Saturday, 15 October 2011

Black Swan

Watched the magic of Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan (DVD) last night for the first time and I am still enthralled. The passionate film is tense and engaging as well as overflowing with lovingly integrated VFX work.

I really like seeing the behind-the-scenes of things, whether it be a documentary on the making of lego, to the special features on our DVDs to seeing dancers gearing up for performances. Black Swan transports us behind the front face of a ballet company to see the talent, stress and hard work of the dancers. Natalie Portman is simply superb showing the range of characters as her roles as the white and black swans intertwine in her mind. The other standout (apart from the majesty of the dancing itself) was the cinematography. I am no expert in this area, but Matthew Libatique I think successfully brings us unto the world of the dance and the mind of our protagonist.
All up, a superb film that I recommend on many levels (though not one for the kids...)

The visual effects work is beautifully seamless, we have face and head replacements, mirrors, feathers and more. The attention to detail here is beautiful and LOOK FX have done a nice job of the effects not taking over the shots. Check out this VFX reel to see just how seamlessly the effects work comes together and delivers on enhancing the whole experience. The CGSociety article gives us more detail plus stills as well.

[CG Production Shots from Black Swan via the CGSociety article]

An interviews with Natalie and Darren on the dancing and prep:

Lastly a few pieces of concept art - who doesnt love some cool concept art. These 2 images by Alex Mandra are from his blog post and show the swanification of the dancer.

[Alex Mandra concept art for Black Swan via his blog]

Sunday, 9 October 2011

The Lineup

Here are my WoW characters that I consider active, just the one 85, but all fun in their own way and all proudly members of our Chilli guild. The game is still a great escape (stress reliever) as well as vehicle for me and kids to play together when we are inside doing something semi-active.

City of Heroes Freedom

Free-to-play comes to City of Heroes in the form of their Freedom update. I have the fondest of memories for the game which had the best roleplaying of any MMO I have played so far as well as the most engrossing character creation. It is possible I spent more time creating characters than playing them. If I had friends to join me I would love to head back in again and get that super feeling again. There are the 3 tiers of subscription now from free to VIP.

Here are a few images of how it is all looking now in Issue 20:

[City of Heroes Imagery via the official site]

WoW 85

The kids and I never dreamed of of having high level characters when we began World of Warcraft characters together. We were watching Charmed DVDs together at the time and decided to create 3 caster sisters to adventure together and the Chilli sisters were born. So the Blood Elf  Mage, Warlock and Priest set out to explore Azeroth doing as many dungeons as we could given our caster group. We played in pockets, diving in a little more when school holidays would come around.

Well this school hols the final step was taken, the original Chilli's hit 85. Having never had a max level character in any game, this was quite something for me, but all the more impressive that we did it together. Along the way we have plenty of other characters that adventure together in various ways, questing and instancing plus doing trades along the way (I enjoyed maxxing Herbalism and Alchemy).

WoW has proved to be a remarkable gaming environment, catering to all manner of play desires and allowing our casual group to progress and enjoy the experience as a little family. Blizzard have done a super job of crafting a game that continues to grow and draw us in.

I think what I will do next is a few drawings to celebrate the 3: Alichilli, Nachilli and Kischilli.

In the meantime, here are some official promo images for the 4.3 expansion as the Cataclysm storyline continues to unfold - I think the team does a great job of injecting so much quality into an engine with such a low polycount and tech bar.

[Catclysm art via Blizzard - shrunk]