Saturday, 30 June 2007

Day177 Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia
A good long review of the movie (saw it today) and all its aspects, its impact as well as the CG work. I havent read the book (in fact I hadn't even heard of it) but if the movie sticks closely to the book then it must be a beautiful piece of work. The book by Katherine Paterson , as I now know, is much loved and I will have to read it - the rest of this commentary though is of the movie (http://disney.go.com/disneyvideos/liveaction/bridgetoterabithia/ or http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398808/ this site plays the music :-). Oh and I will try hard not to spoil anything important for those who still want to see/read it.

[the movie poster and book cover images - from Disney and booksellers]

The Start
Right from the begining the movie shows us a special quality where the imagery of characters, fantasy sketches and the emotional music by Aaron Zigman combine to set an emotional stage for what is to come.

The Story and its emotions
Withouth detailing the full plot (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0398808/plotsummary) we have Jess and the new girl in school who becomes his best friend, Leslie. Together they deal with life at home, school and also in a fantasy world they escape to which helps them in relation to their families, friends, school bullies and even their own personal development. There is a certain amount of steriotyping going on in all the characters - the mains, the kids and teachers at school and the parents. For me they are still indearing and approachable and perhaps, like the fantasy world, just add to the telling of a story which is quite special.

The story is full of layers and concepts each given space to breath as the ideas circling the main characters unfold. The mood and treatment of the ideas slowly build upon each other showing us snippets of emotions across a spectrum which has us happy, worried, inspired, confused, thrilled and more before the climax and conclusion which brings a profound emotional effect while managing to take the plotlines to different and surprising places.

The whole thing left me with a deep emotional sadness and at the same time somehow wise and joyfully uplifted. Lets just say I felt like an emotional wreck.

The Pieces of the Puzzle
I really liked the cast, the two main kids were lovely and worked together nicely - we care about them and their interactions with others. I was a little too engrossed to appreciate the camera work, lighting, sound and such - though they certainly matched the overall quality of the film. The direction and other elements obviously bring the whole thing together in bringing a story of such profound sadness coupled with a truly inspirational feel.

The fantasy creatures played an important part in the look of the film and were clever in their 'childish' whimsy while showing a resolved refinement.

[images of some of the cast from the AOL movie site]

Onto the Effects
The movie doesnt live and die by its effects work - but the mighty folk from Weta in NZ bring to life a range of fantastic creatures, landscapes and effects to enliven their fantasy world. The creatures that are brought to life range from quite normal animals with subtle variations - to completely fanciful creations like the bird-cage lady.

The trailer (here on youtube) actually shows off Weta's work pretty well - in fact the trailer is almost a showcase for their work rather than the movie itself.




There isnt nearly as much CG work in this movie as the trailer makes out - it is there to breath some impact into the imagined world of the children of course and when the creatures battle the children it works in well enough for the technology of today. It is by no means seamless - the interactions with the CG creatures work best when they are with other CG things (like when the soldiers and squogres fight). Perhaps the better bits of CG work were the more subtle pieces, such as the ghostly work on the black lord dude.

[some CGI images from the movie from the AOL movie site]

[and some creature design images from the IMDB site]

The End
I like the way this movie/novel about friendship and emotions has the beautiful undercurrent of creative thinking and explorative imagination. Where people all too quickly seek to 'grow up' and do serious things, this should be a reminder of the joy in active imagining. Not just the passive consumer kind we get from media (and in fact books) but the freedom to invent, build, play and explore completely new ideas, worlds and more.

go forth and imagine, design, create, explore and live...
(perhaps a little too preachy there at the end :-)

Friday, 29 June 2007

Day176 Gamasutra

Gamasutra
I came across the Gamasutra site (http://www.gamasutra.com/) through a game design group that I am looking to be part of. More specifically I was pointed at this article "A Few Remarks on Creative Play" by Ernest Adams (http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20050429/adams_01.shtml). Ernest gives a very approachable look at gameplay types which divert from the competitive styling that most games follow to look at creative modes.

I also enjoyed their article on Zork (http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/1499/the_history_of_zork.php) - blimey this is bringing back distant and fond memories of playing this on one or other of the mainframes at UNE many moons ago. I remember my cousin and his friends spending long long hours in teams trying to solve the puzzles that were set before them by this little legend of a game.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Day175 iHype & GoogleDocs

The iPhone Approacheth
First up - I am one of the people who love the idea of the iPhone and if the real things comes close to that idea and/or the hype then it will be awesome. Obviously it is a fair while (next year) before it comes to Australia - but in the US they are already lining up to get their hands on one of these babies. Yes, it is still over 2 days away - but that isnt stopping them (http://crave.cnet.com/8301-1_105-9735707-1.html?tag=nl.e497). I guess it is like some of the game and console releases.
We made a few jokes about the Apple stuff today (I can joke now that my new Mac is on its way) that they were powered by hype :-) That said Australia has (I believe) the greatest penetration of iPods in the world = more than Hype.
Anyhow, the Apple US site (http://www.apple.com/) is all iPhone iPhone iPhone now and it looks beautiful. I am quite amazed how well Apple keep things as big as this so secretive and under wraps. The only 3 people I can recall having them were Steve and his iPhone dude in the keynote and the CEO of Google :-)
I will come back to the iPhone once the review start coming in a day or so.

Google Docs
There is a new interface for Google Docs - I noticed it today and it was a nice surprise. There doesnt seem to be much to the actual editor side, but the doc management bit is all new and clean. The new features (http://www.google.com/google-d-s/whatsnew.html) include folder views and a small handful of other niceties.
It is nice the way a free application set like this has ongoing development that sees improvements just pop into view for all of us. Google do a great job with this model.

Heroes
Just one more Ep to go now. The plot threads are all woven so tightly now that the heroes and other characters are falling like flies as the battle really begins. As always throughout the series I was on the edge of my seat - loving it!

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Day174 Dennis Allain

Dennis Allain
Following up a beautiful illustration in the 3D World Architectural Visualisation Supplement by Dennis Allain takes us to his website (http://www.dennisallain.com/). The image in the mag shows off a scheme sketch modelled in Cinema4D then completely 2D rendered in Photoshop to great effect. The work featured on his site continues in the same vain with lovely illustrative and emotive work that evokes alot more than much digital work can muster. The images which are probably a mix of digital and photography merge together so well with this treatment.


[some examples of Dennis Allain's work from his site]

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Day173 Architectural Visualisation Supplement

3DWorld Supplement
My nice new issue of 3D World (Issue 93 http://www.3dworldmag.com/page/3dworld?entry=3d_world_issue_93_now) is here and it sports a whole supplement entitled Architectural Visualisation - perfect timing considering the work we have been doing. The nice glossy little mag played a good role at todays meeting highlighting the discipline we are involved with. It is sponsored by AutoDesk which definately flavours the content. Though some other apps like Cinema4D get a look-in, but on the whole it is dominated by 3Ds Max. The Cinema4D projects actually are very nice and stand out a little from the crowd actually. The main stars of the show really are the renderers though and mighty V-Ray dominates this area as is so often the case. Maxwell and others get a mention here and there, but V-Ray has taken over. Despite Maya getting a mention at the front end as being used - nobody in the content us using it in this field, it is all 3ds Max. Some of the text talks about a filmic/cinematic approach to visualisation and presentation - Maya may end up with a bigger role if that trend continues...

[cover image from the 3dworld site for their supplement]

The firms who are featured pretty much all have some nice work to show off. I will have to look them up in more detail as time goes by - plenty of inspiration to be seen. One thing that doesnt rate a mention at all is the realtime capability in this field. There are both the serious applications like Virtools plus our favourite game engines (HL2 etc) which can now produce beautiful results and in real-time. Extend this category to include the Unreal3 and Crytec2 engines and the need to hit that 'render' button may change...
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Lara
Watched the first Tomb Raider movie the other day - has been a long time since I had seen it. It was lots of fun seeing how faithful the movie was to lots of the game which I now recall much batter having played Tomb Raider Anniversary. Ang makes a great Lara I think and really looks and sounds like her. Seeing the Manor in the movie (getting trashed as it does), plus the clothesand acrobatics just glued all these media together for me again. The ponytail, twin guns and the backpack etc can be seen in the shot below from TRA - lovely.

[screnshot of me playing TRA of Lara in her room]

Monday, 25 June 2007

Day172 Digital Signage and exhibition

Looked at a range of Digital Signage over above what I had looked at before.

Catchyoo
Had a play with Catchyoo's (http://www.catchyoo.com/) floor at CeBIT earlier in the year and it is quite attractive. It may lack any real usage or functionality - but it would still be a great way to welcome visitors to our spaces and to instill the future thinking and expressive nature of the work. Their floor (http://www.catchyoo.com/movies/movie/movie2.htm) accomodates a range of special effects which make it interactive. We played soccer, golf made footprint or water ripple effects and brushed things away to reveal more. In a design context it could be as simple as an interactive sign announcing a current exhibition or talk being given. It would certainly be fun on open day. They have a demo movie (just go to demo on their site http://www.catchyoo.com/) of it running as a table as well - it could be fun as an interactive bench even.

Ubiq'window
Ubiq'winodow (http://www.ubiqwindow.jp/english.htm) is a sort of touch screen type technology that actually doesnt require touch - just close proximity to any surface really. So it can be used for plasmas, rear projection or windows etc using infra-red detectors. I would have to play with it first to see if it was intuitive enough not having to actually touch the screen to get a response from the system. For a specially built application this may work ok with all the gestures etc - how well it works with whatever you have running is a different story (Sketchup or GoogleEarth for example)
Command (http://www.commandaustralia.com.au/products/projectionfilm/mirrorvu.shtml) here in Oz have a way for us to see the image on both sides of the glass which would be great ofr our front wall here in FBE.

NextWindow
NextWindow (http://www.nextwindow.com/products/index.html) uses a glass panel in front of the screen area to provide the touch capability. This also protects the screen which could be useful to us. I like the idea of building the equipment into a solution, making it feel integrated and part of a spaces design. I am not so keen on the tech just being applied as an after-thought obviously, but in existing spaces this means greater expense to have displays properly installed.

[images from the NextWindow site of their product installed]

I have visited this sort of tech on a few occasions before:
http://3doinkfrog.blogspot.com/2007/06/day148-roboredcentre.html
http://3doinkfrog.blogspot.com/2007/05/day147-digital-presentations-and.html
http://3doinkfrog.blogspot.com/2007/03/day85-max.html

Sunday, 24 June 2007

Day171 TRA

Just a friendly bit of Tomb Raider Anniversary play.
Wes did get a copy of Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion today - so I will get onto that after TRA.
Anyhow, after Alicia showed me where I was stuck, I completed a huge chunk of the Manor - lotsa fun. It was so good getting the grappling hook and then going to town. As you get more used to the controls it is lovely to see how acrobatic Lara becomes. Obviously the world is carefully crafted to match her capabilities, but visually this isnt important.