Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Where The Underworld Can Meet The Elite [Review: Mostly Harmless]

Angel Rose: pilot, interstellar trader and disappointment to her parents. Desperate to pay her debts, escape her mother's somewhat unhelpful matchmaking efforts, and get away from her drab home planet of Slough, she agrees to ship a cargo of gold across a pirate-infested region of space. It's fair to say her mission doesn't entirely go to plan and Angel is about to learn some important lessons about survival, join the quest for an ancient alien artefact, and make some new friends - not necessarily friends that would meet her parents' approval.

Mostly Harmless is a novel set in the Elite universe, written by Kate Russell. Although the author is an accomplished technology journalist and writer, this is her first novel but it's confidently written, packed with interesting characters, and really brings out the danger and paranoia of the Elite setting, while throwing in plenty of humour - as the title might suggest, there's a hint of Douglas Adams in the writing style. Also, as another reviewer pointed out there are three strong women in pivotal roles - is there a Bechdel test for novels?

This novel was supported by a Kickstarter campaign and was part of the meta-funding campaign for the Elite: Dangerous game which has just been released as a beta. Kate's campaign rewards included the opportunity to name a character in the novel who would be guaranteed a gory, painful death. Let's just say the book delivers on this front too.

The end result is an enjoyable and satisfying space opera - and perhaps a promising start to a fiction-writing career.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Steampunk Girl (John Anealio) - Lyric Video

Download This Song For Free:

"Steampunk Girl"
from Laser Zombie Robot Love by John Anealio
(C) John Anealio 2012

Features the Steampunk Girl artwork by Len Peralta

Animation (C) Joshua Westbury 2014
With thanks to the Blender Foundation

Sunday, 6 July 2014

"Steampunk Girl" Screening: Kino London

The premiere screening of "Steampunk Girl" will be at Kino London, at Electrowerkz in Angel, on 7th July 2014. Doors are at 7.30. You can find out more about this "open mic film night" on the Kino London website.

Steampunk Girl is a song by John Anealio: discover more of John's music here.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

When Words Collide [Work in progress: Steampunk Girl]

Putting the final touches to the Steampunk Girl video now: one major scene still to render, which will take approximately 20 hours to create 40 seconds of film. There's still time for things to go wrong, but provided there aren't too many crashes the film will be ready for a premiere screening at Kino London on Monday.

My first foray into kinetic typography has been really satisfying. I'm working in Blender which has advantages and disadvantages. KT lends itself very well to 2D animation and a lot of videos have been made using 2D packages like After Effects or Photoshop. It's not hard to simulate some 3D effects in these programs as well. For me it makes sense to work in a 3D space, not unlike making a physical stop motion animation, I think this matches the way I think. Also Blender is designed for really fast creative work once you are familiar with all the short cuts, and where you actually need 3D effects, or smoke, particles, physics, fluids etc. they are all built in. I also found I could use the compositor to create a look and feel for the animation, for example incorporating fake shadows, motion blur, vignetting etc.

For KT music videos, one issue must come up quite often, irrespective of which animation software you use: what do you do when you hit an instrumental break and there are no words to base your animation around? I came up with a solution, but you - and I - will have to wait until Monday to see if it worked...

Beauty Of The Beast

"Beauty Of The Beast" featuring Darren Charles

Lyrics and music by John and Sue Edward

Video directed by John Edward

 This music video was screened at Kino London in June. My contribution is small - morph effects in one scene. Although I only met Mr. Charles at the screening, I had already become very familiar with the left side of his face in the preceding weeks. I'll write more about morphing in a future post - in the meantime enjoy the song.