After the usual suck of driving in Denver (gee, there's an accident on the other side of the highway, let's rubberneck until traffic is piled up for 3 miles.) we arrived at the Sheriton and checked in. So far so good, checkin was quick and easy. Then we got in line at 3:55 for the 4:00 registration. Where we remained until a quarter of five. The signin process is very manual, paper driven, and as a result, it takes a LONG time even for prereg folk to get signed in. They could really learn from Expo here.
On to the dealer's room. Marcia did quite well with the one cel dealer (anime asylum) picking up several cels including a very nice Hotaru from Sailor moon. I did pretty well too, picking up something for a Christmas gift which I shan't discuss here. The dealer's room is delightfully well organized, if a bit sparsely populated compared with last year, with lines delineating where you can stand to shop and where you are walking. Expo could learn something here.
Dinner at the hotel resteraunt sucked. Really. The service was slow, my order was wrong, Marcia's order was wrong, and only part of it was cooked. And it was expensive. Small wonder we practically had the place to ourselves. Wish we'd made the connection before we ate.
The registration/signin line was still going when we went back to the room.
Took in the first few episodes of Nadesco, along with the first couple episodes of El Hazard. Nadesco is very silly, and El Hazard is gorgeous in that "complicated story beautifully drawn Lodos OVA kind of way. I think I have a new cel addiction.
Breakfast of bagels and cream cheese in the room. Thankfully, neither of us developed any signs of food poisoning from last night's wretched dinner, which we were half expecting. Then we went to the cell gathering. Discovered I really need to learn more about the cels in my book, since the best answer to "where is that one from" is not "duh...". As usual, Marcia's cels drew a lot of attention. As usual, mine did not. Oh well.
Another round in the dealer's room for me, after standing in
line (!) at the door for maybe 5 minutes I proceeded to buy a Shayla Shayla cel - lucky for me the
previews from the El Haz episodes we saw last night didn't have any
shots of Ifurita that I liked - she just looks like Sylia from
BGC2040 to me :). Also succumbed to temptation at the sharp pointy
thing dealer and picked up a rather nice dirk and a weird little
barbed knife. Total cost, about 50 bucks. Not including the cel.
Bottom fishing in the dealer's room tomorrow. :) Also picked up a
nifty little hentai doujinshi called Under the Influence 1 from
studio APK for only 5 bucks
(signed by the artist). I think I need to watch some Gunsmith Cats.
After a pause for a leisurely lunch and some downtime in the room, we headed out to the AIC panel to hear Hayashi-san speak - through a translator. He went through the animation process in more detail than I'd seen it done before, with samples of each piece in the process. The sample was an Aieka cel from Tenchi in Love AND the douga AND the genga and everything. You could smell the otaku drool. After that he had a video walk through of the AIC building where he directs. If AIC was a computer firm, it would scream "startup" - everyone is in cramped quarters and casual clothes. Sadly, most of the work being done was with digital color, which despite Hayashi-san's answer to my question to the contrary, I don't think has the depth or radiance of hand painted cels. But hey, any video where you meet the character designer from BGC2040 coming out of the men's room can't be all bad news. More otaku drool - some of the cels casually taped *shudder* to people's cubicle walls would fetch hundreds if not thousands in the US.
The other video Hayashi-san showed was the promo video of the various new offerings AIC is either developing currently or has just finished. Obviously nothing I'd ever heard of, since it's all brand spankin' new. A lot of it has the same general look and feel of BGC2040 except for the lack of color radiance from the digital colors. One, "Magical Witchland" is being done in 3d. Unfortunately while the artwork is a universe better, the *motion* looks alot like Reboot. Yuck.
After some decompression time in the room we went to dinner at Stuart Anderson's. Nothing like large slabs of dead cow to make you feel like plunking your butt in a chair to watch more anime. :)
Tonights anime was the very last episode of Nadesco, which is mostly the Gekkigenga movie. See, it's like this. In the first couple episodes, we find that some of the characters on board the Nadesca are addicted to a TV show called Gekkigenga 3. Through the first episodes - and one assumes through the whole series - we get little clips of Gekkigenga 3 episodes, mostly screaming and things blowing up. The final episode is mostly those clips stitched together with a lot of new stuff. It's very very silly, sending up every hackneyed mecha anime you've seen, from Gatchamon to Voltron to Macross to Gundom. Apparently if you know the who's who of the voices and read Japanese, many of the voice actors were from some of those series'. Unlike last night's Nadesco, which was nicely dubbed (don't scream like that, and put down the chainsaw, I LIKE dub), tonight's was subbed.
After that was Gall force. Not terribly interesting, much gratuitous nudity (ok, it wasn't all bad) , and not terribly well animated. We didn't stay. Marcia spent the rest of the evening locked in mortal combat with Snood (a highly addictive mac game) and I sat about writing this stuff.
Another busy day. Checkout from the hotel first, then head to the panels. First was Manga video. Not a great panel all around - they had nothing major to announce, they hadn't prepared their guy well (thrown him to the wolves would have been a better description) and they had nothing they could talk about about the whole Escaflowne mess with Fox.
They did mention the possibility of a Ghost in the Shell theatrical re-release, which is good.
Finally, <rant mode on> some mommy decided she must share how she felt that Anime is great art, but she worried about the message it was sending into the world and how it would effect her offspring. My personal take on it, although I refrained from commenting, is that part of what makes Anime so refreshing is that the politically correct moron mommies haven't gotten to it. I like NDK's policy - we're not here to babysit your children. If you abandon them we'll hand them over to child services. Some of the material here is adult in nature, and you as a parent need to keep track of what your children get into. <Rant mode off now.>
After that I did some bottom feeding at the dealer's room, got $5 off each of two video tapes - Dominion Tank Police Act 1, and Gunsmith cats, Chapter 1. Also picked up a nice cel of Iria from Anime Assylum.
We got to the video roomjust in time to see the end of the series of Master of Mosquiton. It was good in that he tells her he loves her at the end of the series. But it managed to give a no resolution suck ending anyway.
Next was the Music Video Winners announcements. Some of them were quite touching, including one done to No Doubt's "Don't Speak" made up of Tenchi Muyo footage. You have to feel for Ryoko sometimes, even though she does set herself up for alot of the grief she gets. Another more humorous one was done to Duran Duran's "Girls on Film" with footage from Sailor Moon, Tenchi Muyo, Ranma (I think) and a whole bunch of others. It's a common theme in Anime, I guess.
After that it was back to the panels, where we saw ADV Video and Studio Ironcat's combined panel. They announced a whole mess of things, and I'll try to list as many as I can remember. First, they have acquired the rights to do DVDs of Sailor Moon, although from the sound of things it will be the DIC dub. They've acquired a whole mess of titles I've never heard of, many of which got lots of approval from the otaku, and are expecting to kick out a DVD title at the rate of one a month starting in November. They believe VHS anime is dying. Also, the one most important to Marcia and me, they got all 26 episodes of BGC 2040 (apparently the first 24 were on TV but you had to buy the last 2 in Japan). They are also working with Studio Ironcat to rehydrate their book, manga, and graphic novel arm by farming it out to the ever enthusiastic Bennet brothers.
The final panel was about animation software called Retas! pro, which according to the guy giving the panel is the premiere 2d animation software used in Japan. It's very obviously written by animators for animators. It's broken up into modules - renderdog, paintman pencilman, and so on. Each module is very powerful, pencilman is designed for scanning and retouching - or drawing outright - pencil images. It can trace the lines with a 1 pixel wide reference line where the "paint" will flow, and put the drawn lines back down *over the top* once the painting is done. Very cool. Paintman is very like advanced painting tools with a few notable exceptions - it's set up for massive batch handling, so if you want to change *all* the frames of a piece of animation's color, you can do it in a few clicks, and it can load all the "cels" of a cut and flip through them. It has a light table mode for comparing two images, and lots of other stuff. If I were still a windows user I'd be tempted to see if I couldn't get just that module for the retouching I do to put cels up.
Core Retas is the animation compositing and recording software. The first screen that comes up is a traditional animation timing sheet, where you block out everything as normal, then start adding images, layers (as many as memory will permit - the demo guy had done some work with *thousands* of layers) to actually assemble each frame. Apparently the rendering can be split up with renderdog across multiple machines, since this last compositing and rendering step is the time consuming part. The bad news: List price on this software is about $5000 US. Yeowch. The guy who won the drawing and won a free copy of Retas Pro had the envy of everyone in the room - including me. Apparently there are student discounts, however. If I could draw at all, I'd be much much more interested. Instead I may get a copy of Moho for BeOS. Does some of the same things, even does tweening, which Retas doesn't even try to do, since it's hard to do RIGHT.
Anyway, after that it was time to go home. Had a nice, uneventful drive back to the Springs after a stop at "Rock Bottom" brewpub - formerly known (ie before friday) as Walnut Brewery. Good food, very pleasant beer. Marcia is already in bed trying to shake what looks like a cold she's picked up.
All told a fun little con.