Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fun in a hotel: Photos with daddy pt 4

During this trip I took the girls to a hotel to allow their mother to have more time to herself and test me on taking care of the children completely by myself. The latter didn't happen exactly as planned (my mother visited late that night to help me put them to bed and we met again for lunch on the lake the following day). But we did have a wonderful time, and the girls were actually better behaved at the hotel than they were when in their own rooms (which confused them because the didn't know where mommy was and why I was there).

Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Quick Review: Best Regency-era book to contain the elitist phrase "No ninjas?! How is that possible? Five daughters brought up at home without any ninjas, I've never heard of such a thing!"

Not-as-Quick Review: The title of this book is one of the most accurate and descriptive titles I've read. This is the story of "Pride and Prejudice", yet it also includes zombies. The characters follow the same plot points as in the original book but do so under the constant threat of attack by plague-created zombies . As odd as the premise sounds, it works quite well and is highly entertaining. And in a few cases, the characters' actions actually make more sense in regards to this premise than their actions did in the original (more on that later).

The basic formula of the book is this: Introduce characters and give them a backstory with vigorous training in martial arts to defend against zombies (fighting and defending against zombies is the noblest art of all in this England). Proceed with Pride and Prejudice plot points and famous dialogue, occasionally adding a "zombie attack" action scene as characters travel to different locales. Kill off unnecessary characters in gruesome fashions. Add ninja bodyguards and kill them for extra fun. Repeat as needed.

Pride and Prejudice's primary story and dialog is renowned for a reason, and this book does not stray from it. The addition of zombies actually gives a few plot points more believability (slight Pride and Prejudice spoilers, but if you haven't already read the book/seen a movie, shame on you): In his letter, Mr. Darcy explains he separated Bingley from Jane because he believed Jane was stricken with the plague and would soon become a zombie since she was sick and bedridden at Bingley's house; Unbeknownst to Mr. Collins, Charlotte quickly marries him since she is stricken with the plague; Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth since she is the only person in England nearly his equal in zombie-killing skills (in addition to her other lovely qualities); Mr Bingley and Mr. Collins' antagonistic actions lead to satisfactory zombie-related conclusions (and not the endings you expect); Lady Catherine doesn't just demand that Elizabeth refuse Mr Darcy's forthcoming proposal, she sends an army of ninjas and then personally duels her "to the death" (maybe).

Conclusion: If you are a guy and have never read Pride and Prejudice you now have no excuse to miss out on this story, there is plenty of action, gore, and ninjas to keep you entertained. If you are a woman and love Pride and Prejudice as well as strong heroines, powerful and chivalrous men, and a healthy dose of action, then this is your new favorite book. If you are a purist and loathe change, then go stare at your wet-shirt poster of Colin Firth (oer Lawrence Olivier) and leave us to enjoy this wonderful book. Or go read Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. I hear it is good.

Twilight: the correct ending

It may be passé to make fun of Twilight now, but this video is too good not to pass up. This is how a movie about a teenager dating an octogenarian vampire should have began/ended:

Sadly, I'll still go see the sequel, but THEN 8 months later I will correct that mistake by posting another video pointing out its absurdities thus reclaiming my manhood... until the next sequel.

"Use protection, alright?"

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Disney meets Family Guy?

Living in the dorms we loved watching Family Guy. A few years after it was canceled you could find the entire series (at the time) for less than $30. Due to high DVD sales, probably to other college students like me, Family Guy was brought back on the air. But by the time new episodes aired (it can take a year to produce an episode) I had graduated and moved on to the animation industry. Suddenly I couldn't stomach Family Guy...

After focusing on animation, I saw how "cheap" Family Guy was. The writers literally wrote storylines that used the least amount of animation possible, sometimes freezing a pose for 30+ seconds or even randomly switching to live action sequences just so they didn't have to animate. Characters would shift to the same poses and freeze repeatedly while rambling awkward phrases that were only funny in a certain mindset. A job working as an animator on Family Guy did not sound like a good job, nor one that required much talent (at the very least the work stifled strong talent).

This week's episode involved a plotline where two characters visited different universes with versions of the Family Guy characters. One of those 'verses was a Disney-drawn universe:

If this was animated by the normal Family Guy animators (and not farmed out) then I am very impressed. And angry! If the animators can create this, then the producers need to allow more opportunities for animators to create high quality work! Yes, the final joke is crude and based on urban myths proven false. But the animation, for a TV show, is superb. I would love to see a Family Guy movie animated this well. It doesn't need the Disney character styles, but if the current character designs moved and flowed as well as they do here it could be a very entertaining movie.

The Robot Chicken joke afterwords is funny too, especially since the voice of Chris is the creator of Robot Chicken.

Mentor time!

Tonight was my first Q&A with my mentor at Animation Mentor and I am STOKED! This term I am solely focusing on polishing my reel to make it the best it can be (for the current time, it will be even better 6 mo from now, and even better 6 mo later, etc) so I was hoping for a strong animator to help me achieve this goal. I could not be happier...

My mentor for this term is Dave Burgess, head of character animation at Dreamworks. He was a 2d animator on previous films Disney films such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Lion King, and the a lead/supervising animator at Dreamworks on films such as Shrek 2, Madagascar, Over the Hedge, etc. This is going to be an amazing and intimate class (since it is only alumni this term there are just 6 of us in the class), and getting feedback from the head of character animation at Dreamworks is invaluable. It has been a long time since I was this excited about working on my reel and I can't wait to work with Dave on the necessary improvements! Woohoo! Let's bring it!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Get Out - Splining

New update to my Get Out shot!
Added lip sync and overhauled the ending poses based on my new reference last week. Still needs a lot of work in both sections but its an improvement over my last update:

You can see the previous update here:

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Running Progress

A new milestone (literally) on the path to a fitter Jay! Today I did my first morning run in 3 weeks. My previous run pushed my body too hard so I backed off for a few weeks and focused on cardio I could do in the house (yoga, plyometrics, etc). Since I hadn't run in a while I was under the impression my skills had regressed so I began today's run with the goal of doing 1 mile.

So I ran a mile. At the end of what I assumed was a mile (I never checked my distance during the run, I only listened to music and had a good estimate of when 8-9 minutes had passed) I still felt great so I continued to run. And run. And run. I decided to run until my body said "I am tired" and stop before it said "here, have some pain, that will stop you". When I finally stopped I checked my iPod to see what I had accomplished: 4.1 miles in 39 minutes! While it is not my longest run (nearly 7 miles, which killed my knees as mentioned above), or my fastest, it is the first time that I have severely underestimated my own fitness level and blew away a goal I thought I was going to be a challenge. It is also the first time I have run 4 miles without taking any "slow down" breaks, I maintained a constant 9:30 mile pace the entire time.

I am on my way to a fitter Jay!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Animation Mentor goes to the park

On Wednesday the company celebrated the end of Summer with a BBQ bash at the Berkeley Marina. I brought my trusty camera to see how many crazy events/employees I could capture.

Answer: a lot