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Going to Hyderabad

Saturday · 28 Apr 07 · 02:16 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

Just a quick post to let you know that I will be in Hyderabad the whole of next week (May 1 being a holiday, I took Apr 30 and May 2, 3 and 4 off)!

Went out for dinner with Rajith and Sandip and then watched Unnale Unnale in theatre today, so returned home only after 1 AM, now have to pack and then leave, because my flight's at 5:40 AM.  I should be at home by 7:30 AM or so.  I plan to finish Stygian_Nebula while in Hyderabad, and possibly also work on the complete version of Subject 618.  And watch Spider-Man 3 on IMAX...

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Subject 618 — Directed by Karthik Abhiram (a Rough Demo)

Monday · 23 Apr 07 · 12:13 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

I made a small animation clip today!  Now how did this come to be?  Through the Drawn blog, I came across this post on the Toronto Animated Image Society Blog, which talks about a project called "Anijam", where submissions are invited of 10-second animation clips based on the theme of "Machines".

Subject 618 — Directed by Karthik Abhiram

So, I had an idea for a short film with the following storyline: two people are talking to each other and one of them says that the Cybertech Corporation has plans to enslave humans by turning them into cyborgs that they can control, through nanotechnology.  The other one says that he knows all about it, as he is one of Cybertech's bots himself!  He then takes of his glasses to reveal cybernetic implants all over his face, from where wires shoot out and rip through the flesh of the other person, and then turn him also into a cyborg.  (Sort of like Borg assimilation.)  Then, the following text flashes on the screen: "Bot 9 to Cybertech Core: Subject 618 Repossessed."  Then the reply arrives: "Very good, Bot 9.  Proceed as instructed, repossess population."  The End.

Of course, animating all this would take a lot of time, but I did finish one scene from this, the part where Bot 9 takes off his glasses to reveal the implants.  It turned out pretty well, so I uploaded this video for you all to see.  So here is a very rough demo of Subject 618, which is written, animated, and directed by me!

Subject 618 — Directed by Karthik Abhiram

As with my previous video, you have the following options to watch Subject 618:

The character's face here was drawn, and I drew additional versions of the eyes and mouth.  These were pasted and manipulated in Photoshop to create the individual frames, which I then animated using Windows Movie Maker.  I made this one in widescreen, utilising a 2.4:1 aspect ratio (Windows Movie Maker automatically letterboxed it, adding the black bars on top and bottom).  As of now this is a very rough demo of Subject 618, but I'm pretty happy with it for one evening's work.  It's the usual SF-cyberpunk stuff that I love to do, and the drawing style resembles my comic, Smoke.  Of course, there's no music or other stuff yet.  Still, do let me know what you think of the video!

EDIT: 01:02: Was not at Chennai for a couple of days in the last week as I had gone to support a Campus Recruitment Drive at a place called Kovilpatti.  Returned to Chennai on Friday morning.

EDIT: 24 Apr, 23:21: Added the video on YouTube and my orkut profile, updated the post above appropriately.

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Update 2 of 2: Linkin Park's New Album, Recent Doom Levels Played

Monday · 16 Apr 07 · 03:22 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Doom

Linkin Park's upcoming album Minutes to Midnight will be released on May 15 2007!  (Hey, my birthday!)  Can't wait to get it, but for now, we can all be satisfied with the one single that's been released so far.

Linkin Park: Minutes to Midnight, What I've Done — May 15, 2007

It's called "What I've Done" and I liked it a lot.  Quite different from other Linkin Park songs (a softer song than usual?), but the emotional lyrics are very much present.  You can hear the song and watch the video on YouTube, here.

Now, getting into the Doom-related news: I've not had much time to work on my level, Stygian_Nebula in the past days, because like I mentioned earlier, weekends have been busy and on weekdays I come back home late at night, too tired to work on it.  Anyway, remember I was talking about building the exit room last time?  I have a small screenshot here, and to quote a line from 2010: "My God, it's full of stars!".  As it is a shot of the exit room, it could be considered a minor spoiler.  So if you don't want to see the exit room beforehand, don't look at the shot.

I managed to play three interesting Doom levels recently though.  One was released to the /idgames archives, but the other two have thus far only appeared on WADs in Progress, and it's because Doom_Dude mentioned them on Newdoom that I came to know about them.  [By the way, if you're reading this Doom_Dude, thanks for the posts about my level on Newdoom!]  Anyway, here are mini-reviews for these levels:

Doom Levels: Meek by Chris Hansen, Monolith 5 by Richard Wiles, TNT MAP01 Remake by Sgt Crispy

  • Meek by Chris Hansen — Chris writes in the text file that he built this E1-style map at work, over a couple of months.  Man, I wish I had the time to do that at work!  Anyway this is probably not one of Chris's standout maps, but is still an interesting level to play through.  It could have probably fit well with his Retro Episode, in terms of style.  For a level built in spurts during free time, it certainly has an expansive layout, using a good mix of indoor and outdoor areas.  Once again, like Chris's other E1-style maps, there is an high level of detailing without straying too much from the style of the original levels.  Nice one.  7/10.
  • Monolith Part 5 by Richard Wiles — Out of the blue, the author of the awesome Crusades and SlayeR started up a new series of maps, and this is the fifth release.  I played it on Skill 1 and this was quite a challenging map.  Appearance-wise, the earlier maps in the series somehow didn't feel like "Richard Wiles maps" (heh, I know, that's an odd statement... but maybe it's because he didn't bring back his sound replacements?), but this one did.  On Skill 1 there was an interesting use of monsters, where he makes you encounter mostly Lost Souls and Pain Elementals, while bringing in the tougher monsters (Revenants, Mancubi and Archviles) during key moments (yes, when you pick up keys... pun not intended).  A satisfying map with a nice layout and nice use of various areas.  A couple of places show off lighting very well (yellow key room for example) too.  8/10.
  • Final Doom TNT: MAP01 Crispy Version by SgtCrispy — There have been a number of original Doom/Doom II levels remade in recent times, and now we have a remake of Evilution MAP01 courtesy SgtCrispy.  It's a nicely done level, and the original flow of the level has been more-or-less retained.  However, there are some additions (hellknight in the outdoor area), and some deletions (chaingunners after picking up the blue key), and the whole map appears to be on a bigger scale than the original one.  The strong blinking lights used here and there are a nice touch as well.  The map comes with a custom sky too.  Good job!  7/10.

Well, it's late again (past 3 AM) and I have to go to work tomorrow, so I will wind up this update.  It would have been good to have the day off tomorrow.  Anyway, I will plan for a few days of leave and a visit to Hyderabad in the beginning of May.

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Update 1 of 2: Recent Movies Seen!

Sunday · 15 Apr 07 · 10:56 PM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: Movies

I hate it when a long time passes without an update, but then I've been very busy at work (went to office on Saturday as well as today).  Anyway, here are the highlights of what happened between the last post and this one.  First, the movies I watched, then about a couple of Doom levels that I played, and then some other interesting bits of news.

300, Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron, Deja Vu, Grindhouse

  • 300 — Watched on 6 Apr at Sathyam Cinemas ("first day, second show".  I've already written a review of the book this movie is based on, so the story needn't be told again.  The movie is a very close adaptation of the book, and director Zack Snyder has done a fantastic job bringing Frank Miller and Lynn Varley's work to life.  You wouldn't believe for a second that what you're watching on the screen is largely rendered on computers.  Good acting, breathtaking action sequences, nice music (by Tyler Bates — largely traditional music, but I loved the short bits where a heavy-metal-type music kicks in) as well.  9/10.
  • Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron — Hellboy and the BPRD are called in to investigate phantoms in a house recently bought by a millionaire.  What the team encounter are ghosts of murdered women, and Prof Broom must face an old enemy — Erzebet Ondrushko, a very powerful vampire who used to bathe in the blood of young women to retain her youth.  Much better than the first Hellboy Animated feature, this one has a better storyline and lots more of atmosphere.  It is effectively scary and there are some good action scenes too.  8/10.
  • Deja Vu — When a ferry explodes killing more than 500 people, ATF agent Doug Carlin (Denzel Washington) is called in to investigate.  He joins a team of FBI agents who have a unique device, that allows one to view events from four days and six hours ago — and must use it to figure out who was behind the explosion.  A dead woman whose body was discovered at the crime scene may be the key to solving the mystery, hence Carlin decides to watch her life during the four days leading up to the explosion.  Interesting storyline and good execution, this is what I call "science fiction lite" — the film has some time travel concepts in it, but that is not the primary focus.  Instead, some well staged action sequences and drama are, which makes for an entertaining film.  8/10.
  • Grindhouse — I wrote about Grindhouse in an earlier post some months ago, and was very glad to have finally watched the film.  Or rather, the two films, Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof.  Rodriguez's segment is about a town that is slowly being overrun by zombies (here called sickos), created by a poison gas that has been let loose in the atmosphere.  It is a non-stop thrill ride, with outrageous scenes of splatter and gore, with an excellent music score (by Robert himself)!  Tarantino's segment is about Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell), a psychotic stuntman who uses his "death-proof" car to kill people.  It was actually a bit of a letdown, as some parts of the film are more talky than they need to be, which kind of slows down the pace.  But there is one key car-chase/stunt sequence which is quite intense.  The fake trailers were also nicely made, and with the exception of Rob Zombie's Werewolf Women of the SS, I thought the other three trailers (Rodriguez's Machete, Edgar Wright's Don't, and Eli Roth's Thanksgiving) were all excellent.  I could write a whole post about all the "cool" things that the filmmakers put in to create the "grindhouse" experience, but I'll save that for an eventual detailed review.  9/10 overall (I'd rate Planet Terror a 9 or even a 10/10).

I also watched The Road Warrior (a.k.a. Mad Max 2), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and 2010 (all 8/10).

There are also some trailers that were released recently, that are worth watching —

About these trailers, I guess Die Hard 4.0 would be a fun movie, but I don't know if it'll live up to the standards of the other three movies.  The Halloween remake seems interesting, but the standout was the trailer for 28 Weeks Later.  Seems like an awesome movie (director is Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, whose previous movies I have not seen, but the dude seems to have done a great job here).  I'm looking forward to watching the movie itself.  The non-movie related news is coming up, in the next post!

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A Weekend Update

Monday · 2 Apr 07 · 01:45 AM IST | Posted by Karthik | Category: General

The last two weeks were quite rough at work and hence I didn't have the time to do much else.  Was returning home late everyday, and even last weekend was a busy one, with Saturday being spent in office.  Therefore, I was looking forward to this weekend, and was glad to have it all to myself.

Stygian_Nebula Preview Screenshot

I got to do some work on Stygian_Nebula.  Currently, I'm building the exit portion of the level, and trying to work in some interesting stuff into that.  Even otherwise, as this level is set in space, that allows me a bit more flexibility to use both floors as well as ceilings for detail — I'm opening up portions of both to reveal space, which adds interest to the level.

Today, I also watched three very interesting movies, all worth watching for different reasons.

The Number 23, TMNT, The Fountain

  • The Number 23 — Jim Carrey stars in this Joel Schumacher-directed psychological thriller about a man who becomes obsessed with a book called "The Number 23", which seems to mirror events in his own life.  It's a pretty decent thriller, though the ending is not as shocking or as revelatory as expected.  Anyway, this movie is worth watching for its stylised look (thanks to the work of cinematographer Matthew Libatique).  7/10.
  • TMNT — The latest Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie is set loosely about a year or so after the events in the first live action film.  Leonardo has gone to Central America to train to become a better leader, while life is not what it once was for the other Turtles.  However, when industrialist Max Winters begins buying up stone statues and capturing monsters, trying to fulfill some sort of ancient ritual, it seems like great danger is going to befall the world.  Fortunately, Leo returns, and the TMNT team up to stop the threat.  The film was a total blast — it had terrific action scenes, an engaging story, and well-done characterisations.  Klaus Badelt's music was good and the filmmakers obviously had a lot of respect for the material.  That really shows in the film, as it would appeal to kids as well as older people.  Really well done.  8/10.
  • The Fountain — Director Darren Aronofsky's third film is an ambitious work about life and death.  There are three storylines that intersect.  The primary story is about neuroscientist Tommy Creo (Hugh Jackman) searching for a cure for his terminally-ill wife Izzi (Rachel Weisz).  Izzi gives him a book that she is writing, called "The Fountain", about a conquistador Tomas (Jackman) who is sent on a quest by Queen Isabella (Weisz) to find the tree of life, and finally, there are scenes with a bald man (Jackman) inside what seems to be a bubble, floating upwards into space to reach Xibalba, a nebula that gives life.  This is an exquisite, goregeous piece of work, with a music score (Clint Mansell), visuals and photography (Libatique) that are beyond amazing.  The film is not easy to understand and leaves much to the viewer's interpretation, and though I obviously didn't understand everything I was seeing, I really enjoyed the film, and am sure repeated viewings would definitely add a lot.  Great stuff.  9/10.

Also came across this link with the proposed cover artwork for the DVD of The Fountain.  Personally, I think it stinks.  It is totally out of tone with what the film is about.  They should have used the visuals from the original poster instead.

Quake III Speedmap by dONKEY

I also downloaded a speedmap pack for Quake III Arena, and played the map by dONKEY in that one.  This map looks like something out of a 1950s B&W film, and is aptly titled "Film Noir".  Hard to believe that he made it in an hour!

I think I'd better go to sleep now.  But first, a cup of tea...

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Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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