August 20, 2022 : This Weekend’s Top Movie? Dragon Ball Super, Of Course

The new Dragon Ball Super movie premieres this weekend, and expectations are that Crunchyroll’s first global release will take the top spot at the box office. This seems bizarre; but it is probably a mix of the weak box office lineup and the rise in popularity of anime.

Then again, considering the recent success of other anime movies combined with the Dragon Ball brand, perhaps it makes sense. I’m not sure I’ll watch it in the theaters, but it is on my radar so I’m hopeful I get to watch it sooner rather than later.

As a side note, I finally watched the Broly movie. Meh… at least story wise. The visuals were definitely solid. Here’s hoping Super Hero does a better job of merging the two.

posted by Pi Visuals at 1:14 am

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May 14, 2022 : A New Dragon Ball Super Movie

There is a new Dragon Ball Super movie coming out this summer, which also happens to be Crunchyroll’s first global theatrical release. The trailer looks interesting for a few reasons:

First off, Red Ribbon Army (could be cool). Secondly, Gohan looks bad ass (he better). Thirdly, a lot of the animation sequences uses 3D – not just for the background and camera movements, but also the characters. This is the second Dragon Ball Super movie. The first was Dragon Ball Super: Broly (Battle of Gods and Resurrection F were considered DBZ), which I vaguely remember but didn’t watch.

Broly used 3D periodically, but it still predominantly kept with the 2D pipeline. I’m not sure if Super Hero is fully 3D, but it definitely uses significantly more. This could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the execution.

We’ll see, but I’m intrigued. Also, I need to watch Broly.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:09 am

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October 31, 2021 : Remembering Some Halloween Fun

In tribute to the day, here’s a Halloween Throwback:

Not a good night to be an android.

It’s crazy to think this was 5 years ago! The costume required the most amount of planning and work compared to any of the others I’ve done, but it was also the most well received and recognized.

Sadly, Halloween costumes has been sparse for me since this bad boy. Hopefully a trend that will be reversed in the near future.

posted by Pi Visuals at 12:50 am

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October 8, 2021 : The Saiyan Saga In A Nutshell

I wholeheartedly approve of this (obviously):

The video is by an animator from Spain, and apparently he is working on a video for the Frieza saga. His Twitter page has some stills and gifs from that project. 

Being about DBZ pretty much had me hooked, but I found it really funny and enjoyed the character design. I think the sound effects really pushed it over the top for me, though.

posted by Pi Visuals at 10:45 pm

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September 22, 2018 : Welcome Aboard, Trunks

It’s a few weeks late, but I wanted to welcome the newest member of the family… my digital family that is. I finally got a new laptop, and his name is Trunks:

My previous laptop is about 8 years old, and running my production programs has become rough. Onsite work for clients was an exercise in patience.

I considered other brands, but Dell has been solid for me in the past. As such, I got the G7. It’s a gaming laptop but has the specs required for motion graphics related software. The price was reasonable (and per Kramer, can be written off) and has been great from a performance perspective.

Trunks accompanies my desktop, Piccolo. Naming wise, the order of DBZ related computers from Oldest to Newest is: Vegeta, Gohan, Tien, Piccolo, Trunks. Vegeta has long since left this world, Gohan is on his way out, and Tien is strictly used for back up (he was received second hand).

I’ve considered gathering the Dragonballs to resurrect the computers of yore, but who needs 1GB of RAM with 20GB of space? They might as well get renamed to Yamcha…

posted by Pi Visuals at 1:28 am

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November 18, 2017 : Bulma And Her Relevance

There was some sad news reported this week – the Japanese voice actor who portrayed Bulma passed away. I never knew of her (although it looks like she had quite the career, including Meryl Stryfe from Trigun); and this doesn’t really impact the version of DBZ that I watch, but it’s still a bummer nonetheless.

The news actually got me thinking of the character of Bulma, and her role in the Dragon Ball franchise. Nowadays, she’s relegated to comic relief or Filler Material (and has been for quite some time). However, she did play a much more important role when Dragon Ball first started. She was the connecting character that framed Goku’s unbelievable skills, helping enfold the world of Dragon Ball.

She became less relevant when the tournament Sagas began. As DBZ moved on, she stayed around to help advance the story through her technological prowess (allowing for space travel and quick Dragon Ball hunting). Her knowledge of Dr. Gero sped along the faster moving plot of the Android and Cell Saga. However after that, she remained on the show mostly to be an incubator for half Saiyans. Although one could argue she also acts as an anchor for Vegeta.

Overall, Dragon Ball does a good job of ‘discarding’ obsolete characters. They will do an occasional call back for nostalgia sake, but they don’t let them bog things down. Bulma seems to be the exception. She seems to still sticks around, probably for the reasons mentioned above.

It’s easy to dismiss Bulma. She doesn’t have any powers, which is what DBZ became and the focus of Dragon Ball Super – and we had to endure her dealings with Frog Captain Ginyu (insert shudder here). However, the more I think about it, Bulma is the strongest female character in the franchise. She might be annoying at times, but you can also say that about what Gohan has became after the Cell Saga.

So for that, I think I have a new found respect for Bulma. She was (and still is… sorta) an important character. More so than Krillin. Although, every time he dies, it angers a Saiyan – and the aftermath of that is pretty cool to watch.

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:40 pm

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October 8, 2017 : Dragon Soul Piano Cover – Making Of

Making the Dragon Soul Piano Cover video was fun, but it did come with its challenges. Most of this came after shooting the video.

Some preliminary work was needed prior to shooting (outside of making the costumes, of course). The biggest was determining the best location for the mic. After some testing, the answer was on the book shelf, to the right of the screen behind a few books.

The other thing was setting up the shot. However, I wish I was more thorough with this. While I like the camera angle, I should have removed the mirror. The reason:

I should have realized the mirror was going to cause problems; and while I could have left things as is, I felt the presence of this Photo Bomber was too distracting.

On the bright side, I used this distraction (let’s call her Mary) as an excuse to do some masking/ rotoscoping. While tedious, it’s still a worthwhile skill to keep sharpened.

The first step in removing Mary from the video was creating a Mary-Free image in Photoshop. This was done rather easily with the Clone Stamp Tool:

The next step was removing Mary frame by frame. This required the use of masks in After Effects, and keyframing their position whenever somebody walked in front of Mary. This was admittedly a bit of a time suck: but after a decent amount of effort, I was happy with the final product:

Fortunately, once Piccolo came in the shot, he obscured our unwitting Photo Bomber. As such, I didn’t have to do this for the entire 90 seconds. It was closer to about 40 seconds.

There were a few other steps that had to be done. These included:

     • Reviewing The Takes: Playing piano in those gloves was not easy. It took several attempts before I got a satisfactory take. I believe out of 7 tries, there were only two takes where I didn’t cut early due to mishaps. Since the camera kept rolling throughout, I had to review and document where these were.
     • Audio Editing/ Mixing: Even though a good location for the mic was determined prior to shooting, I still took the audio into Audition and did a little mixing to boost the overall sound quality. As always with mixing, I could have spent even longer on it, but I had to know when to say when.
     • Add SFX: It was subtle, but I wanted to enhance the video with a few subtle sound effects. The most obvious was the ‘Whoosh’ around 0:04, but the footsteps and squeaking sound when I sat on the piano bench were also added after the fact. The other big thing was adding a ‘Room Tone’. This subtle background noise was present when the piano wasn’t playing and helped the transition between silence and music.
     • Color Correction: I have not had much experience with Color Correction, and this was a perfect time to get more acquainted. Ideally, I wanted to give Adobe Premiere’s Lumetri Scopes a whirl. Unfortunately, that wasn’t an option this time around. Instead, I used some basic Contrast, Brightness, and Fast Color Correction settings to boost things up. I also got a better handle on the Waveforms and Scopes that detail the video’s color palette.

The adjustments were more subtle, but I used it more as a learning exercise while still tweaking things. Quickly: I lowered the brightness, increased the contrast, added some red/ orange to the highlights and midtones, and gave a slightly redish tint to the shadows. In the image below, the image on top is the original, while the bottom image is the color correction:

I normally do editing for animation projects in Sony Vegas, however I wanted to stretch myself a bit and use Adobe Premiere – something I have only a little experience with. I feel it provides more control with color correction, even without the Lumetri Scopes. Fortunately I was familiar enough with the software that it wasn’t much of a learning curve.

Overall, I am very happy with the end result for the video. The material is definitely esoteric, but I love it. Specifically, the dancing cracks me up as well as the interchange between Goku and Piccolo. Plus, I love the song (both playing it and listening to it).

The project provided a lot of fun exercises and yielded a video I thoroughly enjoy. Hope you agree – and found this post informative.

posted by Pi Visuals at 1:47 am

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September 29, 2017 : Dragon Soul Piano Cover (in Cosplay)

This Spring not only did I make my usual trek to C2E2, but I also spent a day doing some Cosplaying for the first time (the previous Halloween actually served as a trial run for the costumes).

In addition to enjoying the experience (the costumes were very well received), I also shot a short video that mashed my love of the DBZ theme song, Dragon Soul, with our Cosplay theme. I finally got around to uploading it:

I hope to make another post in the next week that details the efforts put into making this video. I didn’t just record it and throw it online. Multiple steps were taken after the fact to improve the quality as well as address issues that arose.

In the meantime, enjoy the silliness!

posted by Pi Visuals at 11:05 am

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October 30, 2016 : Halloween: DBZ Style

While I often dress up for Halloween in costumes unrecognized by most, this year was not case. Going as Goku and Vegeta, Moridin and I were regularly identified (and appreciated) – often getting asked to be in photos, selfies, and the like.

Having spent nearly two months working on the costumes, Moridin and I learned a great deal about the process; and we were very pleased with the end result.

Not a good night to be an android.

For the record, our costumes were from the Cell Saga. This explains why Goku didn’t have a symbol on his uniform – front or back. Last night was actually a trial run. The goal is to make any necessary adjustments so we can do some Cosplay next Spring at the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2).

posted by Pi Visuals at 10:06 pm

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September 30, 2016 : Dragon Ball Z: The Fall of Men

I don’t know how it took this long, but I just stumbled on this DBZ Fan Fiction live-action film. It was released a year ago and made by Black Smoke Films, a French production company.

It takes place in an alternate universe during the Android/ Cell Saga. I thoroughly enjoyed it; and given the fact that it now has over 20 million views, I am not alone.

The narrative was solid, but you have to accept that it didn’t stay true to the manga/ anime. Personally I like how they created their own spin on the story. However, what I really liked was all the subtle references to the series – both DBZ and Dragonball.

The YouTube Channel also has several Featurettes as well as an 85 minute Making-Of film. The only downside to these extras is that they are in French, but they do have English subtitles.

posted by Pi Visuals at 1:44 pm

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