JOURNAL: Kai Stromler (Kai Stromler)

  • innocent she now cries 2015-03-16 15:31:38
    SH126:
    - Source rip: complete
    - Music: complete
    - Precleaning: 7/36
    - Storyboard/planning: none
    - Clipping: 21/60
    - Edit: none
    - Postproc: none

    Having shed some unnecessary existential angst, I kicked on and smashed up most of the hardsubbed minor DVD VOBs; the second and rag-end of Karura Mau should finish tonight, and then I get back to the hard part with commercial DVDs. I was prepared for this to be harder than it was, but the *lack* of boneheaded dark-ages commercial VHS->DVD conversion is actually working in my favor. I'm having to sand off several generations' worth of picture damage in the filter chain, but crucially, all of these generations (save the last) are between the same formats. The tape copy I got from MITAC a decade ago was obviously not from the originating group's original SVHS master, and the dub I did of it was from one piece of shit Walmart VHS player to another, but I'm able to resolve most of the color issues and some of the apparent blowout problems, without simultaneously having to try to remove multiple sources of interlacing and frame blends. There are cuts that I can't use because too much information is just gone, resulting in half-shaped blobs of color, but most of the print is pretty salvageable. I couldn't do a full video from this title as is, but it'll slot in just fine for some highlight cuts in this video.

    When I can get through here, and when I can finish chopping up the remaining DVDs, should give me a much better idea of when this is going to finish up. There's a decent amount of volume in the digital piles, but nearly all of it is marked as 'minor', where I'm looking for only a handful of cuts per title, and historically other people's encodes have needed a lot less work to clean up -- which impacts not only the time doing the precleaning steps, but also the speed at which the cutting process renders. I'm not going to start editing before the end of the month regardless, but if I'm deep into the digital bucket by that time, it's possible that SH127 might wrap before the end of April. One task at a time, but the reality of turning an idea board into a production queue means that there's always something coming up next.

    --Kai out

     
  • to terminate | stay resident 2015-03-13 14:05:33
    SH126:
    - Source rip: complete
    - Music: complete
    - Precleaning: 5/36
    - Storyboard/planning: none
    - Clipping: 17/60
    - Edit: none
    - Postproc: none

    Despite every show in the universe dropping on Thursdays, I managed to get through that VOB and into the last one of the last major DVD. I'm on call this weekend, and the most troublesome of my Irish friends are out of town, so it's likely that I'll be able to do other stuff beyond "stay at the bar inhaling Guinness from sunup to tap-close"; whether that will include video work is less clear. In the meantime, there is this:

    http://i59.tinypic.com/a3dnoo.png

    which further underlines the points made in http://insomni-ack.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-im-quitting-this-amv-shit.html so long ago about the confluences of the machine grotesque image pool, and points that will probably be belabored at length in the video description for this thing whenever it finishes. Altars probably came out before the anime, but maybe not before the comic; it's difficult to tell if one artist was influenced by the other, or in what direction any influence ran, but what's indisputable is that both sides are drinking from the same well.

    --Kai out

     
  • thrown in the trash to rot 2015-03-12 15:14:17
    SH126:
    - Source rip: complete
    - Music: complete
    - Precleaning: 5/36
    - Storyboard/planning: none
    - Clipping: 16.5/60
    - Edit: none
    - Postproc: none

    As I continue to slowly grind through this stuff, I'm seeing a lot more than I think I used to: not just in terms of content, but also about what exactly I think is missing from anime in the digital age, which is pretty much summed up by Joaquin Torres Garcia's observation that the point of abstraction is not a lack of form, but a better synthesis. Towards the end of Judge, there's a scene shot before the underworld court where the characters are on a Persian/Central-Asian-styled carpet; it's striking, and beautifully painted, but each panel of the carpet is just abstract whorls of red, gold, and white color, not really attempting to look like fabric. Painting closely enough to put in a real design would have been a waste of time, but a new version of the carpet had to be painted for each setup that the director designated, because that was what the technology of the time demanded.

    How would this be done today? Most likely, the background artist would produce a couple carpet panels at a high level of detail, use variation in coloring to increase the apparent number of unique panels, and then turn them over to the CG department to be used as tiles. The CG team would then build a floor of arbitrary size out of those tiles, which can then be inclined, zoomed, and lit in any way that the director demands. The result is a carpet that's in higher detail, cheaper to make, done faster, more flexible, and more realistic, but the ultimate purpose of animation art is not to have carpets that look like they belong in the real world. The ultimate purpose of animation art is to sell the scene, as scene that just by being animated comics is going to be stylized short of reality. The hand-painted backdrop feels more real because it's easier to perceive as being, like the character animation, a piece of art created expressly for this scene rather than a genericized asset.

    Related to this problem is accidental detail. Just the process of creating a piece of art with physical media gives the opportunity to embed in all kinds of detail as a side effect of creating the form: in digital art, you'll see artists kicking and fighting with their brush tools to get to the doorstep of that. Digital makes it a lot easier to do smooth fills and gradients; rougher surfaces, not quite so much. That's not to say that digital can't do this kind of detail -- it's perfectly possible, but it is not easy, cheap, or fast. Minna Sundberg can take a full day drawing, inking, painting, and shading a page to stunning standard, but an average TV episode is going to have around 250 non-OP/ED cuts in it. Not all of them are going to require a unique background, but if even 10% do need something with any kind of detail that can't be grabbed from the stack of BGs so far, you're going to need five full-time background artists just to keep pace. This is not something that there is a lot of budget for.

    Unsurprisingly, if you look at recent TV anime, especially more niche shows that aren't drowning in budget, you're seeing more and more CGed interiors. It just makes sense: instead of a limited number of 2d painted backgrounds that exist at one angle forever, you have a 3d "set" that can be reused forever, shot from any angle that the character animation demands, moved around with a little flexibility, and lit and colored to match any combination of time and directorial mood. It saves time, it saves money, it gives the staff a known baseline to work with, but it also gives back some of the freedom that animation has to detach itself from the real world. A big part of the appeal of animation is the ability to easily and cheaply tell stories that are impossible, impractical, or just exceedingly expensive to tell with live actors: you can place the camera anywhere you want, accommodate any kind of motion, depict anything you like, without ever having to discuss stuff like "is this even possible in 3-space", "does physics actually work like that", or "where is the effects budget" -- you just pick up the pen or stylus and off you go. When you give yourself a set that has a three-dimensional existence, even implied, it starts to bind you to that set and how your 2d characters have to interact with it.

    There's a lot more on the topic of the stuff in this video being a really weird local maximum in a lot of ways that will get rolled out later/when it's finished, but I also should note that one of the things that I do *like* about more modern anime that is not true of stuff from this period is that there are a lot fewer shots that I have to throw out while saying "without context, nobody will know what the hell this even is" because it is lighted so weird to save time in inbetweens and painting. Kujaku-oh has been a bad offender for this and the damaged, drifty print is not helping.

    --Kai out

     
  • to a grain of sand 2015-03-11 11:29:12
    SH126:
    - Source rip: complete
    - Music: complete
    - Precleaning: 5/36
    - Storyboard/planning: none
    - Clipping: 15/60
    - Edit: none
    - Postproc: none

    Because reasons, I wasn't able to finish up the last of the majors last night, but I did get stuck into it, and provided I can get out of work on a reasonable schedule today, I should be able to get finished and get into the minors. I've got enough source, by volume to do the video, far and away, but the question of getting the *right* source is still open, and as much as I want to just pull the plug on this slow and laborious process and just go right into edit, the value of continuing the cut to the bitter end is clearly, clearly apparent. Last night was the first real encounter with the devilworship portion of the content, having collected a lot of violence and mutilation in the first couple sources, and just the difference was good stuff, which almost made it less of a pain to fight with another double-blended source. There are more of these coming, but IIRC the other two in the minors are hard-subbed; there's less to do when you can just alt-arrow through stuff that's got the same text scribbled on it. I'm not going to start actually liking this process any time soon, but smooth process, good results, and crushing, varied death metal as an accompaniment do a pretty good job of getting it up to "tolerable".

    --Kai out

     
  • never believe 2015-03-10 15:36:04
    SH126:
    - Source rip: complete
    - Music: complete
    - Precleaning: 4/36
    - Storyboard/planning: none
    - Clipping: 12/60
    - Edit: none
    - Postproc: none

    The work continues, the pace unaffected. I've now gotten most of the way through the next-to-last major DVD source, and should finish up the remaining tonight, hopefully in time to get the first of the minors loaded. Cleaning's going to be a little hard, but I'm finding that most of the same core settings can be applied over and over again with minor tweaks: these sources aren't all the same, but this stuff is mostly filmed and digitized in the same time period, by people with similar goals and budgets, if it's not actually the same exact people involved. The characteristic mistakes and shortcomings will mostly be correctable in the same fashion. On top of this, three of the six remaining DVDs were authored by me from VHS; whatever settings I use to deinterlace the one in the major pile can probably be applied exactly as is to the two in the minors, and after that it's all smoothing and color correction.

    I'm putting a little more structure into things further down the production chain as well; I've cut a couple things that will be used not in this project, but one way down the line, and I have a rough idea of what the production slate's going to look like through at least the end of Q2, maybe towards the end of Q3 if I don't get killed doing stupid things this summer. Summer plans are going to significantly influence that schedule: if I can do my European commitments in September cheaply, I have more budget to do difficult and expensive things in Alaska in June. If France is going to be expensive, then I have to cut Alaska to the point where it's not worth doing this year...which means I can build an edit station to handle 1080p. I would much rather try to avoid dying while soloing the stretch between Coldfoot and Deadhorse than do a vacation-burning staycation hunched over a computer case, but my current edit station is coming up on 6 years old at the end of the year, and it's already starting to creak. All things, hopefully, will end up handled in good time.

    --Kai out

     
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