Oct 22, 2014

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Animation: Past and Present

by Melissa Theodorakatos

The invention of animation exposed artists with an opportunity to capture motion and time in a creative and innovative manner. The oldest animations may have only captured a small amount of time or created simplistic designs, but they formulated the groundwork for the animation we see in our present day. Some of the oldest techniques used for animation were time consuming and over-complicated, but each had their own impact on animation history. The Zoetrope is one of the earliest methods used to create animation. The artist would take pictures and attach them to the inside of a circular disk with a slit cut into the disk for every picture included. This disk was then suspended onto a rotating table; when peering into the slits, the viewer would see the moving image. Later on in history, the use of flip book, one of the most well-known animation techniques, was seen being used throughout the world. The flip book has allowed artists to create any moving image they wish to illustrate with as much or as little detail as they would like. This form of animation was portable, fluent, and extremely versatile to all artistic experiences.

Besides the Zoetrope and the flip book, a wide variety of other mechanisms were invented over time. These include the Magic Lanturn, Thaumatrope, Phenakistoscope, and Praxinoscope. The present day consists of a wide range of technologically based animation which has been the background for every animated movie released in our decade. Stop motion animation has been extremely popular in our modern world. Movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas captivate the beauty of stop motion, giving the artist a wide range of flexibility in his or her creation. The most popular animation technique used today is CGI, also known as Computer-generated imagery. The most famous film which uses CGI is Pixar’s animated movie: Toy Story. The beauty and perfected images created through this type of animation is a reason for its gain in popularity in the recent years. Video games are also known for their use of animation, creating crisp cut scenes and flawless character movements that appear realistic. However, these are only a few of the uses of the modern aged animation.

Dowling offers a few animation based classes which provide the student interested in becoming involved in the graphic design world or the student interested in animation with a great opportunity to have a hands on experience with a few of the programs used today to create simple animations. Adobe Flash is the most versatile program of our time; it is taught in depth throughout these classes.

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3DS and NGP

by Stephen Sullivan

Nintendo is set to release its new handheld gaming console, the 3DS, on March 27th. The system is the successor to the current DS line, which has proven to be a commercial hit. The 3DS was officially unveiled at last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, and was fully detailed in January of this year. The price tag has been set at $249.99, with several games available at launch like Super Street Fighter IV, Nintendogs + Cats and Pilotwings Resort. Other key games, like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and new entries in many of Nintendo’s biggest franchises will launch with-in the first year of the system’s life. Third-party series like Metal Gear and Assassin’s Creed will be available in the future.

Like the name suggests, the portable will produce 3D effects, but without the need for glasses. The graphics have shown much improvement, and new features like StreetPass, Miis, and 3D video content will also be available. The device features 2 rear-facing cameras, and 1 front-facing camera. It is capable of taking 3D pictures, and one can play games that utilize augmented reality. Much of the press around the device has been positive, and the 3D effects have been reported to indeed work without the need for glasses. Sony, on the other hand, recently announced their new handheld device. Codenamed “Next Generation Portable,” or NGP for short, the device was recently detailed at a press event in Japan. It is the successor to the PlayStation Portable system, but has not been confirmed to feature a similar name. The system features a 5 inch OLED touchscreen, as well as 3G and WiFi support. Like the 3DS, it also has cameras, a microphone, and an accelerometer. Games will be available via retail or digitally, and the software will make use of a new feature – a rear touchpad.

Popular series such as Uncharted, Metal Gear, Killzone, Call of Duty, and LittleBigPlanet will have representations on the portable gaming system. The device has been reported to boast im-pressive graphics, almost on par with the PlayStation 3. Unlike the previous PlayStation Portable, the system will have two analog sticks, which will make controlling games easier. Sony has not an-nounced pricing details or specific release dates for the system just yet.

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Verizon iPhone

by Stephen Sullivan

Cell phone provider Verizon Wireless has announced that the massively-popular iPhone is available on their network, after months of rumors and speculation. The device was previously restricted to AT&T customers due to an exclusivity deal that was in place at the launch of the phone. A CDMA version of the phone means compatibility with Verizon’s network, with little differences to its AT&T counterpart. Since the technology behind the device is different, talking on the phone and using data is not possible.

The iPhone was first available for purchase by existing Verizon customers on February 3rd, and was opened up to all consumers a week later. A 16 GB model costs $200, and the 32 GB model is $300, both with a 2-year contract agreement. A required data plan will run $30 per month for unlimited data. However, the unlimited data plan is available for a limited time, after which the network will have tiered plans like AT&T.

The iPhone made available to Verizon is not an upgrade from the preexisting iPhone 4. It is with certainty that Apple will update this product in May or June, so customers who would like to have the latest and best in what the line has to offer should consider waiting the extra few months. Early adopters will have the ability to upgrade to the new iPhone 5 when it will eventually be released, but will have to pay full phone price, which could run well over $500.

Early reports have stated that data speeds are somewhat faster on Verizon and dropped calls occur either less frequently or not at all – a common complaint from AT&T customers. Pricing structure for the phone is similar on both networks, so it is a matter of preference that will ultimately be the deciding factor. Many have reported, however, that the Verizon version does have clear advantages in terms of reliability.

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Northlanders

by Mark Breckles

Sick of capes? X-ray vision? Spandex? There’s none of that in Northlanders. Written by Brian Wood and published by adult-themed publisher, Vertigo, an imprint of comic-giant DC, Northlanders is a consistently solid comic. Written in various unconnected arcs, Northlanders concerns Vikings from all parts of Northern-Europe during the Viking Age.

What’s great about Northlanders is its concept. The Viking Age, a tumultuous time in human history, presents multiple opportunities to tell interesting stories. Whether it’s the Bubonic Plague or the rise of Christianity, the reader gets to see how such events would shape the life of an individual. In one arc, Christianity is the religion of a weak minority. In the next, Vikings are violent outlaws unwilling to accept a new God in the place of Pagan ones.

Northlanders embodies the strength of modern, independent comics. Even though the stories take place in 900 C.E., Northlanders was able to add a modern touch to them. The Plague Widow, an eight-issue epic, concerns a widow whose husband has died from the plague, and her struggles to survive in a male-dominated society. And you don’t have to worry about getting past ancient dialects, unpronounceable words, or strange symbols. Northlanders comes complete with four-letter curses and modern dialogue, a technique that keeps “the Viking stuff ” fresh.

This dichotomy of ancient and modern ideas makes Northlanders an impressive title. It stands out in fields dominated by major publisher dinosaurs and independent monsters. Go North!

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Born This Way

by Stephen Sullivan

International pop singer Lady Gaga has released the lead single Born This Way from her upcoming album with the same name. The title track was originally intended to be released on February 13, 2011 but was pushed up two days to Friday, February 11th. The song was written solely by Lady Gaga and produced by her, Fernando Garibay, and DJ White Shadow.

Lady Gaga formally announced the name of the new album at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards and sang the chorus of the song a cappella for the first time. Since then, she has teased her “Little Monster” fans incessantly during her sold-out worldwide Monster Ball Tour. Finally, after months of anticipation and hype, the song has been released and has already shattered records.

But does the song live up to the hype? In short: absolutely! The song preaches equality, whether across races, sexual orientations, or simply differences in general among people. While many comparisons have been made in the media, most notably to Madonna’s Express Yourself, the song stands out on its own as a major anthem for this generation. Sonically, it is a new direction for Gaga, who has stated that her new album does not necessarily fit into one genre. However, she has not abandoned the hard beats and electronic sounds that propelled her to worldwide fame. The lyrics are empowering and take a stand for those who may be bullied or disenfranchised for remaining true to who they are.

Gaga performed the song for the first time at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards on February 13th. The performance was fully choreographed, featuring back-up dancers, uniform costumes, and prosthetics. Gaga’s vocals were soaring, outshining many of her previous per-formances. She then made her way down the stairs and jumped right into a dazzling finale of the chorus, singing and dancing flawlessly in heels.

The music video has since been released, and is directed by Nick Knight. Gaga has stated the inspiration for the video stems from artists Salvador Dali and Francis Bacon. The film is loaded with symbolism and imagery. The singer gives birth to a new species within the human race, as described in the Manifesto of Mother Monster. The script to the film was written by the singer; Laurieann Gibson directed the coreography and Nicola Formichetti edited the stylization.

The song has been a massive commercial hit, and it is reportedly the 1000th No. 1 single on the Billboard Hot 100, the list that has been tracking music singles since 1958. In its first three days, it was played on the radio 4,602 times and sold over 450,000 digital copies. Both of those statistics are record-breakers, as is the fact that the track is the fastest song to reach No. 1 on iTunes, and within hours held the No. 1 spot in all 23 countries in which the digital music store is available. On top of this, Gaga received 3 Grammy Awards in recognition for her work on the previous album The Fame Monster and her massive hit, Bad Romance. The new album is set for release on May 23rd, just after the end of the Monster Ball Tour. Judas, the reported second single, will be released just before the full album is available. For now, Born This Way has taken over popular culture. Paws up!

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Iron and Wine: Kiss Each Other Clean

by Brandon Adams

After four years in the making, the musical icon Sam Beam, otherwise known as Iron and Wine, has graced his flourishing fan base with another album. Sam Beam’s rise to fame came from his devotion to touring, headlining a countless number of worldwide tours, as well as being featured in some high-end movies such as Garden State, In Good Company, and even The Twilight Saga. With three EPs and four studio albums previously released, Beam has ventured into some diverse styles of music, but none like his newest release: Kiss Each Other Clean.

Starting out, Iron and Wine had a very traditional approach to music and writing style. Heading into the music business with a light- hearted voice and beautiful guitar work, Sam Beam made a name for himself as a solo act at first. His break-out album Endless Numbered Days, released March 24th, 2004, was a masterpiece of folk and gospel styles, featuring mostly just Beam and his guitar while other instruments simply added a light touch to the backing track. Fast forward seven years and we have birthed a brand musician and songwriter.

Kiss Each Other Clean takes away the subtlety once made famous by Beam and replaces it with a melodic world featuring a number of different instruments and styles ranging from his traditional folk style to light funk. Beam explored a full band sound in his 2007 release, The Sheppard’s Dog, which shocked fans who had been enjoying the solo Sam for years.

The song “Walking Far From Home,” a previously released track that provided the listeners a teaser to the album, is its leading piece. The song takes us through Sam Beam as he descends from a familiar place and documents all that he sees through his lyrics. Beam’s writing style and lyrical potency are what keep this track stimulating; as the song sails to the same rhythm, the listener will get caught up in the lyrics and the alluring imagery, almost feeling as if one were walking right beside the singer. Another song that has been passed around from the album is “Half Moon,” a throwback to a previous style Beam had made famous. The song takes a more stylish folk-indie tone, with slide-guitars and background singers while Beam plays a light and subtle guitar rift. The song is wonderfully written, and it shows that Beam is ready to explore the music and push the envelope as far as he can.

Rating this Iron and Wine’s best album would get you some jagged stares from long-time listeners, but the album has a number of strong points. The extensive assortment of instruments may get overwhelming and unnecessary at times. Astonishing imagery and word play help lead Kiss Each Other Clean to compare lyrically to any of his previous albums.

To anyone who would like to listen to Iron and Wine, a suggestion would be to pick this album up, but accompany it with his fan-favorite Endless Numbered Days. The listener will be able to look into the artist’s developing styles: the easy natured solo folk singer as well as his new immerging style transcending the typical manner most are used to. The album as a whole can absolutely stand on its own two legs, keeping the listener interested and involved in both the music and lyrics.

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Water for Elephants

by Dana Basile

In her third novel, Sara Gruen outdoes herself and many of her colleagues with this beautiful period piece about the circus in the 1920s. The main character, Jacob Jankowski, is a young man who has just suffered a great tragedy in his last year of college. With only a few tests between him and his veterinary degree, he loses everything and finds himself one night walking around his sleeping town when a freight train runs through. In an act of chance, he jumps on the train and finds himself a new life in the world of circuses. The Benzini Brothers is the newest circus in town, promising to rival the Ringling Brothers. Here, Jacob finds a new job and a new life working for the circus as a vet. Later on, he meets the star of the show, Marlena, and the readers experience an explosion of chemistry between the two characters.

We encounter a great tale full of rich characters and wild ideas depicting the kind of circus we certainly never imagined as children. The difference between the big top days in the twenties and today is quickly to be noticed. Jacob becomes immersed in the circus forever and finds himself dreaming of his days with the Benzini Brothers way into his golden years.

This story will have you falling in love with one character in particular…an elephant. Wild and yet incredibly human, elephants have been known to be the most precious piece of any circus; Rosie is no exception. This elephant is truly a character that stands alone, funny and lovable, the star of the show and certainly the centerpiece of this novel. All the way through, you will find her easy to love and impossible to forget.

The characters, although their stories are tragic, are undeniably striking, and fit together like a puzzle piece. Gruen’s writing is undeniably eloquent and her passion for animals is palpable. In fact, before she wrote this novel she studied the circuses and how the elephants were used back in those times. Her knowledge shows, as all of her descriptions of the circuses and their inhabitants are incredibly detailed and paint the perfect picture. The book is sure the leave you wanting more. The film version starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon is due out later this year.

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