Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Heroes? of Cosplay

When did cosplay get so serious? I have never been into cosplay. That is to say, I have never felt like doing it myself. I admire those who put the time and effort into their costumes and then go to cons to show them off. I respect that. It just never felt like something that I wanted to do. After watching SyFy’s Heores of Cosplay, it seems even more like something I will not do, at least on the competition level. Seriously, I thought cosplay was all about having fun.

To be fair, Heroes of Cosplay is a reality show, which is designed to attract an audience with a certain amount of drama, tension, interesting characters, and skin. The skin thing is probably bugged me the most. Other then the cattyness of some of the featured cosplayers. Aside from Holly and Jessica (of Crabcat Industries and featured in Morgan Spurlock’s Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope), Cloe Dykstra (who some may recognize from her You Tube show Just Cos and also from being Chris Hardwick’s girlfriend), and Jesse (the only male featured in the series) the cosplayers seemed to have a habit of going for sex appeal as a means of scoring points in competition. This was not the case all the time wit all the people featured, but it was fairly common. Now I will say that I do respect pro cosplayer Yaya Han for the amount of detail and work she puts into her costumes and for turning her cosplay talent into a business. But she does tend to include ample cleavage into her detailed designs and a lot of her photos seem closer to nerd pinup then modeling.

As mentioned earlier, some of these women had the habit of acting like middle school girls. Nice, friendly, and positive when face to face but tearing each other down when backs are turned. Okay, so maybe there really only was one really specific example of this. If you saw the series you know who I am talking about. There was also that little conversation where it as stated that people should consider their body types when cosplaying because not everyone can pull off everything. I get it. Female drama is a selling factor in reality TV. And then there was the treatment of some of the husbands/boyfriends. In some cases these guys did a lot of the work and got all of the grief if something was not quite right. It didn’t help that plenty of the design ideas were conceived with little time to complete the projects before the start of the cosplay contests.

The series was not all that bad. I’m just pointing out some things that I did not appreciate as a viewer. But nerd culture is supposed to be about acceptance, freedom, and friendship. At least I think it is. Well maybe except for those guys who have issues with women being nerds, but that is a whole different conversation. If there is a next season, maybe, hopefully, there will be less drama and snobbish behavior. Or at least maybe not so much will be edited in. It would also be nice to see at least one more male cosplayer in the future.

Please comment if you have any opinions and or disagreements.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The sound of a Bear

Have you ever tried to think of your favorite TV show without hearing the theme song playing in your head? Have you ever paid much attention to who makes you favorite shows even more memorable with those themes and musical scores?

Bear McCreary is the composer and songwriter who will be scoring Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which will premier September 24th on ABC. He also just won an Emmy for his work on Da Vinci’s Demons. Bear made his musical mark on Battlestar Galactica, which I dare you to not hear the score in your head when thinking of the show, and continues his work on zombie apocalypse series you may have heard of called The Walking Dead. His TV credits also include Eureka, Terminator: The Sara Connor Chronicles, Caprica, Defiance, and the upcoming pirate series, Black Sails, which will air on Starz in January of next year.

Bear’s resume isn’t just limited to TV. He has scored a few direct to DVD horror films and made his theatrical film scoring debut with Step Up 3D. He also scored Europa Report, considered one of the most scientifically accurate sci-fi films to be made. He’s also contributed to a few games including SOCOM 4: NAVY SEALs. It’s no surprise that he showed up at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con as a member of a few panels, and in the case of Defiance, making a surprise appearance to ask a question during the Q & A.

It’s a safe bet that you have heard Bear’s work. You will also be hearing his scoring talent in the horror/fantasy larping comedy, Knights of Badassdom (as soon as it gets a release date). Bear is also scoring the movie based on The Angry Video Game Nerd called… Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie.

If it isn’t clear already, Bear McCreary has a passion for sci-fi. He is very talented and also happens to be a nice guy. I know this first hand from running into him twice at conventions. Bear has already been regarded on of the best sci-fi composers of all time and his first Emmy win will likely not be the last award he receives. Bear’s music continues to evolve and we will be hearing it in more places as time goes on.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Free Babylon 5

When was the last time you visited a station called Babylon 5? Unless you own the DVDs or have a friend or family member who does, all you have are clips on YouTube to help reminisce about one of the best sci-fi shows on television. Every other show that has made any kind of impression has found its way into syndication or on Netflix. But why not B5?

The first most obvious hurdle is the ongoing licensing issue between Warner Brothers (who owns B5) and Netflix. Babylon 5 was not the only WB owned property to disappear from Netflix streaming service when the original licensing agreement expired. The next issue is weather or not the WB or any potential streaming service wants to broadcast a product with low resolution. See, even on the DVD release, Warner Brothers apparently converted the episodes from PAL (a broadcast format used outside the U.S.) to NTSC (the U.S. broadcasting format) instead of going back to the original files. My guess is because this was seen as less time consuming and cheaper in some executive’s eyes. But basically, they were lazy. This would account for the poor image quality in some scenes of the DVDs. To further complicate the issue, and I have yet to find the exact story, most of the templates for the CGI models were lost or destroyed. This, and the expense involved in rebuilding everything from scratch is why you are not gonna get B5 on HD any time soon or maybe at all.

Honestly, I don’t think it has a lot to do with the technical hurdle. It’s more of a lack of interest on the part of Warner Brothers. Babylon 5 was lucky to get a fifth season on TNT. It never put up huge ratings and the numbers of viewers continued to decline throughout the series. My guess is that the studio see it as a bad investment. Not that any network or studio has ever given much faith to a sci-fi series. Even Star Trek has had its share of studio problems. But there is a fan base and no real extra expense involved in streaming online. But obviously if Warner Brothers doesn’t think it can make the revenue it thinks it deserves, even for a property it obviously cares little for, then they are going to horde it along with any other property it can until someone gives in and pays up. Which I probably why the only place you can stream episodes on TheWB.Com. And even then it’s only 26 episodes and assorted clips.

There it is folks. It’s all about money. Or at least money WB perceives it can get. Babylon 5 is just buried beneath all that corporate red tape. Forgotten and all alone in the night. But us fans have not forgotten. And those of us fortunate enough to own the series on DVD have the joy of converting our friends and family. That’s how my wife became a fan. Funny side note to that, we met J. Michael Straczynski at SDCC. When I told him that she became a fan when I showed her my DVDs, he said to her, “I’m sorry.” True story. Anyway… You can join the #FreeBabylon5 movement on Twitter and any other place you can think of. Live for the 5. Die for the 5. Well, maybe not die for it. In the end it’s still just a TV show. But you know what I mean.