It’s Boxing day here in Australia and it has definitely been quite a lot of eating and resting. One holiday tradition my family likes to keep is to see a film on Boxing day which originally started with the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. We decided to keep the tradition alive by seeing the next trilogy from Middle Earth “The Hobbit : An unexpected journey”.
Before going in, I was well read on reviews about this film particularly relating to the 48fps in 3D and how a lot of people found it jarring and confusing. There was even a whole blog by Vincent Laforet on why he thought the whole idea of high frame rates didn’t work. But alas, I wanted to see it for myself.
I was originally told that upon walking into the cinema I was going to be watching a 2D version in 24fps (which is what the original trilogy was displayed in). To my surprise my ticket said 3D and I asked the pimply teenage usher “Is this the 48fps version?” to which he proudly croaked “yes”.
I quickly raced to get some 3D glasses for my family and myself and sat down. Then the MGM logo came up in 48fps and I started thinking “hey, this doesn’t look so bad.”
I won’t go too much into the movie as I am sure if you have made up your mind about seeing the Hobbit, you are probably going to see it regardless of any bad press. But if you want a quick a review about the film – It’s awesome, go see it. What I want to talk about is the higher frame rates and actually how GOOD it was as an immersive 3D experience.
But before we do that I’ll back up a bit…
The theory I had heard from Jackson was that the human eye actually perceives real life at a frame rate closer to 60 fps (regular movies are shot at 24fps). So if you wanted to fool your audience into seeing something more “real” it not only had to have depth, it had to move as fast as something that your eye would perceive as real. Before Jackson had released any footage of the film he had said that his impression of 3D at 48fps seemed more like someone had opened a window to another world and you were peering into it.
Of course I was skeptical. I mean who wouldn’t be? Only sports telecasts, live events and news shows were shot at these frame rates. It sounded like a ghastly idea.
Fast forward a year or so and I am becoming more and more disinterested in 3D films as a legitimate way of story telling. Quite frankly 3D films were becoming a bit of a nuisance since all I was getting was a jacked up movie ticket to a film that could have easily been experienced in 2D.
That was until I saw the Hobbit.
Although I don’t agree with Jackson’s impression of peering into a realistic looking world, I will say that for the first time since seeing Avatar the 3D actually seemed good. In fact I felt like the higher frame rate actually made my viewing experience in 3D a lot more interesting and not so annoying. And actually after a while, i actually started thinking “why didn’t we do this sooner?”
The feeling of being jarring or fake didn’t occur to me at all and in fact I am quite miffed at what all the complaints about the high frame rate were? Was it that the movements seemed to sharp or too clear? If anything, I thought the higher frame rate brought me into the action a lot more. The arrows whizzing by as the dwarves race to escape the trolls actually felt like they were whizzing by. I swear I tried dodging one!
In any case, this new way of displaying the movie was always going to be a gamble for Jackson. But I am happy to say that it felt good. It felt very good. And it felt good to see someone trying something new!
And Peter Jackson, if by some miraculous fluke you are reading this, don’t listen to those small-minded dimwits on the internet – keep the movies at 48fps. It looks gorgeous.
I did have one quibble about the film. If Gandalf can call giant eagles at anytime and they can fly countless distances surely this film would have been about an hour shorter????
But I digress…
So please, do yourself a favour. Don’t listen to what people are saying and see it at the higher frame rate the way the director intended you to see it. And to be honest, make up your own damned mind. New cinema will always be different at first, but sometimes rules need to be broken in order for there to be progress. And I predict that you’ll look back at films in a decade or so and wonder why we shot everything at such a slow frame rate. Let’s be progressive people. 48fps is here to stay.
Of course if you don’t agree with me, post up something below…
Skyfall marks the 50th anniversary to the James Bond franchise which has seen it’s share of ups and downs in popularity over the decades. I for one have not been a huge James Bond fan and thought the majority of the franchise was very camp all the way up the end of the Pierce Brosnan incarnation.
That was until they did the Casino Royale reboot.
In a post 9/11 age where international espionage was seen more as a dangerous occupation rather than a romantic and adventurous one, it was no one wonder that the Bond franchise series at the beginning of 2000 was starting to seem a little dated. Movies like the Bourne identity were giving the spy genre a new lease on life and it was obvious that the producers from Bond took a leaf from it.
The reboot in a lot of ways brought Bond up the date with the current times making him a spy that had to rely on his wits and pure braun rather than his gadgets to get himself out of trouble. They also gave him a much darker edge allowing the audience to peer in the vulnerability of the Bond character and ultimately a view into his core motivations for being 007.
Skyfall starts off with Bond chasing down an assailant who has stolen a hard drive with the identities of operatives around the world planted in terrorist organisations. An action piece ensues with Bond riding motor bikes on rooftops to fighting atop of a moving train. Bond’s partner observes this train fight from the sidelines and sees a slim opportunity to take down the assailant via rifle. She takes the shot and accidentally gets Bond instead. Bond falls off the train and everyone thinks he is dead.
cue opening credits and Adele (the opening sequence made by the awesome Framestore I might add…)
Soon after Bond’s funeral, M receives a threatening email from an unknown source telling her to “think on your sins”. Shortly after a bomb goes off at MI:6 headquarters and kills several employees. This forces MI:6 to retreat underground and re-evaluate their security.
Cut to Bond on a tropcial island who has been faking his death drinking up big with the locals. Bond sees a news report shows MI:6 headquarters in ruins. He flies back to London and shows up an M’s house and tells her he wants his job back. She accepts and sends him out to find out who is threatening MI:6 despite the fact there is a lot of speculation on whether Bond is actually fit for duty.
This mission sends Bond to China, Hong Kong and Cuba and eventually leads him to the antagonist Javier Bardem’s character Mr. Silva who we find out really really hates MI:6 particularly M.
Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty,Road to Perdition) the film is fairly frantic from the get go which is surprising from Mendes whose previous films have been very slow narrative films. He does well to keep the action up but also manages to shoe horn a fair amount of interesting character development.
The interaction between Judi Dench and Daniel Craig is fantastic as you get a better sense of the relationship between Bond and M and their fondness of each other. Probably the best incarnation of this relationship I have seen on screen.
Bardem steals the show as Mr. Silva playing a role that I have not seen since Country for Old Men (“call it” anyone?). It’s Bardem’s ability to bring a sense of depth and pain to his character that just seethes with hate towards everything MI:6 that really shines here. From the minute he appears on screen he really makes life hell for everyone which is fantastic.
The only cristism I have with the film is the transition from the 2nd act to the last act which I thought was a little thin. And seriously spoilers if you are going to continue reading. Just skip to the end if you don’t want to know anymore.
Although it was pretty cool seeing where Bond grew up, I didn’t think it seemed logical for Bond to travel all the way out to Scotland to protect M, especially to his old home. And more so than that, to travel out there without any assistance whatsoever. Couldn’t they have brought a few operatives with them along with them and hid them in the grass? and if Bond has a secret Astin Martin sitting in a garage, why didn’t he have a secret armory as well? Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the set piece of them booby trapping the house with the household items, but for me it seemed like the motivation for them going there seemed wrong. And how does one simply leave bread crumbs for a super hacker to follow but no one else to do so???? This last act for me seemed a little too long and could have ended on the pond. And the way that Mr Silva got dispatched could have been a little more diabolical. Maybe poetically M could have killed Silva rather than Bond, so that M saves Bond’s life in a way showing that M has always been looking out of Bond? Anyways, that is a minor quibble. In any case if you can stomach the reason why they go out to Scotland, it still is a pretty awesome third act. Perhaps they were hoping Connery would agree to show up in the film and hence why they wrote it in Scotland? I guess we’ll never know…
All in all Skyfall is arguably one of the best in the franchise. My favourite is still the reboot of Casino Royale, but this would have to be a close second
I think it’s pretty easy to walk/drive/bus to your local Christian bookstore perusing the aisles and look at some of the products and critisise. Let’s be honest here, we’ve all had the thought “why is christian media such poor quality”? and, disclaimer, there are always exceptions to the rule.
But nonetheless, for the most part, we’ve probably all thought that christian music, videos and art generally are of a lower quality than that of a more “secular” standard.
Well to those who think that I say SHAME ON YOU! How dare you critisise people for putting the word of God out there in a format of their choosing. Like seriously, when was the last time you made a cartoon, or wrote a song, or made a movie? It’s hard work, and it’s great that there are people out there actually trying to do that. So to those people trying to get the message of God out there, good on you. Keep going!
Of course there is a flip side of this.
I think if you are someone who is passionately trying to make great Christian media it’s important to not rest on your past achievements. Continue to move forward in finding better ways to do what you love doing and dont be afraid to listen to influences outside the Christian world. Believe it or not, not everything in the secular world is evil. I mean if your dream was to be best at the 100m sprint you would listen to any advice Usain Bolt had to give you even if he wasn’t Christian. Likewise just because an artist isn’t a Christian doesn’t mean you can’t learn anything from them, or that their way is evil. What you are aiming to learn is technique, professionalism, learning how to stick to a schedule and how think outside of the box. To be honest, the best people in their field aren’t always found inside church. The sooner you understand that as an artist, the bigger your world will be and the better equipped you can be at making your ministry flourish into what it needs to be.
So get out there. Make great stuff and be awesome at what you do. In fact be awesome like this cat Dan who made this wicked short “Finished” which is not only beautiful but has a great message about climbing your mountain. Enjoy.
I was listening to the Kevin and Bean show on KROC and they had a special guest from gametrailers.com talk about upcoming video game releases like Assassin’s creed 3, Halo 4 and Call of Duty : Black Ops 2. Have at a look at their respective trailers below:
ASSASSIN’S CREED 3
BLACK OPS 2
One thing that fascinated me from this interview was how much money is poured into video games nowadays. When I used to play games back in the 80 and 90s it wasn’t anywhere the multi-billion dollar industry it is today.
This is sort of games I used to play obsessively, and yes I know, I’m a dinosaur…
What shocked me even more was that studios are now putting the budget of a large hollywood movie into big name video games – we’re talking about $100 million+ for a big game like Halo 4 or COD.
But how much would you expect to make from a game franchise? The interview went onto reveal that the games like the original COD : Black ops made close to $2 Billion! That’s as high as the highest grossing film of all time Avatar.
It’s been a long time since games were purely just for kids, but I had no idea it had become this big!
So the question I have to ask myself is, am I in the right industry???
I had an idea for a short earlier last year while I was learning 3D which I thought might be cool to animate, but I didn’t have the ability to do it. In the end I settled for something a lot simpler which is where I came up with the animation Road Rage. But almost 2 years on from that I have decided this idea will finally see the light of day.
This was a piece of 3D artwork I did back in the day:
It’s a little dated now (I had literally only started learning how to use Blender. i think I was only 3 months in and it was already doing my head in) but I promised I would use the idea to make into a film one day. And that film is essentially a film that occurs in a zombie infested petrol station. Not original I know, but something I’ve wanted to do for a bit.
But one thing that stopped me from attempting to do something this cool was the fact that I could not animate a character in 3D to save my life!
I mean I knew a lot about the topic, but it seemed very daunting. But I decided to give it a bash anyways. I mean what harm could it do to actually have a go. And to my surprise, its pretty difficult, but not impossible. Here is what I achieved over a year ago with the little I knew at the time:
I have been learning about animation all year through the animators survival handbook, the blender cookie website and countless youtube videos watching everything frame by frame trying to understand the mysteries of animation. And to my surprise, when it came time to start rigging and then animating a 3d character, the task of actually bringing a character to life didn’t seem so daunting. Have a look at some this test video I completed so far:
While it’s not exactly amazing (the rig itself needs a lot of work) I was actually quite surprised how enjoyable animating in 3D was and how quickly you can actually do it. Next stop, the facial rig and actually making the character “act”. Stay tuned!
It’s been almost 8 months in the making, but I am finally done with this short. It’s a morality tale of what happens to a young man when he simply cannot resist the temptation to simply take a look. Animated in Blender and After effects. Enjoy!
2 beautiful things are on the market that makes things a lot easier.
Adobe After Effects CS6 and Video Copilot’s Element 3D.
They are a beautiful marriage mainly because of 2 things.
1. CS6 has a built-in camera tracker/solver
2. Element can import OBJs and you can place interactive 3D models inside After Effects
What this means is that you are now able to place things you’ve made in a 3D app (Blender) and place it into a handheld shot ala Cloverfield and get some pretty interesting results. Have a look at the examples below:
As you can see it’s not exactly perfect but it’s a lot more than I could do a year ago and a lot easier too. Looking forward to seeing what possibilities this new partnership will bring and what results people will come up with.
In fact why not hit me up with some suggestions on stuff to comp into a handheld shot and I’ll have a crack at doing them! I’ll give you a credit in the next vid
It’s been a little long in between blogs. But I’ve been busy. What else is new?
But I thought I should fill you in on a few projects I am currently working on.
First up, a follow up from my last animated outing Road Rage.
I decided I wanted to learn a little more 3D and also how to animate better. After months and months of refining key frames and learning how to combime 3D and 2D together, I’ve discovered a couple of things
1. Animation is hard work. It takes patience and focus. I tip my hat to animators everywhere. It’s a tough gig.
2. 3D is hard work. If you are not impressed with just the sheer artistry of some 3D artists out there, you need to really have a go at doing 3D. It is a whole notha level of thinking. But I will admit, I do love the challenge.
3. Sound is key. After all my years of video production one thing is for damn certain; sound is key. Say it with me out loud.
Right now I have sent my film off to be mixed by the ever talented Joshua Nickel at Cielo entertainment. Why? Because I can’t mix sound for crap. Don’t underestimate good sound. It will make or break your film.
So what’s next for team Nick Khoo?
I’ve been toying around with whether I should do another feature and if I do another feature, should it be live action or animated? or could it both?
In any case, I’m excited about the prospect do doing something new and doing something I’ve never done before. Maybe I’ll shoot something in stereoscope? haha.