Terror in Resonance, an Alternative View

Before you read any more of this post, I want to let you know there will be SPOILERS to the show Terror in Resonance. This posting is in response to the recent Anime News Network podcast, it is meant to provide my point of view on the series. Enjoy the discussion!

I recently reviewed the show Terror in Resonance on my site and mentioned about how I enjoyed the show. It was sometime last week I was catching up on my podcasts, including  the ANN Cast, which I listen to regularly. The crew at ANN had a different perspective on the show and since listening to the episode I have thought about what I enjoyed about the show and how I perceived it. The goal of this post isn’t to defend the show, but simply to provide my own perspective and maybe open up another avenue for a viewer to enjoy the show.

The story centers around 2 youths who are terrorists but don’t kill people in their bombings. The two characters posses a nuclear weapon and play some games with the police. Eventually a special force is brought in to oversee the operation. The leader and the 2 terrorists all were experiments of a government program to raise super intellects.

Some of the criticism from ANN I can agree with. I thought it was a bit convenient for the main detective to have someone who studied nuclear technology in his circle. There wasn’t much set up in this aspect and seemed a little sloppy without any kind of set up or foreshadowing.

ANN said Terror in Resonance “was a wasted opportunity that clipped its own balls by making the 2 lead characters not kill other people”. At times, I agreed with this statement, it wasn’t until the end of the series that it made sense to me. I believe that the two characters are actually eco-terrorists. Eco-terrorism refers to acts of violence committed in support of ecological or environmental causes against persons or their property, from Wikipedia. Before you roll your eyes and close the browser window, hear me out.

Eco-terrorists don’t kill people, which would be in-line with the 2 lead characters belief systems. Some of ANN’s criticism of the series was that the series didn’t offer anything new to the concept or notion of terrorism, which I disagree with. I felt that Terror in Resonance’s main theme wasn’t about terrorism at all, but the over reliance on technology in society.

Throughout the show, there is the element of the nuclear weapon which I thought (and undoubtedly many other fans thought) was going to be used to either destroy a city or was going to be recovered by the police. There lies a common misperception in nuclear terrorism. Would terrorists detonate a nuclear weapon in a city and kill millions of people? Or would they target a high level detonation (such as seen at the end of the series) where it would disable an entire country’s electronic infrastructure?

If you want to learn a little bit more about Electro Magnetic Pulses (EMPS), this article from USA Today is a good start.

It’s an honest question to ask and one that I think the series tries to ask and start a discussion. Would one kill millions of people or kill them slowly by destroying their infrastructure and causing a massive rebuilding effort at home, one that would potentially limit the reach of a country on the international stage.

How would a technologically advanced society react to having no electronic infrastructure, meaning no cell phones or other means of communication. I don’t believe the show was framing terrorism from past events in the US or Japan, but to point out how fragile our society is to terrorist attacks.

The characters detonate the nuclear weapon at the end of the series to unplug all of society from their devices and get them to focus more on nature and living with it. There goal was never to kill people, it was to save them from technology and to save the planet.

It is with that lens, I look at Terror in Resonance. The viewpoint of the characters as eco-terrorists, which is why I find the series powerful and with a story worth telling.

 

 

 

 

AnimeFargo Rewind!

I finally had a chance to sit down and recap AnimeFargo, their first year and also my first artist alley. First off, the con staff was pretty amazing. They were friendly and super helpful in getting me where I needed to be and working with me at my first artist alley and also during my 3 panels. I had a couple minor glitches in my presentations and the projector, but nothing that hindered my panels at all. I would suggest AnimeFargo to anyone who is on the fence about going next year.

Artist alley went well. I was able to get some great feedback on the Cosmic Rage project and I was able to show it off to many curious attendees. I had some character pin-ups and cards made that I sold to people as well. I feel like the project had a good reception with the fans and several people were curious when I was going to have more of it done. I have no concrete date yet, but I am aiming for the end of winter at this point. Clearly I will announce changes and updates as the season progresses. I hope to have more announcements in the near future regarding this.

My panels had a good reception. My favorite panel on the history of CGI in Anime was fun to present and look forward to tweaking it over the winter for next year. The storytelling Q/A panel was a lot of fun. I hope I was able to help some of the attendees find ways to tell their stories and inspire them as storytellers.

I met some new friends at AnimeFargo and look forward to hopefully making it back next year in some capacity. Again, I can not say enough good thins about the weekend, the staff and of course the attendees. They made my first artist alley appearance a memorable one.

American Anime, Can it Exist?

I had a friend recently post this article up to my Facebook timeline. While it is questions submitted by readers, it is only the first question I was directed to by said friend. The article comes from io9.

If you want the cliff notes version of the article, the viewer is curious if there is a business model or alternative business model for America to make anime. First, let’s clarify a few terms, at least for this entry, since many people tend to like classifications and labels to group things. I mean, look at the debates over what people classify as manga vs comics and some people believe the country of origin plays a role in these classifications, such as the great Original English Language (OEL) manga vs manga from Japan or Korea, etc.

Anime, in it’s traditional sense, is used to describe animation from Japan whether it is a full length film or a televisions series. However, I would argue that the term “anime” will be going through the same thing as manga does in the near future. I envision this due to the growing amount of artists that were inspired by anime and are taking on the world of animation. For instance, the web show called RWBY with heavy anime influences and the rise of “fanime” series and projects on Youtube, which are combined of the words “fan” and “anime”.

Let’s tackle the first model, which is the traditional route of a manga series being turned into an animated series. In a sense, this already exists in the US. We have animated shows like Batman, Superman and the Ninja Turtles, all based on comics. While they don’t follow the story lines note for note, these shows are probably the closest thing to that model in the US. With the slow death of comics, we have seen an influx of spin-offs from Pixar and Dreamworks films for animated shows, such as Kung Fu Panda. Now one could argue, that these are more children’s cartoons than anime, which kinda carries the more mature label of animated content. Could we classify shows such as Archer or the Simpsons as anime? I personally tend not to. Some people classify shows based on art styles and some on content. For instance, some would classify Archer or the Simpsons as cartoons since they are animated and others would classify cartoons as content geared towards a younger demographic. So with the terms being used, we will be flexible and look at the greater picture.

The article is called “Why America Will Never Truly Be Able to Make Its Own Anime” and that may be true to a sense. Anime in Japan gets made to promote manga, video games or a toy line. So if an American company were going to make an anime title but based it’s premise off of a Japanese manga, it would miss out on some potential marketing goodies. As the response to question states, if a series is doing well, a Japanese studio will license it, American studios wouldn’t get a chance.

America also doesn’t have the proper infrastructure to have a successful anime series take root. The show would essentially have one outlet, the late night block on Cartoon Network to reach the masses of cable viewers. SyFy no longer has a late night block in any form of anime to my knowledge and hasn’t had one for several years to my knowledge.

This all sounds kind of pessimistic, so what exactly am I saying?

In the US, people are increasingly cutting the cord to cable, thus making an American anime series primed for another platform, such as; Netflix, Amazon or some other player not in the market yet. As a culture, we are in a period of transition. One from the old ways of watching cable, to a new way people consume media that has not yet been directly defined. Once a show gains a level of success, it can then expand outside of the US. For instance, Roosterteeth recently announced that RWBY was going to be aired in Japan. You can read the article on adweek.

While I am not a businessman by any means, going this route may be a more profitable route. You wouldn’t have to pay to license a manga, and you could make money off of the licensing of the new Intellectual Property (IP), I believe.

So while anime is not the hot ticket item it was a decade or so ago, there is still room for an American series to make money in the space. I believe that we will see a successful title like that in the future and maybe develop it’s own niche as well. In my opinion American anime can exist, otherwise I wouldn’t be working on Cosmic Rage. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

Christmas in the Summer

I thought about saving this topic for the Production Update, but I decided to do a post on it since I haven’t seen or read anything recently to review. So I guess that worked out well! I have made it known that I have been doing some freelance work here and there to pick up some extra money to fund the entire project. Maybe episode two will be produced a different way, but as of now it is what needs to be done to keep the ball rolling.

Anyways, I have spent some of the funds on some upgrades and I thought I would share some of that with all of you. First off, since I have been working on my 3D modeling skills, I upgraded my 3D software, Cinema 4D, since it has new modeling tools that I want to learn. That was the majority of the cost, 3D software is not cheap :/

I also purchased a sound library since good animation can quickly be ruined by poor audio  sound effects and quality. The sound effects will be plugged in by the audio artist I have been working with.

To top it all off, I got a new plug-in for Adobe After Effects that will help create some great distortions and also a couple 3D models for some of the next scenes I will be working on after I wrap up the pin-ups for Anime Fargo.

I even ordered a few obscure anime titles… so obscure it paid more to ship them than the actual movies cost. That is US shipping too, nothing international. You will have to stayed connected to find out what titles those are. 😉

Production Update 102

Last week I set the goal of finishing up 2 pin ups. I didn’t get them completely finished but I made a great amount of progress. The hold up came on the render front. I have both of the pin ups completed, however the renders are taking a little longer than I anticipated. So I haven’t been able to composite the backgrounds with the characters and add in the finishing touches. I blame myself for not setting up one of the files to render over Saturday night, but I decided to set it up Sunday and to run some errands in the mean time. I have another set up for Sunday night so compositing this week should be wrapped up over the first part of this week.

After that, I am down to one more pin up and have a few other loose ends to get wrapped up in preparations for artist alley. More updates on the artist alley front coming soon!

Busy Busy Week

As you can tell, I missed the production update at the start of the week. This past week has been a little on the crazy side, so I decided to just merge my usual two posts into one. From a production standpoint, I didn’t get much done at all, let me explain. It was a rough week from a medical standpoint, not me personally but I had a family member have to take a trip to the ER and a few of my close friends had family get sick, have operations and even one passing away. I talked to them as needed and tried to be there for what they needed. I haven’t had to cope with a family loss for a while and know it isn’t the easiest thing to deal with. I’d do anything for my close friends.

I had a quick turnaround project spring up that I needed to get done for a client and I had to my help my parents on a household project as well.

With all of those events going on, I was able to make the last half of Akuacon in my hometown of Watertown. The larger con, Sogencon, that was held in Sioux Falls, SD had it’s last year last fall, so the staff has been working on small one day cons to take the place of them and keep people interested. I didn’t know what to expect to start with, so I hung out in the gaming area watching tournaments. One of the con staffers made me feel really welcomed and I played in some tourneys and chatted with more of the staffers and gamers. I have been off the con seen for a while, outside of a couple last year, but the larger events with panels are easier to blend in if you are a solo act. The mini-con was a fun time and I met some new friends. I hope to work with them and help with the con scene in South Dakota and get a con back in East river South Dakota.

If you recall last week, I mentioned the business cards I ordered. Well, funny story, as it turns out the UPS guy decided to leave them on the doorstep and it rained. You can’t make this stuff up. So the majority of the cards were destroyed, stuck together after being soaked. I was able to save a few (as you can see below) and more are on order. Thankfully Vistaprint was nice enough to understand the situation and are replacing the order. No complaints about the customer service at all, in fact I think that is great service and I wanted to share.

I am aiming to get back on track this week and get these posters done for AnimeFargo! My goal is to get at least one more done this week, I may have another project to work on this weekend, but I have deadlines set for August. Should be a fun month and looking forward to sharing more!

 

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Recharged!

My posts and updates to the site have been a little spotty in the month of June and while it may seem like I have been slacking off and the project may not get done, nothing is further from the truth. June has seemingly flew by and July and another holiday are almost upon us. I spent the first part of June really working on some exterior shots for the motion comic so I could get them rendered over the vacation, which was much needed. I went to the Black Hills in South Dakota and did some hiking and really unplugged for 5 days. I didn’t use the internet and just set my computer up to render and let it go (as you can see in the picture below of my makeshift render station).

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While the scenes rendered, I enjoyed some time in the outdoors. The west river side of South Dakota has some great hiking if you ever get the chance. This is the view from the top of Harney Peak, which is over 7,000 feet.

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I have covered the importance of unplugging from your computer a few times, but it is always worth repeating and always fun sharing some of the things I unplug for. It is nice to step away from the computer and get out in nature and into the real world. I also have to do what I can to spread the word about an awesome area to hike and you can check out Mt Rushmore too.

The time away from the computer allows me to mentally recharge and give my eyes a break from looking at pixels. A small break can act as an instant refresher to your creative batteries and allow you to get back to things 100% when you do get back to a computer. Be sure to check back on Monday and see what I got done this week. 😉 One last picture for the weekend!

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Growing as an Artist

A post of this variety is probably long overdue considering everything and how long the blog has been going, but it is one of my favorite topics to discuss. I am referring to artistic growth. You see it in many artists, especially if you track their early works and it is not limited to just visual artists, musicians grow and evolve too (Somewhere, someone is making a Nickelback joke at that sentence).

The reason I bring this up, is because I was recently working on a shot in which I prepped files differently than I would have if I was going to create those assets/drawings today. The shot below, features both Zeth and Fenix in battle.

Zeth and Fenix fist duel

At the time of creating that shot, I figured I would have both characters animate in, impact would happen and then move onto the next shot. However, over the time from when I first thought of the shot and now, my talents have increased and that aesthetic no longer was enough for the shot.

Now some of you may be thinking, “Well why not go and redo it and stop being lazy?!” It’s not as easy as that, even if I wanted it to be. An old co-worker of mine once told me “You never finish a project, they get taken away”. Whether a client has a tight deadline or we simply have too much work, projects get taken away all the time and sometimes we need to take them away from ourselves.

While I could go and redo the shot and get the character set up the way I want to, if I started revising shots now, by the time I finished them, the shots I deemed acceptable from the start may be unacceptable now. Not only is it the growth of an artist, it is also technological as well. In terms of animation maybe a new plug in came out to create better water or something along those lines. Sometimes we need to accept that we can’t have perfection in every shot.

I somewhat carry the motto around that the work I produce today was the best work my talents could let me make today. Of course over time I will learn more and have more experiences that will change things, but in todays moment I created the best I could.

This particular shot was started some time ago and I now need to do the best with what I have. I have this mentality because as much as I am a perfectionist, I exist to create stories for people to read, watch and enjoy. If I get too caught up in making something perfect, I will severely limit the amount of things I can create by continually revising existing work, because no one (including myself) would take it away from me.

While this entry is meant to be reflective, it is also part motivational in case you need it. I am not worried about trolls coming along and telling me how much my work sucks. My simple response is, if my work sucks, then go make something that is better than mine.

Behind the Scenes: 3D environments

I have been planning on writing this post for a while and now I have the artwork to show for it. One of the reasons I chose this workflow for Cosmic Rage, was that I could model environments in 3D and position cameras around to capture different backgrounds that I need. For instance, the image below is one of how my 3D environment is set up.

Environment wireframeYou can see several views, all wireframes, of the ring, lighting and notable scene items such as; the ring, entrance ramp and the large entrance display. The 2 green outlined cameras, allow me different shots of the scenes.

production arena0500The above image is a rough render from a camera. This will give you an idea of the textures for each item in the scene. The large gray panel, can be replaced in another program (After Effects) to provide graphics for the characters entrances.

4-3 Fenix Entrance

In this shot, I repositioned the camera to frame up on the entrance ramp. You can see same blue barrels (with flames) in this shot as in the shot above. All of the objects retain their 3 dimensional space, so you need to reference a couple angles when laying out objects.

Zeth_fanfareThis is a recent image from earlier this week, again with a new camera angle. Again, all of the texturing, lighting and such stay the same to keep scenes looking consistent.

Fenix titleThe above image shows that I modeled the entire back wall that you couldn’t see in previous images, so I have all 360 degrees of the environment covered.

More in Depth

In the 3D scene, I was able to make things called “object buffers” they would allow me to essentially cut out certain objects so I can place things around them to make them blend into the scene. I’m trying not to get too technical. In each new shot, I can remove these “passes” or object buffers and I don’t need to continually set those up for each shot.

I can position artwork around in the scenes by placing “null objects” in the scenes and exporting them out. By doing this, I can track my illustrations into the scene and not have them float around in 3D space.