Thursday, December 17, 2009

The last batch of finals and stuff

Hell week is finally over, here are some of the results. The first is my character animation final, will probably fix the pole vectors on the elbows and make he timing more pose based on the second half of the animation before putting it on my demo reel but I'm really happy with how this one turned out check it out! (the embedding on Facebook is a bit funny if the post is not at the top of the page, click here if the videos aren't loading correctly)

I didn't animate this second one but this is animated from a portion of an interview I did for badass, animator extraordinaire/classmate, Eugene. He did a fantastic job translating my mannerisms on to a morbidly obese rabbit. Also, on a side note, this horrifying story is partially true (exaggerated for comedic effect obviously)...but still, this terrifies me vaguely to this day.

Lastly, here's my final for audio class. It's probably the grittiest thing I've ever done, which is weird considering it was originally just a one off joke. If I were to produce this into an actual film, I'd re-record the voices with a professional microphone and make sure to keep the levels in check but I'm really pleased with how I handled the music in this, check it out.

The chords in this were modified from a certain popular Xbox Live Arcade game...can you guess which one it was?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Video: Fear and Loathing in Willoughby

Here's round one of my onslaught of finals, this one for Lighting and Rendering, bask in the glory of an adorable 3D elephant (which has appeared on this blog a few times already)

Fear and Loathing in Willoughby from Chris Cookson on Vimeo.

My lighting and rendering final, we were supposed to composite 3D animation with HD footage...this is a video of me finding a pink elephant in my bathroom.

Friday, November 27, 2009

my fifteen minutes are up...

Over the last couple of weeks I was working on a parody of Twitter to accompany an Onion article, this was what was on their homepage last monday...

Here's the parody of the Fail Whale I made for the page, I'm really happy with how it turned out

you can find the article here and the accommodating website here. It's also doing pretty well on Facebook apparently.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

busy, busy, busy (and some older Onion stuff)

it's getting towards the final few weeks at Pratt and the work load for the final exams are starting to pile up. Can't say the work hasn't been getting to me, but I'm trying my best to keep myself from going too crazy.

This is the Lighting and Rendering Project I've been working on, you can see the concept sketch for it in the last post I made here.

Likewise, I've been working on something really awesome for The Onion over the past few days, probably can't post it here yet but in the mean time, here are some of the other graphic things I've done for them...

This is the Twitter background I made for their page, it was originally a parody of the one CNN has but now it's a bit more subdued. Pretty slick.

Likewise this Twitter background is for an account relating to an iPhone application relating to a popular Onion News Network video and will be in use whenever the application gets approved for the iTunes store.

and this was made for a screenshot for the following Onion article over here. I'm quite fond of the logo I made for it...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Another October Art Post

Likewise, this is my latest Facebook profile picture, my roommate last year Devin is Mr. Peabody in this because he was a rather significant history buff.

This is another project concept sketch for lighting and rendering, for this I'm thinking of having a bug zapper light the scene with a blue hue.

and here's a little gem from Twitter

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October Art Update

Firstly, here was my entry for Pratt's 24 hour animation competition, Bring Your Own Pixel. It's a little rough in spots but it was able to nab me second place, still unsure what prize it would actually entail but from what I heard its a pick between a WACOM Tablet, a 1 TB HDD and a 20" LCD monitor, all are really awesome prizes.

Requiem in D Cup Major from Chris Cookson on Vimeo.

The same week, I also had an assignment due for my character animation class. I'd polish a few more things, and add some titles first before officially putting it on my Vimeo or taking pieces into my future demo reel but it's a fun piece nonetheless. (blogger seems to not want the video to upload, BLECH! I'll find some way to put it up eventually)

Also here are some things that I've been doing for my lighting and rendering class as well, check 'em out, this is the rendering based on the concept sketch I had in my last post.

and while I'm at it, here's some concept art for a compositing project I'll have in that class

and here's a bit of an over saturated rendering of the 3D model I'm making based on the concept art

I've already filmed my video segment for it, but I'd rather post that up here when it's all done.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some Concept Art and Mountain Dew contest follies

if you read my Twitter, you may have seen this already but this is the concept art for my lighting and rendering midterm, I'm still modeling the 3D part of it right now but its supposed to be a messy room from the perspective of another cockroach. Its looking pretty rad, I'll post up the final version of it when I'm done and dusted with it.

I just submitted this to Mountain Dew's Can Design challenge, its for the Dewmocracy contest this year and from what I've heard it may be for a new tropical flavor of Dew, so I made my can accordingly.

Likewise, here's a little visual piece I made for my Digital Audio class. It's a time line for the acoustic song "Green Leaves of Summer" which was used in the classic John Wayne spaghetti western film, The Alamo and more recently to open up Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. It may be a good idea to view the larger version of the image while seeing how the music (conveniently embedded above) syncs up to it.

Lastly, this is a little bouncing ball exercise I did as a quick assignment in character animation class. Ideally, I'd add a bit more of an easing in for when it goes off the ramp and I'd have the target crush the ball at the end, maybe work a bit more on the rotation too but I figured I might as well post it up here, why not?

Monday, September 7, 2009

some squirrel doodling

My character animation teacher wanted us to go to the park and draw a some of the poses that squirrels make, and then make it into a quick little animation using what we had. Here's what I did...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

the quickest way to lose all your friends part 7: near the end of summer edition

My rate of these has gone down lately (I got a job and I have a bit less free time) and this will probably be the last post of this sort this summer which puts the final number of drawings down to just about 40 people. Which is pretty good considering my first post came from an outside request and the rest were just from a flood of comments after I mentioned "if you ask, I'll draw you". While I have skipped a few people, mainly those I haven't really seen since Middle School or something, the majority of the requests up until July have been granted. Here's the latest batch of drawings below.

Marissa suggested a photo including her boyfriend Josh in it as well. She was among one of the many people I met more than two years ago on AIM before ever stepping foot into Pratt and she was one of the few people I already knew that were on the Healthy Choices floor foundation year. She does a lot of paintings and is a Painting major I believe. She also has a couple of tattoos, it could be more but I know she has a Peace symbol on her back and her last name on her hip.

I know Josh really well too, since he's a 3D Animation major in my year and there are only about 20 or so undergrads in my class, I pretty much had every major class with him last year including Intro to Modeling, Rigging and Editing class, I think that was all of them, there could be more, I'm not too sure. I really found his advanced Alien facial rig to be pretty rad, he was great at modeling in Maya too.

Devin and Collin were my roommates last year and were pretty much in all my foundation classes. This strip is a reference to the one time we decided to eat in the separate "dining" area of a local sketchy take-out Chinese restaurant. While the food was the same as their take-out, the prices were about 1.5 times higher than they normally would be and generally the place felt like it was about to fall apart. We did however, enjoy the large fish they had in the place though, its just not worth the price of admission to see them again.

Most of my memories with Devin and Collin came from LCD, 3D design and Drawing class foundation year. Each of those classes lasted about 6 hours long and met over 30 sessions. The most horrifying of the bunch had to be Drawing class which had to be one of the most exhausting classes I've ever taken, the professor came off as a bit strict at first too, but that was mostly because she cared so much about what she was doing. It was great fuel for conversation however and also a great excuse to let off steam playing a lot of Smash Bros. during the 2 hour lunch break between two 3 hour chunks of each class.

Jason is an industrial design major and a friend of Collin's, he used to have a mohawk when I first met him Freshman year and I kind of wish he kept it. Regardless, he was in a fairly cool pixelation video that he made for Beth Warshafsky's 4D design class in like 20 minutes. We weren't in the same class together but we had the same teacher.

Ed Waters has really awesome side burns, I really hope he doesn't shave them off. He's great at Smash Bros. too and is a pretty vocal Nintendo fanboy.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

One of the More Decent Shows on Earth

Lately, I’ve been winning a lot of small things off of Twitter. Starting from the most minor stuff, I got some custom stickers from a graphic designer I was following, followed by three Rock Band songs from Pepsi, a free KFC meal from Oprah an advance copy of Muramasa: The Demon Blade for Wii from Ignition Entertainment and lastly four free tickets to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

While I don’t consider myself an incredibly lucky person, I feel like all the recent Twitter winnings are more a result from corporations not really understanding the “actual” size of social network websites and trying to bank on the so-called popularity based on all the media hype. While it’s true there are 12 million accounts on Twitter, only five percent of them have over 100 messages written while all the rest are just fairly dead. I’m pretty sure I was only among a handful of people who entered the majority of the given contests.

Which leads me in to this blog post, when I won a set of four forty dollar tickets to the Circus at Coney Island. After writing a fairly negative post on Coney Island, I was auto-followed by their respective Twitter account, I followed back figuring it could help me figure out some cheap-ish things to do on one of those many lazy Sundays. One post in particular, directed me to the “ Be a Circus Supermom” contest; it entailed retweeting a post on the account and then sending them an e-mail with your Twitter username. I half sarcastically entered, only to receive notification that I won tickets a couple of days later.

After gathering together a few friends (all of whom have been drawn on this blog at one point or another) who could make it to Coney Island on a few days notice and working around my work schedule (I wouldn’t really want to bring my laptop to the circus) I was ready to go with my expectations set fairly low for the place. The initial e-mail suggested coming in a bit early to get the tickets from the booth, which was an ample excuse to hang out and to check out the cold dead corpse of what used to be the amusement capital of New York City (there’s a billboard for the dumpy Playland amusement part right by Nathan’s now, for god’s sake).

While it’s unfortunate that Astro Land is no longer the centerpiece of Coney Island, a lot of the carnival themed businesses that surrounded the location still remain in tact. Including picking up. Also, I was surprised to see that many of the rides at Astro Land are still running after being rented out by independent vendors, while I know it will inevitably be taken down, its still comforting in a way as if the apocalypse has been delayed by a couple of years or so despite the entire sleazy post-apocalyptic vibe that Coney Island has ALWAYS had.

So I ate a Corn Dog at Nathan’s and got some Banana soft serve Ice Cream over at the neighboring Denny’s Delight and then went over to the ticket booth. Getting the tickets was fairly painless after a quick flash of my Driver’s license. We arrived a couple of minutes late to the actual 7 o’clock showing but they seemed to keep the opening pretty low key, mostly of a clown whistling and amping up the audience.

Granted, most of the circus came off as pretty low-key, this is the second circus I’ve seen, and it could have easily been just the novelty of seeing it the first time when I was six or something but I found the experience just a bit underhwhelming.

Most of the acrobatics while very impressive where spread out pretty thinly among some underwhelming comedy bits and a few shows that were just completely unimpressive; mainly a troupe of trained dachshunds that could jump over six inch bridges, I’ve seen more impressive stunts at dog shows on Animal Planet. Luckily, all the cool stuff is in the YouTube trailer, including some things, such as Zebras that never actually made it into the show.

My other issue with the circus, was that the entire performance seemed biased towards the center while the left and right sides got the bum-end (literally) of the spectacle. Mainly, then they had a group of trained elephants form a congo line of sorts, they did this trick twice and both of the times I had nothing to really look at besides a few elephant asses forming a pose that may look a bit objectionable in an Animal Planet sense of the word.

My entire disappointment could be more a result of a lack of revenue for the circus, greatly crippling the gimmicky thrills of “The Greatest Show on Earth”, the entire tent was less than a quarter full and the ticket booth seemed relatively vacant thirty minutes before the performance. This could be either a sign of a recession or more a sign of the times, where greater spectacle can be viewed on the internet for free at your own convenience.

Don’t get me wrong, I plenty enjoyed some of the more low-grade thrills such as a man on a foot-long bike run it through a flaming hoop, and I thought the bit with the White Tigers was quite novel but I can’t say had I paid the forty dollars that I would have walked out satisfied and considering the fact that the entire circus thing is dying down, its probably a good idea to take a small child to it because I can’t really imagine the type of entertainment lasting that many more years.

Still, I greatly appreciated the free tickets that they hooked me up with and it made for a great night with my friends, just, if given the choice, I’d probably have more fun spending a few nights at the movies with the figurative amount of money.

Also, I’m working on another Facebook friend post, with ten days until I’m back at Pratt, time is starting to run a bit fast now.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Lion King of Steaks

I’ve been slacking on the Facebook friend pictures at the moment, I did one or two more since the last update but I’d rather post them in a batch of five or so than dedicate a post to each drawing individually. Even though its only a few days a week, the Onion has been taking a bit out of me between the train going into New York City and all but apart from that, I’m loving the work they have for me. I was able to get my background used on their Twitter page, so I’m already pretty satisfied, plus the guys I’m working for are all incredibly nice, and I’m not just saying it, I am surprised at just how friendly they come off as. Anyway, here’s a slightly less exciting life related blog post…

When it comes to Broadway, most of my experiences were with the more satirical plays. When it wasn’t rehashing quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Spam-a-lot consisted of a lot of jabs at traditional Andrew Lloyd Weber, likewise while Avenue Q was not directly a satire, it was definitely a send-up of the coming of age story that often plagues the theater. Now, that I think of it, the only real traditional one I saw was Spring Awakening during Pratt’s 2007 orientation and I have a strong feeling that it was one of those love-it or hate-it kind of things (with my feelings leaning more towards the latter than the former).

So when my Pratt friend April wanted to watch The Lion King on Broadway, I was definitely excited due to the fact that I’ve been watching that DivX file of the Disney film on my Desktop for quite a few months (If that thing wasn’t in the wretched Disney Vault for so long, I’d probably even have the DVD of it) but I didn’t feel like it could outdo the film, not at all, especially given all the limitations of the Broadway format. Looking back however, I feel like the limitations were what made the Broadway adaptation so successful, they had to compensate with extra creative muscle, but I’ll get more into that later.

I got the tickets for the thing about a month and a half in advance and decided to come in at around 1 PM or so to have some time to hang out before the 8 PM show. This involved a run over to some of my favorite places, including familiar spots like Forbidden Planet and what would have been the Virgin Megastore (totally closed down), followed by some Bubble Tea at Saint Alp’s by Astor Place and then a stroll through the delightfully bizarre but all too brief Toy Tokyo.

On the way there, I passed by 99 Miles to Philly, which was a restaurant I’ve always wanted to visit ever since I read a post about it on Philly based animator Bryan Brinkman’s Twitter. Consequently, I wound up eating there for lunch and I can safely say that my “Steak wit Wiz” was definitely on par with the sandwich I’ve had in Philly and it was miles ahead of my own cheese steaks I’d make at home. I think I’ll heat up the cheese whiz a bit more and get even thinner steaks for my consequent attempts. The place was a good deal though, for ten bucks they gave you a sickly foot long greasy cheese steak with some waffle fries and a coke, for a non-chain in New York City, this is a pretty good deal.

Factor in some hanging out in Times Square and a relatively fancy pizza place and it was time for the 8 o’clock showing of Lion King. My initial impressions of the theater were incredibly favorable. They had some of the fancy African wood costumes behind the glass and a few fairly extensive gift shops throughout. Seeing all the merchandise, I should have been disgusted but for some reason I was impressed by the amount of detail and attention they put towards the effort, I could totally understand how the show had legs on Las Vegas whereas efforts like Avenue Q could only strive in New York City.

Our cheaper $60 tickets were literally against the wall in the highest mezzanine so we got a pretty decent view of the crowd going there. I was surprised that only about half the crowd consisted of families, while the rest were just Average Joes and middle-aged tourists going in to take a show. This could be because I was seeing it on a Thursday night and that is less than ideal for most families, especially ones with young children to see it, but I’d like to tell myself its because The Lion King is as synonymous with Broadway as Phantom of the Opera.

Watching Lion King on Broadway was an incredibly nostalgic experience for me, often I’d get chills down my spine, not too different from the chills I got when I first saw WALL-E, from something being so perfect its depressing and from it hitting an emotional chord with me. Especially when this was paired with a room full of people cheering and clapping incredibly loudly at every joke, punch line and dance sequence. Its weird, it was almost comforting to be around so many people that were that taken into the show.

While I’m pretty sure much of the praise for the show has already been said and much better than I possibly could write about it over the past 11 years of its run, I was completely taken away from the imagery, especially the dancers which would represent things as direct as giraffes and elephants, all the way to the more abstract such as blades of grass. The show kept things classy, even by Disney standards and the African art direction never came off as forced as it seemed in the commercials for the play. A lot of the more difficult sequences were pulled off in silhouette or with shadow puppets, while some of the characters were controlled by Avenue Q style puppetry with other objects being portrayed with kites and streamers, further making the play feel like some weird African themed Kabuki theater of sorts.

I was particularly impressed with the set for the show, which was rigged full of steam powered jets and was fully movable with trap doors and a lot of the pieces being on wheels. Absolutely every scene from the Disney movie was pulled off on the set, from the stampede all the way over to the climatic fight sequence off the cliff of Pride Rock. It was all a visual overload of sorts and I feel it goes without saying that the music was incredibly strong as well, like even topping the phenomenal score from Elton John and Hans Zimmer for the feature film.

When it ended the entire packed theater gave the thing a standing ovation, which is something I’ve never seen for a Broadway play. My only real complaint with the thing was that I haven’t seen it earlier, particularly when the thing was new to Broadway. Had I known I’d like the thing this much, I would have put the thing a lot higher on my priorities list.

…and no, I have not sold out to the Disney corporation…but I totally would...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

the quickest way to lose all your friends part 6: creepy animé fetish edition

I thought it was impossible but I've almost caught up with every request I've had on my Facebook album for a drawing. While I have skipped a couple of people, namely the ones that I've never seen since Middle School, I've gotten most of them in and all of the ones in the massive avalanche of comments during the first day I've uploaded it. Here are the next batch of five...

While I've already covered Adam Dreifus earlier, Nikki wanted a drawing but is one of the few college aged students I know without a Facebook account, she also wants to stay relatively anonymous on the internet. Nikki was in practically all my foundation classes in Freshmen year and I virtually hung out with her every day to do homework after that. There was a bit less hanging out in sophomore year, but I've still played 8 hour marathons of Rock Band on occasion and ate an incredibly suspicious looking bacon wrapped torpedo meat product with her when her roommate made it. Nikki is into science, grammar and anatomy too and is an avid comic buff, the comic above is a reference to her creepy obsession with eroguro art. Eroguro stuff is pretty disgusting, I wouldn't recommend doing a Google search for it...

Frances was also in all my foundation classes. One of her movies that she made in her 4D class involved me as a street thug robbing a girl on the street, only to get tackled by a cop. It was possibly the greatest film of all time and it had a huge response in class, if you've been reading this blog for ahwhile, the chances are you've seen it.

James is a painting major at Pratt and was one of my classmates in Animation 101 class and was a fan of Robo-Nader since the first time I mentioned the idea passing him. He does some pretty cool experimental stuff, I wish he had an account on Vimeo or something so I could link you guys to his work, I went to the opening for his paintings at Pratt as well, its all VERY cool.

Ben has a cool last name that rhymes with Ravioli, so that makes him a pretty cool cat in my book. He also knows Griffin Newman a funny guy I met during a summer animation program at Tisch, its weird in a 6 degrees of separation kind of way...

And last but not least, here's Marc Freundlich, he sat at my lunch table in high school every day and would often be the one commandeering the mini-Chess in a Tin matches going on. We'd also play cards occasionally, that is, before the school ruled "card games" as "gambling" and practically outlawed every game of "BS" we'd play...'tis a shame. More recently, Marc went with me to the screenings of Tokyo Gore Police and Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl over the past couple of years, he's obsessed with the New York Asian Film Festival and plans on volunteering at the festival next year so he could get into all fifty of their movies for free.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

the quickest way to lose all your friends part 5: attack of the clones

This batch comes a few days before I get back my Red Ringed Xbox 360 in the mail, its currently in Massachusetts coming back from its three week long pilgrimage to Texas. Which means I had to keep myself busy doing something besides watching a ton of movies (which I did a lot of mind you), this week's batch comes in a slightly more comic style, though there are still a few simple standing ones too.

Lyla starts this batch out, she was one of the few other animation majors (albeit she was a traditional animation major while I was CG) I met at Pratt's accepted student open house. At that time she had purple-ish hair and was way into unicycles. We've hung out a few times and discussed our hatred for the Shrek movies (and this was before Shrek the Third) as well as our love for crude humor and MTV2's short lived sketch comedy series, Wonder Showzen. I also had her in my Animation 101 class where one of our discussions on the ratty old couch in the traditional animation room lead to the inspiration for the piece above.

Daisy was one of the crucial members of Pratt's Super Smash Bros. community last year which started in the smaller Cannoneer dorm and ultimately spread to huge popularity in my Pantas dormitory. The group of players were much more tight-knit in the Can as most of the students played the game on the same TV, while most of the players in Pantas would often hang out in my room or a few other places (like the HDTV in the lobby), I recall. I used to actually skip lunch just to get in 2 hours of Smash Bros. in between classes and I went from 70 hours on my Melee save to 210 hours, while the sequel Super Smash Bros. Brawl reached the 180 hour playtime mark within the couple of months I had to play it at Pratt. Daisy was good with Jigglypuff, so was my roommate...those Jigglypuff players are tricky I tells ya...

Julian was a year younger than me in high school but I got to knew him fairly well between AIM and lunch antics. He's one of the few people that I know apart from myself that still watches Heroes and is a great person to vent all my Tim Kring related frustrations to. He has pretty awesome tastes in movies, games and anime as well and anyone with the guts to set their Google Chat status as "black McLovin" for 10 months is cool in my book. I watched the rather disappointing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button with him and played him a few times in Soul Calibur IV as well, he thinks my play style with Sophitia is cheap...I have to agree.

Matt is a fan of my drawings, I'm a fan of my drawings too! how could I possibly deny his request? :)

During the last semester in High School, the administration forced a "senior project" on our grade, while the requirements were nothing more than a scant twenty or thirty slide Powerpoint presentation on ANY subject you can possibly think of with a few slides dedicated to how it ties into what you learned in high school, the very thought of additional work set my entire senior class up in arms.

One of the more intriguing senior projects came from Greg Farenga where he wrote around 30 slides about how its like to drive a truck, which was inspired by all the questions he receives every day when he parks at the school. The Powerpoint served as an FAQ of sorts and had a hilarious Tootsie Pop commercial tone going on throughout. Greg was a very tall guy and the teachers gave him the nickname "Tiny", he was one of the nicest guys I've met in high school which was funny considering that he could have easily been cast as a bully in a John Hughes comedy in the '80s, and I mean this is the most sincere way possible.

Asking the fated question is Marc, he was another person who requested a drawing on Facebook and was in both my Russian History/Economics class senior year as well as the pathetically easy Survey of Computers in my Freshman year. His Xbox Live Gamertag is "ROLF u Got SARS" which often leads to parent related confusion every time they see the notifier when he signs on while I'm watching a movie.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

the quickest way to lose all your friends part 4

The series continues in this McG directed installment featuring, none other than Christian Bale as John Connor...there is no way this could possibly go wrong. Last week I hinted at having a job interview at a certain vegetable related satirical newspaper, well the place was The Onion, I got the web intern job and I'm absolutely ecstatic to start my work there. The current batch of drawings continues below...

In my senior year of high school Paul was in a handful of classes with me, including AP English, Russian History, Economics and Video class, he may have been in more but after two years high school is a bit of a blur. The image above relates to a debate in English class on Death of a Salesman; in the class room I was the only student who felt that the character Happy was selfish for ignoring the needs of his family despite being completely ignored as a child. The class was heated in debate over this issue and the teacher seemed to be enjoying the surprisingly on-topic classroom discussion. Since then, I still had a few opportunities to debate this with Paul. He was in a band called "Punt the Baby" during high school, they broke up...he's probably in a new band now but I doubt the name is nearly as perfect...

Paul was also the guy representing Team X-Blades in my final dumb little High School short, Dragon Ball Zebra Slash Brink 2 which has received such rave reviews on YouTube such as "the gayest video i've ever seen"...I'm honored.

Mike Banom was practically in all of my classes foundation year, save for maybe 4D and the second semester of Art History. He is a drummer which may explain the large arms and a devout fan of blink-182 and Alkaline Trio. At the end of the first semester drawing class we drank some of that weird Mountain Dew Game Fuel, no one else in the class wanted to brave its flavor. He has a sick sense of humor as well so we got along quite fine.

Vikki was in practically all my classes sophomore year and I hung out with both her and her roommate April (you can see her in tons of posts here) quite extensively the second half of last year. Vikki is a huge fan of cute things and has the tendency to let that out in her animations which include the likes of ghosts with orange shaped heads. I'd often abbreviate her name as V-Ken, because I'm incredibly fond of making horrendous nicknames for people and that would probably explain the reason why I have her performing a signature Street Fighter move in the drawing above...

Craig is a good way. I had him in my Video Editing class and he tends to have a creepy presence that follows him in just about everything he does and I mean this in the most sincere way possible, you can get an idea from seeing his YouTube channel which includes videos of his friends vomiting to the carnival style music of Beetlejuice. With that being said he loves most things related to Tim Burton and has a sick hand at graffiti art.

Rachel is a self-proclaimed "ditzy girl with big boobs", with that in mind, I think I came pretty close with this one. Rachel was one of my floor mates on the "Healthy Choices Floor" at Pratt first year. I've played scrabble with her a couple of times and commented on a couple of her things on Facebook. She is prone to draw characters that she calls "Miltons" who's name comes from the character in Office Space, one of her Milton paintings was featured in an art gallery in Brooklyn, I believe.

Jess was another one of my classmates foundation year and is perhaps even more crass and sarcastic than me; which is a fairly admirable feat I may add. In one of her videos for 4D design class she dressed up as an old lady and danced to Snoop Dogg, Unk's "Walk it Out", or Li'l Wayne, or something, I'm not entirely sure. During the first few days of sophomore year I watched both the Power Rangers movie and one of the direct-to-DVD Little Mermaid prequels with her, it takes a certain level of sarcasm to be able to not just walk-out halfway through.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

a slightly long-winded review of Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl

While I’d hate to break the massive combo of friend drawings I’ve been posting this month, I’ve had an incredibly busy and fun week, which was launched by a surprise interview at an incredibly awesome satirical news publication that I sent my resume to. Whether or not I get the job is a shot in the dark, but at least I got to see the inner workings of the website for one of my all time favorite sources of humor. Plus the place was a few blocks away from Little Italy so I got to chow down on some delicious Italian food and pastries as well as the mass of obscure Japanese video game t-shirts at the Uniqlo store in SoHo.

Apart from that, I went back into New York City the following day to watch Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl at the IFC Center’s New York Asian Film Festival. This is the latest film from Yoshihiro Nishimura who directed Tokyo Gore Police which I saw at the very same film festival the previous year. While the film was made on a significantly smaller budget than Tokyo Gore Police (the director said it was $350,000 but the translator seemed to be having difficulty, so I’m lead to believe it was more along the lines of $3.5 million, or about a third that of Gore Police), this one definitely had more of a plot than straight out social satire.

What set the screening of Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl apart from Tokyo Gore Police was the fact that this was the worldwide premiere of the film and the two directors, as well as a few of the special effects and CG artists were present at the screening and were available for a Q and A before and after the screening. I know Subway Cinema will put a video of the interview up on YouTube and I’ll embed it as soon as it becomes available.

The screening was completely sold out several days before it was scheduled and the line at the IFC Center went all the way to their second floor 45 minutes before the movie began. The crowd consisted of fan boys and man-children of all shapes and sizes (me included). The most interesting thing I observed was a kid around 10 years old who took his mom to the screening, in line he was telling his mother about the toothed vagina in Tokyo Gore Police, referring to it as “alligator legs”, his mother was either really cool or she has no clue what she was getting in to.

Before the screening started, in the New York Asian Film Festival tradition they started with a DVD raffle. While last time they included a lot of obscure Japanese and Korean horror films, this time it was mostly just porno films and an incredibly out of place hospital drama called Vital. Granted, all the porno films had justifiably over the top titles including Grope Train 6, Sex Machine and Naked Rashomon (established humorously as “you’ve all seen Akira Kurosawa’s classic film, but have you seen the naked version?”). All these films were introduced by a overly enthusiastic fast-talking man in a pink Salmon suit, I really wish I could find him on YouTube as whatever I write here will never do him justice. (UPDATE! FOUND THE VIDEO)

Yoshihiro Nishimura gave a brief introduction to the film telling the audience that if they were fans of Tokyo Gore Police that they might be disappointed because this is actually a romantic comedy…set in a high school…with splatter; Following that he said that him and his co-director did not share a brother or “gay couple” relationship like the Cohens or the Wachowskis but instead fought like cats and dogs “or rather vampires and frankensteins” throughout the entire filming. The curator then asked him to explain the ganguro fashion trend in Japan, and then a few minutes and a too soon Michael Jackson joke later, the screening began.

As for the movie itself, it was definitely a lot more refined than his last film Tokyo Gore Police and offered a lot more intentional (or shall I say less satirical) humor making it more into some weird hybrid of an ‘80s John Hughes teen comedy and a low-budget splatter picture from Troma. The plot revolved around a love-triangle at valentine’s day after a boy ate a chocolate containing the severed finger from a foreign exchange girl that had a crush on him. After eating the finger, he turned into a half vampire and the girl who was a full vampire; wanted him to ingest more of her blood to become a full vampire…or she’d kill him. Meanwhile his current girlfriend investigates the relationship and is ultimately killed and then turns into a hyper Frankenstein monster that was engineered from her mad scientist of a father. The plot was non-sense and more a vehicle for the film’s ridiculous humor to come out.

Much in vein of Tokyo Gore Police’s fake advertisements ever present throughout the movie, Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl featured several subplots that were only loosely connected to the actual plot. This included a sexy school nurse, janitor and vice principal who where all psychopathic killer scientists of sorts planning a super human experiment (or Frankenstein in this world) composed of body parts from minor characters in the film. Meanwhile, we’re treated to the Chinese director of The Grudge teach a Chinese class while cursing the English adaption of the movie, an Olympic sport afterschool style wrist cutting league and a quasi-racially insensitive Ganguro girl meet-up. It was all great fun leading to a legitimately entertaining final battle between the vampire and Frankenstein girls respectively; All of the this was accentuated by an energetic and catchy J-Pop soundtrack to turn all the offensiveness into boyish charm.

After the screening the directors and his crew of special effects artists leapt on stage to answer a few questions. I’m fairly certain this video will appear online but apparently this was the first time the co-director has seen the completed film and was “surprised to know that he made a movie that was actually, good”. I was able to land a question about breaking into the Japanese gore film scene, which he replied in saying just “find work” and that he was able to assemble a crew of gore hounds by meeting people working on various independent films and for special effects projects.

The last few tidbits they revealed at the Q and A session were that they were working on some short films set in the Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl universe to pad out the special features on the DVD and that there will be new shorts on the special double-dip release of Tokyo Gore Police. He also said that his next film will involve high school girls running over zombies with cars and it will be at the New York Asian Film Festival the following year. I’m already stoked.

There was an after party immediately following the screening but I didn’t actually go to it. It was getting late and I was unsure of the train schedule, plus me and my friends didn’t park a car at the train station and I didn’t want to bother my parents too much if it got any later. However, the movie experience was absolutely awesome and unforgettable and way worth the $13.50 price of admission.

…besides hack Hollywood directors like Michael Bay could learn a thing or two from these low-budget splatter films, they’re able to keep spectacle exciting without throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at the screen. Its also worth noting that both Tokyo Gore Police and The Machine Girl will arrive on Netflix streaming (oh yes, there will be streaming...) in the coming weeks. I recommend you check them out.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

the quickest way to lose all your friends part 3

ah, yes, the third part of the Facebook friends project, if its anything like movie trilogies this edition will undoubtedly be a letdown. Unless its like the Star Wars prequel trilogy, then that means this one would be sort of decent in a weird way...

While its true I've drawn an April Yim, in the past she asked for another one in the comments section of my Facebook album and I kind of felt like drawing her in the style of this series anyway.

As someone who hung out a lot in her room working on 3D Animation major stuff with her roommate Vikki (forthcoming, and by that I mean probably in the forth update), I kind of awkwardly learned the rules of the room. Much like Fight Club, there were definitely some rules for the room but most people can't remember far past the first two. The first being take off your shoes on the way in. While I'm unsure of the second rule, I'm pretty sure it was the same as the first; either that or no Asian Gore movies.

If I haven't mentioned it before, both April and Vikki were incredibly awesome company for the second half of Sophomore year and were always down for Philly Cheese Steaks or trips to China Town, IHOP and various Zoo related things. Oh and Castle Crashers, you can't forget about that one.

Ah yes, Eugene Armencha, while he doesn't actually live on campus at Pratt, he's been in practically most my hard classes Sophomore Year. With that being said just about every time Maya caused me to debate lighting my hair on fire (which happened quite frequently) he'd be online with a solution that worked just about every time. Apart from Maya his skills in AfterEffects are insane, he made a fake trailer for his Final in Digital Tech Workshop class (the final was an open assignment, and the class was mostly just Photoshop 101) which looks VERY close to a real movie which is phenomenal considering he did it on no budget at all. Watch it, seriously....

He likes Kubrick films and absurdist humor too, so we get along really well. Plus he's the only person I know of who I can discuss the merits of man boobs for two hours after getting an incredibly weird critique in Storyboarding class (for ahwhile Cloverfeld was morbidly obese and I gave him jiggly breasts, actually, maybe that was just asking for a weird critique in retrospect). I'm also way looking forward to his Whale Nipples III movie that he's working on this summer, I'm pretty sure it will melt my face off.

David Garcia is pretty much the only person from High School that I still routinely hang out with between breaks back home in college. I've known hims since middle school and he's probably responsible for most of the weird links I have on Twitter, StumbleUpon and on my YouTube favorites. I chat with him on AIM a lot and he's one of the few non-Adam Warner related people that wouldn't mind watching horrible movies with me and he's going to go in to NYC with me to watch the oh so awesome looking Vampire Girl vs. Frankenstein Girl and the Tokyo Gore Night at the IFC center. Oh, and I also watched Shakespeare on the Sound with him a few times, I guess that's going on right now, I should probably go.

Kevin Teeter was another one of those people on Facebook that I've chatted with long before I've actually come into Pratt. He was Robin for Halloween once, I believe and that takes serious guts...but he pulled it off quite nicely.

Ah yes, Adam Warner and Anthony Tello, I know these guys quite well. Last year, pretty much every time I wasn't hanging out with April and Vikki, I'd be watching a bad horror movie or playing Lego Star Wars, Peggle or Lumines with Adam Warner, who'd often have a Ben and Jerry's pint on hand. He's a writing major at Pratt and he has a very epic DVD collection which contains MANY classics from the IMDb top 250 alongside quite a few from the bottom 100, he has fantastic tastes and despite his recent vegetarianism, I went to a few of the more fastfood-y places on Myrtle with him (see Crown Fried for more information).

As a result of the constant hanging out, he also wound up being the subject in a lot of my Video Editing projects. If you've been following this blog you'd notice he was the star of that zombie movie I did a month or so back. Anthony Tello was an architecture major at Pratt for my first year there but ultimately left to pursue a career in music. After Freshman year I've met up with him several times when he was visiting Pratt and from time to time I'd discuss whatever the latest Pixar movie is with him on AIM. I'm pretty sure I'll see more of him next year as well.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

the quickest way to lose all your friends part 2

The series continues this week, here is the latest batch of drawings, comments, etc.

Connie is a Graphic Design major at Pratt, I met her because she was one of the few other people in my year that had Miyazaki's rather awesome "My Neighbor Totoro" listed under their favorite movies. She'll be rooming with my friends April and Vikki next year both of whom I hung out with every day a month or so into last semester, so she can look forward to my food fiascos this coming fall ^_^

This is Dan, he was my roommate when I did a summer program for animation and video editing at NYU back in High School. He tried to get me to watch the Lord of the Rings films there, I still haven't gotten around to doing that today...oops. He is currently studying computer animation over at RIT and has seen WALL-E in theaters thrice I believe.

Sam was another person I met long before I came to Pratt through AIM and Facebook. He's a Crit. Vis. major and a huge fan of Sierra Grille, he's also a lot taller in person...

Loris is one of my classmates in 3D animation at Pratt virtually in all my classes last year and probably the next one. He comes from France but doesn't have an accent, he's way into architectural modeling and 3D special effects, as well as graffiti. He has an active account on Xbox Live too, that's pretty awesome.

and lastly here's Eggie. I knew him mostly senior year of High School where he was in my art and sociology classes. At the time he was going into the Marines and was a life guard at the YMCA. Glad he made it out fine, especially considering the climate in Iraq a couple of years ago.