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Showing posts from June, 2013

From Script to Stage: What I Wrote and What It Looks Like

Below is a script snippet of my play, "Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady." Give it a quick read to get an idea of what's going on. It's only a little over a minute, so it doesn't give away much.  :-) Then check out the video at the end to see how it all went down on stage. The video was taken during the technical dress rehearsal so the performance was a few bits shy of total performance level. I just thought it was interesting to compare the original text with the actual staging.

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LEADING MAN She’s only here because you’re helping her out, I get that. If she were here to steal something, that’s going to be a problem. But now the only problem I see is her English.

VIVA I am efficiently acclimatized to English, sir!

LEADING MAN Yes, yes, and we’re so proud of you.

MELY Viva, siguro doon ka na muna sa kuwarto.

VIVA Sige, ate. Ginulo ko na ang buhay mo.

MELY (to LEADING MAN) I will just bring her to my room.

VIVA Hindi na, ate. Mahahanap ko rin ‘yun. Maaamoy ko …

Before And After Visual Effects Reels: A Collection

3D modelling, rigging and animation, compositing, layering, matte painting, motion capture, motion tracking, color grading, and so forth and so on. Such is part of life of the visual effects department--making the unreal seem real on the movie screen. Below is a collection of before-and-after reels--you can just imagine the kind of headaches people had to go through to fool the eye. My favorite would have to be Jurassic Park, considering that film was released a whopping 20 years ago. The quality of its special effects is still pretty solid by today's standards.
Pirates of the Carribean 3



The Great Gatsby


The Great Gatsby VFX from Chris Godfrey on Vimeo.

Fast and the Furious 4



Jurassic Park



Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 1



Marvel's The Avengers

Twitter feedback on "Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady"

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Thanks so much for the positive feedback!

How To Make Comics Stories: Compression and Decompression

This is the continuation of a series of blog posts about how to make comics stories. In the previous post in these series, we had an overview of how a comics creator can divide a story outline into chapters or issues and end each with a cliffhanger. Assuming that a comics issue has 20 pages, let's now look at how we can fill up those pages.

Every scene in your story will take up one or more panels. In determining the number of panels you need for each scene, you consider two factors:

1) How much information will this scene give the reader; and
2) How immersed you'd want the reader to be in that scene.

Amount of information: Let's say your scene involves one round of a boxing match--two people in a boxing ring. If you use a lot of panels to depict the round, then your scene is decompressed. If you decide to just use a few panels, that scene is compressed. In the first issue of Civil War (written by Mark Millar), Captain America debates with Commander Maria Hill about hero regis…

What "DOMAlition" Means

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The Death of DOMA. The DOMA Demolition. "DOMAlition."

The Defense of Marriage Act was deemed unconstitutional today with a 5-4 vote at the US Supreme Court. What does this mean for the American LGBT community? Smithsonian.com summarizes it in their website, but we're talking about taxes, medicare and social security, military benefits, and immigration. Individual states can still decide whether or not to allow same-sex marriages. What DOMAlition actually does is recognize that marriage is not limited by definition to heterosexual couples.
Speaking of LGBT... Do you know what those six colors of the Rainbow Flag stand for? Here's the rundown: red (for life), orange (for healing), yellow (for sunlight), green (for nature), blue (for art), and violet (for the human spirit). Get its history in this New York Times blogpost.

Naked and Afraid: For the Sake of What?

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Two strangers go off into the wilderness and try to survive for three weeks. The hitch--they start off buck naked. It's Survivor meets Adam and Eve.

According to the Discovery website, the new reality series, "Naked and Afraid" is a skill-and-will contest, but there are no prizes to be won. The couples are only to bring one personal item, but beyond that they're working with what's available. What will they eat? How about water? Shelter? Clothes? Will they work together or get on each other's nerves? Or both?

A good number of comments have accused Discovery of catering to prurient interests, spinning a popular reality show concept by having contestants go au naturelle for the sake of experimentation and curiosity (science?). Plus, there's still that camera crew following the contestants around, so the whole idea of "reality" is tainted from the get-go. It won't be surprising if a number of contestants are actually actors seeking a break.

I&#…

My Experience as a Noob Playwright

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I was at the CCP last Saturday, to watch the technical dress rehearsal of my play, "Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady." I wasn't able to attend a number of rehearsals prior to the TDR, so I was coming into the theater with a little more naivete.

The play was the third of the set. The first one was "Pamamanhikan," written by Bernadette Neri and directed by JK Anicoche. It's a poignant light drama-comedy about the relationship of two elderly women as they prepare a meal for a visiting daughter. The second one is Em Mendez' "Ambong Ambo," directed by Roobak Valle. It tells of two sisters who are at a bit of odds because of their father, who suffers from delusions. I'd call this a more surrealistic drama, as it makes references to the epic tale "Ibalong" of Bicol.

Do forgive my superlatives...When "Kung Paano..." came on, I was in for a delicious ride. I was shifting in my seat during the performance, nervous and exhilara…

What I Found Lacking In "Man of Steel"

I think many people will agree that, as a summer Hollywood extravaganza, "Man of Steel" is pretty much up there. It's a fresh take on one of the greatest pop culture icons we've ever known, with over-the-top special effects to match. Personally, looking at it as a popcorn flick, it delivers. Some didn't like this darker version, but I appreciated it. After all, becoming a true hero demands going through a great trial.

(Spoiler Alert)

In a nutshell, what I found lacking in the movie was a thematic resolution. Yes, that whole main plot involving General Zod was put to rest when Superman snapped his neck. I wholeheartedly agree with Gerry Alanguilan when he said in his review that it wasn't something we expected from our hero, that Superman should be Super more than Man, but what concerned me was how the film's themes of identity and free will were articulated and resolved.

Superman let out a scream, presumably because he felt he gave into impulse and did so…

Breaking Down Your Comics Story Outline

A lot of professional comics writers will tell you that outlining a story helps a lot in budgeting pages. If you have 20 pages in one issue, then create a 20-step outline.

But it's always prudent to start in general terms first. Once you have the beginning and the ending of a story in mind, decide: How many issues or chapters can hold this story? If you choose three issues, then you can determine what should happen in each issue for this story to be complete?

Here's an example for a Guy vs. Alien story.

Introduce HeroIntroduce Alien and why it's homicidalHero decides to kill Alien because it killed his best friendHero learns about special weapon and that it is held by a Bounty HunterHero finds Bounty Hunter and they fight (Bounty Hunter doesn't trust Hero)Hero makes extra effort to earn the trust of Bounty HunterBounty Hunter helps Hero get rare mineral to power weaponHero and Bounty Hunter learn more about each other and become friendsHero and Bounty Hunter hunt down A…

Outlining Your Graphic Novel Story

In the previous blog post, we broke down the events in the first volume of The Walking Dead comics series in terms of Challenges and Reveals to see how the story builds tension and anxiety in the reader. In that blog post, we also mentioned the idea of arcs.

An arc chronicles a transformation, or a change of state. When you look at any story, the main characters begin the story in one state and end in another state, for better or for worse. When we started, we asked you to plan out the beginning of your story as well as come up with an ending. This is the overall arc of your story. In the first volume of The Walking Dead, main character Rick started with wanting to reunite with his family. That is his beginning state. At the end of issue six, Rick has, indeed, reunited with his family, but he also completely lost his friend Shane because of them. Completely, because not only did Shane lose his physical life because of young Carl, he also lost his emotional life because of Lori.

The ev…

Breaking Down "The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone By"

This continues a series of blog posts on how to make stories for comics and graphic novels.

Robert Kirkman's "The Walking Dead" series (art by Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard) has become one of the most successful non-superhero comics series, spawning an equally-successful television adaptation. In this blog post, we break down the first six issues of the comics series to see the different Challenges and Reveals it holds and how they build up anxiety and tension. If you haven't read the first six issues, please do, since the descriptions below are made in broad terms.

Issue #1:

Challenge: Rick's escape from the hospital--he had been in a coma after being shotReveal: Finding out about the zombie epidemic; learning how to kill a zombie

Issue #2

Reveal: Rick talks about himself and his family--his wife Lori and son Carl.Challenge: Arriving at the city only to discover it has been overrun by zombies; escapes through the help of GlennReveal: Glenn tells Rick that he lives i…

What Keeps The Comic Book Page Turning

Many writers will tell you that, in building a story, every scene has to push the narrative forward. What does this mean?

Most of the scenes have to build tension and anticipation. Tension is stress, and you want that stress relieved. Anticipation is anxiety, that feeling that makes you want to confirm a hunch.

1) To build tension, introduce Challenges. They are meant to prevent your character from moving closer to achieving his goal. Challenges come in the form of conflict--whether physical (a confrontation), mental (a puzzle), or emotional (doubt, anger, despair, devastation). When you introduce a Challenge in your story, you should give the reader an impression that there is a chance of failure. In Arkham Asylum (by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean), Batman is subjected to numerous challenges, mostly mental and emotional, as he tries to keep his sanity intact with each encounter with the occupants of the asylum.

2) To build anticipation, introduce Reveals, or relevant knowledge. The…

How To Build a Graphic Novel Story From Scratch, Part 3

After reading Part 1 and Part 2, you would have created the basic foundations for your graphic novel story. At this point, don't develop the story any further. Put that aside and create a new story, and another one, and another one. Try to come up with three or four story ideas over the course of a couple of weeks. When you're done, put them all aside. Go through the rest of the month not even thinking about them. In the meantime, watch a movie, catch up on your favorite series, or hang out with friends. Read comics. Anything.

You've done all the conscious work, that is, you've engaged your brain actively in the process of creation. By setting your story ideas aside and living your life normally, you're now letting your subconscious mind process all the ideas you've put down on paper. The subconscious mind works in pretty mysterious ways, making all sorts of weird connections between the story ideas you've come up with and all the other information it has s…

How To Start A Graphic Novel Story From Scratch, Part 2

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In the previous blog post, How To Start A Graphic Novel Story From Scratch, you were asked to find out possible stories for your character by observing and taking notes about the character's Ordinary Life, then coming up with possible Disturbances that would cause an imbalance so pronounced, your character has no choice but to take action. Note that this is not a rule, but it is still the most common approach used in popular storytelling.

Once you've zeroed in on the Disturbance you want to pursue, take some time to figure out how your character would approach the problem, or begin to solve it. This is the Discoveries stage. Imagine your character doing any of the following:

Explore how big or small the problem is (Ozma of Oz)Find reliable information from friendly and unfriendly characters, or through research and investigation (Watchmen)Acquire allies and equipment (High Roads)Train to gain new and relevant skills (Arrowsmith)Work out a strategy (Supercrooks)Go to relevant lo…

How To Start A Graphic Novel Story From Scratch

You have a great idea for a character. You've established who the character is and where the character's from. You know what the character does for a living, even down to what the character looks like.

So where's the story?
Practically all dramatic stories, from comics to novels to film, start a story this way:
Ordinary Life ---> Disturbance
When you want to find your character's story, one of the things you can do is "follow" your character through a typical day. Imagine the character going to work, having lunch, talking to friends and colleagues, or meeting up with a lover. Take notes. Who are your character's friends? Where does your character hang out? What does your character think about on a daily basis? This is the story of your character's Ordinary Life.
You might ask: My character's a superhero. His Ordinary Life involves catching criminals!
Yes, that's true. Being a superhero does involve finding and catching criminals. Ditto a de…

Three Points Every Beginning Comics Creator Needs To Know

There are no hard and fast rules to making a good story. That pretty much is clear. No matter how you put a story together, there will always be an audience for your work. The question is, is the audience you attract big enough?

I've spoken with a few people, comics fans all, about their opinions on the recent crop of Pinoy komiks that have been coming out and, while the number of titles and issues have increased significantly over the past decade, very few of these comics have been able to deliver the kind of punch these readers are looking for.

So I asked them: what's missing?

Three main reasons stand out, and I'd like to think that these three reasons are good places to start for any beginning Pinoy komiks creator to improve their work. These reasons, not surprisingly, are all part of the universal guidelines that any good story follows.

1) The Intriguing Spin

The comics creator has to work doubly hard in coming up with an interesting concept that has rarely been explore…