Sunday, June 16, 2013

Retrospective: Breaking Down The Fourth Wall

Did I use that word correctly?
...Okay. Yes. Good.

Now, with Mumford and Sons in my ears, and the rap from The Fresh Prince of Belair stuck in my head, lemme tell you about how my world got flipped, turned upside down...

Gah. Get a life, Will Smith.

This is kind of the wrap-up post for Directed Studies. It's due tomorrow, so there's that. There's probably going to be a post-script for the unit next week, because this weekend is Supanova and I think I should review how that goes for various reasons.


At the beginning of semsester, when I kind of started wrapping my head around what Directed Studies was going to look like, I basically went "I would like to make costumes"

Subsequently, I planned out this sweeping grandeur of outfits, and had in my head that I was going to get four high-caliber costume out, in spite of the fact that on average I only have enough time and sanity and money to create on average one per year. And I was going to do all of this in a semester, plus some work experience.

Never let it be said that I don't have ambition at the start of a project.

Now, the thing that I didn't check or understand fully at the start of the project was the concept of time. See, I finished the first costume in good time, and then I had some delays getting the pattern sorted for the Halo armour. And the website that I was consulting about all of this had mentioned that it would take me about 300 hours to complete, but that didn't register in my head as a comprehensible amount of time when I first read it. I kind of just looked at it, and broke 300 hours down as 'two and a half weeks, working every day for eight hours'

You can't understand what kind of time that takes until you are in the middle of it. To my folly. The armour took so much longer than initially expected, that it effectively swallowed up my other two projects, and about fifty percent of the time I would have spent on another course. Probably more.

But. It's finished, and at least ready for marking tomorrow. I finished it yesterday morning, and immediately went out and got photos. Props to Micah for that. They look Spectacular.

I feel a little odd about it, because...well, because every time I go to make a cosplay, I hop on DeviantArt and check out what other people have done. They end up posting these absolutely radical, professional looking things, and when the photos were done, I was looking at something which had a caliber equal to those outfits. I was a little weirded out and chuffed at the same time.

So there's that.

Now you know what I planned to do, and what I actually did. Now lemme tell you about what I want to do next.

Supanova is this weekend. I'm planning to, after Tuesday, make a rifle for the outfit so I have somewhere to store my things while I'm walking around (No pockets for Tex. I'll just make the stock and cartridge hollow in the rifle and put my things in there). I also entered into the cosplay competition at Nova, because it's kind of worth seeing how my thing stacks up against everything else. I mean, I'm still expecting the mad freakout because everyone else in the advanced category will have radical stuff too. And I can't enter the novice category because I've been making costumes a while. I've just got to step up my game.

Also, I can't enter Tex in any Animania competition for cosplay, because she's not from an anime, manga or video game. Which is a pity but hey.

But there wasn't such stipulations for Nova. So I may as well see what I can do.

Now. Future stuff.

I'm still keen for an internship bout in the film industry. I just ran out of time for it in Directed Studies. I'm currently looking at options for taking some next semester. And by that I mean 'incredibly flat out, will start looking as soon as I can start working at normal times again'

Can I talk about that for a moment? Since Semester classes ended, I've pretty much been working until 2 or 3 in the morning, and then packing up and sleeping in. It's a weird method, but it works. Until your dad needs you to go and get an ignition coil from somewhere in Newie, and you've gotta get there at 8. Or you have an assessment date to meet on Monday at 10am. And you find it difficult waking up before 10.
Then you're in trouble.


I still want to get to make costumes for (probably) film. If I had the choice, I'd probably stick with the idea that The Beta Experiment was kind of looking at: That essentially, all of my projects are prototypes and they don't usually get past the Beta phase because I only make one-offs. I can think of next or exciting ways to make the things easier next time (So, I now have patterns for the armour if I ever want to make them again, and if I could, I would probably make them in fibreglass. Which would be easier to mass-produce, because I could just make one mould and cast from that.)
I love creating things, and I love designing things, and I can do either of those, but I have stacks of fun when I get to do both. So designing and prototyping my stuff is probably the best outlet at this point in time. I guess in a way I tend more towards the manufacture side of things though, because the cosplays are already determined in their aesthetic appearance. I just have to figure out how to make the ruddy things work. It's brilliant.

If I was better at maths, and had enough time to keep studying, I'd go do engineering or something.

*laughs manically*

So, how do I feel at the end of this shebangabang?

I think, in spite of the time-consuming-ness of the armour, I'm happy with it. I'm satisfied with everything that went in to the project, and I'm satisfied with how it turned out. I've got plans on tuning up both of the costumes that I made anyway, and will probably get onto them sometime in the near future.

(Invest in a morphsuit for the Hollow, so I never have to worry about paint flaking off)
(See if I can improve the mobility of the armour. Once everything is on, I no longer have the option of scratching my nose currently.)

I'm also really tired, because this course demanded a lot, and I gave a lot. But it was a good a lot.

In first year, I visited some friends who at the time lived out in the glasshouse mountain country in southern Queensland. One of the days we were out there (there was a few of us) we climbed one of the mountains; Mount Tibrogargan (best. name. ever.)
And it toasted me. I was so worn out by the time we got to the top. And then we saw the view.

And that made it completely worth it. Even if all we'd brought to eat were peanuts.

That's kind of what it's been like doing Directed Studies. I've had fun. I hope that everyone following the blog has had fun too.


This blog will, probably in the near future, go back to being my standard blog. I'll still end up writing heaps about making cosplays and stuff, but Directed Studies is just about finished, and so am I.

There's still a bit for me to get done before things are ready for tomorrow. I'll hop to it.

Brooke out.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


It's now Wednesday night/Thursday morning.

Imminent deadlines cause me to go nocturnal, for some reason. This is sometimes a good thing.

On Tuesday, I painted the armour. And then tonight, I painted the armour.

Tuesday was working with an airbrush, which meant that I got all of the armour done - probably the most constructive day I've had in relation to this whole project in a long while. And just now I've drybrushed on some silver to the edges of the pieces so the things look like they've been made outta metal.

Guess which genius lost the nice camera?

And it's 1 AM and I'm sitting here, sipping mulled wine and listening to Anberlin. If I didn't have so many deadlines, this would be a rather nice place to be.

Where to begin?

Okay, there's the paint. This afternoon I also did a spotlight run.

Can I just talk for a moment about how much I detest spotlight? I mean, it's a good place to go find stuff, and your odds of finding stuff to sew with are reasonable, but for me to go there is like for an electrical engineer to source parts for a build from Dick Smith.

Once upon a time, Spotlight would have been a good place to go buy everything. For the most part now though, they stock stuff for quilts, craft, making-your-own-formal-dress and little else.

Fortunately, I just had to buy velcro. So the armour can stick when I put it on. I forgot the glue that I'll need for the wetsuit, which means I have to go back tomorrow TT.TT

Yeah. The wetsuit, which I cannot remember if I mentioned earlier, is the suit that I'm building the armour off. I like the visual texture of neoprene and how it kind of looks like it could work as a real-life interpretation. I mean, the other options I had were standard/close cut clothing (too baggy) or a morph suit (not substantial enough).
So I was really always going to be using neoprene. If I could have built it from scratch, and cost wasn't an issue, I'd have used something much thinner, but hey. I have a steamer that's two sizes too small and that's what I'm using. I'm cutting panels into the suit to compensate for the small size and will cover them with mesh to avoid heatstroke and the dozen other things that can happen when you wear a long wetsuit for too long on a hot day.

I kind of wish I had a camelbak to fit into the thing. That would make the carrying of drinkable water easier. Anyway.

What's left?

I have to finish the paper side of things for Directed Studies - there's bits like techniques and artists I looked at and things I went to that I didn't mention in the blog, and they all need to be written out.

The wetsuit has to be vented, detailed and finished.

The armour needs some finishing things done to it - small details and sealing. Sticking the velcro in. I showed Dad the helm tonight over Skype and suddenly he's pretty keen to help me put some LEDs in it. Which is exciting and nice. That happens this weekend.

I need to go back and find all the bits for the Hollow so they can get presented on the 18th, which is assessment date.

And photos.

I chucked this up on facebook the other day, but it's worth sharing here because there are people who read the blog who don't have me on facebook.

Bec and I headed out to the industrial area behind Cardiff on Monday arvo, in search of a slightly urbanised yet desolated area that would be good for location photography. We've gone out to this area before - Bec's shot a video installation out there, and it's where we took photos of a storm a few months back. It's the kind of area that attracts hoons, something which the scattered rubbish and patina of black elevens on the bitumen can attest to. So we weren't really surprised to see a police car parked next to some purple souped-up thing about 800m from where we were.

I think the place was originally planned as housing, or maybe more industrial zoning, but there's nothing there but sealed roads. It's not uncommon to see L-platers around the area either. But yeah. The other cars were like the next street over but because there's no buildings, we still had line of sight.

I took some photos with my phone, for looking at later and assessing viability.

And then about fifteen minutes later, the police car ambled up next to my vehicle.

It's funny how even when you haven't been doing anything wrong, and you know you haven't been doing anything wrong, that a policeman with two giant German shepherds in the back of his car can make you feel a little nervous.

Anyway. He was headed over, and I could see him heading over - I was near the car, and in a position where 'can't walk off, he's seen me. Can't get in car, he's seen me.'. So I stuck my hands in my pockets awkwardly and waited.

The next five minutes was probably the most amusing I've had trying to explain some facet of cosplay to someone not familiar with it.

He asked what I was doing.

"Oh, just looking for a place to take photos of a costume,"

"What kind of costume?"

I paused. This was the easiest and hardest part to explain.

"Halo armour?"

It got a laugh. Thankfully, it seemed that the man knew about the video game.
Once he understood that I was looking for a place that would make for a good backdrop, he seemed satisfied, and went to go talk to another soupy-looking car that was parked a way down the road. The dogs barked madly as he left.

I guess I could understand the interest. It wasn't until later I realised that the dogs might have been for the smelling out of harmful substances, and from a bystanders view, we were a couple of girls who drove somewhere, hopped out and started looking at the ground and taking photos of it. I think there's a fenced-off mining area nearby too, so yeah. That was Monday's adventure.

I think maybe there's one more blog post I could try for before assessment date. It'll be a retrospective.

I may or may not have just entered the costume in the Cosplay prejudging competition at Supanova. Hopefully it'll go well. We'll have to see.

I booked the airbrush for next Tuesday... I guess you could say things are getting pretty serious.

It was with great protest I decided that if I tried to keep going with the armour at this speed, and do Sheik, and do fibres, I would probably die. And I'm still recovering from yesterday/Wednesday night's madness, so there is that.

The Seventy percent 3500 word essay is in. And I still have a sleep debt to pay.

Also, I'm writing from the incredible student gallery of Watt Space, and my headphones have chosen here and now to pack it in. Ah well. I tend to use headphones all the time, and have never really been kind to them. So I only buy cheapies. This pair has lasted me a bit over a year. Well, either a year or two. Can't remember. But for ten bucks and me thrashing them, that's okay.

Alright, where to begin?

For reasons such as 'I did not want to do the essay', I left it to the last minute and put the production of the armour on hold for this week. Which will make this weekend rather busy, but hey. The essay's in, and that's important.

I finally networked with the people attached to the airbrush and made friends with it yesterday. I think I've kind of got the hang of it - fine detail is something I'd still have to get my eye in on, but I'm fairly confident that that will come while working on the big bits. I like how an airbrush can apply acrylic paint without using a propellant or solvent. That was the big hassle/trial problem for using paint on the foam armour, and I think that at the cost of a nice sheen, it will work in any case.

So there's really, sadly, not much progress to report on that side of things. I guess I could work through the concept of it though. Like, why it is I picked Tex. There's a few reasons, and some of them have spoilers for the later seasons of Red vs Blue, so if you would rather skip them, scroll down to when there's big text or something. There's no spoilers as far as I can remember for the first five seasons though. So all good on that account.

Also, spoilers for the Hueco Mundo arc of Bleach, and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of time. And Final Fantasy VII, I guess.

I'll write up what was so fascinating about each one I picked, actually. Even the outfits I ditched. Spoilers ahead and stuff.

Anyway. Begin.

I picked the Hollow for a few different reasons.

There's a certain kind of allure that comes with insanity. Perhaps it's a zero-accountability thing, perhaps it's the fact that insanity rides on impulse and stuff. Plus, the hollow was a type of butt-kicking that sagas are sung about.
I like that.
There was the degree of unpredictability, and raw power, and despair that drew me in with the idea. Plus, I wouldn't have to tuck my hair under a wig or anything.
I think that the fact the hollow was the flipside of the character was a drawcard as well. That in spite of the fury and terror that the character embodied, it was still Ichigo. The drawback for the creature was actually the loss of reason though - a double-edged sword. Unable to tell friend from foe, the hollow was capable of lashing out at anybody.

The hollow is a reminder that I have the potential to be a monster.



Tex started off as a ring-in character in the Red vs Blue series. She gets sent in as a freelancer for Blue team, and all they know about her is that she's prone to violence (Which is due to an aggressive AI that was implanted in her head) and that she had some kind of long-standing attachment thing to Church, one of the other main characters in RvB.

And then as the series progresses, you kind of see that she's actually a decent soldier, as opposed to the rest of the characters. That she's keen on ending the war between humans and aliens (covenant) and that she'll go to any length to do so.

And then something real weird happens. You find out that she's some kind of memory - that originally, she was someone dear to the creator of the AI, and she'd died, and he'd somehow made a copy of her. This ends up making more sense later as you find out she's actually an AI herself. Or, to be more precise, she's a fragment, a byproduct of creating another AI. That she existed, self-aware, but was always doomed to fail at the big things she tried to do, because all of the memories that she was built out of were centered around her being dead; that there had been a failure in the system and she'd died as a result of it.

She wasn't aware of this herself for quite some time, and when she did learn, it changed quite a bit. She tried to save what was left of the AI she'd fragmented from, but, because it was part of her composition to fail, she couldn't.

Probably the saddest thing about her was that the Director, the man who accidentally created her, kept trying to bring her back. Because she was all that was left of the woman that had been dear to her and had died. And it never worked properly.

So what then do I find interesting about Tex?

She's really good at being a soldier. At fighting and doing things and she's always motivated to save people. But no matter how hard she tries, she can't. She'll always fail - it may not seem to be her fault, but she'd end up blaming herself anyway.

And she doesn't exist properly; she's a memory, a shadow.

Also, I'll just put in here what I mentioned casually earlier. She's the Beta AI. Hence, The Beta Experiment.

I so sneaky.


Next character I wanted to do/revisit was Sheik.

Sheik arrives in the Ocarina of Time storyline shortly after the main character (Link) travels forward in time seven years (effectively).
Flipping mysterious, Sheik usually seems to know where Link has to go next to defeat Ganon's power in that area of Hyrule. I think the first clue the player even gets to the character is when Ruto (one of the sages) calls the Sheikah a young man.
So Sheik kind of exists as an assist character. The first time you see something serious go down with the character is just before the Shadow Temple, when Sheik tries to seal off the evil at the bottom of the well. It doesn't work, and you have to progress through the freakiest dungeon known to man.
Anyway. Track through that one and the Spirit Temple, and you head back to the Temple of Time, because you get told that there's someone waiting there for you.
It's Sheik. Who is actually Princess Zelda; gone into hiding for seven years while you, Link, had been missing from the world. Funnily enough, it's the moment that Zelda takes off the disguise that the big bad finds her and takes her away, since she holds part of the supreme power, the Triforce.

So, Shiek exists as a princess in exile; one who'd adopted a full disguise to stay hidden and yet still remain fully useful to the mission of freeing Hyrule from the evil king's grasp.
Something similar goes down in one of the later Legend of Zelda titles - Windwaker.
It was cause enough for me to giggle when I realised. Because in 2011 my sister and I went to a convention as Sheik and Tetra. Pirate and Ninja, but both effectively Zelda.

Sheik is kind of like an important character but not. I've heard many speculations over whether the character itself is male or female. My counter argument is that I have never ever seen a male Sheik cosplayer. And she's Zelda, so there is that.

So far we have three characters which

A) Forsook social expectations for combat

B) Don't exist properly

C) Are second-fiddle characters to the story.

The fourth originally planned was Aerith Gainsborough, from Final Fantasy VII.

Now, Final Fantasy VII was a game I didn't actually get into contact with until high school, when my siblings and I were wandering around Target and Jack spotted Advent Children in the DVD section and tried explaining the plot to me, as someone who had no idea who the characters were and what the plot was.

So, like, a motorbike that also functions as a knifeblock for your swords, and there's giant swords and stuff that explodes, and a bunch of kids are sick with something, and there's explosions and stuff.

I bought the DVD, and we watched it. Confused as buckleys, I turned to the internet for some explanation into the characters.

Just a word of advice - be very careful when turning to the internet for information. It can be a scary thing.


Okay, so after watching Advent Children, I kind of gathered that Aerith was important to the story, but she died, and in Advent Children she kind of pops up a few times. Like she's trying to help the main character (Cloud) get over the guilt that he has because he couldn't stop her from being killed. From wherever she is on the other side of death.

And in VII Aerith was supposed to have a major role in stopping the big bad from wreaking the world, and then she dies, so everyone's like 'aw crap, now we can't stop the world from ending', and then they find something she left behind that would still be able to stop the big bad.

There's a giant meteor that crashes into the planet, and the counter-attacking magic that she was part of save everything, and that's that.

I realise that it's not my gift to explain part of a narrative without explaining all of it. Apologies.

So, Aerith (At least in the spinoff movie Advent Children) appears as a character who, like the three before, only half-exists.

Considering a bunch of other characters I'm kind of keen on doing sometime in the future, I think this might be a trend. Hmm.



It's now Wednesday again. I'll start a new post to let everyone know how the painting went.
I finished the foam patterns for the chest on Sunday and the helm on Monday. Sunday arvo I tried everything I'd built on over the wetsuit, which was fun. It's still difficult to move in, but I'm hoping that's because the armour isn't stuck to me and thus keeps falling down (Shoulders, thighs). Velcro soon.

Have a progress photo.