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July 2015
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SIGGRAPH University: Fundamentals Seminar

This introduction to the SIGGRAPH convention experience starts with a practical guide to organizing to attend any large convention. He uses the same techniques many of us developed going to Comic Con or any other large Sci-Fi or Anime convention, but without having to go through three or four conventions gradually learning through trial and error how to organize your time and map out the convention space. So I recommend anyone who wants to attend a large convention watch the first 10 or 12 minutes of this presentation. He then goes on to break down the process of computer animation into its component parts by type of activity, giving a very clear understanding of how it works. If you have any interest in creating your own animations this is a great introduction. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since ACM SIGGRAPH is the Association of Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group, GRAPHics which started life as an organization in 1967, held its first convention in 1974, and became an Internet NEWSGROUP back in the early 70s as well. The latest convention, coming up at the Los Angeles Convention Center the 9th through 13th of August, 2015, will be the 42nd time the event has been held.

Zootopia Teaser Trailer

This Disney flic looks like a lot of fun! Zootopia is by definition the kind of Utopia where humans never existed, but the anthropomorphic animals who lived there were extremely HumanEsq. It has a great premise and some good 3D CGI animation that brings the characters to life in ways beyond what the creators were trying for, I suspect. I have enjoyed everything they have shown us of it so far, and can’t wait to see more.

A Darwinian Future

Pay attention; this might be the world we end up with if we are not careful. A Darwinian Future is not exactly a positive way to move forward through time, but it is one of the potential paths the human race might follow soon. I had to include the VFX Breakdown as a stream for this entry, so you could appreciate the construction. This was made by 3 folks: 2 Actors and 1 Camera person. When was the last time you saw a production pipeline that small that created a story you wanted to watch? As if that wasn’t amazing enough, all post production was done by one guy on a home computer. Meaning, you could create a movie this good yourself, at home, in your spare time.

Something to Do: Movies

It is finally time for Terminator Genisys to hit the big screen on July 1st, complete with Arny as a couple of Terminators. It looks absolutely amazing, so I will be in the theater for this one. There is also a film called Robot Overlords coming out this week, which looks like it could be interesting. If I only have time to see one, I know which one is getting my money.

Something to Watch: Discs

Movies have Last Knights this week, which comes under the Epic Fantasy category. The film did not do well with the critics, and I don’t believe I will be watching it myself. Much more interesting is the indi film Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, about a Japanese office assistant who mistakes a VHS thriller for a documentary and goes off for the hunt of her life. This is a much more surreal fantasy, but it is actually based on a true story. The only TV show worth mentioning here also seems like a total fantasy to me, although I suspect the show creators intended it to be more like real life: Banshee: The Complete First Season starts with the premise of the Amish Mafia, and gets rapidly less realistic from there.

Finally the actual fantasy film Forbidden Empire looks like it could be a lot of fun, I intend to check it out and see if it lives up to its promise. It is a Russian film based on Nikolai Gogol’s story Viy, and appropriately released there under the name Viy 3D. The story is about an 18th century explorer who sets out on an epic journey to map the forbidden uncharted lands of Transylvania; what he learns scares the holy living crap out of him, and more than likely most of the audience. It has already been signed off for a sequel which is filming in China, starring Jason Flemyng, Rutger Hauer, and Anna Yo, with help from Jackie Chan Stunt Team. I can’t wait to see how it does.

In Anime, Space Brothers – Collection 3 brings episodes 27 through 38 to the shelves, continuing this amazing story about the conquest of space and what it means to one family. In .hack//G.U. Trilogy our protagonist must unlock the mystery behind a computer glitch capable of leaving players comatose, and possibly killing them. Turn A Gundam – Part 1 brings us the first 25 episodes in an epoch about the separation thousands of years ago of the two branches of Humanity, one on the Earth, the other on the Moon.

For the bridge between sci-fi and fantasy this week we have A Lull in the Sea: Complete Collection, a variation on the Turn A Gundam story, except with the separation of humanities branches being between below and above the sea. There is also BlazBlue Alter Memory, where it takes a serious combination of technology and magic to defeat the beast out to obliterate the human race.

There are a number of excellent titles out this time around on the pure fantasy level as well, starting with Magical Warfare, which has a Kendo geek suddenly finding out he has to become a magician to survive and protect those he holds dear. The Irregular at Magic High School team also has a new release this week, although limited in scope to 7 episodes. Tokyo Ravens: Season 1 Part 2 is a supernatural fantasy featuring otherworldly battles and forgotten promises, and worth taking a peek at.

My Little Monster: Complete Collection is about an impassive girl who meets a trouble maker in a brand new love story. While not exactly genre, it has enough fantasy elements to satisfy my immediate needs in a story line.

Unison Square Garden

The band Unison Square Garden is from Japan, and they have been cranking out the rock for a while. The first track here is from their 5th Album “Catcher In The Spy”, called Heaven and Hell, released in 2014.

The second track came out about 5 weeks ago, and is the short version of Sugar Song and Bitter Step, Short Version in Japan apparently meaning they will give you one verse, and if they are feeling generous half a chorus. This isn’t the first time I have posted an official short version Japanese song on this site, for Anime OP or ED tracks are usually 90 seconds long, and worth every moment of it. And since it turns out this song IS an Anime ED track, specifically for the Anime Blood Blockade Battlefront, track 2.5 is the Anime version of it. Which also could explain why such a kick ass Rock band recorded such a Pop tune; they needed to land that Anime contract to get the word out about the majority of their body of work. At least, I hope that was their justification, and they didn’t just go belly-up into full-tilt Pop on us.

For the third track we jumped all the way back to the live version of their 2012 song Out Of Place Hummingbird. As always, the actual song titles are the best guesses of a guy with a very limited vocabulary in that language, but the music needs no translation, it is just that good.

Something to Watch: Streams: Live-Action Death Note

On July 5th the Death Note live-action TV series will premiere on Nippon TV, which doesn’t have great reception at my house in North America. All is not lost for American fans, however, because Crunchyroll will be airing the show just a few days behind its Japanese release date each week. Thanks to Otaku USA for the heads up on this one, although I will feel more confident about the information when Crunchyroll actually adds it to their menu system.

Hitman: Agent 47 new trailer

This one looks better every time they release another trailer. Hitman: Agent 47 is a genetically engineered elite assassin who was designed as the perfect killing machine. He uses the last two digits on the barcode tattooed on the back of his neck as his name, and strangely enough he is the hero of this story. It should be hitting the big screen on August 21st.

Live-Action Attack on Titan trailer

This isn’t the first Live Action Attack On Titan trailer, but it is the first one that includes visuals on the 3D Maneuver Gear which is the core of the defense groups arsenal, and has helped make the animation such a success. Then they did it not once, but twice. I am so ready for this production set, which will be released as a theatrical presentation (i.e. Movie) on August 1st, a short series of weekly shown TV shows covering the space between, and then the concluding Movie on September 19th. The release dates I am quoting are all for Japan, but with the world-wide excitement the original Manga and Anime have generated, I have very high hopes one of the streaming services will pick up on the TV series, and someone like American Multi-Cinema (AMC) (founded in 1920 Kansas City, Missouri, now owned by China) will carry the films. Keeping my fingers crossed, at least.

LightSail Kickstarter

The Planetary Society had a Kickstarter goal of $200,000 to fund their LightSail Project. When they met that, they went for a stretch goal of $450,000, to use the extra money to educate scientists and engineers about how the combination of CubeSats and LightSails will change the exploration of the Solar System, making orbital observation missions to any of the planets cost about the same as buying a new car. When they met that and the money kept coming in, their next stretch goal was to educate the public about how unlimited free energy from the sun will provide CubeSat propulsion and revolutionize access to space for low-cost citizen projects. They passed that goal, and the contributions will be open for the next two days. If you haven’t already gotten in on The People’s Spacecraft, you have 2 days left to make your support known and get in on the rewards for your chosen donation level.