Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “Two Swords”

Game of Thrones has a unique problem going into season 4. With the Stark rebellion crushed, the show finds itself lacking a central narrative post to hitch its reigns to. What about the White Walkers, you say? They’re still in the north, being ignored by almost everyone. Even the Night’s Watch is more concerned with the Wildling threat at the moment. What about Dany, you ask? She’s still in Essos, trying to liberate slave cities, but what she’s really doing is leaving massive power vacuums in her wake that will eventually lead to a narrative issue so confusing it apparently left George R.R. Martin at a loss on how to fix it and spawned its own literary term: the Meerenese Knot.

That’s not to say that the show has no conflict…quite the opposite. It’s full to the brim with conflict, and the fact that most of characters left (sans Joffrey, the little bastard) are the ones the audience are kind of rooting for– even seemingly irredeemable child-murdering cads like Jaime Lannister and Sandor ‘The Hound’ Clegane have become misunderstood anti-heroes over the course of the last season–makes that conflict more intense. So, until the White Walkers show up, or Dany finally gets on a ship and gets moving, character drama is the name of the game. Luckily the characters and the actors playing them are strong enough to pull it off.

Season four opens on the eve of King Joffrey’s wedding, and the arrival of Oberyn Martell. Oberyn has officially come to King’s Landing for the purpose of the wedding…but he has blood on his mind. Oberyn was the uncle of the Targaryen children the Lannisters had murdered when Robert’s Rebellion ended. He’s after one man, in particular: Gregor Clegane.
Oberyn’s pretty much a badass–a brothel patronizing, bisexual badass–and I couldn’t help but get a bit of a western vibe during his introductory sequence. Switch out Littlefinger’s brothel for a dusty saloon and give Oberyn a pair of guns, and you’re set.

The same goes for the final scene involving Arya and the Hound, and by far the best scene in the episode, not only for the action but the rapport these two have developed. They walk into an inn overrun by outlaws, the outlaws run their mouth, and the dusty, trail weary stranger ends up having to take out the trash. What makes the set up interesting is Arya, and the fact that one of the outlaws is the same man who took her sword and used it to kill one of her friends, way back in season two. Arya stalks up to the unarmed man, telling him the same things he told her friend until he remembers who she is, and slides the sword into his throat. It’s a moment that is at once thrilling (Go Arya!) but also a little creepy and unsettling as we see Arya enjoys not only exacting revenge, but taunting her prey beforehand.

Much of the rest of the episode is set up for the rest of the season: Jaime has returned to King’s Landing, but because of his hand, he finds his status has changed. Tywin wants to send him home to rule their city, and Joffrey taunts him as being weak and lacking ambition. He also finds himself at odds with his oath to return Catelyn Stark’s daughters, because quite frankly, there’s no where to return them to. Not to mention Arya’s missing and Sansa is now married to Tyrion. Then there is Cersei, who resents him for being captured and leaving her alone for the past year and a half.

Tyrion’s conflict comes from matters of the heart. He’s stuck in a loveless marriage with a young girl whose family has all but been wiped out by his. On top of that, he can’t be with the woman he does love because, despite all his claims to the contrary, Tyrion does have some honor. He has a heated exchange with Shae that is overheard by one of the Queen Regent’s spies. Should be interesting to see where that goes.

Up north, Ygritte is facing suspicion from her own people for letting Jon Snow escape. True, she shot him with three arrows, but as Tormund points out, she’s taken out rabbits from 200 yards in the past. If Jon escaped, he says, its because Ygritte let him go. A quick aside…the location they shot this scene in was fantastic.

Jon Snow is facing suspicion, as well. We find him at Castle Black, being questioned by Alliser Thorne, who’s had it out for Jon since season one, Janos Slynt (the city watchman who sold Ned Stark out), and Maester Eamon. They eventually let Jon go, and I’m a bit confused how this came about. They don’t show any deliberation, a vote, or anything. Maester Eamon simply speaks up and Jon is let go, for the moment.


Finally, I want to close these reviews with a discussion of any VFX in an episode. As usual, GoT’s production values remain high. The big effect of this episode (or any episode where they appear), was Dany’s dragons. These things have gotten pretty big, and they look amazing…motion picture quality even. The designs are beautiful, too. I just wish Drogon wasn’t such a screen hog and we could get a good look at the green and red dragons, both of whom appear somewhat smaller than their brother. The most interesting aspect of their scene was they way Drogon snapped at Daenarys, however. As Jorah tells her afterward, They can never be tamed, not even by their mother. It puts her status as the one person in in the world in possession of what is essentially a Weapon of Mass Destruction in question. I suppose WMD’s that can act on their own volition would be a bit of a problem.

So far, season four is off to a strong start. It has a bit of the Premier Expository Blues, as characters explain what has gone before while setting up plot points for the future, but like I said before, the actors and writing are strong enough that the show can get away with this somewhat.

I’m excited for next week, and from what I saw in the preview, a lot of fans are going to be thrilled (or sorely disappointed) with how it ends. Let’s say initially thrilled, but disappointed once they let it sink in.

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Vicarious Viewing: Game of Thrones- “Two Swords”

Book Trailer Update

A few weeks ago, I posted the beginnings of an illustration I planned to use in a trailer for a novel. Well, I’ve been hard at work and thought I’d share how it’s coming along!

Pixie_deskNewshirt_armsI know that it’s taken a while, but I lost about a week’s worth of work when I decided I wasn’t happy with the initial line drawing and tossed it. I’m still finding little things to obsess over (I spent most of yesterday completely re-doing the window in the back ground and just this morning I changed the position of her right arm and some of the detail on the vest). I’m hoping that now that I have a workflow locked down and a firmer concept in my mind of what I want the art work in the trailer to look like, the other images will come much more quickly.

And I just noticed I haven’t shaded the cuff of her left sleeve. Wonderful.

Hope to have more soon!

Book Trailer Update

A Little Preview…

I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to lately, and it looks like my posts will be scarce for a while. I’m about to start my final quarter at the Art Institute of Houston, and I need to focus on polishing and putting together a sizzle reel for potential employers. I’ll also need to focus on my upcoming internship (a requirement for graduation).

I’m also trying to focus on wrapping up some rewrites for a novel I hope to publish by the end of the year, so most of my writing energy is going into that project. As a result, The Shroom Job will be going on hiatus.

The Shroom Job was my first attempt at doing a serialized story, and so far I feel like I’ve failed at it. I was posting as I was writing, and as a result, the story wasn’t as polished or developed as it should have been. It also spun out of control a bit…I intended a five or six part story, and it has gone way past that. Any future endeavors I take in serializing a story will be completed before hand.

In the meantime, I’d like to share some of the first line art and a text template from a new motion graphics project I’m working on, a book trailer for the novel I mentioned above.

Early line art featuring the character of Pixie Sinclaire:

PixieThe completed shot will be painted digitally and feature Pixie, sitting behind a cluttered desk with her feet up. On a separate layer will be a background shot of her office. The shot will feature a slight parallax to give it some dimension, and various animated effects will be composited into the scene to give it some life. Pixie’s an adventurous sort, and a bit of a rogue. I’m aiming for a bit of a noir feel, except in this case the femme fatale is also the private eye.

Proposed template for text inserts (I need to update the map):

vlcsnap-2013-09-15-11h45m19s228These text plates feature animated text over a moving background (the map). The clouds are animated as well, using a turbulent displace effect. I’m unsure of the typeface, as in some shots it looks a little thin and hard to read. I’m open to suggestions if anyone has them.

A Little Preview…

Pacific Rim: A (mostly) Technical Review

I read an article yesterday saying Pacific Rim has only made 68 million dollars domestically. It’s doing better internationally, but still has an uphill battle to recoup its 200 million dollar budget. Considering that a movie generally has to make three times its budget to be considered successful in Hollywood, it has quite a way to go.

Continue reading “Pacific Rim: A (mostly) Technical Review”

Pacific Rim: A (mostly) Technical Review

Video-Blackwood Empire Prototype (Keylight Exercise)

Hello, all! This was a project I made for school about a year and a half ago, and it was my first real experience using Keylight in After Effects. We had to come up with a theme, build a matte painting around that theme, and composite ourselves into the scene. I had been kicking around the idea of doing something in the steampunk sub-genre for a while, and came up with this.

This video was also the genesis for ‘Blackwood Empire’, and the character that would eventually become the disgraced Admiral Roderick Beauchamp La Pierre. My initial idea was to do something like a kid’s show, complete with catchy songs to earn the eternal ire of parents everywhere, but I have absolutely no idea how to write for children, especially when the protagonist is a drunken pirate, and I don’t have a musical bone in my body, so that was out. So now I’m aiming squarely for that golden PG-13 spot occupied by such pulpy adventure movies like Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Video-Blackwood Empire Prototype (Keylight Exercise)

Video-Blackwood Empire Mock Trailer Animatic

This is an animatic for a project I hope to produce over the next six months for my senior project. It will incorporate digitally created visual effects with live action footage. Hopefully it turns out like I see it in my head (always the tricky part, that), and I can use it for a Kickstarter or a pitch video to get the web-series I want to produce a chance in hell of existing.

This is very much a work in progress, so suggestions are welcome.

Video-Blackwood Empire Mock Trailer Animatic

Welcome!

Hello and welcome to R.B. Pierce Online! I’m a story teller, and as a story teller I just want to bring a little bit of entertainment to your life. Here, you’ll find a wide spectrum of content and styles, from chilling and exciting tales of sci-fi and horror, to more low key, literary endeavors to make you pause and think. I have stories written and filmed, long and short. Even a comic strip or two.

So feel free to poke around. I’m sure you’ll find something in here that will catch your eye!

Let’s start off with a short video that tells the pulpy story of a man who gets into deep water in…IAN PRINCE, PARANORMAL INVESTIGATOR!

Welcome!