Movies

Some Christmas gifts…

As they say: “Christmas is when you get stuff! You need more stuff!”

Well, Christmas is over… it came and went as fast as a day goes by.

I got some great stuff – here’s a picture! Here are my favorite gifts…

Dollhouse: Season Two [Blu-ray]. I only saw two episodes from the second season, and then the show got cancelled and I decided to just wait until it came out on DVD… or blu-ray in this case. So I’m really looking forward to watching this.

Drawn to Life: The Walt Stanchfield Lectures Volume 1 and Volume 2. These books are about drawing for animation. But even if you’re like me and stink at drawing, these books are still very interesting, and many of the principles still apply to 3D animation. I checked the first volume out from the library and read the first 30 pages a few months ago and knew that I definitely wanted to own them. I can’t wait to read more.

To Infinity and Beyond!: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios. The story of how Pixar began. Unfortunately it ends at Cars, I think, so it feels like there should be a sequel in another decade or so. (I suppose it’s always better to wait for a couple decades when people are more willing to talk about past projects more openly.)

Speaking of animation history, Waking Sleeping Beauty is a must for all animation lovers. It’s not really about animation itself, but the business and the people behind it; more specifically about the Disney animation studios from about 1984 to about 1994. It is very interesting… one of the highlights are animator Randy Cartwright’s home movie studio tours, in which he strolls the halls and nonchalantly introduces future-big-names, like a young Tim Burton, Glen Keane, Joe Ranft, John Lasseter, Eric Larson, and some guy who asks if he’s allowed to be recording with that camera. It’s an awesome gem. I wish it was longer! Oh, there’s also part of a lecture by Howard Ashman on why he thought musicals went so well with animation, which was very interesting. I wish I could’ve heard the whole thing!

The How To Train Your Dragon score. It’s just awesome.

Inception: The Shooting Script. Because it is also awesome. Has some great handwritten notes by Nolan, an interview with him, and some concept art. A true Inception fan should get it.

Great stuff! Woohoo!

By S P Hannifin, ago
Drawing

Watch the movie first, don’t read the book

I woke up with a really bad headache today.  Fortunately by the time I had to go to work it had subsided enough that I could act normally, but it didn’t fully go away until about 10 hours after I woke up.  So I didn’t do anything but rest and pace around in the morning.  After work, though, I did draw about a week’s worth of new comics for Hannifin World.  It gets addicting when you start doing a bunch of them.

I’ll probably start watching Dollhouse on Hulu again because, from what I can tell, the creators are indeed going to try to wrap up the story as best they can in the final episodes, so hopefully there will be some closure.

And now I shall dedicate the rest of this post to talking about why you should watch a film before reading the book, or at least why I prefer to:

WATCH THE MOVIE FIRST

I know a few people who, when a movie based on a book comes out, they refuse to watch it until they read the book version. When such a situation comes up, I prefer to watch the movie first for a couple reasons:

1) Time Investment – The movie will take less time to watch; reading the book could take ten times as long, or longer. If the story ends up to be stupid, it’s better to spend less time experiencing it, in my opinion.

2) Books always seem better – Books and films are two different art forms. You tend to get less *story content* with a film, because films only have a couple hours to tell the story. Reading the book first gives you a high risk of comparing the stories of the two different art forms, and of course the film’s story will then seem like a “watered-down” version of the story, as they almost always have to take things out for a film, because of time and pacing considerations. In other words, reading the book first tends to taint your expectations for the film, which sets you up for disappointment. If you don’t read the book first, and you find the film to be good, there’s a greater chance you’ll also enjoy the book, as it will then seem like the story has been expanded. If you don’t enjoy the film, you may or may not enjoy the book, but at least you won’t have wasted more than two or three hours with the story.

That said, my favorite films based on books tend to not only just take out story content, but also change the story content, so that what’s left flows and fits together nicely. The Prestige is one of the best examples I can think of at the moment. The Harry Potter films, on the other hand, I find terrible, and not just because of the acting. (Actually, even though it would’ve made far less money, I think Harry Potter would’ve worked much much better as a TV miniseries.) (John Williams’ Harry Potter themes are brilliant, however. I cannot imagine more perfect melodies to fit the Harry Potter world.)

So, when a film comes out based on a book, I just watch it!

Some people might argue that watching the movie first makes them think of the actors playing the character in the movie when they read the book.  To which I say: well, then, you must have a weak imagination!  But I suppose it’s a valid argument…

By S P Hannifin, ago
Fiction books

Game programming and so on and whatnot

GAME PROGRAMMING

It feels nice to be diving into game programming again.  I’d forgotten how engaging it can be.  Right now, however, I’m doing more graphics programming than game programming.  I’m experimenting with OpenGL on Google’s Android operating system, trying to get a feel for how it all works.  I hope to create a little adventure game with it.  Or an action game.  Or a mix.  I’m not really sure yet.  Recently, I’ve just finished programming a tile-based scrolling map, which was quite a challenge itself.

Anyway, there are not yet many resources out there for programming games for Android.  But there are a few.  I bought a book called Pro Android last week from Amazon and it just recently arrived and has already been of some help.  I’ve also been reading through Chris Pruett’s Replica Island game development blog, which not only has some info on programming for Android, but has some fantastic wisdom on game development in general.

THE ACCORD REVIEW

The Accord In other news, I finished reading the sci-fi book The Accord by Keith Brooke a few days ago.  (I just picked it randomly off the library shelf one day.)  It was a strange book, and overall pretty bad.  It’s filled with awful language, and it’s used so often that it loses all affect and becomes somewhat comic.  The tenses shift from scene to scene, and the POV shifts from first to second to plural first depending on the character or mix of characters in the scene.  The last third of the book is told over the span of thousands of years, so characters forget who they originally were and what they used to want, which makes it quite hard to keep relating to them.  And some characters mix with other characters to become new characters.  With such ideas, it had the potential to be a really awesome story, but unfortunately it was just a lame love-triangle tale, with this character bent on getting this character to love him, and this character bent on killing this guy, and this character forgetting who she is… it drags on too long.  And the ending… maybe I should have read the ending (or endings) more carefully, because I found it (or them) to be somewhat cryptic; I’m not quite sure what happened.  It certainly wasn’t climactic though.

That was the 9th book I’ve finished reading this year, and only the 2nd fiction book.  I seem to read an average of 10 books a year.  Which I suppose isn’t too bad, but also very bad, depending on who I am compared to.  Obviously I’ll never make it as a writer.  Although, that’s only counting books, not book fragments, short stories, articles, magazines, etc.  So I’m probably OK.  Although my want-to read-list is at around 50.

READING AUDIO BOOKS?

There seems to be some debate on these here interwebs as to whether or not one can validly say that they “read” audio books.  The answer is:

No, you do not “read” audio books.  Don’t flatter yourself.

The problem is that, when asked “How many books did you read?” or “Have you read such-and-such?” you can either answer “No, I listened to them” or simply “Yes.”  If you say yes, you are lying, but it’s an OK lie because nobody cares.  It does not make “reading” and “listening” equivalent.

DOLLHOUSE AND OTHER SUCH TV BLATHER

Dr. House doll! Fox cancelled Dollhouse last week, which is very sad.  It wasn’t as good as Firefly, and it’s not as good as House, but it was a very fun sci-fi show.  I am wondering if they will wrap up the storylines in the final episodes or if it’s too late and now and the storylines are doomed to never be resolved.  Earlier this year, there was another fun show called My Own Worst Enemy.  I thought that had a really fun premise, but that was cancelled and the storylines were left unresolved.  The problem with series in which each episode builds on the last is that when they are cancelled you’ve got these big over-arching stories that never complete, making the remaining of the series a bit sour.  It’s like making two movies in a trilogy.  Who would want to watch or buy them?  I don’t feel like watching any Dollhouse or buying the seasons on blu-ray if the storylines are just going to remain unresolved.  At least with Firefly they were able to make the film Serenity, which did provide at least a little closure, but it’s highly doubtful they’ll do that with Dollhouse.  Now when is some more Dr. Horrible stuff supposed to come out?

The other shows I’m watching (on Hulu, mostly) are Monk (3 more episodes of the series left, hopefully Monk will soon solve his wife’s murder), House (best show on right now, or at least tied with Monk), Lie to Me, and Fringe.  And sometimes a bit of The Simpsons and Family Guy.  Oh, and Shark Tank… awesome reality show.  I can’t wait for the next season.  I was enjoying How’d You Get So Rich, a show in which Joan Rivers went around touring rich people’s mansions and lavish lifestyles, but that show got cancelled, perhaps because Joan’s face fell off.  I also have the show Legend of the Seeker on my wish-list… it airs on some bizarre channel at a bizarre hour, and I couldn’t keep up with it on Hulu, so I’d like to buy it on blu-ray or DVD (I watched the first few episodes on Hulu to know I’d like to see the rest of the season, even though it’s a bit cheesy at times… but so was the book).  Oh, I’ve also been watching Flash Forward on Hulu.  That show started out slow, but it’s getting interesting (or at least they’re putting in some comic relief in now).  Also been watching V (The Visitors), which has still been a bit stale so far, but it’s one of the only shows that comes on when I’m not at work.  Hmmm… I guess I watch too much.

OK, I think that’s enough blather, eh?

By S P Hannifin, ago