May 31, 2007

Melancholy DVD

Got my SE Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya DVD 1 box on Tuesday, and while I don't have the time to do a full review of it at the moment, I will mention a few things:

1) The dub is, quite possibly, the worst professional job I've ever heard. see below for updated information.
2) Creditless OP/ED for Episode 00? Gosh, thanks Bandai!
3) Goodbye, "time travellers" and "sliders," hello "future men." I swear, why don't they just hire fansubbers?
4) It feels wrong to be watching the shows in chronological order. The series makes more sense that way, I'll admit, but it just isn't right.
5) The video quality is stunningly good. The Pond's tv isn't the greatest, but there wasn't the slightest hint of color bleed, pixel crawl, or anything like that. I know it's computer animated, digital master and all that, but it still surprised the heck out of me how good it was.
6) The box is great!
7) The hairband made me chuckle.

More later, perhaps with photos.

UPDATE: Okay, I've watched the first two episodes (not episode 00) using the dub, and have changed my opinion somewhat. Only half of the cast is miserable... hey, it's a start.

Kyon, voiced by Crispin Freeman (who's done so many VA roles that it's impossible to list them all), is... acceptable enough. A little more snark would go a long way, though.

Wendee Lee's Haruhi comes off more than a little stilted; she sounds like a cross between a valley girl and a Brooklyn taxi driver.

It's when you get to Mikuru (Stephanie Shea) and Yuki (Michelle Ruff) that everything goes ass over teakettle. Mikuru's voice is even more annoying than the original, so incredibly high-pitched that my neighbor's dog started whining in pain. Yuki, on the other hand, comes off as a Hot Topix-wannabe punk; "whatever" should not be passing through her lips, but there it is.

Special mention should be made of Bridget Hoffman's rendition of Asakura... it's the perfect example of someone mailing in their performance. Yeesh... if she was a major character, the pain would be too much to bear. Learn to act. Please.

On the plus side, the dub script is much better than the sub. Time travellers is here, and while many of the jokes and one-liners are 'Americanized', they do work. I didn't want to gouge my eardrums out with a pencil... that's more than I can say about most of the dubs I've heard. Change the grade from a low 'F' to a middlin' 'C'.

Would have been nice if Haruhi's VA actually sounded like, y'know, a teenager (or something close!), instead of a 52 year old woman trying to act teenagerish.

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May 29, 2007

"...Angel" Update

I'll fully admit that this post is nothing more than self-trumpet-blowing.

Every week, a list is created by AMV.org, called the "Top Star List." This takes every AMV that's been given any 'stars' for the past week, and ranks them by "score", and "stars" and total stars earned.

I searched all vids that earned more than 20 stars for the week of 5/21 - 5/27, and what came up?

150 "...Angel."
Wonderduck ( Wonderduck) 3.68 3.67 21

In less than two days, "...Angel." came up as the 150th ranked vid with more than 20 stars. I'll take that, I think. It's also averaging a 3.68 out of 5.00, which is a perfectly good score for a first video.

Thank you, everybody!

Head... swelling...

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May 26, 2007

The Kanon Project, Update #6: "...Angel." is RELEASED!

It's now official...
It's finally here!
...has gone gold!

If you're a member of AMV.org, the 43mb file can be found and downloaded HERE.

If you're NOT a member, then Jeff Lawson has been kind enough to host a copy over at Hop Step Jump, where he also has a very kind blogpost on the video as well.

It's been quite the project, making this video. From the moment it first jumped to life in my head, to today around 330pm Pond Time, it's about nine weeks or so.

I started out with no clue how to use Premiere, or for that matter, how to use any sort of real video editing software (I had played with Windows Movie Maker a couple of times, and MGI Videowave 4, which was such a discouraging program that I wanted to take the cd-rom it was on and go target-shooting).

But even before that, I had to learn how to use VirtualDub, so as to be able to take the beautiful RAWs (from l33t-raws) of Kanon 2006 and chop them into workable clips. I made a couple of fundamental mistakes in so doing, both of which would bite me on the tailfeathers down the road...

THEN, I had to learn the ins-and-outs of Premiere. Not just the simple placing and trimming of clips; that's relatively straightforward. No, it's things like the settings for output, what each transition does (and how), opacity, running clips backwards, and just about anything else you can think of... that's what I had to learn.

Unfortunately, on my first attempt, I got SO confused with what I was doing that I burned the whole Premiere project to the ground and started over. Turns out that might have been the best thing for me, as I then had a 'trial run' under my belt. Things got a lot smoother from then on. Except for one of those two mistakes I mentioned earlier popped up, and caused me to tear my feathers out. I had consistently made my source clips too 'tight'. This made it difficult to manipulate them as I needed to, and in some cases forced me to go back and recreate the clips from the original RAWs... and I didn't take notes on where things were. Oops.

Of course, it helped that whenever I had a question (or two/four/whatever), I had a tech guru, in the form of Jeff Lawson of 'Hop Step Jump!' Jeff, who's made a slew of AMVs, was able to explain the answers to all my questions... in English, no less, as opposed to technicalese. He took the time to do all this, even though he was about to change jobs and move to a new abode. I can't thank him enough for that.

Just as everything was going smoothly, and I was nigh on finished with "...Angel", the second mistake appeared, and caused a three-day delay. I had created the clips at a frame rate of 29.97 per second (NTSC standard)... and Premiere hated trying to output at that. So much so that some clips (like the last 30 seconds of the video, and the credit sequence, and even some bits of the audio tracks) just... disappeared. I'd render the video, and those clips would just show up as black space.

Not knowing that 29.97fps was bad (and Premiere listed it as an option for output, though that might just have been because that's what my clips were at), I had no way of diagnosing the problem... and because my tech guru was halfway across the country, he had no idea I had used a wonky frame rate to solve my problem, either. It was just luck that I stumbled on the solution at random.

Then it went out to the betatesters; the Lord of the Mu/MeeNuVians hizzownself and the president of the Duck U. Anime Club, who is known as 'The Accountant', gave me good feedback, and Jeff sent me a two-page document going scene-by-scene (more or less). All of their input was incredibly valuable, and led to a revision, which then got revised again into the final version you can download today.

*phew*

Now, about the video itself. If you've seen Kanon 2006, you know how it ends. But what happens to Yuuichi, Ayu and Nayuki AFTER the show is over? Well, "...Angel" could be one of the possibilities. Yuuichi and Ayu have split up for one or another reason, and both have hooked up with other people (Yuuichi with Nayuki, much to her delight, and Ayu with... well, you'll find out). Then one night, the phone rings...

If you've never seen Kanon 2006, it'll all make sense, I think. I've shown it to three people who've never seen the show, and they got it right off the bat.

It's not a groundbreaking video by any means. There's no new techniques or startling special effects... just (I think) good storytelling. And without that, all the SFX in the world couldn't make this AMV work. The only SFX I could use would be to composite Ayu into one particular scene; it could be done, with the right programs, but it'd be gloss, and it's not vital to the piece at all.

If you do watch "...Angel", think about leaving a comment at AMV.org or here, or at Jeff's place. If you don't like it, PLEASE leave a comment here, or at Jeff's place, or at The Org. I won't be able to improve without critiques.

Total time involved? Probably in the vicinity of 120-150 hours, maybe as high as 180. For every night I didn't work on it, there were nights that I put 5 or 6 hours in. As I told Jeff, "I don't care if it wins awards... I just don't want it to suck."

It doesn't.

So what are you waiting for? Download it already!

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May 21, 2007

Ladies And Gentlemen!!!

May I introduce...
Gainax.  Oy.

...the stupidest mecha design I have ever seen!

from Tenga Toppen Gurren Lagann, ep1

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May 19, 2007

Sometimes...

Sometimes, it's really good to be an anime fan.

How many dreams have I had like this...?

from the final episode of Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny

Posted by: Wonderduck at 08:10 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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May 18, 2007

What's Wonderduck Watching?

It's the burning question that's on everybody's mind, I'm sure: What's Wonderduck Watching?

Well, if you click below, you'll find out! Lots of pictures, so dialup beware! more...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 09:25 PM | Comments (14) | Add Comment
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May 15, 2007

Explosive Corrolary

Steven says:

20070514.1140: From the "Everything I needed to know I learned from anime" file: Any robot or machine which is damaged enough so that it can no longer function will explode in a tremendous fireball.

The corrolary to this statement is quite clear:

Everything explodes. Everything.

tick... tick... tick... tick... tick...
Be afraid. Be very afraid...

Posted by: Wonderduck at 11:23 AM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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May 11, 2007

The Kanon Project: Update #5

The AMV has gone to the betatesters. I've already gotten one fast response back, and the reaction was favorable... and I'm relieved. I've been staring at the thing for so long, I may have lost track if it's good or not.

So far, so good...

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May 06, 2007

The Kanon Project: Update #4

Big McLargeHuge breakthroughs recently! For some reason, I've found myself working backwards from the end, and that worked well enough that I managed to finish the entire second half, and the first quarter, of the thing.

That's right, I've only about one minute or so of video left to do... and that (I hope) will be done tonight.

Then I need to render it, watch the resulting video (with all the transitions and filters in place and active; you can't do that with the version of Premiere I've got), go back in and make any changes to obvious problems. Then it's re-render, DivX encode, and off to the beta-victims!!!

Just in time, too: it's buyback week at Duck U. and busy will be my middle name for the next seven days...

UPDATE: First draft is DONE. Betavictims, prepare yourself, you should be getting a DivX version in a few days...

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May 04, 2007

Hold Onto Your Hats...

... The Agent Aika prequel fansub is out. I took a quick glance at it, just to make sure the d/l was good... and boy, does it look BAD.

I'll be reviewing it later. Gleefully!

Posted by: Wonderduck at 12:40 PM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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