Star Wars Gen 1

So Everyone was talking about STAR WARS yesterday but I was on the road with the family so I couldn’t. Anyone who knows me knows STAR WARS was a big part of my life so here goes.
I didn’t go see STAR WARS on opening day, but in January of 1977 I was working as an usher at CENTURY 21 Theatres. It was a typical Saturday, the day when couriers from the film distributors dropped on new films and previews in re-enforced masonite boxes wrapped in straps. That Saturday we got a box from FOX labeled STAR WARS. That, of course, peaked my interest as I was a SF fan (note, NOTE SciFi). I took it to the projection booth and Gary, the projectionist, threaded it up and we watched it, just the two of us in the darkened theatre.
We watched it twice.
The Gary said: “This is either going to be really great or it is going to SUCK”
Original X-Wing box cover. The first Digtal Box art Lucasfilm ever accepted. Composited in prit resolution on a MAC II (16 mhz) with 8 Megabites of RAM

That summer I was recovering from a bad accident, oddly enough that happened the week after the film arrived. That accident put me in the hospital for two weeks, lost me my job and still effects me to this day. It was also during the time I was actually thinking I had a chance of ever going pro as a racer so all my money was spent on tires and entry fees.  Even though I had been making movies since I was about 8 they were not a priority.

I finally went to see STAR WARS at a matinee at that same Century 21 theatre. Gary let me in for free, I bought popcorn and a Dr/ Pepper and settled into an almost empty theatre.
I watched it three times and the story and the effects changed my life forever.
Racing was going nowhere so I sold my car and went back to school to study video and film. Also I met my future wife and an array of friend who are, well, still my friends and began doing convention art shows.  My art was passible and I met a lot of great other artists.  ILM was now a goal for me as the people who worked there showed up at cons in their silver bomber jackets and talked about stuff that I did think was magic.  I wanted to earn one of those jackets but never did.
After a time spent in Los Angeles trying to get into animation (I finally left after a friend told me that I would NEVR make it there with my skills and like a fool I believed him) I moved back to Nor Cal, got married and…well started working at lucasfilm games.
The edges of this fact are hazy but the possibility does exist that I was the first 3D artist (aside form John Whitney and Gary Demos) to build an X-wing Fighter, which was for the game X-Wing.  It was a long way from that empty theatre to then.
So happy birthday STAR WARS, and thanks for the life.

Good Bye to Flower Power, So What Next?

The last two days have been a bit of a blur as I have been finishing up the web commercial for Uriel Tones.  It’s been a lot of work, for less than stellar pay I will admit, but it has gotten me deeply and firmly into PRODUCTION MODE.  Anyone who has worked on an intense project with a lot of demands and time constraints understands from where I speak. It’s the steady humm in the back of you head of gears in your mind, always working to solve the problem at hand while fat forwarding to the next task in the stairway to completion. When you go into PRODUCTION MODE it does not matter where you are or what you are doing those gears never stop turning.  You can be at dinner with your family, surfing the net or walking your dog, the gears are always turning.

For some this can be maddening, the crackle of the gears as they mesh can drive them over the edge into dark places where it is actually best we don’t go.  Those are the people who change careers and speak in hushed tones about “burnout” and “Death Marches”. I wish them well and I wish them peace.  The rest of us either simply endure or they thrive on PRODUCTION MODE.

…I am one of the latter.

Just now I am working on about 10 hours sleep spread over three days and have only a few things left to do.  During this production cycle I was tested and I was not found wanting.  At the same time I was reminded of a lot of tools in my toolbox that I have not used in a long time, tools that could help me get out of working in the art store and back into the real world.

The question now is, what do I do next?

I need to learn Japanese…things will just be easier

So when I am not off peddling pastels to hippies (my day jobbe) the curious will find me most likely find me either scribbling on my Cintiq or twurdling in any number of Visual Effects application.  At the same time, being a modern ‘Merikan man, I have something of a short attention span.  Now I am not talking that of a gnat, if I had that I would turn Republican and vote against my own best interest, but it is still short.  Let’s say a mouse, they’re cute and fuzzy, yeah let’s say a mouse.

Now we are not talking any ordinary mouse here, we are speaking of a full on OTAKU mouse.  A mouse who prefers Manga to Muenster.  This is a mouse who spends as much time as possible laying sprawled on it adorable little tummy munching on cheezie puffs and watch anime of questionable content (my late friend Toren once said “The most dangerous thing to be in Japan is a schoolgirl”).

This isn’t a new addiction in any way, no sir-ree! The animators of Japan have been tweaking my grey matter since I first ASTRO BOY when I was but a tousle headed tyke in the wilds of Rialto. It is a sad fact that for a time I eschewed the genre but recommendations from my son Nick when he was home for Christmas peaked my interest and I discovered CRUNCHYROLL.  Additionally I reconnected with a nameless chum from my Days at NAMCO whose sharing Otaku nature was more than willing to point out what I have been missing while I was away.

Obviously all of this happened as our country was settling in to enjoy the diarrhea de Glase that our politicians were serving up.  Having just recently decided to sit out the next depression two step I quickly came to the conclusion that I needed an escape.

My Anime consumption began to climb.  So much so that currently I can tell you more about what is being pushed in Akihabra then I can what sort of corn besotted effluvia is spewing out of the “One Eyed Monster” (as my Mom used to call the TV).  Before you judge, take a look at your own browser history.

Here is where it gets troublesome…

While I am working I like to have some sort of media running in the background, often video, so I can COMMAN-TAB away from After Effects when it is blowing me a raspberry.  The trouble is that all the Anime I watch is SUBTITLED and I don’t speak Japanese.  So whereas it is comforting to hear the mellifluous tones of some of my Favorite voice actresses/Actors I cannot understand anything…which makes it hard to keep up on what is going on in whatever series I am currently following/obsessed with.

Now I have tried in the past to learn this language.  Afternoons were spent at Kinokuniya , both in LA and in San Francisco, buying tons of books and dictionaries but at the same time I was also working in the early years of the Games Industry and figuring out how to do thing nobody had ever done before took up most of my idle grey matter and slowly my studies slipped away.

Now though all those tasks that were once arcane are canned effects in plug-ins and scripts for After Effect written by 14 year olds.  What was once magic is now available on a chat app. So even though my Grey matter has a lot more road wear on it the time has come to turn the searchlight glare of my attention onto this task. Anyone who has any suggestions about how to make this easy, please feel free to share.