on starting with Mangirl! Now, get your mind out of the gutter, this isn't about a man stuck in a girls body, (though heaven knows that plot must exist somewhere) but is actually a pun on the word Manga (japanese comics) and girl, because… there's lots of girls. That one you did guess right.
      It's been increasingly more common to have an anime that runs under four minutes per episode, rather than the traditional 22. I both like and dislike this for various reasons, depending on the anime itself. The pros can be that it keeps my short attention span happy and has a good fast pace about it. The possible cons are that ending comes way too soon, and a lot of four-minute-rs try to abuse the short time by stuffing in WAY TOO MUCH, be it humor, plot, or just plain no time to for the viewer to breath or get the joke. *CoughcoughTeekyucoughcough* But all that aside, let's dive into Mangirl Episode 1!

       The Opening: The opening is good, a nice and short introductory to the characters. The vocals are… ehhhh… they don't sound BAD, per say, but to me it sounds like a room full of excited kindergartners belting out their souls during song time rather than a practiced tune.

We painted the logo with the blood of our enemies!

Sasayama Hana is starting a manga magazine, which is kind of a refreshing plot. I've seen a ton of anime about characters wanting to break into the world of making manga, but not about the process the editors and publishers go through.

 Only anime can make a fang look cute.

While showing her friend, Torii Aki, the new office, Hana breaks the news that Aki will be joining the magazine staff. Dispite flatly refusing, Aki joins anyway since apparently Hana has some dirt on her.

 Good friends always know you well enough to blackmail you. Best friends always do.

Next we meet the rest of the staff.  First is Haraki Tsugumi, the obligatory foodaholic.

This is how I end up whenever I go to the grocery store for just one item.

And right behind Tsugumi comes Nichijima Ringo, a lover of manga who is cheerfully pessimistic.

Who knows what sick plots are stirring behind that smile?

Food makes excellent bribery.  Plus Aki's expression. 

First things first, they discuss the finances of the magazine, how large it should be, the price, etc.

Aki, stop using my personal budget for your lectures.

The next step is gathering Manga-ka.  To meet their goal they need fifteen ongoing series, but despite all their contacting, they cannot find even one.  

Wouldn't it be frightfully ironic if some plot device were to cause conflict right now?

Overall:  This is a series that does short episodes right. It's well paced, with  plenty of time to breath, while still filled with good humor and the plot not only exists, but is actually interesting.  It's great to see what goes on in creating and publishing a magazine, even if we are just getting the bare bones of it.  Head on over to Crunchyroll and check this one out. 

It's The Dripping Of That Hideous Tap!

No sooner do we get a plumber to fix a drip in our tap (or faucet for you zone 1 types) when exactly one day later the thing starts dripping again! Is it a massive coincidence or negligence on the part of the labourer? Maybe he just didn't want to stay in our kitchen longer than he needed to, not that I would blame the guy. Our kitchen's so cramped (in terms of floorspace) Jess probably won't be able to fit into it by the end of her second trimester. Our flat (or apartment for you NTSC types) used to be part of one biggish house that was then converted into three smallish divisions and then rented out. Kitchen size suffered greatly.

Since Jess is currently going through the first "kill me now" stage of pregnancy, where the body is still getting used to supporting an internal parasite and shows this by crippling the host, she's been confined to the bed most of the day. As a result, she's been able to watch all the new series on crunchyroll and show me some of the good ones. Since she also happened to be near a computer while watching them, She wrote down her thoughts on a few. So don't be alarmed if you see a couple of posts from her as well as me in the next few days. I figured it'd be good to have some anime related stuff on here, since that's apparently what I do.

The script for Pokemon 3 is pushing forward but yeah, it'll be done by the end of the week, meaning it's very unlikely it'll be up by the end of this month. To fill my monthly video quota, I'll probably be continuing something that a few people seemed to dig when I tried it earlier: the Nancy Drew Let's Play. I 'm probably going to release three new chapters by the end of the month, just so I can feel like I at least put out something somewhat substantial for you guys.

The reason these things take so long is, of course, due to schoolwork. At the moment I need to redo my most recent assignment to up my grade, plus learn how to use illustrator and photoshop while thinking about my big final project and completing the smaller ones before then! The funny thing is, as I said yesterday, I'd give it all up if I knew I could get a decent income going full time. Unfortunately it's somewhat of a catch-22: I can't get more views without putting out more content, but I can't put out more content (by going full-time) unless I get more views!

Thanks to everyone for their congratulations, it means a lot. Doesn't do jack to make me less terrified, but it still means a lot. 

Movie of the day: Infernal Affairs. It almost sickens me that Imdb doesn't mention this movie anywhere in the trivia for The Departed. For those who don't know, this Hong Kong police thriller is what ispired (and provided most of the story for) the movie that finally got Scorsese his Oscar. It's a wonderfully tight movie that knows exactly where it wants to go. It has a wonderfully original setup, no loose ends are left (at least that I could see) and it provides a fascinating glimpse into the Chinese police force. It also proves something I'm always telling people that Departed tecidedly DIDN'T prove: you don't need to swear every ten seconds to be a tough, gritty movie. Look at Sin City, that only had two swearwords in the whole thing!

Song of the day: Airbrushed by Anamanaguchi. This song got me into the chiptune scene. Amazingly energetic even without lyrics, it gives an awesome hit of gaming nostalgia while also inviting you to rock out.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Once Upon A Time In New Zealand...

Ugh, I keep forgetting that sleep deprivation isn't just present after the childbirth. Poor Jessica.

Unfortunately, it's looking less and less likely that I'll be able to complete my review of Pokemon 3 by the end of this month. My brief writer's block and unusually busy school schedule seems to be seeing to this. However! I WILL have the script done by the end of the week, so it is likely that it'll be done early next month. I wish so much that I could just go full-time, you guys would get a video every week plus extras, but like our plan to eventually head to America it must be put on hold until more money is earned. Jess thinks I should apply to be an 'ambassador' for Crunchyroll to help this along, and I'm definitely leaning towards the idea. Any objections? Another option we were toying with was a Kickstarter project to get us enough equipment and funds to briefly go full time and see if we can make it. Currently I make about $150-$200 a video, do you think that would grow if I did one a week? would livestreams help? Give any ideas you have in the comments, I'm curious as to your opinion.

In local news, one of the things that made yesterday a particularly busy school day was that we had to choose a director we admire and prepare a presentation to be given today on his style. I got Sergio Leone (took it just before a classmate claimed it!), and it's been amazing researching his influence on the cinematic world. Even anime owes a lot to his techniques (mainly because his trademark Extreme Closeups are very dramatic yet easy to animate). Wish me luck with the presentation!

Movie of the day: We saw The Roaring Twenties with James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart. Cagney was just electric on the screen, it's been so long since we've had a real motor-mouthed wiseguy star in the movies. I love 40's gangster movies for their breakneck pace, and this one was no different. The montage sequences in particular were gorgeous, with some shots that must have taken days to set up just flying by in an instant. I'd recommend this or Angels With Dirty Faces as an introduction to the '40s gangster films.

Song of the day: Sleepyhead by Passion Pit. Sweet, loud and melodic, with a rhythm and production that sounds truly fresh and new to my jaded ears. Too bad the rest of their album doesn't really sound the same.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Holy Crap, I Finally Updated! Also Big News!

This post marks a new beginning of sorts in many ways. As a new year's resolution, I decided to not only be more involved with my fandom but also keep a journal. Since you can apparently do both with this internet thing, I made up my mind with an ironclad determination to write a public daily blog post detailing my doings! Then I didn't.

Then, in a strange reversal of how most resolutions usually turn out (starting out okay and then petering out near the end of the month), I started out the month pathetically making excuses and then slapped myself out of it. Here, I will give updates daily on what I'm doing, watching, studying and procrastinating, all for your benefit!

Of course this is fine and dandy, and I'm guessing most of you will believe it when you see it (don't blame you in the slightest), but a few of you were lured over here with the prospect of a big announcement. Since I'd rather not disappoint everybody this early in the project, here goes...

My wife, Jessica... Is expecting!

This of course is the most terrifying thing I've ever heard in my life. I mean, how is one meant to react when one learns another one is developing in one's significant other? Luckily, as I've learned from all the data I've gathered on the internet and through my family, I'm pretty much preparing for it in the only sensible way there is: by having no clue what to do and panicking about the future. No one is prepared for parenthood, they say, everyone just learns it as they go along. I'm surprised the human race has lasted this long.

Well, if I'm going to be introducing another person to this time period, I'd better make sure they are sufficiently prepped on all thing geek! I've always wanted to learn D&D, but unfortunately the scene is very, very niche in New Zealand. Maybe if I get one of those old beginner's board games like Hero Quest, We could have a stimulating and creative family activity AND I could learn the ropes! Brilliant! At least, it WOULD be brilliant if it didn't cost $250 plus ludicrous shipping on ebay! Sigh... Maybe we should just bite the bullet and move to America... That's a good reason, right? The family must come first!

At the moment I'm doing a Diploma of Digital Filmmaking at a local college, and as such I've been watching a lot of movies, more than I normally do and with more variety than I normally do. I'll try to give a quick capsule review of the movies whenever I can. Yesterday we saw All Quiet On The Western Front. That is one depressing movie, in the best possible way. It's painfully modern for a film made in the 30's, feeling more like a 70's anti-war film, and it's dang powerful. After this film and my experience in Spec Ops: The Line, I've decided that I will never play any 'realistic' military shooters ever again. That's how effective they are.

Well, there's my first post! My others may not be so long, but I have begun! Let's see if I can continue!