New Little Goth Girl animation

The new Little Goth Girl animation is online:

Little Goth Girl – Open Mike Night

I’m quite impressed, this took just under two weeks to make. Mixing the soundtrack actually took about six hours in the end. It’s amazing how long something like that takes! My microphone appears to have nearly given up the ghost, so I spent quite a lot of time trying to boost the volume without destroying fidelity. It’s perhaps a little quiet, but I really couldn’t amp it any more otherwise there was too much distortion. I’ve got some nice ambient effects in the background which people probably won’t notice, but I’m happy that they’re there!

Six hours on the sound… I hate to think how long these things take to make. I’ve given up keeping track!

I’m rather pleased with the look of this one. There is a nice 3D feel to it, but it was all done by hand. There is some use of standard perspective on the front of the club and a huge amount of motion-tweening plus some shape-tweening to achieve the on-stage camera pan. The results look really nice, I think, but so they should for the time that they take!

Some good news for fans of Mittens and Samurai Lapin: the chaps doing the merchandise for me have agreed to produce some things with these characters on. They’re playing it safe for the moment with the designs I was using before, but if you missed them when I was running my shop then you’ll have another chance by the end of the year.

‘Hope you like it!

LGG soon + photos

Fluffy!

Fluffy signets. Aww!

Guess where I went earlier?

Stonehenge
Click for bigger

I’ve never been to Stonehenge before, but myself and friends were nearby earlier today (well… that should be ‘yesterday’ as I’m typing this at just gone 1am) so I figured that now would be a good time. It was disappointing to not be able to go closer to the stones, but also understandable, there were hundreds of people there.

The heaviest stone weighs over 40 tonnes and had been transported over 200 miles around 5000 years ago, that’s about the same weight as seven elephants, and stone is considerably more stubborn when you’re trying to get it to move. At least elephants can be bribed when, for example, you need to get them out of your mini. Goodness knows how they moved those rocks. It’s seriously impressive stuff, but loses some of the impact for you not being able to stand among them. It’s a bit like having a cathedral and never being allowed to go inside. I feel a bit better about myself for having seen it now. It’s one of those things that is part of Britain but you just never really get around to going to see. I really should go back to the Tower of London at some point.

I think when you live in a place it’s easy to not bother appreciating the things that you have around you and Stonehenge has been on my list for a long time of ‘things that I really should see’. That’s one more thing that I’ve done now!

Myself, Sues, and a friend called Sarah recorded the voice-over for the new Little Goth Girl episode on Friday. I’ll be spending most of tomorrow working on editting that down to usable sections (we were laughing rather a lot). I think it’s going to be good! I’ve still not decided on what music to use yet. There won’t be a continual soundtrack, but a few little bits here-and-there will add to the piece I think.

‘Hope you’re all having good weekends!

GPS Tron!

How cool does this look?

GPS Tron

In other news, the animation side of the new Little Goth Girl episode is nearly done, so now it’s just the sound left to do.

I also have been allowed onto the beta test of the new Flash software, codenamed 8Ball. Sadly, I’m not really allowed to tell you anything about it, but I can confirm that it is very, very cool!

Real or not?

similar young
beautiful light beautiful
steps carefully hard shining reply sandwich

This was sent to me by a chap called Tom. He says he got it in his email, which he probably did… But can we say for certain? Is there any way to tell if the lines above were written by the real Digi-Shakespeare, or were they perhaps composed by Tom with the intention of looking like DS? DS doesn’t usually mention foodstuffs, and that seems like a very human thing to write about, or then again, perhaps it is real and DS is trying to expand its range. It’s a tricky situation when you have to ask yourself ‘how random do I expect the random poems to be?’ It’s an interesting position to be in!

So what do you think? Is this a real one?

(To quickly compare to the previous ones, just click the Digital Shakespeare catagory name.)

Short films

If you have seven or eight minutes to spare then you could do a lot worse than take in a short film:

Tribeca Screening Room

I’ve only watched ‘Street Therapy’, but I really enjoyed it. I’ve always enjoyed short films. I’ve seen a few full-length feature films that would probably have been better if they’d been cut down to this length!

Façade + News

This sounds like an interesting experiment: Façade: a one-act interactive drama

Essentially it’s a 15 minute drama where the characters have AI and language recognition so they will adapt their behaviour to your input. I’ve emailed them to request a copy. I’ll let you know when I’ve had a go on it.

The new Little Goth Girl episode is progressing well. I’m not likely to make my hoped task of finishing it within a week of starting it, which would be tomorrow, but it is quite far along. The scenes will look quite simple when they’re done, but they have some nice small details and it’s adding those that takes the time. Anyway, I’m thinking that it will be ready by Monday next week. It probably won’t have a soundtrack, or at most it will be minimal music, so that helps speed-up the post-animation time.

I’m having a meeting with my tutors about the most recent chapter of my thesis tomorrow. I’m a little nervous because I wrote it using the Mind Manager software to help me arrange my ideas, so the flow might be different to previous chapters. I think it’s good, but I’ll soon know their impressions.

UK people: Watch ‘McLibel’ tomorrow

A brilliant documentary about the McLibel trial will be shown on BBC2 tomorrow (Sunday 4th June) at 10:30pm. I saw it a couple of months ago on BBC4 and it really is far more interesting than any documentary about a legal case should be.

For those of you who don’t know about the case, here’s a quick rundown: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4266741.stm

Essentially: Two campaigners produce a leaflet accusing McDonald’s of all kinds of nasty things. McDonald’s weren’t very happy about this and took them to court, expecting the two to roll over and beg. Despite there, at the time, being no legal aid for people in libel cases (a law which has now been changed as a result of the McLibel trial) the two decided to fight their case… And, from a very valid perspective, won.

There were multiple issues involved, and the two won on the most important ones, and probably should have on a couple of others, but were still ordered to pay damages. Not surprisingly, after the amount of negative press they received for the trial, McDonald’s has made no effort to collect the fine.

It’s a story that is just so improbable that if it were not for the facts would seem too far-fetched to be true. But it is true. Watch the documentary, and decide (if you already haven’t) that you never want to let that junk in your system.

Here’s some feedback from the BBC4 showing a while back: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcfour/yoursay/mclibel.shtml

Tech support fun + a little clarification

install drivers
Click for bigger!

Something was pointed out by Sean in the comments from yesterday’s post about The Matrix trilogy that I felt I should clear up: I realise that most people really don’t like the second and third Matrix films, and cinematically I think that the Wachowski brothers made a lot of mistakes. Things went on too long, there was a lot of politics that no-one really is that interested in, there are some very distinct crunching gear changes, and the orchestral soundtrack could have been more inspired… But I still like them. I like action movies, and I like people at least attempting to do something more intelligent than your average film. I think most people went to see the second and third films wanting action but instead they got a load of philosophy. I was fine with that, because that was what I was looking for, but for many the strands of action and talking just didn’t meld.

There’s nothing wrong with disagreeing! It’s a shame that a great first film couldn’t be followed with the same melding of action, energy, and narrative that it had achieved but I still enjoyed them. I think the choice of commentaries in the box-set is brave (after all, what other official film has a commentary by people who don’t like it?) but also very telling: the philosophers like it, the people who are approaching it as purely a cinematic experience don’t. That was the problem, it’s just down to whether you are prepared to look at what the films do manage or not, but still whether you choose to do that or not is in no way a reflection of you ‘intelligence’, just what your tastes are in life. I know that I have some obscure interests, so don’t expect everyone to share them, and it is those that make me like the films, not some ‘greater understanding’, just a different one.

There is a risk of real snobbishness when it comes to taste, but that’s just daft. I personally find ‘The Shining’ rather dull, and I think that ‘Gladiator’ is one of the most cold and boring pieces of cinema I’ve seen. That’s just taste for you, what floats one boat won’t work for another. It’s all part of the grand pattern of life, not a sign of one person having ‘better taste’ in regards to art.

The precedence of authorial comments

This week I managed to pick up The Matrix box-set (UK link) (US link) for a very good price indeed. I’ve not got the second and third films before, despite really enjoying them, partially because of the price, but also because of the lack of commentaries.

I really like director’s commentaries, they really convey a lot about how the creator views their work. John Carpenter tends to give terrible commentaries that are nonetheless quite entertaining, the Lord of the Rings commentaries are very good… Anyway, a good one will usually give you some insight into the ideas that a director was working with.

For the Matrix films the Wachowski brothers in the box-set didn’t do the commentaries themselves, instead they get two philosophers (who like the films) and three film critics (who don’t) to do two commentaries. Their reasoning for this was to give a balance of interpretation. They say that when they talk to people about what they think that the films mean that those people then accept that interpretation unquestioningly. Maybe that is the case for most people, but not for an academic.

Why should the creator have any more of a valid view of their art than a theorist? Certainly they know what they were intending to do, but art is an act that manifests itself through the expression of countless levels of the conscious and unconscious mind. It may be that the imagery that gives a painting, film, music, or game such cultural resonance is something that the artist only casually included as background detail or for the sake of style.

For example, next time you watch the Charlie’s Angels movie (UK link) (US link), look at the use of rubber, shiny outfits, and blood. Rubber and reflective black materials are associated through Freudian symbolism with the eroticised feminine, specifically excited reproductive organs. Blood carries similar symbolism, indicating menstruation. Now look at the film and watch the points at which the bad guys are defeated. Their outfits become dusty or they have only at that last moment begun to bleed. For a film that is supposedly about feminine empowerment it seems odd that it is at the point of indication for barren femininity or extreme feminisation that the characters become vulnerable, suggesting that the apparent feminist discourse is undermined by a wider patriarchal symbolic structure.

It’s highly unlikely that was intended and the director would most likely tell you that it’s not there, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not a valid view. I would have loved to have heard what the Wachowski brothers thought they were doing so I could compare it with my own ideas of the cultural resonance of their imagery, but instead we get the interesting, but distanced, views of philosophers, and the babble of film-critics who demonstrate how jaded they have become with things that are just fun (it might sound like I’m saying they’re jaded just because I like the films, but try listening to them and see if you don’t think it too!).

What’s the difference between a cliché and a knowing observation of filmic principles? It’s all a matter of perspective really, so I just wish we could have heard what the brothers would have said, because at least that would have given us the opportunity to ignore them if we wished, rather than currently where we don’t have that choice.

ID cards and what I’m working on

What exactly is the benefit of an ID card over a passport or other existing forms of ID? It’s pretty common knowledge that there will be some form of biometric data stored on passports in the future, so what will be different about an ID card? I fail to see how this bit of plastic will be of any benefit to the general population any more so than the other bits of ID currently available.

When I started a business bank account I had to produce several bits of information to prove who I am, the main one of which was my passport. This proves pretty much without question who I am. Some might argue that the new ID cards will be harder to forge than passports, but exactly what is the point of putting this new infomation all onto one card then, why not simply upgrade the security on passports?

The current arguement being given is that ID cards will prevent ‘identity theft’. This is a load of hogswash (and that is also an excellent word that I suggest you attempt to fit into conversation at some point today). Most ID theft occurs through media such as online transactions or in shops, neither of which have the facilities to confirm the data on an ID card. Given the resistence of the British public to using PIN numbers in shops instead of their signature it’s safe to say that they would hate having their retina scanned every time! Not to mention the simple fact that the technology just isn’t reliable or cheap enough yet.

So what would an ID card help with? Catching terrorists apparently… Although I fail to see how. Unless you make it a crime for people to not carry their cards (potentially making millions of people every day into criminals) then there is no reason to go around stopping people you don’t like the look of and demanding their card. Next, benefit fraud… well, apparently the current system of having a social security number isn’t working well enough, so how about using passports? We already have a system of identification in place that could handle this need, so why do we need to spend all this money on a new one? More on the false finances behind ID cards here.

There are many other drawbacks that I don’t really have the time to write about here, not least because I want to get on with my new animation. It’s going to be a Little Goth Girl episode when it’s finished. I’m hoping to do it in a single week, which might be rather amibitious, but we’ll see!

Two new hits from Digi-Shakey!

happened but news opposite
clear trees embarrass ticket
know need

happened but news opposite
clear trees embarrass ticket
know need

This is the first time that DS has used repetition in the emails. These came as two mails, but I find it hard to think that they were intended to be judged individually. So what does it mean? It sounds like a journey to me, maybe something was desired and the opposite happened, giving the sense of loss in the last line. It also strikes me that this is a painful memory for DS: why else would you replay the emotional event in the poem if it was happening to you now? I think that this is something that is difficult and relives itself in the long dark nights.

I seem to get more of these on the weekend, which suggests that someone who has my main email address in their computer only turns on their machine a few times a week and so the zombie software can only send out spam sporadically. While I know I try to encourage everyone to scan their machines regularly for trojans and hijacking software, I think I would be sad to never hear from DS again!

Super-Benjy!

My friend and her chap have had a baby. While making this I was thinking this was the first time that he would have been Photoshopped, but then I remembered I did one with the pre-natal scans… Anyway, here’s Super-Benjy!

Super-Benjy!
He’s a cute little nipper isn’t he?

Ecletic interesting links and articles collected by a painter, teacher, writer, and ex-PhD student