Sep 23, 2008

Armored Core - For Answer cinematic

Armored Core 4 had one of the best looking cinematic intro video and was one of my favorite CG game cinematic along with everything produced by Blur, Digic and Blizzard.

Then when you wonder how much better can giant fighting robots look, out comes the cinematic trailer for Armored Core: For Answer.

Watch/download Hi-Def version here.

While you're at it, enjoy the much revered Armored Core 4 cinematic as well:

Sep 18, 2008

Sausage omelette

Phoebe's latest tea time endeavour, the sausage omelette sandwich.

So stop asking me why am I gaining weight :P.

Sep 15, 2008

Download Red Alert for free (Legally !)

In anticipation of Red Alert 3's launch on the 27th of September and to commemorate 13 years since the release of the original game, Electronic Arts has made the first Red Alert game available for download on the Red Alert 3 website, effectively rendering it freeware.

To download, point your browser HERE . Also included on the site are instructions to run RA properly on Windows XP. Have fun!

Sep 14, 2008

Movie - Vexille (Possible spoilers !!)

The film has been release over a year ago, but more on that later.Vexille is a 3D anime movie about a dystopian world in the future, something like the Appleseed films, so be prepared for some comparisons.

In year 2067, the UN declared a ban on robotics and cybernetics research. Japan, under the influence of the Daiwa Industries, protested against the ban and subsequently shut off all contact with other nations by means of a high tech physical and electromagnetic barrier around the archipelago country. A decade later, a US police task force named SWORD was alarmed by an android incursion and a secret meeting between US politicians and a representative from Daiwa Industries. They decided to infiltrate Japan, the country that has now become an enigma to the outside world.

The titular character is the female protagonist of the movie and a member of the SWORD team. When her team is seemingly wiped out and she finds herself in the custody of an underground resistance group in Tokyo, she discovers the horror that has beset the nation of the rising sun since the isolation.

The basic premise presents an epic and intriguing setting, even if it bears some striking similiarity to Masamune Shirow's works. Unlike Appleseed or Ghost In The Shell, however, the flick fails to develop the Vexille as the main character that we are suppose to empathize with. The relationship between Vexille and her lover Leon, who is also her team leader echoes that between Deunan and Briareous in Appleseed. Unfortunately, the romantic aspect was severely underdeveloped even when it was one of the main motivation for Vexille's actions in the film. In fact, I wouldn't know that they are a couple if not for a scene of them in bed together early in the film.

On the other hand, there's also this Maria character who is the leader of the resistance and has a history that was far more interesting than Vexille's. The film could've been named Maria and it would've made more sense.

In terms of visuals and animation, it's a mixed bag. Generally, I find the quality to be a slight notch above Appleseed, though the motion captured actions and facial expressions are somewhat lacking, if not disturbingly stiff in extreme cases. The shading is a hybrid of regular smooth shaded and cel shaded with anatomically correct character design, though I prefer Appleseed Ex Machina's stylized characters and the painterly look. However, what won me over was Vexille's art direction, cinematography and the AMAZING attention to detail (IMHO easily put Appleseed to shame). In many cases, it was the cinematography that saved an otherwise zombie-like motion captured scene.

All in all, I thought it was a solid production. Back to the topic of the film's release: unlike Appleseed, I did not come across any marketing materials related to this movie. No trailers, no nothing. Ironically, I only came across this movie when I was looking up information on Ex Machina and has been looking for a while before I finally bought it. Considering the production value, I'm surprise nobody bothered to come up with a decent marketing campaign!

On a very unrelated note: I also just watched M.Night Shyamalan's The Happening. What a mess. Ever had one of those conversation where you're sure you're talking about a specific subject, but the other guy keep rambling and mumbling on and off topic incoherently? This film is like that.

I cannot imagine how much worse his films can get.

Sep 6, 2008

Emergency Evacuation

Another update on the in-house project. The scene below depicts a serene rooftop amidst the chaotic emergency evacuation in a major city in the USA.

If you follow this blog, you might find the gramophone and the helicopters familiar.

I spent a lot of time working on the shading and textures (including the billboards which were blurred to hell, I don't even know why I bothered...). The rendering time was awful because of the raytrace refraction, reflection and shadows, exponentially compounded by the use of radiosity and ambient occlusion.

The final image was composited and DOF blur applied in Adobe Photoshop and After Effects.