Saturday, August 29, 2009

Fan Expo 2009 Day Two

Brian Pitt, Star Trek Fan

What's a fan expo blog entry without writing about the fans?

Day two of the Fan Expo introduced me to Brian Pitt. Fan of the original Star Trek series, he had in his hands a copy of the script the "Menagerie". For you non-Trekker folk this is the rewrite of the first story of the original series ("the Cage"), the episode before the introduction of William Shatner.

Jeffery Hunter played Christopher Pike in "The Cage" the original Star Trek pilot. Deemed too cerebral by NBC rewrites and recasting were made. The pilot got shelved. Later on it resurfaced as the "Menagerie", rewritten with added stuff to include the current cast (at the time) and the only two part episode in the entire run of the original series.

Over the years Brian had collected the various signatures of the cast and crew members from the show. It was probably the most impressive fan collectible I saw over the entire weekend.

While the main focus of any convention (I don't care what people tell you) is to sell stuff, another aspect is to gather fans together to appreciate them. The appreciated fans then spend more money generally but they do get satisfaction out of being appreciated.

There are those actors that show up to sign autographs maybe because their careers are dying and/or their agent forced them to. Then there are the actors that really enjoy being there interacting with the fans. These are the actors that truly make the whole movie biz magical.

Anchor Bay's showcased "Laid to Rest" talent was just that. Incredible talent, really nice down to earth people, great with the fans. In a word "Awesome".

Thomas Dekker from Laid to Rest, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Star Trek Generations (Picard's kid)

Director and special effects make up artist Robert Hall. See the company website, Almost Human, by clicking here

Chrome Skull aka Nick Principe

In another part of the expo there was an actor with a fart machine. Laughing ensued. If you guessed it was Leslie Nielsen you'd be correct. While he might be best known for his performances in Airplane and he Police Squad show and movies (the Naked Gun) he was also in more serious roles acting in TV shows like the Fugitive.

Today, he and other cast members were on a panel to promote the movie Stan Helsing.

Leslie Nielsen at the Stan Helsing Q&A

The Stan Helsing room.

Richard Crouse,Ryan Shore (composer), Leslie Nielsen, Bo Zenga (writer/director), Diora Baird, Desi Lydic

Brian, fan

Tear Gas, skater and fan

Norman, the fan waving

Dave Thomas tells a story that cracks us and the interviewer Richard Crouse up.

Dave Thomas signs Andrew's (a Big Fan) poster

Poster for the Doug and Bob Cartoon

Head shots! Richard and I get free photos from one of the booths promoting Saw VI

Offsring's Art Hindle, Pollyanna McIntosh, Jeff Ketchum (writer), Ryan Shore (composer)

Some zombies

Friday, August 28, 2009

FAN Expo 2009 Day one

The Tron Legacy lightcycle

There was a "TRON Legacy" show and tell in room 717 at the Fan Expo today. The highly secret event required all people going into the presentation room to release their cell phones and cameras to security guards. They took your gear and stashed it into a numbered ziplock bag. A ticket stub with the matching number was then given to you. You were then subjected to a metal detector and a frisk down.

With all that trouble of getting into the room we wondered if it was going to be worth sitting through this thing. We were an hour early and already the room was half full (maybe 200 people so far). The main demographic seemed to consist of people in their 30s. They looked like the comic book welding programmer types. You know, the guys that were losing their hair, are wearing jeans and a T-shirt, with running shoes and sporting a bit of a belly. The only thing missing would be the pager, cell phone, magnetic door pass/ID badge, combo.

These are probably the same guys that played the Tron arcade game when they were kids and watched the world of computer graphics explode over the years. Yeah, thems good people and me with my friends, Norman and Ian, fit right in. It's a difficult concept to think the movie was out 27 years ago. Geez.

The presentation was pretty cool. The audience was shown concept drawings, preliminary computer generated renders, the movie trailer that's available online, a sneak peek at some live sequences taken at Flynn's arcade, and some behind the scenes slow motion footage of the new video game warriors stunt tests. The stunt tests were super cool. I can't really explain it here to do it justice. Just think of guys jumping around (really high) doing somersaults in the air then throwing the Tron donut (yes, the frisbee is sooo 80s) all shot at 500 frames per second (or super slo mo) and without spring boards or wires!!! Just based on that I wanted to go see the movie.

Co-Producer Justin Springer, who was wearing a "Flynn Lives" T-shirt, answered some Q&A at the end. Things we found out... It's true, Daft Punk is going to succeed Wendy Carlos and will be doing the music for the new film. Both Jeff Bridges and Bruce Boxleitner will reprise their characters in the movie. Stephen Lisberger, the original director of Tron, is involved with the new movie (but he's not directing it). Will Journey have music in the movie? We're not sure, although the sneak peak footage of Flynn's had Journey playing in the background. The movie will also be in 3D, the 3D requiring you to wear those glasses!!! wowee!

Tron, when it originally came out in 1982, although it did mediocre at the box office and was boring to other kids, made an incredible impact on me personally. Before my interest in Roller Derby, shooting the glamour of catwalks, the craziness of rock concerts, before my career in photography, there was a time where I was fiddling with the idea of computer animation and making stories. I was 14 and was creating small animated films using Dad's super 8 camera.

Around the same time there were some primitive animations on the PET distributed by Cursor magazine, various programs that you loaded off of cassette tape. Some of the programs included animated adventures of Fuzzy and Wuzzy, two characters made out of astrisks (ascii characters), who went to the moon, hawaii, etc. It was computer animated story telling in it's primitive form.

I liked those little animations and thought it would be great to make some myself if only to get away from the one week turn around of getting the super 8 film developed from Kodak. Which now that I think about it was pretty fast. That included shipping AND the developing time.

Also film cost money. I think it was five dollars for two and a half minutes of film. That was a lot of money back then (to a kid anyway). Computer animation could be played back in real time. You could see what you had done instantly. That was the dream anyway.

In reality the coding took longer than expected and I ended up wondering if it was all worth it. That's when Tron came out. It was a film that justified my obsessive collecting of all and any books or magazines on the subject of 3D computer graphics. From the architectural article of Evans and Sutherland in Scientific American to the IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications magazine with the monthly column by James Blinn. I attempted to collect and absorb all the information I could come into contact with regarding this new form of technology.

I loved computer animation back then, the shiny metallic, plastic looking shapes and images. Movies after Tron seemed to come out one right after another. The Last Starfighter, the Genesis project from the Wrath of Khan... and then the unthinkable happened.

Lawnmower man was released in the theaters, the ugliest form of CG to come out at the time. Everything was busy and over textured. The art of computer animation was becoming stale and crappy. In my head, The people that loved doing the work were being replaced by accountant types creating crap to make a quick buck and cash in on this new trend. There didn't seem to be as much care put into the art anymore.

Attending Siggraph (special interest group on computer graphics - yes that's how nerdy I am) conferences over the years also reflected this. The first year I went to a Siggraph conference was in Dallas. It was 1990. Everyone I met that year seemed super uber keen on whatever they were doing. From small animations, to creating lenticular photos, to 3D knee simulations. You could tell the people loved what they were doing just by the enthusiasm in their voice and the wild arm movement. The high light was getting my foot accidentally stepped on by James Blinn while waiting at the bus stop. (I named my pet hamster after the guy)

As the years passed, the people attending Siggraph changed. The hippie that was coding cool stuff just because he could was being replaced by booth babes and guys in suits. There were less people on the floor that actually did any coding. Seeing the booth babes in the conference was great eye candy even if their main function was to get the nerdy guys interested in whatever the product they were selling no matter how much that product was unknown to them. But for the most part the nerdiness and spirit was gone, there were more sales people concentrating on the dollars, or selling other peoples work. The love for the art of coding and computer graphics was gone.

There was the exception. One company in particular stood out. A company that brought out it's own rendering engine. It was Pixar with renderman. You could tell there was something more going on at that company than just trying to make a quick buck. Attention to detail, custom coding, talking to the people that worked there (people like Dan). It was amazing.

Since then there have been a lot of computer graphics in movies and TV but it's rare to see anything spectacular anymore. We're so used to CG in our movie going entertainment. Terminator 2 was one of the last live action movies that comes to mind where I thought "Oh wow cool and holy crap".

You know a visual effect was great when they over use it in commercials and bastardize it. Visual effects and computer graphics in the hands of accountants and people that really don't understand the use of it. Like morphing instead of using a cross dissolve or the 3D bad boy commercials. If you haven't seen the Bad Boy commercials then consider yourself lucky. Ugh.

Pixar is the only company that brings out films on a regular basis with amazing computer generated graphics. I'm not saying that because of Dan, I'm saying that because the CG looks great and it's well thought out. Great art direction, nice composition, good use of the medium. I love that stuff. Watching those movies brings me back to the early days of Tron and the magic of the 25 cent arcades, back when computer graphics were being done by all the geeky people that loved it so much that they spent hours into the night coding new code. All just to show us something new. That's the magic of it all.

As for Tron Legacy, will I see it? Of course I will. Just for the reminiscing value alone it'll be worth it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Photos and tooth

View from Leona and Adam's apartment

I spent the day working on the final touches for the delivery of Leona and Adam’s photos. That wedding that happened all those days ago. The netbook originally being a band-aid solution to my laptop blowing up had now become my main photo editing machine. Who knew? The finalized sifting and sorting and color correcting, it did it all except maybe a tad slower.

My toothache had become less painful. Oh yeah, did I not mention my tooth started giving me shooting pains yesterday? Uh, no. Probably why there's no blog entry. I was rolling around in pain. Woke up with the lower jaw throbbing. It was hard to think about anything else. Not sure what happened. I was fine when I went to sleep the night before.

Just to be sure it wasn't some random temporary oddity I spent the day seeing if it would go away. Sleeping most of the time and waking up to see if I could eat anything. It didn't go away and I didn't eat much. It was still bothering me today but to a lesser extent. Maybe the nerve that was being triggered was getting dulled. It only annoyed me while eating or talking. I managed to make an appointment with the dentist tomorrow for 3pm. Yay!

I also managed to get over to Leona and Adam's to deliver the photos.

Monday, August 24, 2009

School of Fart

"Uh, hello? This is a design school right?"

On my way home from working on "Turn the beat around" some movie for MTV I noticed this poster on the subway wall. I realize I'm treading the realm of Beavis and Butthead but really, I can't be the only one that sees that, can I?

What kind of makes this more funny, to me, is that it's an advertisement for a design school. How did that get past the uppity ups? Then again it's working. I wouldn't have posted this otherwise. Free advertising for them... maybe they're smarter than we think? Nah.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday Sleep and Chicken Soup

Chicken soup made in a crock pot (slow cooker)

I spent most of the day sleeping. While I woke up at 7:00am, it was still too early to meet everyone for the Detroit/TORD brunch. I needed to do stuff and stay awake for another 3 hours. I jumped on working on some wedding photos to pass the time.

While letting the computer batch process some color correction schemes I set up I went back to bed to lie down. To rest my eyes. Yeah sure. I opened my eyes five hours later at 2pm. I missed the brunch.

The highlight of the day ended up with me going grocery shopping. Specifically to pick up ingredients for making a chicken noodle soup from scratch. It would be another crock pot master piece. Some chicken, celery, carrots, mushrooms, onions, chives, garlic, and pasta all thrown in with some water.

12 hours later... presto chango... chicken soup.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ToRD vs Detroit

MegaBouche waves to the camera

More accurately it's ToRD's CN Power (travel team) vs the Disassembly Line from Detroit. The Detroit girls had just come in from Hamilton where they scrimmaged last night with the Hammer City Roller Girls. Along with them came some of the Hamilton girls to cheer them on.

I should be noted that while small in numbers (and some in size) Hammer City can be pretty vocal and loud when they want to be. Up against the ToRD fans they're like the fans made with the genetic make up of Spartan warriors only in vocal form.

Ivy Rupted alone could take on the whole room by herself. I know. I've seen it done. This is one of the reasons why Hammer City loves her.

AK coaches the Detroit girls

Pre-game warm up.

Girls from the Hammer come to Toronto to cheer on Detroit

The Detroit bench

Cranky Pants gets the crowd going

A whip

A beeramid

D-minus talking to the Hammer City Fans

A pyramid for the Disassembly Line with Ivy on the top.

Dolly Destructo

Candy Crossbones skates the outside around the pack

Me and the super cool Detroit photographer Colin ( tonight's 50/50 draw winner.

Furious George excited about the win.

Final Score
CN Power 122
Disassembly line 90

Friday, August 21, 2009

Queen Street West

Emmanuel aka Motivatorman at Starbucks

Woke up pretty early in the relative scheme of things. Met up with Emmanuel at a local Starbuck’s. When ended up at the trendy coffee place because our usual haunt, the Stem, was closed. Closed why? Don’t know. It seemed to have that under construction look to it as I wandered by.

Bird house? When did that get placed there?

After doing a bit of catch up. I spent a few hours walking down Queen street. It’s been a while since I visited that neighbourhood. There was a bird house added to the local tree stump, a Bad Girls sign, and Pages shutting down.


Pages closing at the end of the month.

Pages is one of those stores that I’d go to look at coffee table type photography books. They also had a great magazine section for fashion, more diverse selection than that of Chapters or Indigo. The books were all 30% off. I saw a think magazine (about $30) covering London fall/winter fashion. I think it included Tyoko, Paris and Milan as well. I missed London Fashion week this year. Looking through the book reminded me of all friends in London I hadn't talked to in a while and the designers collections that I didn't get to photgraph. Like the store closing, it was a bit depressing.

Goat Roti at Coconut Grove

This led me to walk up to the coconut grove. A restaurant that I used to eat at while going to Ryerson. They've moved since then and are located on Dundas just east of University. I ordered the goat roti.

It was a lot softer than I remembered. Still tasty, but soft.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hurricane Bill

Camera color correction set to daylight. This is the actual color of the sky.

Spent most of the day installing photo software on to the netbook. With the laptop in the shop I would quickly get behind on my photo sifting, editing, posting, It’s been two and a half weeks since RollerCon and I’m still sifting through those photos! On top of that there’s still wedding photos from the previous month that I’ll have to deliver soon. (I'm actually surprised Leona hasn't bugged me for them yet)

News about a storm approaching Atlantic Canada by the name of Hurricane Bill was on the television. As we’re not really that close, we’re not close at all to the Atlantic ocean, news of the hurricane is just news. At least until a bunch of clouds descended on to our city showering us with horizontal rain. The Durham region had a tornado touch down causing a bunch of damage. As for us who were living downtown, we experienced really weird lighting.

Pumpkin left out in the horizontal rain

It was like an orange gel had been put over everything. I looked out the window with Martina, my downstairs neighbour, and then went outside just to make sure what I was seeing was correct. It wasn’t some weird glaze that was put on our windows.

It really was yellow/orange, like the sun became a large tungsten light bulb. Pumpkin who had been left out looked pissed off. Soaked to the bone the cat meowed “Why me? “ and then the “Do I get food for experiencing all this?”. At least that’s what I’d imagined he was meowing. I’m no cat whisperer, but the cat seems to have a one track mind.

The lawn is wet

I walked around the front lawn taking photos, then took the cat inside to dry him with a towel, then placed the cat back outside.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Drop off

Roger with his crazy macro lens camera

I finished backing up the laptop and brought it into the Computer Systems Center. It's wasn't my first choice as far as computer stores go as they've done some pretty bad things to me in the past. However they were the only Toshiba authorized repair shop in the city that I could find. (Note: searching the Toshiba online database does not bring up the store - I should have took this as a hint not to bring my laptop there)

My guy behind the desk who took my computer seemed okay. In fact better than okay. After listening to my description of the problem he figured it was possibly a combination of dust build up and the heat of the room that messed up the computer. Since the computer still booted and worked for about 20 minutes he deduced that it was a heat issue. Made sense to me.

I left the computer, much like a parent leaves their toddler at day care for the first time, thinking that the laptop is in good hands and I shouldn't worry.

I wandered over to Monster Records to say "Hi" to Roger.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Laptop Backup

Using the new netbook to back up files from the laptop drive.

Spent the entire day backing up and reorganizing data from the laptop hard drive. Did not see the light of day. Boo.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Big Fat Burrito

Chicken Burrito at Big Fat Burrito

It should be known that before one takes their computer (or in this case laptop) in for repairs one should do as much as possible to back up any data that's on the computer. This way A) the service center can do whatever they want to the computer without you losing data, B) they can't take your data for the use of bad things like identity theft, C) your data doesn't end up on the internet without you knowing about it (like that photo of you drunk at that wedding standing in the washroom with one foot in the toilet - yeah you know what I'm talking about). If that photo makes it to the internet you should get full credit for putting it there not someone else.

The process of back up can be long and tedious. My computer went down a week ago. It's taken me this long to find the time to go to assess what's gone on and visit a computer store. Specifically to get backup drives, memory and other things to swap into the laptop just to make sure everything I can do to fix it or narrow down the problem.

Computer repair places usually charge by the hour and if they don't it's easier for them to know if the memory is bad than just dropping the computer in their laps saying something is wrong.

My visit to Canada Computers was quick. I picked up some replacement parts and went to look for food. I ended up at Big Fat Burrito, picked up a large chicken burrito, then bumped into Nikki from the Death Track Dolls.

Nikki from ToRDs Death Track Dolls

A bumper sticker that made me laugh

After eating the burrito I returned home to spend the rest of the day working on the laptop.