A Quick Rundown
My latest project, a re-telling of this well known fable. It was prepared with a submission to the annual Ice Block Film Festival in Star Valley Wyoming (now 4 years old) in mind. I’m pleased to reveal that the film won the animation category as well as 1st place overall.
The IBFF has been a great outlet and motivator for creative endeavor. The deadlines I might impose upon myself often lose priority when I don’t have another party to report to.
It’s a fairly simple twist, but my inspiration came through constant recitations of the original to my son at bedtime. The narrative itself found inspiration from the simple observation that trolls are essentially a northern tradition. With that in mind the Norwegian Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt suite made perfect sense for background music as do the numerous references to/from Hamlet, the story of a Danish prince. Hamlet’s inclusion also prompted the use of Danish words and coinage in certain shots. And so the backbone has a consistent Scandinavian feel to it.
The bulk of this project used assets created by the Blender Foundation for their Yo Frankie and Big Bug Bunny projects under a creative commons license. From these elements I fashioned a small setting, converted the Frankie character (formerly a squirrel) into our ambitious troll and populated the ram/goat community.
There were some difficulties in modification as the assets were all created in Blender 2.49. I’m not unfamiliar with that release but for a long while I’ve been working in the 2.5x environment. This required some remapping of shape key drivers and other A/B comparison between versions. I used vertex painting to accent terrain features and used 2D alpha mapped images to include a few trees.
Many of the animations were already created for use in the Yo Frankie video game and the rest were my own.
The theme song at the end (written and recorded by me) was mainly an attempt to ape the cheesy pop tunes that seem to trail every animated feature film.
As noted in the credits the production tools were Blender 3D, Adobe Premiere (video).
It’s interesting to observe companies who in an effort to preserve the status quo rationalize (in a business sense) and establish protectionist policies that will actually hurt their revenues.
Case in point: Redbox vs. Warner Bros.
I don’t have access to the numbers from WB so perhaps I am uninformed, but please tell me if some of this doesn’t make sense.
Redbox rejected a recent deal with WB that would delay their ability to rent WB films until 56 after their DVD/BLU RAY release dates. Instead of embracing an obviously successful innovation (based on my observation of lines at Wal-Mart) WB has chosen to retain ‘control’. What is the logic behind WB’s demands? Encourage greater sales? Prevent piracy?
I imagine that in WB’s world the perfect scenario is:
• Consumer sees film in theater (hopefully multiple times)
• Consumer purchases film for home use
The problem is that consumers are not choosing that path as much as they have in the past. Why is that? Perhaps the plethora of entertainment options available (sports, TV shows, video games – all on flat panel screens) and the struggling economy play a role.
I’ll admit that piracy may contribute to the decline. It’s my belief however that hard core pirates were never potential buyers anyway. As for the casual pirates, the solution is to make it easier for them to get your product in a legal fashion. Redbox is a decent vehicle for achieving this.
If WB’s driver behind this delaying tactic are to encourage greater sales then they’ve failed. How? By making their product less accessible to consumers. They won’t encourage sales by exposing fewer people to their product. And in delaying the rental dates they miss the time window/sweet spot that marketing dollars have been working so hard to create. If the consumer’s only option for evaluating a purchase of a film is to see it in the theater then they make the task even more expensive and inconvenient too.
First of all a good product is key. If the movie is a piece of crap then it shouldn’t sell well and the studio should lose money. WB cashed in on Potter 7.2 last year and should clean up with The Dark Knight film this year. So we can say that at least some of their products are very desirable.
Exposing your product to consumers is just as important. I mean how many bad movies have made money because they were marketed well? Innovations like Redbox help achieve this. Not only do they make it cheaper for customers to enjoy the product but the ease of renting (I would think) discourages piracy. From what I’ve read WB has been pretty active in making it harder for pirates to thrive. Now they need to pursue a complementary tactic by also making it easier for consumers to go through retail channels.
Let’s consider two scenarios. Ten people have interest in a particular film the first week of its release. If they can’t rent the film how many of the ten will simply purchase the disc and hope it was worth it? If those same ten had the ability to rent the film what number would decide to buy? My guess is that the number of buyers from each scenario would at least be comparable. I would also assert that the second scenario provides a higher number of potential consumers than the first, as those from the second know what the product is.
There are other pressures on retail sales i.e. streaming. The solution is the same, make it easier for consumers to come to you. One idea could be for a given studio to host films or significant portions of films on their website. How much marketing money is spent in pursuit of a captive audience or web view? Free viewing would draw a few in (see Hulu etc).
Once there consumers can be exposed to deals directly through the studio. They could also fill out surveys while watching to inform the studio of what they want. Heck, why not make a sidebar game where individuals determine the desirability of back catalog items by eliminating the less liked films (film posters in cartoon form) with a click. The posters then enact some humorous death like animation. After several are eliminated the screen could flash something like “‘____’ is the winner.” “Take an extra 10% off at the shop for this title….”
The workshop has been quite active of late and my wand crafting skills have progressed from their meager beginnings, resulting in a batch of wands possessing great variety and character.
My experimentation with different shapes, finishes, colors, and modifications has been, as creative output, very enjoyable.
Both styles have their own beauty. The turned wands are refined, but the natural wands, understandably, have a very organic feel. I was most pleased with the warmth and beauty the rich color of the inner bark seems to radiate.
I have embarked on the path of wand making. I have a lot of work to do if I wish to reach the heights of Ollivander or Gregorovitch, but with the aid of modern machinery…
The main purpose (other than for play) is to provide some props for an upcoming Potter themed spook alley.The images are of two wands. The smaller I made for my son and the larger may serve for some spooking, especially when I rig an LED to it….CRUCIO!
So far the process has been very open ended. My inexperience with the tools has dictated some of the shape (i.e. digs etc), but the wood has a way of defining itself. Moving forward I plan on crafting to specific designs. Stay tuned for Chapter 02…
This volume isn’t quite as strong as the original as many of the ideas behind Foundation are out of the bag. Its uniqueness is the contrast of the two main stories it contains.
The first falls in line with the Seldon plan in the strictest sense. Individual actions have no bearing on the outcome. This somewhat routine navigation of a Seldon crisis magnifies the intrigue of the second story where the Seldon plan (for now) fails due to the actions and abilities of a single individual, The Mule. Consequently those close to or around The Mule, such as Bayta, can also influence galactic history indirectly through their interaction with him.
We continue to see evidence of Asimov’s influence on George Lucas (i.e. Han Pritcher) as well as his potential influence on the creation of the X-Men or other mutant characters/universes.
Its episodic style still makes for an enjoyable read and its pursuit of ideas at extreme ends of the Seldon plan offers some interesting variety to the overall history of the Foundation.
This was probably my fourth reading of the book and what can I say? I highly recommend it.
My brief review is this. The book is a lot of fun to read, has some excellent characters, and a very intriguing plot. For a little more detail continue reading.
I’ll start with three specific observations.
George Lucas was impregnated by the Foundation prior to the birth of Star Wars.
Let’s check off some parallels. Decadent empire in decline? Check. Deep space religion? Check. Traders/smugglers with a wild-west attitude? Check. Central planet is entirely one city? Check.
If you are a Star Wars fan and have NOT read this book these little hints alone should be reason for you to check it out.
I’m not discrediting GL for his development of Star Wars, simply identifying a primary source of his inspiration.
These short stories which became this novel were originally written in the 40’s. Given that the stories are written before the computer age it’s really easy to forgive what technologies he didn’t anticipate and appreciate the development of his futuristic world and its own technology.
However, it is interesting to note that the technological innovations of the Foundation anticipate to some degree the technological phenomenon we see everywhere in that devices get smaller and smaller but more and more powerful. The main difference is that the Foundation’s limited resource was metal while our real world limitations are more related to energy.
The scary point? That even in decline certain civilizations can produce their most advanced achievements. These achievements are however quickly lost as the downward impetus of that civilization is too great to escape its destiny with implosion.
I think I’ll end with that. Have a nice day!