Wednesday, April 18, 2018

#10. Wild Card: Spider-Man PS4

Look, I like video games. But I'm not a gamer. I only play a select few games. Not for story, but usually to just run around, drive around, blow stuff up, and look neat while doing it (primarily GTA 5, I want Just Cause 3 but my brother won't buy it. Yes I'm behind on the games and #basic.) But there is one game that I am more than giddy for, and I might even buy my own system specifically for a game that is coming up. That game is Spider-Man PS4.

Image result for spider man 2 game swing
If you asked me before seeing some of the more recent footage, I would and would have always said that the best Spider-man game was Spider-Man 2. Not only was it a rarity for a video game tie-in to a film to be good (or even playable), but this Spider-Man game offered something revolutionary for the franchise that was never decently done again. The game allowed the player to free roam around New York City as Spider-Man and, not only could you touch the streets of New York and pass pedestrians and run in front of cars etc. Also, unlike previous games under the title, the webs attached to buildings! Which was amazing. (hehe

Image result for spider man ps4
Now, there is a Spider-Man game in the works that many are placing the responsibility onto to top Spider-Man 2. That is no small task to follow, but what the public has seen so far, they may not land too far off. The #1 concern for fans is webslinging mechanics. Not only do the webs attach to buildings (which sounds simple but some recent Spider-Man games have failed to even do THAT) but the game allows a combination of buttons that help you gain momentum and travel through the city using things in the environment. You can even make a full 90 degree turn! Which is different for Spider-Man games. 

Image result for spider man ps4 iron spider
The new Spidey game is meant to have a series of alternate costumes that have special abilities and, in an attempt to allow the players to be the Spider-Man they want to be, players will be allowed to mix and match the costumes and the abilities so if they like the look of one costume but the powers of another, they can have both.

Image result for spider man ps4 web swinging Also the combat system is more advanced than ever, for Spidey has new gadgets to give him even more of an edge against the bad guys, almost echoing the Arkham games in regards to variety of move sets. Players can use the environment around them to use to their advantage as well, much like Spider-Man would. 

Image result for spider man ps4Not much else has been revealed about the game, but the graphics look stunning, and the abilities the player has and how they can get around New York City is a true game changer. (ha)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

#9. Classmate Blog Critique

It is the time of year again in which I choose some of my favorite blogs in class (I've done this in multiple classes in my college career hence the "again," if you didn't get it.) It's always tough choosing which blogs to write about because everyone in the class has something great about their blogs, these are just a few I thought stood out in a way or attracted me with either their subject matter or their style as a whole.

Suzanne Lanoue

I don't think I'm alone in thinking Suzanne puts us all to shame when it comes to amount of content within the blogs. She writes long and informational blogs and often gets them done far earlier than I do ahead of time. She also provides a great number of links. Her blog on binge watching has a section that is seemingly more links than white words, which is impressive and great attention to detail. 
She writes well rounded blogs that don't only focus on the assignment or her opinions on a specific topic, they are usually well rounded and also have a word count far greater than it takes to get an A in the class which an inspiration in and of itself.  

Forest Pierce 

One thing I share with Forest Pierce is a love for film. He, like myself, tend to steer our projects/blogs more towards the film and entertainment angle. While we might differ some when it comes to preferred genres or periods, it's still nice to have someone in class that speaks English (well, film English.) 
And there are some of his blogs about some things I had a vague familiarity with and learned more about through his blog. For example, I watched Ultraman quite a bit as a kid and he wrote a whole blog detailing the importance of Ultraman in Japan (even as much to call him their equivalent to our Mickey Mouse.)

Anna Kirksey

I'm always jealous of Anna's blogs, something about them seem more professional than mine. Anytime an assignment sounds a little vague, hers is one of the blogs I frequent to try and get an idea what the blog (or other work in these classes) is supposed to be all about. Also her topics are more diverse in that they aren't as much about pop culture, entertainment, or technology as the rest of the blogs (I tend to tie my assignments (even if very loosely) to pop culture in some way.) Her blogs tend to do all of the things we're told to do but does each of them in a very solid manner. 
I might work on a blog and slack off in links and give lots of pictures or have one pictures but a boatload of links, but Anna puts her blogs together with plenty of links, video links (with pictures) and also writes more directly and to the point than I do at the very least. She also separates some links for the end that work as a sort of works cited which seems more grown up to me than just linking words in the blog alone. (If nobody clicks on them they won't know that you referenced them.)

Houston Taylor

Houston's blogs are usually a treat to look at. They are aesthetically pleasing as well as informative. Not totally in this class, but in other classes we have had similar ideas about topics. In that way, I agree with some of his opinions about certain things like his blog about the trend of rebooting long cancelled tv shows for the sake of nostalgia.
 I also like how he sets up his blog, separating bursts of texts with video links or a graphic to help enhance what he is talking about. One thing I tend to look at when looking at blogs are how the links are arranged and what a video link does for the blog as a whole. I don't totally have appealing images and sometimes my links are "joke links" so in a way I prefer how Houston does his blog because it seems more mature and knowledgeable (also in another blog class he embedded tweets and I still don't know how to do that.)

Monday, April 2, 2018

#8. Predictions

Every year, humans as a species create new technologies and improve them over time as other technologies become available. A great example is how print moved to radio, then radio to television, then television to internet. There are many other technologies along the way and in between every technological innovations, but in a general sense we create them to satisfy a certain need.

When it comes to video technologies, we are in an interesting time. In the age of streaming and gaming, how we entertain ourselves is itching to get more and more interactive. While seeing where the buck stops is just about impossible at this time, we have a decently clear path to where things are going within the next 10 to 20 years. These are some general predictions about some of the changes we could see in video entertainment:

Image result for disney thanos memeAs of right now, Netflix is the leading streaming service. Everyone and their grandmother bums off someone's Netflix. If you had asked me a year ago if anything could knock it off it's pedestal, preventing it from being the primary streaming service of the future, I would say you're crazy. But now, there are multiple factors to consider. For one, Netflix is losing a lot of it's contracts with television studios (many of which are opting to create their own streaming service.) Because of this, Netflix has been making it their mission to churn out as much original content as possible so that, when they eventually lose a lot of the contracts that brought users to their platform, they can maybe keep them around with their Netflix Originals such as Stranger Things, A Series of Unfortunate Events, House of Cards, etc. Secondly, Disney, the soon to be monopoly of all monopolies, is looking to knock them off their pedestal. In December 2017, Disney bought the film and television division of 20th Century Fox. Disney had, prior to the deal, 30% of Hulu stock. When they bought 20th Century Fox, they had acquired their 30% of Hulu as well. Disney now owns 60% of Hulu with the remaining chunk of belonging to Comcast. Disney aims to make their own streaming service which will now include, I assume, Fox television and Disney television being streamable. Along with that Disney had a multitude of Netflix original programs such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Punisher, and more that they could move from Netflix to their own service. While Netflix is said to be bringing 700 original titles into 2018, perhaps to combat this coming apocalypse, their film division is sub par, making films that are middling in critical reception while also expensive to make. Bright was their first Netflix Original "blockbuster" that did good for a film just released on a streaming platform, but not as good as it would need to be to make it financially viable (granted it has been greenlit for a sequel, nobody knows how truly deep the pockets of Netflix are.)


Image result for josh macuga plays itI'm not much of a gamer, but two things seem to be the focus of gaming companies. The first is virtual reality. While this concept did exist in the good ol' days, it couldn't be close to as realized as it is trying to be now, and will be in the future. VR is a a good way to immerse users in a different world, making it's best use (so far and in my opinion) by tying into something like film and tv  (see It and Rick and Morty), allowing users to join their favorite worlds. The only setbacks with it is that you can't move as much unless you had an empty room to walk around in. There are currently VR parks being made to make environments meant to be walked around with the VR headsets. 

Image result for ready player one
The other thing that gamers seem to be hyped about is cross platform gaming. There is a game, currently, that is all the rage known as Fortnite. Recently, the developers of the game have made it to where mobile players of the game can play with console players and vice versa. There had been talk in the past of cross platforming Xbox and PS4, but, as of right now, it hasn't come to fruition. However, PS4 does cross-platform with Fortnite's mobile and Mac players, and so does Xbox. PS4 and Xbox just don't cross-platform with each other. While this seems to be a feud that won't end for a while, it is pretty much inevitable for them to cross-platform. It just makes sense. 

Augmented Reality
Image result for minority report
Something that has been mostly, not ignored, but maybe has less emphasis on is Augmented Reality (I'm going to continue to capitalize that.) Augmented Reality is like Virtual Reality, except the idea is adding a layer to what is already in front of you. It is made to enhance your world and, ideally, would involve as little technology as possible to attach to. Google Glass had a decent idea with glasses that put things in front of you in a small square in glasses. Nintendo has played with Augmented Reality in the past and are toying with similar themes with their new Nintendo Labo "tech." So far, no real breakthroughs have come from this technology except with Pokemon Go. It allowed users to walk around and catch Pokemon in their neighborhood. It did have complications like the Augmented Reality wasn't totally well developed (animated characters would float over things etc) also multiple accidents have happened like users walking off cliffs looking for Pokemon. (Or finding abandoned dead bodies, but that's another issue.) My ideal Augmented Reality device would be along the lines of Google Glass, but allowing users to interact with what is in front of them either with their hands or with voice commands (or maybe way down the line with their thoughts.)

An Amalgamation of All These Things

Image result for technological acid trip
This is all assuming we will still be watching movies and tv shows or playing video games like we have in the past. Some may argue that what is next is some sort of entertainment device that could utilize all of these things. There are two videos online that I especially enjoy that take the concept of a tv show or a scene and allows users to choose their own adventure in a sense. You're essentially playing a tv show. One is That Moment When, a tv show produced by Cracked and making the rounds on a site called Eko that sets up a scene and a player gets to choose what happens in the scene by clicking one of the buttons on the screen that makes the main character do something and you watch how the scene plays out. It is much like the Telltale games that are so popular that made choice based gaming the hot ticket of it's time. The other is a short film called Possibilia 
Image result for possibiliaby The Daniels (directors of one of my fave films Swiss Army Man). An inter-dimensional love story about a couple breaking up and the possibilities that come with that conversation. There have also been discussions about how hard it would be to tie a narrative to VR, but, by attempting to fuse all of these platforms, something pretty neat can be made that will change entertainment forever.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

#7. Binge Watching

As a college student and eventual human person, there are a lot of fun things I could be doing with my youth. I can go out and meet pretty women or go on adventures filled with debauchery and spectacle. But, in the age of smartphones and attention spans that last only 8 seconds, anything past me getting up off the bed, grabbing my keys and wallet, putting my shoes on and going out the door, I've already lost interest. Doing things takes too much time. But in the magical world of the internet, you can go on any adventure you want through the power of Netflix.

Image result for the leftovers

As of late, I have been watching two television shows primarily (Not The Leftovers, although here's a clip) and that is Netflix's Love and my DVD set of Firefly.  

Image result for love show
The final season of Love popped up on Netflix on March 9th, I had/have a viewing commitment for this show and was unable to properly "binge" it, but have managed to watch through half the season. The show is funny and mushy, taking a look at relationships in the modern era and how two strangers can become close knitted love birds (at least as far as I am.) The show can seem very inside baseball with its California set location following behinds the scenes of a pulpy CW type show and the goings on at a broadcast radio station (where the main leads, Gus and Mickey, work respectively.) Despite this, the show can be oddly sweet and painstakingly awkward as you watch the two love birds try to work it out.

Image result for fireflyIn my interim of watching Love due to viewing partner complications, I have revisited a show that defined the second (or third depending on how you look at life and time) "phase" of my life. That show is Firefly. Firefly is a one season wonder, only lasting 14 episodes (which is pretty good considering only having one season to establish a tone) and a movie called Serenity. It follows a crew in space, wondering aimlessly through the black, taking up quick crime to keep afloat. The show hit a tone that was unique at the time and also the baby of Joss Whedon, of Buffy and Angel fame. I started rewatching the show just out of an urge to rewatch the series finale Objects in Space. In it, a mysterious man takes out the entire crew one by one whilst spouting off philosophical questions. This is what ushered me into a head space where The Leftovers would seem more at home, and, for that, I am eternally grateful. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

#6. Global Trends

The extent of my knowledge outside film and entertainment news (or possible world catastrophe) ventures no further than the top trending videos on YouTube. If something is happening in the world like a global catastrophe, "lets eat something inedible" challenge, or cute cat videos, it generally ends up on the top trending list, keeping me updated enough to things outside of my interest. 

Image result for lucas the spiderOver the last couple months, I have been capturing glimpses of a YouTube channel focused on a young spider named Lucas. The channel is promptly named Lucas the Spider. There were about 2 videos at the time and the third ended up in the Top 10 Trending. The video was only 31 seconds so I thought "Why not?" The video was called "Captured" and starts out with the title card with a small fuzzy spider with huge eyes and fuzzy hair that lets out a small childlike giggle. From there the video starts and the spider is in an ultra-realistic setting and the spider itself is CGI. (Though it is unclear to me if the setting was CGI or not and is only complicated in watching other videos on the channel.) The spider, Lucas, then recounts a story of how a wine glass was cupped on top of him. As he mentions his captor, a human like figure is seen in the reflection of the glass. As the figure walks away, Lucas exclaims its his time to escape and pushes the wine glass over an edge just enough for him to jump out.
Image result for lucas the spider

The animation was neat, the spider was cute, and I watched the other two videos on the channel at the time. I didn't think much of it, it was only barely 2 minutes of any given day, but I did start seeing him pop up on my twitter and other social media. It wasn't a lot, but you'd see one or two people mention it every week or so. 

Flash forward to today, and I see another Lucas the Spider video in the top trending. It was #35, granted it's been a busy week with the Oscars going and such. I mention this small internet phenomenon only based on the hunch that Lucas the Spider might end up something bigger in the not so distant future. 

Image result for pixels short filmImage result for evil dead remakePlenty of effects artists get bigger movie jobs because of what they did online. Fede Alvarez directed and animated a film called Panic Attack! which garnered attention from director Sam Raimi (my fave) and got him the job to direct the 2013 remake of Evil Dead.  Or the film Pixels which was based on an idea done by French short film director Patrick Jean

Image result for zootopia posterThe animator of Lucas the Spider is Joshua Slice who worked on big budget animated films such as Epic and Zootopia. Splice asked his nephew to voice the spider. Due to some of the love he was getting on social media platforms, he decided to make more. I wouldn't be surprised if Lucas the Spider became the face of a children's television show or movie in the years to come.

More on Lucas the Spider: Story 1, Story 2

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

#5. Video Surveillance

In Denville Township, New Jersey the local police department is asking it's residents and businesses to enlist their surveillance cameras into a registry that will allow the department to ask for copies of footage should they need it for any investigations. 

According to the Capt. Keith Partin, they aren't looking to watch what people are doing at all times, but to have the ability to ask for footage during certain times of certain days to help add some perspective to any given investigation. 

Image result for boston marathon bomber surveillanceIn recent years, surveillance has been a big part in solving cases. In 2013, it was surveillance footage that caught the Boston Marathon Bombers.

Having businesses register their cameras would also be a great help. There was a case in which a man was believed to have murdered his wife, and it was the Lowe's surveillance footage that caught him buying the murder weapon (a hammer.)
Image result for George tiaffay lowes footage
The use of the cameras around town is to create some sort of Virtual Crime Watch. If the businesses and residents agree, it could help police catch criminals in whatever areas the footage might have been caught. So far only 6 surveillance owners have registered but they hope to get more on their side. 

The general idea is to have a virtual version of a neighborhood watch. Similar ideas have sparked in other towns and has proved beneficial to the department. Residents and Businesses registered are allowed to refuse to show the footage according to many police interviews. 


Monday, February 12, 2018

#4 Advertising Analysis

Super Bowl LII (52 (I didn't know that)) brought many great advertisements during the "big game," but none were as interesting as that of the film The Cloverfield Paradox.

The Cloverfield Paradox is the third film in the 'Cloverfield' franchise. These series of movies have been known to have an interesting marketing strategy, but many agree that the one for 'Paradox' was the most risky/cool. 

Image result for cloverfield poster
The original Cloverfield film kickstarted the unique marketing by flashing its trailer in front of 2007's Transformers. The trailer was vague, not even introducing a title, just the release date 1-18-08. From there, if someone looked up the release date they would be sucked into a wormhole of various websites alluding to a company's illegal plotting's that lead to the capsizing of an oil tanker that awakens a monster under the sea that wreaks havoc on New York.

The viral marketing for the film was intoxicating. The main characters of the film all had their own MySpace webpages, one of the characters works for the company mentioned previous, the company has many subsections that also deal with the monster. The marketing didn't necessarily do anything to affect the film, but it packaged more around the film as supplementary content that audiences could look into or not. 

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)After the success of Cloverfield back in 2008, fans were clamoring for a sequel. It wasn't until almost 10 years later when, on January 15, 2016 Bad Robot dropped the trailer what seemingly was a sequel titled 10 Cloverfield Lane. The film looked different from the original and how it was connected was a mystery, but the fact that the cries for a sequel were answered was satisfying enough. Even more satisfying is that the trailer announced the release date of the film which was less than 2 months away 
from the time the trailer dropped. (for those who don't know, a film tends to release a trailer many more months in advance.) The film also had an interactive viral marketing campaign. 

Now to 'Paradox.' It was after 10 Cloverfield Lane that the fans finally thought they were up to Bad Robot's game. 10 Cloverfield Lane was originally a film titled 'The Cellar' that was retitled and slightly retooled as a Cloverfield sequel. Fans looked at the films in Bad Robot's slate and figured a film called The God Particle had the makings of a Cloverfield film. The film was mostly done, small, had a high concept sci-fi logline, extremely secret, and produced by J.J. Abrams. For about 4 months, fans were wondering when the film would be released, for no viral marketing had started and it seemed about due for this movie to have a trailer coming out or SOMETHING. 
Image result for tagruato

Finally, after long silence, news had been kicking around that the film might move to Netflix for an April release. Not long after that the Tagruato website (the company related to the monster in Cloverfield) had some activity detailing a space flight they were funding. 

Then, out of nowhere, on the Super Bowl, the first trailer for the, now titled, Cloverfield Paradox debuted and was going to be released on Netflix right after the game. Keep in mind that "God Particle" was known as placeholder title meaning that they released the title, the trailer, AND the film all on the same day with it's marketing strategy spanning only a few hours as opposed to a few months or even years. 

Image result for the cloverfield paradox poster
The film, over all, was just okay if not a smidgen confusing, but it was exciting to see what it sets up for the future of the Cloverfield franchise. Cloverfield 4 is being speculated to be a film called Overlord, a film set in World War II where the Nazi's have supernatural means on their side. The film is meant to be released in October 2018 and the title is expected to be changed to [Insert Cloverfield Something].