Tuesday, March 16, 2010

CROSSTOPIX #2 - Part 1 of 3

Hello everyone! Welcome to the 2nd edition of CrossTopix!!! We hope you’re enjoying this site! Get ready for another fun series of discussions as we are joined this week by Rhodrick Magsino and Robin Poppert of the website Little Brass Bird. Here’s a little message from them in regards to what Little Brass Bird is:
Little Brass Bird: Little Brass Bird is a multimedia online production telling the story of two clock shop owners and their surreal (and sometimes frightening) adventures that manifest through the working day. The official website www.Littlebrassbird.com contains LBB episodes, short films, handmade merchandise and a growing artist directory. While we (Robin & Rhodrick) head the creation of these shows, the entire project is an interconnected collaboration between dozens of Chicago indie musicians and artists. Every episode has featured music, art, writing or voice work from at least one friend city local. We are committed to creating quality entertainment and promoting indie culture.

Thanks Rhodrick and Robin! Hey
readers, have you read the exclusive interview STVO did with these two on Cross X-amine? If not, check it out right here! If you’re done reading that article, watching some Little Brass Bird clips, I think we’re ready to start this week’s edition.......... NOW!!!

1. In January 2011, Adult Swim will be moving to prime time as they enter the 8PM Central time slot. What do you expect them to do with this time slot, do you think it will be successful, and what would you like to see? (Keep in mind, the prime time slot has been announced to have tamer material than the later time slots.)

STVO: Wow, I remember when Adult Swim was only a Sunday night block on Cartoon Network in 2001, now it’s on every night and is considered its own network! The bottom line is Adult Swim is getting more popular and Cartoon Network only continues to be defeated by Nickelodeon and Disney Channel despite previous attempts to imitate the two (including live action programming.) What I want and hope is for Adult Swim to acquire reruns of The Simpsons at 8:00 central. There are many doubters of this but Adult Swim has surprised us many times in the past with their acquisitions (when the channel first came, most people didn’t believe Family Guy, King of the Hill, Clerks: TAS or live action programming would be on there.) The Simpsons has never been picked up outside of syndication by any cable channel, plus many people would die to watch older episodes without having to buy the DVDs. If it isn’t The Simpsons, then I would like to see them put new original programming with better budgets (something on par with The Boondocks), 30-minutes of play (many may disagree, I have loved a good portion of the 15-minute originals, but I think they need to move on,) and programs that will catch the viewers’ attention (something like the talked-about new episodes of Oblongs, perhaps move the Star Wars Clone Wars series to Adult Swim, and more.)

In my mind if Adult Swim brings one of those two ideas (Simpsons or entertaining original programming) to this timeslot, I think they will prove to be successful in primetime. If it is more Family Guy reruns (some days it probably shouldn’t be, it would compete with new episodes on Fox and the TBS airings) it will probably continue doing as well as they’re doing now, but it won’t be exciting unless they have something exciting for the 9PM Central slot. If it’s just King of the Hill moving to that time, in my eyes it will already be a failure. Ratings wise, that show has not proven to be the ratings getter that Family Guy is or Futurama was when it was on Adult Swim. Also while this is wishful dreaming, I would love for them to finally make a serious animated adult action show around the lines of Spawn: The Series, Afro Samurai, etc.

CharlieCat: I don't think this is a bad idea. Adult oriented animation has grown in popularity over the past 20 years since the big bang of The Simpsons. American audiences love it. Fox does well with its Sunday animation block. Even MTV, back in the day, was a better station with its animated series, led by Beavis and Butthead. Even Comedy Central benefits from having an animated show that's pretty raunchy on in the prime time zone, South Park.

As for Cartoon Network and moving Adult Swim up one more hour, I think it would be beneficial. They can play “safer” shows first like reruns of King of the Hill, Family Guy, and hopefully a new series that looks funny called Uncle Grandpa. By the time that bunch is over they can move into their raunchier shows like Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Superjail. I would love for those to be on earlier. I think it's a great move and this is what I want to see.

Robin: I hope it would help weed out some of the shows that really just aren’t very good. Like Assey McGee perhaps? I am not to sure what to expect from this move to prime time but I am fairly sure it will be successful as I feel people do like the idea of it starting earlier. I wish they would start up some of the better shows that have been on previously ( The Oblongs and Mission Hill for example) also with the earlier slots it would be interesting to view vintage bizarre cartoons from yesterday.

Rhodrick: Adult Swim has been a provider of many incredible original shows like The Boondocks and Superjail. It showcased classics from other channels like Futurama, Samurai Champloo, and FLCL. However, let us not forget that this televised lineup is also the result of minor atrocities like Assy McGee and Minoriteam. I think Adult Swim can take this extended time slot in several extreme directions. The 8:00pm time slot would prove to be a great opportunity to air reruns of older shows that time had sort of forgotten like Daria, The Maxx, and maybe even Invader Zim. Shows that were ahead of their time while on other networks can certainly make their re-debut on Adult Swim. And I really wouldn’t mind seeing new original shows premiering now that they have this extra time slot.

2. Final Fantasy XIII is the first of the traditional Final Fantasy games to be multi-console (Final Fantasy XI was multi-console but was an MMORPG.) Will the issue of it being on both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 affect the game play? How will the thirteenth game compare to the previous Final Fantasy games and are you interested?

STVO: Quick opinion on traditional J-RPGs: they can be very fun if they have a great story and fun missions. The problem I do have with most is you have to spend a LOT of time upgrading their levels by going through the same bad guys over and over to get them to the level you want them to be at to advance; because of that I don’t

play them often. Moving on to the topic we’re supposed to discuss, Final Fantasy XIII looks like it could be fun. The graphics are breathtaking, it’s interesting that the main protagonist is female (Lightning), and I think the monster summons could be pretty fun for this type of game.

Previously, I have only had experience playing the following Final Fantasy titles: Final Fantasy 1, 6, 7, and 10. I didn’t care much for 1 because of the lack of a story, but I did enjoy 6 and 7 for having in-depth stories with the sixth title having a good sense of humor along the way too. As for 7, it is one of the best RPG’s I have ever played with a great storyline that kept me engaged as well as great characters. 10 didn’t do much for me as I thought Tidus was too whiny and the story was very slow and not as engaging. One problem I do have with FFXIII is while the story seems like it could be interesting, the trailer does make it look it could be a sappy/emo-driven love story for teenagers like some of the previous Final Fantasy titles have (complete with Leona Lewis singing the game’s theme.) This is perhaps another reason I don’t play Final Fantasy games much, I’m 26, and these titles seem like they’re games for high school kids (no offense to any older fans.)

As for it being multi-console, I have yet to hear any developer struggles with either version (PS3 will be one blu-ray disc while the Xbox 360 version will be a couple discs) and as long as the proper time was taken with both games, you should be fine with either system you buy it on. Personally, I think Square-Enix should have gone multi-console with these titles long ago…

CharlieCat: Let me come clean on something here, I am not a Final Fantasy fan and have only played number X. I do, however, respect what it is and what it means to the gaming community. That being said, I believe I just answered whether or not I'm interested in it. To the main issue of being on both Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, I say why not? Is this not a series that started on Nintendo? So it's not as if their creators are betraying anyone. And I believe expanding to Xbox will make for a better online experience, as Xbox Live is considered by many to be the best in quality in online gameplay.

Robin: So I was one of the 80’s kids that didn’t play video games. My best friend had a Super Nintendo and we got our very first system in 1998 and it was the Donkey Kong Edition N64. We also had a black and white Game Boy (we only had Star Wars which was so hard) and two Game Boy Colors. Not a lot of gaming experience on my end but I am interested in playing any of the Final Fantasy games as I have never played them before.

Rhodrick: I’m glad I got my obsessive RPG fix satisfied while I was younger because I simply can’t find the time to play anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally stoked to “see” FFXIII’s in action. From what I’ve seen thus far, it has Square-Enix’s trademark ultra high quality epic cut scenes, half Medieval/ half futuristic weaponry and every one’s favorite summons! I’m excited to see Lightning as only the 2nd (out of 13 games) female hero, other than Terra from FFVI. The biggest test is the new battle system. It seems they’ve tried their best to create a turn base system that creates an illusion of real time fighting by introducing dynamic camera angle changes and choosing commands even after their bar is reset. It’s been noted that characters cannot use magic outside of battles, so their health is regained automatically after each battle… I’m still a little skeptical about that. I do hope they’ve created a game play to avoid hours of “grinding” just to get to the next stage of the game.

It seems the fact that Square-Enix is making FFXIII multi-console is because the PS3 has been doing so poorly with sales, they’re simply broadening their market for the game. When first teasers came to E3, it was announced that XIII would be a PlayStation exclusive much like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Killzone 2, but I guess their market plan changed for the better.

3. Family films, action films, horror films: every genre is on the 3-D train more than ever. Is the fact that more and more movies are being shown in 3-D a good thing? Is this gimmick just that and compensating for a movies lack in other areas?

STVO: I like 3-D movies, I really do! Avatar was a good movie on its own, BUT

I personally believe the 3-D experience made it the phenomenon it is today! For other movies, while it’s a nice addition, it’s not necessary. Take for example: Coraline, Up, and The Toy Story movies. They all look nice with pop-out 3-D effects, but they have such great animation and storylines that it isn’t really needed. The same logic can be applied for the all-new Alice in Wonderland movie from Tim Burton. It was a fun movie (the Depp/Burton pairing is getting a little repetitive, but that’s another topic for another day) but I don’t believe they utilized the 3D that well in it. There were parts with Charlie Cat’s brother, the Cheshire Cat’s eyes and head popping out slightly as well as the Queen of Hearts, but like the other animated pictures I mentioned, the computer animated effects stood out more than it being in 3D. In my opinion, the first 30 minutes of the movie didn’t even really need the glasses.

On the other hand, there are movies out there that look like the 3D adds much more to a decent or crummy movie. For instance, My Bloody Valentine 3D was an entertaining movie with lots of gore, a decent story, but I have a feeling I may have skipped it without the 3D gimmick (the sickle jumping out of the screen among other scenes made this fun.) Saw 7 is going to be in 3D. I believe Lions Gate decided upon this partially because thought that while a regular 2D Saw might not attract viewers (Saw 6 didn’t perform nearly as well as the other 5) perhaps a 3D one would work. I’ll see the movie regardless, but I think it being in 3D adds a little more interest to most consumers, though I’m skeptical how well it will be utilized. Sony confirmed the Spider-Man remake is going to be in 3D. Again I don’t think it’s needed, but I think it will make it more unique. My verdict on whether we need 3D is similar to that of the debate of HD, some movies/TV shows may not need it, but if it makes it look prettier, why the heck not?!? Personally I’ll be really excited for when they make it possible to enable 3D without glasses or visors.

CharlieCat: I can honestly live without any movie being in 3-D. It's just an extra $2 or more for a goofy pair of glasses that I do not feel enhance the movie experience. I will address the four most recent movies I've seen in 3-D to get into specifics.

Beowolf: I am probably one of the few people that liked this movie. Maybe it was just because it was in 3-D. I cannot say for sure, as they did an excellent job of using the 3-D elements to their max to make me squirming in my seat. Perhaps, that WOW factor I was experiencing from all the wild things coming at me was actually diluting my logical senses as to what may have been a bad movie

Up: Loved this movie: Great, heart-breaking story, one of Pixar's finest. The 3-D just got in the way for me. It felt ineffective and just a distraction, honestly.

Avatar: I saw it on the big screen both ways. It was just as good without the 3-D as it was with it. I want my 2 bucks back. I will say though, this movie had the best use of 3-D technology I have ever seen, but that's not saying much since it wasn't that phenomenal.

Alice in Wonderland: Where was the 3-D? It was pretty clear they added on the 3-D after it was shot and was not shot for being a 3-D release. Terribly ineffective and unnecessary for what was actually a pretty good movie.

I say neigh on more movies going to 3-D as I have not been that impressed by what's been done.

Robin: Sometimes I feel the 3-D aspect is going a bit overboard like with the

3-D televisions that are coming out now. Every so often, I will pay the extra to watch a film in 3-D but sometimes it’s more for the fun of the little extra more so than seeing the film in 3-D. I remember seeing one of the Muppet movies in 3-D at Disney World when I was a kid and I was blown away. The images were so close that you would reach out to try to touch them. I don’t think any 3-D movies could really make me feel that way again. Now the 3-D doesn’t seem to really stick out. I don’t know if it is fair to some movies to make everything 3-D as it can be distracting or not noticed at all anyway.

Rhodrick: I saw two quality films in 3-D, Coraline and Nightmare Before Christmas. It was a brand new and exhilarating experience… for the first 5 minutes. After that, your eyes become accustom to the look and quickly loses its effect. I feel that movies created specifically to use 3-D to its aesthetic advantage should be the only films using it. Simply adding the effect to a normal film just ruins the depth and composition of the original shots. Cinematographers and Directors of Photography take time to map out every shot; to compose dynamic and stunning visuals that help tell a story. Long story short, make films for 3-D and don’t make films 3-D.


Okay Everyone! That's all for Part 1! Stay tuned for Wednesday night as we discuss childhood toys, old cartoons vs. new cartoons, and the best animated musician(s) of all-time!! Thanks for tuning in! Please leave some comments here or log onto Facebook and visit our fanpage!


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