Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Practical vs CGI

The character to my left is Carl Kolchak and he's from television. Recently I got the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker and it's an awesome little show. You can see why Chris Carter was inspired by it. Maybe the biggest difference is Kolchak is more humorous then agents Scully and Mulder. But I digress from the point. What amazed me about the show was how effective it was and it only used pratical effects. Sure some make up is looking a little dated but it really tried to work with what it had and it just seemed a little spookier because what was there was really there. I for one think that movies are suffering from using too much CGI. Of course some movies do require CGI but there is just something about seeing it for real that can ellicit real emotion. Take John Carpenters The Thing, it's an older movie put the pratical special effects still stand up and make the movie that more frightning.

Moving on. I think one of the best examples of bad CGI is the recent Star Wars movies and in particular The Phantom Menace. Now I know that it seems everyone gangs up on these movies and it would seem stupid for someone to say the CGI is bad. But what I mean by bad is that it is used to excess and destroys a sense of reality. The reality of the movie can have wizards, robots etc and the special effects allow us to buy into the reality. Sometimes the overuse of CGI can take away from the emotional experience as we know what is on screen is not real. If we take the pod racing in The Phantom Menace everything is pretty much CGI except for a few headshots. A podcast I listen to regularly pretty much summed up that scene. It's an extended ad for the Pod Racing Game. I'm not going to keep this up as I still enjoyed Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith. But I like muppet yoda over cgi yoda, and the scene that gets to me the most is in Return of the Jedi where Luke goes insane to try and protect his sister. All which was done without CGI.

Still CGI has allowed some movies to be made that couldn't be made normally. But for me the best of these movies are those that still combine practical and CGI, allowing the CGI to enhance than be centre stage. One of the best examples of this would have to be Lord of the Rings. If you ever have the chance going through the making of documentry's really is an eye opener. While CGI is employed a fair bit there is alot of make up work done, pratical effects like forced perspective and bigitures. What are bigitures you ask? Big ass minitures. Bascially made to look like the structures of Middle Earth so Jackson could film some scenes with out the need of CGI to make it more realistic.

Look CGI is a good thing. It has allowed for some wonderful movies to be made. I guess I just have a few questions is all. Did I Am Legend really need CGI vampires? Does a computer background have to be used for every scene? Does a lone monster killing teenagers really need that CGI edge? Does a japnese gore opus need that thirteenth spurt of CGI blood? I think on that note that's all I have to say.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Cityscapes and Future Visions

I think what draws me to science fiction is the different visions of the future people have. How in a single instant you can stare at a frame of celluloid or a piece of art and get a sense where we are headed as a species. There are some classic science fiction books that can create vivid images as well. Now a lot of these books, movies and art pieces kind of reflect the future in a negative light but good or bad I dig them. Now I'm going to keep this journal entry short as I think I've made the point and really showing you some pictures that I like is going to be more productive. But I think there are a few books you should get out there and read.

Starship Troopers
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Anyway that's not the be all and end all but they are some of my favorites. Now the pictures are from a variety of sources and in my mind reflect some of the different visual ideas. I'm not going to give my thoughts on the pictures, just put them out there and you can come up with your own thoughts.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Ever since I was a little kid I've been fascinated by vampires. Recently with Twilight (and I did read the first two books) my love of vampires was slightly damaged. But god damn it I recently purchased the first season of True Blood and boom love of vampires is back. With the resurgence I thought I would take the time and look back at some of the vampires that I have loved, and what better way to begin than with the two vampires that started it all.

Duckula was a British cartoon that I watched religiously. The main character was a vampire who was a duck and through a mix up in his resurrection he is reborn as a vegetarian. Along with his two keepers Nanny and Igor this is just a really funny cartoon that started to plant the seeds for my vampire obsession. It helps that this was a spin off of another favorite cartoon of mine Danger Mouse and had a similar sense of humor, also if you can track it down the theme song it's damn catchy.

Little Dracula's First Bite was a book that my mother got for me as it was in a bargin bin. Little did she now what she was creating. The book itself has a good sense of humor but it is pretty damn dark. In it Little Dracula tries to bite his first victim but instead bites a statue. Yes there are victims in this book and slaves and torture. See what I mean by a dark story anyway these two hallmarks of vampiredom lead me to an intersting childhood story.

When I was around 5/6 years old my mum took me on a awesome trip to England to visit relatives with a short stop on the way back to America to see Disneyland and Universal Studios. At Universal Studio mum and I stopped for some lunch however I got carried away thanks to a large crowd. Lost I did the only logical thing a child could do, I went up to Frankenstein's monster and told him I lost my mother and I needed help. Staying completely in character he grabbed my hand a took me to his friend. You may recognize him.
Would you trust this man with your child?
Okay maybe not Bela Lugosi but Dracula. Also staying in character he took me to the lost and found where my mum was waiting. But let me put this in perspective of a child. DRACULA HELPED ME FIND MY MOTHER. How could I not love vampires after that. This was the final nail in the coffin and forever more was I a vampire fan.

Growing up it has always been interesting to see how Vampires changed and what media they infiltrated. Of late I tried to get into the world of Twilight and to a certain extent with the books I convinced myself I was but I realized that this is for teenage girls and the vampires I like are more in the vein (yes I know) of those from Near Dark and 30 Days of Night.

Let me introduce you to Jesse, Mae, Severen, Diamondback and Homer. These vampires are seriously screwed, vicious as hell and one of the closest nit families you will find on film. With Anne Rice being shoved down my throat and most vampires being shown in a romantic light it was great to find this movie. While I will admit there are romantic elements to the movie, especially the relationship between Mae and Caleb it really did amp up the predator side of vampires.

But when it comes to predator like vampires there is a comic which drove me completely wild. 30 Days of Night was just a great comic that used the art to excellent effect. It really envoked the predatory nature of vampires, this particular kind of vampire did not give one iota for humanity or lack there of. The movie was also great as it kept the idea behind the vampires intact and didn't try to humanise them. If I ever meet anyone who is also a big fan of vampires I recommend this immediately.

Finally I have to give a few words to Vampire The Masquerade probably my favorite role playing game produced by White Wolf. This game mines quite the history of vampires and offers players a choice of the romantic type, the predator type, the insane type, so many choices and yet it all blends together so well. It's a shame that the world was destroyed but good things can't last forever. Still long live the Malkavs.

Anyway that was just a brief look on the vampires that i've loved yet there are many many more. I would recommend the series True Blood to people cause it's bloody as hell, sexy and full of supernatural things including of course vampires. Anyway from the heights of the Transylvania Mountains to the quiet roads of Nevada I bid you good night.