Take A Deeper Look

Pablo Picasso 1891-1973

When I stop and take in the artwork of artists who have achieved the illustrious rank of “Master” within academic, literary, and societal circles, I study what qualifying attributes earned them this title. Was it their schooling? A new movement? Social popularity? Or was it the sheer skill evident in their works of art? These, after all, are the things I always look for when studying the masters. Then again, it is very easy to dismiss artists like Picasso or Monet if you don’t like or relate to their style of artwork, and for the common viewer the first basis for judgment is usually society’s reverence for select pieces. However, they often have other works of art that perhaps exceed their more well-known and highly publicized masterpieces, and these bodies of work further demonstrate why these artists are labeled masters.

The master I am exploring with you today is the Spanish artist Pablo Picasso (1891-1973). He is well known and generally classed by the public as an abstract artist, but Picasso’s work encompasses a large spectrum of movements and genres. While many notable artists throughout history have attained recognition through a select body of career works, Picasso’s artistic opus consists of over 35,000 works of art whose contents reflect over 40 different periods—making him the most prolific and diverse artist of all time.

His most renowned achievements are the Rose Period, the Blue Period, and, between 1907 and 1912, the style classified as Cubism. This is a painting style that incorporates multiple views of objects to simulate their three-dimensionality while acknowledging the two-dimensional surface of the picture plane. Signaling the beginning of abstract art, Cubism is a semi-abstract style that continued a trend away from representational art (Cezanne, 1800).01_Study_of_a_Torso_1895_MuseuPicasso_Barcelona_600

Picasso’s style evolved from detailed sketches in his early teens, for instance, “Study of a Torso” 1895 (see image 1), to abstract expressionism that eventually turned into cubism. Cubism was his main choice of expression, yet Picasso managed to incorporate numerous styles throughout the evolution of his career—with each dominant style revealing symbolism and hints of his former styles, as well as progression into the next. His more popular piece “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” 1907 (see image 2), painted in a modern style, calls to mind ancient Egyptian and African art in its visual representation, yet his uniquely crafted shapes, objects, and figures on one plane use all classic poses, further marking the revolutionary period of modern art.This painting is very much styled in Fauvism, the lead in to Expressionism, and a storming into Futurism. Moreover, this painting ignited the spark for the Cubist Movement.

Picasso’s use of colors in all of Les Demoiselles d’Avignonhis works is very descriptive of the state of mind he was in when painting them. “La Vie (Life)” 1903 (see image 3) was painted in the studio he shared with Carlos Casagemas, who eventually committed suicide. Picasso used yellow, black, green, and blue hues to illustrate the mood of sadness. The figures holding each other–a mother and child and the embracing lovers–express the desire for comfort and closeness, and the lady in the middle holding nothing at all and no one to hold but herself—despair. All of these elements convey the deep sadness Picasso felt after the loss of his friend.La Vie (Life) 1903

Much can be said about the types of movements and works of art created throughout Picasso’s 91 years of life, but the first image that gave me, as an artist myself, insight into to his later works and contributions as an artist was Image 1.

Here was this artist whose name was most popularly referenced when complimenting adept artists (“You’re a real Picasso”), a name that, after looking up, you didn’t find all that impressive unless you were a fan of abstract art, especially when comparing his work to that of the more realistic and traditional masters like Da Vinci or Copley. Therefore, when I came across Picasso’s earlier works, specifically this pencil drawing sketched at age 14, it blew my mind. A new found respect was born for him and his skills as an artist, not only had he invented new styles of art but possessed the understanding and skill to create accurate and realistic representation of any object or figure. So, the lesson I learned was always to take a deeper look when you are studying artists and their art.

Michael Lude

 

You Gotta Walk That Uncanny Valley

Mario

As we watch advancements in 3D technology, we sometimes find animations that somehow just seem “off”. We can’t quite put our finger on what’s wrong, but we’re just not as engrossed in the story as we could be and we can’t quite tell why.

Well, you might have crossed into… the Uncanny Valley (queue creepy music)

Actually, the Uncanny Valley is a term in computer animation for human characters that are just too real for comfort – so close, in fact, that we’re repulsed. They move and look too much like us, and our brains can’t quite get comfortable enough for us to enjoy what we’re seeing. I believe the scientific term is that we have “the creeps”. While this is good news for actors, it can be a nightmare for animators and game designers

Below is a recent example. Tech journalists are wondering if this recent demo of Mario made using the Unreal Engine crosses the line into the Uncanny Valley:

So is this Mario demo TOO real? Or is it way cool, and does Nintendo need to adopt this technique? Sound off in the comments.

New Character: Fred the Yellow Wizard

Wiz-03 (Yellow) PollyW, Fred

Today I bring you an image of one of our wizards I thought I had already shared over a year ago, but after reviewing our posts since we started promoting the game, I realized I had not actually shared this guy!

This is Fred the Yellow Wizard, one of the twelve wizards on the Wizard council.  Fred is a Pollywoggle, a frog-like amphibious species that dwells in the Red Swamp.  Fred can be found in his tree house at the Northwestern edge of the Woodlands of Mystery.  He is the wizard tasked with protecting the elves and also keeping the element of light in balance.

The Story of 3twins Part 2

3twins Inc Logo smaller

Last month I began a new series chronicling the story of 3twins. I covered how our roots began with several stories Jason, Andy, and I created years ago, with Star Fetched being the one that had the most direct impact on the creation of the company. In this edition I’ll explain that a bit further.

When it became clear to Jason, Andy, and me that it would be next to impossible to film Star Flick: The Motion Sickness the way that we envisioned it, we knew we needed to scale back. We just didn’t know exactly how. Fortunately, our friend, and now longtime 3twins contributor, Chuck Bedard stepped in with an idea: Make a short prequel TV series to the Star Flick movies that would utilize a smaller cast, fewer sets, and less special effects so we could more easily pull it off. And with that idea in place the four of us began writing scripts for a 12-episode mini-series. The only problem was that the name Star Flick no longer seemed to fit. Once again Chuck had an answer: Call it Star Fetched, thus serving as a parody of both the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises and the phrase “far-fetched.” We all loved the idea and ran with it.

But as the TV scripts neared completion, we again realized the task before us was more daunting than we were prepared to handle. With virtually no budget, it didn’t matter how short the episodes were or how small the cast was; we simply didn’t have a way to make enough sets or costumes. We needed to scale back even more.

And, so Andy proposed we make a Star Fetched radio show. His plan was to merge the futuristic sci-fi series with an old fashioned, audio-based program and release the series in podcast form. So once again we stepped further back in the Star Fetched timeline and started writing Star Fetched: Season Zero, which was to serve as a prequel to the live-action TV series and eventually Star Flick movies.

In the end, we never actually made an audio-only Star Fetched series, but the Season Zero concept did eventually morph into the Star Fetched cartoons that can be found on 3twins.net. We’ll get into that topic soon, but first there are a few others aspects of the story that need to be told.

Until next time,

Steve Surine

Remembering Andy

Andy for blog

I first started going to Coburn Corners Church of Christ in the summer of 2012. By complete chance, the day my mother and I first went was the day after Andy and Jenny were married, and I didn’t meet Andy until the following week. I was just getting into Doctor Who, and we quickly became friends. I had never fit in at my previous church, and now I had somewhere to call home, and friends who I knew wouldn’t leave me out. I remember when Andy got a cutout TARDIS for the youth room, and I remember having Thanksgiving with his family. The ending of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 were not good for my family. After a lengthy illness, my mother’s father passed away. Life was not easy at our house, but I knew I could rely on Andy for help.

sixthdoctorbluecoatboxedOne of my favorite memories is when I attended my first convention, ChicagoTARDIS, in November of 2013. Since Colin Baker was there, Andy sent with me his Comic Con exclusive Sixth Doctor action figure for Colin to sign. Since Capaldi as Twelve hadn’t yet come on the scene, Six was Andy’s Doctor. I got to meet my Doctor, Paul McGann, who played Eight, and I got to meet Colin Baker. I told him that my friend Andy really loved him, and Colin said in his amazing voice “Tell Andy ‘Hi’ for me!” As I left the signing, I texted Andy that Colin Baker had wanted to say hi to him.

IMG_4319Last summer I helped out at Vacation Bible School (VBS). As the kids raised money for Habitat For Humanity, rewards were earned: a pie in the pastor’s face, covering an elder in shaving cream, Saran-Wrapping a couple together, and the best–Andy dyeing his hair purple. I took this picture of him in his office, while he was still assistant pastor. Behind him is his inflatable Dalek and on the wall a photograph I had taken of the church piano. The look on his face is as priceless as the man himself.

My most recent memories of Andy are of him picking me up at school while my father was in the hospital. Andy took care of me while mom was busy for a few days. While I was worried about my dad, I knew someone was looking out for me.

I saw Andy the day before he died. The following Monday I started a new semester of school, facing a world without my best friend. In many ways I still am. I often find myself thinking “I can’t wait to tell Andy about this!” or “I should talk to Andy, see if he has any advice on how I feel.” Then my mind takes a step back and realizes the truth.

I’m loath to end this on a sad note, so I’ll close with a memory of one of the many Doctor Who viewing parties at church. For the finale of season eight, he had brought a Crockpot full of hot dogs. Not wanting to take them all home, Andy, dressed as Captain Jack Harkness, pressured everyone to eat their share of hot dogs. I suppose that will be how I remember Andy.

Saint Andrew

Andy for blog

You were lost too soon.
Too soon for us, and I must
Assume
Too soon for you;
But here in this lonely place
After your passing,
I don’t think it glib,
Or with too much bravado,
To consider you
A saint.
Not in the angels “Ahh-ing,”
Halo-shining, kind of
Mythic sainthood way.
But more like Saint Paul,
Who was once murderous Saul,
Saying after life-changing,
“I have finished my course; I have run the race;”
Precious is their deaths in the Lord’s eyes
Type of saint.
And though I knew you a little bit
From long ago,
I knew you were good,
A good man.
Again, not in the worldly way of assuming someone
is good–“He never did nothing bad to me”–
Blithe trickery
that has venerated monsters among men,
But because your life, those around you–
Your brother, your wife–
Called you good…the good
That remains when you were away,
Still good even in the quiet, hidden place.
You were a man after the heart of God and
No one doubted that
When you called them “Friend,”
They felt that sacrificial, beautiful
Love that is supposed to be inherent in that word.
Friend, I call you friend,
And I miss you.
We miss you,
Your wisdom and whimsy,
Your care, and your eyes
That saw past the pain of your past to
A future we hope to run to
For you.
We call you “Saint” because, just as
The Lord called the Earth good after six days of work,
Built foundation and waterfall, firmament and tree,
We believe
You to be
Saintly and good,
And we will let your children know
Who you were and are
To all of us,
For this is just
Our legacy to them,
Our gift back to you.
Rest in Heaven, Andy,
“and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Andy Singing “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Today would be our late President Andy Kuder’s birthday.  So, to celebrate him, I’m giving you another song he recorded.
I’ve also added a picture of him cooking.  Andy loved cooking for people!

Happy birthday, Andy.

~Jason

Terraria versus Starbound Revisited

terraria1.3

I have played through most of the new content in the update for Starbound, and I am looking forward to playing more when the next update hits. I have an app on my phone that pulls in a news feed from the developers, and the progress they are making looks simply fantastic. However, until then, I am left with a yearning for more.

Terraria, on the other hand, recently released update 1.3. With improved graphics and a laundry list of new bosses, weapons, and armor, among other things, Terraria has recaptured my interest. I have been roaming the PC wilderness and building my village to bring in more NPCs.

Now, I have to fight my sons for control of the keyboard in order to continue my exploring. It is worth the fight, though, as it has been a very enjoyable experience, and hopefully, by the time I work through all the new material, the Starbound update will be ready to be released.terrariaboss

For a list of the updates released with 1.3, go to the following link:
http://forums.terraria.org/index.php?threads/1-3-changelog.20617/

3twins Saddened by Passing of Iwata

2903486-4147085437-Iwata

94161588_oThe past calendar year has been filled with many of my heroes leaving this world one-by-one.  Nearly 11 months ago one of my life-long heroes in comedy, Robin Williams, lost his battle with depression.  In December, my beloved Grandfather (a most personal hero to me) lost his battle to Alzheimer’s/Dementia.  My wife’s Uncle Dan, facing cancer head-on but surrounded by love and faith, passed away Christmas morning. In early January, the unthinkable happened when my twin brother and our President/co-founder, Andy Kuder, tragically lost his life to the severe winter weather in an automobile accident.  Finally, last Saturday, another great hero of mine left this earth: Satoru Iwata, President and CEO of Nintendo lost his battle with cancer.

As the CEO of a young entertainment company, I look to those who inspire me.  Nintendo has always been a company I longed to emulate–a name synonymous with “family friendly entertainment,” something we strive to achieve at 3twins.  Since before the formation of 3twins, Satoru Iwata was the head of Nintendo, and therefore someone I followed closely.

GoodbyeColorAndy and I loved reading and discussing the latest Iwata Asks interviews on nintendo.com.  They were a candid and entertaining look into the way our favorite gaming company made our favorite games.  Iwata also hosted Nintendo’s private press conferences, Nintendo Direct, and his passion and excitement for the products Nintendo produced was infectious.  As head of the 126-year-old company, Iwata kept games as the goal.

IGN recently posted an article in response to Iwata’s passing featuring 11 memorable quotes from Satoru Iwata.  My favorite quote from that article is this one: “Above all, video games are meant to just be one thing: Fun for everyone.”

Andy and I used to compare statements from the Iwata Asks interviews to our own challenges in producing our first game.  One thing we noticed early on was that the games we loved the most were the ones that ended up having to be pushed back time and time again.  Granted, for a game like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo already had a great reputation and the public anticipation was red-hot; and, in reality, nobody has ever heard of 3twins.net Incorporated… yet.  However, the goal is still to produce something we’re proud of and happy with, even if that means it takes a lot longer than we had originally hoped.

220px-HAL_Laboratory_logoSatoru Iwata was not only the CEO of Nintendo but worked for HAL Laboratory prior to coming on at Nintendo and was one of the creators of games like Earthbound, Kirby, Balloon Fight, and Super Smash Bros.  I will leave you with a track from the Super Smash Bros Red CD featuring Kirby music.

 

~Jason

Mickey Mouse: From Concept to Creation to Legend

How Mickey Mouse was created
Walt Disney

Walt Disney’s Creative Vision

When you hear the name “Walt Disney,” most likely you think of Mickey Mouse, the icon of Disney Studios and a cartoon character of almost mythic proportions. It’s highly doubtful, however, that you know much, if anything, about how and when Mickey Mouse was born. And in case you’re wondering why I use the term “born” instead of “created,” it’s because the little black mouse with the mischievous twinkle in his eyes and white-gloved hands is irrefutably just as much an individual with a distinct personality as you and I, thanks to the creative vision of the late Walt Disney.

The Birth of Mickey Mouse

According to Christopher Finch, author of The Art of Walt Disney: From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms, Mickey made his debut in 1928 in New York City, and was actually the result of a collaboration between Disney and Ub Iwerks, a long-time friend, skilled animator, and business partner.

Oswald Rabbit_Disney

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit

In 1927, following the success of their cartoon series based on the adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Disney and Iwerks attempted to renegotiate their contract with Charles Mintz, who handled distribution of the cartoon through Universal Pictures and owned the copyright on the name “Oswald Rabbit,” but instead of offering Disney and Iwerks an improved contract with an increase in compensation, as they had anticipated, Mintz proposed one that provided substantially less. Moreover, as Finch relates, behind their backs, Mintz had managed to hire away several of the team’s animators. Outraged and hurt, since they had trusted Mintz, Disney and Iwerks dissolved their relationship with Mintz and put their creative minds together to come up with an idea for a character that would actually top Oswald in popularity—and thus was born Mickey Mouse.

Mickey Mouse_Steamboat-Willie

Early Mickey Mouse

In earliest renderings, Mickey Mouse bore a “family resemblance” to Oswald Rabbit, according to Finch, but of course Iwerks, who initially designed Oswald, was chiefly responsible for defining Mickey’s physical characteristics. Mickey, though, was more compact than Oswald.

Mickey Mouse Sketch

Mickey Mouse Sketch

Moreover, striving for “maximum ease of animation,” according to Finch, “Iwerks constructed the mouse of two large circles, one for the trunk and one for the head, to which were appended two smaller circles, representing ears, and rubber hose arms and legs that terminated in plump hands,” along with large feet to provide stability. The early Mickey was also “equipped with a long, skinny tail and short pants with buttons fore and aft.” Finally, expressiveness was given to the head with the addition of a “mischievous snout, plum-shaped nose, and button eyes.” The only thing missing were Mickey’s signature white gloves, which came later as the character was improved upon.

The main attribute, however, that helped to make Mickey Mouse such a phenomenal success with the public was not his expressive head but his distinct personality, which was a concept new to cartoons and chiefly Walt Disney’s contribution. As Finch says, “Iwerks made the whole thing possible through his skill as a draftsman, but it was Disney’s control over the situations in which the mouse found himself that allowed this personality to develop.” In Disney’s view, cartoon characters, like people, were individuals and, therefore, should think for themselves. Finch also posits that in some ways Disney may have viewed Mickey as his alter ego, helping to explain why Disney always maintained a “special affection for the Mouse” and was intimately involved in every stage of the character’s development, from initial inception to the Mickey Mouse we all know and love today.

Source:
Finch, C. (1975) The Art of Walt Disney: From Mickey Mouse to the Magic Kingdoms. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. Publishers