Press Paws at Nucleus

February 12, 13

I went to a super cool event this weekend to benefit Press Paws — raising money for our dog pals using game art.  How cool is that?  Two of my very favorites in a single place.

Be sure to check out their site and the amazing work done by the folks behind the event.   You can see more on their site — but here’s a few of my favorites…

Master Kreng Versus Jet Li!

July 20, 12

Check out this high-octane two part interview with Master Kreng … Crunch!

Part I:

Part II:

Sea Quest DSV Gameboy on Hardcore Gaming 101

May 24, 12
SeaQuest DSV Gameboy

www.gamesdbase.com

Check out this cool profile on Sea Quest!

John Szczepaniak put this together over on Hardcore Gaming 101.

Pretty amazing collection of screenshots that must have been hard to find.  It was fun to remember that time and the people that made it so memorable.

Looking at this image actually brought back another memory — of trying to build games early on with my friends.  We “hacked” (using the term very loosely) a game called Sea Dragon.

Should still be hacking it up!
Guess I am in a different way …

S

Bernard Wiseman’s New Yorker Cartoon Countdown

April 10, 12

Bernard Wiseman Cartoon Countdown Amid the troves of paperbacks dug through this weekend — I found this one from 1959.  New Yorker cartoonist Bernard Wiseman’s Cartoon Countdown.

Pages of single panel spacesuit and weapon gags with great style and commentary on the race for space and the jitters leading up to the Cuban Missile crisis — and the human side of what it might all mean.

Many without any words at all, several with only a few words.

I think it’s a great challenge and a good exercise, to try and get it all together in a single frame and say something funny without words.  These aren’t obtuse either — the kind spoofed on Seinfeld.

You can still find copies around out there too.

I’d love to share some samples here, but the book is too brittle to scan.

X15 Rocket Ejection Test

February 29, 12

X15 rocket sled test launchFebruary 18, 1959.
Edwards Air Force Base, CA
.

Tests for the X15 rocket based ejection seat. These images taken during tests of a cockpit model for the X15, the plane designed to take man into space.

Upper left, the cockpit model starts test sled ride to prove automatic seat ejection design.

Upper right, canopy flies off and the “pilot” is sent skyward on the rocket propelled seat while the canopy cover (upper right) flies clear.

Lower left, the “pilot” comes free from the seat and the parachute automatically opens.  Lower right, parachute safely brings “pilot” to the ground.

When rockets attached to seats were a good idea, personified personal risk for public gain, and made conquest immediately visible.

Konga – The Scourge of Mars

February 29, 12

The Scourge of MarsKonga fails in his attempt to hold up a waterfall set to drown a city below when his cracker-barrel knees give out at a critical juncture.

Oh sure, the humans make allies when convenient, like when they need a waterfall conveniently re-directed, or an elevated platform in the form of a giant palm from which to make an impressive speech.

With slight remorse for past trangressions against Konga, humans align against the Scourge of Mars, but only when they slowly realize that the Marsians (that’s how they spelled it in 1964!) are deftly re-sizing Konga and whipping him around the City with their shrink way.

Stand on this mighty shoulder, mankind, I will absorb the chest shots meant for you, while swatting at the enemy and mulling over my internal disgust.

Mod Wheels – That’s One Arrogant Dude

February 08, 12

Mod Wheels - Gold Key

Mod Wheels Wild Action

Who thinks they can jump the canals of Venice?

That’s one arrogant dude.

You’ve got your fancy sweatshirt and your TTP (Turbo Tower of Power) racing plate mounted on your inevitably polished handlebars.

What’s really arrogant isn’t the jumping at all, it’s the trying to sell us a Deluxe Thrill Set on the back cover.

Our minds are fixed on jumping the canals of Venice, and you ask us to Pump the Tower for Wild Wheelies?

Empty promises for the plastic catastrophe involved in leaping a perfectly calculated 4 to 17 cars.

“Minute with the Master” interview with John Kreng #4

February 06, 12

Bruce Lee

1) Do you rehearse moves differently for motion capture than for live action?

Yes, the emphasis on the moves are much different. When you perform live it’s one take and it has to be effective so that the person in the bleachers will react as strongly as the one in the front row.

With Mo-Cap, you have to figure out all the possibilities for each character and what they would do because the results are non-linear, quite different from what we would get traditionally in a film or in front of a live audience.  Mo-cap is much more strenuous than doing stunts for film or TV- usually because of all the options each character has to go through in a game as opposed to the definite ending a character has on a show.

2) What do you use to stay current on the best upcoming fight films?

I don’t advocate illegally downloading movies for several reasons: (1) Right now it is killing Asian cinema because of the rampant pirating that’s going on in Asia, (2) You also do not know what version you are getting — you might be getting an editor’s work print that is not final with all the bells and whistles and that takes the magic out of it, (3) You also never know the quality, and if it’s been censored or cut.

I usually go to websites like twitchfilm.com and kungfucinema.com to know what’s out there.  I also have a region free player to stay on top of things that plays DVDs from all over the world and is not locked to one specific region.  When I was writing my book I had a healthy collection of over 3000 (yes, three thousand) DVDs at my disposal.

I do not wait for a foreign film to be released domestically because it takes way too long to get picked up and often times it’s edited and/or poorly dubbed.  It can take 2-3 years (or even longer) to get a film released here domestically.  By then it’s already old and we’ve already moved onto the next big thing.  Look at BATTLE ROYALE.  It came out in 2000, and has never been officially released here for various reasons (mainly financial) beyond our control.  If it came out now, it might make an impact, but the core audience already has a bootleg or foreign copy of it.

What I love about living in Los Angeles is I can get imported DVDs from almost all over the world by just getting in my car and driving into different ethnic burrows around the city.  In one day I can go to Little India and buy the DVD of KRRISH.  Then go to Thai-town and get the latest Tony Jaa DVD and catch some chicken curry while listening to a Thai Elvis impersonator, then in 10 minutes be over in Koreatown to get their latest and greatest.  Then dash over to Alhambra/Monterey Park and get the newest films from China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.  Or, I could go to a block of Russian stores near West Hollywood and get their newest films. Then to top things off, I would go to Amoeba Records and be a scavenger and try to find  some DVDs on sale.

Sometimes, when hunting down these movies they won’t have subtitles, but sometimes they do.  It’s that sense of going into places you have never gone to and exploring something outside of my normal comfort zone that excites me.  Call me the Lewis and Clark of DVDs.  I’m not the only one that does this either.  I have a few friends who do this too.

Currently, I am jonesing over getting my grubby paws on a copy of BANGKOK KNOCKOUT.  The new movie by Panna Rittikrai – who trained and choreographed Tony Jaa in Ong Bak.

You might ask why I am doing all this?  As a stunt coordinator and fight choreographer, I feel you have to see what everyone else is doing so you don’t copy someone’s else’s work and also stay ahead of the curve by seeing the trends and what everyone else is doing.  I don’t mean domestically, but globally.  I have discovered there are always new and cool ways of expressing how we fight, because it is a cultural thing and is different with each culture, along with each individual filmmaker’s statement of how they see/interpret violence or action.  Generally, in the West, we are obsessed with power and it shows in our action films!  One punch or kick knockouts, huge explosions, etc.

3) How do you decide which posters to go after in your collection?

If I can afford it and it’s got great art, then it has to be mine.  Also for me, personally, there has to be some kind of exploitative element to it.  It can be the movie’s title, catch phrase, and/or enticing artwork that makes you stop dead in your tracks and want to go into the theater.  It’s as if the movie poster wants to reach out and grab you to pull you into the theater. Most of the movie posters today, generally play it safe and lack any real style and don’t have that P.T. Barnum or William Castle style of salesmanship.  It’s just a poster of the lead actor done with photoshop.  B-O-R-I-N-G!

For some odd reason, I do not always look for old posters that are in mint condition.  Mind you, if I found one in mint condition and it was something I wanted for my collection and was affordable, I’d get it.  But there is something to be said about a tattered poster from the 60’s and 70’s that shows it has been around for a while.  There is a certain personality the poster takes on.  It’s done it’s job, been around the block, and has seen many things over the years.  If only those posters could talk.

4) If you loved Inframan, what’s the next movie you should see?

Hmmm.. that’s a tough act to follow.  But I say go back to the original.. the 1966 Ultraman TV series.  I still love that series.  Even though it’s formulaic and the characters are very archetypical, but for me… it still works. If that does not float your boat, try FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA, and/or WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS.  BUT.. if you want something really cheesy, I suggest MIGHTY PEKING MAN!

5) Describe you and I watching a fight between Bruce Lee and Jose Canseco…

You would have to get me to constantly shut up because I’d be laughing so hard at how inept Canseco would look trying to attempt hitting Bruce. Let’s think about this…. What would be Jose’s game plan going into the ring?  “Duh, I’m bigger and stronger than him and I would just man-handle the little f**ker!” Yeah, great idea, Jose!  Just because you are a professional athlete does not mean you are a bad ass.  All it means is that you are VERY good at a certain skill set.  Hey, but ya gotta give him applauds for having the courage to get in the ring.  I think every celebrity has beaten him already.  Who’s next for him?  Gilbert Gottfried?

6) Would you cut a hole in YOUR roof to let bamboo grow?

It would depend on where I lived and if it was a “money tree” or not!

7) Do you remember when you tried to give me a boob twister but I jumped over a bicycle tire without spilling a coffee?  Am I now worthy of training with you?  sheeez.

Yes, and you did it without the assist of wires.  Yuen Woo Ping would be proud of you.

Edmund Martine’s Cetacean

January 29, 12

Cetacean Submersible 9/15/1955.  Inventor Edmund Martine checks one of the 12-inch thick optically ground portholes of his 50 ton submarine Cetacean.

The sub designed to cruise along the ocean floor at depths of more than five miles, is equipped with bright lights and cameras.  Martine hopes to travel into hidden valleys and caves deeper than man has ever been and he hopes to record these scenes on film.

Martine carefully considers the surface of the optically ground glass.  Will these portholes hold at a depth of five miles?  What’s the survival rate at the closest pressure level ever reached? Can you safely pilot a 50 ton submersible five miles beneath the surface?  How will you try and map the ocean floor in 1955?

To find out more about how this story evolved, check out Ben Hellwarth’s new book Sealab: America’s Forgotten Quest to Live and Work on the Ocean Floor.

Mary & Max by Adam Elliot

January 27, 12

Run to get a copy of Mary & Max.  Don’t think about it.  Don’t hesitate.  Eat the popcorn at work and spend dinner money on the DVD.  

The story.  The design.  The animation.  The music.  And it’s really funny too.  I’m a gigantic Adam Elliot fan after seeing Harvey Krumpet, but this one goes to an even higher level.  This story of loneliness and friendship shared based on the most thin level of interaction leaves you wondering how it could have been accomplished with clay.

We’ve all stood in line much longer for much less.