Showing posts with label art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Star Wars IS art

In the Hoth seat. I've been asked to assist with lesson plans for a primary school in Essex! Star Wars is this term's theme from which lessons - traversing literacy, maths, music, art and drama - will be derived.

In view of my lifelong passion for art and Star Wars. This June I'll be undertaking an art of Star Wars class and have contacted various Lucasfilm artists for firsthand insights to share with the students.

Matt Busch (You Can Draw Star Wars) kindly shared the following anecdote:

"Star Wars IS art. In every sense of the word. As a kid, Star Wars really changed my life, and I attribute that to the world of Star Wars being this multi-faceted art project. Art has many facets beyond just drawing and paint. Music, books, movies are art-forms like anything else, and Star Wars seems to conquer all of them at the same time.

"When you watch one of the films and get a dose of the Star Wars experience, you're enjoying not just an artistic film, but an incredibly creative story, well-designed characters and environments that are out-of-this-world, all set to one of the most iconic music soundtracks every recorded. So I'll say it again. Star Wars IS art."

Social media can play an integral part in the success of a project such as this! Within minutes tweets can be replied to (or ignored) and connections made that have a profound effect on the outcome.

Currently, I'm sourcing LEGO Star Wars donations, which will be used at the primary school on an ongoing basis and have reached out to LEGO, itself, for help.

Going forward. I'll be corresponding with local media outlets in the hope that they will be interested in covering this story, and updating this blog with further developments.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Boba Fett by Kai Lim

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Tron Legacy fan art by James White

This Tron Legacy poster is not official by any means. However, it's impressive and splendidly evocative of the franchise's 'neon' trademark.

The poster was designed by artist James White, who has worked for such clients as Toyota, Armada Skis, VH1 Latin America and MTV. See the original poster on James White's website here.

And for those of us who grew up in the 1980s; here's the original iconic Tron poster as seen in the hit television series Chuck.

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Oh Happy Day

A few weeks ago, I was reading Darren Rowse's ProBlogger post - Increase AdSense Earnings with Competitive Ad Filter - and, as Fortuna (AKA Lady Luck) was on my side, followed a link from this post - New Google Ad Placements - to John Chow dot Com! John Chow was extolling the virtues of using the Competitive Ad Filter to increase AdSense earnings.

Prior to this, the name John Chow meant nothing to me! However, John has clearly masterminded the art of near-transparent monetisation and is prepared to share his considerable and, by extension, invaluable knowledge with others.

Since adopting the Competitive Ad Filter (using, my earnings have increased from a few cents to dollars per day! I certainly have much to learn from John Chow and am now an avid reader of his blog.

You could do worse than read both John Chow and Darren Rowse's online money-making musings.

Friday, 7 July 2006

Brit Art

Yesterday I received an e-mail from the Saatchi Gallery inviting me to exhibit my artwork.

Charles Saatchi, of Saatchi & Saatchi fame (and laterly M&C Saatchi), founded the Saatchi Gallery as a means to showcase new talent. The Saatchi Gallery is moving to the Duke of York's HQ in Chelsea, and will open again in early 2007.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

Tron Scherzo

The release of PIXAR's Cars has prompted me to reprint an article that I wrote, for my online portfolio, a few years ago.

An interest and appreciation of CGI began, like many of my contemporaries, with watching the movies 'Tron' (1982), 'The Last Starfighter' (1984) and playing video games at arcades and on consoles - from the Atari VCS CX2600 to Sega Genesis/Mega Drive - in the 1980s.

In the summer of 2000 I began reading 3Dworld. The inclusion of Bryce, a 3-D landscape generation application, reignited further self development within this flourishing arena.

Off-the-shelf software, such as the Academy Award®-winning Maya and Shake, had developed to the point where many of the DTP (Desk Top Publishing) skills for fine art and graphic design can now be successfully transferred to a 3D context without exhaustingly steep learning curves! The artist can now focus on issues of composition - colour, movement through the frame et al - without trying to reconcile with an alienating UI (User Interface).

Alias' decision to provide Personal Learning Editions (PLE) of Maya and now MotionBuilder (from its purchase of Kaydara) is fostering consumer loyalty. Using their free FBX Converter I'm now able to import older projects into Alias applications for future enhancement. The FBX SDK will be worth investigating.

This is a sample collection of original 3-Dimensional images created using Bryce, Corel Photo-Paint, Maya 6 PLE, Painter and Poser (and retouched in Photoshop).

Now you can add Google SketchUp to the Mac OS X application honor roll!

Thursday, 27 April 2006

Scoring Pictures: Part II

In this second part of my scoring pictures feature. I'm releasing the second soundtrack suite (MP3) (composed and performed by Barrie Cole & James Makin) from December Duet and address the use of non-diagetic sound.

For this production I had always desired and envisaged an emotive classical score. Rendered in the tradition of American film composers such as Eric Wolfgang Korngold who pioneered the swashbuckler scores for early Hollywood, up to present day practitioners such as Danny Elfman and Jerry Goldsmith. Who, themselves, had drawn inspiration from Tchaichovsky and other baroque composers of the 19th Century.

Although in the original story, there was to have been a song with which to resolve the drama. The composer decided to renege on his commitment, which, initially had an adverse affect. However, although disillusioned, I submitted, at the suggestion of my tutor (Mik Parsons), a script to a local art college for approval. It proved to be very productive. I auditioned two individuals who were very receptive to the story and its themes. Their enthusiasm was consolidated when I showed them the opening computer animation.

Whilst they worked, independently, on scenes. The end result was that both the characters of Lewis and Claire/Eleanor had, their own, individual and highly stylised scores. This further delineated and embellished their respective identities. This musical form is refered to as Leitmotif. This briefest of signature tunes, which can be orchestrated any which way, was pioneered by the 19th Century virtuoso Richard Wagner. Wagner's most famous accomplishment was The Ring - four full-length operas that depicted dwarfs, wizards, dragons, teachers, philosophy and gold.

This approach to composition has been used, extensively, by cinematic composers to signify, a character, a prop or an emotion.

Monday, 27 February 2006

For Arts Sake

A friend suggested that I add an image link to my portfolio site! So, today marks its world . The illustration is based on Batman and features Oscar-winning actress Marisa Tomei (My Cousin Vinny and The Guru).

This morning Adobe announced the release of Photoshop Elements 4.0 for Mac (OS X 10.3 and above). New tools include the Magic Selection Brush, Skin Tone Adjustment, Magic Extractor and Auto Red Eye Removal. However, the application isn't a Universal binary, meaning it runs on Intel Macs using Apple's Rosetta emulation layer.

Existing registered users of Photoshop Elements and PLE can order a discounted upgrade directly from Adobe's store. Don't forget to enter the free postage offer code 7EUND (works in the UK store).

Not to be out done by Adobe. Corel has released a substantial free update to Painter IX. IX 9.5. Although this is not yet a Universal application, Painter now offers support for Rosetta running on Intel-based Macs, including support for the Wacom Intuos 3 and the 6D Art Pen. The software also introduces new features, including new Photo Painting Palettes. Corel should be applauded for avoiding Quark's infamous point update charge.

Friday, 17 February 2006

Cel-shaded Conspiracy

XIII Preview
With the imminent release of the Macintosh port, it’s IMG’s “raison d’être” to tackle the daunting task of another hands on preview courtesy of those fine folks at Feral Interactive. And a rare chance for this comic book fan (and former fine art student), with a predilection for the darkness of an American McGee's Alice, to experience an interactive 3D graphic novel (graphic novel was a term coined by Will Eisner; comic book with high quality storyline and artwork)!

If 'Retro Chic' found favour in the quirky No One Lives Forever (a veritable pastiche on UK television's The Avengers) and its first sequel, XIII takes the First Person Shooter (FPS) into the labyrinth of 1920s to 1950s inspired Dark Deco!

Bourne Again
Acclaimed French/Canadian developer UbiSoft serves up a self-referential cocktail in which film director Doug Liman’s The Bourne Identity stars X-Files superstar David Duchovny (as the titular character). And Adam West (General Carrington), television’s 1960's Batman, returns to a setting that acknowledges the source medium that made him an international cult star - comics.

XIII is a complex story of betrayal and intrigue based on the original French comics by Belgian's William Vance and Jean Van Hamme (who took part in the production of the game). The XIII comic series is replete with Byzantine plots that would delight even the most demanding fan of ABC’s award-winning Alias television show.

The President of the United States has been assassinated, and everyone (most notably large guys with guns) possesses a compelling argument that you did it - even you're not sure! As the story unfolds, you'll learn more about your mysterious past, discovering that you are number XIII (shades of Patrick McGoohan's seminal TV series The Prisoner) of The Twenty, a mysterious shadow organization, the group that perpetually want to see you dead - there's no chance to discuss 'issues' over cappuccino in a virtual Starbucks. Your eventual goal will be to clear your name of all charges (if only you could remember your name…), and get to the bottom of the conspiracy.

So it's clear that the story is a little more involved than, say, the riveting backstory behind Doom! To do the job, you'll have the usual array of weapons and gadgets. There are 13 standard weapons, including crossbows, assault rifles, and rocket launchers, each with an alternative-fire mode. You'll need to choose your weapons and tactics carefully, though, because you can only hang onto four weapons at a time.

Sans Solo
XIII is not entirely flying solo as he is accompanied, at key stages, by Major Jones, a sassy female operative voiced by multimedia diva Eve. During these stages XIII will have to battle enemies while receiving covering fire from Jones and vice versa. So be prepared for some bombastic fire fights with other characters as you progress through the game.

As a counterpoint to the adventures with Major Jones. Adam West’s General Carrington is bereft of any armoury, so it’s your duty to act as human shield during the rescue mission!

On top of the world
From the Baywatch opening (not the O.C?) to rooftops and snowy mountains, the Mac gaming tourists amongst you will be well served as you unearth that most post-modern of questions – Who am I?

Enter the Manga Dimension
Sometimes referred to as Manga Dimension or non-photorealistic rendering (NPR), cel-shading arguably entered the video game lexicon in the seminal Jet Set Radio Future (JSRF) (From Sega development team Smilebit) and, perhaps most famously, changed the look of Link in Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. XIII (Thirteen) witnesses cel-shading's maturation in the over populated FPS genre!

Cel-shading is much more than a superficial stylistic treatment in XIII; it underscores the game’s comic book roots and (excuse the terrible pun) is a marvel to behold! For example when an enemy appears, he'll get a close-up panel (a comic book convention sometimes referred to as a box or frame) of where he is, so you can home in on his exact location. A direct kill will witness his timely demise in delicious close-up and includes the obligatory "AARRGH!" (literally known as a sound effect by comic book artists)!

While not on a par with the visceral thrills of a Resident Evil, XIII splatters stylised blood in a manor akin to Grand Theft Auto (GTA). This title is not recommended for the faint hearted or younger players - an audience it adroitly askews.

Battling the Dark Side
The single player (SP) mode serves a solid storyline encompassing 13 missions (which cover 34 levels) that should take around 25 hours to complete (depending on the player's prowess). However, the multiplayer (MP) option secures greater repeat play value since it combines all the modes present in the PS2, GameCube, and PC and XBOX iterations. And the crowning achievement is that all too elusive Holy Grail - Mac vs. PC conflict!

It must be noted that Bot AI in SP mode isn't showcased in a glowing manner here, but MP Bot engagements can get intense!

God is in the detail
Although my preview hardware was within the minimum system requirements (Mac OS X 10.3.3, 800 MHz iMac G4, 512 MB RAM and GeForce 2MX), sound was choppy and poorly synced. The sound effects are all in a real time. Therefore evincing the need for more powerful hardware such as nVIDIA's GeForce FX 5200 Ultra and ATi Radeon 9800 Pro cards.

Adorned in the stylistic trappings of the graphic novel tradition and powered by Epic games’ UnrealEngine2 (a.k.a. Unreal Warfare Engine); Ubi Soft invested 2 years of R&D! XIII promises to deliver a unique, if not signature, FPS experience for those gamers whose hardware can smoothly run Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell and the Unreal Tournament franchise.

Feral Interactive sent IMG a preview based on a very robust beta build (1.0 RC5), which is the current version being tested by Ubi Soft. Last minute tweaks and installation changes (my preview copy was sent on 3 CDs) notwithstanding, it gave this reviewer an excellent insight into what to expect. The retail edition of XIII will bow on a single DVD. Feral Interactive's Edwin Smith kindly shed light on the decision to adopt the DVD medium:

• To preclude the need for a multi CD ROM release
• Only one installer needed
• Nice and clean look and feel with 1 disk, which is more "Mac like"
• Add enhanced video files with higher file sizes, desktops and even other demos to a game DVD
• Anti-Piracy

Thursday, 26 January 2006

The Gemini Apes

The following is a reprint of a feature written for my online portfolio.

A fascination with media production began when I was bought an Hitachi portable tape recorder (its contemporary is an Apple iPod). I started recording off television, my favourite television shows, and listening to the sounds back without the picture (mentally envisaging a different version). I would narrate stories and record conversations and sounds. It became a form of education via entertainment.

This acute interest in "the theatre of the mind" also encompassed Radio drama! The catalyst was BBC Radio Four’s dramatisation of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ (1981).

During the second year of the BA (Hons) Media Production degree I specialised in audio and video. And undertook a 10 minute audio documentary. Director Dirk Maggs kindly agreed to an interview concerning his successful comic book to radio adaptations, which included DC Comics' 'Batman: Knightfall' (1994) and 'Superman: Doomsday and Beyond' (1993).

In 1998 Dirk invited me to work on 'The Gemini Apes'. My role as a studio assistant involved foley and sourcing original and prerecorded material from The Soundhouse's extensive recording library. This included original content from Skywalker Sound.

Meeting Christopher Lee (he played the character of Drake) during 'The Gemini Apes' recording sessions, was truly a defining moment. This was prior to his career renaissance in 'The Lord of the Rings' and 'Star Wars' prequels. He is a gentleman and formidably intelligent. Christopher regaled us with myriad anecdotes. One of which concerned Johnny Depp with whom he was shooting Tim Burton's 'Sleepy Hollow' (1998).

From a journalistic perspective. Breaks during the recording sessions were a plumb opportunity to network with writers from Starburst, SFX and Dreamwatch magazines.

Monday, 26 December 2005

The Feast of Steven

Clever title, eh? Refers to the Doctor Who episode (taken from the Daleks' Master Plan) broadcast on Christmas Day 1965.

Although shattered from a busy Christmas Day with relatives, I managed to watch The Christmas Invasion at 1:30AM this morning (sky+ delivered)! A terrific yarn filled to the brim with pop culture and current affairs references - Torchwood has ominous pretensions, transforming the Earth into a Death Star. Even the beauty of snowfall was undermined by its true nature - burning ashes from the destroyed spacecraft.

Unsurprisingly David Tennant and Billie Piper's chemistry remains undiluted by the regeneration and, if anything, the mythology is now taking flight. Tennant is as alien as he is enigmatic and epitomizes Tom Baker's classic line from The Pyramids of Mars (1975) "I'm not a human being; I walk in eternity..."

The series two teaser induced chills and excitement: the return of Sarah Jane Smith, an art deco Cyberman and Buffy's Anthony Stewart Head (surely he's the Master?).

Monday, 28 November 2005

Manic Monday

Watched the excellent Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003); A young peasant maid working in the house of painter Johannes Vermeer becomes his talented assistant and the model for one of his most famous works. I'm left yearning for an art studio and muse of my own! Scarlett Johansson call me sometime?

When I reflect back on A-Level Fine Art, it feels a life further and further removed. This is a double edged sword given my then estrangement from fellow students (and the established tenants extolled by the art teachers), but burning desire to create. Not since September 2003 have I come close to picking up a pencil and paper! Maybe it's mental exhaustion or the lack of time? A New Year's resolution is in the making...

Another notable movie consumed at the weekend. The Last Samurai (2003). Personally, I've always admired Tom Cruise since Born on the Fourth of July (1989). Here he's at the height of his acting game alongside a standout performance from Ken Watanabe. There are few clichés and the poetic portrayal of Japan is mesmeric. Can't wait for House Of Flying Daggers (2004) to be shown on sky movies.

Monday, 17 October 2005

Can I Have It Like That

After reading a 4 star review of Rachel Stevens' new album, Come And Get It, in Friday's Guardian. I procured a copy and it's the most audacious, chic and eclectic collection of pop songs since Gwen Stefani's Love, Angel, Music, Baby! The Sunday Times concurs! An amusing anecdote. A photo of Ms Stevens adorned my Windows NT desktop at Dow Jones Reuters (before brand hegemony infiltrated every pixel) and a member of staff wondered if Rachel was my wife? If only...

Watching the Girls Aloud videography in iTMS, I noticed how much Cheryl Tweedy looks like Neve Campbell!

Added additional Doctor Who titles to the DVD collection. Claws Of Axos and Revelation Of The Daleks. The former is a by the numbers Pertwee yarn and the latter is a macabre masterpiece. Aside from the digital restoration and edible extras, the new disc art is welcome.

Version 2.0 of the Atari 2600 emulator has been released for Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows. This new version of Stella contains a wealth of improvements. Some highlights are listed below:

*Fully-integrated UI
*New ROM Launcher
*Integrated Debugger
*New Sound Subsystem
*Added ZIP Support
*Added Cartridge "Frying"

With the advent of Halloween comes Castlevania! This year Akumajo Dracula - Chi No Rondo (for PC Engine/TG-16 Super CD-ROM² System) should provide the requisite console chills. Considered by many as the definitive entry in the long-lasting franchise.

Thursday, 6 October 2005

Whoa, that was like a... Jedi moment

The following, exhautive, review is based on the R1 release of Lost Season 1.

Disc 1 (2:48:39)
Pilot - Part 1 (42:13) 
Pilot - Part 2 (40:17)
 Tabula Rasa (43:27) 
Walkabout (42:42)

Disc 2 (2:51:38)

White Rabbit (42:30) 
House of the Rising Sun (42:44) 
The Moth (43:14)
 Confidence Man (43:10)

Disc 3 (2:51:13)
Solitary (43:08)
 Raised By Another (42:45) 
All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues (42:08)
 Whatever the Case May Be (43:12)

Disc 4 (2:51:24)
Hearts and Minds (43:17) 
Special (43:15) 
Homecoming (41:36) 
Outlaws (43:16)

Disc 5 (2:52:01)

In Translation (43:02)
 Numbers (43:06)
 Deus Ex Machina (42:39) 
Do No Harm (43:14)

Disc 6 (3:34:43)

The Greater Good (43:15) 
Born to Run (43:14) 
Exodus, Part 1 (43:16) 
Exodus, Part 2 (1:24:58)


Unlike the US 4:3 broadcast (only available in widescreen for HDTV consumers), Channel 4 is airing Lost in its original 16:9 aspect ratio. The DVD retains the 1.78:1 formatting and eclipses the PAL standard definition picture with 480p (compatible television required). The transfer is so vivid that it’s easy to forget that you’re looking at a screen. The image pops and colors are luxuriant.


The perfect presentation is not exclusively limited to sight. The sounds of the island are all encompassing. My Kef 5.1 speaker setup heightened the tension to such a degree that there were times when it became almost unbearable (check John Carpenter’s The Thing or Jurassic Park for comparison). The audio mix would be worthy of Skywalker Sound's Gary Rydstrom.

Often dubbed as "bonus features," "special features" and "added value", for many DVD consumers they're a compelling reason to buy a DVD set. The Mouse House has come a long way since those first, faltering, steps with Warner Home Video. A time when "special features" were anything but, and consumers should have sued for compensation.

Commentary Tracks
Pilot Parts 1 & 2 - Executive producers J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Bryan Burk
Walkabout - Executive producer Jack Bender, Co-executive producer David Fury and Terry O'Quinn (Locke)
 The Moth - Damon Lindelof, Bryan Burk and Dominic Monaghan (Charlie)
 Hearts and Minds - Executive producer Carlton Cuse, supervising producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Maggie Grace (Shannon) and Ian Sommerhalder (Boone).

The Genesis of Lost (8:40)
The tale of how Lost became a TV show. This featurette includes interviews with executives from ABC, and the producers of the series.

Designing a Disaster (7:59)
How did they construct one of the most incredible series openings of all time?

Before They Were Lost (22:55)
The formation of the cast as told by JJ Abrams, Damon Lindelof, April Webster (casting director), Bryan Burk, and the crew. There are lots of audition tapes included in the featurette, and you can watch the entire tape in...

Audition Tapes (23:34)

Audition tapes for the cast members. Matthew Fox (3:31), Evangeline Lilly (2:53), Dominic Monaghan (1:16), Naveen Andrews (2:01), Yunjin Kim (1:10), Daniel Dae Kim (0:46), Josh Holloway (1:20), Jorge Garcia (1:57), Ian Somerhalder (1:36), Maggie Grace (1:48), Harold Perrineau (1:35), Malcolm David Kelley (1:22) and Emilie de Ravin (2:19). These are pretty interesting, especially because there are things that didn't make it into the show, or actors are auditioning for different characters.

Welcome to Oahu: The Making of the Pilot (33:20)
Self explanatory and artfully leveraging the DVD medium a la Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The Art of Matthew Fox (6:07)
When watching Party Of Five, it was clear that there was an inherent sadness in Matthew’s studied performance of Charlie and one that may or may not be autobiographical. This feature arguably lends further credence to my observation! I hope his photographic endeavors touch you as deeply.

Lost @ Comicon (1:50)

The cast and producers headed to Comicon last July where they debuted the pilot. Now this looked like fun unlike Bournemouth’s Excalibur.

Lost: On Location (43:42)
A few featurettes that focus on an episode, or a single aspect with shooting it. The Trouble With Boars (5:19), House of the Rising Sun (7:19), Confidence Man (4:24), All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues (4:56), Whatever the Case May Be (2:58), Hearts and Minds (6:20), Special (3:05) and Exodus (9:21).

On Set With Jimmy Kemmel (7:15)
Kimmel visits the set of Lost. This had me in stitches and the ‘monster reveal’ culminated in hyperventilation!

Backstage with Driveshaft (6:40)
Dominic Monaghan talks about "Driveshaft," and the "hit" song that they sang. The producers explain the idea behind the song, and how it was recorded.

The Lost Flashbacks (4:35)
A couple of flashbacks that weren't shown on TV, which makes them "Lost Flashbacks" and not "Lost Flashbacks." I really enjoyed the Claire flashback. At the Airport: Claire (3:07)
 At the Airport: Sayid (1:28)

Deleted Scenes (14:41)
There are 13 deleted scenes from the first season.

Bloopers from the Set (4:17)

Live from the Museum of Television & Radio (10:56)
The chemistry between the cast and crew is palpable, and it’s a genuine shame that this was only an appetizer.


If you have a PC you can read the script to the pilot episode while it plays.

Sneak Peeks (14:22)
Trailers for movies and TV shows can be found in this section. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe looks enchanting, and maybe the movie of the year for me. There are trailers for The Chronicles of Narnia (2:33), TV on DVD (1:56), Lost Season 2 - spoiler free! - (0:32), Alias Season 4 (1:19), Desperate Housewives Season 1 (0:32), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2:25), Scrubs Season 2 (1:33), Dark Water (2:33) and Jimmy Kimmel Live (0:59).

Easter Eggs (1:58)

Alternate Main Title Sequence (0:22) – Just terrible and evokes the X-Files opening titles. Want to find it? Put in disc seven, go to "Tales from the Island" and press left twice, then enter.

Locke and the Orange (1:36) - Want to find it? Select "Tales From the Island" on Disc 7, then highlight "Main Menu," press right, and then enter.

In summary
When you have the collective talents behind Alias, Buffy, Angel and Batman: The Animated Series how can you go wrong?

Theories regarding how the Sydney to LA Oceanic flight crashed are as abundant as they are diverse. Are the passengers dead and struggling to make peace with their past lives before moving on or is it The Truman Show meets Survivor? Whatever. Discuss by all means. But, as my Media Studies tutor once said – the journey is often far more interesting than the destination!

There’s a liberal sprinkling of Star Wars and Star Trek in-jokes set against a Planet of the Apes backdrop. Hurley's "Dude" manages to remain humorous and so revealing of the character - a gentle giant a la Chewbacca. And then there's Sawyer who immediately reminded me of Solo - I couldn't stop grinning at the lines including "Princess", "Sulu" and "I'm a complex guy!" And John Locke's character resonates as I'm a paraplegic due to a serious head injury in first school - a classmate was pushed into me. And, yes, I was in a wheelchair...

The inaugural season of Lost is the finest DVD presentation of a television series I’ve viewed since purchasing my first Sony DVD player in 1998. Yes, it really is that good. This is a seminal seven-disc treatment and only Battlestar Galactica (2004) can take the edge off withdrawal symptoms.

Wednesday, 7 September 2005

The Right Stuff

My cousins, Hazel and Hayley, have safely returned from the USA. They were holidaying in Florida when Katrina struck. Though the State of Florida was on the periphery, Hayley video taped the storms that hit. Journalism clearly runs in the family. Welcome home.

A friend recently inquired as to whether or not I had considered audio blogging? The answer is an emphatic yes. But, there's no timetable for its introduction - I'm a perfectionist and quality matters. You never know though, the CD Spin Doctor Desktop Recorder Dashboard widget (included in Toast 7) looks mighty enticing from here!

Lost arrived this morning and the gatefold presentation is sublime. On the horizon, the DVD extras included with Battlestar Galactica (2004): Season One R1 reduces the R2 release to vanilla status! Even the box art is far cooler.

An Atarian since 1980. I'm beta testing a popular Mac OS X emulator for XL/XE that's undergone an overhaul with added Tiger polish.

Anyone else notice that iTunes Music Store wasn't updated yesterday? I'm off to get to grips with RSS Writer (documentation not included).

Monday, 15 August 2005

Hidden Hawaii

What a most splendid haunted house theme park ride Lost is! The signature scene, something screaming in the jungle, was on a emotional par with the T-Rex attack from JP - nerve shattering... The 'live' jet engine on the beach... The derelict cockpit - where were the Raptors and Dilophosaurus? And isn't there an aura of Spielberg meets Chris Carter about it all?

After reading that Channel 4 has cut the UK episodes (intense scenes et al) and the cynical R2 two-part box set release (£27.99 each) due to a lucrative deal with Disney's Buena Vista. I've already ordered the R1 complete box set from CD-WOW @ £31.99 (no import duties). Hopefully to be savored post real life trauma or in the very midst of next month! If you're interested here are the delicious details:

*7 Discs
*Never-before-seen, extended uncut version of the original pilot
*Exclusive, in-depth behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the show
*Backstage with Drive Shaft all-access pass behind the music
*The art of Matthew Fox featurette
*'Before They Were Lost' original casting tapes
*Blooper reel
*Rare deleted scenes
*Multiple filmmaker audio commentaries

David LaChapelle's Lost promos have met with mixed critical reaction. The conventional US trailers pander to the needs of the lowest common denominator. As an artist (myself) accessibility has its place, but sometimes it's desirable to challenge the viewer too! Wouldn't you agree?

Sony Online Entertainment now offers Mac gamers a 'free' (credit card details required) trial of EverQuest. Having played both EverQuest and Blizzard's World of WarCraft, there's no prize for guessing which one I prefer!

Although the key pads are an acquired taste, I adore Sony Ericsson mobile phones. My trusty T-310 still elicits coos of delight from avid admirers! The new W800i Walkman™ model could be a suitable future successor.

Tuesday, 9 August 2005

The Final Countdown

The year 1996 forms a convenient segue from the last post and ties-in with today's safe return of space shuttle Discovery. Prior to completing my final year at Bournemouth, I graduated from console gaming (only to return a few years later with the purchase of a PlayStation) to PC/Mac.

My Macintosh Performa 5200 introduced me to the rich CD-ROM tapestries weaved by LucasArts at the peak of their powers. Dark Forces (favorite FPS), Rebel Assault II - The Hidden Empire (completed between sending off an application to Reuters and accepting the position) and The Dig (demo). The latter remained an enigmatic curio (I'm familiar with Alan Dean Foster's soft cover novel) until this morning, when I obtained a copy of the full game (PC) and played it via the venerable ScummVM.

Based on a story by Steven Spielberg, with dialogue written by Orson Scott Card (The Abyss), the apocalyptic narrative presages Hollywood's meteor movies Deep Impact and Armageddon. The Dig's hand-drawn and animated game art looks fresh and inviting in 2005. Surely this was a franchise in the making replete with animated/live action series and merchandise?

Whilst UK television viewers await the debut of Lost (teasers directed by Madonna and JLo photographer David LaChapelle) on Wednesday night. A few films, that are worth watching more than once, are being repeated. Jean-Claude Van Damme (AKA The Muscles from Brussels) is not an 'action hero' I'm particularly fond of. Yet Timecop (1994) is a riveting yarn from Dark Horse Comics scribe Mark Verheiden (whom responded to a letter I wrote Dark Horse in 1994). Even the wooden Mia Sara can't detract from the forgettable fun to be had. The first time I ever saw Timecop was on a NTSC THX-Certified DTS Laser Disc. The image and sound surpassed VHS and analog broadcast transmissions of the day.

A few of my observations concerning Flickr and Firefox were shared during last night's JMUG meeting. Appreciated.

Thursday, 28 July 2005

"He slimed me!"

I wouldn't profess to be an avid memorabilia collector, but I take pride in the pop culture ephemera amassed since childhood. Although Mattel's Masters of the Universe line is defunct there are bargains to be had for conservative collectors.

Spending $500 on a ToyFare exclusive is anathema to me, but mint sale swag like The Mutant Slime Pit™ is irresistible at $4.99 (available from Toys "R" Us) and includes Slime® compound and exclusive exploding Mutant Warrior™ figure. As I never owned Hordak’s Slime Pit or Fright Zone (spied on the shelves of Tesco's Lee Mill superstore in the '80s), there’s no danger of duplication and the Four Horsemen Studios' sculpts outclass any at McFarlane Toys.

Continuing with the Mattel collectible theme. The Hot Wheels 1989 Batmobile is a definitive die-cast model and surpasses those released by ERTL® or Toy Biz. The 1:18 object d’art is in short supply and an investment. Anton Furst would be proud.

The news that Star Wars Episode III is to bow on DVD this November should come as no surprise! What does the Hollywood moneymaking machine make of the rapid street release schedules (P2P aside)? Rental revenues are in decline compared to the heyday of the Betamax Vs VHS war. Over the past decade I've built a modest digital home cinema, act as consultant on the subject (cables should be factored in as 10% of the overall budget) and prefer to watch movies at home with family and friends. This is in favor of spending money on a scheduled theatrical performance that is subject to travel expenses, ancillary costs and time investment.

Fancy subversive movie and current affairs commentary? Listen to Statler & Waldorf: From the Balcony.

Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Miss Congeniality

Happy Birthday to Sandra Bullock. In 1995 I was so smitten (still am if truth be told) with Sandy, that I was inspired to draw the following 'pencil', 'pen and ink' study.

Those inclined can view the full-size image here. The original is in a wall-mounted picture frame.

Whilst on the subject of art. Late 2002 I started receiving unsolicited mail from fans of 'Soul Reaver 2' (Eidos)! One of the concept artists had the same name and illustration style. This was very flattering, but I had to post a disclaimer on my site to avert any further confusion and potential 'conflict of interest'.

Thursday, 14 July 2005

The Power of the Dark Crystal

Perusing the latest Dreamwatch magazine, I was delighted to note that the first sequel to The Dark Crystal (1982) is in production. This will form the foundation of a new franchise.

Jim Henson's original opus, inspired by the works of Brian Froud, enthralled me as a young child. However, that first fateful viewing at the ABC Cinema was a little too intense - Garthim and Skeksis anyone? Rediscovering it in 1999 I was beguiled by its lyrical beauty once again!

Synopsis taken from the novel The Dark Crystal by A.C.H. Smith:

In a faraway world a mighty astronomical event is about to occur, the Great Conjunction of the planet's Three Suns. At this time, the cruel Skeksis who rule this world from the castle of the Dark Crystal are frightened to learn that an ancient prophecy may be coming true: A survivor of the Gelfling, an elfin race they thought they had destroyed, is seeking to restore the missing shard of the Dark Crystal before the moment of the Great Conjunction, thus ending the tyranny of the Skeksis. Hidden in the valley of the urRu, young Jen the Gelfling has been raised by a tribe of mystics and knows little of the world outside, but know his Master's dying words have charged him with his mission to find the lost shard before it is too late. Traveling through many strange places and encountering many extraordinary beings, Jen races against time to unravel the mystery of his quest and save his world from the forces of evil.

The adventures of Jen and Kira outshone the Muppet antics of Return of the Jedi (1983). The latter was derided by Starlog magazine for blatantly reprising the former's mythological narratives. It's debatable that this was deliberate and certainly the comparisons are inescapable, but The Dark Crystal treats its target audience with greater intelligence.

The inevitable soundtrack score by Trevor Jones, which I still own on single vinyl LP, deserves masterpiece status. John Williams referenced its textured sounds in Revenge of the Sith (2005). As an amusing aside, I fondly recall playing with Masters of the Universe action figures whilst listening to The Dark Crystal Overture.

The Froud's, Brian and Wendy, often frequented my Mother's clothing store in Exeter and would insist that she served them. Wendy Froud's most famous puppet sculpt isn't ashamed of being green. Master Yoda. Love the Star Wars connections that criss-cross my private life.