Saturday, December 25, 2010

Review: RPG Metanoia

It's the Metro Manila Film Festival once again and it is mandatory to show all Filipino made movies from December 25 up to January 7. One of the entries got my attention, the first Filipino full length CG animated movie finally became a reality. RPG Metanoia is an all Filipino CG movie production. Did the movie lived up to its promise? Or is this another epic failure? Find out after the jump.

During the promotion of RPG Metanoia, I confess that I was skeptical. Due to the history of fails in past films, my faith in the Philippine movie industry was a size of a walnut. I was a bit curious in this "innovation" so I ended up watching Metanoia.

A heed of warning, This movie was five years in the making and you can see it in the quality of the animation. It's true that the movie is in full Computer Generated (CG). But like I said, it was bit of outdated.

Story-wise, the plot reminded me of the famous anime .hack but with added Filipino twist. As with other film fest entries, this movie gave a moral lesson specifically for the children who waste their youth on MMORPGs. You can see in the entire movie the elements of the "Pinoy culture", from the tricycle to the pakbet and longanissa, everything is all Filipino. Hardcore movie geeks may find Metanoia heavily referencing to past successful movies, from some actions sequence of the Matrix, to some dialog of Pinoy heroes. But some Hollywood films also do this so I think Metanoia can get away with it.

The musical score was impressive. No cheesy novelty song here (thank God). My only gripe is the the quality of the dialogs. It's like watching an anime dubbed for local TV. The sound is kinda monaural and it will get in your nerves when all of the kid characters speak at the same time. Don't get me wrong, I like the sound effects and the insert songs, but when it comes to the dialog, I hate it.

The eye candy can make little kids drool, but to the "older" audience it was kinda repetitive and old. But who am I to criticize the works of my countrymen who clearly showed that the Filipino can do it. Maybe, if we have the top of the line hardware, the future of our 3D animation will be at par with those of Pixar and Dreamworks.

RPG Metanoia is made by the Filipino, for the Filipino. A little tweak and it will be a world class quality of animation.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tips on Buying Your Gadget This Christmas Season

There's a big smirk on your face as you check your balance on your bank account. The thirteenth month pay and the bonus is more than enough to buy that gadget you've been dreaming of. But before that, is it worth spending all your hard-earned cash just to satisfy that craving? Here are some tips in buying a gadget without crying in the end.

1. Necessity vs. Aesthetics

That latest iPad is mouth watering, but do you really need it that badly?

A lot of people tend to buy gadgets due to sheer popularity and end up not using them eventually. If you already have a laptop and contented with an iPod, would an iPad make a difference? Would buying a DSLR boost your confidence into taking pictures even though you know only how to use the full auto mode and doesn't bother learning what the hell is an aperture and a shutter speed is? Would you buy a Blackberry Bold just because Ann Curtis-Smith is using one? A lot of people succumb to their vanity and end up spending cash on gadgets that was never used on the purpose they were made of. Before buying that gadget, think of how will you use it in the long run. That way, you can realize that you can buy a cheaper alternative that can aid you in your endeavors.

2. Features: Need or Novelty?

Newly released gadgets today have what you call "features that separate them from the rest" . Like the camera with an LCD in front to take that perfect self portrait or cellphones that boast pet detection that automatically takes a snapshot of your pet when detected. Come on, do you really need to spend that extra just for these features you end up not using anyway? When buying a gadget, think of how its features will help you along the way. A swiveling LCD for a DSLR would be perfect for those impossible angled shots. The WiFi tethering feature of Android phones will save you thousands on a mobile WiFi router.

3. The reason behind that sale

Shops usually put their gadgets on sale because of these reasons:

1. Old stock.
2. Nobody is buying this crap.
3. A "slight" defect (manufacturer or shop's fault)
4. Phasing this thing out.

for example, Nikon slashed the price of their D60 model from P32,000 down to P19,000. This sale will be in effect while supply lasts. That means, they were emptying their shelves with this old model to make way for their newer models.

Before grabbing that sale, think of the gadget you are buying. Is this already outdated? How much will I add for a new one?

4. Moore's Law

The number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years

You must be aware about this law. Manufacturers tend to create newer versions of their products faster than you can save up to buy that product. Spending your whole fortune over a state-of-the-art gadget only to be replaced on the next day with a newer model with the same price would be heart breaking indeed. One example, if you are planning to buy an iPad. iPad 2 is coming this February 2011. So if you can wait for it, you'll find out what features it might have (thus following tips 1-3).

5. The gray market what?

Long time gadget buyers know that buying gadgets on your local mall will cost you a lot more than buying over online stores or what they call "gray market". These merchants sell original gadgets but without the "mall fee" and the "local distributor fee" that makes a gadget expensive. Don't know if some acquire it illegally, but a lot of these gray markets directly got their stocks from abroad thus skipping the added expenses. For example, if you buy a Canon EOS 550D in your local mall, it will be worth P41,000 but if you buy it on the gray market, it will only be P30,000. Be aware that buying on the gray market will only get you a 1 year warranty as opposed to buying on a local store with a 3 year warranty. If you are on a tight budget and you handle your gadgets carefully, that P30,000 will be enough.

Follow these tips when buying a gadget and yuo end up saving a lot. That extra cash can be bought for stuff that may protect your gadget in the future.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review: Tron Legacy

28 years ago, Tron became a cult classic because of its futuristic story and state-of-the-art effects. Will the sequel Tron: Legacy deliver the same impact as its predecessor or the long wait of the fans resulted in vain? More after the jump.

I admit that I haven't watched the first film when it was shown 28 years ago (heck I'm only 26!) But that did not stop me from watching the sequel. First and foremost, you must really really be a geek to appreciate this film. The world of Tron (called The Grid here in the movie) is the idea of game developers 28 years ago. An idea that makes the user experience a different world without restrictions of the real world. Sounds familiar? You bet! It's the concept of the now popular MMOGs out there.

Believe me, for a gamer like me, watching Tron does not only make me nostalgic with playing those old coin-op games but also made me feel a true blue gamer. From the concept of the grid, to the effects of those lights attached to the clothes of the actors made this film an epic. The rendering of Jeff Bridges face, making him younger, is a really cool concept. No need to have another actor for that younger role. They just need to work on those eyes to show more emotions.

The chemistry of Garrett Hedlund and Olivia Wilde jived and their team-up fight sequence is worth watching over and over again. The effects added more eye candy to the already great fighting sequences. Speaking of effects. The light cycles are beautifully rendered so watching this film on 3D is a must (even though only the Grid is on 3D, not the "real world").

Overall, geeks who had waited for this film were not disappointed, even though it's a slow pacing movie to some movie goers. I do hope the sequel wlll be in production soon. I don't want to wait another 28 years for Tron 3.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Truth Behind The Facebook Cartoon Character Campaign

Last November 19, a post was circulating around Facebook requesting everyone to change their profile picture into cartoon characters from their childhood. The post was:

Change your facebook profile picture to a cartoon character from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. Until Monday, Dec 6th of 2010, there should be no human faces on facebook, but an invasion of memories! This is for a campaign against violence on children

A lot of people joined, but some protested, they said that it was just an elaborated hoax by pedophiles. The post was:

FRAUD ALERT: Apparently the group asking everyone to change their profile to change their profile picture to their favorite cartoon is actually a group of pedophiles. They're doing it because kids will accept their friend request if they see a cartoon. Nothing to do with supporting child violence. It was on that TV show that warns you about internet frauds. Pass this on to everyone who has a cartoon profile picture

So who's telling the truth? What's really behind this campaign? Find out after the jump.

First let's find out what was really the original message that propagated all over Facebook:

NewGame: Change your profile picture to your favorite cartoon from when you were a kid. The goal of this game is not to see a human picture on Facebook, but an invasion of childhood memories until Monday. PLAY AND PASS ALONG!

As you can see, the message was morphed into something that included a call to action. The internet meme spread like wildfire because everyone wanted to join.

The video of NSPCC showing a cartoon kid beaten by his father was real. But the instruction of changing your Facebook profile picture was added later on to make the meme real. It's true that you must not believe everything you see on the internet.

The campaign may or may not be true, but the message was clear. Just like wearing a pink ribbon to support breast cancer awareness, changing your profile picture to a cartoon character delivered a solid message that everyone supported.