SDCC 2011 Day 1

The actual first day of San Diego has come to a close, and as an animator today was that first wave of creative energy and inspiration that comes over an artist amongst not only his peers, but also the fans of the medium.

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When it comes to SDCC, I’m definitely more of a panel person, more specifically the smaller ones and the ones that deal with my interests. Today my panels were the CCI-IFF film school series: pre-production and screenwriting, Alex Niño, How to use CG in comics, Bill Plympton, Classic Cartoons: Tom & Jerry/ Looney Tunes, Robert Rodriguez, Jon Favreau & Guillermo Del Toro, New Generation of Spike & Mike Animation, and Kung-Fu films…

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I won’t even attempt to go over each and every panel I went to, but I will give you some of my main points I took away:

Film is an art (duh), start small and practice your craft, know your tools and how they can make your workflow easier, I have a deeper appreciation of Tom & Jerry more so than before, Guillermo Del Toro likes to cuss, and I really need to re-watch Police Story starring Jackie Chan.

The highlight of my day was the Spotlight in Alex Nino.

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It was like listening to my Filipino Uncles tell stories, except this uncle was into drawing, inking and comic books. I asked him about the restrictions of being an artist during the Marcos Regime in the Philippines and his thoughts on the difference between the animation medium and comic book medium. His answers were brief yet insightful. He recalled his censorship of his artwork during martial law, and he waxed poetic about his freedom as a comic book artist as opposed to the team environment of animation.

If I had some regrets, it was that I didn’t have enough time to chat with these panelists afterword. SDCC is so huge now, it seems that someone is always just more aggressive than I am, plus when I have limited time to jump to the next panel it makes it even tougher. I think next time I’ll try to leave a larger gap between panels esp. with the folks I really want to meet.

It was a good and inspiring, yet tiring 1st day of SDCC 2011. I’ll definitely need more of these tomorrow…

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SDCC 2011 Preview Night

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San Diego Comic Con 2011 Preview Night. As a professional animator, my goal for SDCC is to not only make valuable contacts within the industry, but mostly to stay inspired and let my creative juices flow with all the geekiness around me.

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Most of the contacts and info will come from the panels in the days ahead, preview night is all about inspiration, getting a lay of the exhibition floor, and shopping!

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And I got a chance to finally pick up the kotobukiya Psylocke I’ve wanted for so many years:

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And thanks to Daps1 for braving the line and picking me up one of these:

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And lastly, probably the purchase that felt the best, were these plush yoshi dolls that got for my nieces.

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Because above all, even though I go to SDCC to geek out and generally think about ME, the reason I stay inspired and the reason I animate is for all the folks out there, and that especially goes for me family.

I haven’t written here much, but stay tuned… I plan to try to blog about many things animated that are happening at SDCC 2011 from panels to costumes to artists, etc… I might even attempt a Capt. America review.

Have fun!

Evangelion 1.11 You Are (Not) Alone

Evangelion 1.11: You Are (Not) Alone/ Hideaki Anno/ 2007/ Japan

I thought it would be fitting to review Evangelion 1.11 on 1/11/11. How many times do you get the chance to do that? a

Evangelion 1.11 is a special DVD/ Blu Ray edition of Evangelion 1.0, which in turn was a reboot of the classic anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Confused? Well that’s the point. Anime is sometimes known for its convoluted stories, intricate plot twists, and techno-babble dialogue, and the poster child of this generalization was the original 1996 Neon Genesis Evangelion Series. Evangelion 1.11 is the reboot… err… well, its more of a facelift, as it seems the scenes were ripped straight out of the original series. Is it any good? If you like the OG series, you’ll like this film. If you’re looking for a fantastic in-depth, artistic, and stylistic look into the fragile psyche of a teenager abandoned by his father then this is the film for you. If you also like big mech robots fighting huge monsters, then this film is for you. Be warned, you may get lost in its confusing plot and its many allusions to religion. But if you give it a chance, you’re in for a treat.

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Astro Boy

Astro Boy/ dir. David Bowers/ 2009

Astro Boy, a character created from the mind of Osamu Tezuka (aka the godfather of anime) back in the 1950s, is one of the most famous manga/ anime characters ever. For those of us who remember watching the reruns of the 1960s anime series back in the 80s or 90s, or for those of us who are fans of old school manga/ anime, Astro Boy, much like Mickey Mouse, and Bugs Bunny, is a timeless character. I, personally, forget about his origin as Dr. Tenma’s attempt to replace his deceased son, but what I DO remember is the fantastic fights he had against other robots and alien invaders. So when I heard that a remake of Astro Boy in glorious CG was going to come out in 2009, I was a little excited. Then I thought about the idea a little more… then I came to a realization that no matter what, Astro Boy would not live up to expectations…

And yeah, I was right. However, that doesn’t mean that Astro Boy isn’t a decent movie. The story does its best with the “what does it be mean to be human” theme crossed with a psuedo “upper class” vs. “lower class” vibe, with bits of other sci-fi cliches strewn in. It’s pretty entertaining, but in the end it just wasn’t Astro Boy. Continue reading

Set the VCR: The Death of Maes Hughes…

I’m going to start off this post with a passage from Bill Simmons’, aka the Sports Guy, (one of my favorite writers) column on the 13 Levels of Losing:

Level III: The Stomach Punch
Definition: Now we’ve moved into rarefied territory, any roller-coaster game that ends with A) an opponent making a pivotal (sometimes improbable) play, or B) one of your guys failing in the clutch … usually ends with fans filing out after the game in stunned disbelief, if they can even move at all … always haunting, sometimes scarring …

In my opinion, “The Stomach Punch” (and all levels of losing actually) can apply to more than sports, and can be a nice analogy for many of these things we go through in life. I think many of us can think of time  in life when we felt that “stomach punch” and yes, those times are “always haunting” and  “sometimes scarring.” So for this Set the VCR moment, I focus on a great “stomach punch” moment that led to one of the saddest sequences ever in an anime series.

Fullmetal Alchemist (anime)/ dir. Seiji Mizushima/ Episode 25 “Words of Farewell” / 2004

Hit the Jump! Continue reading

Set the VCR: It was you, it was always you…

In a reasonably good anime series, there are “aww…” moments, and there are “A-HA!” moments. “Aww..” moments usually happen when dealing with relationships, sometimes between parents and children, sometimes between friends and family, but most of the time it happens between significant others. “A-HA!” moments occur when a major plot twist  or loose end is finally concluded or tied up. Both moments offer an amount of satisfaction when through, and both moments tug at your heartstrings. However, there aren’t many cases when the “aww…” moments and the “A-HA!” moments are one in the same.

For this Set the VCR moment, I chose what I believe was the defining moment of a magnificently done series, RahXephon.

RahXephon/ dir. Yutaka Izubuchi/ Movement 26 “Time Enough For Love”/ 2002

(hit the jump to witness this moment)

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Ponyo

崖の上のポニョ Gake no Ue no Ponyo (English: Ponyo)/ dir. Hayao Miyazaki/ 2008 Japan/ 2009 US

It takes real skill to fill the screen with emotion and high drama without having an actual antagonist. It also takes real skill to transport the audience into a world based on real-life, but at the same time have so much magic and awe-inspiring moments that seem so natural that you can’t help but be transfixed to the screen. This is Ponyo, Miyazaki’s latest film loosely based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid about a young goldfish that longs to be a little girl. Unlike other quality animated movies this year, that attempt to cater to the younger audience AND at the same time add in some flair here and there for the adults in the audience, Miyazaki does NONE of that. He knows his target audience is going to be 10 years and younger, but he does something equally impressive. Instead of trying to preen some adult themes into this film, he does the almost inconceivable task of transporting the whole audience back into their childhood.

And for me it worked… Continue reading