Thursday, March 30, 2023

Tales From The Loop


This is a wonderful, slow, thoughtful, cinematic, short Sci-Fi series.  Season 1 is 8, 1 hour episodes. It came out in 2020, and it makes me wonder why I didn't know about it till a week ago.  Except it may have come out 3 years ago, but I have only had PRIME streaming for 12 months, so really wasn't watching for that kind of thing at the time.

Based on an Artbook and a short book of connected stories WINESBERG OHIO.

There are a fair few art samples from the book online.   

Realistic, current day rural images with adults and children, with random mysterious technology scattered about.  That is what the series looks like. An alternate history "now", but with old style telephones, vinyl records and CRT TVs.

It is all about the characters, and wonderfully done.  

There seem to be those that love it, or the frantic First Person Shooter fans that think "nothing happens" in it. There was a terrible review in THE GUARDIAN by someone that should have reviewed  THE PERIPHERAL instead.  

TALES FROM THE LOOP is slow, but it is also glorious.  A very interesting take for a scifi show.  Don't know if there will be a second series or not, but I don't think that matters. 

I did consider buying the artbook.  Haven't.  Apparently there is little text story associated with the images.  Mainly didn't as the show is much more than the artbook, and I am after more "inspiration" for my own art rather than others artbooks. 

It is really about the characters and what happens to them. How they change, how things change. But it is also gorgeous to look at. The Cinematography really is next level. And here is an article in American Cinematographer on the pilot.

So is it something I can be inspired by for my own comics? 

Yes. Yes indeed.  That there isn't ACTION but is thoughtful, is really appealing.

The book was crowd funded and there is also now a board game.  Simon sure leveraged what he did, and get others in on his world.  He has done 2 other related books now too. 

Friday, March 24, 2023



When I saw Everything Everywhere All at Once I picked up this Flyer for this Bowie Film. Went and saw it first session 9:05AM on opening day here, on the largest screen in DOLBY ATMOS.

There were 8 of us in the Cinema.  It was a Friday morning, work day, only had Japanese Subtitles for a film in English in the Japanese suburbs of Kyoto. Had expected more people.

Bowie died January 2016 age 69. I hadn't been a huge fan, but his death was probably the first celebrity death that had any real impact on me.  More so than the passing of Jon Lord of Deep Purple, a group I was a huge fan of, but I didn't really know much at all about the person that was Jon.

It was probably because Bowie had been around since I started High School. A friend in Art Class was a huge fan. His stuff was on the radio, He was interviewed a lot.  Around 1983, the time of "China Girl" and "Lets Dance" he was a fairly regular guest on local TV, he must have been living in Australia somewhere at the time. I was working at Fairlight Instruments Pty Ltd, and music and music production  was a major thing in my life. I only ever bought a "best of" album of his stuff around that time.

After his death, there were a few "Life of Bowie" documentaries on TV. I watched them all.  I remember a school friend being interviewed, probably the friend that had taken out Bowie's eye,  and he said he told David once "I don't think your mother likes me" and David had answered "she doesn't like anyone, me included".   David had a very unloving upbringing. 

MOONAGE DAYDREAM narration is mostly David Bowie's answers to interview questions over his career.  In the choices writer, director, editor Brett Morgen makes in his film, David doesn't say his mother was unloving and uncaring, but says a more subtle something along the lines of "families can have pain”.  His story about his half brother Terry speaks volumes,  The film isn't a documentary because of these choices, I think,  but tries to give the EXPERIENCE of a few parts of Bowie's life and career through a mix of images, movie clips, stock footage, art, sculpture, sound, music, concert footage and spoken word.  

Instead of telling and showing you about Bowie, you get a feeling about Bowie. 

The live footage is mostly early Bowie too. I hadn't heard the track MOONAGE DAYDREAM till last week myself.  The film also doesn't include most of his most popular music.  

I didn't know that David had never "bought" a house. Instead preferring to live in a different country every few years. Looking for inspiration in his great adventure. Never settling and being partially "isolated".  Part of his changing public persona as well I guess.  I don't remember this being in any of the TV documentaries I saw.

Long time collaborator TONY VISCONTI did the music for the film. But in the film, he isn't mentioned, only Brian Eno is. The music has taken stems from Bowie albums and live concerts and remixes made for some sequences in the film. 

David did painting and sculpture. I didn't know that, and hadn't seen any of his works till this film. 

Calling it an EXPERIENCE is apt.  

I thought maybe it was a bit long as some sequences were repeated.  I need to see it again. Maybe not all in one sitting though. 

UPDATE: April 3 2023
News today of Ryuichi Sakamoto passing today aged 71.  They were both in Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence. But I have to say I never had any Yellow Magic Orchestra albums or have really heard much of his early music when I lived and grew up in Australia.  I also hadn't heard of Jean Michel Jarre till I started work in 1981 at Fairlight Instruments.  

I think the Australian radio I heard, and the music TV shows I watched almost completely ignored much of the electronic music world when I was growing up, and mostly looked to UK pop/rock anyway.  I did know Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk, but this was from a German school friend.  

The music environment I grew up in looks so limited now...

We can be found at ArtAndTechnology

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

How It Started. How It Ended. A Digital Car Illustration


Haven't put this as a sample on our website yet. Usually do that some months after it is finished.

But this doesn't show the whole illustration, just a piece of the starting sketch and end painting. BTW: The final doesn't actually have a SMILEY face on it.

This was done as a digital comic book painting.  Still do the lines as vector curves, but then mostly paint it with a digital airbrush. The look is more detailed than being colored in the vector drawing program.  

I like how it turned out.

At the start there is always anxiety as to how to compose the image, but that is very much related to what reference images the customer can send.  This is slightly cartooned, but unless you actually know cars, you probably wouldn't notice that.  Like the engine here is maybe some 40% larger than reality. The beer and hand has a forced perspective on it, making them larger than reality.  

There is a point about 80% done, where all the significant things are done, where I am much more relaxed about the finishing touches, and put it aside to be able to see it with fresh eyes. 

Leaving it aside for a couple of days, flipping it horizontally are both tricks I need/use that fool the brain into seeing it "for the first time", so you can see the things that are wrong and need to be fixed. 

Having the time at the end to not look and work on it is really important for me.  Being rushed without that opportunity just doesn't result in the best work.

We can be contacted at ArtAndTechnology

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Everything Everywhere All at Once

Went to the cinema for the first time since DUNE Oct 2021.  Everything Everywhere All at Once seemed to warrant it. 

I first heard about it as guitarist Mattias IA Eklundh mentioned he loved it during an interview he gave end of 2022. I love what Mattias does and where he is coming from.  I Looked it up then and thought, even though it looks like a Kung Fu movie, there must be more to it than that.

It started in Japan first week of March 2023 with Japanese subtitles.  4 days after opening there were 4 people in the cinema with me this Monday morning.

I will probably be thinking about this for a while, and add to this post.  Feel some inspiration from the first MATRIX movie. The "Kung Fu stuff", and "becoming an expert in the blink of an eye" are significant to both movies.

The Chinese couple, and Father alternate between English and Chinese so here you get Japanese subtitles. Happy to say could read many, but missed some. Key stuff is all in English though. James Hong and Jamie Lee Curtis (almost unrecognizable) significant.

On Twitter when I mentioned I might go see it, I got the reply, "love it",  "It’s an absurdist, multidimensional, string theory, sentimental painting in film form".   

After seeing it this morning, my first words are more like "The choices you make, relationships & family.  Kindness goes a long way..."  The way "the absurd" is a fundamental element is clever too. 

A very interesting film. Definitely not rehashing what you have seen before.  

Before I went I checked IMDB and there were a few 10/10 reviews.  But as anytime there is a none white protagonist in a western movie, like a recent Pixar Animation, or the Little Mermaid Remake, there are those wanting to bury it in bad reviews. Don't they have something worthwhile to do?

Will think about this one for awhile. It has heart.

Friday, March 3, 2023

Fixing a Cheap Mobile JELLY CASE

 I had to get a Japanese Phone after moving to Japan, but still find my old SAMSUNG J3 useful as a tiny pocket tablet around the home over WiFi.  It is much smaller, lighter and easier to type on than my AQUOS sense 4 lite. The J3 is ancient Android 5, so most apps have stopped working, unless you go back to the initial version. Jailbreaking it may be something to do in the future to put a current version on it. 

The keyboard on the new AQUOS is terrible and so error prone, even when extending the blank areas around each key of the Android keyboard app. The screen is just a bit too narrow. So the J3 still has its uses.

Always kept a JELLY CASE on the J3, but they eventually rot, crack, and fall apart. This is the 3rd JELLY CASE for the J3 I have bought. This new one was 600円 on eBay, free postage from China.

After putting it on, I immediately noticed it was faulty around the buttons on the sides of the phone. Couldn't actually turn the phone on and off, and it seemed to randomly press the buttons.

Same deal for the two volume buttons on the left side. Strange I thought, as this is not right for these cases at all. So looking closely at inside the button area of the case, you see there is a block of additional material on the inside of each case button that really shouldn't be there to operate like the previous JELLY CASES did.

So with a few minutes with a small engraving tool in a Dremel tool, I removed this  ADDITIONAL BUTTON MATERIAL from inside each case button.  

It works properly now.  

I wonder if this is a batch of test cases, or the tooling used to make it is multipurpose, and the additional material was incorrectly put in this batch of J3 cases, and the duds were sold off cheap. 

Will never know, but after my modification, I have the phone in a case again. 

So all good

Thursday, March 2, 2023

Urasawa Naoki's Manben Neo: (18) Shimamoto Kazuhiko


Manben? Urasawa Naoki, himself a well known comic artist, took the first character of 漫画 MANGA (comic) put together with the first character of 勉強 Benkyo (Study) to create the name  漫勉 MANBEN.  You will not find it in a dictionary. 

Urasawa Naoki's Manben is an NHK TV series of the behind the scenes techniques of comic artists. Much focus is given to their technique of penciling and inking. How they got to be an artist, their storyboarding and cover artwork techniques are covered to some extent in each episode too. 

Just love this series. I have always drawn and done illustrations and cartoons, much in just black ink, but have only in the last few years been actually writing and drawing my own comics, so I appreciate everything this show offers. Very educational. 

For some of the artists Manben has covered, I have bought a book of their work to look at it in more detail. In the case of Nagayasu Takumi (ながやす巧) I have bought all his current work and one of his earliest.  I treat these as encouragement to read/study more Japanese too.

The latest broadcast Manben Neo (episode 18) was on comic artist Shimamoto Kazuhiko (real name Hidehiko Tezuka). Like most of these artists, I had never heard of him.

It mostly focused on his "most popular" manga アオイホノオ,  (Aoi Honoo), a comedy.  I have since bought vol 1.  It was 16円 second hand and in perfect condition.

The first page of the book says "This is a work of fiction", but it is very close to Shimamto's early experience at art school in Osaka, where he thought he would become an Animator but as luck would have it a classmate was Anno Hideaki  (庵野 秀明). Anno is best known for creating the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion.  

The protagonist in the book is named Honoo Moyuru,( rather than Shimamoto Kazuhiko )  and after comparing his flipbook work (below right), to Hideaki (below left)

Is completely shocked 

and decides, in despair,  he will just have to become a lowly comic book artist instead. He just isn't good enough.

The book is a comedy, where things don't go so well for the protagonist and he finds life tough as a manga artist.  The book has been an award winner though for Shimamoto.

And the picture below shows Shimamoto with Anno. They did go to Art school together.

A few interesting things in this particular episode was that now, Shimamoto actually took over being the boss of his father's DUSKIN (a franchise cleaning company), without giving up comics. Also that his storyboards have almost no artwork in them. His pencil art is done a panel at a time, before he inks a panel.
But "the big secret he gave away",  was the lower eye lid is where much of the facial expression comes from.  I don't think that is a secret. 

He has 3 assistants and they looked to be all computer based, so he has a hybrid production system. 

This was the 4th episode this year. They only had 4 episodes last year so that maybe it for new Manben  in 2023. This year they were broadcast at 1:00AM Friday night which seems kind of an unkind time slot to me. I record them to watch. They are also on NHK+, the paid streaming service, so you can watch them any time.  The NHK page is here. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Apple Store Kyoto


My wife's 7 year old 10" iPad had become almost useless. The System had become so big, there wasn't any room to run most apps, backup or upgrade. Line still worked though, and what she used it for most. It had originally been a gift my daughter and youngest son had bought her as a birthday gift.  I hadn't been involved with setting it up or anything.  She has really become quite dependent on her iPad, even without understanding passwords, pin numbers and APPLE ID.

I thought getting a new 10.2 256GB 9th Gen iPad would be useful to her for the next 5 or so years, so yesterday we went to the APPLE STORE KYOTO and I bought one for her and have them help her, with me watching,  move the old iPad data to the new iPad.  It is also her birthday Sunday, so again it is a gift.

I had a Mac Performer 640 decades ago, and have used an iPad the company had at my last tech gig at, but I never had the passwords or such required to keep recent Apple gear updated and running. The business owner did that.

The Gion Shijo Station on the Keihan line takes about 20minutes to get to for us from home. So close. From there we walked the 15+ minutes west. We had never been in this area before so it was interesting and it was a nice fine day. The Apple store is in the expensive shopping district with GUCCI, ROLEX and the like stores around it.  So that is how APPLE and its customers see themselves now. Quite the status symbol Apple gear must be. In Sydney we visited the Chatswood Apple Store which was the closest to where we lived. That is where I bought my daughter her MacBook when she started university some 14 years ago. Chatswood I wouldn't say is an area as exclusive as Kyoto Shijo-Dori is.   

My wife had made an Apple Store Purchase appointment online for 11:00AM. It ended up taking around 3 hours to buy and transfer the old iPad data. All the staff seemed so young.  Spent the first 2 hours standing at the iPad table on the 1st floor, as there are no chairs or stools.  To do the final data transfer we went to the second floor, where there were tables with stools.  That was tiring. Far more so than the walk.

There are like 4 Americans and many more Japanese Apple staff there. One American was the helper to transfer the final data to the new iPad. My wife was really impressed with his Japanese.  Would have to be good to be a Salesman and support guy in a Japanese store selling and explaining to Japanese customers. I guess they must have spent a lot of time here in their school years, but I don't know.  So yes, their Japanese is better than mine, but I spent my years in locked away in Research & Development.   

Anyway, we got out of the Apple store about 2:30PM and wanted lunch. We ended up at an Italian place in the 7th floor restaurants of Takashimaya Department Store, on the way walking back to Gion-Shijo Station.  Lunch set was ¥2,200. Expensive but was REALLY GOOD.  Salad, spaghettis, Panna Cotta desert and Lavazza coffee.

So an expensive day for me in a place we wouldn't normally go. 

A few Foreign, unmasked tourists walking around Shijo-Dori. Must have near by hotels.  But it was the first day Chinese tourists have had restrictions of entry to Japan removed, so it should be far more crowded in the coming weeks.  Good for business in Kyoto, but not so much for people that live there trying to get things done.