Jan 18

CGI in Movies

Last night, I went to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and it got me thinking about the CGI that was used.  Not just in The Hobbit, but in the previews as well.  There was a preview for The Amazing Spiderman 2, and almost the entire trailer was CGI clips.  Now don’t get me wrong, CGI can be used to do some great shots.  However, the problem as I see it is that it can be greatly over-used.

On some movies, this can be an intentional choice.  Such as in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, where pretty much the entire movie was CGI – this works in my opinion.  However, when you need to mix CGI and live-action seamlessly, there can be a tendency more to be lazy with the live-action.  Before CGI, miniatures had to be made for everything, and miniatures almost always look better than CGI.  Granted, these shots probably used CGI to cut two shots together, but in my mind this is an acceptable use of CGI.  Creating an entire scene seems lazy.

The reason that I found The Hobbit to have a lot of CGI is because most of the movie that was inside the lonely mountain was CGI.  Everything just seemed too perfect.  The gold coins seemed all flat, Smaug was sitting on  a ridiculously large pile of gold, among other things.  I will paraphrase The Hobbit book here, from memory:

A constant stream of smoke came out of the gate.

I never got this feeling from the movie; everything still seemed as though the dwarves had left the lonely mountain and nothing had really changed.

To conclude, I think that this video shows what I’m talking about well; there are CGI elements, but it’s used more to tie two real shots together.  Because of this, it really shows better what is going on, and everything seems more realistic.  One of the problems with CGI as I see it is that everything seems too perfect; this is partly because of how the light is reflecting off of objects.  Most of the time, everything seems too bright.  The rest of the time, it generally feels off because the laws of physics seem to be broken; miniatures still have to follow the laws of physics.

Aug 04

What the heck, Discovery?

You guys used to be so good. You had a bunch of interesting shows that really let me learn a lot about the world. And now you do crap like mermaids, and now megalodon shark attacks on boats in South Africa.  WHAT THE FUCK?!  Look, I’m all for being entertained, but when I’m watching Discovery, Animal Planet, heck any channel that is owned by Discovery, I’m not looking for entertainment.  I’m looking to learn.

I think that these shows do have a place in the world.  But when you make shows like these, don’t film them as pseudo-documentaries, or “mockumentaries” as people call them.  They should be about possible things that happen.  You guys should be there to help promote thinking about what is there, and what used to be there.  None of this fake crap that you’re putting out there now – it’s frankly insulting.

I know that you guys make enough money as it is.  This is just retarded that you’re doing something like this.  If you want to do something about megalodon, that’s fine.  Let’s do it in a way that lets people learn about megalodon, like what it could have been like.  Also, I don’t want actors playing biologists or anything, get real biologists out there to tell us this stuff.  You do a great disservice to all of us when there are people pretending to be biologists when they really aren’t.

Also, History Channel, I’m looking at you too.  I don’t really have anything against Pawn Stars or American Pickers, because they can be good shows about showing off items from history.  But when I hear crap like Pawn Stars having an item on the show that is in a museum currently, well, that’s just stupid as well.  Again, not that there’s anything wrong with the show itself per se, but when it’s blatantly obvious that they’re not actually buying or selling anything then we have a bit of an issue here.

TruTV, you’re not so good yourself.  I don’t really watch you anymore.  Except for maybe World’s Dumbest.  That’s actually amusing since it’s not really staged, it’s just people making sarcastic comments and mocking dumb people.

Aug 03

A Great Movie Idea

So here’s an idea for a movie that I just thought up: a comedy movie along the lines of Home Alone, but instead of breaking into somebodies house, they try to break into the Wonka factory to steal the secret recipe for chocolate or something like that.  Then they get into all sorts of wacky hijinks because it’s, you know, the Wonka factory.  You’ve got seltzer that lifts you up to the ceiling, gum that makes you fat, people getting stuck in tubes, the list goes on and on!

Jul 21

New Website Software

Okay.  I think I know what I’m doing here.

WHAT HAVE I DONE?!  you ask.  Well, it’s really quite simple.  I haven’t been updating the website software much, so I decided that I’d just move to WordPress.  I really got the webspace for learning PHP, and to see what I could do with a CMS system.  However, in order to do everything that I want to do, I’m not motivated enough to finish work on it.  Also, I’m not a web developer.  So there’s that as well.  But I have migrated the website over, so that all old posts and pages are still here.  Links will have changed, but the content stays the same.  I may pick up work on the CMS system again sometime, but probably not.  If anybody wants to take it over/use it though, I have no problem with that.

Jun 10

Star Wars and Romans

So I watched Star Wars: Attack of the Clones last night, and in the middle of it I realized that it’s very similar to Rome. How? Let’s see:

  • Near the end, there’s a big fight in a Colosseum. Where people get executed. Now, a lot of that stuff would have been held in the Circus Maximus in Rome, but the Colosseum would have been used as well.
  • The Senate has become increasingly useless.
  • Different factions are vying for power.
  • The Chancellor was granted emergency powers to be a dictator; this is essentially what happened in the Roman Republic. A dictator was appointed in an emergency, and would give up his powers when the emergency was over. As time went on though, the dictators of the Roman Republic became increasingly power-hungry. Thus, the word ‘dictator’ now refers to an oppressive leader, when it was originally a great title.

The same basic things that happened to the Romans happened in Star Wars as well. The Republic crumbled, and then the emperors took over.

Apr 17

Without a Title

A few years ago, a friend of mine gave me a draft of a book to read, called Without a Title. Well, I read it at that point, and let me tell you, it was freaking hilarious. I told my friend to tell me when it was published; he never told me, and I never found it anytime that I searched for it online.

Until the other week.

Yes folks, published two years ago, is Without a Title. Why is this book so hilarious? Well, let me reprint the first few sentences here for your reading pleasure:

Once upon a time in a far off kingdom there lived a beautiful princess who was homicidally insane. She lived in a time that never really existed. It was a time of knights and kings and damsels who caused distress. It was not the accurate historical Middle Ages where half the population walked around with rotting teeth. No, these were the Middle Ages that are featured in animated films with singing forest creatures that appear on lunchboxes in every red brick schoolhouse in suburbia. It was a time in which knights could read, peasants would bathe and the main characters always had perfect hair.

Seriously, how could that not be a great story?

Of course, what I also really love is the large number of puns in the story. Such as Mike Rosoft’s dealings with Mr. Apple. Or perhaps the various… oddball methods of torture. Really. Trust me on this one, it’s hilarious.

All in all, I would give this 5/5 stars. It’s totally hilarious, with a great number of puns and jokes that just make you want to continue on.

Oh, before I forget, here’s the book on Amazon.