Fake Realism… Too Real?

Hello again everyone,

I’d just like to take a quick moment to say “Thank You” to all of you great people out there for supporting me in one way or another. Whether you have sent kind replies or expressed your appreciation for a piece of work I have done…it means a lot to me. The best thing anyone can do on this Earth is to share what they love and know with others. Hopefully by doing so we can all learn a little more ourselves; and perhaps love life a little more too.

Now onto the writings!

Recently I have been talking about inspirations and perspectives as related to the arts. I’ve tried to express some key points of a concept that artistic expression depends on these unique perspectives. In short, I believe the most honest and truthful representations (in the artistic sense), are those that are born without boundaries. The qualities produced by these types of spirited work could be described as “brought to life”.

Today I want to take this latter concept a little further by posing the question, “When is Fake Realism too Real?” Recently I was engaged in the topic of CG and forced realism in films and video games. I went so far as to say most visuals in general these days; are always pushing towards uber realism. It seems to me at times anyway, that whether it’s video games or movies… the boundaries are crossed seamlessly without thought.

I am not saying that the sequences aren’t successfully accomplishing their goals. I am more-so debating the purpose of this quest for fake realism being used more and more. Perhaps it is a statement about the type of world we live in today. Saying that most everything we see is fake may be going a bit far, yet we do expect and welcome the chance to be fooled on a daily basis.That’s why we watch the news and weather right?

Given the tech we have now it is obvious that companies are itching to flex those artistic muscles of creation in the 3d realm. Every hit movie hitting the screen or video game hitting the shelves contains tons of effects shots. It’s a given that the producers and directors want to convey their story in as realistic a light as possible in order to be convincing. In my opinion though, it’s not all about how real you can make something look. The story has to be there to lock you in. If you haven’t got the story, I don’t care how real the fire looks coming out of the magic dragon’s mouth!

Granted that certain video games do have a focused audience of people who really want to feel like they are part of the game; that is one scenario. As far as other games though, sometimes I think too much effort may be put into making that surrealism. The visual industry is still about expression and originality at it’s heart. It’s not so much about mimicry or duplication as about innovation and creation. The things that are different from what we see around us every day are the things we really want to see visualized.

I know everyone has their own preferences and favorites when it comes to these things…but I just thought I’d throw this opinion of mine out there. I am wondering what some of you think about the possible over use of forced realism in CG movies and games as well. So please feel free to leave a reply and perhaps write an article of your own.

On that note, I will also make it clear that I love special effects shots, awesome magical beasts and explosions; as much as anyone. However, if you are going to try and awe me by simply re-creating nature on my screen then you must try again. If I want to see a real looking tree I will go outside and see one…when I am in a game I would much rather see a tree that perhaps tries to eat me if I come to close to it…just sayin.;)

Thanks again for reading, following and responding! Take care and… Peace till next time!

Difference & Individuality: Perspectives of Creation

There are inspirations to be found in so many works that surround us, and not just artistic works. For this reason I wouldn’t be able to really narrow things down to categories of inspiration; if I were asked to. I think it’s definitely important to retain an appreciation for many different types of work and the artists that produce them. Regardless if you like the artists’ style or the work they create, there is something to be learned.

I have always found it inspiring that you can put twenty artists in a room, and tell them to draw the same object…and each one will have their own unique interpretation. It is for this reason that art is such a great medium and that it offers so much for us to learn from. This also allows us to see that the world we live in would be very boring if we all viewed things from the exact same perspectives.

In viewing this statement we also see how much there is to be said about life; as related to art. Even though we all live in the same world and are surrounded by similar environments, we all view things in our own unique way. It doesn’t matter if we are speaking about our next door neighbor or the relative that lives a continent away…perception is unique. This in turn affects the way that we create, imagine, interact, learn…and teach.

By respecting these principles of imagination, individuality and creation there can be great things accomplished; and great boundaries overcome. Originality and inspiration share the same roots as creation and imagination. Without the ability to look at things in new ways, problems could not be solved. Solutions and innovations would be non existent.

I guess the most important lesson to be learned by all this is that we need to remember that different is not bad. It is actually very, very good…and essential to our survival and success.

Till next time, peace.

Adobe Flash Animation

Today’s’ article covers a few key points to remember when working on Flash animations. There are obviously many factors to take into consideration when working in Flash. Sometimes it can be hard to know where to start. By following some simple guidelines however, you will find that the process can be made much simpler. No matter if you are working on a small project or on a much larger scale; consistency in workflow is a key.

Let us take a look at some key elements improving your workflow and the overall end results they achieve. One of the largest problems in Flash development can be related to bulky file sizes. This can be caused by many things, yet we will discuss the use of symbols. Symbols can be composed of many parts, so the opportunity to build them incorrectly arises very often. You must ensure that the graphics and other elements you use when creating your symbols are appropriate for that specific use. So what exactly are the appropriate ways to create symbols you ask?

First of all you should be ensuring that the graphics used are either vector for scaling or bitmap for space saving. You must also beware of multiple symbols that perform the same duties. This is why there is power in the use of instances; you can reuse multiple copies of the same symbol by utilizing different instance names. For example, you can build many different things within Flash in space saving ways…if you know how.

Let’s say you create an animation on your timeline. You can then convert those layers of animation into a Movie Clip. Now you can place an instance of this Movie Clip on the main timeline, thus only requiring one frame to contain a Movie Clip symbol. Now if you need a button to activate this Movie Clip to play, you can simply use a rollover actionscript that would initiate the clip to play at a selected frame. This would allow you to have a functional button based off of your Movie Clip without even creating a button; how’s that for space saving! You can of course create animated buttons by using separate or multiple copies of a Movie Clip, or Graphic instance nested inside each other.

Remember also that at any time you wish to change any of the elements on your timeline, you simply use the Scene panel for navigation. This will allow you to easily inspect the nesting structure of your symbols. When you double click a Movie Clip, Button, or Graphic symbol you are entering into its timeline to edit it. To exit out you simply click on the name of an element in the Scene panel dialogue to backtrack to the root of that elements’ timeline.

So far we’ve quickly called out a few workflow and creation key points:

  • The basic ways to save space by using correct graphic formats and utilizing symbols as instances.
  • How to utilize a Movie Clip that takes only one frame on your main timeline.
  • The ability to use that same Movie Clip as a button by use of action script.
  • What steps to take to view symbols when nested, as well as edit them.

Now we will look at an example of a complex Flash animation shown below in Figure 1. There is a lot going on in the animation in terms of complex mechanics. There are many repeated elements, animated graphic symbols, movie clip symbols, file sizes optimized, assorted, reusable animations, and so on.)

Fig. 1

Image

The above element consists of multiple Movie Symbols nested within Movie Symbols to create various effects. In essence, a slideshow, scroller, rollover animations, tweened animation, links and multiple text effects are all controlled with proper use of Movie Clips and instances. Bitmap graphics were utilized as necessary to save file sizes. Minimal frames were added to the main timeline to prevent clutter and maintain organization.

In conclusion, it is true there are many factors to take into consideration for Flash animation. The ways in which we create these complex projects plays an integral part however. The proper use of symbols and their instances are a key to creating effective complex Flash. By minimizing clutter and file sizes you enhance load times, appearance, function and overall…enjoyment.

Until next time, peace. -RJR-

Publishing in Flash: Simplicity, Size and Graphic Formats

Adobe Flash W.I.P.
“Water Temple” Adobe Flash

Hello again everyone, this article is just covering a few principles on the Adobe Flash platform and publishing methods. This is by no means an in depth review, but provides some pointers.So here we go!

The choices you make when preparing to publish a flash movie can make or break the end product. You can either present the viewer with something enjoyable to interact with, or something appalling.  Successful publishing of flash is dependent on several factors. The major factors being file size, graphic formats, and simplicity. It is the mastery of these factors that ultimately draws the line between amateur and professional.

Before selecting any publishing preferences, you need to know your audience to determine presentation method. Once you can choose your media platform, you are on your way. You must determine what type of quality, aspect ratio, and screen size your media is to be viewed on. Knowing these things early on also allows for more creative freedoms in flash.

The overall concept of simplicity is a key factor as well. To achieve this you must always keep watchful eye on the way you create your flash. Rather than slowing down your performance; you must utilize correct formats, symbol types, and graphics. You can select smaller items in your flash work for conversion to bitmaps. You can also make use of instances to re-use material over and over. These are things that work well for cutting down clutter and simplifying your flash.

Maintaining simplicity in structure and file size utilization is even more important for mobile device publishing. This is when you really need to watch the use of large graphic files, complex tweens, and alpha transparencies as well. In order to reduce the amount of re-drawing on screen, you must take note of these factors. With the new advancements in CS5.5 however, there are great ways to reconfigure and debug your flash for any output as well as mobile.

In conclusion, there are many ways to improve the quality of your publishing with flash. Among the most important are retaining simplicity, and maintaining small file sizes. The best ways to do this will always be to build smart inside of flash. Use the right graphic formats for smaller files; watch out on heavy effect use, transparencies and tweens. If you follow these rules, publishing will be that much more efficient. Until next time..take care & Peace!

Elfen Lied: Intro Review

ElfenLied_Blink.gif

Disclaimer: The following review describes an anime series for an adult viewing audience, discretion advised.

Now on to the story…  Elfen Lied!

Since I enjoy watching many different types of artistic media, I occasionally like to do a review on them. This time around I have chosen to do a breakdown of the intro to the anime series “Elfen Lied”. I feel that people either hate or love Elfen Lied; I myself love it. I find it a very artistic work possessive of great story structure and high entertainment value…to say the least.

Elfen Lied is a 13 episode anime based off a Manga written and illustrated by Lynn Okamoto. Some may be deterred by the graphic violence and suggestive themes. Yes there is brief nudity throughout as well as a few gallons of blood….but thats’ not the point here. The point is that art is something which is meant to trigger emotion from its viewer and discretion is for the viewer to decide. So on with the show I say!

REVIEW: ELFEN LIED/ THE INTRO

It begins by the eerie operatic vocals drifting to your ears. “Lillium” being sung by Kumiko Noma. The haunting music is merged with a gallery of images that slowly pan across the screen. We see the main character encompassed and intertwined with symbolist art. There are only a few effects used, but subtlety is an art itself. The slow pan, zoom in and out, overlay effects, tight close up, soft glow and gaussian; all effective tools used well here. Between the music and the beautiful imagery, you couldn’t ask for more. The way in which the artwork is presented as a 2 dimensional gallery is very refreshing in my opinion. So many intros tend try to be too much more than they are.

Looking deeper into the production motives here we find a few interesting things. The imagery itself is actually based in reference to an Austrian artist by the name of Gustav Klimit born1886. He  was criticized of promoting eroticism in his work; which focused on the female body. This style fits well with Elfen Lied however because those feelings of eroticism are interwoven into the story. The art speaks to the viewer of hidden and multi layered meaning. The art has depth as does the story and characters. The symbolist art style of Gustav that is prevalently referred to quite enhances the whole thing. You see all these intricate elements that incorporate so seemingly with ease. Its almost as if you are actually watching some art gallery exhibition or something. At least I thought it was beautiful anyway…maybe you wont.  But you won’t know till you try it!

Thanks for reading, -RJR-

Couldn’t help myself…

Hello again everyone,

On Earth Day I posted a quick drawing as my contribution to the planet. (You know, thinking green and trying to stay off the computer and get outdoors.)

Well since having done that drawing I just couldn’t stop thinking about updating it…and maybe taking a little time on it 😉  So here is another Earth Day piece and another thanks to Mother Nature…

See you all soon, Peace till next time! —RJR