The Animal Farm

October 29th, 2007

V is for Victory!

This is the movie that got us second place at the film festival!

I voted for the other guy.

October 29th, 2007

Film Festival: Impressions

I just got back from the film festival.  The festival had a pretty nice turnout of I think 10 or so movies.  The first 7 of them were rather short and a bit unimpressive.  I had a few knee-jerk laughs coming out of me at some points, but most of them lacked any real substance.  All of the first 7 were really short.

A noticeable theme in all of the movies but the last two was humor.  This didn’t strike me as odd partly because our submission was of the humor genre and partly because humor tends to be easier to film.  Maybe not easier to write, but definately easier to film.

Our movie was by far the longest, clocking in at about 14 minutes, one minute shy of the maximum allowed.  I thought our movie was one of the better ones, but definitely not the best.  It did win second place, which I don’t really think it deserved, even though I voted for it.

The last two movies after ours were really well done.  The first, Bells and Yellow, was a comedy as well.  Its.. I guess cinematography is really where it shined.  It was pretty funny as well, but all of the post-production that went into it was very well done.

The final movie, Epoch, was bloody brilliant.  It was the only serious movie of the lot and it did that very , very well.  Everything from the  production quality to the acting to the camera angles was spot on.  I should have voted for this movie, really.  I think these guys have some actual filming talent and should persue a career in it, it was THAT good.
Unfortunately, Epoch didn’t win anything, and it should have.  Bells and Yellow took first place.  Both were better than our movie, I think.

The Epoch guys did a short film after Epoch that was just creepy.  It was equally well done though.

Unrelated Note:
I am a bad student, a very bad student.  I managed to clock probably over 1.5 days played in WoW over the past 4 days, instead of doing any work.  I feel bad about this in retrospect, but I really enjoyed my completely worthless weekend.

~Zach

October 29th, 2007

And Scene

Editing on the movie is finished. There are a few jerky cuts and a few places where the movie is less than stellar, plus the sound quality is a crime against man. But overall I’m satisfied. If you’re in the neighborhood, come by and see it at the Warner at 7:00 PM.

My experiences trying to create a DVD shattered any preconceived notions of human decency I had maintained. The standard Roxio DVD creator comes with three themes: Tropical, forest, and bouquet. Since this isn’t a wedding video and doesn’t have a single tree in it, I’m forced to call those options unsatisfactory. Which wouldn’t be a problem if they would let me create my own theme or at least put in a different background, which they don’t.

Windows DVD Maker isn’t much better. It’s a little more flexible. I can put in my own background. It insists that I have a “Scenes” menu item, even if it has to wildly guess at what portions of the fifteen minute movie constitutes a scene. It also insists that my menu be preceded by a three second clip of something, so I was forced to precede it by a three second clip of my background. But at least it’s passable.

In my quest to find something better (let it be known that I eventually settled with Windows DVD Maker), I went through about three different programs. Not counting the two or three that tried to install spyware on my system. One program never made it past 8% of the video encoding, which is a profoundly random number to stop on. One program finished without imposing some silly menu structure, but then changed all the colors in some fashion that could only be described as random. It wasn’t color inversion. It was arbitrary color changing. One program just… didn’t. And Ricky’s Mac program didn’t even recognize the file format, which was a pretty normal MPEG-2.

Keep in mind this was all after I had to struggle to figure out the program encoding settings to ensure maximum quality while not taking 3 hours/20 gigs to encode.

So, yea, good times.

School’s out forever.

October 27th, 2007

Legends of Rock

I am not impressed with Guitar Hero 3.

Let’s start with the XBox 360 guitars, which are just awkward. The whammy bar is placed to get in the way of your pinky. The top juts out, restricting what you can do with your arm. The strap is arranged such that the guitar naturally tilts up, which accidentally activates your star power frequently.

The interface is unenchanting. The star power indicator is hard to judge. The hammer on/pull off indicators literally glow, which can distract from the rest of the notes.

Then there’s the way the notes are arranged. Harmonix did a good job making hammer ons/pull offs feel natural, letting your fingers flow even if it wasn’t technically correct. These guys force you to strum in awkward places, breaking the flow considerably.

And of course, finally, we have the song list. Which seemed good on paper, until you actually play it and realize there are no real guitar solos. It’s all chord shifts. They increase difficulty by making you do a ton of 3-finger chord shifts, which it turns out is more frustrating than fun.

I’m pretty disappointed. I was expecting greatness, and instead all I got was something to pass the time until Rock Band comes out.

My name is Jonas

October 26th, 2007

WoW for realz

I’ve been really busy lately.  Either that or I’ve been busy enough and have more things to do than I can do in the free time I have.  Either way, I took a 3ish week hiatus from WoW that just recently ended.  I wrote a post a bit ago that mentioned how annoyed I was at the fact that I was running dungeons a LOT and never seeing the supposedly 1 in 10 drops that I should’ve been seeing.  It appears this streak of bad luck is over, because in the last 2 days I got two of those items.  This makes me happy because I can finally progress a bit with Zakarus.  Heroics might be in store in just one more item.

On another note, Brian is right about Odin Sphere, the slow-down is really annoying and I can’t believe they would release a game this late in the PS2’s life that has those kinds of problems.  It is a shame he won’t be playing it anymore, it was really fun to watch.

The new Coheed and Cambria CD came out on Tuesday.  I have to say that I am really happy with it.  First of all it was only 10 dollars.  Second of all, all of the songs are really good.  I have to admit I’ve been listening to it on random since I got it, so I may have missed  a song or two, but all in all I am very happy with it.

Ricky recently bought Veronica Mars season 3 and we just watched the first episode of it last night.  I forgot how good watching that show can make me feel.  Honestly, some of the best television ever made right there, shame it is done now.

~Zach

“Boom goes the dynomite.”

October 25th, 2007

Yuckers

Things that are irritating me these days:

(1)Odin Sphere. I likely won’t be picking it up again. The current boss I’m on drops enough stuff onto the level such that the PS2 lags to the point of unplayability. I can’t win, largely because I can’t move. I could probably go level grind enough to make the boss beatable regardless, but no. That’s not going to happen.

(2)Premiere. It does not play well with my new system. It crashes often. Sound gets out of sync, and it won’t get back in sync until I restart. Screen captures taken don’t accurately reflect what is on screen at the time. It’s just become a mess to work with.

(3)Being woken up before midday for silly reasons.

That’s about all.

Yuckers to all that

October 23rd, 2007

Odin Sphere

Picked up Odin Sphere ’cause I’d heard good things, and all those good things are true. Fabulous game. It’s the prettiest thing you’ll ever play, without exception. Gameplay mechanics are relatively simple (it’s a hack-n-slash mostly) with depth progressively added such that you do end up having to use a fair bit of strategy/thought. And it’s hard hard hard. I died upward of six or seven times on the first three bosses. Minibosses regularly butcher me, and even regular sections can provide significant challenge. Luckily if you die you just restart the section, so you don’t have to replay sections repeatedly. So far the story is solid, albeit a bit simple. But I’ve completed less than one fifth of the game so far (the Valkyrie’s story). There are still a bunch of different characters I’ll get to play as. All the voice acting is fairly good, and the characters are enjoyable, although none really stand out yet.

So, yea, I very much recommend picking it up. It’s one of the best 2D action-RPG hybrids out there.

Teaching inner-city school children how to read.

October 22nd, 2007

Stupid Heroes

Kring, take notes.

The girl in New Orleans is wildly uninteresting. There’s not a single character that could be written that I could care about less. Pairing her up with Micah only makes her less interesting. Either get her out of New Orleans and make her do something dramatic or let Sylar kill her off. Whatever you do, she should never take up the majority of the episode.

It’s time for Hiro to come home. This whole ancient Japan thing isn’t going anywhere.

Did you seriously green-screen Bennett and the Haitian and then put them in a London-esque setting?

The villain is looking good. The scenes with Parkman and Petrelli are coming together nicely.

Do more with Peter. There’s so much room for awesome scenes with him, but he’s practically wasted. The fact that he never had a proper fight with Sylar is criminal enough.

More Sylar. Always more Sylar.

Less West. And less trying to write teenagers. None of your writers are good at it.

Always more Sylar.

October 17th, 2007

Editing, cont…

Ricky managed to remove the letterboxing from the footage, which is critical in at least two respects: (1)I can crop some of the scenes such that some of the things that weren’t supposed to be shown (big lights) can be cut out, and (2)I can make some improvements to the montage without it looking hackish.

We managed to move more of the footage onto the computer and have noticed a significant downward spiral as the day progressed. The final major scene (a scene where Ricky flips out, which is supposed to segway straight into the montage) is getting cut. It’s bad. Real bad. We’re just going to put a “confessional” scene before the montage instead. I’m iffy on the scene where Stephanie announces her pregnancy. I think with some clever editing it can turn out OK, but I’m not sure how welll it’s going to flow with the rest of the material. We’ll just have to see.

Filming continued a bit today, with Taka coming over and a surprise appearance by John. We easily went through seven takes of the dark conference room scene, and I’m still not sure if it’s good enough to put in. We filmed the car crash scene a large number of times as well, with Ricky nearly killing us each time. Tomorrow’s the last day we’ll have available to do any filming before the weekend (Zach is leaving Friday and making me drive him to Cumberland…bah). There are only a few short scenes left and then some random small clips needed for the intro song and the montage, so I don’t think it will be much of a problem. By the end of the weekend, I should have a significant portion edited.

Now I’m going to move away from film talk for a bit.

I’m probably not picking up Final Fantasy 12 again. It’s not holding my interest, and the battles are frustrating and the dungeons are frustratingly long. There’s nothing quite as disheartening as dungeon-crawling for fourty five minutes only to be killed by random insignificant enemies. Not to mention that the flow of each battle feels entirely too much like an MMO to me. I can pick up FF11 if I want this nonsense.

It looks as though Szarko and I may be creating a game. He tossed an idea to me yesterday and said he’d have some art to show off by Monday, and if he has some decent stuff I’m sure I’ll start programming the same day. It’s nothing too horribly ambitious - probably a small puzzle game - but still a fun little diversion when the only programming I’ve done in a long time has been for school or research.

Something tells me I’m blind.

October 15th, 2007

Editing, et al

Just a quick update before I go to bed.

Editing the film has proven… tricky. It’s unfortunate that our lighting is so abysmal (film experts we are not). Some of it I can hack around, some of it is just going to have to look less than ideal. I’m not sure we got as many takes of some scenes as we needed; I’m finding a lack of good options when trying to find ways to cut between scenes. There’s some good stuff in here though, and I’ve definitely learned a lot for next time. If there is a next time. I dare say we may never hear from the cast again. But I must thank them; they were all very classy people.

On a related note, special thanks to John and Nessa. John did an amazing job with his camera work. There’s some stuff in there that looked like it could have been ripped straight from The Office. Nessa did a fabulous job with the makeup as well. I’m afraid it won’t look as good on the actual footage as it did in person, with the horrible lighting and the video quality, but that’s just something we’ll have to wait to see. I hope it all comes through.

On a completely unrelated note, I picked up Final Fantasy 12. Not too thrilled so far. I entered one dungeon, got engrossed in one thing and then another, and didn’t see the outside until three hours later. There was one hour-long segment where I wasn’t sure I was going to make it; half of my party was down and I was up against some nasty foes. Had I died, my time with the game would have finished right then (I’m not about to replay that much grinding), but I was barely able to reach the next save point.

Also picked up the Orange Box, which has been great, just like everything else Valve has produced. Team Fortress is taking up more of my time than I expected it would. Portal, while short, is very cool. Eerie and creepy and mildly humorous. I haven’t even broken into Episodes 1 & 2, and to be honest I’m not sure when I’m going to find the time.

Oo, and I lied last time. The script hasn’t been posted yet. But it’ll go up sometime this week. Hopefully. If I’m not a liar. Again.

I know you can heal, but I never want to see you hurt.