Archive for the ‘pixar’ Tag

Middle of October 2014   2 comments

I realized something about myself tonight. When required to answer something I have been trained in, I stumble over words.

Customer: Hey, are you able to give me cash back?
Kelsey: Yes, you can get the…the things when you do the thing, with the swiping, the cashing, with the debit card. You have to have a debit card to get the thing. The cash.

But when I improvise…

Kelsey: Oh, I like the teddy bear mask. Very scary. Is it for Halloween?
Customer: No, I just want it wear it every day.
Kelsey: I respect that.
Customer: *laughs hysterically*

Or alternatively:

Kelsey: I see you got skeleton-themed paper plates and towels. Are you preparing for the Skeleton War?
Customer: No, I’ve never heard of that.
Kelsey: On Halloween, the skeletons are going to rise up and make war on us all. It’s all over the internet.
Customer: I didn’t know. We’ll be completely unprepared.
Kelsey: Oh, don’t worry! Now that you know, you’ll be able to prepare.
Customer: Good.
Kelsey: Although, since we all have skeletons inside us, will we not be fighting ourselves?
Customer: That got deep.
Supervisor: That got creepy.

Anyway, when I made my last post, I expected to update later that day with a most important post about how I spent my weekend. Alas, my weekend was so much fun and so exhausting that I ended up passing out instead of writing the blog entry. I am now going to fix that.

Kelsey and Lacey’s Excellent Adventure

Lacey came down to visit me for the weekend! Not only was it the first time I saw family in like two months (how did I go that long??? I’m not used to that!) but also it was the first time I had time off in like ever.

She drove down on Friday night for the long Columbus Day Indigenous People’s Day weekend. I made lettuce wraps and she, James, and I played Robo Rally. I chose Robo Rally because it’s the least board-game-like board game we own. You navigate a bunch of robots around a map, as they crash into things (such as other robots) and get caught on conveyor belts and shoot at things and it’s a lot of fun, 10/10 would recommend. Lacey loved it.

The next day, we knew I had to close Petsmart in the evening, and I really wanted to go to a corn maze, so we chose a corn maze just down the road from Food Lion to go to. It really amazes me about North Carolina; we’re in the middle of suburbia, and you turn down a road you always turn down, and then you go like two minutes farther and suddenly you’re in farm country? Or maybe there’s a large working farm smack in the middle of suburbia? Like there’s apartments right across the street from a working farm?

Most of the activities were for families with little kids. There was a moon bounce, farm equipment to climb on, pony rides, a fenced-in area with a few things for kids to climb on but mostly a place for them to run around and scream. There were activities for older kids — a strongman game, a mechanical bull, a trail ride. Lacey and I started with the corn maze, because that had been the main attraction for me.

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They had given us a map and shown us where the entrance was on the map. We hewed very closely to the map, and so getting through the maze was a breeze. We were supposed to find ten checkpoints. That was not so easy.

After an hour, we had found seven checkpoints and decided to call it quits. The sun was hot in the sky. The ground was muddy. We had both dressed in long, dark jeans for some insane reason. We knew where the exit was. So we left and sat in the shaded eating area and drank water and checked facebook and chatted for a bit.

We decided to do the trail ride next, although they were in the middle of a trail ride, so we decided to do the strongman game in the meantime. You guys know what a strongman game is. I’m not going to explain it.

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Lacey was able to get “Minor Blast” while I couldn’t get past “Fizzle Out”. I fumed at my lack of strength. Lacey explained how my swinging technique was wrong, and I tried again, this time scoring “Low Power.” And that was great! But it was time to get on our high horse and ride.

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Uh oh, she’s figured out I’m taking pictures.

They gave the horse that I wanted to a little boy, I guess because that particular horse was calm and easy. Why couldn’t I get the calm and easy horse? Instead, I got a generic brown horse who had decided that he was sick of walking the same loop around the property every day. Didn’t anyone ever bother to ask the horse what he wanted to do? He was the one actually doing the walking, and what he wanted to do was eat some delicious, delicious grass.

Yes, while I was feeling trepidatious because the last time I rode a horse I nearly fell off, the horse was just feeling hungry and bored. We started walking, and the horse immediately veered to the left to get some grass next to the entrance. Fortunately, I guided the horse roughly back to the group. I muttered to the horse, “Don’t you want to be with the other horses? Aren’t you a herd animal?” He chose not to reply.

For a moment we walked on the trail and all was peaceful and well. The sun warmed my skin. I gained an appreciation for all those comments about riders being “saddle-sore” in all those fantasy books. I didn’t hurt, but my skin was being rubbed, and I could see it getting worse if you rode for several hours. I also thought it was pretty cool, you know, sitting on something and having it go without you pressing on an accelerator or something.

The trail was a big loop around a big grassy field. The horse went for the grass. But he was smart; he acted like he wanted to stay on the road, but just not next to those other horses. But slowly, we started angling more and more onto the grass and less and less onto the gravel. Then he stopped. He straight up stopped, and bent down, and started eating grass.

“No,” I said. “No, horse. No.” I tried kicking his belly, but the horse continued to munch away. I weakly flicked the reins. I wondered whose idea it had been to let me operate a horse. I looked around. Lacey was riding next to the ride leader, laughing, making friends like she’s so good at doing. Behind them was the little boy on the pretty horse. I couldn’t see anyone else. The horse pulled at a particularly tough piece of grassing, rocking me from side to side.

From behind me, someone said, “Pull hard on the reins. Show him who’s boss.”

“Won’t that hurt?” I asked.

“Not if you only do it briefly. He won’t want you to do it again.”

I trusted his expert advice and yanked on the reins. Then I yanked again. And a third time. Finally, the horse’s head went up, and he walked along, chewing. Then he swallowed, and stopped, bent down, and started plucking at the grass again.

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Here are some random pictures that I took on the farm. That is the King of All Goats in case you are wondering.

Lacey and I picked out our pumpkins and headed home. We watched Nightmare Before Christmas before I had to leave for work. She was out with some Raleigh friends of hers when I got home.

The next day, we went to downtown Raleigh. I had never been to downtown Raleigh before. It was a cold and misty day, completely the opposite of the day before; I had wore cloth shoes even though it was clearly going to rain any second. We were going for the Raleigh Museum of History, but we stumbled upon the Food Truck Rodeo, which I had completely forgotten about even though it had been advertised pretty much everywhere in the Raleigh area constantly, including on our toilet paper probably.

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I like how few food trucks are featured in these images, despite them literally lining the streets.

Lacey bought a shirt and a cupcake. I bought some crab rangoon and veggie rolls, some cupcakes, and a whoopie pie. Then we headed to the museum.

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Now admittedly I have been spoiled rotten by growing up near DC. I compare all museums to the Smithsonian Institution. Those are huge, grand Neo-Classical buildings. The Raleigh Museum of History was small compared to that. Not super small — not Bath Historical Society small — but small. There was only one gallery on the bottom floor, along with a theater and a gift shop. Upstairs, there were four more galleries. The one on the bottom was a rundown of North Carolinian history from the indigenous inhabitants to the 1990s. The section on pirates was smaller than I would have preferred, just a small exhibit with a model ship, Blackbeard’s flag, and a few signs about Blackbeard. The section on the Civil War was large, as you would expect in a former Confederate state, I guess. Lacey and I found each other in there, and we discussed women in the Civil War for a bit before wandering off separately again. I sat down and watched a video on the hostile takeover of Wilmington. I was sort of shaken by the whole thing and had trouble concentrating for the rest of the tour. I was surprised by how strong my reaction was. It felt sort of like that moment when I learned that Napoleon Bonaparte sold the Louisiana Territory to Thomas Jefferson. History suddenly felt real to me. It suddenly had real-world consequences. Oddly enough, I feel uncomfortable researching modern-day history, precisely because it is so close to me. Wilmington was very much that to me, and yet I found myself wanting to know more.

Then we went home and played board games with James and his friends. We played Robo Rally again (it’s very zany with seven players), and introduced Lacey to Resistance. It’s difficult enough playing that game, but Lacey was playing against six veteran Resistance players, and the final round came down to her. The spies kicked our asses.

After we cleaned up from board game night, Lacey and I watched Princess and the Frog, determined that the lack of direction and ill-thought-out characters (particularly the female characters) meant that we didn’t like the movie.

On Monday, we carved pumpkins:

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Combined Starbucks and smokey barbecue:

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And visited a lumber yard, and basically had a very North Carolina sort of day. We watched Brave (we both enjoyed that film more — Pixar just really knows how to write well-rounded characters, you know?) and then played Arabian Nights (in just a few rounds, Lacey’s character was a depressed talking ape on the run from the law). Then Lacey had to go home. I started missing her about two minutes after she left.

Ah well. December then.

2013 animated Oscar winners   Leave a comment

So, weird thing, right? I tried to update my blog on Sunday, and for some reason, it wouldn’t load. I’m convinced there was too much Oscar traffic. Do people liveblog on wordpress? Do they I thought that was what Twitter was for! So anyway I did my taxes so I can apply for FAFSA.

I'm not sure why I take so many pictures of myself eating.

I’m not sure why I take so many pictures of myself eating.

My philosophy about the whole of Sunday can probably be best summed up by this video:

Well not really. I was also paying attention to the Oscar results. Well, the Oscar results that mattered.

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Source

HELL YES BRAVE WON. I know, I know, I know Wreck-It Ralph won the Annies. Both movies feature sumptious scenery, and the characters both grow and change to find that their chosen place in society is where they actually belong. And they learn to find happiness and acceptance there. So I guess they’re kind of the same movie? But really, when has the Academy not voted for Pixar? Other than 2001 and 2006? (wait, seriously, Shrek beat Monsters, Inc.?)

Also I feel like that’s a really awkward shot. Mostly because Angus is so gigantic and That Triplet There is so tiny.

Hosting pictures is like free hits to your site!

Hosting pictures is like free hits to your site!


Same Source really

The real drama, to me, is in the animated shorts. Some people might disagree with that. Also, some people probably disagree with me in general about who should have won.

I’ve actually seen all the Oscar nominated shorts — all of them. On Sunday 10 my twin sister, her boyfriend, and I went to go see them. It was in celebration of my twin and my’s twenty-sixth birthday.

The nominated shorts were, in order that we were shown them- (all pictures are courtesty of Oscar.com)

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare- which had the feeling of an also-ran.

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Although it featured classic Simpsons characters, it didn’t have classic Simpsons gags. Instead, it was just trying to save a butterfly from the Unibrow Baby. It had a few cute gags, but the 3D CGI was really awkward (especially in crowd shots, such as when Maggie was trying desperately to get to the window). The Simpsons has occasional shorts in the Ayn Rand Daycare Center, but they tend to be parodies. This one has a nod towards its Objectionist-mocking roots in its establishing shots (see the picture above), but then a dull plot.

Fresh Guacamole- which also has the feeling of an also-ran.

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This one is just so creative, featuring visual puns and a zesty plot. It felt worth a nomination, but not a win, you know? It was short and adorable and it made me laugh. It just didn’t feel like an Oscar winner, I guess.

Adam and Dog- which I thought was going to win

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I thought this was a surefire win. It was so obvious that I thought it couldn’t, because that would be too easy. The art is gorgeous. It has the feel of a series of paintings with just a few pieces of animation in there. The dog really moves like a dog. You can feel the dog’s energy. There’s a certain feel to this movie, and the dog moves too fast for it, and the man moves too slow for it. You can feel the connection there.

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Head Over Heels- I thought was going to be a come-from-behind winner.

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“If Adam and Dog isn’t going to win,” I thought, “Then surely Head Over Heels will.” Maybe it’s just because I have a soft spot for claymation, or maybe because this is such an unusual story, about such an unusual period in life. It’s a visual metaphor for a married couple late in life, where they’re so settled into their routine and each other that they take each other for granted. They have their own space and they’re really comfortable, but there’s a separation, you know? And you have to reach out to that person — but they might not even know you’re doing it.

Or it’s about a couple whose gravity is completely whacky and the silly/depressing reality of that situation. In either case, a really good story with nice visuals.

Paperman- it’s not that I hate it, but…

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This movie is actually really cute. It does deserve love. Did it deserve to win? It doesn’t cover the same interesting ground that Adam and Dog or Head Over Heels does. There is something very really about the characters. The 3D is much more ground and real than in The Longest Daycare. It tells its story simply and visually. It makes you laugh in the right places, gasp in the right places. You want George and Meg to get together. You can immediately feel the world it shows. It is a very animation short. It’s just that Adam and Dog and Head Over Heels were better! That’s all it is, really. Paperman was interesting to look at; Adam and Dog and Head Over Heels more so. Head Over Heels had a deeper and more ambiguous love story. They were just better, that’s all.

Blog Post 7a: Midterm Revision   Leave a comment

I chose to revise my post on the Uncanny Valley, because the initial graph and the initial explanation didn’t do a sufficient job. I would like to point your attention to this graph here:

This image is more objective and thorough, although actual visual examples are always handy. It’s difficult to read a chart sometimes.

Uncanny Valley is a term originally created by a Japanese scientist to explain human reaction to robots. As we create more and more human-like robots, we will find their humanness more and more endearing, until the moment that they are almost, but not quite, human. The same thing can be applied towards animations; as we are able to create more realistic animations, we ooh and aah over the effects, until that moment when they look human, except for that too-stiff hand, those soulless eyes.

You’ll notice that the Valley rises steadily for moving creations, before dropping suddenly. This is an important part of the psychology of the Valley.

It takes a moment to become unsettled by the sight of it. You don’t realize, right away, what’s wrong, just that you know that something is wrong. That’s why the realism has to build up.

It’s been theorized that the Uncanny Valley comes from an evolutionary tool. Our instincts tell us to shun that which is not quite right, because back then, what was not quite right was probably a sick person who could infect us.

This graph of the Uncanny Valley is a random internet person’s version of the Valley. That person is probably a nerd (I speak as one). This graph uses entirely live-action examples.

Industrial Robots- perhaps you might find the sharp parts scary to be around, but they don’t inspire the same fear that Uncanny creatures do.
C-3PO- appears to be based on humans, but is clearly not; the stiff and awkward gait and movements make the robot more endearing, and more like it could use an upgrade, and less like a killer robot.
Michael Jackson- The dip in the Uncanny Valley is completely subjective. It’s very odd that a real human enters the Valley, and it’s generally through plastic surgery.


To be fair, Jenna Jameson always was part of the Valley

Boomer- I forgot who this was. I actually thought Boomer was a dude! Boomer is a “chick”, from Battlestar Galactica. She’s a Cylon, so she’s an incredibly human-appearing robot. Played by a human. Who is not made to look anything less than human.

As computer animation has gotten more and more advanced, we’ve managed to sink into Uncanny Valley several times.




Skin textures, fur, the subtle, dramatic shading of a few pieces of hair against the sun — we can do all that. But somehow, we can’t quite make them human, unless we make them look less human.


When did my eyes get blue?!?!?

This is Pixar’s Tin Toy, a very, very early short. It won an Academy Award for Best Animated Film (short subject), although lord knows why, considering that baby’s jerky movements and frightening rendition. A baby, apparently long abandoned by its mother (considering the state of the diaper and the fact that she never appears), sits on a hardwood floor and jerks its little baby legs around, spitting things that do not look like spit. It grabs baby toys and sucks on them, which frightens the titular Tin Toy. The baby chases after the Tin Toy, who runs away. The baby falls during the pursuit. The Toy has a change of heart and allows the baby to suck on it — only to get dropped in favor of the Toy’s own box.

After you’ve watched it a few times (which I have, sadly), you can start to see where the animators were coming from, in terms of rendering the baby. The folds of the skin, the proportions of the body. In an actual human, with human fluff and soul and roundness, this baby would be less terrifying. But like most Uncanny things, this baby has no soul, and instead the proportions become all wrong.

This is part of the reason why Pixar chose to do Toy Story as its first big commercial feature-length film. Most of the action was on non-humans, and generally the humans were depicted as arms and legs, speeding quickly through the screen. It wasn’t until The Incredibles that they learned how to stylize humans.

Posted March 17, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

Tagged with ,

Blog Post 6a: Uncanny Valley   7 comments

Uncanny Valley is a term originally created by a Japanese scientist to explain human reaction to robots. As we create more and more human-like robots, we will find their humanness more and more endearing, until the moment that they are almost, but not quite, human.

It’s based on a simple evolutionary tool. Our instincts tell us to shun that which is not quite right, because back then, what was not quite right was probably a sick person who could infect us.



My original image search came up with nothing but Japanese people and Japanese robots, and I decided not to be racist, although wait, do robots count as a race?

As computer animation has gotten more and more advanced, we’ve managed to sink into Uncanny Valley several times.



Skin textures, fur, the subtle, dramatic shading of a few pieces of hair against the sun — we can do all that. But somehow, we can’t quite make them human, unless we make them look less human.


When did my eyes get blue?!?!?

This is Pixar’s Tin Toy, a very, very early short. It won an Academy Award for Best Animated Film (short subject), although lord knows why, considering that baby’s jerky movements and frightening rendition. A baby, apparently long abandoned by its mother (considering the state of the diaper and the fact that she never appears), sits on a hardwood floor and jerks its little baby legs around, spitting things that do not look like spit. It grabs baby toys and sucks on them, which frightens the titular Tin Toy. The baby chases after the Tin Toy, who runs away. The baby falls during the pursuit. The Toy has a change of heart and allows the baby to suck on it — only to get dropped in favor of the Toy’s own box.

After you’ve watched it a few times (which I have, sadly), you can start to see where the animators were coming from, in terms of rendering the baby. The folds of the skin, the proportions of the body. In an actual human, with human fluff and soul and roundness, this baby would be less terrifying. But like most Uncanny things, this baby has no soul, and instead the proportions become all wrong.

This is part of the reason why Pixar chose to do Toy Story as its first big commercial feature-length film. Most of the action was on non-humans, and generally the humans were depicted as arms and legs, speeding quickly through the screen. It wasn’t until The Incredibles that they learned how to stylize humans.

Posted March 6, 2012 by agentksilver in animation

Tagged with ,