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Peter Jackson

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Keep an eye on that meter on your wrist... it's pretty important.

The world of Metro: Last Light isn’t pretty. To escape nuclear war, millions of the game’s Russian citizens descended into subway stations the instant the air raid sirens cried out, forced to leave their lives on the surface behind. Below ground, life is bleak. The irradiated world above means no access to fresh air or sunshine. Money means nothing, and ammunition is currency. Fathers nearly break down when sons ask where Mom is and when she’s coming home—and they have to repeat a variation of the same lie they’ve told for countless years. Radioactive mutants attack the subterranean train-station-based encampments.

The setting is easy to buy into because few blinking indicators and status updates slap you in the face, offering constant reminds that you’re playing a video game. This is deliberate, according to Andrey Prokhorov, creative director and co-founder at 4A Games, the studio behind Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light.

“If you look at your monitor (or TV set) as a gate into the world of the game, the heads-up display (HUD) elements become the bars keeping you from entering that world,” he told Ars in a recent interview. And it's part of a trend.

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A long-lost version of The Hobbit by animation legend Gene Deitch has resurfaced online in the past few days. Why did Gene produce this 12-minute “animatic” version instead of the feature-length version he’d originally planned with Jiří Trnka? Why did he have just one month to produce it? Why has nobody ever seen it? The crazy circumstances that led to the production are revealed in this piece that Gene wrote on his website. In short, the film was a financial ploy by Deitch’s producer William L. Snyder to earn himself a nice chunk of change. Deitch writes:

The Tolkien estate had now been offered a fabulous sum for the rights, and [William] Snyder’s rights would expire in one month. They were already rubbing their hands together. But Snyder played his ace: to fulfill just the letter of the contract – to deliver a “full-color film” of THE HOBBIT by June 30th. All he had to do was to order me to destroy my own screenplay – all my previous year’s work, and hoke up a super-condensed scenario on the order of a movie preview, (but still tell the entire basic story from beginning to end), and all within 12 minutes running time – one 35mm reel of film. Cheap. I had to get the artwork done, record voice and music, shoot it, edit it, and get it to a New York projection room on or before June 30th, 1966! I should have told him to shove it, but I was basically his slave at the time. It suddenly became an insane challenge.

The rest of the story can be read on Gene’s website. And just for the record, the delightful illustrations in the film were created by Czech illustrator Adolf Born.

(Thanks, Stephen Persing, via Cartoon Brew’s Facebook page)

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