Encounters blog – February

Apologies for the late update of this blog but I’ve been very busy last month as I started a job as a 3DS Max Animator/intern at Keyframe Studios in London. Overall it’s great working there, I’ve really gained a lot in terms of getting more used to 3DS Max as a program; learning the differences between animating using the CAT and Biped rigs, and learning to animate more quickly and efficiently than I usually would on my own.

One of the animations I’ve produced is a Javelin throw animation for Keyframe Studio’s mobile game, ‘Dashsports’:

I’ve also done some animations for Keyframe’s online nursery rhyme series for children. The animations themselves were used as a ‘bouncing ball’ type pointer with the sing-along sections, as well as the ‘don’t forget to like and subscribe’ scene at the end:

The full animation, done to twinkle twinkle little star, can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t8YiTMNgCZo

I’m still working on the lifting animation in my free time and right now I’m in the polishing stage. I had initially planned to release it soon after Christmas and I’ve spent a lot longer on it than I probably should have. That said there’s some extra stuff that I’d like to add to it before I put it online. Mainly sound effects and some background elements, as I feel they’re going to add a lot to it. Also, looking back on making Return, I actually really enjoyed the editing stage where it was all coming together and adding sound and music. So any excuse to do more experimentation with that is something I don’t want to pass up.

Stuff what I like (it’s a big one):

Serial Experiments Lain by Triangle Staff

A really interesting and strange avant-guarde anime focusing around the ideas of the internet and how a person’s identity and sense of reality can change when connected to such a large network. The pacing of it is great and the visuals, while at times really subjective and obtuse, support the abstract and surreal narrative really well. The structure and style of the show has been compared to Neon Genesis Evangelion’s later episodes, which is understandable. It’s true that both shows deal with identity and personality changes in different ways and both have really strong aesthetics (which at times can be very striking). That said, I would argue that Lain tackles the subject of identity far better, as its more consistent in the way it shows the theme by sticking to it fully and fleshing it out as much as it can using non-linear storytelling. Neon by comparison opted to use many different themes that at times felt discoherent and pretty superficial, as if the creators hoped that it would look more deep than it actually is (In their defence they do seem to have been truthful about the more superficial elements, such as the use of religious imagery: http://wiki.evageeks.org/Kazuya_Tsurumaki). I also feel that Lain offers a much better sense of closure than Neon did in its ending.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like stories which don’t explain absolutely everything and leave some interpretation up to the audience (I think it’s a great way to value the intelligence of your audience) and I can respect Neon for trying to leave some elements unanswered. I just feel that Lain answered enough of my questions to make it feel more satisfying and relied far more on visuals to convey the meaning whereas Neon felt like it relied way too much on flowery dialogue and shallow Freudian concepts in the end (the infamous ‘congratulations’ ending felt really anti-climactic). From what I’ve heard the development of the anime was pretty turbulent and marred by low budget near the final episodes, which probably explains part of the show’s schizophrenic turn in the later episodes.

I’ll admit this is ranty and if you still liked Neon despite it’s flaws that’s fine (I actually really liked some of the visuals and minor characters and would encourage others to watch it just to see what you make of it). I guess a part of me is just disappointed that Lain doesn’t have nearly the same amount of appreciation despite doing many things better than Neon. That’s not even touching the fact that portions of Neons fans take a very black and white stance to anyone who has the audacity to criticise Neon (although admittedly this isn’t exclusive to Neon and I can’t fault the show itself for that).

Matthewmatosis

A guy who does reviews and analysis of video games. I’ve been watching this guy’s stuff for quite a while and while some of his points I don’t completely agree with, he’s one of the best and most in-depth reviewers of video games I’ve seen so far. While his reviews aren’t completely without subjectivity, his analysis is the closest I’ve seen so far to being objective, he’s great at contextual criticism and manages to strike a really nice balance between analysing both the execution of the games mechanics but also its characters and story and how well they compliment each other. In particular his reviews of Metal Gear Solid 2 and The Wonderful 101 are extremely well done.

My personal favourite however is his Bioshock Infinite Critique. As someone who also thought elements of Bioshock Infinite were overhyped and not executed as well as it could have been, seeing this was pure catharsis and changed the way I look at video game design. I realise all of this praise may be pretty ironic considering I complained about black and white attitudes earlier, but I feel his stuff is at least worth checking out if you’re at all interested in video games analysis.

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