Sunday, July 17, 2005

Week of July 11 to July 17

Week of July 11 to 17

Got off to a very good start, work wise. Positive review for the set dressing stuff I've been doing, and got a few more 'hero' set pieces to do. Enjoying it - a chance to learn different things (in this case, more about modeling, expressions, ribs, and dynamics, and in general working at different places allows me to expand my skill set and perspective on 3D CG). Looking to get back on shot work, and I got some turnovers early in the week (including my first shot with Kong). Tuesday, one of the funniest shows ever is back on TV, Kumars at No. 42, a BBC quasi-talk talk show from Sanjeev Bhaskar and what is supposedly his nosy, sassy, embarassing Punjabi family who pipe up from the couch during interviews. (Maybe I watch too much TV, have no TV back in the States, eh, I'll burn out on it before the end of my stint). My leg still hurts, started with lower back pain which went away after a few days, but now is a sharp shooting pain all down my left leg, think it might be sciatica.

Thursday lunchtime adventure - went to Weta Guitars, they said my Theremin was ready for pickup (I had them build an NZ-compliant power supply, lost my other one); then when I got there, they said, 'Oh no, it needs more work.') So, while I was there I decided to get that Reb Beach model guitar, what the hey. Been so long since I got a guitar, a 6-string one at that. Then went to play hoops - last game with Trevor, he and Justin are heading back to ILM. Well, the usual place in Newtown was booked - school holiday. The Kilbirnie Rec Centre said we could use it at 2 PM. What they really meant was, 'you can come in and kick out the bunch of kids that are using it at 2 PM'. See, it's not just the accent, it's a different language sometimes. Anyway, we went to Rongotai College outdoor hoops, crappy rims, no nets but we had a good game of half-court fours.

Friday eve just did some OT, and watched the last of this weeks' rentals - Chronicles of Riddick: Withnail & I: a gem - Monty Python's long-lost Fliegender Zirkus: Naked States, a doc about Spencer Tunick; King Arthur (2004).

Saturday -
The big party night! (some people from Weta were sponsoring the 'Ice Ball', a lavish party with wintery themes). Raine was part of the crew, and invited me to make some noise! Worked a full day (reckon I'll be in most every Saturday from now on); stopped at Weta Guitars then went to get ready for the party. (The pirate shirt I rented is nowhere to be found, don't know when I lost it, it was at my desk I'm sure, have to pay up for it on Monday.) Just dressed normal, but slathered my hair into a Devil's Lock (dam that itched after a while) and drew blue lines all over my face. My pics here. And Trina's here. Great scene, mainly 2 rooms, one with the DJ and occasional dancers - bellydancers, Carnivale dancers, stilt walker. I had the Theremin set up in the other room, it was a hit, people were fascinated by it. At one point, dragged Justin & Trevor's party from Matterhorn to Ice Ball, but they left cos the booze was gone. I was sustaining pretty well, but when I wanted to make some noiz on the guitar, some punks came up and asked to jam on it, I said OK. 20 minutes of really crappy Metallica lix later, I was ready to go, by 4 AM.

Sunday - Wanted to go check out a morning Film Fest screening, Touch the Sound about a deaf woman drummer , but wasn't feeling well enough, so waited it out till Decasia at noon. Brilliant idea, wonderful source material, thrilling music, but non-interesting montage, didn't give ya anything. Then organ recital at Town Hall - nice to hear Flight of the Valkyries, and William Tell Overture, but it didn't shake your nerves like you'd hope for from a 2-story organ. Then went to work for a few hours, and stopped in at Hataitai, got Burger Wisconsin on the way home. Simpsons, CSI, while I worked on writing.

Here's a posting about the King Kong panel at ComiCon. They played 3 minutes worth of the 7-minute dino fight seq. All 3 principles showed up, no crew.

Next week - Bonnie's in town!!!

Thursday, July 14, 2005

2005 A Good Year for Music

So, I was thinking back on the year so far, being half-way done, and I realized 2005 was a good year for big CD releases. Big bands, releasing quality material. In no particular order, but by category :

Releases I actually cared about :
White Stripes; Foo Fighters (double album, high concept); Queens of the Stone Age; Audioslave; Gorillaz; Nine Inch Nails; Garbage; Beck

Poppier, but ones I still like :
Coldplay; Oasis; Ben Folds; Dave Matthews Band; Jamiroquai; U2; BruceSpringsteen

Indie acts that made it big(ger) :
Louis the 14th; Decemberists; Sleater-Kinney

Hip-hop :
Quasimoto; Busta Rhymes; Black Eyed Peas

Metal :
Corrosion of Conformity; Fantomas; Hot Hot Heat; Mudvayne (actually touring NZ) ;System of a Down; Slipknot

The HolyCrapTheseGuysReleasedANewAlbum category :
Fripp/Eno; Robert Plant; Ten Years After

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

On Scorsese

Maybe I should post more thoughts, opinions, and ideas on this page, instead of just chronicles. OK - On Scorsese. I think he gets a rep similar to Woody Allen - stay with me here. I must admit, Allen is talented as a writer and director, makes good product, and works well with a range of actors. But I just don't like him, I wouldn't make much effort to see his movies, when I do I may enjoy his movies, but it just doesn't stay with me, not satisfying. All his movies are about neurotic freaks in New York. I can see how some people could have a similar attitude about Scorsese, but not me, and those people should check out his body of work. Of course, he's got the ultra-violent crime epics - Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas, Casino, Gangs. All of which I really really like. But I'd say tops of my favorites (now bear in mind I'm a road-less-travelled guy. Favorite Beatle=George Harrison, Favorite Stooge=Shemp) are Kundun, and Bringing out the Dead, which are drastic departures in style, tone, and normalcy from his other works, but have tremendous impact. So much I haven't seen. I just realized he did "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore", which won one of 3 Oscars and many other awards, and which somehow ended up as the 'Alice' zany sitcom with Linda Lavin ("Kiss my grits!"). (Another aside - my dad says he used to date Ellen Burstyn for a short time. Since he knows so little of movie trivia and she is from Detroit, I don't doubt him.) I can't think of a bad film he's done, can you? ("Bad" and American Express commercials don't count). Now if he'd only make a VFX extravaganza so I could work on it - Aviator made the long list last year but let's have some spaceships, Marty. Trivioid - "Gangs" was one of ILM's longest production schedules of any show, for 50-some shots.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Week of July 4 to July 10

This week zipped by. Just same set-dressing stuff I was doing last week. Waiting for next batch of shots to be turned over. Had a sequence review, taking a look at how much work is left, wow. Nothing much happened during the week in the evenings, playing Stick & got through the batch of latest rentals - 'Inspector Gadget' live action; X2 again (holds up well, great to see this franchise and SpiderMan get the classy adaptations they deserve); Man Called Horse (with the 'savage' sun ceremony, a gritty and well-done depiction of a suspension ritual); Ripping Friends (by John K, mildly funny, that guy tries too hard); and Gangs of New York (Scorsese is such an outstanding filmmaker, he does everything so well & makes it look so effortless that he doesn't get the full respect he deserves. Well, from the Academy. Or Box Office). This week's Kong production diary reviews the trailer. They talk about rushing to build the 'second seawall miniature' which was my shot in the trailer! There's also a shot of the comp dungeon, where I used to sit. . There's a Kong presentation at the San Diego ComiCon, along with lots of upcoming projects, good news for the biz.

Friday - No weekend OT, unfortunately. Met Katie at Kazu japanese restaurant, then had 40 minutes for sushi before going on to Fantastic Four movie. Far better than I thought, wasn't a big fan of the comic, thought it was too cheezy, 'family is what you make it' theme. All the buzz on the movie was discouraging - bad costumes, bad production schedule, mis-casting. The best member of the cast - Julian Macmahon - was playing the best character from the comic - Dr. Doom, but a watered-down, Hollywood version of the supervillian, who was originally a tragic, mysterious magic-seeking and mechanical-scarred monarch. Don't like the idea of him just a corporate greedy guy, or with the backstory that ties him with Reed Richards and Sue Storm, but it wasn't bad in the context of the movie they made. All around, not stupid. Effects held up for the most part too, they could handle the scenes they set out to do.

Saturday - Around town. Weta Guitars, asking if they could build a power supply for my Theremin. (Can't use a regular step-down transformer, it burned it out last time. And they had built me a wall wart last time, which I couldn't find when it came time to pack). There's a club event next week I may play the Theremin at... The shop had a guitar I got my peepers on - a Reb Beach model Ibanez guitar, for only $300 (remember Winger??). Stopped at the Mediterranean Market also.

Evening - met up with Briana, finally. Real nice place she's got, great view of the city w/rooftop courtyard. We met some Weta-type folks at Wellington Brewing Company, watched the final rugby game. Not much of a contest, the All-Blacks won it & sent the Lions home. Didn't seem like much of a party atmo around town, but the separate places were hopping. Then went over to Town Hall for Shihad show, it rocked. 2 opening acts had finished, so we caught Cog's show, and Shihad. It rocked, very loud and great stage act.

Sunday - Wanted to take care of a lot of business in town, some didn't really work out as planned. Thought there was an organ recital at Town Hall, was looking forward to hearing the 2-story pipe organ, but that's next week. There was a chamber recital but didn't seem worth it. Found a farmer's market, but I didn't want to schlep the produce around town. Went through the City Gallery, nice collection, I think all NZ artists, mostly Welly. Spent a lot of time at the library , researching art for my next intended tattoo. Didn't find much at the Central Library,but discovered the Te Papa has a research library, they had the perfect book I was looking for. I want something along the lines of a Balinese gamelan wayang kulit puppet. There are many characters to choose from, I think I'm going to design my own grotesquerie, and instill it with the intricacies found in the leather/wood silhouette carvings.

Then I went to Te Papa, visited the exhibit of the Royal Collection - an assortment of sketches, studies, etc, that have been collected by the royal family for 500 years. Very impressive, fantastic to see. Then I stopped off for groceries, some Indian takeaway, and back to take care of Sunday bizness.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Week of June 27 to July 3

Weekdays - officially in TD this week, had a shot to work on, got a 'TD guide' (ha), Brian, to answer questions and set me in the right direction. Also started working on dev stuff - procedural set building, pretty interesting. Monday & Wednesday soccer, Tuesday touch. No hoops on Thursday - I went on a tour of Weta Workshop just after lunch. Very cool to see real craftsmen at work, very thorough walk-through the shop as well. Oh, the Kong is King production diary this week has a lot of Weta Digital in it, check it out.

Friday - Friday, moved my desk, now I'm up on the Red Floor, in a room with 3 other blokes. I believe this is the first time I've worked in a room with less than, like, 12 people. Window, even... I'll miss the comraderie but it's a nice setup, though really cold. Friday eve was thinking of meeting up with folks at a bar, but I didn't want to go into the city. Big rugby weekend, they shut down Courtenay Place Friday eve to Sunday morning. Went to 'Beijing Restaurant' with Raine and Ben - regular 'Best Chinese' winner - decent food but service was soooo slow.

Saturday - Last day of gym membership, went there then strolled around some of the street party. Went into work for a bit; dropped off last week's DVD's - The Anniversary Party; Winged Migration/Travelling Birds; The Pianist; Jackass the Movie. The evening, headed into town to catch the rugby game & the crowd. Interesting scene - maybe like the Super Bowl meets some street fair. Mostly people milling about the street, but rivals on both sides. Every bar and restaurant was packed. Didn't stay for the bitter end of the game (and 40,000 people pouring out into the street). Pictures from the event now on Flickr. The All-Blacks crushed the Lions once again.

Sunday - Got up in the morning, no gym to go to, went for a bike ride (I did run across the desk clerk from the gym, an American woman, in the crowd at the rugby street party). The hills in the neighborhood are murder on the bicycle. Turned on TV - Live 8 coverage is going on (12 hours worth I think). Amazing that it was pulled together so quickly, it was just a few weeks ago Bob Geldof announced it. And with so many huge acts, and some reunions - The Who, Pink Floyd, um... Spice Girls. Good coverage, they would jump around to the venues and actually show up to 3 songs from some of the bigger names. Then they would have montages of smaller acts, good exposure for them. Bonnie called noonish and we had a good talk about plans, and visions of the future.

Afternoon - Justin's 4th of July party, some folks I maybe don't know too well or just met, but got along with - good group. Mostly people from Weta, mostly Americans (for the 4th). Ate so much, BBQ, salads, desserts, booze. Hanging out till the evening.