Friday, October 08, 2004

He Got It Right The First Time

I'm reading Return to Mos Eisley: The Star Wars Trilogy on DVD, and so should you. The basic thesis is that Lucas' original approach to the movies had a thematic integrity that his CGI fixes to it do not, and more importantly, that they do not preserve.

What made "Star Wars" so great in 1977 was Lucas' creation of a "used world", where things had been happening for centuries before the cameras showed up, and would continue long after. The sets, the props, everything was designed with that used look; Luke's speeder even looked third- or fourth-hand. But the CGI, mixed with that gritty realism, is too clean, too perfect. CGI props don't seem to move right, CGI characters (Jabba, among others) don't either, exactly. This isn't inherent to CGI, but it is, I think, the current state of the art.

This ties in interestingly with a lecture I sat in on the last half of at Nan Desu Kan this year, about 2-d animation techniques vs. 3-d ones. What I took away from that lecture was that 3-d animation is, in many cases, too perfect. It can be made better, but that takes a lot of work that isn't always practical to do.

An example: push your index finger into the palm of your other hand. Notice how when your finger contacts the skin, the knucles and skin deform, and the cuticle turns white around the tip. This isn't impossible to do in 3-d, by any means, but it's very easy to forget, and just have the finger touch the surface and not deform properly. Likewise, I think, the CGI in the revamped Star Wars movies detracts because the movie wasn't filmed with it in mind, so it jars the suspension of disbelief, because the world is gritty, and the CGI is not.

Anyway, while I realize and recognize 100% that George Lucas doesn't owe me a thing, I still would like to add my voice to those asking (not demanding, those people scare me) Lucas for a release of the original theatrical cut.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Nobody to vote for, again

I tried, really I did.

After a history of voting for third parties for President, based mostly on a dislike of both major party candidates, I proclaimed that this year, I was going to vote for one of them. The motivator for this decision was the realization that politics is inherently all about compromise-- that the very act of voting, no matter for whom, is a declaration of compromise, given that no candidate will ever represent my views exactly. At that point, it's much like the famous quote, apocryphally attributed to Dr. Jonson: "Madam, we've settled that. Now we're haggling over the price."

The problem is, both major-party candidates have gone out of their way, it seems, to tell me they don't want my vote. Leaving the foreign policy realm out of the discussion for now, President Bush has initiated one of the most disastrous fiscal policies I've ever seen out of a Republican, and John Kerry is naive enough to believe that technology can somehow save us money by instituting a national health care plan. (I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt on that one; I'd rather not believe he's intentionally planning on wasting trillions of taxpayer dollars on a boondoggle.) Bush believes that gay couples don't deserve the same social and legal protections straight couples do, and Kerry apparently sees no ethical problems whatsoever in using the stem cells from aborted fetuses for research purposes.

How am I supposed to vote for either of them, when they both tell me, "Your core beliefs aren't important to me" ?

And before y'all go all third-party-candidate-y on me, let me just point out that one does not generally start one's political career with the Presidency. Even the current President Bush spent some time as Governor of Texas, after all. So no, sorry, I will not entertain seriously any candidate who hasn't even been elected to the position of Junior Assistant Dogcatcher.