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Elevator pitch for Darkstage

November 25, 2009 Leave a comment

I just realized I didn’t have an elevator pitch for Darkstage Studio. Whenever people ask me what it’s about I use terms such as “like” and “sort of”, which do not convey much confidence…

An elevator pitch, as implied by the previous sentence, is a short description of your business or idea that you can deliver in a few words to almost anyone, and especially potential clients. Here’s a first draft.

  • Darkstage studio specialized in visualization content for the horror, fantasy and sci-fi entertainment genres. My passion for these themes has motivated me to start Darkstage as a freelancer. I collaborate with studios and bring in my expertise as an animation, illustrator and 3D designer in projects related to themes of darkness, horror and macabre.

What do you think? Let me know if you have any idea that can push this pitch even more.

Introspective from Outer Space

October 19, 2009 3 comments

I’m writing this after reading this Bad Astronomy post. This is a photo of the Earth and Jupiter taken by the Mars Global Surveyor in 2003. The MGS was a spacecraft that used to operate around Mars for 9 years, up until 2007. This is how Earth and Jupiter look from Mars:

This is a crop of the original image. I borrowed it from Phil Plait’s post mentioned above. I hope he doesn’t mind.

But viewing the original image gave me one of those curious shivers I usually get when thinking of the vastness of space. Ever had that feeling? It happens when the brain tries to comprehend the size of the universe and realizes it’s really unable to. It’s like your mind gets a buffer overflow.

Pictures like that make me think of how cool it’d be if one day we could travel among the stars like they were the nearest town. Recent talks of water on the moon and plans of colonizing it have rekindled my imagination about living in space. Although cheerful images of growing up on a space colony that look like the suburb next door just on a different planet or setting out to explore new territories for the better of mankind are quickly being replaced by the dark and twisted brain of mine into something more bleak and desolate…

Imagine mankind finally breaks the boundaries of space and a whole new age of advanced commercialized space travel develops. It’s the new age when prospectors set out to explore the darkest corners of the galaxy in search of new resources. Thousands of promising mining colonies are being established wherever men can set their greedy claws upon. Sky is no longer the limit. Resources are abundant. Climate catastrophes no longer pose a threat to human existence. The future never looked more bright for mankind, which takes another giant step. But the plunge into the dark space foretells only a single morbid outcome.

Wealth corrupts once again the heart of man. Large sinister corporations become the only real authority. Men are worn off by hard work. Humanity is drawn back into the dark ages. The dark ages of space. And indifference.

Not a bright future.

In the future of the space age, there is no evil alien race that threatens to wipe out humanity and bring the people’s hearts close together in the process, bringing forth a grand adventure and a happy end. In the future space sets people apart. Families and friendships become a remnant of an obscure past. Art, books and entertainment disappear into the bleak void. Society as we know it disintegrates into the gloominess of space and machines now replace a mother’s love and a lover’s caress. Physical and mental diseases are being treated by the machines and the new man, the great man of the space age, grows into an isolated, misanthrope and egoist creature. Dreary indifference fills the men’s hearts, and the human kind becomes a prisoner in a dungeon that is the infinite freedom of space.

The only sound people hear is the hum of the engines and the beeps of the monitors. The only smell is that of damp and chilly corridors people pass day after day. The only taste is the sourness of dry blood after a hard day’s work. The only feel is of rusty metal bars that barely hold together a decadent space station.

The human kind does not need a natural catastrophe to bring on its demise. It has brought it upon itself, by setting out to space and disintegrating it’s very essence: the human spirit. The human spirit that can bring individual people together in harmony, can sparkle hope in our hearts, can balm our aching bodies and bring a smile upon our faces. But that spirit dwindles in space.

The human race is dead. Physically, it is alive, yes, but in any other perspective it has long perished. And if the illusion of meaning, once devised by great men, has waned a long time ago, what makes a man now more significant than a crater or a rock, even in its own eyes?

Elia Leibowitz’s lecture on the fallacies of intelligent design @ Icon

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday, my friend Ben and I, have checked what’s going on in Icon, a science fiction and fantasy convention held here at the Tel Aviv’s Cinematheque. There was the usual cosplay activity, books and role playing games stands and all sorts of geeks wandering about. Great atmosphere. I should have taken my camera with me…

We then attended a lecture, which was part of the convention, called “Intelligence Design: the oldest science fiction” hosted by Professor of astronomy Elia Leibowitz from Tel Aviv University and also a member of the Sackler Institute of Astronomy.

Prof. Leibowitz started with an overview of how we gather information we consider to be true and how, based on that information alone, we sometimes make false assumptions about our surroundings. Based on this alone, we’re likely to interpret the world wrong. In order to understand our world as accurately as possible, we must base our conclusions on common sense and experimentations as well as the knowledge we gather.

It seems obvious, of course, but it isn’t. And that’s where intelligent design comes in. Basically, ID proponents say our universe is too complex and unique to be the result of mere random events. Evolution and science can’t explain the uniqueness of the creation of the universe, so there must be a creator behind it. It’s a false dichotomy: if not evolution, then has to be a god. Leibowitz gave the example of the watch and the shell: If the watch was made by an intelligent creator, so must have been the shell, because both of them are complex designs.

The main problem with the IDers’ reasoning is that they ignore the fact that any importance we imply on the world strictly comes from our own interpretation. It’s very easy to be impressed by the sheer beauty of a view from the cliffs and the complexity of a bacterial flagellum. Well, these are quite amazing. Nature IS amazing. But it’s not unique. Not beyond what we make of it. There is no universal uniqueness in our world. And if there is non, randomness is a plausible explanation. The universe developed the way it was, but it could have easily developed in any other way If there is no uniqueness, there is no need for an intelligent creator.

I’m not implying there is no possibility for the existence of an intelligent designer of some sort (although I don’t believe that possibility), I don’t think the arguments presented by ID proponents are good enough to support this claim. According to modern knowledge and all the evidence we have, this simply just doesn’t add up.

This has been a great evening. I got to meet a few very interesting people along the way, including a very talented illustrator pursuing a career in animation! I hope next Icon I’ll be able to participate in more events and have a lot more to write about!

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.

Skeptic qoute

August 30, 2009 Leave a comment

“We who use the scientific method as a way to find truth in the realm of testable claims.”

Jamy Ian Swiss

From this episode of The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe.

Categories: Skepticism, thoughts Tags: , ,

Balloon cladded Sadness

July 25, 2009 Leave a comment

This headline sums my feelings about Up, the new Pixar feature. Without giving any spoilers, this is a sad movie about a person going through his entire life with his mind set up on fulfilling his childhood dream, but never getting the chance. The rest is just the adventure. And in the middle he realizes the adventure was just the special effects in his life, and the real thing has already happened. Of course the movie wants you to think it’s all about the “adventure” and flying houses and everything.

And now with the spoilers.

The main character is Carl Fredricksen. The movie starts with young Carl, at the end of the 1930s, meeting an amazing girl named Ellie, and they are both having a dream of conquering Paradise Falls in South America, a great scenic peak somewhere in nowhere. Later on they get married and live their life as two small and honest people.

Now Carl is a very sad character, one I felt most related to in the film. He leads happy, normal life with his wife, but they never get the chance to fulfill their dream. Ellie dies, leaving him all alone in their little house. Carl is now full of remorse of opportunities missed and entire lifetime that just went by. He also misses Ellie terribly. If this was a real story, Carl simply would have lived his remaining years as best as he could, eventually dying sad and lonely (since they had no kids) But this is not real life, so he goes on an adventure instead. But let me continue a bit more about him.
Carl becomes very possessive about his stuff: pictures, little ornaments and some furniture, which become priceless irreplaceable symbols that remind him of the most important things in his life. This is one of his habits I felt most related to. To emphasize Carl’s withdrawal and seclusion in his little house in contrast with the real world outside, his property is suddenly in the middle of a construction site: his nice suburb is being turned into a busy metropolitan area.
One of the strongest moments in the movie is when Carl realizes, like most adventure heroes, that his grand adventure has already happened, and it was his life with his wife Ellie, living day by day and enjoying their love and the little things they shared. His adventure with the annoying Russel and the rest of the characters is just a sideshow, just a couple of fireworks and expensive movie effects in comparison with his entire life.

But enough about Carl. I must mention Kevin, that strange colorful bird, one of the best comic reliefs ever. Her dumb yet knowing look – an effect that happens, I think, mainly because she doesn’t move her eyes and simply stares around – is hilarious. And how she repeatedly expresses her opinion (she can only like and not like. Nothing in between) about the surrounding characters is fantastic. Kevin is a great example of repeating gags you never get tired of, unlike Russel…

I’m tired of that idiot yet good and kind boy who’s always in the way and takes half the movie to keep in pace with the rest of the plot. Russel is an annoying character and it would have done great with the movie if Carl kicked him out of his house at the beginning. I bet Carl wouldn’t have reached Paradise Falls (having no GPS), but even then it would have been better off without Russel.

And as for the plot. It’s a typical adventure. Nothing new in there. Hollywood has been doing the same trick since Star Wars, and even before that.

The animation is marvelous! Kevin is done magnificently, also the rest of the dogs. Carl really conveys the feeling of an old man, although not so much when he’s bust jumping, crashing, pulling and pushing heavy things and doing other actions elderly folk are not usually seen doing. The animators have added some nice secondary motion when he clicks his lips together.

I watched UP in 3D, and I must say it was utterly useless. I did not feel more “inside” the movie wearing those glasses. The shots were not created with the thought of 3D in mind, I guess, or else they could have done better job by emphasizing the depth of the shots and making some interesting camera stunts during the action scenes. There was also a bit of a yellow tint caused by the glasses. Not sure if it’s the glasses to blame, or the technology.

In conclusion, UP is a fine adventure movie. But more than that, it’s a sad story about things and people we long for and how we perceive our lives: have we already had our adventure, or are we in the middle of it. I guess most of us are often changing their mind about that. Depends on our mood.