The Story of 3twins Part 2

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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”

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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

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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

The Comic Book Was Better

Iron Man Comic Book

You most likely have never heard that expression, but it isn’t out of the realm of possibility. I would sooner think that maybe the video portrayal of a beloved comic icon may not live up to someone’s expectations. It is indeed hard, however, to look at the entire run of a comic series and compare it to the treatment of the characters and stories in a movie or even a TV series. My last blog touched on the film depiction of a book or novel, and I tried to indicate the complexity of that undertaking. Comic book comparisons are much harder, though, especially when the comics have been around for a long time before being adapted for screen. They are even often hard to compare with earlier versions of themselves!

poster-ironman-medThe serial nature of comics is one of the appeals as well as one of the more challenging aspects for fans of the art. On the one hand, it’s exciting to look forward to the next issue to resolve a conflict (as well as a great marketing tool to keep you buying), but it’s also an aggravation to miss an issue. That is also true when trying to piece together a collection of back issues, especially if the missing issue climbs in value because of a particular appearance of a popular character. Another clever tool the comic companies exploit is the “cross-over” issues. In order to complete a story within your favorite title, you may need to purchase issues of another title from the same release month. Before you know it, you are buying both!

Over time the hobby can be expensive as well as rewarding. I have many fond memories and a respectable collection that I am slowly selling to make way for other things. I will always treasure my time spent hunting for specific issues, reading the stories, and observing the changes in print and beyond!

For the fans of comic fiction,

~ Chuck

Thinking of Andy Kuder

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Hey everybody; it’s Tom again. The last time I blogged for you, I started to give you some insight into what it takes to develop a video game. I intended to continue along those lines this week, when I realized that today marks six months since my friend and our co-founder Andy passed away. This realization, of course, caused me to start reminiscing. Now, I’m not much of a writer; I’m just not that creative. However I have managed to surround myself with some of the most creative people I have ever known. One of the most creative individuals I have ever been blessed with meeting has been Andy Kuder. witch-naaj

 

If you read my interview with Steve a few months back, you know that I met Andy several years ago when he and Jason were just kids. I knew Andy could sing and he could perform voices, and I even knew that he had created some really nifty characters for “Of Mages and Pages.” Of course, back then he called it “Midieville.” I knew it was fun and creative and nifty, but it wasn’t until we started working on this game and Jason started sending me story pages that he was giving to all of us as Christmas gifts that I realized how deep this rabbit hole Anell2went. He has created a vibrant and rich world full of wonder, mystery, and magic, and I am simply in awe of it all. I am proud to be a part of it and strongly encourage you all to dig in and enjoy this awesome world.

~Tom Cox

Maxfield Parrish and an Artist’s Craft

Michael Lude Image Two

As an artist and oil painter, I have studied the greats throughout history, their styles, what mediums they work in, and the techniques they use. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of phenomenal artists who are truly masters. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of the arts to have heard of the big names like Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Picasso, or even more modern artists like Norman Rockwell. As an artist, I have a real appreciation for what made these artists standout and what they did to earn the title “Master of Art.”

Daybreak

Daybreak

You may not recognize the name Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966,) but chances are you have seen his work. He is one of the most reproduced and published artists in history. His painting Daybreak was in TV shows as recent as Witches of East End (2014) and was the basis for Game of Thrones’ set design.

Michael Lude Image ThreeParrish’s first illustration was For Mother Goods in Prose; he then moved on to drawings for Knickerbocker’s History of New York, the Golden Age, Harper’s Weekly, and Scribner’s. Parrish’s illustrations were based in fantasy and fairytale mostly because of the companies and publishers he illustrated for, but these themes later spread into his fine artwork and murals. I’m bit of a romantic with a love of fantasy and fairytales, so I naturally gravitated towards his work, but what made him my favorite artist is his technique. I too wanted to possess his skill and patience as an artist.

Maxfield Parrish Painting

Maxfield Parrish Painting

Parrish is known for his tedious style that many artists find too laborious. He chose wood panel over of canvas as a main choice to paint on. He was a fan of combining outdoor scenery, mostly foliage and forest settings, and any human figures would be painted separately then crop into a scenic painting. Many people ask how he was able to achieve not only realism but get his colors to literally glow. This is where Parrish is a world apart from today’s artists. His process was to first prime the wood panel in titanium or zinc white; then he would start with the underpainting, (usually trees). He did this in monochromatic hues like medium blue (cobalt), and once it was all painted out, he would glaze one color at time over top the underpainting.

Hilltop 1926

Hilltop 1926

To achieve this effect, the key is to use mostly warm colors like burnt sienna, oranges and yellows, but they need to be more or less transparent when applied. Parrish would wait for the layers to dry (6 months before paint cures); then he would glaze over the art with varnish creating a glossy polished look. (The varnish also protects the work beneath making it easy to wipe off any mistakes without affecting the layers beneath.) After the varnish dried, he would add another color and repeat this process until one could literally see the color start to glow. All of the monochromatic colors began to darken, and when the layering was done a masterpiece was born.

Interlude (The Lute Players) 1922

Interlude (The Lute Players) 1922

The first rule of painting is never to use black unless it is necessary, but the beauty of Parrish’s layering was that the dark lines self-darkened with each layer. He was often criticized for how long his process took, but he never wavered. When asked about this method, he said he painted the same way a print press worked. He wanted to maximize the quality of his reproductions—much like the modern reproductions in four color half tone, where various gradations are obtained by printing one color plate over another on a white ground paper. Even with the impressive amounts of artwork that he accumulated from 1912-1966, his process limited him to producing an average of three paintings a year, and he had to work on them simultaneously. However, his hard work paid off, for unlike most artists, he achieved fame well before his death, and his work still continues to spread throughout every avenue of public entertainment.

~Michael Lude