Sunday, September 28, 2008

Chris Cookson is still alive...and blogging

Lately, I've been pretty bad at updating my blog, most of my free time now is split between doing homework and hanging out with much overlap between the two. When I lean more away from more learning Maya tutorial-esque work I'll probably find some time to post a couple of things here. In the meantime I can go over the countless movies I watched while scribbling my animation homework and my impressions of my first non-foundation month at Pratt.

So far, the first month as a Digital Animation major has been rough but I've learned a ton already. Unlike foundation year, most of the week I only have 2-3 hours of classes a day with the notable exception being Thursdays where I have both my 3D and 2D animation class. In comparison to Foundation year's six hours of class a day plus four hours of liberal arts sandwiched somewhere in-between the week. Factor in an hour of homework per hour of foundation class and your left with maybe 5 or 6 hours of sleep a day.
While I'm getting about three times more homework per hour of class than last year, I'm also getting at least 8 hours of sleep. A rarity in college, though I'm sure that's likely to change once my classes get further into the nuts and bolts of Maya.

While this year is not completely void of the inflated egos, pretentiousness and overwrought discussions over common sense which drove me half insane last year, most of the teachers and students I'm in with are in it for the love of the craft which makes the hours or work seem worth it if only to see what other crazy awesome things the rest of the class came up with. I'm also surprised to see how much I'm loving modeling class so far, its a far cry from my 2D and 3D animation classes which are both as awesome as I expected them to be but I never thought I'd enjoy "designing a home for rats" as much as I am now.

My birthday also came around with a subscription to Netflix as the gift. As someone who'd often prowl the forums of Quick Silver Screen for DivX movies to place onto my Xbox 360, Netflix is a huge step up. Pair the DVD shipping with Handbrake or MacTheRipper (my Macbook Pro has trouble buring dual layer DVDs however) and you could potentially get your hands on any movie that you'd ever want to watch more than once. For the few times I was able to find someone with a PC, the Watch Instantly feature on Netflix has been quite awesome. I'd almost install Parallels and Windows XP exclusively to run it but with 120 GBs on my HDD and often with only 10-40 GBs of free space, I don't want to partitian out any more space than I already have. The system is a bit counterintuitive thanks to the MPAA's strict enforcement of DRM but if you install all the right components its a strong feature. I can imagine this being the future of Netflix in 10 years after DVDs and Blu-Ray discs get the shaft in favor of iTunes-esque downloadable content.

I haven't watched a movie in a theater since I came back to Pratt, not for a lack of time thing, there's just little I want to see right now. I guess I kind of wanted to see Burn After Reading and Hamlet 2 but none of them really struck me as something I'd want to go out of my way to see.

The movies that I have seen were the steroid documentary Bigger Stronger Faster, which played out like Bowling For Columbine had the guns been replaced with steroids and anecdotal evidence replaced strictly with scientific facts. While I found its ironic pro-steroid in the context of America's artificial cheat to win culture view a bit jarring, this was a fun documentary in an age where most health documentaries focus on obesity. (4/5)

To me, Michael Moore's Slacker Uprising was a great idea for both him and his fans. Slacker Uprising is easily Moore's weakest film where all the intentions are there but its unsure whether it wants to be a concert film or a movie chronically the response to Fahrenheit 9/11 during the 2004 presidential election. By releasing this film as a free internet download Moore has taken his lemon and made lemonaide. In doing so he avoided the film getting eaten alive by critics (thus ruining his homerun reputation he had since Bowling for Columbine) and was able to get some positive buzz for his movie riding off the wave of Radiohead's In Rainbows internet giveaway. This is also the best way to get the message out to the young Americans that he wants to influence to vote, its really a win/win situation for him. Worth seeing but only because its free. (2/5)

I also rewatched The Lion King a couple of times while I was doing my modeling homework and then once more last night. Its a shame the Disney Vault is keeping me from owning it in my personal collection, this one had the best plot of all the Disney Animated films and had some of the georgious set pieces. I really wish I caught this one when they re-released it in IMAX a four or five years back. I saw this one a lot on VHS as a kid and I believe I even saw it in theaters though all I could remember was the death of Mufasa was incredibly depressing. The version I watched had a notably cleaner look for the IMAX release and an incredibly out of place new musical number for The Morning Report. Disney Animation has still yet to make "another Lion King" with each new movie getting more desperate than the next. I guess the Princess and the Frog looks good. (5/5)

Lastly, I took out a projector and watched the cult 1979 film, The Warriors. This is one of the few movies that I can think of that would really benefit from a video game release. The only thing that really holds up the film is its early 80s style action and dialogue and a few incredibly lame costume designs for the 100 rival gangs, including a gang of mimes. I never could fully get into this movie, for a movie with such a huge premise I felt kind of cheated that we never got to see The Warriors take on more that one gang at once, usually it wouldn't go much further than 2 or 3. With a paperthin plot and a pretty disposable set of characters I wish they would have had more fun with this one. Still I did enjoy a few of the action scenes. (3/5)

Apart from those I've watched the abysmal J-horror remake One Missed Call (1/5) along with the hilariously bad
Cobra (2/5) and the throwaway Kurt Russel rom-com Overboard (1/5). Short Circuit didn't really hold up to any of my memories (2/5) and Pee Wee's Big Adventure is every bit as amazing as I remembered it (5/5).
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