Japan Adventure Day 4

Day 4 of my adventure in Japan started with a walk to the train station before we began our over 2 hour train ride to our seaside destination. The train ride was a nice changes of pace from walking everywhere in the humidity. Once we were out of the city we started to see more mountains, vegetation and also bits and pieces of the coast. It was the first time during the trip that we were able to see that much of the countryside. It was just as beautiful as I had imagined it from watching films like My Neighbor Totoro. My favorite part of the train ride was going into tunnels that and seeing the ocean as soon as we exited the tunnel.

After the train ride we arrived at a small seaside city and checked into our ryokan. The first item of business was to order some lunch. The meal was awesome and extremely large, taking up an entire platter. We spent the rest of the afternoon getting some much needed rest and relaxation. I spent the majority of the afternoon swimming in the ocean since this trip was the first time I had experienced the ocean.

After the afternoon swim, I went back to the ryokan and cleaned up for the festivities of the night. I sported my yukata that I picked up at Asakusa the previous day and we headed to the train station to venture to another nearby seaside town.

Tonight there were a few vendors selling various foods, most of the vendors would be open the next day. My high school friend and travel buddy was persuaded into eating food from one of the vendors after he sold him on eating something that looked like a corn dog covered in mayo and onions. A few of us grabbed some food as we made our way to the river for the launching of the lanterns.

There was very relaxing music being played as people would walk down the dock and launch lanterns. We were told that the lanterns had wishes on them and they were various colors. People lined up on bridges, the river front and everywhere else to take pictures and catch a view of the lanterns floating down the river.

We watched the lanterns for quite a while before we headed to a nearby ramen shop to get some eats for the night. At the shop was a local who was a big guy. We had a traveler in our group who was about his size and he was asking him how much he weighed and how tall he was because he was curious if he was going to train for sumo. It was quite the experience and made for a night filled with stories and laughter. We headed back to the ryokan for the night to get some sleep and start another adventure the next day.

*(In order from left to right) A seaside photo taken from the train outside of Tokyo, my large lunch platter of food, the view from our ryokan room, people launching their lanterns, a close up of lanterns that had grouped up near the side of the river.

Super Secret Project #1

If we look back about a month ago, maybe a little longer, you can see a pretty sizable gap in posts on the site. Over the new couple months I think it’d be fun to roll out a series of postings that I want to call “Super Secret” projects for a couple reasons; 1) because it helps explain why sometimes I don’t get as much stuff done as I try to 2) because I am an artist so I like to share my work and 3) because “Super Secret” sounds cool and this is probably the closest thing I will have to something being the mythical G14 classified.

The time I was gone I was working on location in Las Vegas with the Lingerie Football League LFL on their broadcast package. Our goal was to create an updated look on all new assets; lower thirds, bumpers, etc. for the launch of the LFL Canada League.

I had a great time working on the project, and I had a great time working with the LFL team, brand and package. Check out the video here and see some of the work. The video is edited from one game, the package has interchangeable pieces for more teams that aren’t shown. Enjoy 🙂

Production Update 10

Wow, what a week! I ended last week with the start of a cold, probably a result of the annual temperature change of the midwest. I basically slept for 2 days to fend off the sickness so I didn’t get too much stuff done at the start of the week. However, after sleeping for almost 2 days, I started to feel better and didn’t sleep that much so I was able to get a lot of artwork done this week.

Starting with the scene from the trailer I was working on last week, I continued to tweak a few render settings and set up a pretty big render for my laptop. It finished and now I am rendering out some other elements for the shot. I am hoping to get the shot done this week, but we will see if that happens. *fingers crossed!

The majority of the weeks work was done on the scene that I finished drawing a week or so ago. This week I was able to ink all of the drawings, lay base colors and also add shading and highlights to the ENTIRE scene. So that means we have officially begun production on the last scene in terms of drawing by completing the first shot of the extended scene.

I have also begun rehearsing and tweaking my SGMS presentation for this weekend as well. Really looking forward to this presentation, I think it will create an environment for a great discussion.

Finally, this week I will be unveiling a piece of one of the freelance projects I have been working on. I was able to cut a small video montage of it to showcase and share. Look forward for more to come this week, and of course another entry of my Japan adventure! Stay Tuned! 😀

Japan Adventure Day 3

Day 3 in Japan was our last day in Tokyo before we departed to the countryside for a few days (we were returning to Tokyo afterwards). The goal of the morning was to head to Asakusa and find a yukata to wear to the festival we were heading to the next day. We found a nice street that was filled with vendors near the Kaminarimon Shrine. Fortunately we were able to find yukatas for taller people at an awesome little shop, the shop owners were super friendly and let me take a couple pictures of their shop (see below). It was along this street that I also found a vendor and was able to try takoyaki for the first time. Takoyaki is basically deep fried octopus in a dough ball with various condiments on top. My favorite was Japanese mayo and green onions, fantastic stuff 🙂

After Asakusa, we headed to Akihabara to check out all of the toys, electronics and anime we could ever imagine. I found a shop that sold nothing but gachapons, they are small toys you put together that come from a plastic ball machine. basically a quarter machine we have in the United States except these toys are a little bigger, you put them together and they generally cost between 200-400 Yen. I was able to score some cool Dragonball Z, Neon Genesis Evangelion and My-Hime figures. I didn’t recognize a lot of the other series they had machines for, and there was a lot of them.

We stopped at an amazing ramen shop before we journeyed to a store to buy some liquor for the festival days. Another cool thing in Japan is that there are storage lockers that you can put your stuff in and for 200 Yen or less you can store it in the locker as you continue to shop. We stored our liquor and kept an eye out for eye catching places to check out.

In Akihabara there were lots of maids handing out flyers for various maid cafes, so of course we checked one out. We ordered some desserts and they came out shaped as cute little animals. Of course I ordered a green tea turtle, he was tasty.

After the maid cafe, we roamed around a few more shops as night approached. I found a really cool store that sold all sorts of used toys, so I was able to score some more gachapons. This place would give you money if you brought in older gachapons and they would resell them. Since space is a premium in Japan, I assume people trade in older gachapons for newer ones allowing collectors to find ones they need to complete sets.

As night started to set in, we stopped at a place that served all sorts of fried foods that you could order. They had a rule that if you ordered food and didn’t eat it you actually had to pay more for it, it was to prevent wasting food. We were able to order such things as deep fried lotus root (my favorite), garlic, and asparagus. The food was amazing. We stopped by the locker and picked up our liquor and we headed back to our hotel to get some rest before departing on our countryside excursion the next morning. Stay tuned for day 4!

*(The first image is from the yukata shop in Asakusa, the second is in Akihabara which has 7 story arcades, the third is a glass case of Gundam gachapons in the gachapon shop and the final image is of my green tea turtle sundae at the maid cafe).

Production Update 9

It’s been a busy week, and there was more Cosmic Rage work done. First off, regarding the trailer one more shot is in the process of getting done. There are some render settings that are in the process of being tweaked before I can set up a final render. (There is a screenshot up of the scene in the Production Art gallery).

The final shots of a scene I was working on last week was completed, so now drawing has begun for the final scene in episode 1. I did a touch of inking as well for the previous scene I was drawing, but I still have inking and coloring, etc to go on that scene.

My SGMS presentation draft is officially done and I will have to go through it and make sure it fits into the allotted time. I am really excited for this presentation and had an awesome time learning a lot about the history of CGI in Japanese animation. It is a little tough to trim the content down to fit into the allotted time but I think I did a good job of focusing on major breakthroughs and landmark films.

This week I am hoping to get to some inking, drawing and a bit of work on the next shot in the trailer. I do have some freelance work this week I need to finish up as well, I am hoping for next week to have a short montage of one of the projects I have been working on. Stay tuned for Japan Adventure Day 3 on Thursday!

Japan Adventure Day 2

Day 2 of my trip to japan started off with a relaxing train ride down to Kamakura. The weather that day was overcast with some rain on and off. We were traveling to Kamakura to visit the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine to learn a little bit about the history but also to spend some time outside of Tokyo too. The shrine had lots of people visiting and taking pictures of all of the lanterns that were on posts next to the sidewalk up to the stairs of the shrine.

Along the way to the shrine, we discovered a lantern that the creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion had made (picture below). There were so many lanterns to look at, some designed by kids and others by famous artists. While we walked around the temple grounds, we saw a group of artists that had settled in to draw and paint various vantage points of the shrine.

For lunch we stopped at a place that gave out big paper bibs to people that ordered curry or ramen. A few of the travelers ate lunch with the bibs and it allowed us to take some funny before and after pictures. It also allowed us to get out of the rain for a little while as well. After lunch we had a little bit of time to roam Kamakura a bit so my friend and I wandered away from the area we were at. In our small area we went to we discovered the shrine of one of Japan’s famous swordsmiths, Masamune.

After meeting up with the rest of the group, we headed to one of the giant Buddha statues in Japan. You could spend 20 Yen (which is probably in the neighborhood of a quarter) to go inside the Buddha and lean about some of the construction techniques. I found a few gifts to bring home for friends and family here as well.

We weren’t too far away from the beach so we decided to stop and check it out for a while before we headed back to Tokyo. We kept our stuff in a beach shack that was run by a group of party kids that had a DJ playing, they were cool with us keeping our stuff their for free. Since it was my first time to the ocean, I waded into the water a bit and looked for some interesting seashells.

To end the day we headed back to Tokyo and ate at an Izakaya. It was one of our fellow travelers 21st birthdays so we celebrated and ate a lot of delicious food. We had a private room that we ordered food from a touchscreen and someone would bring it in when it was done.

(The first picture is of Hideaki Anno’s Evangelion lantern, the second image is the giant buddha, the third is the ocean, and finally the aftermath of our party meal.)

Production Update 8

Another week, another production update 🙂 This week was pretty successful in terms of amount of content getting done. First off, I have been working on getting some freelance work done and getting some work done on what is now being labeled as “the other project”. I also have started working on the actual keynote presentation for the SGMS conference at the end of the month. As always, that content will be put up asap.

On the Cosmic Rage front, I have finished up the drawings of the scene from last week, which means right now there is only 1 remaining scene that needs to be drawn out. Granted it is the longest scene in the first episode, it is still awesome to feel that we are nearing the completion of the first episode in terms of drawing. The scene that was completed can now can moved into the inking, coloring and shading phases. Perhaps, I can get one of the drawings from the week up and online for next week since it has been a little while since we had some production art uploaded.

On the animation front, I have completed the shot from last week, the shot that follows that one and also started work on the next shot of the trailer. The trailer is my focus in terms of animation while I work on completing drawing, inking, etc. for the first episode. I am really looking forward to working on this next shot in the trailer, as it is allowing me to learn some new techniques.

Thanks for checking out the update today and be sure to check back on Thursday for my second day in Japan.

Japan Adventure Day 1

I was introduced to the world of anime when I was in high school. As I watched more, I became more and more interested in Japanese culture and lifestyle. It was at that time I decided that someday I was going to travel to Japan and check it out first hand. Over the years of college and such I started to save money for the trip and waited for one of my friends to save his share up to go as well. This past year it finally happened and I was able to make my first trip to Japan and also overseas.

We booked our trip through an awesome agency Pacset that planned our trip perfectly. The flight over the ocean from LA to Tokyo was just under 11 hours which felt surprisingly short after I slept for most of the flight. We got to know some of out other travelers when we got to Tokyo as we waited for the trains to start running. Our fellow group members were awesome people that I enjoyed getting to know as our tour went on.

The weather in Tokyo was surprisingly humid, even compared to the standards of a midwestern summer. After dropping off our luggage, we headed to a shrine in Harajuku and also checked out the fashion of the area as well. This was one of the top 3 things I wanted to do in Japan, check out the fashion of Harajuku. As the morning grew on, the fashion district starting filling up with all sorts of fashionistas and shoppers. It was here that we were able to discover the Neon Genesis Evangelion store. If you don’t know of the show, check it out. It is one of the most popular if not the most popular series of all time.
The store boasted all sorts of Evangelion merchandise. As you will see over the duration of the trip, Evangelion was especially big right now because the 3rd remake movie is set to be released this fall.

For lunch we found an awesome restaurant that had a drink bar. The drink bar had over 40 kinds of drinks; coffee, lattes, soda, juice, etc. and you could have as much as you wanted. Post lunch activities included some more shopping and finding some toy stores as well.

That night we went to a sushi bar in Shibuya that had the sushi on a rotating belt and you could just grab what you wanted off of it and paid for it by the color of the plate. I had sweet egg, salted mackerel and salt water eel for the first time at this sushi bar. Everyone was pretty tired since we traveled that day so we went to the hotel after dinner and got some much needed rest for the second day of our adventure.

(Pictures include; Harajuku’s main fashion street in the morning, the Evangelion Store sign and Shibuya at night)

Production Update 7

I hope everyone had a great extended weekend and a good start to the month of September. Today’s production update, as always, will cover some of the things I have completed towards the Cosmic Rage Motion Comic since last weeks production update.

This week I was able to get a few shots drawn out. In terms of remaining artwork that needs to be drawn yet for the first episode, the scene I am working on now has a couple of remaining shots left. After that scene, there is one larger scene left. These scenes will both need to be inked, colored and shaded yet as well.

In terms of drawing, my goal this upcoming week is to complete this scene and start to work on the final scene of the first episode 🙂

That’s not it though. I also resumed working on the Cosmic Rage trailer. There are several shots left as well as some other editing. The trailer will take priority of the motion comic since the trailer will be used to help promote the motion comic. As work on the trailer continues, I look forward to sharing some more production art on it as well.

I also worked this week on a few other several projects; a logo design, some freelance work, my SGMS presentation and also another project. Stay tuned for more updates and later this week day 1 of my trip in Japan!