Monday, December 11, 2017

A Ghost in Your Hell

Also? The live-action Ghost in the Shell -- did you see it?
No.
 
It came out last year. There was much bashing because The Major was played by Scarlett Johanson rather than a Japanese actor.
Oh right.I guess I didn't realize that came & went.
 
So yeah. The problems include the fact that as much as fans of the comic love to think it's really deep and philosophical, the original is actually just crap.I mean, their scripts are terrible.The dialog hurts your nose. The themes smack you in the back of the head, and where there should be plot there is, instead, pretty images.
And like how much vastly better The Ring's script is to Ringu, they did solve a lot of problems in the live-action movie.
And there are some aspects of the LA GitS which are sort of beautifully faithful to the original. Like the fact the chief only speaks in Japanese. Which is just beautiful really. He is so awesome. [Ed. That's Beat Takeshi.]
Ok.
 
So did you ever understand what they meant by "ghost in the shell"?
Nope.
Right. Well that gets cleared up right away.
See, the Major is completely robotic. But she has the mind of a person. That mind, hidden deep below, is her "ghost" and the body is her "shell." And that is the difference between her and a robot.
Also, you have a degree in "I can talk about complicated flipping philosophical concepts" and you never learned that from watching the movie. Whose fault do you think that is? Yours or theirs?
Well.You are the only evidence that I actually watched the movie. It went in one eyeball and out the other. I was not apparently very taken by its philosophy.
 
Then there are two things about Scarlett's performance which really stood out. First of all, I looked at her and thought "huh, they made her kinda fat for a big picture like this." Which isn't true but she is, quite literally, "thick". She has the body of an athlete but not the tone of one.
Okay.
And considering that her "nude" scenes are all in a robot bodysuit CG, I thought that was an interesting choice. [Ed note: they are not, apparently. The thermoptic suit was created, which also explains why she is overall a tad thicker.]
But then... I saw her walk. And her physicality in the movie is one of someone deeply uncomfortable in their own skin. She is clunky. Shoulders forward. She walks like she's badly animated.
It's an amazing set of choices.
And if I'm not mistaken, she actually alters her walk cycle at the end of the movie. She isn't totally human but she is somewhat more comfy. 
I mean, Hollywood does a lot of dumb things, but there are things it does well. And telling stories in ways that are clear to the audience is one of those things. I think.
One of the complaints on the Interwebs was that at one point the Major finds her actual mother. And being a Westerner served tea by a Japanese mother [Ed note: Kaori Momoi].
The thing about it is that having her be of a completely different race in that context is utterly freaking brill brill
What's the problem?
Because Scarlett is playing a Japanese character.
But she isn't. She didn't know she was Japanese.
Right. Which dramatically is interesting. But for ex-pat Asians, or people of Asian descent in the West, is problematic.
Ah. What, if anything, did the Japanese think about this?
Actual Japanese people who live in Japan don't tend to care because anytime they want to see representations of themselves in a variety of contexts in news or film or television--
They just turn on the TV.
Scarlett, showing off her bad-animation walk cycle. Genius really.
Right.
But dramatically, this Ghost in the Shell did an amazing thing. One thing, other than Scarlett's amazing walk cycle, that was amazing.
Amazing?
Her mother has this dress which has the non-symmetrical offset collar thingy.
What?
This.
Major Mom.
Okay. 
Her mother wears a dress which has the non-symmetrical offset collar. You know what I mean? And in the next sequence Scarlett's body armor has the same cut. 
 
Mommy made my body armor.

⧳ I stipulate that is a stunning work of brilliance. But there's still the racial politics.
I blame every other movie and television show for refusing to cast ethnically non-occidentals in damn near everything. Defaulting to the brown-haired white boy just makes everything suck. Because the whole identity issue where you have a white girl who finds out she has a Japanese mom is fascinating. I mean that's brilliant too.
Yeah but what if you had flipped it?
You mean had a Japanese Major with white woman as her mom?
⧳ Ooh. That sounds like it would get similar white-washing complaints. 
Yes, and only because we suck so much at casting anyone who isn't a brown-haired white guy. 
⧳ They do get all the best roles. 
Especially if they have British accents.
⧳ Especially.
Because the thing with the Ghost series is that Section 9 is just made up of wildly different people from all over the world. I don't think that's ever explained. But it is very cool.
There's a black British woman who gets very little screen time but she has an awesome lower-class accent. [She's Turkish and Polish and her name is Danusia Samal. Drew is an idiot and her character's name is Ladriya.]
Man, there were some pretty shots in the movie. There's also some of the things which made the original GiTS not so great. The primacy of image over story, for instance. But much of that did get cleaned up. There were quite a few shots where I was like "Did I do the animation on that?" because it was definitely the B-team (I'm looking at you spider-bot.)
 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Chance Shirley's Frito's and Meatless Chili

Laura: Front desk guy assured me that BBQ Fritos are better than the original and you know? He's not wrong.

Chance Even better: plain Fritos covered in chili!

1. Brown 1 pkg (12 oz) Litelife Smart Ground -
2. Add half of the chili kit ingredients (minus salt and flour) (save other half for next time) -
3. Add 4 oz tomato sauce
4. Add 8 oz water
5. Mix well, then simmer low for 15 min

This serves about six. What I do is freeze the other five servings in little tupperware things. Then I can reheat a single serving (thaw, put it in skillet with water, cook off the water) later.

The fake meat is super dry, so spray Pam on your pan before you brown it. And I like to stir in a little olive oil to simulate grease.

It took some trial and error to get it right. But for my primitive palate, the above ratios work well. (I also add in some random extra spices just ’cause I like it super spicy.)

Oh... serve the fake meat chili over Fritos with a little bit of shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Drew: I'm not so much with the super-hot. But Wick Fowler does make a kit for wimps.



Friday, November 10, 2017

Eye Cat King Size

I'm trying to get the ergonomics right for my desk. Eye height and monitor distance are on the agenda today.

$550/month gets you a dedicated desk and 3 hours of laser/CNC time at The Fat Cat Fab Lab in NYC.

Bad King has a whole bunch of z-brush greebles which have .obj. Greebles, man. Free.

I never realized how smart the A1, A2, A3 paper sizes were. Man, they sure beat our dumb sizes.  

I guess this Twitter story is a novella. I'm calling it "Night of the Combat Witch." https://storify.com/abellware/night-of-the-combat-witch

I suppose I could use November to write the novel. Because, as always, I have so much time on my hands.

I'm now on Venmo. You know. The kids. They love it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Learn then thou the Project Engine

The Project Engine
A simple project management tool the runs inside Google Sheets. Collaborate, communicate and succeed with The Project Engine The Project Engine is a bundle of Google Sheets that form a project management tool. It is designed to help teams of all sizes collaborate, communicate, and succeed. The Project Engine consists of four major components: 1) The Team Member List is where you assemble your team and assign them roles. Admins can assign projects to Team Members, who in turn can assign tasks to each other. 2) Each Team Member gets their own Team Member Sheet. From here they can view all the projects and tasks to which they have been assigned. Once they complete a task, it gets stored in the archive section of their sheet, creating a record of all their hard work. 3) The Master Project List shows you all your projects. You see what's coming up and who's working on particular tasks. 4) Each project gets a Project Sheet. From here, the project managers and Admins can work together to plan all the stages of a project, assign tasks to the right Team Members, share information, and automate activities to keep the project moving forward. The Project Engine comes with a Getting Started Guide to help you get the most out of its tools.

Pretty good for a $220 3D printer

Here is a kind of awesome open-source document on the Monoprice 3D printer. The printer's got a 120mm cube area for building. And it works pretty darn well. The filament is a pain to get actually inside the extruder, you have to fiddle with it for a bit. But after that it's good to go.
You can use any brand of PLA or whatever you want with it. I got some Hatchbox PLA for it. Very sweet.

This is the printer:

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

3D Printing Volume 398

Let's talk about the Monoprice Select Mini 3D printer.

From the top review on Amazon:

___________________________________
Ok I just received this printer and so far it's amazing! However I've noticed some people on youtube or other places that shows them having a bit of trouble setting it up so if you're planning on getting this printer use the following steps to have an awesome experience.

0.) Order a spool of Hatchbox 1.75mm Filament to either arrive before or at the same time as the printer. (The sample PLA included isn't enough for anything)
1.) The VERY first thing you do is use an X-acto knife to cut away the corners of masking tape covering the bed screws! LIKE I SAID THE VERY VERY FIRST THING!
2.) Use the provided Allen Key to lower the bed at each corner TWO full turns!
3.) Remove the tape from the hot end (NOT THE YELLOW TAPE AT THE NOZZLE) but the one that holds the hot end in place for shipping
4.) Plug in the power supply and turn it on
5.) Navigate to "Move>Home" and home the printer and guess what? The nozzle won't dig it's way into the print bed because what? YES we lowered the bed first!
6.) TURN THE PRINTER OFF!
7.)Now use a strip of regular typing paper and gradually start to raise each corner while checking the tension on the paper until you feel some resistance but not too much. In other words like a guitar we tune up not down!
8.) DO NOT UPDATE THE FIRMWARE UNLESS YOU NEED TO TO TROUBLESHOOT LATER ( In spite of what some gurus say on youtube)
9.) Take your SD card, load a test Gcode from Thingiverse (Print something you'll actually use like the New Dial for the MP select mini on thingiverse) it takes 26 minutes to print (NOT THE CAT! it takes too long!)
10.) After each print leave the filament in the nozzle and never try to pull it out once it cools because you'll break the hotend! To switch filament (Empty spool or different color) Preheat to 210 wait for it to reach that temp, extrude a little bit and then pull it out from up top)

I wish this info was put together in one place like this when I was reading reviews, It took me like 4 weeks to gather all the steps.

Now stop thinking about it and just order it!, a year ago you'd have to spend $500 to get a printer this good
 ____________________________________________________

And here's a good review of the printer.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Now I get to close some tabs

Octane renderer is now available for Blender.
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is something which apparently I need to see.
John Pearse Strings are apparently the best acoustic guitar strings.
Glassdoor audio jobs.
Loudness and dynamics in cinema sound.
The page I made for Pandora Machine post-production sound services

Spark Workshop in Brooklyn seems interesting although their website doesn't really explain what gear they have. And they have a minimum of a $500 class that you have to take before you can even spend $150/month to join (which, honestly, seems incredibly insulting to professional woodworkers -- but that might be the point, to keep them out. I dunno.) At the JCFabLab we were only charging $10 for the safety class and we took that out of your first month's membership.
Spark Workshop has the smaller Epilog laser cutter. 40-Watts.

JCArtist has studio spaces available. Including a garage. And if I'm building a police cruiser, that might be a good deal. I'll have to look more into it.

I have to admit I've never actually been to the MakerBar in Hoboken even though it's maybe 1000 feet as the crow flies from the JCFabLab.


This dude made a microphone from a coconut.
These MillRight CNC's are supposed to be the only good cheap CNC routers. 


Friday, October 27, 2017

Wooden Microphones Concept

So I got this idea into my head of making a "wooden microphone." At first I thought it would be a ribbon microphone. But then I thought it might be a kickstarter and be a USB condenser. Like a Blue, but prettier, for podcasting and looking pretty on your desk next to your typewriter-style wooden keyboard or some such.

There are only very high-end microphones made out of wood (that I know of.)

Feather Microphones make ribbon mics out of Seattle. They're in the $1500 range.  They're pretty though.
Workhorse Microphones make custom mics. Here's one.
 And there's the Bruce Swedien Nu-47. Honestly it's a lot of microphone for four thousand bucks, still, it's four thousand bucks.

Okay, those are all the very high-end microphones. The one people actually have on their desks is a Blue of some sort.

These are particularly nice-looking I think.


Of course, I no longer have a FabLab. But I did some prototyping.
That'll be another blag post.




Saturday, October 14, 2017

A list of things done this year.

I am scrambling to finish up projects at the FabLab before we close. The day we're done for good is the 31st of October although the laser cutter leaves sometime between the 25th and the 27th.
I'm working on finishing my brother Dave's guitar. (He hates that logo so we won't be using it.)



This was the first instrument I made. I call it the "Fish Bass."






So I made the fish bass. Then a baritone guitar. Then a weird half-hollow-body "Bellacaster" Tele-style, then my brother's guitar (which I call the "Big Bells" but he doesn't like that, I just keep the name with all my files around it so I can get back to it.) The newest guitar is the "Five". Humbucker in the bridge, P90 in the neck. Bigsby-style tremolo.
I also wrote a children's book.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Fab. Lab.

So for the past year I've been at a magical place, the Jersey City Fab Lab. It's amazing. You can join for a hundred bucks a month and you can use all the wood shop and general area. If you want the laser cutter or 3D printer those are extra hourly charges.
About half a year ago I joined as a worker prole -- much of my work is working directly with artists to make their dreams come true with a laser engraving or cutting on their projects.
It's amazingly satisfying for me because I'm the artist tech at the end of their process and I bring the "bang" to their projects and they walk away joyous and what "we've" made (they did all the work, I just did the pretty part at the very end they couldn't do on their own.)

And Eric really pushed me in to industrial design. Into 3d modelling. Into working with unusual materials.

Robot has nothing to do with the rest of this post.
Unfortunately, we're closing. Huh. I have the uncanny ability to close places down, don't I? Or maybe I just refuse to bail out as the sink is shipping. Or something.

Jerome Leary has a site for creating .dxf files of boxes. Including trusses, which is very cool. You will need a way to convert to .ai files though. Convertio has a web app which worked for me.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Jordana Williams

We're in the middle of the run of the podcast of Mac Rogers' Steal the Stars (which will be released as a novel by Nat Cassidy.) It's directed by Jordana Williams and like every thing I've seen her direct, it is amazing.
Funny enough the first time I met her she was an actor in a Mac Rogers play that was a kind of send-up of 30's very-fast-paced radio drama where she was the lead -- a kind of gal Friday tough character in The Lucretia Jones Mysteries.*
Here's an interview with Jordana and Mac about developing Steal the Stars.
And another interview with Jordana about Asymmetric.

*I just realized I keep quoting this show in my mind because there was a recurring joke where someone would call someone else "Pud" and then say "That's short for 'pudding'." And for some reason I still find that kinda hilarious.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Earthkiller Novel Cover WIP 1

I probably mentioned at some point that I'd finished the novel that I'd started several years ago but then went whole hog on for 2016's NaNoWriMo. Completely unrelated to the movie, the novel is called Earthkiller.

So I set about trying to get art for the cover. First I made this mockup:


It uses a model from Blendswap by Albin.

Chance suggested I check out DeviantArt for artists and see if I could license some art.
Here's an attempt at that, with the actual book-design from Chance.


The following art is by Duster132 and Chance tried two different ways to set it as a cover. Thing is, this work was already licensed so we couldn't use it.


So we're going with Jeff Brown Graphics. Here is the first sketch he sent.

More works-in-progress coming.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Fontilation

I need to learn more about typesetting and fonts. I read this awesome online book: Typesetting in 10 Minutes and the subsequent stuff. It's really quite helpful.



Here is what the author thinks are decent system fonts.

The A list: Gen­er­ally tol­er­a­ble
Athe­las ★
Avenir ★
Bell MT ★
Book An­ti­qua ★
Cal­i­forn­ian FB ★
Cal­isto MT ★
Cen­tury School­book ★
Char­ter ★
Franklin Gothic ★
Gara­mond ★
Gill Sans ★
Gill Sans MT ★
Goudy Old Style ★
Hel­vetica ★
Hel­vetica Neue ★
Hoe­fler Text ★
Iowan Old Style ★
Op­tima ★
Palatino ★
Ser­avek ★
Sitka 


These are those same fonts which I can actually find in "more fonts" on Google Docs:
Avenir ★
Bell MT ★
Book An­ti­qua ★
Cen­tury School­book ★
Franklin Gothic ★
Gara­mond ★
Gill Sans ★
Hel­vetica Neue ★
Palatino ★

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Where I am at.

Since February I've been living all in one place -- Jersey City. Up until then I'd been living somewhat scattered -- having upwards of 4 different places to live. Brooklyn, Metuchen, Princeton, Jersey City.
But now there is one. And one with cats and no car.
A glued up baritone body at the FabLab

Since last year I'd been working at the JFabLab building sets (and then) guitars. And I work there part-time now. I've done a little bit of industrial design, running the laser cutter. Some 3D work.
So I live all in one place now. Which, as it turns out, is vastly cheaper for me.
But I ended up with the cats. Which, as it turns out, are vastly more expensive for me.

I have three movies in post. The dragon movie got straight-up rejected by our sales rep. So now we're making a cartoon version for kids. I'm making little animations and such. There's quite a bit of work to go on it though.
The Carbon Copy/Android Masquerade movie has had three sets of multi-day reshoots because of distributor complaints. Massive additional photography. But the distributor isn't complaining anymore so I think this movie we have is what we're going for.
The Oblivion movie -- good grief we shot this movie two years ago. But since the three round of reshoots on Carbon Copy were just like shooting a whole 'nuther movie in the meantime well... that's how that goes. We are very deep in post on Oblivion and yes the visual effects will take a while but we're getting there.

So far, avocationally, I've made a short-scale bass guitar and a baritone guitar. I'm making a Telecaster-type next. And then a Rickenbacker type (the trick is finding an appropriate neck). And lastly a version of Neil Young's black LP. It'll be different of course, probably half hollow body.

There's this opera which has been around, again, for years. And I have a novel which I'm waiting on a redline edit version to get emailed back to me. And the Alien Sky script which doesn't actually exist.

And to finish all those movies above. That's where I'm at.