I've always taken an interest in the creation and execution of visual effects. It pretty much started the day I came back from seeing Star Wars, and never stopped. Additionally I've found myself in "the industry" so along with genuine curiosity comes a professional neccessity to keep on top of things. Talking about the future of virtual actors below I was caught up with thoughts of where cinema has taken things. Be it the digital double usage that started in Jurassic Park to the crazy-azz digital character insertion in the Star Wars Prequels. Each somewhat culminating with the most emotive of its ilk with Gollum in LOTR, and his digital successor King Kong. This is some amazing stuff.
So while I keep my nose to the silicon grindstone, nothing really prepared me for the level of work that was done on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. You'll recall I really liked it. I knew there was a lot of digital work going on, but it's the extent of which that really floors me. No prosthetic make up for Bill Nighy as Davey Jones, or his entire crew? That's all digital folks, and the methods employed are something I knew was possible, but the sheer scale of production just sets me aback. And then I smile, because I can only think of what's next.
Check out this site dedicated to the digital characters in Dead Man's Chest: "The Show," hosted by Industrial Light and Magic.
Also read this article at CG Talk, Shades of Davy Jones.
As with all technology, or any example of perceived power, the responsibility lies with its creators. It's not hard to think of the bad that may come from a rampant, unchecked, bubbling spigot of digital and virtual creations. But oh how nice it is to think of the good.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Tomorrow Stories Special #2
E3 Recap: Square-Enix
FFXII: Licenses, P1,P2
It's an introspective time, and part of that for me is deciding on where to take the 'ol blog. With the usual comics buying trends, raves, and rants, I think I'll be throwing up some more art and artists deserving of recognition. Maybe even some more of my own, to boot.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
There were supposed to be more books, but some snowstorm delayed a shipment. Next week might be a hefty stack, and we've still got to wait an extra day 'cause of the holidays.
Usually I avoid Supergirl like the plague, due to its horrible art direction since the character's re-introduction. Art is so subjective, but there is art that I find atrocious, and it's often on Supergirl. Such a shame. So the issue I got isn't even this week's issue, it's from a month or so ago, because I only just found out that Amanda Conner did a fill in. And oh how I love Amanda Conner, seemingly the antithesis of the usual dreck that passes for whatever editors delude themselves belongs on Supergirl. The story supposedly leads into Conner's upcoming Terra miniseries, something I'm of course looking forward to.
I gave up on Hawkgirl because it just wasn't doing anything for me to latch on to the character. The pre-One Year Later storylines with Hawkman and plots tailspinning from Rann-Thanagar War were much more appealing. Then Chaykin wasn't drawing the book anymore, and well, that's how momentum is lost. But I had to pick up this latest ish because Blackfire from the aformentioned War shows up again. And the new artist, Renato Arlem, had something I couldn't resist. The scruffy, scanned-from-pencils style and xerox collage backgrounds are a worthy replacement for Chaykin, and the Arlem appears to have a wonderful knack for body language.
Nextwave has by far the best cover on the shelves this week, with its Civil War-derived trade dress proclaiming "Not Part of a Marvel Comics Event" and characters protesting with cardboard signs, "We don't care." This book has been nothing but good from the start and its one of my favorites this year.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Via Destructoid and Faith, comes this item on The Binary Picture Show.
It's a gaming news lovechild of Max Headroom and Lara Croft. And while nothing terribly special outside of its novelty, it speaks to much bigger things. The BPS is not some effort by a major marketing campaign, just a few guys with some tech savvy and a willingness to produce product. Certainly it could be a major marketing campaign if the right nasties got their hands in the concept, and I suspect that is inevitable. But it's the homegrown aspect of the project and the concept itself that should be of greater interest.
Gamers are quite used to creating avatars, and such things make their way into the mainstream little bits at a time. The Wii and its Miis is looking to expand on this, alas in baby steps. And MySpace gives the less gifted among us an ability to carve out a little personal internet dorm room. Still if you look at the customization involved in games like Eve Online and City of Heroes, the possibilities (and results) are striking. To a lesser extent but far more widespread is World of Warcraft, where your initial choice among fantasy races also allows a little leeway with facial features, skin color, and hairstyles. That's all before you start clothing yourself.
Lady Mainframe, the buxom host of BPS, was the creation of its owners, serving certain needs while no doubt playing to its audience. She's a few polys short as of now, but it's a matter of resources. It will not be long before the host aspect is handed over to the user, maybe not by BPS itself, but of something similar. Given the speed at which higher and higher CG quality is increasingly available to anyone with an AV jack, and the inherent need of user-end customization locks onto the collective consciousness, you can start counting down to a time where you can have your news read to you by just about anyone. Tonight's top stories brought to you by Lacy Chabert? Rock on. Not out of the question, perhaps with a small license fee... But remember, it's anyone. Breaking news by George Clooney, Gregory Peck, Kermit the Frog, or Morbo. Special interest cuts to Jessica Simpson, Jessica Tandy, Jessica James, or Jessica Rabbit. Weather by Nic Cage. Sports by Father Guido Sarducci. And that's all just potential licensed content. Feel free to hit the scale sliders and cobble together your best Betty Page or Brad Pitt look-alike. Hell, have the stock ticker read off by your Nintendog!
Scraping the surface here with the idea of news and avatars. The virtual world is just a rumble from some deep ocean earthquake at the moment, but damn if that thing won't hit us like a mile high tsunami.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The holiday season has me all bejuggered and gafuddled, and postings have been slim. But still I brave the harsh LA winter days to get out from behind my desk and buy comics!
Y the Last Man
Why is Y the Last Man STILL so good? I love the art, I do, be it by Pia Guerra or one of her worthy substitutes, the style is clean and more importantly, consistent. But I got to give it up to Brian K. Vaughn, the man writes a damn good book. In fact, I don't think I've read a book by him I haven't liked. And he writes alot!
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Woe is me.
Green Lantern Corps
Justice League of America
Gen13... Gen13... Gen13... Oh dear lord. I want this book to be successful, but in its current incarnation it cannot. If you're on your third issue and need a fill-in artist for an artist that I would not consider high-tier to begin with, trouble's a brewin'. Coupled with a story that betrays most of what Gen13 should be and the future looks bleak. And how is it that I know what Gen13 should be? Trust me, I know.
I think it's the weekly format of 52 that keeps me interested. Because even if one week's focus doesn't thrill me, there's always next week. And with the numerous storylines running through 52, most of them are pretty good. Every once in a while you even get a peppering of hard sci-fi. Whatever "52" itself is supposed to be doesn't really matter at this point, I think the draw is getting your fix of what several different characters are up to. Knowing that all you need is the basic info saves us from several plots that certainly don't need their own book to draw out.
Sad to see the last issue of the Escapists, I hope they do more.
I also wanted to note the passing of Martin Nodell this past week. While my attachment has always been to the Silver Age Green Lantern, one could say there wouldn't be such a thing without the Golden Age version that Nodell created. A man in his 80's, I remember seeing him at cons year after year, still drawing. While I've always loved the character of Alan Scott, I have mixed feelings about the Golden Age characters hanging around in current continuity. Since DC seems insistent on keeping them around, I hope they are thankful for Nodell's contribution.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Strangers in Paradise
Modern Masters: Mike Weringo
I'll give New Universal a go, what the hell. But the treat this week is of course Modern Masters: Mike Weringo. I've been a follwer of Weringo's from day one, his art is the kind I love to see. I think he got a total raw deal when he most recently took over Spider-Man, it ran smack into "The Other" crossover and then into Civil War. That book never delivered what I hoped (and assumed) was intended, but the Mighty Marvel Marketing Machine took care of that.
Prior to that, Weringo was seen on Fantastic Four written by Mark Waid. What should have been a match made in heaven turned sour for me when Waid found the highest horse he could find and climbed on up. Thankfully there is always the fantasy adventure Tellos, which I still think is most of Weringo's best work. I was bummed when that ended (some years ago now), but even it got a little wonky at the end and lost focus. But the art was always tops. The latest Modern Masters is a great collection of Weringo's work with a lengthy interview. Lots of his mainstream stuff and plenty of behind-the-scenes Tellos art!