Recent Reading: The Flowers of Evil Volume 5

The Flowers of Evil continues to progress in volume 5. As this volume begins, the school season is winding down and summer break is approaching. Saeki is confiding in her friend Kinoshita, who has been developing as a character in her own right over the latest developments in the story. We gain some insight into possible ways Kinoshita could effect the story in future volumes. Nakamura and Kasuga start laying out a grander scheme plan on the unsuspecting countryside. However, Saeki and Kinoshita may interfere with their laid out plan.

A solid chunk of the volume provides us with some further insight to the characters. Nakamura and Kasuga continue to deepen their relationship, almost becoming one in terms of mental state. Kinoshita and Saeki each have their own ideas for how to handle the current situation, but does Saeki have her stance because she still cares for Kasuga?

The final third of the book brings Saeki, Nakamura and Kasuga all together again and it involves the plan Nakamura and Kasuga had. All of the events of the previous volumes come to a head at the end of volume 5 in a very emotional and destructive scene. The event will no doubt effect each of the characters in a different way in the next volume.

Production Update 83

It’s been a really busy week on this end, I had a design meet up this week where we played pictionary and broke in our local design center in the process. I put Cosmic Rage a little bit on the back burner this week so I could catch up on the many things that were starting to fill up my to-do list. Another factor in my decision was based on the current position I am at with Cosmic Rage; currently I am working on the handful of scenes before the first fight sequence and by having a clean to do list, I can keep focused on the fight sequence. I also wanted a clean slate because some of the projects on it were ones that I have had on there for a while and they simply just needed to get done.

I recently started looking for an audio person to do the sound effects on episode 1. I was able to send them the first scene to see what they came up with, while I haven’t seen a sample yet, I am very excited to see what they can do. The final product is really starting to take shape.

On that note, I dug into i-book author more this weekend and started putting together a sample e-book so I can see if it is going to work as a publishing platform. I dropped in a few scenes and text frames, which should give me a good idea of how the final piece would turn out. Initially I am a little concerned about the text frames blending together during dialogue sequences, so I may research other possible routes. I am a little bit of a noob when it comes to i-book author.

I also completed some more of my coding lessons since I have been on a little bit of a hiatus from it. I finished up the html/css section and launched a new (although still minimal) Cosmic Rage site. It gets the job done for now, and I can’t spend a ton of time working on a site that will change in the future with character profiles and episodes.

On the web front, I also decided to switch platforms of my other website that focuses on animation and other programs. The decision to do it wasn’t easy but it is something that I feel needs to be done. I am hoping to wrap up the change tomorrow night. I think it will be something better for me and the viewers.

Finally, one bigger piece of news (I like to save the best for last), with the launch of Robot Candidate earlier this month, we have started legwork on a new game. With time I will be able to tell you more about the game in the works, but it will be a pleasant surprise 🙂

Recent Reading: the Flowers of Evil Volume 4

We have reached the point in the story that the anime series didn’t cover and the reason I wanted to read the series. I haven’t read a series that had this level of character development for a while. Volume 3 left off with all three characters; Nakamura, Kasuga and Saeki, having an emotional scene of venting frustrations and other emotional trauma.

The book begins transitioning to the summer season. The three characters have put the events on the mountain behind them and no longer talk to one another as they used to. Early in this volume we also get a glimpse of another character, Kinoshita, who is Saeki’s best friend. While she doesn’t have the depth of the other characters at this point, she has moments of being confrontational towards Kasuga.

In the time away from each other, each of the characters has had time to think. In Kasuga’s spare time he has an internal debate about Nakamura and decides to talk to her again. Initially Nakamura is hostile towards Kasuga having felt he wasted her time. Kasuga works to get Nakamura to believe he has changed. In his effort, he crosses the line, however it is exactly what is needed to get Nakamura to give Kasuga a second chance.

Kasuga goes  to great depths to get back in Nakamura’s good graces that we see a whole new layer to his character, a darker side. As Kasuga delves into his darker side with Nakamura, Saeki needs to share secrets with Kinoshita about the past events.

The stopping point of volume 4 shows all of our characters and a new one, Kinoshita, with a new direction for their character to take in volume 5.

Production Update 82

Another week has come and gone leaving my creative burn out in the past as well. I dove back into the Cosmic Rage project over the weekend and continued work on some of the shots I was working on compositing before the move. I was able to finish up one of the shots (see image below)…

4-3 Fenix Entrance

I was also able to get a little more compositing done on a few other shots as well. Each one is now a few pieces away from being completed. Unfortunately I discovered that I missed a drawing too. I have no idea how that drawing slipped through production, but it was nice to get some “pencils to paper” and get some drawing done. I did leave my Wacom tablet at the office so I wasn’t able to get the drawing inked and colored, which will be on the agenda for this week.

The shot in which I am missing the drawing above, went through a test render this weekend as well. Hopefully I will be able to get a final render going for the nights this week while I sleep. I have another render going tonight, a final render of the scene with the image from above.

I may have also found a person that is willing to help me out with some of the audio portions of the project. There should be more on that front in the coming weeks.

Ending the Creative Drought and Exciting News; App Release

The last couple weeks I have been going through a bit of a creative drought (I am sure you could gather that from the lack of updates). Not sure if it was related to the move or if it was just a typical period of burn out, which is pretty common with any creative field. I didn’t work on things much outside of work and spent most of my time putting things in order after the move. For me personally, I tend to go all out for as long as I can, followed by a short window of time where I consume as much content as possible; videos, gaming or reading, etc.

I can happily say that the drought has ended. I spent some time this week setting up a render and getting some timing tests done. I finally got internet installed so I plan on finishing up my html and css lesson this week yet and having a good weekend of working on Cosmic Rage and finishing up several scenes I have started.

I also recorded and uploaded a new tutorial on my other site with plans to record another soon.

In other news, one of the side projects I was working on with a friend has been wrapped up (at least for now/pending updates). We created an app called Robot Candidate for iPad. The game is a board game that is a pass and play for up to 8 players, involving some light combat and fun animations. Did I mention it was free?

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 1.44.30 AM

Production Update 81

Week 2 begins in the new apartment. I haven’t gotten much done on Cosmic Rage the last 2 weeks, I’m just starting to come out of a short period of creative burn out. Not sure if it was just one of the moments or if it was related to the move. I moved some more things this weekend and practically have everything in the new space. Leaving only some clean up left.

I had some work to do this weekend and also had to track down a new computer cord and now my laptop is telling me I need to service the battery. Hopefully it can get replaced and I can get up and running quickly. I also have a date this week to get my internet set up. Really wish I could do a self install but I don’t make the rules.

I have plans to get back onto Cosmic Rage tonight for a little bit. I still need to take a pic of the new space too, more coming Thursday.

New Location

I missed last weeks post due to the fact I was moving into my new apartment. While I didn’t get everything moved in, I got the majority of my stuff unloaded. I have a couple boxes of books, movies and some other art supplies left, which will most likely be part of this weekends agenda.

It feels a little weird having my own place again, although it has been a nice change of pace. I spent some time this week going through things and finding out some of my art supplies have dried up since being in storage. It has also made me rethink the way I live a little. I packed my things in Minnesota a couple years ago and it was like going into a time capsule as I was unpacking things.

I found numerous things I didn’t need any more but for some reason felt I would need back then. Over the last couple years my lifestyle has changed so much that it was kinda strange looking through some things. When I moved I never intended for my stuff to be in boxes for almost 2 years. I got by on limited supplies and items. A couple years later, it makes me wonder why I kept them to begin with.

I have had a growing interest in the “live simply” approach to life, by owning less things it frees for time and money up for doing more things. I would love to travel back to Japan in the next year or two and see more of the country and culture.

One thing I have done this week so far was taking a break from side projects and I started playing some video games. I would never classify myself as a hardcore gamer, but it has been nice to sit back and play some video games again. I think I am using it as an excuse to not work or code since my internet hasn’t been connected yet.

Which on that note, my coding courses have been going well. I wanted to start learning more code in 2014 and I am on my way. I attended a developer meet up last week and was thrust into dabbling in some node JS. I don’t even know javascript yet, but it was good to see how some of the little test exercises worked and it made me really excited to start javascript when I wrap up my html and css lessons. I am hoping to do that this weekend when I visit my parents and have internet. Going to look into getting back online today over lunch.

Another one of my goals has been to start back up recording tutorials and tips on my other site. For some reason I am having an issue with my recording software continually turning on my laptop camera whenever it wants to in the middle of recording. I can’t say I have had that problem before but I am hoping to get recording again soon. I have some good content I want to share and post up for the community.

Production Update 80

I missed the Thursday post last week due to the fact I started moving into the apartment that night. I didn’t get much done this last week in terms of production, meaning, no new drawings, no renders, no compositing and no audio work.

However, I can report that the move has been a success and I should be putting some of the final touches on getting my desk and supplies reorganized. I do have a few other things to move next weekend as well, but by mid week I should be back to animating and compositing the first episode.

I am excited to have all of my supplies back at my disposal. This means I can start drawing for episode 2 and also start working beyond that since I have new marker boards to continue to develop the story in the long term. Pictures of the new space will be up soon!