Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 1st

By bluemist on January 2nd, 2011

Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha The Movie 1st

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Nothing lyrical about it, but it was the best ride.
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Higher Definition Addendum: Frame Doubling

By bluemist on October 20th, 2010

Higher Definition

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FRAME DOUBLING
During my early fansub days, I was particularly paranoid about the frame rates of the videos I download, especially in one specific example – Chobits. This anime actually runs smoothly when the screen slides and pans, and this can be evidently seen if you get a Chobits video that runs in 29.97 or 30fps. There are some fansubbers/raw providers though who only provided it at 23.976 or 24fps, which means it loses the smoothness during screen pans and introduces judder or jittering.

Nowadays I see a curious feature in HDTVs called Motion Interpolation. It tries to insert middle frames on a video in the hopes of making it smoother. A best way to describe it is to take your traditional cinema/film and make it look as if you’re watching a soap opera (Soap Opera Effect). LCD TVs with 120Hz or higher refresh rates have this feature built in. Let me explain though that this is an acquired taste. Personally I don’t like to motion-interpolate live-action videos because I’m very used to the cinema/film effect. Also, this will not be as the original makers of the video intended it to be, because the feature is trying to add information that wasn’t there in the first place. It’s a bit similar in concept to upconversion, where you try to add more pixels in the hopes of making it look sharper and clearer (cue CSI enhance-enhance lol).

For anime and PVs though, this is a pretty awesome idea! I find that I enjoy the viewing experience tremendously when I take advantage of this! Of course, while I don’t have a 120Hz display because they are still expensive, I am able to simulate the experience by either converting videos to 60fps or decoding them on the fly as I watch. Both the guides I linked are pretty techie so be forewarned, also you need a pretty souped rig to decode on the fly. My Core 2 Duo 3GHz rig starts to cough at motion interpolation if I give it a 1080p video.

It’s pretty hard to explain without actual samples so I prepared one to best illustrate this how this would look. I have encoded the first To Aru Kagaku no Railgun OP, one in its original 24fps form and the other motion-interpolated to 60fps. The difference is incredibly noticeable in this video. It wouldn’t be nice in YouTube because it caps all video at around 30fps so I will provide download links.

Railgun 24fps
Railgun 60fps

Apologies if it looks grainy because I tried to keep the file size low, but what the heck, I will share another one! This is the incredible Bad Apple PV in 960×720 60fps glory:

Bad Apple 60fps

What do you think? Does it look better to you with the additional smoothness in motion? For me it certainly does, at least for anime, MADs, PVs and other animated videos. I’m in the process of converting a lot of my videos to 60fps. As I said, this is an acquired taste, and it’s not what the original video makers intended, but it still looks awesome.

Handling Information Overload

By bluemist on August 17th, 2010

Information Overload

torrents

Sometimes it is better to pull the plug. Wake up, smell the coffee, go outside. Breathe true air. Because what we have today is what I described before as information overload. Basically, because of technology, globalization, and human nature, we have too much stuff going on in our lives, and it’s starting to bog us down. As the internet grows bigger, our communication with others becomes stronger, products and services continue to come to us from every part of the globe, and as we desperately strive to fill ourselves up being a part of this entire information ecosystem, by sharing, ranting, and basically enjoying it, the overload will continue. In this article I will share with you my experiences in trying to control my personal information overload, and hopefully you could derive some kind of solution in your own overload problems.

Well, not that my advice would be of any significant value. There are better people out there who are better-equipped (physically and/or mentally) to deal with their real-life issues. I am here as a typical geek layman, someone who is supposed to love information overload by the nature of being into anime, games and technology. First things first… when did I jump from loving information overload to loathing it? Since I started being in the corporate slave, of course. I have worked for quite a while now, and I find that my down time isn’t as plentiful anymore as in my school days. Back in college, I was able to marathon tons of anime or play long hours of games. Not anymore. There were times I was too stressed out at work that I can’t muster to enjoy any kind of entertainment. Keep in mind that I also had worked in Japan for a freaking YEAR, and as someone who isn’t inclined in the Japanese work culture of going overtime every single day, coupled with the mostly-alone apartment life responsibilities like cooking and cleaning… I was really a workaholic.

Information overload is not just about entertainment per se, but all kinds of information including news, education, and even personal dealings. Back in Japan, sometimes I forget to check up on the international news. God knows if the world is going to end already without me knowing. In terms of education, as a computer programmer, I did want to learn more languages and hone my skills. My work was becoming quite stale and I was locked into a certain kind of skill set that doesn’t grow. Unfortunately I really don’t have much time away from work to do that. And personal dealings. I was completely ‘told’ by friends and family when I had never called back home or even chatted via internet for a few weeks. Those were rocky times in my psyche indeed. Imagine hearing news of a death of a relative or a school acquaintance, or changes like “oh and they broke up” and “she’s pregnant!” and “they’re married already”, when you are thousands of miles away and can’t share with them your happiness or sadness about their matters.

Coming back to my home country was quite a breather, but it wasn’t that easy either. Considering that I can’t do anything else (other than work and some play) there in Japan because I’m not from that country, there are more kinds of overload waiting for me at home. It was around this time, three years ago, that my prodigal journey had ended. My outlook towards my life had really changed from there. Sometimes you can see the desperation reflected in my blog, in which whatever promises I made would eventually fail anyway. In the end this casual, sporadic blogging would be the norm for the next years up until now. I came home quite beaten up, only to be beat up just more. I still have the same job, so even though I have a little more time in my hands due to not going overtime anymore, that doesn’t amount to much because I commute to and from the office through vicious traffic jams. My apartment in Japan was quite convenient… because I only walk half a minute to and from the office. Heh. Also because of this, I started acting like a hikki sometimes refusing to go on social meetings and such. Great, that’s no different from being inaccessible via phone or internet chat… actually that’s worse. So with my time similarly limited, with broken blogging, broken habits and hobbies, and broken awareness of things that are happening around me, I finally realized that I had been a victim of information overload. That would be the time when I try to start picking up the pieces.

Apologies for that long intro to my life, this is where “handling information overload” actually starts, lol.

I asked myself a lot of questions. What information do I need? What information do I want? What would be considered vital information? Can I sort out information? Is there a way to filter out information? How do I keep things simple. How do I keep information at a minimum without missing out? While I can’t answer those in a general way, I do find those questions as a great barometer. Those questions will only yield more specific questions, and those I can answer directly.

To give a specific example, let’s start with technology, particularly Linux. I admit, I’m a Windows guy… and if you ever see me going Linux, it will only be information overload for me. I used to try a lot of Linux operating systems from Ubuntu to Red Hat, but no matter what I do, I can’t ever use it. I can’t imagine myself using it everyday. Even if I completely configured my computer running perfectly in Linux, there will always be that hardware or software quirk that would annoy me into saying “why can’t this feature which is in my Windows be in my Linux”? Sure, as they say in Linux, if they don’t have it… write code for it. Heh, that’s kinda unproductive. Unless my career path becomes Linux, I don’t think I can handle it… so I threw it all away. It’s enough that I know what Linux is and that I know the gist of how it works. The time to go all out isn’t today. Thus my prime solution to information overload was born:

“If it’s not your battlefield, don’t try to make it your own.”

There should be a reason, a motivation, and an inspiration if you are into something. You shouldn’t enter into something with shallow thoughts, because it will only overwhelm you. As a Windows user, Linux is not my way into the computing world. I don’t need to learn more about Linux than what I know right now (I’m a pretty good end user). Now, for example, if my job requirement changed to needing Linux, then Linux becomes my battlefield. That would be the time to learn more about it, because it isn’t information overload anymore.

This general rule would apply to every aspect of information overload that I had encountered. It required me to gather whatever I had at the moment, and figure out which places are my true battlefields. Stuff that I am already good or familiar at. So lessee, in terms of anime, I’m into moe~, shoujo, and slice-of-life. Goodbye sports, mecha, action, and fantasy… unless they are good. This essentially limited my anime viewing to bare minimums, but because I only focused on genres which are my fortes, I don’t think I’m particularly missing out. In terms of education, whatever programming languages I am already skilled at, I can hone them more. International news? I don’t need to be watching CNN every hour right? Even just the headlines suffice. Real-life/social issues? At the very least, ping on messengers or check out social networking sites to check up on “people”, not what “people do that doesn’t matter” like their scores on their online games or something.

My solution is some kind of priority prioritization isn’t it. Focus on what’s important, with a small amount dedicated to whatever “may” be important. This is a very critical statement, because sometimes we prioritize those which “may be important” in our lives and those make up the bulk of information overload. We think too much on one topic, especially on the short term, that we forget that in the long run… it doesn’t freaking matter after all.

All your usual anti-stress methods are compatible with this, after all, many of our hobbies are anti-stress methods. With so much information available and ready for us to consume (or rather, ready to consume us), we have to start trying to counter by evaluating our own appetite. In the end, all it boils down is the will, the knowledge, the power, and the courage to identify which things matter to you the most. If it matters to you, it isn’t the one overloading you. All other things… are.

TV5 Animega – Episode 2: Endless Eight

By bluemist on August 29th, 2009

haruh
August 2009 marks the first-year anniversary of the TV5 reformat. This local channel of ours had been struggling to keep up with the big two (ABS-CBN and GMA), but since the reformat it has been doing quite well. They have innovative and fresh TV programming which made them #1 in some timeslots. In particular, the anime blocks had been receiving a lot of praise from some of our most dedicated local anime fans. For almost a year, a slew of anime have been aired with less cuts, good dubbing, and impressive lineups. Unfortunately, they can’t keep up with their high pace for too long, and so these past few months have been quite troubling for them.
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Goodbye…

By bluemist on August 7th, 2009

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Our endless summer.
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The Lost Sequel

By bluemist on July 26th, 2009

The Melancholy Code
Melancholies and Demons

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Oof… here we are again.

Oh they really have the fans in their control. Did you even think that Kadokawa and KyoAni do NOT expect this kind of reaction from us? We are all being led into their just as keikaku master plans. In the first place, why did the original Suzumiya Haruhi series from 2006 have a random episode timeline again? Please do refresh me on that. This is one lucky series you know. If there are thousands upon thousands of youtube and niconico video parodies and homages out there, thousands of fans buying everything from dvds to merchandise, and thousands of online people discussing the series with an unending passion, a risky move or two (or seven, or eight, or…) wouldn’t hurt your bottom line. In fact, this kind of radical programming is just what we need. If anime can’t brave the economic recession with all the cookie-cutter stuff we’ve been seeing for these past few years, I would only honor the ones who really want to make a difference. It’s hard to do that right now.

Do you know what’s the REAL ENDLESS EIGHT for me? Anime. There must be something… “strange” if this plot, this character, or this whole anime reminds you of some other plot, some other character, or some other anime itself that you have watched. Doesn’t everything resemble some part of everything else? In the anime world, everything is deja vu.

If you are in the bishoujo category fetish like me, in 90% of those eroge and bishoujo game-turned anime, the characters look, feel, and act familiar and similar to any other character in any other game. Fancy an onii-chan complex? Da Capo has one. Obviously Da Capo II has one too, as well as Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka, Canvas 2, Gift… this list can go on forever (even with anime that doesn’t come from a game… like Hatsukoi Limited). When you watch an episode with that kind of character, that’s the real Endless Eight. You have seen this kind of character a hundred times in many different variations.

That was just one example. Endless Eight can appear in any aspect.
– Chances are these anime has a Yui Horie character in it.
– Chances are Kugimiya Rie has a tsundere character in these anime.
– Umm this OP song sounds like that OP song.
– Umm this ED movie looks like that ED movie.
– Ahh, the ever-present beach fanservice episode.
– Kimodameshi episode, school festival episode, onsen episode, matsuri episode…
– YES TEH CONFESSION SCENE!
– Oh there was no confession after all… maybe in another episode.
– This is probably the “male character stumbles over the girl touching her body parts and then the girl goes kyaaaa” scene
– Oh and this is the “male character opens some door and the girl is seen with limited clothing and the girl goes kyaaaa” scene
– Oh so this is about a young boy who has potent power and goes into the adventure of his lifetime, and meeting some old master to train him, maybe a sidekick or two, and a princess to probably save along while he battles the evil forces of whatever to save the world?
– Oh so this is about a young girl who suddenly discovers her magic, then a cute mascot appears, maybe a sidekick or four of them, and have multiple prince characters for them to adore while saving the world from evil by their magic wands, transformative costumes and bright pink lights and explosions?

All in all, I don’t see anything particularly offensive with Haruhi’s obviously repeating Endless Eight episodes. After all, most other anime I watch have the same darn thing on it. Strange… I know that I’ve seen this all before… but why am I watching all these cookie-cut anime for more than a decade now?

Hmmm… I don’t know. I enjoy watching anime maybe?

Press Release:
There was widespread speculation about content of the eagerly-awaited new anime from phenomenal bestselling production studio Kyoto Animation. For the first time, fans worldwide will discover the setting for the action and key themes from the forthcoming thriller. Since announcement of broadcasting in April 2009, anticipation for the release of the new sequel featuring this anime’s unforgettable protagonist, Suzumiya Haruhi, has reached epic proportions amongst fans, especially in the online community. The ratings have been equally enthusiastic, predicting that The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi will be the biggest ever hit in anime since records began.

Following the publication of The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Kyoto Animation’s other animes Full Metal Panic, AIR, Kanon, Lucky Star, Clannad, Munto and K-ON have all gone on to become multi-million copy international bestsellers. See all the great preview reactions from various press around the world about this revolutionary release:

*facepalm* – Kyon
“Freaking awesome!” – Haruhi
“…” – Yuki
禁則事故です! – Mikuru
“I LOOOOVE YOU” – Koizumi
“Kyon-kun denwa~” – Imouto
“WTF I DON’T EVEN” – Dan Brown

Also see the reactions from some of the fans:
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