Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Random musings: Time slips away.




Gonna be a short one today. As a lot of you know, I'm a fantasy writer. I consider my writing to be one of the most important aspects of my life and I still dream of writing an epic story in the same vein as The Lord of the Rings or The Wheel of Time. But I'm also a Let's Player on YouTube (or at least I'm trying to be one anyway), and while it hasn't brought in much in terms of financial gain, I do enjoy making and editing videos and uploading them, And in the more recent videos, I've added what I call "Visual Novel Style" machinima, in where I take a freeze frame and add text (or speech bubbles) over it to further expand the story/lore of a game and give a little more life to my customizable silent protagonist (assuming that the game I'm playing has one). Sometimes, this might even be as complex as adding an entirely new scene with pictures, sound effects, music etc.

But the thing is that Youtube is now taking all of my time and I can't seem to figure out how to adjust my schedule to fit in it and working on my book or whatever story is going through my head at the moment. Now this is nothing new, time management has never been one of my strong suits, and when I engage in any creative activity like this, I tend to get hyper focused on it and spend hours upon hours doing it without regard to anything else. And stopping in the middle and doing something else is really, really difficult for me.  Actually, come to think of it, this might be why I get burned out so easily *laughs*. Anyway, what I'm trying to get at is....if any of the authors that follow this blog have any faith left in me, could you please give me some advice on this? I've tried other methods and they haven't worked for me. I'm not asking you to solve it, but maybe if you share how you find a balance between your writing and real life (for lack of a better term), then maybe it could give me some insight as to what I'm doing wrong.

Just leave them in the comment section.

Thanks in advance, guys. I'll see you next week.          

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Not a good time.

Hey guys. Sorry, I'm not doing a post this week. Something personal happened over the weekend that still got me pretty rattled and I just don't want to talk about it.

I'll see you next week.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Batman VS Superman: What the hell happened?



I'm pretty sure that enough time has passed now to say that, when looked at objectively, Batman VS Superman ISN'T a terrible movie. Is it perfect? Good God no. But is it the death mound of T-Rex feces that every critic and their grandmother have made it out to be? No, I don't believe so. it's just uninspired 'meh.' But with that said, yeah, I can see why people don't like it. I'm not gonna review the movie, but I am gonna be as objective as I can be, and take a look at why the film got the reception that it did. And from what I can tell, it all stems from the director, Zack Snyder.


Let me just say right now that, yes, I DO enjoy Mr. Snyder's movies....some of them anyway. 300, for all its stupid historical inaccuracies and not so cleverly hidden "America F**ck yeah" bullshit. is STILL a great action movie. And Snyder's adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen, is, in my opinion, one of the best comic book movies ever made. But it's Man of Steel that Snyder really starts to lose me. I've been a Superman fan ever since I was a really little kid, hell he was one of the first fictional characters that I ever latched on too and probably did more to shape my young mind than, well, anything really. And while I thought that Man of Steel was a good reboot of Supes' film career; looking back on it, I'm starting to think that maybe that had more to do with Christopher Nolan's and  David S. Goyer's screenplay, rather than Snyder's directing. Because, for all the flaws that Man of Steel had, it was still faithful to the spirit of the character. Batman VS Superman however....not so much. The point is that, while I do think that Snyder CAN do comic book/superhero movies. It has to be a VERY specific kind of superhero movie. Namely...not anything based off of mainstream comic books. Which leads us to Batman VS Superman. Oh, and from here on we are wandering into spoiler territory, so you've been warned.
RIP, Jimbo.

I don't mean to focus solely on the Superman side of things here, but as far as I can tell, this is where a lot of the complaints come from. Snyder took everything that Superman was about, threw it into a pin of rabid hyenas, and is now charging people for the privilege. Just utter disrespect to the fans and what to Superman stood for. For example Superman mainstay, Jimmy Olsen, dies in the opening of the film, and after a while, Clark/Superman becomes reluctant to save anybody because reasons, and mopes around for half the film until Lex Luthor kidnaps both Lois Lane and his mother. One scene, in particular, seems to be the most egregious. There's a scene in where Superman appears before a hearing in the US senate about if they should try to restrict what Supes does....annnnd then a guy in a wheelchair who has a grudge against Superman detonates a bomb that kills everyone in the room (except for Supes, obviously). But get this, Superman heard the bomb with his super hearing, and he did NOTHING. Uhhhh....what? Snyder, have you never read a Superman comic book in your life? That's NOT what Supes would do in that situation. If anything he would have grabbed the Wheelchair (after pushing the occupant out of it), smash through the ceiling and let the thing blow up in mid air.

So why was Superman's personality changed so much? Well, the popular reason is that they were trying to make Superman more identifiable as a character, by giving him actual human emotions. And yeah, I can see why casual fans would think that he's not identifiable. In terms of what he can do, Superman is stupidly overpowered. I mean, this is a guy so physically strong that he can pull Planets out of their orbit with his bare hands, and outrun the gravity of a double black hole. And in the early days, Superman's personality was just a 1-dimensional boring nice guy, and the writers just gave him a new power literally every day. And while modern comic books and the various film incarnations over the years have done their best to correct and curtail both of these factors, it's a reputation he still has to this day. So yes, I can understand why they changed his personality for this movie. But here's the thing, Mr. Snyder, *ahem* YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG!!! Changing his personality serves absolutely no purpose and your not even doing in any way that's interesting or thought provoking. And on top of that, its is such a departure from the original character that, if not for the costume, he wouldn't be recognizable. Superman has never been about angst or being moody or brooding or things of that nature. That's Batman's thing. Superman is Pandora's little light of Hope given flesh and superpowers. That's always been the crux of his character, of his personality. Taking that away and replacing it with moodiness, doesn't make him more mature or identifiable, it just makes him look like a wuss and makes you look like a twelve-year-old who thinks that having a Whinny the Poo tattoo on your groin is the height of badassery. Oy.

Anyway, some people also point to Henry Cavill's portrayal of Superman/Clark Kent as an overall negative to the franchise. Honestly, I don't think that's fair. Why? Because anyone who takes this role is flying in the shadow of Christopher Reeves. That's not an opinion, that's a fact. For many people, myself included, Reeve's iconic portrayal of the character IS Superman, he set the standard to which all other actors who come after are gonna be compared to. Cavill knows this, and I don't think he's trying to fill Reeve's boots. He's doing his own thing with the role. And I think he's doing a great job with it, and I hope he stays in it for many more films. And let's be honest, guys....at least it's not Nicolas Cage.      



As for the Batman side of things, honestly, I don't have much to say about that. Mostly because...well I LIKED Ben Affleck's portrayal of Batman/Bruce Wayne. And I'm actually excited that he will be returning to the role in a stand alone film. No, it's not Christian Bale, but Affleck is great in the role in his own right, let him stay. I also like Jeremy Irons as Alfred. So, uh,....I got nothing bad to say about this part.




But the one who steals the whole show was without a doubt Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot). Ho-ly shit, her showing up and fighting Doomsday was just amazing. This is something that DC fans have been waiting for a long time. Wonder Woman is considered the third of DC's big three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), and yet for whatever reason, she has yet to receive any sort of modern film adaptation, outside of a few animated films......It just kinda sucks that Snyder didn't really give her really anything interesting to do. Seriously, Wonder Woman doesn't even show up in full costume till the final battle with the film's version of Doomsday. Before that, she interacts with Bruce Wayne a little, and that's it. Hell, she hardly has any dialogue until the end. For such an important character in the DC Universe, she sure feels like an afterthought.

This leads me into my final point and a major reason why I think that Batman VS Superman was received as poorly as it was, Poor world building and plot holes. I know I just said that I didn't have much to say about the Batman side of this movie, but that's because I was just focusing on the Affleck's performance more than anything else. Most of the problems with Batman's side of this film is actually tied to this point and I wanted to put them all together in their own section for the sake of my own sanity. Anyway, Leading up to the release of this film, we were lead to believe that Batman VS Superman would be a continuation of both Man of Steel, and Christopher Nolan's excellent Dark Knight Trilogy, and that both story threads would meet up in the middle and from there we would get DC's answer to The Avengers, The Justice League. To my knowledge, Warner Brothers never denied this. Fast Forward to the film's premiere and we find out that we had been hoodwinked.  Nowhere in the film are the events of the Dark Knight Trilogy ever discussed, with the possible exception of Wayne Manor being burned down. There's no mention of Lucius Fox, no
Batcomputer becoming the NSA's wet dream, The Joker, or even a shadow of Catwoman. There was, however, scenes showing Bruce Wayne's parents being shot and him becoming Batman and Bruce arriving in Metropolis during Man of Steel's final battle with General Zod and an easter egg of a Robin costume being sprayed in Yellow paint (see picture) and that's when it hit me...this film rebooted Batman, again. So, what we have here, is a NEW version of Batman, except that it's set in the Man of Steel universe, and this is the universe that DC is going to be setting all of its films in from now on. And they can't even get THIS right. This whole film feels like a half-assed crash course for DC to catch up with Marvel's film universe. But DC, Warner Brother, do you even know why Marvel's been so successful with this? It's because they took the time to develop each of their characters with their own separate film franchise, and their universe expanded and grew with each film. So by the time we got to The Avengers, we already had a good grasp on this universe and these characters that we had basically grown up with them. But here, you're jumping right into a cross over without giving us anytime to adjust to establish the universe or any of the characters What you should have done is a stand alone Man of Steel sequel or two, then a solo Affleck Batman movie or two, solo Wonder Woman movie and a sequel or two, and individual films for the other members of the Justice League, AND then you should have made Batman VS Superman and used it as a jumping off point for the JUSTICE LEAGUE movie, not for your entire universe.

Oh, and before I forget about him, here's something else that needs to happen to get your Universe straight, FIRE Zack Snyder. Seriously, I heard on Pat The NES Punk's Podcast (see the video on the left), that he doesn't even read Comic Books unless there is a lot of killing, blood, and sex in them. And that if he had made Batman Begins, he would have had Bruce Wayne raped during the prison scene. I'm...not even going to express how I feel about that.                

Anyway, As I expressed at the top of this, Batman VS Superman isn't actually a terrible movie. But it's certainly not the best, and there's a lot wrong with it. But at the end of the day, I still think that it's a watchable movie. But this was just my two cents on the matter.

What do you, Dear Reader, think?

and I'm out. see you next week.
       


          

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Just a quick update and Chaos Drift.

Hey guys. I hope you all had a great Memorial Day. I sadly don't have anything planned this week, and I need to focus on other, business related things today. Namely, an independent game developer has allowed me to make a video of his game that he's trying to get onto Steam via their Greenlight service; which allows independent developers to submit their products to be voted on by the Steam user base. If said product reaches a certain number of votes, then the game will be added Steam's extensive library for people to buy. This is the game in question:



And I did tell the developer that I would at least try to get the video out within the week, so...yeah, sorry. I will be back next week, regardless. So, I'll see you then.

And in case anyone is interested in the game, you can buy it at the developer's website here: http://www.chaosdrift.com/  

And here's the Steam Greenlight page: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=693657968

See you next week guys.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Random musing: 2D or 3D animation?

First off, I want to apologize for last week's post. It was messy, whiny, and born more out of frustration than anything else. And in future, I will try to avoid such posts.

But anyway, the subject we are going to talking about today is animation, so before we go on, I should preface this post with a disclaimer: namely that I am NOT an animator, and I'm never likely to be. And everything I'm about to say here is based on research, observation and my own opinion. So take what I'm saying here with a grain of salt. So if you're an animator reading this, then please don't freak out.


Recently, former Disney animator and filmmaker, Don Bluth, had a successful crowdfunding campaign to make a film based off his 1983 arcade game, Dragon's Lair (see video on the right), a film that he's been trying to get made well before it saw life as a game, but it just never happened for some reason or another. Now obviously, the money raised from the campaign isn't enough to get an entire movie made, but it was never meant to be. It was meant to fund a sizzle reel to show to potential investors. But the big draw with this potential film is this: Bluth wants to do this film with traditional hand-drawn 2D animation. Which is GREAT. Hollywood is so obsessed with CGI/3D animation that seeing a traditionally animated film would be like breathing air from the highest tier of heaven.
But it also begs the question...why would a traditional 2D animated film be such a breath of fresh air? Why, exactly, did Hollywood abandon hand-drawn 2D animation, in favor of overused CGI (Computer Generated Image) that keeps looking more and more dated as time goes on?

How traditional animation works.
Well, according to a friend of mine who studies animation, the reason is that "2D animation is no longer viable...it takes less work to make it with 3D animation and there are things you can do with 3D animation that you can't with 2D animation." I'm paraphrasing by the way. Now, if we were talking about animating with animation cels, which is the technique that Walt Disney perfected when he made Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, then I could see my friend's point. Because that is very labor intensive and cartoons/films made this way can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time to produce. But what my friend's argument does not address, through all the times we have talked about it, is this....nobody uses animation cels anymore. Why is this? Well...


1 computer. 
+ Drawing Tablet (or a really good mouse) X Photoshop (or something similar) .
+ animation software = 2D ANIMATION IS STILL VIABLE.   


....That's why. Guys, there is computer hardware and software available right now that can do what took Walt Disney three years of work and over $1 million in the 1930's, in about two weeks for practically nothing. Alright, alright, that's obviously an exaggeration. But the point here is that hand drawn 2D animation is not only still viable, it's now more possible than ever to do. The tools to make it have just changed. We stopped using Animation Cels because we simply didn't need them anymore. And if you need more proof, just look overseas at Japan, South Korea, Europe and even India (among other places), where 2D animation is still being produced using the same kind of technology that I just showed you above.


The answer is money. Pure and simple.
This leads nicely to the next point, and the real reason, as I see it, as to why 2D animation isn't done by Hollywood much anymore. Namely, it's got NOTHING to do with whether 2D animation is still viable or even profitable, and it has everything to do with economics. Supposedly, American animators get paid $125 USD/hour, whereas animators in, say, India, get paid the equivalent of $25 USD/an hour. And that an animated feature film in America can cost up to $175 million USD or more to produce. Where in India, the cost would be up to $25 Million USD.  I say 'supposedly' because I got this information off of Wikipedia, so who the hell knows what their source was. But for the sake of argument, let's say that it is accurate. I bring it up because 90% of animation projects these days, from both sides of this argument, are being outsourced to companies from the aforementioned countries.

While I can appreciate that money plays a huge role in the production of entertainment, it also flies in the face of common sense when applied to this topic. It's common knowledge that as technology improves, things get easier and cheaper to produce. It's as true with computers, as it is with animation. And, according to all my sources, all of these foreign animation companies are using the best animation equipment that money can buy. Pretty much the same kind of equipment that Hollywood uses...hmmm, that's very odd.

Maybe there is a factor here that I'm missing, but it looks to me like Hollywood is perfectly content to ***ck 2D animators out of work, and completely ignore the people who are willing to give them their money to see more 2D animation.

Now look, I'm not saying that animation done with computers is easy to do, Nor am I saying that a lot of hard work and time doesn't go into animation in general. I know for a fact that it does. All I'm saying is that the whole "2D animation isn't viable" argument is a crock of bull shit. And I can hear some of the complaints now, "But if it's done with computers, then it's not real traditional animation," and "You're ****cking retarded if you think that 2D animation is better than 3D animation." Then to the former I say; Guys, if it looks like a duck, talks a duck, feels like a duck, and the only difference is that the duck has a power motor suited to move MechaGodzilla, then it's still technically a duck.

And to the latter I say: well first off, that's quite rude, and secondly. I am in no way implying that one form of animation is somehow superior to the other, I honestly couldn't care less about which is better. I'm saying that it makes very little sense to me why Hollywood (or any film industry for that matter), would willingly abandon one in favor of the other. Especially when there is room for both or, even better, a mixture of the two. How cool would that be? 2D animation mixed with 3D animation. If done correctly, it would be the best of both worlds. Hell, in Japan, we are already starting to see something like that (see video above).

I think Don Bluth sumed it up the best:
"Just because we listen to classical music doesn't mean that we can't listen to jazz."
Well put sir, well put.

And that's all out of me for now, Dear Readers. See you next week.                              

              

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Personal Rant/venting: When Senpai won't notice you.

*sigh*. For those who don't know, the term "Senpai" is a Japanese term most commonly translated as "Older Classmate." In anime and nerd culture, the term "Notice me Senpai" often refers to a character who has a crush on another character, but said crush is very one sided, and the ensuing chaos usually falls somewhere between hilarious and unbelievably disturbing. But that's not what I'm here to talk about today. Also, I apologize if this post is all over the place, I'm writing this off the cuff and don't have a clear structure in mind, so just please just bare with me, ok?

In my case, my "Senpai" is the world as a whole. What I mean by that is...well, I've been producing content on and off for a few years now, mostly here on this blog, and there's my book of short stories, but there's also on my very neglected Hubpages page and, of course, most recently Youtube. But you know what? It just dosen't feel like I've gotten anywhere with any of it. Now, I know that  99.9%  of that is my own fault. As I have no bloody idea how to market/brand myself, and, let's be honest, I'm not the most active content producer on the planet. But the other part of it, I'm assuming, is that I'm producing content that...no one wants to hear. Not in the sense that i'm saying some sort of hard truth that nobody wants to talk about, but in the sense that it feels like I'm the only one who actually cares about what I'm producing.

I HATE feeling like that. I want people to see and enjoy what I make, whether it be a video, book or whatever, but if these past few years are anything to go by, i've proven just how inept I am at pouring on the hype for my own....product (for lack of a better term). I remember back when my short story collection was first published on Lulu.com, I would spam the hell out of it on Social Media (notably Twitter and Facebook) and joining a whole bunch of forums and mentioning somewhere that I had a book for people to buy. But that didn't help at all. The only reason I did that was because I had read somewhere that both Twitter and Facebook were the best places to market whatever it was you were trying to market, and it looked to me like that that was what the other indie authors I follow on social media were doing and were (seemingly) successful. The problem is that It didn't actually work, and I kinda felt like a stupid asshole for doing it. Like I was trying to force people to buy my book. It's not until recent years that I found out that I was actually doing it WRONG. I didn't understand how things like Hashtags, SEO, branding/marketing or any of that stuff worked. Hell, I still don't fully understand how they work. Because none of the sources I used to try and learn how to market myself actually mentioned them; or if they did, then it acted like you already knew what this stuff was, or it was explained in a way that didn't make sense to me, and I don't really know anybody who could/can explain it to me.

As for the forum and websites, Guys, I'm already shy, and the only way to garner attention on forums and websites is be extremely active. But whenever I tried to be, that small worm of guilt kept wiggling in and I felt like I was using people, and that's something I just don't like doing (even if it is to my detriment). Couple that with not liking big crowds, being the center of attention and an overall feeling of awkwardness...well you get the idea.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I want people to like what I do on its own merits, not because I have to shove it in their face all the time. But even then, I don't know how to make people care enough to even look at my stuff, And with my novel's first draft finished and me being on Youtube, I need to direct that oh so hated attention to me since I need feedback...*exasberated sigh*. I just don't know what to do anymore guys. I'm not going to stop making any of this stuff, but I just don't know what to do.

I apologize if this sounds like me whining with no actual point. And I know I got no one but myself to blame. But it comes from a place of frustration, and I really wanted to get this off my chest.

Thanks for reading and for your patience, I'll see you next week.        


      

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Out of it.

Sorry, guys, I don't have anything prepared. I'll get back to you next week.