Bottom of the Deck – 15/08/18

botdcardHey everypeoples, Tuesday again, so allow me to start rambling.

You may have noticed there was no Elements of Eve update yesterday (assuming you read both my comic and my blog), due to me being utterly destroyed by the weekend. Before anyone jumps to conclusions, the craziest thing I did was play a really intense game of Magic: The Gathering; I even almost won, so that was a good feeling. But I had a hard time sleeping both Saturday and Sunday, so I spent yesterday feeling like I’d been splattered by a bus and had to go to college on top of that. I actually find that I enjoy college work; I’m learning lots of new things, I get to experiment with new tools and it’s all linked to stuff I have an interest in. If there’s only one thing I find wrong with it, it’s the work environment…

I’m not going to say that no-one in my class does any work; there are some good students that make the most of their time, and everyone has their own talents and specialisations that allow them to turn out fantastic stuff. What I don’t have patience for are the ones who never pay attention, the ones who repeatedly fall asleep during the lesson, or the ones who insult and disrespect the lecturer when they leave the room. Surely if someone comes to an animation college and wants to learn about the field that could be their future career, they would want to put in the effort. Every time I look over and see one of these people holding up the class and slowing down the lesson because they can’t be bothered to stay focused, it really pisses me off. Granted, this is not my problem (I feel for our lecturer though, she gets just as pissed), but the negative attitude makes for a poor work environment, which is a shame because I tend to get more work done when I’m at college and not distracted by my bed like when I’m at home. There are some days when I pray to Leeroy Jethro Gibbs, the patron saint of head-slapping, for the chance to smack some people upside the head and tell them to get back in the game; we have been given the chance to learn some amazing things, why waste it? Unfortunately, we’re dealing with college students here, and naturally the opinions of other people don’t matter, so all I can do is keep my head down and my mouth shut, and try to do my best with what I have. I don’t care how hypocritical I sound (being a college student and prone to the occasional bout of laziness), I was given an opportunity and I want to make the most of it.

Okay, angry rant over, I just needed that off my chest. I’m going to go back to watching Avatar: The Last Airbender; I’ve been rewatching the whole series while I work at home and I’m nearly done with season 2. I have yet to find another modern cartoon that can compare with this kind of storytelling, the emotional connections one can make with these characters is so powerful. Have a good night everybody.

Ciao for now.

Bottom of the Deck – 15/08/11

botdcardGood evening everypeoples, Tuesday night again, and time for me to talk about stuff that’s been happening… even when nothing is happening.

We’ve just come out of a long weekend, which is a phenomenon that I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with. On the one hand, it’s three days off, uninterrupted and relaxing to allow one to get their head clear. On the other hand, it’s also a convenient excuse to get nothing done. It’s something that I’ve always been very guilty of, but for all my intentions to use this kind of free time to be productive, I tend to fall back on procrastination. Obviously, if a deadline is looming and I have no time to waste, then I will work my ass off to get my work done, but if there’s no immediate hurry, then I get lazy. This is especially a problem when I’ve had a busy week (which is every week, near enough) and my brain is a convoluted mess that keeps firing off random ideas even though I’m exhausted and trying to sleep; I use my down-time to slow my brain down so that it’ll give me peace and quiet. In the process of trying to make my brain shut up, I lose track of time and miss out on getting work done. I’m not proud of it, consider this a confession of sorts, though if you know me well enough already then this is old news.

However, as a storyteller (even a mostly-unrecognised one), a lot of my personal distractions tend to involve some kind of story-building element. If I’m reading something, it’ll likely be an article on character development or defining how effectively a plot twist can work in certain situations. If I’m playing something, it’ll usually be a game with a good plot, or at least have a situation that I can project my own personal idea for a plot onto; have you ever stopped to think just what the story is behind the randomly named and generated special ops sniper you just sent to blow an alien’s head off? Or if I’m watching something, it’ll be a show (or more likely, a cartoon) with characters that I can easily identify and follow; I’ve been watching a lot of teen comedy anime lately, and I wish my high school days had been half as hilarious as some of these…

One particular thing I often find myself turning on to kill time, is a panel done by one of my favourite webcomic writers, Micheal “Mookie” Terraciano. The creator of Dominic Deegan and writer of Star Power, he has done a panel on the convention circuit called Writing Unique Heroes and Memorable Villains. Mookie describes it as not being a be-all and end-all way to write characters, but he does provide some very insightful thoughts into how we as creators can craft stories that we as readers find meaningful to us. There are a couple of recordings of this panel on YouTube, the most complete and comprehensive one being here; I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make their writing a little more quirky and interesting.

That’s all for this week, maybe by the next one I’ll have actually done something.

Ciao for now.

Bottom of the Deck – 15/08/04

botdcardEvening everypeoples. Thanks to the grace of our almighty electricity provider, I am finally able to bring you my bloggery for this Tuesday.

I will say one thing for load shedding: it’s a great incentive for me to write. When the power is out and I’m navigating my room with a head-mounted lamp, there’s very little one can do on the creative side. Since I don’t want to strain my eyes trying to sketch and anything digital is out of the question, I turn to my writing notebook. I find it a lot easier to write out my story drafts by hand first anyway, it feels a lot more free and intuitive, especially with fewer distractions around.

In other creative news, the rigging of 3D models continues at college. While it’s easy to follow step-by-step instructions, since everyone is working with a different character model, the guidelines often don’t match up exactly with what we hope to accomplish, and that’s where the frustration sets in. I was halfway through making arm controls when I realized that the handles I was hooking up were twisting the joints out of place. A whole morning’s work down the drain, but fortunately it goes quicker the second time, especially when I speed-read.

On the geekier side of things, I watched Ant-Man over the weekend. I had no clue going in how it would turn out (though my hopes were probably higher than most), and it was so much funnier, so much wittier, and generally more entertaining than I thought. After the frantic, explosive, character-overloaded experience that was Age of Ultron, it was good to have a Marvel film that leaned on the casual side and was able to poke fun at itself without losing dramatic effect. The effects were amazing, and there were references to the comic mythology everywhere; I chuckled as I picked out every single one, knowing that half the audience wouldn’t get them. That might sound a little sad to some people, but I’ll admit it was very satisfying, call me selfish. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it yet, Ant-Man is well worth the watch, even if you are in the 90% of people who don’t have a clue who he is.

I’ve also started watching Grimm (yeah yeah, late to the game as always when it comes to TV), and am currently powering through the second season, I’m totally hooked. Going to have to try and distract myself with Black Sails after I run out of episodes.

That’s all for this week, if you did happen to read this, please tell other people that I’m interesting. It may not be true, but at least my traffic figures might spike a little, which is nice.

Ciao for now.

Bottom of the Deck – 15/07/28

botdcardTuesday night and time for me to ramble about stuff; two weeks in a row, let’s see how long this pattern lasts…

So this week sees a new challenge opening up artistically: 3D rigging. I spent two or three months building a 3D model in class and attempting to make it look good (mostly successfully, I might add), and now I get to give it a skeleton. The process is so much more complex than I first imagined, and yet surprisingly logical; the model is controlled by joints, which are controlled by clusters, which are controlled by… controls, appropriately. It’s just a matter of linking everything up so that they work in tandem, which is going to be the tedious part, but I’m looking forward to it. Tedious work, if handled with the right attitude, can make a day just fly; I’m going to get flashbacks of building Lego Technic sets…

I’ve also got a huge pile of storyboard work for the end of term, which is alright by me because it’s something I know I can do, and since it’s based on a script I wrote myself I have a lot more creative flexibility. That said, I still have to board that script in particular, while another idea I had is nagging to be done instead. I blame the guest speaker we had at college yesterday; Sam Wilson is a writer for local TV shows, both live and animated, and he gave us an awesome talk on storytelling. It was the kind of speech that makes you want to dive into your own projects and get them done in an afternoon because they’re just so attainable and now you know you can do it… and then you burn out after a few hours when realise just how much work there still is. But it’s the good kind of burnout, the kind that comes from producing something you love. I’ll be sure to upload some of my boards in a few weeks once I’ve made decent progress.

Rounding off with something mostly geeky, the fourth episode of Life is Strange has just been released; for those who don’t know, it’s a story-based adventure game about a girl who can rewind time, with a wide array of story choices for the player to make that directly affect the final outcome. I haven’t played it myself (because I’m far too busy and too cheap), but I’ve been watching Let’s Plays of it on YouTube, and the story is equal parts gripping and convoluted. The characters are tragic, the drama is high and the ability to reverse your decisions with time-travel will always leave you wondering if you made the right choice or not. The third episode ended on a massive cliffhanger and it’s been months since it came out, so I’m really keen to see exactly what the consequences of the players’ choices are. I am a sucker for time travel plots and temporal paradoxes, because if they’re well written they can knock you for a loop when you least expect it and you’ll be begging for more.

That’s it for this Bottom of the Deck, but be sure to stop by tomorrow for my Webcomic of the Week.

Ciao for now.

Bottom of the Deck – 21/07/15

botdcardGood evening to the one or two people who will actually be reading this post! Since I have started a blog site, I should probably get to blogging.

If by some miracle you happened to know what I was doing two years ago (I certainly didn’t), you might find the title of this entry slightly familiar. Well, back in 2013 I got the ambitious idea in my head to do a weekly animated video blog called Bottom of the Deck, espousing stuff about geeky things I considered interesting. I barely made it past the first month before I realised that with my skillset at the time and all the other work I was trying to juggle, it just wasn’t going to happen.

So now I have an opportunity to revitalise Bottom of the Deck, but in a more manageable format that won’t send me into a tailspin, as I’m busier than I ever was before. I’ll try to put out an update every Tuesday; the rest of the week will soon start filling with other stuff (mysterious vague foreshadowing…)

Speaking of Tuesday updates, there’s a show I’m watching right now that just uploaded its seventh episode, so I’ll use it as my geeky topic for this week. For anyone who likes tabletop gaming, there’s no excuse for not knowing about Wil Wheaton’s web series Tabletop, on the Geek and Sundry Youtube channel. Even more specifically, there’s the spinoff mini series known as Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana. I highly recommend it for anyone who has so much as had a passing thought about taking part in a pen-and-paper role-playing game, as it perfectly encapsulates everything you need to know about playing one in an easy to follow format. With the venerable Wil Wheaton himself running the show as Game Master, veteran actors Hank Green, Alison Haislip, Laura Bailey and Yuri Lowenthal take on the roles of adventuring heroes in the war-torn ruins of Valkana, a world where advanced technology and magic are commonplace. Armed only with their character sheets and a handful of dice, these four vagabonds make the show incredibly fun to watch thanks to their chemistry both in and out of character, and by attempting to outsmart the obstacles that Mr. Wheaton throws at them with sadistic glee. Throw in some gorgeous artwork to aid the narration and Titansgrave comes to life before your eyes.

That’s my geeky ramble for this week, go check out Titansgrave on the Geek and Sundry website through this link here, and I’ll see you all again soon.

Ciao for now.