Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Anime Corner: Watching "Sword Art Online" with a non-gamer

Zer07 and I recently sat down and watched the popular, yet controversial series, "Sword Art Online."  SAO is a story of a game creator gone mad who has trapped his players in a virtual world, where death in the game means death in real life.  

I was a bit hesitant to watch at first because of the gaming-centric setting, but I eventually found myself getting hooked and we watched to the end with a fair sense of satisfaction.  While I did enjoy SAO, I feel very conflicted about this show.  I'm of the mindset that a show should attempt to be as universally accessible as possible, and as a  non-gamer, I would have needed a manual to follow this show by myself.  Admittedly, I'm probably not the target demographic for this show... my gaming experience is mostly limited to Bejeweled, Super Puzzle Fighter, Super Mario Brothers, and Mario Kart!!...  I don't think I would have stayed with the show if I didn't have 07 next to me explaining the intricacies of MMOs.  Putting aside the heavy MMO references, however, the story is pretty compelling and had me hooked.  The stakes are very high with some characters undergoing interesting psychological transformations, there is a sweet romantic storyline, and the art and animation is consistently high quality.

Anime fans seem to either love or hate this show.  The second half of the show was arguably weaker than the first with an introduction of an awkward sibling romance and a less entertaining gaming storyline.  (While I understand why many Western viewers might have a problem with the brother-sister romance, this is actually quite a common romance sub-genre in Japanese storytelling.)

I recommend giving this show the "3 episode rule."  You can check out the full 25 episodes streaming on Crunchyroll.

Nin, nin.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Making a hero...

Greetings friends!!  Zer07 and I are working hard on our original animated series called, "Aram."  It's going to be a daunting task producing the pilot between the two of us, but we are really excited about this project.  We're currently in the pre-production phase, hammering out the story and establishing the look.  The first character we designed is our hero, "Raeden."  

Our plan for the animation process is to utilize CG models as a base for our characters, and draw over these CG models in 2D.  (You can get an idea for this process in Zer07's post:  3D to 2D workflow - use the tools.)  The hope is that by having CG characters as a base, we will be able to maintain a consistent style (what traditional animators call, "staying on model") while keeping the animation and aesthetic quality high.  

Here is the CG model that Unit Zer07 created for Raeden:

Zer07 has already finished rigging this model, which means that we can pose him and start animating him however we like!  As you can see, this CG model is low resolution, which means that we need an official 2D character sheet to establish the fine details that will go into the drawings.  (Traditional 2D animators use character sheets to make sure they are consistently drawing the character exactly the way they're supposed to look.  This is "staying on model.")  Below is my 2D version of Raeden:  

(He's wearing a skin-tight suit which will include some patterns that we have yet to design.)  Keep watching for more updates!