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Some Poi action in Tel Aviv

September 25, 2009 Leave a comment

Dan invited me to join him for a fire and poi gathering at The Tupim Beach in Tel Aviv a couple of weeks ago. Not a poi practitioner myself, I decided it’d be a good time to take some photos. I haven’t done that in a while, and as I’ve shown here before, I really like taking photos of people juggling. It’s a great opportunity to see what your camera’s capable of and what you can do with it. I’ve included here some of my favorite ones. For the rest of the photos go here.

Some girl wearing an interesting outfit dancing around with fire.

Some girl wearing an interesting outfit dancing around with fire.

Two dudes went into the water and juggled over there. Great reflections.

Two dudes went into the water and juggled over there. Great reflections.

Fire spitting!

Fire spitting!

Dan enjoys himself.

Dan enjoys himself.

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It’s New Year’s post!

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment

So, shana tova for everyone who reads my blog! This is supposed to be the 5,770th year since the creation of the universe, according to tradition. But since I don’t believe in that crap, all that’s left to enjoy is the change of atmosphere come the holidays. And holidays do have this kind of effect. One vacation day right after the weekend is just one of the pleasant symptoms of this change.

This year started really good. I was at a great party, celebrated my birthday with some family and it was raining pretty much for the whole weekend. I love rain, and I love autumn. It was great seeing ponds again all around. A rainy day and a gloomy weather give me so much inspiration. It sets the imagination loose and lifts the spirits. It reminds me when I was young, on clear sunny days, I used to stare at the countryside view in the distance on my way to school and imagine the sky dark with clouds and signs of rain and storm. I hope this rain is a good sign for a great year to come.

My resolution for the following year is to have a good leap into the freelancing world. I still want to keep my current posish at GeoSim, but develop my brand and self as a freelance animator as well. To accomplish this, I need to perfect a few more skills. First, my professional skills in animation, 3D modeling and illustration and my socilaiziation skills. Second, I want to be able to read and communicate with people better. This is a quality everyone needs and people who run their own business in particular.

My immediate goals are to finish my website. Currently I work on a logo for Darkstage Studio, which will replace the rose thing I assembled there in like a few seconds, just for that “coming soon” page. Second, I want the complete the design and put the site together. Then, based on that design I’ll print out some business cards. I need some business cards already.

I know this year is going to be an improvement for some people. Ziv, for instance, my Animation Mentor colleague and good friend, has just joined the ranks of one of  Crew972, one of the best animation studios in Israel. He was waiting for this opportunity for a long time, and I hope this year becomes a successful one for him.

So this weekend I had a very nice new year’s dinner at my grandparent with my sister, aunt and uncle. On Saturday I was at a great party and Sunday spent at the cinema watching Inglorious Basterds (great movie!). All considering, this has been a great weekend, and I hope a beginning of a great year.

Film review: Häxan

September 16, 2009 Leave a comment

This dismal 1922 Danish horror- documentary was a fantastic eye candy.  The film is a study about witch hunts, based on the director’s study of the Malleus Maleficarum (A Latin guide about witches, written by two Inquisitors in the 15th century).

The film starts with an overview of the medieval society in the 15th century Europe and its beliefs in god, Satan, heaven and hell. Then comes the interesting part: Benjamin Christensen, the director, created magnificent dramatizations that illustrate the world of the witches through the eyes of the contemporary people. How one panicked girl so easily convinces an entire village that another person is a witch. How, by means of torment, the suspected witch claims almost all the rest of the villagers are also heretics making deals with the Dark Lord.

Christensen breaks down, through the dramatizations, the entire phenomenon of witch huntings. He shows the tools used to torment the witches and the reason behind some of the techniques, like the infamous trial by drowning: the suspected witch is thrown into the river and if she floats then she’s a witch. If she drowns, she’s not a witch. In any case, the poor woman dies. You can also see throughout the film examples of contemporary habits and manners. For instance, a monk is eating at the table showing crude manners, spilling his gravy all over himself, barfing etc.

I admire the great amount of detail put into the dramatized part of Häxan. In the witch’s hut scenes you can find tools and witchcraft instruments scattered around between piles of hay and dirt. Everything is dark. And the quality of old black & white films adds to the horrific atmosphere similar to other films like Nosferatu and The Man Who Laughs. I think the bad film quality contributes a lot to the “ancient” feeling in this film, especially in comparison to modern cinema technology. Watching silent films, if you have the patience, can be a very rewarding experience. Especially for an enthusiast of morbid entertainment such as myself.

The main idea of the film was to demonstrate how the people back in Medieval Europe lacked any kind of critical thinking skills and how easily they were influenced. And who can blame them? In these times, being a European meant following a strict set of thought and behavior. Being different or even letting others think you have anything to do with Devil worshiping (or anything that hints as going against the Church) would put you on a slow train to the stake with a stop at the local dungeon for some Inquisition fun and games.
I sometimes wonder what had changed since, if at all. Too many people still put their theist beliefs in front of rational thinking, still argue that bad things happen to people because they sinned against God, still relate morality to religion and even worse – connect lack of faith to immorality. I’m not preaching for atheism here but for critical thinking. I’m leaving atheism for another post.

Tekkonkinkreet

September 13, 2009 Leave a comment

This is a 2006 anime feature directed by Michael Arias and animated by Studio 4°C (makers of Beyond from Animatrix).

I got this from my friend Eran. Took me 2 weeks to get around to watch this. But I was busy 😛

The story is about two orphans, Black and White, living in the fictional city of Treasure Town. Black is the tough punk, intolerant towards strangers claiming his city their own (which happens a lot in this movie) and White is the innocent, sometimes touchy one. Together they’re known as the Cats, and they reign terror over their opponents and seem to be the only rightful owners of the city, at least in the beginning.

The exposition was fun. An elaborate chasing scene, including Black and White chase some kids trying to take over the town, street traffic and a giant clock (with cogwheels and everything!).

The protagonists’ names allude to their personalities in almost every way. White is perceived as a cunning partner of Black and later exposes his softer side (he cries when it’s raining, for instance). His devotion to life and creation opposes Black’s tough nature. White is also portrayed as a very independent child. He can’t even get dressed by himself. Although Black displays  independence  and maturity, his reason and morals become corrupted when he is left alone. White’s naivety brings balance to the duo. The differences between Black and White also appear in their clothes. While White, being the innocent and more infantile one wears funny hats, Black wears a belt with pockets, goggles and wrist bandages. He usually gets his gear broken during fights. One scene even had a tribute to Ghost in the Shell when Black’s goggles exploded when the alien tried to smash his face.

The visual aspect of the film is astounding. The scenes are very detailed and the addition of 3D in some parts integrates very well into the overall design. The characters are not drawn in the classical Anime style but in a more simple way which adds a sense of innocence.

One of my favorite scenes was when the police was separating White from Black. White was sitting in the backseat of the car, and the camera rotates 180 degrees as the car is taking off and White crawls back to look at Black, who stands alone in the middle of the road.

A movie I really recommend to anyone.

Sarah Kerrigan vs. Zerg Storyboard screening @ BlizzCon

September 7, 2009 Leave a comment

I just love storyboards.