Watching 300 on the big screen was a pretty intense experience. ( Yes, I know, Singapore had already screened it during the last ice-age, but in Japan the folks so need their subtitles. ) I don’t think I’ve felt so exhilarated watching a film ever since Ang Lee’s Hulk took to the skies, and that’s a full 4 years ago. I guess Japan makes up for its slow releases by printing really nice Pressbooks ( pictured below ) neat little booklets that feature the film’s synopsis, photographs, etc. As far as I know Japan is the only country that has movie Pressbooks.

While we are on the subject of 300, let’s talk alittle about Gerald Butler ( King Leonidas ). Did you know that he once appeared in 007’s Tomorrow Never Dies ? ( the one with Michelle Yeoh as the Bond Girl ) He was a crew member on a battleship and appears on screen for about one second and had a one liner – blink, scratch your nose, and you’ll miss him. Even the radar he was reading off had longer screen time. Here’s another actor with a similar story; Alfred Molina ( Doc Oct in Spiderman 2 ) in Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. ( made in 1981, when I was two, my goodness ) Remember the early scene when Jones steals the Aztec Gold figurine and his partner makes off with it, only to get impaled on spikes ? Yep, that was Alfred Molina for you.

What’s my point ? Everyones’ gotta start somewhere, I guess. We might be small fries now, but with hard work, perseverence, and a little luck, we might just make it big in whatever we are doing…or not. Still, you enjoyed that little movie trivia…no ?

Jun 23rd 2007

Natsu wa Soumen da ! Sappari shita !

There’s nothing like some refreshing Soumen with Tempura in the sizzling summer heat. Peculiar as it seems summer temperatures in Tokyo can get higher than Singapore, so to keep cool eating Soumen’s a great idea, not to mention tasty.

I remember my first summer in Tokyo 3 years ago, when I was still staying with my good friends Takeshi+kojima. It was a particularly hot day and I had prepared a bowl of steaming kimchi ramen for lunch, something which my two Japanese friends found incredibly amazing. As a person born in the tropics I was certainly up to the task of finishing that bowl of ramen even in summer temperatures, but to the two of them the notion of eating hot noodles in summer was so insane they that stared at me as if I was about to feast on some live centipedes.

I’m in the midst of a much needed one week holiday after the completion of Freedom 4 and am just spending most of my free time doing nothing…and enjoying every minute of it.

Jun 20th 2007

Takeru graces the lid of a Nissin Cup Noodle, illustrated by Sajiki-san. In Japanese it says “Mobile item get campaign”, to spare you a splitting headache from trying to figure out what that means its basically a promotion for a chance to win some Freedom merchandise by accessing Nissin’s website using your mobile phone. I’ve known this to exist for quite a while now but its the first time I’ve actually bought one that came with the contest form attached.

The earlier campaigns featured the Otomo Katsuhiro illustrated Takeru ( the image I have on my sidebar ) which had Freedom fans eating insane volumes of Cup ramen just to collect it.

Meanwhile at work Freedom 4 is finally completed after slogging 18 hours daily on fine-tunes for the past few days. *Minor spoilers ahead* This episode must be the most hilarious so far with Takeru and Bisu’s misadventures on earth. We’ve also spruced up the opening sequence, I can’t show any images as yet but stay tuned for more updates.

Jun 14th 2007

Hey folks. I am currently in the process of porting Halcyon Realms from Blogger to my new WordPress server. As you may have noticed Halcyon Realms now sits comfortably on the domain of the same name so I hope things feel more integrated.

Besides a change in the blog layout design I have taken the opportunity to implement some new features like the top navigation toolbar for easier access to archives and other information. I’m still optimizing navigation and adding stuff but most of the links should be in place. Please drop me a comment and let me know what you think about the new look and design.

ps: My old blog hosted at Blogger will remain intact for redirecting purposes but all new posts will be made here.

Jun 6th 2007

There’s good reason for a little elation today as lighting for Freedom episode 4 is finally completed, a total of about 350 shots spread between me and my chief Matsui-san, averaging about 10 cuts per day. Its a big relief there were no Crab Robos ( folks who have been following the series should know these critters, nasty buggers not only in Eden but to us too, for they consist of so many individual moving parts our workstations slow down to a crawl whenever there is one in the scene; imagine having to light a dozen. ) this time round or we would have been dragging polygons through molasses again.

Over dinner with 2 of my colleagues at Sukiya banter turned to the topic of life after Freedom – where each of us are heading or are planning to do and Matsui-san expressed his interest in games design.

“Square Enix huh ?”, I suggested, the obvious top candidate to mention.

“Jyoudanjyane ?( which roughly translates as “Are you kidding me ?” ) Advent Children was neat, but what if I get assigned to the fluid simluation detail ? I’ll drown before the first week is up.” and we had a good laugh.

If I may be allowed to explain his derangement, Matsui-san was just voicing his innate fear of pigeonhole specialization in Square Enix, or actually any other major effects company for that matter, where you can be assigned to a specific task, say, the effect of a drop of water landing on concrete; and drone on that task for eons. The bigger the company, the higher the risk. For the dauntless however, Square runs recruitment ads in CG World every month.

Jun 5th 2007

A few updates before I concuss into bed.

I slogged till 3 in the morning finishing up some shots so I can take sunday off ( yes, take SUNDAY OFF ) and amongst other things, rewatch Paprika, undoubtably one of the better anime films of late. Check out that sumptous box set !

Talking about neat dvds everyone in the studio also recieved a limited collector’s edition of Freedom 1 yesterday, a little consolation for toiling all nighters for the greater good of Freedom Committee. It’s comes with a special gold print cover and is not for sale in stores.

Earlier in the evening Morita-san treated us to a tasty Tonkatsu dinner because the higher powers that be ( namely himself and Matsuo-san, who joined us recently and had worked on Kon Satoshi’s Perfect Blue and Millenium Actress ) made a high level decision that demanded, well, the re-rendering of all completed shots hiterto. Yamaura-san, our DOP and compositing chief, was not pleased. I took the opportunity during dinner to quiz Morita-san about certain rumors that have been circulating heavily in the studio, and though not nearly written in stone just as yet, there will be exciting things coming up after the completion of Freedom 6. Morita-san will be attending the launch of Freedom in the States at ANIME EXPO and might make the announcement then.

And lastly, a friend alerted me about this piece of news in the local papers; click on the image to read the whole article.

May 26th 2007

The 2nd series of magazine ad spreads for the release of Freedom 3, illustrated by Sakiji-san. See the first series here.

May 19th 2007
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The article as in appeared in Straits Times. Big thanks to all the folks who sent word of support, and also Mr Kwan for the article.

Its mad rush hour again for Freedom 4, but I will try to write a little more if time permits.

May 18th 2007

Freedom’s official English (US) website is up here :

http://www.bandaivisual.us/freedom/

Just as I suspected they have completely removed all Nissin Cup Noodles elements; check out this previous post here. As far as spiffiness of web design is concerned, the Japan site is definitely the much better of the two.

May 12th 2007





Screen caps from Freedom’s 5th television commercial, airing on Japanwide TV from today on. ( 20th April ) You can watch it from Freedom’s website by following the link below :

http://freedom-project.jp/?filenumber=4018

The theme song for this spot was initially Utada Hikaru’s “Flavour of Life”, but was changed during production to her latest single, “Kiss and Cry”. In any case, I love both the songs.

Apr 20th 2007

My Mindgame ( Studio 4C ) dvd boxset, which I ordered immediately after watching the rented dvd. Its the biggest, baddest boxset I’ve ever bought. At around $100 singapore dollars, I dare say its somewhat of a bargain. The film itself, needless to say, is absolutely mindblowing.

You can purchase this box set from Amazon Japan.

Apr 17th 2007

Freedom Committee’s celebration parties are always the best time to catch up on some industry news and gossips, considering all of us are always buried under a ton of work on normal working days. Yesterday we were out celebrating the completion of Freedom’s 5th television commercial that is to go live on Japan TV from the 20th April, I will post some pictures once press is released. Matsui-san, my lighting chief, handed me the reins for this project; I must have lighted about 75 percent of all the cuts in this commercial. Tiring, but satisfying too.

Anyway, here are the snippets:

Trivia 1) During the early pre-production stages for Freedom, Otomo Katsuhiro was deciding who should head the project, and Makoto Shinkai, whose achievements on Distant Star is somewhat of a legend, was also considered. It would have been interesting to see how Freedom would have turned out if he had indeed been director.

Trivia 2) Small talk turned to Genius Party, Studio 4C’s soon to be released animation film. Interestingly, Morita-san, Freedom’s director, used to work in 4C.

Trivia 3) Tatsuyuki Tanaka is one of the directors for Genius Party, author of the amazing artbook “Cannabis Works“. Tatsuyuki worked as an animator on Akira; remember Tetsuo’s mutating hand ? Sajiki-san, Freedom’s character and concept artist, calls him “an absolute genius”. Ditto.

Apr 14th 2007
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