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

Travelling Wilbury Sings of F1

George Harrison's Faster found on YouTube.

Never heard the song before this... not bad. No "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", but not bad. The classic F1 footage helps a lot.

Helmet Tip, Tim Blair.

Update: At the 1:18 mark is a shot of the greatest banned invention in F1 history. A No-Prize to the first person to say what it is!

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"...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 28, 2007

CICADAGEDDON 2007

This whole Brood XIII has been something of a disappointment up through now, truth be told. To date, the only cicada I've seen...
He's eaten by ants later in the show.

...has been this poor example from ep7 of Lucky*Star.

I thought I heard one this evening, but it was only an air conditioner.

More updates from the Cicadageddon 2007 newsdesk as events warrant. Don't hold your breath.

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May 27, 2007

The Order of the Honorary Duck

FOR MERITORIOUS SERVICE to The Pond, I hereby bestow upon Jeff Lawson of Hop Step Jump membership in The Order of the Honorary Duck, with all the rights and glory that brings unto him.

The Official Seal of the Order.  All hail!

Jeff becomes the third member of the Order Of The Honorary Duck, joining only Pixy Misa of Ambient Irony and Don of The Kawaii Menace.

When I set out to create my first AMV, I sent him an e-mail, asking if he'd be willing to be my Technical Guru. He gladly accepted. Henceforth, he replied to every e-mail quickly and intelligently. He never seemed to grumble or complain, even though I'm sure some of my questions were stupid. When it came out that he was going to be moving AND changing jobs, it became even more amazing when I realized he had been doing all this at a rather stressful time of his life.

For all of these reasons, as well as being a Rocket Girl, Jeff Lawson richly deserves induction to the Order of the Honorary Duck.

Thanks, Jeff!

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F1 UPDATE!: MONACO!

Allegedly, there was a Grand Prix today. Let's take a look, shall we?

*ZING WENT THE STRINGS...: ...but YAWN went the F1 UPDATE! crew. Monte Carlo always has the ability to turn into a snoozefest, but this one was particularly bad. How bad?

We fell asleep on the F1 UPDATE! couch.

*SEE CHAMELEON, LYING THERE IN THE SUN. ALL THINGS TO EVERYONE...: McLaren completely dominated the race, sprinting away at the lights. By the time the carnage was over, they had a one minute, five second lead over Felipe Massa in third.

A lap of the course only takes one minute, 15 seconds. Chew on that for a minute... and you STILL won't have caught up with the McLarens.

(note: bonus points to the first reader to tell us what song the headline is from)

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: American Scott Speed. There's been a Scott Speed sighting! Started 18th, finished 9th, and stayed on Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari the entire race. Terrible result for Raikkonen, great for Speed.

*TEAM OF THE RACE: McLaren. They didn't short-fuel, gambling on rain. They came up with the perfect setup for Monte Carlo and just completely dominated the race... and they say they've got still MORE speed in hand. If so, this season is over, so complete was the thrashing.

*MOVE OF THE RACE: There was no passing to be seen today. The MotR will go to Fernando Alonso for being able to get his car off the line when the lights go green. By the end of the first lap, he had 1.75 seconds in hand and the race was over.

Yeah, it was that bad.

*MOOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE: There were no stunning examples of bad driving, so we give the Mooooo-oove to Team Spyker, just because.

*SELECTED DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE: more...

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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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F1 Quals: Monte Carlo!

It was McLaren's finest hour... or was it?

It was Ferrari's darkest hour... or is it?

Alonso and Hamilton are 1-2 on the grid for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, but the team may have out-thought themselves. With a big threat of rain in the air, and a few drops appearing at the beginning of Q3, Hamilton and Alonso appeared to go out with a light fuel load, as they were ripping off quick laps from the very start of the session. No fuel burn-off stints for the 'Glare with Wheels' today.

If the rain HAD come, they would have been in a perfect situation: on the front of the grid, with the sort of fuel load that may call for a three-stop race... when everybody else will be heavy with a two-stop load, yet forced by their tires to make three stops (rain is expected on Sunday, and rain tires don't usually last as long at Monaco as they do everywhere else).

But the rain didn't come. They short-fueled for nothing. Yes, they own the first row, but now they HAVE to pray for rain tomorrow, otherwise they dinked themselves... an extra stop for fuel at Monaco is tantamount to suicide.

Ferrari, on the other hand, had a miserable day. Kimi Raikkonen never made it out of Q2, due to a broken front suspension, seemingly caused by the front right wheel milling away one of the arms (that's the problem with Monaco; some of the turns are so tight, the teams have to manufacture special suspensions just to allow the cars to make the Hairpin). Result: when Kimi got a smidge too much curb, it snapped like a twig, and the car came to a stop when he couldn't make the turn at Rascasse... just like Parky Schumacher last year. Oops.

Felipe Massa, on the other hand, ended up P3, which had to be a disappointment to the team, as they've held every pole previously this year. However, they probably have more fuel on board than the McLarens... IF the rain holds off, Massa looks to be in the catbird seat.

The big surprise is P4... Giancarlo Fisichella in the Renault. Far and away the best qualifying position for the team this year, and it's possible that they're starting to come to grips with whatever has bedeviled the chassis prior to this.

The rest of the lineup:
5. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1:16.439
6. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1:16.784
7. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW 1:16.832
8. Robert Kubica Poland BMW 1:16.955
9. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda 1:17.498
10. Jenson Button Britain Honda 1:17.939
11. Alexander Wurz Austria Williams-Toyota 1:16.662
12. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:16.703
13. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota 1:16.988
14. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Renault 1:17.125
15. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Ferrari No Time
16. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull-Renault 1:17.204
17. Anthony Davidson Britain Super Aguri-Honda 1:18.250
18. Scott Speed USA Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:18.390
19. Adrian Sutil Germany Spyker-Ferrari 1:18.418
20. Ralf Schumacher Germany Toyota 1:18.539
21. Takuma Sato Japan Super Aguri-Honda 1:18.554
22. Christijan Albers Netherlands Spyker-Ferrari No Time

Monaco is always a fun one, but with rain in the forecast? Good times, good times.

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May 25, 2007

Welcome to Monte Carlo!

Ever wonder what it looks like to drive a lap or two at Monaco? Well, here's your chance to ride along with Ferrari's Felipe Massa as he does a 1.5 laps during practice at last year's Grand Prix!

Just click here.

The video starts as Massa exits Mirabeau and begins to head downhill into the Lowes Hairpin (make sure to watch his hands). Be amazed that anybody can drive fast into, through, and out of the tunnel (it's bright/it's dark/it's bright again). He crosses the start/finish line at about :53.5 seconds. The first turn after that is Sainte Devote, where many cars go to die, and then the track starts to head back up hill.

Oh, and by the way... 57 gearshifts per lap, times 78 laps, equals 4446 shifts per race. Think the gearboxes get a workout here?

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May 23, 2007

F1 Tracks: A Discussion

So Steven was talking about his initial forays into the world of F1 ("Join us, it's all right...") and commenting on the tracks as shown at Formula1.com, the official website for F1. So let's listen in on him and his readers, shall we?

"Monaco is run on city streets, which is part of the charm I gather."

Indeed, Monaco is the only F1 course that runs on city streets (Australia theoretically could be called a street circuit, as it's run on the roads in Albert Park, but it really isn't a 'street circuit'). The track is essentially the same as it was 40 years ago; oh, there's been a chicane added, and they rebuilt the pit lane last year, but for all intents and purposes it's the same track that James Garner ran on in Grand Prix.

In the comments to "F1 On Speed!", Steven says
"Also, that sure is one wicked turn at Loews."
Looks placid, doesn't it?  Heh...

The Lowes Hairpin is the tightest turn in F1, if not all of auto racing, actually being greater than 180 degrees. F1 (and GP2, the feeder league for F1) cars are modified specifically for Lowes, as the usual amount of wheel lock won't allow the car to make the turn. THEN, the teams have to make further adjustments to the suspension, otherwise the wheel rim would mill away the standard F1 car suspension while they were making the turn. Throw in the altitude change (maybe 30, 35 feet from top to bottom) and you've got a beast of a turn.

"The course is surprisingly straight, all told, which means that it will tend to reward engine power. I think I'm going to have to look at some of the other courses, which I bet are more curvy."

Which tells the value of an overhead map. There are practically NO straight spots on the Monaco track, as a glimpse at this satellite map of the track will show. Monaco is actually the slowest track of the F1 season, and rewards handling over raw speed. more...

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F1 on SPEED!!!

Ah, Monaco... the crown jewel of the F1 calendar, the world's center of glitz and glamour. And the World's Fastest Circus returns once again to race through the streets. Nowhere else can you be so close to the action. One of the world's legendary tracks; Indianapolis, Daytona, The Nordschleife of the Nurburgring, Le Mans... and Monaco.

And this week, F1 is there... and SPEEDChannel will be covering it!

First up, is Thursday practice from 7am-830am. Please note the day change, as Monaco doesn't allow practice on Friday, probably to let the megawealthy get home (or get out of town).

Friday, however, we DO get "F1 Plus", the race roundtable with the Legendary Announce Team, at 11pm to midnight. What with the goings-on at Spain, it should be a lively conversation.

Saturday brings us Quals LIVE from 7am-830am. Last year gave rise to the nickname "Parky" for one M. Schumacher... will Felipe Massa earn the nickname Parky Jr? Watch and find out!

Sunday is race day! But first, watch the GP2 Feature Race from 5am to 630am... it's a fair guess that one or two of the kids will make it to F1 next year, so lets make fun of them now!

The big boys come out to race from 630am to 9am, and SPEED brings it to us LIVE, with a replay from 6pm to 830pm.

So that's it! Monaco... is the Harbor going to be in play this year?

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May 22, 2007

Day of the Brood...

The day began normally, but the signs were there...
Oh, how we were decieved... more...

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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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The mind reels*

John Cleese has been 'honored' by a small town in New Zealand. I can only imagine how little he cares... though I'd be willing to bet he'd like the sign.


*actually, these days the mind mp3s...

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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

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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...

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May 17, 2007

Can't Blog, Clowns Will Get Me.

Still working on the AMV, filing off the rough edges. Also long hours at the Duck U. Bookstore. Sleep is for the weak. Will be back soon... why not go read Jeff Lawson (who's about to start a new job) or Brickmuppet? They're really good.

If you can't wait for the AMV to finish, here's something to whet your appetite:

...coming soon to a computer monitor near you...

UPDATE: Greatest. Commercial. EVER.

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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...

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May 13, 2007

F1 UPDATE!: SPAIN

After that short (four week) digression, it's time for F1 UPDATE! Read on, brave stalwart...

*LEAD ON, MACDUFF: No passing at all. Winner runs away at the start and is never on screen. Most exciting race of the season. Only in F1.

*...AND A CHILD SHALL LEAD THEM: Hi, do you know me? I'm the youngest driver in the history of F1 to ever lead in the championship points race. I've been on the podium of every F1 race I've ever been in, but some people don't know my face. I'm Lewis Hamilton, and if F1 was based in the USA instead of Europe, I'd be more famous than God...

*OH, DID ANYBODY NOTICE...?: OMGWTFSA07CP1!!!!

*DRIVER OF THE RACE: Felipe Massa deserves this award for getting the Spanish Grand Slam (pole, fast lap of race, race victory). We just hate giving it to someone who was never really challenged, and was even able to turn the RPMs on his engine down 10 laps before the end of the race. So instead, we'll give it to Nick Heidfeld for being able to drive one entire lap without a wheel nut on his BMW's front right tire... and managing to keep the thing on the axle. (Pssst! You can't give it to someone that didn't finish the race! Oh. Then it's Massa.)

*TEAM OF THE RACE: Was there ever any doubt? Congratulations to F1 UPDATE!'s favorite team, SuperAguri, for earning their first ever championship point!

*MOVE OF THE RACE: Around lap 20, Vitantonio Liuzzi had some sort of problem that would lead to his retirement. He managed to get himself into the pitlane entry, but at a very slow pace. At the Barcelona track, the pitlane entry has a blind turn. David Coulthard's Chin came swinging into the pits at speed, came upon Liuzzi's crippled car, somehow managed to avoid ramming either the Toro Rosso OR the wall, AND still managed to slow down to pitlane speed. For this example of car-handling skill, and because there were no on-track examples of car-handling skill, DC'sC gets the MotR!

*MOOOOOOOO-OOVE OF THE RACE: The polar opposite of the Move of the Race, the Mooooooo-oove celebrates the bovine lurking in every F1 team. We here at F1 UPDATE! were fearing that we had to award this to the pit crews of BMW and Ferrari for their inept actions (BMW screwed up Nick Heidfeld's race by letting him leave BEFORE his front-right tire was actually attached to the car, Ferrari nearly caused a disasterous pit-lane fire by letting Massa go before the fuel hose was removed from his car; as it was, he drove away with a few gallons blazing on the side of his Ferrari). Fortunately, however, the Honda Boyz saved our bacon when Jensen Button came out of the pits just behind his teammate Rubens Barrichello. Going into turn one, Barrichello slowed for the turn, and Button, distracted by something bright and shiny on the side of the track, ran into the back of him, launching his front wing into orbit. WELL DONE, lads, well done... a Mooooo-oove well-deserved!

*DRIVER QUOTES OF THE RACE: more...

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OMGWTFSA07CP1!!!

THEY DID IT!!!!!

FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP POINT!!!!

~SUPERSATO!!!~
HE DID IT!!!!

EVERYBODY DANCE!!!

PARTY TIME!!! WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

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