Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Halcyon Realms is moving. ( to Wordpress )

( will do fine too )

This will be my last post at Blogger. Please do take a little time to update your links and head over for a new look !

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

There's good reason for a little elation today as lighting for Freedom episode 4 is finally completed, a total of about 350 shots spread between me and my chief Matsui-san, averaging about 10 cuts per day. Its a big relief there were no Crab Robos ( folks who have been following the series should know these critters, nasty buggers not only in Eden but to us too, for they consist of so many individual moving parts our workstations slow down to a crawl whenever there is one in the scene; imagine having to light a dozen. ) this time round or we would have been dragging polygons through molasses again.

Over dinner with 2 of my colleagues at Sukiya banter turned to the topic of life after Freedom - where each of us are heading or are planning to do and Matsui-san expressed his interest in games design.

"Square Enix huh ?", I suggested, the obvious top candidate to mention.

"Jyoudanjyane ?( which roughly translates as "Are you kidding me ?" ) Advent Children was neat, but what if I get assigned to the fluid simluation detail ? I'll drown before the first week is up." and we had a good laugh.

If I may be allowed to explain his derangement, Matsui-san was just voicing his innate fear of pigeonhole specialization in Square Enix, or actually any other major effects company for that matter, where you can be assigned to a specific task, say, the effect of a drop of water landing on concrete; and drone on that task for eons. The bigger the company, the higher the risk. For the dauntless however, Square runs recruitment ads in CG World every month.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A few updates before I concuss into bed.

I slogged till 3 in the morning finishing up some shots so I can take sunday off ( yes, take SUNDAY OFF ) and amongst other things, rewatch Paprika, undoubtably one of the better anime films of late. Check out that sumptous box set !

Talking about neat dvds everyone in the studio also recieved a limited collector's edition of Freedom 1 yesterday, a little consolation for toiling all nighters for the greater good of Freedom Committee. It's comes with a special gold print cover and is not for sale in stores.

Earlier in the evening Morita-san treated us to a tasty Tonkatsu dinner because the higher powers that be ( namely himself and Matsuo-san, who joined us recently and had worked on Kon Satoshi's Perfect Blue and Millenium Actress ) made a high level decision that demanded, well, the re-rendering of all completed shots hiterto. Yamaura-san, our DOP and compositing chief, was not pleased. I took the opportunity during dinner to quiz Morita-san about certain rumors that have been circulating heavily in the studio, and though not nearly written in stone just as yet, there will be exciting things coming up after the completion of Freedom 6. Morita-san will be attending the launch of Freedom in the States at ANIME EXPO and might make the announcement then.

And lastly, a friend alerted me about this piece of news in the local papers; click on the image to read the whole article.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The 2nd series of magazine ad spreads for the release of Freedom 3, illustrated by Sakiji-san. See the first series here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The article as in appeared in Straits Times. Big thanks to all the folks who sent word of support, and also Mr Kwan for the article.

Its mad rush hour again for Freedom 4, but I will try to write a little more if time permits.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Freedom's official English (US) website is up here :

Just as I suspected they have completely removed all Nissin Cup Noodles elements; check out this previous post here. As far as spiffiness of web design is concerned, the Japan site is definitely the much better of the two.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Screen caps from Freedom's 5th television commercial, airing on Japanwide TV from today on. ( 20th April ) You can watch it from Freedom's website by following the link below :

The theme song for this spot was initially Utada Hikaru's "Flavour of Life", but was changed during production to her latest single, "Kiss and Cry". In any case, I love both the songs.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Mindgame ( Studio 4C ) dvd boxset, which I ordered immediately after watching the rented dvd. Its the biggest, baddest boxset I've ever bought. At around $100 singapore dollars, I dare say its somewhat of a bargain. The film itself, needless to say, is absolutely mindblowing.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Freedom Committee's celebration parties are always the best time to catch up on some industry news and gossips, considering all of us are always buried under a ton of work on normal working days. Yesterday we were out celebrating the completion of Freedom's 5th television commercial that is to go live on Japan TV from the 20th April, I will post some pictures once press is released. Matsui-san, my lighting chief, handed me the reins for this project; I must have lighted about 75 percent of all the cuts in this commercial. Tiring, but satisfying too.

Anyway, here are the snippets:

Trivia 1) During the early pre-production stages for Freedom, Otomo Katsuhiro was deciding who should head the project, and Makoto Shinkai, whose achievements on Distant Star is somewhat of a legend, was also considered. It would have been interesting to see how Freedom would have turned out if he had indeed been director.

Trivia 2) Small talk turned to Genius Party, Studio 4C's soon to be released animation film. Interestingly, Morita-san, Freedom's director, used to work in 4C.

Trivia 3) Tatsuyuki Tanaka is one of the directors for Genius Party, author of the amazing artbook "Cannabis Works". Tatsuyuki worked as an animator on Akira; remember Tetsuo's mutating hand ? Sajiki-san, Freedom's character and concept artist, calls him "an absolute genius". Ditto.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What's Spring in Japan without some (pretty) pictures of Sakuras to show.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cover art for Freedom 3.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Respect for Production I.G's Ghost In The Shell Stand Alone Complex creative team; 26?! mind- blowing episodes that left me completely hooked and hungry for more. As far as quality of the production is concerned, if I may be allowed to translate in our local island colloquial; "biangz, dun play play." Hanpa ne-.

Respect also, for Japanese photographer/filmmaker Ninagawa Mika. This lady has a near frightening, unbelievable sense of colour. Bleeding from the eyes may result from prolonged viewing of her imagery. Bleed away right here :

Bollocks. Gotta work harder.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Its confirmed: Freedom Project will be seeing its US release on the 26th of June 2007, with both DVD and HD DVD versions to be made available. I'm wondering how the entire marketing campaign for the US version will turn out should they remove the Nissin Cup Noodles elements, ( Freedom been a huge tie up animation project with the giant noodle company Nissin, a ubiquitious, household name here in Japan but probably not in the states, making it somewhat irrelevant ) but I hope it turns out catchy in any case.

Monday, March 19, 2007

With the bulk of work for Freedom 3 completed there is finally some time to catch my breath before the rush sets in again when Freedom's TV commercial postpro starts, and not till that is finished may I, there are rumours abound, get a week off work. I think I'm just going to sprout wings and fly straight out of the studio when that actually happens.

Anyway. I was fairly thrilled yesterday to recieve Abe-san's signature on my Jinroh Boxset ( see pic below ) ; its always been one of my favourite animation films since watching it a full 8 years ago at the Singapore Film Festival. Abe-san, who was previously from IG and had also worked on GITS SAC, commented she too was a newbie when she joined Jinroh's production. ( she's now the colour designer for Freedom project. )

Outside work I also finished my 2 year film school at Toho Gakuen, here's a photo at the graduation ceremony with my classmate from Shanghai, ( he tells me the animation studio that made Monkey God and Nezha is just right behind his house, s**t. ) we had quite a time shooting our graduation film together. See this post.

That's all the updates for now I think. Its spring in Tokyo. I need a break !

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I can't believe a trivial attempt to fix my broken blog archives ever since my migration to the new Blogger template left them in net limbo could escalate into a full fledged, multi-tasking mission to overhaul my blog, but there you are. New are the easy on the eyes Trebuchet MS typeset and a cleaner template, I've kept the page at 800 pixels so folks on 800x600 res can still browse comfortably. Dewa.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

I've just gotten word from my chief Matsui-san that we will be working on the fifth installment of Freedom Project's television commercial which will be aired Japanwide. The past 4 spots have been done by our friends from Production IG ( Ghost In the Shell folks ) because we had to concentrate on the actual animation series. The theme song for the commercial by the way, is Utada Hikaru's latest single released just last week, The Flavor of Life, cover picture below.

We have been working straight 15 hour days here at Sunrise rushing the deadline for Freedom 3 and barely have enough time to take a piss, but this is exciting news, well, at least to a huge Utada fan.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Designs for 2 separate full page ad spreads now appearing in various Japan magazines for the release of Freedom II, marvel comics style. Sajiki-san, our most talented illustrator, referenced old copies of Akira graphic novels previously published by Epic comics and emulated a smilar inking style. Sweet.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The ending credits for Freedom. That's me right there ! See it ? No ?

My apologies...i'm just this excited little bloke.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

An eleventh hour approved 7 day vacation saw me jetting back to Singapore on the otherwise exorbitant SIA, the earliest flight I could book. One week is just too miserably short for chicken rice, barchomee, sambal stingray, kaya toasts squeezed in between 5 movies and dinner with old friends and family, I've hardly had a whiff of home and the next thing I knew I was packing my luggage.

On the flight back home I tried unsuccessfully to catch some shuteye as I had to head back to work in just a few hours after landing; I ended up watching 2 in-flight movies back to back and as my eyes finally felt weary I was greeted by the most amazing sight outside the window; dawn over Japan, high above the clouds in the stratosphere. Beneath us the entire cloudbed was a shimmering sheet of brilliant, fiery orange, yet the stars continue to sparkle brightly above in the ultramarine firmament.

My hitherto fatigue vanished quietly without a trace.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Cover art for Freedom 2 dvd.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Sitting in for a preview screening of Freedom 2 with the rest of my colleagues yesterday I was engulfed by a pang of surreality watching the scenes I had so painstakingly lighted for the past 2 months materialize in its final, finished form, complete with background art and effects. Calculating the number of shots I was assigned, I must have lighted about 1/4 of the entire episode, the rest covered by my chief Matsui-san and some minor scenes subbed out to other studios.

Later in the evening at Freedom 2's celebration party I had a chat with the director Morita-san, where I was told more and more challenging scenes will be assigned to me from Freedom 3 onwards. That simply translates as reduced sleeping hours, non existent weekends, a constant sophorific state. Heck, bring it on I say.

Freedom 2 will hit the stores from Febuary 22th and is available for preorder from Amazon here.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

I swear, after watching Zack Snyder's dizzyingly intense trailer for his film 300 I almost wanted to leap out of that weary cubicle seat of my, hunt down the nearest gym and sign up for 2 lifetime memberships to start working out some serious abs. Well, almost, until the thoughts of Jiro ramen ( the biggest, baddest ramen you'll ever eat ) for lunch wafted my mind, certainly something as satisfying as having beautiful abs, though somewhat significantly easier to accomplish. Speaking of which, California Fitness Club should definitely do a tie-in with this film, and I bet they'll see their membership numbers shoot right through the roof.

In any case, an eagerly awaited film. And when is medieval Japan's release date for this ? Check it; June 2007, a full 3 months behind the entire universe, so lengthy a time I could have worked out leaner abs than Gerald Butler by the time it hits Japan shores. I just need to get Jiro out of my head.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

I've got all three bikes parked in my garage, had them shined this morning too.

All Illustrations by Sajiki-san, our character and concept designer, whose usually serious and calm demeanour vanishes inexplicably to be replaced by loud, gregarious laughs and silly antics everytime he gets into a conversation with Matsui-san, my lighting chief, who oddly enough displays the same affliction. Crazy folks.

Yesterday we were handed the storyboard for Freedom 3, which promises more action scenes than both 1 and 2 put together. I can't wait to see the finished product, but with significantly more shots than Freedom 2, it simply means more time in front of my workstation for the next 2 months or so.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Those were some screencaps off the 4th 30 second spot for Freedom now playing on Japanese television. You can also catch it streaming from the official Freedom website here.

Happy New Year folks !
Films Retrospect 2006

Total tally for films watched in 2006 stands at 28 in theatres and 96 on dvds, making that 124 in all ( Click here to see the entire list ), down from 178 in 2005. This decline is largely due to a full 5 month hiatus from summer as I got bogged down by my film project and job search. Here are my top 10 favourite films viewed in 2006, in no particular merit.

1)Pride and Prejudice (Joe Wright)
2)Munich (Spielberg)
3)Children of Men (Alphonso Cuaron)
4)Proof (John Madden)
5)Crash (Paul Haggis)
6)The Constant Gardener (Fernando Meirelles)
7)Wallace and Gromit : Curse of the Wererabbit (Steve Box/Nick Park)
8)Planet Earth (Documentary, David Attenborough)
9)Paprika (Kon Satoshi)
X)Matchpoint (Woody Allen)

It is regrettable my access to the latest films are always at least 4 to 6 months behind the living world due to Japan's inexplicable slow release system, which I am more than resigned to having been here for almost 3 years. Notably Korean and Japanese films are missing from my favourites as there hadn't been any winners like Tony Takitani last year. I hope to catch The Host soon. A few other notable films I enjoyed were Lord of War by Andrew Niccol, I've been his fan ever since Gattaca; Team America World Police, Jarhead, and A History of Violence. I think the worst film of 2006 had got to be Eragon.

With that, here's to a bountiful year ahead for film watching !