Monday, January 29, 2007

3D Post No. 14 - 3D Exercise - Family Room

Rendered this family room in 52 minutes @ 2000x1500 pixels, using vray. Light cache, etc etc. Just experimenting with a wood texture I just scanned..

Nothing much to say about this piece except that there originally isn't any glass object or material on those perimeter openings. Those reflections are faked in PS. (Sorry, I'm not entirely a religious 3D afficionado.)

..yep, my 3D rendering motto is - to render is human - to photoshop is divine :p.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Movie Review: Pan's Labyrinth

Rottentomatoes has rated Pan's Labyrinth at 96%. Not a single rotten review?? I have to discover why I skipped this in favor or Apocalypto (66%) and Borat (91%).. Off to Vivocity..

I deserve a good spanking. I almost missed what could've been the best movie, if not of the year, of the past few decade. Director Guillermo del Toro has created a masterpiece with this film. Rotten tomatoes was right - and the current string of nominations from the Golden Globes and the Oscars is a testimony to his terrific work. The movie is set in 1944, during Spain's Civil War and towards the end of Franco's Fascist regime. The official synopsis reads:

"Pan’s Labyrinth unfolds through the eyes of Ofelia, a dreamy little girl who is uprooted to a rural military outpost commanded by her new stepfather. Powerless and lonely in a place of unfathomable cruelty, Ofelia lives out her own dark fable as she confronts monsters both otherworldly and human.. But for Ofelia, fables of good and evil, magic and danger are more than simple entertainment. They are her window onto the world, awakening her to life’s everyday possibilities and mysteries."

Despite the gore of the film, it is still a fairy tale - after all, fairy tales are filled with dark elements - forests, dragons, wolves, and stepparents. A fairy tale seems to be the common man's opium when the world has gone mad and when life becomes too difficult to endure. In this case, Ofelia has decided to swallow the red pill and down she goes into the rabbithole because she can't bear her new Fascist stepfather.

The movie is not meant for kids because of the violent and graphic scenes. The graphic nature is reminiscent of Goya's Saturn Devours His Children. Even so, one has to see Pan's Labyrinth beyond its horrific visual brilliance. Del Toro has derived his story from a rich context, both socially and politically. Here are a few symbolisms from the film:

  • Ofelia (the main character) - Coming-of-age, she had to make a choice between the collective good and her own personal glory. Clearly, of middle class, where thoughts and revolutionary ideas flourish. Being the central figure of the story, Ofelia represents change, and how one individual's decision can shape the future.
  • Capt. Vidal (Ofelia's stepfather) - an idealogy without regard for any human rights personified.
  • Mercedes (Capt. Vidal's housekeeper who supports the rebels) - the common man. Eternally struggling. Her line "I am a coward. I feed the beast and I nurture it" was so eloquently stated in the film.
  • The Doctor - An individual from the intelligentsia, also of middle class, whose interests conflict between the extreme idealogy which he supports in and what is inherently right.
  • The Chalk - Education. Pan says: "Draw a door anywhere with this chalk and you can open it."
  • The Frog - Corruption. This character proved the ugliest in the film, and was most difficult to defeat.
  • The Pale Man - Blind idealogy. When one partakes of its feast, that's when it begins to see, and eventually will devour you.
Pan's Labyrinth has loads of other symbolisms - like any great myth, it encodes the message creatively, then conveys the message of these metaphors effectively. It strikes a chord in one's consciousness when an individual parallels the heroine(Ofelia)'s experiences with oneself. What makes the movie work is that in 2 hours, it has represented a vicious human cycle of idealogies working for a common goal, fails, and so the cycle repeats. A summary of humanity's evils, fears, and hopes.

Hmm.. this is probably my longest (and most didactic) movie review ever.. Go see this film, since it has induced me into writing this long. :) It is both disturbing and hopeful, haunting and sublime. And if there is any film near perfection - cinematography, effects, plot, engaging storyline, relevance - Pan's Labyrinth could be it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Site of the Day

For the movie buff. The bored types.

To Mac or Not to Mac


Apple has finally(!) switched to intel-based processors. This means a Mac can run Windows applications (you can use XP on a Mac Pro as an alternate OS) such as AutoCAD or 3D Studio Max.. Yum.. With stunning graphics and what should be a better platform to do 3D.. it begs the question.. do I ditch the intel-based laptop for a Mac Book Pro?

I've got several issues that need resolving though..

  1. Being the first switch to PC land.. Mac Pro is bound to get some bugs. Just because it can run Windows applications now, doesn't mean it will run without pains. Birth pains. Yeah, someone tested 3D Studio Max or any Autodesk application on a Mac Pro.. according to his claim, it annoyingly reauthorizes the license everytime you reboot..
  2. There were several problems with Adobe Photoshop CS and Macromedia..
  3. For the same speed.. I'd be paying double for a Mac. But of course.. after 2 years, you stare at a Mac and it still turns you on.. whereas for a PC.. blech..
  4. Switching from a PC keyboard to a Mac keyboard.. dang.. this'll be some sort of procedural shift.. if I do have a Mac at home.. then I meet my office PC I'd shout "who the hell took my option key??"

Irresistible though.. hmmm.. Stay tuned.. I've got a week to decide :D

Monday, January 22, 2007

3D Post No. 13 - Old Renders of Mine

Dug my old hard drive and found these - 5 yr old files: My first radiosity renders! Took something like 2-3 hours just for the subdivisions.. dang

And here are like my first and last attempts at Lightscape.. the best renderer ever.. too bad it's gone.. boohoo..

..and my favorite photmontage (haven't done one in a while..)..

Movie Review: Apocalypto

Mel Gibson has never abandoned his Mad Max roots. That film drove me to the same intensity of vengeance on the antagonists - which was exactly how the movie portrayed it.. swift cold and brutal. And then there was Braveheart notable for its gore and savagery. Or was it The Passion of the Christ?
Apocalypto is genuine Mel Gibson. Mel Gibson humor of course. Ok, with a lot of sadism. (That's his fetish.) He has crossed over the samurai film genre here - you'll get what I mean when you've decided to watch it. :D Forget that sometimes the story goes on a ridiculous turn, the film was a visual feast. No dull moments here, everything is frenetically paced and you can't exactly predict where the story will lead to. Unless of course you've read the spoilers.. but after Happy Feet I'm done with all the hypes.

Bottom line is here's one movie where you can just sit and get on with the movie's flow, enjoy the stunning screenplay, and watch as the ancient Mayan wall hieroglyphic images come to life. (Also watch the Mayan folks eat cadaver.) It was great ride enough for me to forget about the lame ending.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Movie Review: Borat

jagshemash ahehehehe.. go watch it dudes.. :P

Friday, January 19, 2007

3D Post No. 12 - Porsche (Pors-huh)

I discovered a few years ago that Porsche is more commonly pronounced as "por-shey" in Singapore rather than the American silent e "porsh". Duh, it's a German word. "Porshuh" is the proper way of saying it.

I did a lot of Porsche Showroom 3D's that I'll have to start counting. Too many to mention, and too many to place in one post (some were done aimlessly) so I'll just fill this blog in with the latest batch. They all look the same because of the corporate ID thing for their showrooms. Same facade style same reception desk same trapezium wall same posters blah blah blah. In 3D this is like playing an RPG game. The first showroom I ever did took me a week to do the exterior and a handful of interiors - the succeeding ones only took me a day :p That's off-the-shelf 3D rendering for you. No more building of models, just use the lovely merge command.

Well I did experiment with rendering some branches in Vray or scanline. And this is one of those projects which I prefer to do in scanline.. No, I'm not ready to sign up for the vray-must-die movement yet.. :p If ever a 3D plugin deserves to be assassinated, that's *bleep* :D

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rediscovering Tintin

I only knew "The Adventures of Tintin" from the comic books. He's eternally optimistic and does a lot of travelling. Considering that the franchise is over 30 years old - the parodies of "Tintin" will outshine any recent cartoon crap nowadays. Except for South Park of course. :D

Got myself a DVD copy (along with Flowers of Shanghai) of Tintin the animated series - Les Aventures de Tintin. Blistering barnacles and thundering typhoons! 'Twas well worth it.. :)

Trivia: Tintin isn't Canadian. He's Belgian.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

3D Post No. 11 - Ugly Sofa

A client's living room. I don't personally like the sofa. (It's supposed to be an existing piece anyway.)

Ah.. now that's much better.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Damn.. Can't wait till this gizmo gets out.. Click here for more.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Movie (DVD) Review: Flowers of Shanghai

I've been seeing crap movies the past few weeks now. I need to see a good movie badly. Something to jumpstart 2007.

When you have very few options on the theaters (I was in the Philippines for 2 weeks, missed "Apocalypto", and the once-essential-but-now-too-commercialized Metro Manila Film Festival season was going on), you are left with a last ditch effort to visit the DVD store.

I was surprised. Found one from a well-reviewed director, Hou Hsiao Hsien, "Flowers of Shanghai". I have been looking forward to his "Three Times" movie but that will have to wait.

Though not entirely considered his best work, "Flowers of Shanghai" is a good appetizer to a Hou Hsiao Hsien novice. As wikipedia puts it, His storytelling is oblique and his style marked by extreme long takes with minimal camera movement but intricate choreography of actors and space within the frame. And you do get a lot of that in this film, something like a 10-15 minute continuous scene with no breaks, bound to invoke a yawn in the wrong director's hands, but with the excellent acting and multi-layered scene, "Flowers" is enigmatic.

Even the plot itself is unique. "Flowers" is a story about the 19th century Shanghai "flower houses" or brothels. It revolves around the stories of several high class courtesans and their gentlemen callers. Interesting despite these assumptions there is no hint of sex, not even passion, in the entire movie. It is as cold and airless as the scenes themselves, which are always shot inside the brothels, nary an opening to the outside world. Add to this irony is the gold-reddish tone of the film (which seems to be lit only by a few candles and oil lamps), which should invoke strong emotions - but there are more power struggles than love, and a lot of political maneuvering between the women and the men whose characterizations are on an alternate reality. Women who struggle to gain their freedom, and the men who constantly get their egos stroked. Yeah there is also a lot of opium here. One might think the haze of the film's texture is because of too much opium throughout the film.

There is that annoying repetition of the soundtrack, reminiscent of Wong Kar Wai's repetitive "California Dreaming" in Chungking Express. Irritating as it is, it unifies the whole movie cohesively. At least that's what the other movie observers say.

"Flowers of Shanghai" is a rare film. Like most rarities, it is of exceptional value. I might have to watch this again to capture its true beauty though, and that is not a tiring proposition.