Production Update 75

Here is it… The final production update of 2013. I have a little bit more of a retrospective of the year planned for later this week, but today is the usual in terms of going over things that were completed this week and what is on deck for the week.

This week I was able to get through some of the character base colors for the scene I am working on. I am about half done with this step. I am layering the characters colors in ways that will make for easy updates to create more characters, so it is coloring areas that can be changed in one quick step which means all colored areas need to be planned out.

While I didn’t get much done on Cosmic Rage this week, I did make some great progress on a couple loose ends that I look forward to sharing with you. I also had some hours to log in for work this weekend since it is the end of the sports season, which is no big deal. The other project was finishing up some art assets on a game I am working on with a friend. The game was shelved for a while but we have been able to get back at it and we should be launching in early January for iOS. You can bet it will get a post all to itself when it ships.

I have a little bit of work to do on the freelance front and also on the game but I am hoping to get them both knocked out tomorrow night. I also have Wednesday off this week for the New Year and I will be back at coloring the characters so I can wrap up this phase and get onto animating again! I am also planning a little special post for Thursday for some of the newer followers and even some stuff that goes beyond that.

Recent Reading: The Flowers of Evil Vol 1

I have been trying to catch up on some reading and I had to revert back to volume 1 of “The Flowers of Evil” by Shuzo Oshimi since it has been a while and I had to get caught back up. I reviewed the anime a while back and since the chances of a season 2 are probably pretty slim, I wanted to see the story to the end and picked up the manga. Here is the volume 1 cover.

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One of the first things you will notice is the lighter art style. The artwork doesn’t get bogged down with a heavy use of tones. Here is an image of the manga art but also the side-by-side anime adaptation as well.

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As for the story, it revolves around Kasuga who lives in a small town in rural Japan. He loves books and he feels that no one really understands his love and knowledge for books.
One day while walking home from school with his friends, he realizes he forgot his book back at school and turns back to go get it. While back at the classroom he sees that someone forgot their gym clothes in the school. Kasuga walks over and checks them out; discovering that they belonged to a girl in class he likes Saeki. Suddenly, Kasuga hears a noise and in his moment of panic runs out of the school with the gym uniform all the way back home. Kasuga finds himself in a whole new predicament when he finds out a girl in class witnessed him take them clothes, Nakamura. Nakamura promises Kasuga his secret is safe with her as long as he enters into a contract with her. Kasuga must now obey Nakamura or his secret will be known by everyone in class.

One of my favorite aspects of this series is the character development. The manga and anime remain true to one another in that regards and so far the manga and anime seem to be on the same storyline for the first volume. I also enjoy some of the artist’s notes throughout the book as he usually mentions real-life inspiration behind some of the scenes, people and authors that are mentioned in the story.

I will be posting up further reviews on the series. If you are currently reading the series, volume 8 will be out in early January from Vertical.

Production Update 74

This past week seemed to fly by so let’s see what all went on in the Cosmic Rage universe this last week. I started working on the character inkings for the initial establishing shot to one of the scenes where most of the action takes place in the first episode. I have a couple more to do and also have coloring and shading to do as well. I have done a little bit of traveling for the holidays so it kinda made inking a little difficult since I ink digitally. All is not lost though!

I was also able to get some renders done for future scenes using the same environment set up. So I am getting ahead on a few renders in the process as well. Perhaps next week I will get some more production art online so you can see how the process is going.

A friend of mine and I have also jumped back into another project of ours. It should only require a few hours of work and is something we have put in quite a few hours on so we need to wrap it up and get it out. I hope everyone has a great holiday break and we will see you on Thursday for another manga review!

Recent Reading: Tropic of the Sea

I was cruising through the local used book/music/movie shop in town and I discovered “Tropic of the Sea” by Satoshi Kon. I heard vaguely of the title a little while back, it was one of his earlier works and it was finally getting a release in the US. Check out the cover below…

Tropic-of-the-Sea-coverThe story is all wrapped up into one stand alone volume so there is no need to chase after subsequent volumes. If you are curious of the artwork, here is a page sample as well…

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The story revolves around a family that overseas the Mermaid’s Egg at a shrine. The city the shrine is located in is undergoing some transformations and is under construction to become more of a tourist destination. Through the story there is a little bit of a struggle between natural beauty and economic development of the area, which made me wonder if this was more about a social commentary on the issue or if it is intended to be the backdrop for the story.

Yosuke is the main character of the story (he is feared in the above artwork in the bottom middle panel with dark hair), he is set to become the next keeper of the Mermaid’s Egg. The town has a festival to celebrate the occasion and the economic developers attend. The Mermaid’s Egg becomes an object of desire for the developer and Yosuke and friends must retrieve the egg so the seaside city can have great fortune in terms of fishing.

Originally the story was released in a weekly magazine, so there are a few little pacing hiccups. I am not sure if they were the breaks in between volumes or not. They can be a little distracting if you read multiple chapters at once.

In terms of artwork, I find the style very refreshing. Personally I enjoy less toned work that seems to be the norm in todays market, just a personal taste. I like pages that seem lighter and less heavy through dark tones and blacks.

The story isn’t quite what I expected. The title makes no reference to mermaids and the actual story doesn’t deal a lot with mermaids either. Despite not being what I expected (for better or worse), it was a fairly light read with no complex story lines and was a nice way to pass some nights. The story was enjoyable and could have easily been made into an OVA when the story was published.

I have heard some complaints about the story, artwork etc. I didn’t have a problem with the title. If you are interested in a one off, short read narrative give it a shot. The book is available from Vertical. Production Update Monday before the holiday!

Production Update 73

The holidays are closing in, which means there are a lot of nice holiday shopping deals. One of which included a nice external hard drive I was able to pick up and use solely as a dedicated drive for Cosmic Rage materials in case the worst should happen.

Last week the render for the main scene was completed, however, I did mess up a setting for the depth pass I needed so I got one of those rendered out without having to render out the entire scene again. This took only one night so it didn’t set me back too much at all. I also took a little time away from the computer just to unwind a bit.

This week I also started compositing the scene as well. With a new depth pass I was able to get everything in the scene set up. I did run into a small snag though, I realized I never colored and shaded the people that are going to populate this scene. The reason that happened is because I had their files in a different folder, the Master Content folder. So this week I will be going through those and finishing up inking some of them as well as coloring and shading them as well. I am hoping to get that completed this week, I do have to travel one night and also finish up some holiday shopping.

That’s not all though! I also started messing around with the final output for the first episode. While I want to push Cosmic Rage out to several different platforms when the time comes, I do want a mobile version for phones and e-readers. So I am dabbling in seeing if I can make an e-book with auto playing videos and pages for the user to read through for dialogue. Since I am not familiar with some of the e-book publishing methods and such this will be a little bit of a slower process but I decided to start working on that so  it is not a problem at the end. I also like to read through it as I go to make sure the story is still coming together as I like.

Stay Tuned for more updates! I am still working on a post for later this week, it may be a manga review!

Recent Viewing: Pacific Rim

I have had several friends tell me since the Pacific Rim hit theaters that I needed to go and see it. They said that if anime was ever made into a movie, it was going to be this flick. It was some big statement to make, but I finally gave in and decided to check it out.

If you watched the trailer, it basically summed up the premise of the movie. The giant monsters called Kaiju are wreaking havoc on cities and it is up to man to pilot giant robots called Jaegers to take them on. Each Jaeger is composed of 2 pilots that need to merge minds in order to operate the robot. So the plot follows some of you standard mecha series/films plot points.

One of the knocks on the film when it first came out, and one of the positives for some people, were that they felt the film followed Neon Genesis Evangelion too closely. I recall both points from social media when the movie was out, which was one of the reasons I stayed away for a bit. The bipolar effect of the film was astounding. It seemed as if it was a love or hate movie.

I fall into neither tent in regards to the film. I thought there was some good things about it and also some turn offs. Let’s start with the positives.

From an art standpoint, I thought the film was great. The CG was awesome and I felt the kaiju were interesting, even if they didn’t appear a little dark in terms of color, which is really only an issue if you want to see more detail. It was nice to see actual creatures instead of other robots or humanoid type opponent.

The cities and environments were bright and vivid. Areas with neon lights and scenes with bright skies and even the memory scene were all fun sets. The bright color added a lot and made the scenes more interesting overall as well as providing a sense of character. Conversely, some of the scenes that took place in the water were less entertaining to me since I didn’t feel like there was a good sense of where things were since they were out in the open.

I felt the pacing of Pacific Rim was fair. It followed the traditional action movie of starting off with a big action sequence and and filling in story as it progressed. I like stories that do this, in my opinion it jump starts the process of making the audience care for a character.

Now onto the things I felt were a little lacking in the film. In my opinion the acting left quite a bit to be desired. Several of the characters seemed to be too over the top and there were several characters that seemed a little more cold and uninteresting in terms of tone and overall character. I didn’t really feel anything in particular to the main characters. There was a lack of something (maybe charisma?) in the main character that I couldn’t get full behind him at times. His character seemed a little bit too formulaic and the performance was a little flat. The characters that were over the top, I felt should possibly have been more reserved and a couple of the heroes of the story should have been the larger than life and in your face characters.

My other negative point also feeds off of the bipolar emotion the film invokes and that is some of the storyline points. It seems as if the formulaic points of the characters also made their way into the story, but not all. The montage of kaiju attacks at the start of the film explaining their origin and such I thought was great. I also thought the end of the film was unique, but I feel that other things in the middle were as a result of a formula. Like they had a great start and end but highjacked the middle of a typical mecha or action story. The world and characters should have been more open to an unconventional line. I don’t want to spoil any of the story in case you want to check out the film, but I would be interested in others points of view if you thought the story and such suffered from that or not.

I don’t want to really touch the topic of if the film “stole or borrowed” too much stuff from Neon Genesis Evangelion. In my opinion I didn’t feel like it really did. For all the things I heard I was expecting more things inspired by Evangelion but I didn’t see anything too obvious. The kaiju have different origins than the Angels in Evangelion, the mechs are different, the characters in Pacific Rim don’t suffer from all of the mental disorders as the characters in Evangelion do as well. The main characters do not cross over, the ages aren’t the same, even some of the genders aren’t the same. I saw no Misato or Rei characters in Pacific Rim. The mech designs I would say are more inspired by a Gundam franchise. While there were some similarities, I didn’t feel as if anything was ripping anything off.

Overall it was a solid film that I am sure I will rematch here and there. I haven’t checked out the special features yet though either. A second film is rumored to be in the script writing phase so it is unknown yet if a second film will be out. The US release didn’t do that well, but it did well overseas.

Production Update 72

I hope everyone had a great weekend. I have been indoors all weekend since I am currently in the Dallas area and the snowstorm here has been pretty epic. The majority of the metroplex has been shutdown and travel has been a severe challenge. A simple google search will bring up all kinds of pictures and videos from the storm. Things should start to thaw out today.

Anyways, I made a good amount of progress this week on Cosmic Rage. I was able to get a test render complete, this involved a textureless render with passes so I could make sure everything was set up correctly. Since the textures weren’t rendered, it rendered over night and I was able to do some test compositing and layering to see if the scene was going to work. By doing this, I found a few areas I needed to correct.

I was also able to take care of the above mentioned corrections and get a final render set up to render. The render should finish up at some point Monday which means I can get back to working on some things this week. For the longer renders I hope to get some drawing done since any computer work slows down the longer renders, however, I have been working remotely the last couple weeks and don’t have some of my drawing materials with me.

With this environment now complete, I can use this for the environment for the rest of the shots in the scene. I am hoping I can get into pattern of rendering other shots out at night while getting more work done at nights. I’ll keep you posted as usual!