Art is Invaluable,So what’s a comic book artist truly worth?

Major Studios are raking in billions off the backs of great CGI, but are artists indeed getting paid their true worth.

We currently live in a world where movies aren’t raking in millions but billions. The fact of the matter is that about 48 movies in cinema history have gone on to cross the billion-dollar mark, and what’s even more interesting is that these movies relied heavily on CGI VFX and animation for their storytelling and success.

 

Movie Still From Endgame

  1. So this must be a very lucrative profession, then?

If one equates this with the success we have seen in the tech industry and the pay employees get in Silicon Valley, one would not be wrong to assume that it must be similar to the graphics industry. This could not be further from the truth. Recent studies and polls have shown that graphic artists and professionals have often not been paid their true worth and value.

Disney Animator at Work

2. So do the animation studios make all of the money?

Tangent Animation Studio Logo

The more alarming fact is that animation studios actually do not stand to make as much profit either. Often, the profit margins are relatively small due to being constantly lowballed and outbid by other studios around the globe. It is a well-known and established fact that it is much more cost-effective for companies to engage countries, especially in Southeast Asia to be cost-effective. 

As recent as last year, when the world was reeling with the second wave of the Covid pandemic, Tangent Animation Studio, based out of Toronto and Winnipeg, shut its doors for good despite actively working on multiple projects for big production houses like Netflix.

3. Same case for big studios as well?

Animation Studios Sued For Antitrust
Animation Studios Sued For Antitrust

Back in 2013, when Life of Pi won an Oscar for its visual effects, at the same time R&H, the studio primarily responsible for the VFX for a majority of the shots in the movie, was shutting its doors. R&H was known for its stellar work for Babe back in 1995 and was a well-known entity in the VFX space. So, when news broke of its closure, the world was surely taken by storm.

 

Let’s talk about even bigger studios like Dreamworks, Pixar, and Disney. They are and were far more prominent than R&H. We could assume they would be paying their employees fairly considering the amount of money they make?

 

 But yet again, back in 2017, it was revealed that there was a class-action lawsuit against Disney, Dreamworks, and Sony for breaching antitrust laws. It came to light that the studios had conspired to suppress the wages of animation and VFX artists.

4. What's the solution?

The truth be told, there have been several approaches to this issue of pay parity in the industry, but it has often fallen on deaf ears. Back in 1941, Disney had faced a strike due to the inequity in pay for its employees. 

 

 Yes, sure, unionization is frowned upon by many private companies. Still, there seems to be no solution to this dilemma other than some checks in place. One expects companies to do the ethical thing, but artists often find themselves extremely let down.

 

 The last few years have seen a rise in numerous amounts of animation studios having their employees unionize, especially in Canada. Very recently, the organizations IATSE and ABAS united to campaign for the Canadian Animation Industry unionization.

 Hopefully, through this approach, the beloved industry stands a chance to grow and flourish alongside the people who make the magic happen.

Akira Kurosawa: A Filmmaker Extraordinaire, The Master of Movement

Akira Kurosawa Directing

What is the distinction between good filmmakers and great ones? Is it their artistic voice and expression or is it simply their unique perspective and experience? There might not be any straightforward answers. But one thing common with the great filmmakers is that they don’t seek external validation from audiences and critics alike. It is their intimate and personal expression that they pursue, that could be lucid in nature, yet profound and universal in context.

“Man is a genius when he dreams. Dream what you are capable of. The harder you dream it, the sooner it will come true.”

A quote by the legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa who did not just create incredible masterpieces. But inspired the generations of film directors and artists.

Akira Kurosawa, Francis Ford Coppola. George Lucas, Kagemusha
Akira Kurosawa, Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas during the filming of Kagemusha

Every Frame A Painting

Each Kurosawa film is a masterclass in itself and moves like no one else’s. Each one showcases the different types of motion and the ways to combine them. An educational breakdown of his films by Tony Zhou described the use of four types of movements Kurosawa uses in his films that is ‘The Nature’, ‘The Group’, ‘The Individual’ and ‘The Camera’ to provide meaning to the narrative. Using movement to cut to the next frame allows his scenes to flow smoothly. Then changes the rhythm to end the scene from going into static and back straight to movement again. This technique keeps the audience engaged as the outcome is always unpredictable. Acclaimed filmmaker Sidney Lumet once admirably said:

“For me, Kurosawa is the Beethoven of movie directors, it’s that recognizable full sound that Beethoven had, that is so unmistakable”

The Rashomon effect

A concept made famous by the writing style of the 1960's film Rashomon

Rashomon Effect
What is The Rashomon Effect — Definition, Examples in Film

This term is derived from the 1950’s period psychological drama film ‘Rashomon’ which is considered one of the greatest movies ever made. It is the first Japanese film to receive momentous international recognition. The term is described as a situation in which an event is described with contradictory narrative and interpretation by the individual characters involved. This is a method of writing in cinema where different perspectives and points of view are formed for the same event or incident. Films like Vantage point (2008), The Usual Suspects (1995), Gone Girl (2014) were greatly influenced by this method of writing in their storytelling.       

Influence of Kurosawa on artists and their work

Akira Kurosawa inspired many great directors and tons of his influence can be seen in their popular movies. George Lucas’ original Star Wars (1977) has the samurai elements inspired by The Hidden Fortress.

Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai had some spectacular rainy action sequences which blended the movement and the atmosphere to create powerful and compelling set-pieces. This technique is very effective in bringing the emotions out of the motions of the characters in the frame. The directors of films such as Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Blade Runner, Pirates of the Caribbean acknowledged this. Also, used the rain to build up the tension in their film’s action sequences.

The Seven Samurai formula of assembling up to save the townspeople from the bandit’s attack is very popular. This can be seen in countless movies throughout the history of world cinema. Some of these blockbusters such as The Expendables, The Avengers, Saving Private Ryan, Sholay, etc. used the same formula for their success.

In closure, I would say that it is in a law of nature that once in a while we get introduced to an extraordinary personality. They not only influence the generations to come but also leaves a legacy to inspire, innovate and discover. Making a positive impact in the lives of others. Akira Kurosawa was one of those individuals.

At last, I'll leave you with a video by Tony Zhou, breaking down a scene of "The Bad Sleep Well", a 1960 film by Akira Kurosawa. Enjoy! 

Afrobeats; Culture or Commodity

“On the beat is Davido, and I’m driving all the girls crazy oo.” Davido’s braggadocio heralds the announcement of a new evolution in Nigeria’s cultural sector. It is known on the streets of Lagos by many names, Lamba, Gbedu, Fuji Pop, Pon Pon. It is made for audiences to wine, dance and gyrate too. Millionaires spray bundles of cash in the air when the music comes on. Social dances emerge from the slums of Ajegunle and almost instantly become a tick-tock sensation. It has come to be known outside Nigeria as Afrobeats.

The genre fuses indeingious folk and contemporary melodies with the sounds of hip-hop, rhythms and blues. Folk rhythms are remade with electronic drums, kicks, synths, and bases. The more than 300 languages of Nigeria are interwoven with piding, patois, and english. The lyrics celebrate love, lust, money, and material success. This sound has defined a generation, and unlocked a billion dollar industry.

Afrobeats music consists of more than 70 percent of music on Nigerian airwaves compared to some 20 percent in 2010. Afrobeats concerts constantly sell out in Clubs, Arenas, and stadiums both locally and Internationally. Many commentators have opined over the role culture should play in the economics of a nation, debated its value, and philosophized about the degree in which culture should be commercialized.

As afrobeats continue to rise locally and globally, cultural policy makers have to balance between nurturing this promising genre while simultaneously nurturing non-popular and more folk and classical Nigerian musical and other cultural traditions.

To what degree should culture be commercialized ? Nigeria is not the first Jurisdiction to face this challenge, indeed this a policy challenge for cultural managers around the world. I spoke to Dr Hillary Brown of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) secretariat on the evolutions of Carnival, a cultural celebration indigenous to the Caribbean islands, another celebration that toggles between commerce and culture.

Dr. Hilary Brown is the Program Manager for Culture and Community Development at the CARICOM Secretariat. She is a steel pan player and enthusiast, a Carnival Queen, a mother of two and a specialist in regional development, communications and popular culture. We speak to her about CARICOM, and it’s role in the development of Caribbean and African peoples and regions. We use this as a data set to predict what the future of Afrobeats may be.

Can there be a harmonious exchange between cultural preservation and commodification?

This is the crux of many discussions on culture and carnival. There is the view of the cultural purists who want to see the tradition stay the same, where the meaning and connection to the origin are preserved. Then there are the entrepreneurs who say ‘yes, but it’s also business’. There is always this tension between the instrumental value and economic value of culture and the arts.

Economics is a natural driver, but what needs to be understood is that the economic value can only be sustained if the creative core is preserved and nurtured. It is through the commodification of culture that entrepreneurs make money and how cultural expressions and products are shared widely. However, this needs to be managed properly through progressive public policy making to ensure that culture policy preserves and nourishes cultural traditions and supports new and emerging artists. Through policy interventions, traditions and expressions are put on display so that all people have access.

 

When it comes to balancing Carnival’s cultural importance with its economic benefits, do you believe there is a Carnival that is going in the right direction with policy making?

Based on what I have seen, I would say it’s still carnival in Trinidad and Tobago especially because of the significant engagement of schools in activities during the carnival season and the involvement of young people in carnival competitions, kiddies mas’ and steel bands.

However, I know there is an awareness in many countries in the Caribbean region of the importance of keeping cultural traditions alive in carnival and other festivals, such as Crop Over in Barbados and Culturama in Nevis. Several countries have also developed or are in the process of developing or updating their national cultural policies, in which they commit at least at a policy level, to give more support to the cultural dimension.

We have to recognize that the arts represent multi-billion dollar creative industries, and we have to always try to strike that balance between creativity and commercialization. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that culture is replicated, known, understood, and appreciated for generations to come. Policy can also mandate the private sector give their support through incentives such as tax write-offs. Such policy initiatives are crucial to striking that balance.

Carnival has become the world’s largest celebration, with months of preparation and organization. From a CARICOM Secretariat perspective, what does this mean to you?

Carnival is deeply important to the CARICOM region. We are not a region that produces technology, but we create cultural expressions that are renowned worldwide. In order to develop our region, we have to capitalize on something that the region does well. We have to leverage our creative and cultural products and services. Artists and other advocates have been advocating for governments to see and understand that carnival is more than a party, especially given all the benefits it brings to the region. I see carnival as part of a wider cultural enterprise and ecosystem that should be an important part of the overall strategy to advance the region.

 

 

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: The Coen Brothers’ Six Black Fables of the West

If I had to choose one of the most literary American directors of our time, I'd give my top vote to the Coen brothers.

(Left: Joel Coen; Right: Ethan Coen)

Since their debut film Blood Simple, the Coen brothers' films have been strongly postmodern and darkly humorous, with interlocking plots and a "snowballing" story of coincidence that reminds people of these sharp-edged filmmakers.

The Ballads of Buster Scruggs, the film presented at the Venice Film Festival and produced by Netflix, combines six separate short stories into one feature film, winning the Venice Best Original Screenplay. All six stories are set in the 18th-19th century American West, the mysterious and lawless Western world is the perfect stage for the Coen brothers' stories to unfold.

The six stories are distinctive in tone, showing the western world from all levels and perspectives. The distinctive acting style, precise editing rhythm, and the familiar abrupt turn of events in the world. Each story is full of the Coen brothers' whimsy, and each story is a fable full of dark humor.

One: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs

Synopsis: Wearing a white suit, the wanted cowboy Buster Scruggs is a famous marksman, although he is an outlaw but carry out their own principles, never trouble, but also never tolerate. He wandered alone and on horseback, and along the way there was inevitably some bloodshed. Finally he met another marksman and died at the muzzle of his gun.

Buster believes in "willingness to gamble," and it is unnecessary to get angry over something you can't change. After he was in a bar, he sat on a virtual poker game, but the cards laid down were really bad, and after looking at them, Buster regretted. It was a game he "did not want to bet on". But the rest of the group told him, "If you read the cards, you have to play." One man even threatened him with a gun (a violation of the store's rules about keeping weapons). Without the certainty of winning, Buster preferred to quit.

This story is an ironic use of "card games" and "duels": people often lose when they think they have a chance to win, just as Joe, armed with a weapon, and Buster, who is very self-confident, walk to the dueling place. In many cases, this "game of cards" is not the right to choose, you can only do is to choose to be open-minded, as in the beginning of Buster's monologue. At the time of embarking on this road, Buster has already made a good realization.

Two: Near Algodones

Synopsis: A desperate cowboy decides to rob a bank, but fails and is arrested. When he is about to be hanged, a group of Native Americans intercept and kill the enforcers; the cowboy is saved by a passing cattle rancher, but the cattle rancher is actually a cattle rustler, and the cowboy is framed and sent to the town to be executed.

The structure of this story is very simple, is the typical "Seinfeld" mode, with a sudden turn to show the fate of the day, the fate of man.

Before his death, the cowboy also and a girl under the bleachers on the eyes. This is a very cruel thing, after you are ready to accept the fate of death, you have a thirst for life, it is really the death of the torture. But at least, the executioner used a sack to help you close the eyes.

Three: Meal Ticket

Synopsis: A man relies on a handicapped orator with no limbs to make a living. But his increasingly meager income makes him no longer trust the young man, especially after he sees a "chicken that counts" attracting a large crowd, and he decides to replace his "actor".

This is one of the most literary concentrations in the entire film, especially in the lines of the disabled orator, quoting Shelley's "Osmundis", the story of Cain and Job in the Bible - Genesis, Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, interspersed with Shakespeare's commercial poetry and lines from "The Tempest". Such speeches are destined to be baffling pastiches of text, but the orator's vivid Russian rendition still leaves many listeners in awe.

The story develops in increasingly cool blue shades, as the relationship between the man and the teenager undergoes a subtle transformation. In the end, he abandons the boy and gains a "genius castrati".

Four: All Gold Canyon

Synopsis: The old man who was looking for gold came to a land with great scenery, hoping to find a gold mine of his own. Just when he finally found the vein after countless days and nights of hard work, he was attacked from behind with a gun ......

The story is not original to the Coen brothers, but is adapted from the famous American short story writer Jack London's work of the same name, and the sentences appearing in the film are also quotations from the original work.

In this story, the attacker is a person who tries to get something for nothing, but is eventually killed by the old man who panned for gold; and when the old man left the place, the nature that generously gave him the gold mine just returned to peace but did not retaliate against him. Looking at the devastated cave, we need to wake up: not to retaliate, the time has not come.

In terms of technique, the fight between the old man and the raiders is both part of the story and a reflection of the whole story: the old man is weak and plundered, similar to nature; the raiders are strong and violent, similar to the destroyer of nature. Therefore, the story seems to be just a slogan of "green water and green mountain is the silver mountain", but its inner layers are still very rich, which is the charm of the Coen brothers' story.

Five: The Gal Who Got Rattled

Synopsis: Miss Longaberger is about to move to Oregon with a caravan for a potential marriage partner. When her brother dies of cholera on the way, Miss Longaber decides to move on, and wagon leader Billy Napp takes the opportunity to express his intention to marry her. But Miss Longaberger gets separated from the group for the sake of her dog, and drinks a bullet in an Indian attack.

In this short story, Miss Longaberger is in a state of "fright", a state of momentary "fright", such as when she drops her hands over her ears after she thinks her dog has been shot, and then is startled by two gunshots in quick succession.

It's a kind of uncertainty, such as the fact that her brother was supposed to arrange her marriage with her fiancé, but after his death there was no one to introduce her, and she had no family, so she didn't know whether to go to the unknown Oregon or to return to her hometown without any support.

The textual technique of this short story is the "displacement of the beginning and the end", where the opening quotation is actually the end of the story, and the end of the story suggests the beginning of numerous plots: how Mr. Arthur will phrase it, how Billy Knipe will react to it, and so on. The main line of the story is the frightened suicide of Miss Longobard, and the branch line is Billy Knipe's proposal to her, after the main line ends, the branch line is left as the ending to form a "polyphonic" story style, which greatly broadens the reading space of the text.

Six: The Mortal Remains

Synopsis: Five strangers with different identities: a French man, a fur hunter, a noblewoman, a fat and a thin bounty hunter (they want to transport the remains of a wanted man to the police station in town); travel together in a horse-drawn carriage to a common destination. During the noblewoman had a sudden attack of asthma, the French man asked the coachman to stop, but he did not listen. The coachman kept going until he stopped in front of a hotel.

The structure of this story is very simple, but it is very exciting. It shows the Coen brothers' great literary skills, and there are only two scenes throughout: inside the carriage and at the destination, but there is plenty of dramatic tension. The dialogue in the story is very lengthy and rich in meaning, and it is worth reading carefully. Here I would like to focus on two interpretations of the story: (1) The story is a real reference, that is, the five people travel together to a common destination, their identity is clear, and the destination is also clear (the film says it is Fort Morgan), and the coachman's reluctance to stop may only be out of some kind of will. They ended up staying at the same hotel. (2) This story is a false reference, symbolizing the whole process of people going to death. The two bounty hunters are equivalent to the ferryman, and the carriage that never slows down is the "time" that never stops. The end of the final stay is "death".

Let's look at the title of the story: the mortal remains, the original English name is the mortal remains, that is, the remains of mortal man. When the characters in the film realize that their situation is not right, we should also realize that the "remains" refers to the natural not the two bounty hunters to transport the remains, but the three passengers -

To expand a little more, it is everyone: no one will be immortal, all are temporarily active "remains".

This time I would like to focus on where the allegorical nature of the film comes from and where this allegorical nature is directed.

In this film, the Coen brothers use a lot of direct shots of the audience, that is, "breaking the fourth wall" shots, such as cowboy Buster's monologue, bounty hunters tell the "night man" story. The latter has a counterpoint, which we can also see as speaking to the opposite passenger, and is interpreted in both real and imaginary terms. The "fourth wall" is originally a theatrical term, in the three-way drama there is an imaginary wall between the audience and the stage actors, this mode of viewing emphasizes the authenticity of the theatrical performance, so that the audience can believe everything that happens on stage and thus enter the story. In cinema, it is to allow the audience to enter the screen story. "Breaking the fourth wall" is to let the characters on the screen interact with the audience, out of their own story world, so that the audience completely understand that this is fictional and not real, so as to achieve a "strangeness" effect of separation.

With their cold and profound gaze, the Coen brothers see through the absurd nature of the world and express it in their films. Only when we see this can we truly see the Coen brothers' films.

So, when you have been cheated by life again, you may sing "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" to console yourself.

How D&D Shapes Game Designers

 

The "Dragon" part from "Dungeons & Dragons" 

Introduction

People nowadays have probably heard of Dungeons & Dragons or “D&D” from the popular Netflix TV show Stranger Things, or even from Critical Role shown on YouTube and Twitch. Back then, however, starting from the year 1974, it was mostly associated with nerdy kids who met up with nothing but dice and their imaginations. Though it went through its rough patches, with parents linking it to Satanism, D&D is far from these controversies. D&D is a collaborative, imaginative, and creative fantasy tabletop role-playing game that has inspired countless of the media that we consume every day. It probably will for a very long time, too.

Stranger Things Scene with the kids playing D&D
Huzzah!

D&D Game Overview

First and foremost, D&D is a game bound by rules, comprised of the players who create their own characters. The Dungeon Master or “DM”, acts as the referee and the story’s narrator. Players tell the DM what they want to do, and the DM applies the rules, sometimes using dice to decide outcomes to the player's actions or the story’s results. The DM must create a convincing world, and players must discover this world whilst building the story together.

Look at all this teamwork!

In the best-case scenario, the following ingredients are present at the table to ensure a safe and fun environment for everyone involved:

  • Teamwork
  • Communication
  • Inclusion
  • Adaptation
  • Resourcefulness

Now that sure sounds like the skills in my resume!

DM's as Game Designers

As the DM, you need to see the world you create through the lens of different professions, such as a theater director, creative writer, researcher, and even psychologist. What seems to tie all of these aspects together is the fact that D&D builds Game Designers.

Essentially, Game Designers need to understand the fun behind what one might consider the boring, mechanical aspects of a game. They build content, refine features, and communicate concepts that bring a game to life. It is natural to move from designing table-top games to video games, akin to knowing art fundamentals and moving to graphic design.

Similarly, Game designers would benefit from playing D&D, as learning how to be better storytellers will give them an advantage in their field, as they constantly have to analyze rules and find what works well and why.

D&D Dice. Or as I'd like to call them: D&Dice

Players as Game Designers

Likewise, the players are just as much considered game designers as the DM is. There are no programming languages that you need to know beforehand, just your freedom of imagination and your dice. For example, this is not Catan or Scrabble, but a life that you breathe into a character. It is what could be the best representation of yourself, or even the worst. All in all, it is what you want it to be.

How NOT to play D&D

Moving from the D&D Table to the Field 

What starts at the D&D table is a gateway to Game Design as a whole. DM's are not traditional storyboard artists or writers, as they are combining the intricate puzzle pieces that are mechanics and human emotions. They understand how they function, and how the rules interact with them.

Traditional writers tend to work in a linear fashion but add the D&D rules to the mix and you shift into the works of game design, where you figure out the rule structures that affect the players emotionally.

D&D and Design go hand in handMoreover, the fact that D&D's combat system and encounter design is lax enough yet so well-structured, enables people to get their hands on a template to follow and change if they so please. Nothing is stopping them from creating their own homebrew monsters, materials, or rules either! There are a million different narrative roads that the players and DM can choose from!

Freedom & Fluidity 

Role-Playing Games are not complete games, as they are built through game design ideas, tips, and practices that the group of people playing it decide. They choose the game they want to play, and this leads to an evolution of a microculture that involves those players.

The vagueness of the mechanics, fluidity, and the constant construction of the storyline make it easier for dungeon masters to make mistakes, explore new things, and get out of their comfort zones.

This is how one can get better at something, whereas other forms of game design might be a bit more intimidating, due to no room for errors being present. The existing rules are not set in stone, and it is encouraged to explore different things that fit your playstyle. A feature that is so inspiring and should be applied to life overall. Fewer rules, more exploration!

A D&D Wizard and a Rogue
Get ready to make some mistakes!

Conclusion

D&D is still relevant and even flourishing, with a spike in worldwide interest according to Google Trends when the global pandemic COVID-19 started to spread at the beginning of 2020. This is due to the opportunity it provides for people to interact, build confidence, express themselves, and explore their creativity with just their imagination (and a Zoom link). Therefore, get off your screens, grab a friend or two, and go Dungeon some Dragons!

“WORD OF HONOR” —— Aesthetics of Chinese Martial arts

Double Chinese poster
"Double Chinese poster"

If you ask me about any unforgettable memories in 2021, I must tell that story about "WORD OF HONOR". As a small-cost online drama that was not favored by the market at the beginning, what sort of charm does it have? 

Famous scene:"Against the beggar group"

The Soul of IP Adaptation:  Original Work

"WORD OF HONOR" is reworked from "Faraway Wanderers" by the Chinese Danmei novelist Priest. The story revolves around Zhou Zishu, the head of "Wind of Heaven". He established this killer organization and worked for King Jin. But he did not anticipate that the owner would become insane about power.

Out of conscience, Zhou Zishu put seven nails in his body due to stay away from the imperial court. When he resolved to wander the world until he died, the heroes battled for the "Glass Armor"  forward to the "warehouse of weapons". In the process, he encountered Wen Kexing, the owner of Ghost Valley. Both of them undergo a trial of death, ultimately accompanying each other in the life.

Famous scene: "Several tests"

Based on the short length of the TV series, the characters have been redesigned to make the audience addicted to it. The producer boldly used a creative team centered on Hong Kong directors. Using a new screenwriter, Xiaochu, who has a deep understanding of Priest's works. Otherwise, many young actors joined. Such as Gong Jun, Zhang Zhehan, Zhou Ye, Ma Wenyuan, Sun Xilun, etc. Therefore, it became the vanguard of Chinese web dramas in 2021, opening the way for new martial arts.

Famous scene:"Crushing herbs"
Famous scene: "Come back to The Four Seasons Manor "

The pursuit of Chinese aesthetic

In recent years, Chinese ancient Wuxia dramas have been flooded with numerous post-production, especially in studio shots, making the audience feel perfunctory and disrespectful. About this criticized aspect, "WORD OF HONOR" has done a good job. The whole team shoot within the scope of funds is completed in natural scenery.

Famous scene: "Uncovering the Human Skin Mask”

Not only that, the composition and pictures are full of Chinese aesthetics. It consists of elegant lenses to prevent the audience's visual fatigue. Firstly, photographers are good at blurring objects, enhancing the depth of the picture when shooting in medium and close-up shots. Secondly, editors are good at connecting the still and the dynamic in order to raise the emotional point of the audience.

Famous scene: “Composition with Chinese martial arts flavor”

What's more, in different scenarios, the producer also carried out professional music composition, mainly using flute, Chinese Zither, Pipa.  They can enhance the appeal of the picture.

Overall, the contrasts between light and dark is also a major feature of the play. It is clear that the appropriateness of natural and artificial light distribution creates a sense of ink in the environment. It's worth mentioning that backlighting can frame the silhouettes of actors and make them stand out from the background.

Famous scene: "Finger guessing"

“Fan After-sales” service and  peripheral  products

"WORD OF HONOR" is broadcast in more than 190 countries around the world. It is completely released on YouTube, Prime Video, VIKI, and other overseas platforms. Among them, the total playback volume of YouTube has surpassed 100 million. Besides, Japan even launched a voice actor dubbing version.

Thanks to the lack of a lot of commercial publicity in the early stage, such behavior has been favored by the audience. The most eye-catching of these are Gong Jun and Zhang Zhehan, who play Wen and Zhou. After the show, they have been interacting generously on social platforms, combining many variety shows.

In the official concert "Born to Be Soulmate", their century hug was touched. Countless fans earned a group of extremely loyal shippers (like this matching CP fan group)

Famous scene: "Tricks in the lake"

Passion for Fan Creation

The intense trend of work constantly brings demands in all aspects. Whether it's Zhou Zishu's white sword or Wen Kexing's folding fan, they initially used crowdfunding to investigate the purchasing power of fans, and there is still a shortage of supply. Even if the replica of the white sword is as high as 5,000 yuan, the fan group still has superior purchasing power.

Many manufacturers have found more business opportunities, vigorously creating original sound OSTs for television dramas. At the same time, they launched limited-edition cotton dolls, hand-made custom iron badges, and various trinkets (earrings, bracelets, hairpins, necklaces) with character element designs, glazed armor pendants, etc.) The most absurd thing is that there are even pirated peripherals in South Korea.

Because of the popularity of WORD OF HONOR, fans who come from different countries spared no effort to "boost power". As the result of plot development, numerous fans said: It is impossible to dislike "WORD OF HONOR"). The works have brought a wave of cross-dimensional creation, these related tags have an extremely high appearance rate in the fan-fiction fields: such as pictures, videos, cosplay.

Famous scene: “Conversation between Good and Evil”

There is a “Jianghu” in everyone's heart, and heroism in mindset either. "Word Of Honor " is the interpretation of love and redemption.

Word of Honor Theme Concert: "Born to Be Soulmates"

Are Comic Books In Decline?

Demon Slayer

We live in a time where it is good to be a comic book fan. Previously associated with the nerd culture, the comic book industry has become the source material for making box office money. And in return, these movies made loving comics cool, however, despite all the new fans that movies bring in, why is there a steady decline in the readership of these books?

According to an article published on nerd.com in 2021 Japanese Demon Slayer manga series (150 million units) itself outsold the entire US Comics Industry (15 million units). An argument can be brought up that this is only the success of a single series, but as a big comic book nerd myself, the cracks start to show up as we look a little closer. Although there are certainly more, I have listed below the 4 main reasons that I believe cause the comic book industry to decline.

1-Too Much Material To Read Through

 

This is probably one of the biggest complaints I hear from people who want to get into the comics. I am a big Spider-man fan so let me give my example from Spiderman. Imagine someone who went to the latest Spider-Man movie and really enjoyed it. They loved the character, what he represented, and all the lore surrounding him. Now they want to read the actual source material, but where do you begin? Spider-Man has been around 60 years. Wherever they jump in, they will feel lost and confused. For this reason, most people get outright intimidated and just do online summaries every once in a while.

 

2-Inconsistent Characters And Writing

Spider-Man’s 60th Anniversary

Since characters like Spider-Man have been around for 60 years, there is a constant rotation of writers and artists in the comics. Because of this, even though the aim is to keep the characters coherent (in this case, Spider-Man), every writer and artist displays their own interpretation of the character. As a result, not everyone is going to enjoy the occasional change in writing and/or writing.

 

Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure Vol 1 (1987)

Compared to popular long-running manga series such as Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure (although the art style changes over time, the artist is the same) and One Piece, the writers and artists do not change. In these series, the writer even illustrates their own stories, which is fairly common in the manga industry.

3-Inconsequential Stories and Concepts

Batman: Death In The Family

Due to the long-running nature of comics such as Marvel and DC, from time to time, they like to make big turning points for the characters or stories to draw in more readers and keep the existing ones hooked. Sadly, most of these events and changes can be inconsequential. The most apparent example of this is the concept of ‘death’ in comics. The amount of times characters like Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, or characters in their series have died and came back is almost laughable.

When done right, the hard-hitting concepts such as death can really deliver an emotional punch and shake things up. However, if they are done too often, it loses that punch and becomes predictable, which can draw the readers away. With no end in sight, it becomes harder each day to keep these books fresh and interesting.

4-Too many Tie-In Books

Secret Wars – Secret Empire – Avengers vs X-Men

This last one is also one of my biggest pet peeves about comics. Do you remember how I told you in comics they like to do big events from time to time to increase interest? Almost every year, to maximize this tactic big comic book companies like DC and Marvel like to do big events with high stakes involving various characters from their series since they all share the same universe.

The problem is if the series you read has nothing to do with those big events, they still try to tie in almost every character. So, as you are reading your favorite series, a totally unrelated event enters the fray. Now you have read another series, just understand the connection (most of which is poorly constructed) with the series that you are currently following. From my experience, there were even instances where certain stories or plot points were dropped just to follow the big event of the year.

Final Thoughts

Even though I criticized the comics culture, it is a culture that I deeply care about. It changed me and my life for the better on so many levels. That is also why I believe it is important to talk about its issues and flaws so that they can be addressed to make them even more popular and enjoyable than they already are.

Top 4 Design Trends That Will Rock in 2022

In 2022, there will be four major digital design trends to watch. Try to use them since it’s the latest fad in design! The 2022 year represents a lot of rock top 4 design styles! Some of them came from the last decade and were given a second life, whereas others are newly emerged.

Trending Aesthetics of 80th + Metaverse design

The 80s? What? Yes, right! The look of the ‘80s was so powerful and it continues to influence designers nowadays and empower their creative expression of the deeper self. What can be better for the design than the mix of 80s aesthetics and metaverse? This is all about neon, vibrant colors, grain textures, crazy patterns, and colorful fictional digital worlds. The combination of the 80s and metaverse creates powerful integration to merit a wide audience of both centuries indeed. You got it! 80th + Metaverse!

Immersive Mobile Game

Minimalistic design trend 2022

The minimalist design means that only essential elements will be displayed. It can include basic shapes like square, triangle, circle, rectangle. Furthermore, try to keep the limited color palette to mitigate the distractedness of design. In addition, the minimalism style is a great decision for simple and memorable design choices. In other words, minimalistic style is one of the best ways to catch the audience’s minds. To succeed, go with fewer elements but create meaningful context behind the picture. Design should be harmonized visually and meaningfully fulfilled. Be concise and clear! Move on!

To sum up, have you heard about the expression “Less is more”? This fully describes the philosophy behind minimalism!

MURRĒ

Monochromatic Color Palette

Only one color? Right! This design trick is popular around many household brands. Big-names use this fad to design catchy marketing campaigns. The art of monochromatic design is a powerful tool to make your design stand out from the crowd. The word “monochromatic” came from the Old Greek word monochromes, which means “it has one color”. A monochrome palette consists of one fundamental color and its different tones, and shades. Moreover, a monochromatic color palette is spreading in the design world more and more! Use it as a foundation for the Instagram grid, video, advertisement, photography, and animation to be one of the first implementors of that trend! Do it! Just do it! This technique will never make design boring, rather stylish and elegant! The peculiarities of design with monochromatic colors

Top trend in design 2022 Monochromatic color pallete

Monochromatic color pallete design. Trending choice 2022

Colors of Summer by Ryan Dalton

Miniature worlds. Digital design trend to keep an eye on in 2022.

This toy style has special popularity among 3D artists. Such tiny worlds remind miniature toys from childhood. While looking at this art you probably have a perception that you can easily touch and play with these figures. Feel that childish vibe! Meanwhile, this is just a digital illusion! Above all, the attractiveness of that trend is going from Tilt-shift photography. Interestingly, this technique of photography is incredibly popular for the last 10-15 years. So nowadays, 3D artists are getting inspired by that. In addition, the small world gives special feelings and vibes, as a result, you can imagine yourself like an “Alice in Wonderland”! Awesome! Isn’t it?

miniature 3D world. Trending design in 2022

 

picture of miniature, toy 3D world

Rainy Days

Hey! My name is Mariia Izbash. I have a Bachelors’s Degree in Multimedia Design. All my life just spinning about art and creative products, If you would like to know more about trending styles in design for 2022 similarly as I showed here — subscribe to my channel and turn on notifications 🙂 I hope this portion of the 2022 design trends was valuable for you! Go and design! This is for you, my creative friend!Please read an interesting article from my friend about comics  Are Comic Books In Decline?

 

 

A Marvel Cinematic Universe Podcast Review on The Lo-ki Raft

An Adventurers Guide to a Podcast Review

Heyyyyooooo! Welcome one and all to “From Adolescent to Adult: The Maturely Immature Adventures of a Polish Guy Named Pat.” On today’s adventure, it’s a bird… It’s a plane… No, it’s Pat’s way of introducing you all to one of the best Marvel Cinematic Universe podcasts out on the web.

 

A Marvel of an Imagination

I’m sure we’ve all been there a few times before. A late-night hangout with some friends, some drinks, snacks, and out of the blue, you find yourself deep in conversation about a topic. You enjoyed yourself so much that the next thing you know hours have gone by.

That’s exactly what I feel like when listening to Rob and Cody on the Lo-Ki Podcast. The “less than expert but more than casual fan” as they like to say, review all kinds of cinematic material from the MCU. They begin their journey with the 2021 TV series on Disney+, Loki. That’s basically it, just two dudes sitting around talking about MCU stuff. It’s very lo-ki… Yes, I know what I did there. Sorry, not sorry.

 

“A fine day to you my super friends! I’m Rob and that’s Cody. And we’d like to welcome you to The Lo-Ki Raft, your slightly buoyant lifeline to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

– Rob, The Lo-Ki Podcast, various episodes.

Marvel Cinematic Universe Podcast Review

Podcast Review

The chemistry between Rob and Cody is at the forefront during each episode. You can tell they are close friends. They poke fun at one another, finish each other’s sentences, and on occasion, make each other laugh hysterically… And it’s contagious. I honestly feel like I’m with them just shooting the **** while they discuss the movies. It’s not a play-by-play retelling of the movies but just two friends talking about what they thought of certain characters and some major points in the film/tv series.

 

 

There’s More than Marvel Cinematic Universe Stuff?

After the discussion, they have segments like, “The Raftees”. This is an award segment that gives out awards for both good and, what Rob likes to call, “hot steaming pile of dookie”, things of that episode’s topic of discussion. Bold predictions, where they use their more than average knowledge of the MCU to make some predictions about future upcoming MCU things. Deep dive, where they each pick one character from the film/tv-series and do a deep dive on them. They flesh out more details that the average person would not know. And finally, their ratings. Both Rob and Cody rate the episodes or movie out of 100. They keep a record of all their ratings so they, and us, know where each piece of content stands in relation to one another.

 

Easy Listening!

What’s good about these episodes is that they are really easy to follow and listen to. Most of the time I’m listening to them while driving or doing chores around the house. It’s not paramount that you listen to each second intently. You just have it on in the background as if you had music playing. It’s great!

 

The End of the Review

I feel very fortunate to have been exposed to the Lo-ki Podcast from their beginning days. Seeing them evolve into what they are now brings a huge smile to my face because Rob and Cody are not doing it for the money or for fame. The duo just wants to spread some MCU knowledge around and always hope that their content brings a smile to your face. The one thing that I am jealous of is the fact that you new listeners get to experience them from the very beginning and not have to wait week to week as I do. You can binge their entire 44-episode library, which gets an episode added weekly, in one go!

I’ve left a link to their podcast here so go check them out!

If you like what you read and want to see more, click here.

Links

Apple Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-lo-ki-raft-a-marvel-cinematic-universe-podcast/id1572469209

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/63BleNiQc5BZL09G4dOP4C

Amazon Music: https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/5f84791c-4eb2-4f12-9585-8c03f191751d/the-lo-ki-raft—a-marvel-cinematic-universe-podcast

Tran Anh Hung and His Vietnam Trilogy

There is nothing can beat the trilogy by Tran Anh Hung when you want to recommend films about the Vietnamese culture to your international friends. Those three movies bring fully Vietnamese spirit to the audiences, not only by the antiquated architecture, mind-boggling language, sophisticated cuisine, but also the way the characters live and react in each scene.

Tran Anh Hung’s career- from a refugee to the icon of Vietnamese cinema.

Tran Anh Hung was born in the south of Vietnam. Then, he and his family emigrated to France at the age of six after the fall of Sai Gon at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. After seeing ‘A Man Escaped by Chance’ of Robert Bresson, he decided to study photography at the Louis Lumiere Academy in Paris. Over the last two decades, Tran Anh Hung has been in the vanguard of a wave of internationally recognized Vietnamese arthouse cinema. [1]

Tran Anh Hung and his wife
Tran Anh Hung and his wife- Tran Nu Yen Khe, the main actress in his trilogy about Vietnam/ Dep Magazine.

Hung started his professional career with The Scent Of Green Papaya (1993), his Oscar-nominated film for Best Foreign Film, and also won two top prizes at the Cannes Film Festival. Thanks to the success of his debut, he was able to secure money for his second picture, Cyclo (1995), which won the Golden Lion at the 52nd Venice International Film Festival. What’s more, he also was one of the youngest directors to be honored in this festival, at the age of 33. Then, in 2000, he released The Vertical Ray Of The Sun, the third puzzle piece to complete his “Vietnam trilogy” picture. [1]

Tran Anh Hung official poster
The official poster of ‘The Vertical Ray Of The Sun’

His works intended to re-create the image of Vietnam that he had lost when he moved to France, as well as to present audiences with a different perspective about Vietnam, which has long been dominated by French and American cinemas. The storylines are based on his understanding of Vietnamese culture as well as his first-hand experience from journeys to the motherland. [1]

Tran Anh Hung set decor
The kitchen of Sai Gon in the late 1940s/ The Scent Of Green Papaya

The Vietnam Trilogy by Tran Anh Hung

The factor that impressed me the most about this thematic trilogy was its unique cinematic language and the atmosphere in those movies. Most scenes were frequently filmed through and against windows, door openings, mirrors, and other naturally occurring frames. This can have a variety of connotations, the most obvious of which is a sense of entrapment, in which people are stuck in roles imposed on them by the old society and family expectations, arranged marriage, deep-rooted norms, or by their own complex emotions.

decorative
Hung has followed the perfection in every single frame in his film, from the lighting to shot composition in order to convey the hidden message or reveal the unspeakable feelings of the characters/ The Scent of Green Papaya

The lighting and framing techniques played a vital part of what makes Hung’s cinematography beautiful and atmospheric. The use of close-up shots in all three films had brought a very specific, almost tangible texture to the scenes. I must admit that the whole significance of all of these frames, which Hung claimed to be highly meaningful and deliberate, eluded me at the first time I watched them (when I was 16 If my memory serves me well). Nevertheless, I found those art pieces very aesthetically pleasing!

One of my most favorite frames within his Trilogy/ The Scent Of Green Papaya

The Scent of Green Papaya (1993)

The Scent was a film that depicted a Vietnamese household in the late 1940s and early 1960s through the perspective of a young girl, Mui (her name also means ‘scent’ in Vietnamese), who was a servant in a wealthy family. She paid close attention to everything around her, and as she blossomed into a lovely woman, her simple decency impressed people surround. When she first started working for the family as an adopted orphan child, she learned her chores fast and well, and she completed them in such a quiet and discreet manner that she could become invisible right in that house. But this girl is still a very real person. She is patient, all-seeing, and the film is a reflection of her awareness. She saw beauty in the tiniest of details: The aroma of green papaya, a drop of water quivering on a leaf, a line of ants, a frog in a puddle after the rain, the sunray went through the green leaves outside the window. The audiences will be immersed in the bright, innocent visual of the film, following scene by scene like observing the exquisite poem for the naked eyes.

Mui- the orphan child was adopted by a wealthy family in Sai Gon/ The Scent of Green Papaya

Cyclo (1995)

Cyclo was an entirely different, much darker street-life experience that was mesmerizing, complicating, excessively violent, and infuriating all at once compared to his first film. The story is about a group of people who live in the outside of society. The main character was a humble pedicab driver (cyclo) attempting to make a living by carrying passengers around the city in order to support his family. He was just scraping by until he is targeted by a local gang. They steal his cyclo, making him unable to work. He had no choice but to run errands for the gang’s madam.

Cyclo is much darker than Hung’s first movie. Vietnamese government even banned this movie at that time because it brought up the naked truth of the society in Sai Gon after the War / Cyclo

The Vertical Ray of the Sun (2000)

Hung’s third feature film portrayed the story of three sisters, two married, one single in a typical family in the old Ha Noi. The film opened with the death anniversary of their mother and ends a month later with the death anniversary of their father. In the meanwhile, their peaceful, perfect life was completely shattered by betrayal, miscarriages, lies, and increasing incestuous sentiments between siblings. Every single scene in the film brilliantly captured a season of heat and humidity in the North of Viet Nam, when daily motion was to be avoided, and wandering around when the temperature was still cool was the most delightful moment of the day. Sisters got together, cooking, singing, and sharing their secret concerns. The guys were shown in a more hazy manner throughout the film.

Three sisters are preparing the meal for their father’s memorial day/ The Vertical Ray Of The Sun

The director made me feel that it’s so pointless to wrap up and solve the character’s problems that, eventually the audiences won’t remember if it did or not when it’s finished. It’s not about a happening itself, but rather a longing for the slower pace and tranquility of bygone moments. Similarly, all three films luxuriated in scenes of women singing, either professionally or in their home. That was ultimately the impression that will last the longest in my mind: of a Vietnam in which life passes by languidly, occasionally with Vietnamese cuisine and beautiful music, while the dramatic also happens to happen.

 

Together this Vietnam Trilogy created a vibrant image of Vietnam, portraiting love, family bonds, class divides, wealth, and good food, but also of betrayal, despair, and poverty. In one of his talks, Tran Anh Hung shared that he was inspired by Picasso’s idea about the existence of language even in the most abstract forms of art. From this, he created his own cinematic language and certainly, the filming techniques used in his movies, which helped him communicate with his audiences. A New York film critic, Janet Maslin, stated that Tran Anh Hung was a filmmaker of ‘unusual sophistication’ in his generation.

Bibliography:

[1]. Tran Anh Hung biography. Accessed Feb 5, 2022. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tran_Anh_Hung