Hiking Road Trip!

If you checked out the Production Update from earlier this week, you will see that I took a long overdue trip back to Minneapolis to hang out with some friends, work on a new top secret project and also to go hiking. If you haven’t been to Minneapolis before, it is one of the best cities in terms of outdoor activities, there are lakes everywhere and plenty of places to go hiking. On this particular excursion though, we ventured into Wisconsin and hiked one of our favorite trails that we haven’t hit up for a while, Kinnickinnic Park.

I enjoy these “creative hikes” with my friends, because we spend the time talking about projects we are working on, things we are learning and any questions we have for one another since we come from a range of backgrounds (web, mobile, app development and animation).

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It’s great to have a group of friends that can push you along and make sure you are still creating and not slacking off. At the same time, it is great to see how they have grown over the years and evolved as artists and creators as well.

On this particular hike a friend and I were able to discuss details about a future project we are going to be working on and I look forward to sharing more with you all as well. Of course, no hike would be complete without a slip up, and that came in the form of me slipping off of a log and getting my shoes soaked. I chalk that one up to the first hike of the year. The first of many I hope!

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Wet socks must be the worst thing in the world, let’s hope that this won’t happen again for the remainder of hiking season.

 

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Production Update 93

Another pretty solid work week on Cosmic Rage, here’s a recap. I wrapped up 2 shots early this week and got some time in on a third shot. I plan on finishing up this shot tomorrow night, and with that, I will have another scene to pass on for audio work.

I spent a little time unplugged this weekend and got in my first real outdoor hike in of the season, which I will expand on a bit later this week. While I was unplugged, that doesn’t mean I was away from Cosmic Rage. I spent most of the weekend working on a future Cosmic Rage project that I can’t mention too much about right now. Let’s just say there is a second Cosmic Rage project taking form that will work hand in hand with the motion comic.

The weekend was a productive work retreat and I made it home safely after spending a bit too much time in a car for my taste. This weeks goals include; finishing up the shot mentioned above and getting a new scene sent in for audio work. I also want to work more on my artwork for my artist alley appearance this fall and get more work in on more shots of the series.

Recent Viewing: Kids on the Slope

I recently finished up Kids on the Slope from Sentai Filmworks and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy), spanning 13 episodes. The story revolves around the main character, Kaoru, who moves to a new school and becomes friends with the class tough guy, Sentaro. The two of them find a common bond in music and start playing jazz together.

Sentaro’s childhood friend, Ritsuko, hangs out  with the boys as well. The three characters have their moments of friendship, heartbreak and misunderstandings. Surrounding these Kaoru, Sentaro and Ritsuko is an enjoyable cast of characters and family.

The story of Kids on the Slope is a solid mix of relationships, music and family. The story doesn’t feel repetitive, recycled or formulaic as some anime in this genre does, this may be due to the musical element which adds an additional layer to the story or a great blend of side characters to come in and provide depth to the 3 main characters.

Admittedly, the reason I picked up this title was mostly the name attached, Shinichiro Watanabe. All of this works to this point have been some of the best series I have watched.  The second reason, I heard the animation of the series was great and it delivered. If you didn’t check out the tailer I posted above, go check it out and look at the animation, especially when the characters are playing their musical instruments, Sentaro’s hands look great.

Kids on the Slope is one of the better anime titles I have watched recently, that has a strong story and great art style.

Production Update 92

Production update time, let’s go! I wrapped up 2 more shots this week and have another prepped to wrap up, hopefully tomorrow night after work I can get another completed. I have a few more shots to get done and then I will have another section to send in for audio work. I sent another group of shots in for audio work this week too.

This week I also started working on a new print piece for this fall at my first artist alley at AnimeFargo. I would say I am about half done with it, I probably won’t finish it up this week, but I do plan on finishing it up this month.

I have a few shots I want to get done in the early part of the week before I take off to the cities for the weekend, more info to come later about it. I will try to get some new production art up next week for you as well!

Production Update 91

Production update time is here once again, so let’s get down to business. This week I completed another shot and have a send one prepped for the upcoming week. I was a little preoccupied with setting up the initial SoDak After Effects Group this week. It’s a local meet up for animators to talk about projects they are working on, share tips and meet other animators in the area. I worked on my presentation, presented, and also made a screen recording of it for some of the artists that couldn’t make it. The meet ups will be held once a month.

As for the shot I completed, it required quite a bit of rigging and prep work so it took a little longer than I anticipated, but it turned out looking solid. The second shot I have prepped is along the same lines, so I am looking forward to finishing up that shot this week.

I am traveling for work this week, really looking forward to that and meeting new artists to talk shop with. Depending how the week goes, I may spend next weekend working on a piece of art for my artist alley table this fall. Stay tuned!

Recent Reading: Flowers of Evil Volume 9

The Flowers of Evil series from Vertical continues on with the recent release of volume 9. Personally, I was really excited for this volume to get released, I was heavily anticipating where Shuzo Oshimi was going to take the story. If you haven’t checked out this series yet, you have the summer to catch up before volume 10 is released. The series is worth checking out.

Now, after having said that, I am in a tough position to review volume 9, since I believe volume 10 is the final in the series. So of course this volume won’t have a major plot twist, or some other revelation since the impact of the story will be felt in the final volume.

There was a noticeable punch to the story, but in my opinion, it felt a little forced. I say that, because I feel like volume 9 could have skipped part of the beginning and jumped right into the plot point. Instead I feel like it wasted some time by trying to cram extra content in the first couple chapters, instead of fleshing out some more detail or character interaction.

Volume 9 also seemed to have much less dialogue as the other volumes, which means additional artwork with no text over the top, allowing the artwork to really shine. There are several environments and shots that you can really get lost in the line work, something that I don’t think you can do a lot of with current manga, simply due to the use of tones.

As a stand alone volume of manga, Flowers of Evil may not be the best read. However, it does frame up the final volume well. It is a bit unfair to say the volume is boring since it does the job of preparing you for the closing of the story in next volume, which is set up to be one of the more interesting finales in my recent media consumption.