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A* Episode 19 
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Joined: Thu Nov 18, 2010 11:51 am
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I agree, Beauty, was ALWAYS my favorite Disney flick {and always will be}... never been anything as good as it since - in my opinion. Yes, The Rescuers, and The Aristocats had Terrible pacing... but remember such charming films as Lady and the Tramp, and Peter Pan were I believe also in that era of Disney.

As for your own art with A* I think if you included color in dramatic moments to punctuate your 'noir' black and white... {perhaps that's a bit like Sin City?}, that sudden color would feel more ...er organic to the contracts of the Black and White inks? A combination of mostly Black and Whites punctuated and accentuated with dramatic splashes of color to set off a cell might be interesting to see.


Fri Aug 23, 2013 6:57 am
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Man, that made me go look into how much it takes to get Beauty these days, and wow, they've got it in arm and leg territory! Dang. You're right there are some good movies in the sketchy period, too--Lady and the Tramp is actually the film just before Sleeping Beauty, and Peter Pan was the one before that, but I think I could probably still watch The Sword in the Stone, and The Jungle Book certainly has its good points--heck I'd even give Robin Hood a shot again. I'm also kind of curious to see The Black Cauldron again, now that I've read it was a huge financial bomb, but also maybe kind of darker than Disney's usual stuff (I don't remember it much at all myself).

Using isolated color would definitely be an interesting experiment, and I've thought about Frank Miller's "The Yellow Bastard" from Sin City in that regard for quite some time, but I guess I never did come upon a spot in A* where something like that seemed called for--and it's certainly something you could only use once in a blue moon. Another thing that's keeping me from using a whole lot of black right now is more technical: doing a lot of black in pencil proved to be clumsy, so it would have to be digital, but I think digital black would either clash with or obliterate the pencil lines--whereas more forgiving color can go over them without too much fuss--unless it was applied very, very carefully, and probably planned out pretty well in advance. I think I will probably get around to trying to do more with digital black over pencil at some point, but I think it's going to be a bit of a trickier combination than pencil and color, strange as that may sound.


Fri Aug 23, 2013 11:10 pm
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Color variants:

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Spent a long time pursuing that more complicated coloring approach with the outlined hair and chair and so forth, eventually realized that I was overpowering the lines instead of accentuating them--it was particularly futile to try to capture penciled whisps of hair in hard lasso shapes (and I'd gotten the upper shape wrong anyway so it didn't look micro-gravity enough : p).

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Re: the Disney inking and coloring stuff I was blathering on about yesterday, I managed to forget that Titan A.E. was also a Don Bluth film. : P I'm about ten or so minutes into it, and boy, it is kind of a mess. Especially in the would-be-dramatic opening scene, a combination of a bunch of animation techniques--including way too much ugly 3D CGI, and somewhat awkward 2D animation of mostly forgettable generically khaki-clad soldiers--just isn't meshed together well at all, and comes out as a horrible mish-mash. Not a good way to start! It calms down a little after that, and you start to see how Bluth again is a bit sharper and grittier than Disney, but it also sounds like Matt Damon recorded his lead audio in his bedroom or something and emailed it to the studio--it just sounds low quality and almost a bit echo-y. I stopped for now just as his character was complaining about having to live in the "dull, grimy present" or something like that, and unfortunately that's really what it looks like with the drag CGI sets on display so far. Yeesh! Oh well the story at least hasn't really gotten started enough to get bad, so I'll stick it out for now.

Before that, also on Netflix of course, I finished quite an odd duck and a bit of an insight into pre-war Disney, or at least their marketing machine: 1941's The Reluctant Dragon has a middle-aged guy badgered by his wife into taking a fantasy storybook to Disney to pitch as a movie--it doesn't really seem like they have the rights to it, but maybe I missed that part--and for some reason he gets admitted and set up with a meeting with Walt, but then keeps ditching his oddly militant, frighteningly ramrod young tour guide, and stumbling into various Disney studios, where they inexplicably know his name and indulge him in showing him how they do stuff--or at least, the creepily "we're all happy here" version of it. Halfway through, in the midst of some really awful sexist remarks he persists in making to a young woman who's trying to show him sound work and cel painting, as he gets to the FX department and then to the coloring department, the movie switches from black and white to Technicolor (the main character remarks upon it), and we get to see more stuff, including some quite good cartoons, and yes eventually we do get to Walt, holding court in his viewing room, feet tucked up beneath him and his green and tan leisure suit.

Warped PR though it is, it does give a look at the mind of Disney at its/his peak, before the war took away a big chunk of his manpower, much of it permanently. This is the era when the studio was whipping out amazing animated shorts like nobody's business, and, combined with some of the earlier shorts I'd been watching in other compilations on Netflix, it got me thinking of the theater-going experience at the time--well, starting in 1932 when color cartoons came along, at least: if you were lucky, I guess you'd get to the theater, find your seat, and get blasted with an intense carnival of cartoon color and sound on the big screen--and then that would end fairly shortly and you'd sit back and watch what was almost certainly a black and white feature presentation. Imagine how much more amazing the color cartoons would have been in that context! Man. No wonder animation studios like Disney and Warner were raking it in back then.

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In The Reluctant Dragon, a caricature of Salvador Dalí is seen briefly in the "Baby Weems" storyboard sequence, and in fact, four years later, Dali worked with an animator at Disney on what was apparently intended as a Fantasia-esque musical animated short, dubbed "Destino"--but work stopped shortly after the storyboard stage, and all that got done in terms of animation was a 17-second test. Skip ahead to 1999, when "Walt Disney’s nephew Roy E. Disney, while working on Fantasia 2000, unearthed the dormant project"--he gave it to Disney Studios France, and, following the "cryptic" storyboards, they produced an animated feature--and it is definitely about as Dalí as you could want, with numerous melting clocks, bizarre morphing creatures, and inventive, space-inverting scene transitions, among weirder things. You can watch it and read more about it where I found it in this Collective History tumblr post.


Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:02 am
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I like the print you went with... but gives the impression Selenis is a blonde... which she is not {well.. I believe she is not blonde at least}.

Yeah, seen that Dali short... interestingly surreal.

As for Titan AE... I saw your thoughts about it in your post before your last post... but refrained from saying anything. I figured I'd let you make your own assessment of it... which turned out to be the same as mine. However, there is one sequence you should stick with it to see. The ice field chase is pretty interesting actually. But you are correct the 3D CGI just seems to clash with the rest of the 2D animation... meh. Good for a single view but not something I'd bother adding to my Disney library.


Sat Aug 24, 2013 4:46 pm
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sunphoenix wrote:
I like the print you went with... but gives the impression Selenis is a blonde... which she is not {well.. I believe she is not blonde at least}.


Which brings up an interesting question! What color do you think her hair is?

And yeah the ice field ending of Titan A.E. looks *way* better than the first 2/3rds of the movie. It's almost like they updated their computers midway through!

In other news I stumbled across an answer to my "is noir only black and white" poser from earlier in the week: according to Wikipedia's page on Technicolor, the films Leave Her to Heaven and Niagara are noir, and they were in color. Hm! I haven't seen either of 'em.


Sun Aug 25, 2013 2:59 am
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I've been talking about Disney cartoons lately (Did you know Walt started out as a comic strip artist? (Did not go well.) And had two failed companies before things started working out on the animation front? And his first film was himself taking a smoke break? And sold his camera for a one-way trip to California? And started off his eventually successful Disney Bros. Cartoon Studio by ripping off Felix the Cat? Well that's what Wikipedia says, anyway.) and it occurred to me that Disney's been getting me out of bed in the morning for the last quarter century. I mean with this little guy:

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^ Oops and it got all pollen-y or something when I put it on the windowsill. Oh well. I believe I got it at a gift ship in Disneyland on a trip there as a kid with my family--my brother and I had both won a coloring contest at the local grocery store--yeah it was weird, we were on TV and stuff. Anyway I picked up the alarm clock while I was there, and it has served me without fail since then...hm I guess it might be closer to thirty years now. Keeps good time, runs practically forever on a single AA battery, and it's still piercingly loud! The back says "MOV'T JAPAN / ASM. IN CHINA" and the front says Disney, so good job all around, international partnership!

A Google image search failed to turn up anything on this durable clock, but there's a similar model on eBay, and you can see a different similar model (although with a ticker much louder than mine) sort of in action on YouTube, although I really wish they had done less fumbling around with the alarm switch and more letting the alarm go off so you could hear it. Ah well.


Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:23 pm
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Oh man. Way too much time finicking with the color on this one and I've probably just ended up with a big dark blob for a lot of people, cutting it too fine with the gamma. Well hey, suspense! >_> Rejects:

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Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:19 am
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A friend sent me a link to the astrophotography web site of Thierry Legault, who takes some pretty spectacular space-related pictures. For instance, some amazing shots of polar aurorae over Norway (make sure you get down to the landscape shots at the bottom too, those are quite nice), and photos and even video--from Earth--of the International Space Station docking with the Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2011, and then the two of them crossing in front of the Sun, looking a bit like little bees on a gigantic honeycomb.

Also he's prrrrrrobably no relation to the Thierry in A*, which is good considering what will go on next episode. >_>

By the way, Wikipedia's astrophotography page will fill you in a bit on the field's history and techniques, along with a lot of other cool photos, including oldies like the first photo of a solar eclipse (Berkowski, Prussia, 1851):

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image by Berkowski (first name unknown) (source)

That was a photo using the original photographic daguerreotype process--a copper plate with a silver face, made light sensitive by iodine fumes, exposed via a camera obscura, then developed with mercury fumes and fixed in a salt solution. Its inventor, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, had made the first attempt at an astronomical photo in 1839, shooting at the Moon, but the telescope he was using didn't track accurately enough and it just came out as "a fuzzy spot."


Thu Aug 29, 2013 12:02 am
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'Critical phase' for Iter fusion dream is a recent BBC article about the internationally funded "ITER" ('International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor and Latin for "the way" or "the road",' according to Wikipedia) experimental fusion reactor under construction in southern France, "receiving the first of about one million components for its experimental reactor." The creation of the components by various agencies around the world has been more troublesome than initially anticipated, and the operating target date of 2020 is looking pretty shaky at this point. ITER's "rough overall budget" is supposed to be about 15 billion euros (just under 20 billion USD)--although I guess that might have to go up considering the delays.

Still, fusion power! In southern France! Might happen some day! ITER's reactor is a "tokomak" design; "tokomak" is "the Russian word for a ring-shaped magnetic chamber." 28 incredibly powerful magnets will be tasked with creating a magnetic field of sufficient strength to contain plasma reaching over 200 million degrees Celsius, "conditions hot enough to force deuterium and tritium atoms to fuse together and release energy." Previous experiments with a tokomak at the JET ("Joint European Torus") (<- there's a really cool photo of the reactor's interior there) reactor in the UK have achieved fusion, but took more energy to produce than they generated; ITER, on the other hand, is supposed to be able to create ten times more energy than it takes to operate--up to 500 megawatts, quite a bit more than JET's 16 megawatt fusion record set in 1997 (which took 24 megawatts to generate); for the sake of comparison with fission reactors, the world's largest nuclear fission reactor plant, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, can produce 7,965 megawatts from its seven reactors combined. (A 6.6 magnitude offshore earthquake, the second largest to hit a nuclear plant, took Kashiwazaki-Kariwa offline for 21 months starting in 2007, but the radiation leakage was insignificant (the 2011 offshore quake that caused a tsunami and extremely significant radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan was magnitude 9.0).)

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I just noticed that there are a bunch of James Bond movies on Netflix's streaming service. And that they're being removed on September 2nd. >_< Guess I'll just try to squeeze in as many of the Sean Connery ones as I can before then...although maybe I'll do that Lazenby one first, I think I've only seen that once before.


Thu Aug 29, 2013 11:17 pm
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Some coloring steps : P:

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I've got a new art feature I want to get done for the site, haven't seemed to manage to fit it in over the past few weekends, hoping for better squeezing this weekend.


Sat Aug 31, 2013 4:56 am
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