Friday, September 4, 2015

Friday modeling - scp studio

What I liked about this photo shoot was that the photographer already had a dress that he wanted me to wear.  Modeling is already pretty nerve-racking for me, so not having to worry about what to wear was a huge relief.  The only thing I had to worry about was my make-up, which is relatively easy compared to choosing outfits.

The studio was fairly easy to find.  It was raining a little bit, but thankfully, not enough to ruin my make-up or hair.  Inside the studio was quite nice.  There was a private dressing area with a good mirror including a full length one.  Good lights.  The dress required some pinning to make it fit me, and then we were on our way.

My photographer's name was Scott Peterson, and he definitely knew what he was doing.  He set up the lights and angles with precision and made sure I looked good.  I did my best to give him some good photos, trying lots of poses, even ones that were very uncomfortable to hold.  I love how mature I look in those photos.  Mysterious is a good word, too.

Toward the end of the shoot, he decided to try getting my hair for a more "artistic" look by spraying it with a spray bottle of water.  Haha, not what I was expecting, but I admit, it kind of looked cool!

My hair is wet here.  :b

Overall, I loved the look of these photos.  I hope to get more like these someday.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tuesday animation: The Return of Jafar

The animated film selected for an interesting one for me.  Anyone who knows me knows that my favorite movie of all time is Disney's Aladdin, so to review its sequel...yeah, it'll be fun.

The Return of Jafar was Disney's first direct-to-video sequel, but unlike the other sequels that came after it, this one cannot be considered a "cheapquel."  This is because The Return of Jafar was not originally intended to be an actual movie.  It was supposed to be a multi-part opening episode for the TV series.  For this reason, the film is not very polished.  It definitely feels more like a TV episode.  You can actually tell where the intended commercial breaks were supposed to be, and the ending doesn't have that real movie feel to it.  How to actually judge this movie, then?  Well...I think you do need to take into account the original intentions for this film.  As a movie, it's quite weak, but as a special TV episode, it's pretty decent.

I adored Aladdin when I was a child, and since this sequel came out when I was only six-years-old, I was too young to notice its many, many flaws.  I just loved that I was getting to see more of Aladdin's adventures.  I was completely enthralled by the movie.  It wasn't until much later that I realized how flawed it really is, but...I still like it even today because I just love Aladdin.  :/  But I think I can be objective enough to write a decent review.

 (Screencaps from

Overview: The Return of Jafar is the direct-to-video sequel to Disney's Aladdin released in 1994 that acts as the beginning to the Aladdin TV series.  Its reception was mostly negative to mixed, but due to its connection to the very popular original movie, it sold quite well.

Art: The art does not even come close to approaching the beauty and quality of the original film, but considering the intent of the film was to be part of the TV series, I don't think this can really be helped.  Obviously, it did not have the budget or the talent from the original film.  That said, the film is kind of...unattractive.  Ugly might be too strong of a word, but this movie is definitely not visually appealing.  The backgrounds are just okay.  Movements are fluid, but the trade-off is that the characters are quite flat and dull-looking with little shading and depth.  The characters are also hideously off-model.  In the original film, all of the characters have very attractive designs, even the villainous Jafar (I don't mean that Jafar is good-looking, just that his design was good).  Here, the characters are inconsistently drawn scene-to-scene, and often, they end up looking kind of ugly and warped.  Thank goodness the animators got better at drawing these characters throughout the course of the TV series.  It is just so unattractive at times that it's hard to ignore.  I think it would've been easier to tolerate if the characters at least maintained their attractive designs.

By the way, nowadays, Disney's animated TV series look really good, but back in the 90's, they definitely had more of a typical Saturday morning cartoon feel, and this series was no exception.  I'm trying to be fair on that account, but since this was released as a movie and not as a TV episode in the end, I feel that it does need a little harsher judgment.

I like the sparkles and colors
At least the animators were able to draw Aladdin's hair.  :3  He certainly has the best hair of any male animated character I've ever seen.
I...I have no idea what happened here.

Jasmine doesn't look nearly as exotic or beautiful as she does in the original movie, but she at least still looks pretty here.

XD  Aladdin's hair went kind of crazy here.
Jasmine honestly looks pretty ugly during this musical number which is such a shame since I think she's the most beautiful Disney female character.
I have no idea what happened here either.  I mean, WOW.  Aladdin's eyes and nose are both...just...I don't even.  Who drew this and thought that it looked good?

This is kind of pretty.
Sound: The movie redeems itself a bit here.  The sound quality is pretty good, no noticeable flaws.  The same voice actors reprise their role in the TV series with the exception of Robin Williams who is replaced by Dan Castellaneta.  So, the voice work is excellent.  I love Scott Weinger's delivery as Aladdin, Linda Larkin as Jasmine, Gilbert Gottfried as Iago, and Jonathan Freeman as Jafar.  They all have unique, wonderful voices (Scott's my favorite, for sure).  Dan Castellaneta's work as Genie is also very good, and he continues to get better throughout the TV series.  In fact, as much as I love Robin Williams as Genie, I think Dan's version is very, very good, and I often find myself imagining his voice in my head instead of Robin's when I think of Genie (don't hate me).  The musical numbers are not up to par with the original, but I actually really enjoy all of the songs.  I think they're all quite catchy and fun, especially "Forget About Love" and "You're Only Second Rate."  The background music is rehashed from the soundtrack from the original movie, so...I guess I almost have to say it's good.  :b  But it's cheating, so maybe not.  Overall, this is probably the best part of the movie.  It's not fantastic, but I would say it's very good, maybe even great.

Totally digging Aladdin's power stance.  :b

Story: The story isn't bad, actually.  Jafar, now a genie, is released from his lamp and plots his revenge against Aladdin who was responsible for trapping him in the lamp in the first place.  The kicker, though, is that now that he's a genie, he must abide by the rules of a genie and cannot kill Aladdin on his own, so he must be more creative.  His former sidekick, Iago, decides to try to be "good guy" and joins up with Aladdin and his friends.  Although initially met with skepticism, Iago proves his new loyalty by saving Aladdin's life and destroying Jafar's lamp, killing him.  The story is fun and exciting, full of adventure and thrills.  The villain even dies on-screen in a somewhat disturbing fashion, and Aladdin is almost decapitated.  Pretty bold for a Disney film.  The characters are all the same well-developed characters from the first movie.  Even the new villain, Abis Mal, is developed fairly quickly and is quite a funny addition.  There are some flaws and silly things in the story, but overall, it's entertaining.  I think the main reason why it it not up to par with the original movie is that there is no real theme to the story.  It's a very straightforward plot-driven story with very little character development aside from Iago's.  The original movie had characters who felt "trapped" and had to discover how to be true to themselves (as said by writer Ted Elliott, the theme was "do not accept without question the role society thrusts on you; define your own role").  This movie doesn't seem to have any theme.  I suppose Iago went through something of the same development that the other characters already went through in the first movie, but that's the closest it gets to having a theme.  Ultimately, this is just a revenge plot with mostly external conflicts.  It does set up for the TV series quite nicely, though (Iago's involvement and Aladdin deciding that he wants to have more adventures before becoming involved in the politics of Agrabah).

There's one thing I don't really like about the movie, though, and that is the "liar revealed" cliche.  I find it incredibly annoying in this film.  When Iago saves Aladdin's life, Aladdin decides to try to help Iago by talking to the sultan on his behalf.  However, he lies to Jasmine about it, telling her that he's not hiding anything.  When Jasmine finds out that Aladdin was hiding Iago from her, she became extremely angry, so angry that she jumped to the conclusion that Aladdin was still the deceitful man who lied to her about being a prince and stormed off without letting Aladdin explain his side.  First, I find it strange that Aladdin would lie to Jasmine.  I don't see why he wouldn't just say "Yes, Jasmine, I have something to tell you, but I want to wait to tell you and the sultan at the same time.  Is that okay?"  But, okay, even if he did decide to actually lie about it, everyone's reactions to Aladdin hiding Iago when he had clearly proved himself loyal to Agrabah before is so bizarre and irritating.  They really jumped down his throat on it without giving him a chance.  I suppose the point for this was so that Iago could prove himself a "good friend" to Jasmine, but I don't seems lazy and out of character for Jasmine to react so strongly, and then I just end up really feeling bad for Aladdin because he just gets so sad about it.  T.T  Plus, for her to act as if Aladdin used to be a liar (he lied about ONE THING because there was no other way for him to court her, and technically, he wasn't really lying) really turns me off about her.  I just feel like her development went backwards from the first movie, but she does get better in the TV series and final movie, at least.

...rant over.

Aladdin still steals, but he's become something of a Robin Hood in that he only steals from those who don't deserve it and then gives them to others who need it.  (Just throwing them over the city seems awfully dangerous, though...)

Aladdin and Jasmine are most affectionate Disney couple ever.
They did a pretty good job with this reflection (considering there are multiple problems with reflections in the original movie) except that Aladdin's part should be on the other side of his head in the mirror.  :b  /geek

Aladdin hiding Iago.  (Jasmine's head looks really small here.)

Jafar returns!  (So that's why it's called that...)

I find it kind of strange how quick Jasmine is to trust Iago all of a sudden, but considering how quickly she turned on Aladdin, maybe I don't.

Carpet lacks all of its detail, but I guess it would've been too expensive.

Aladdin's normally gravity-defying fez actually falls off his head, and he doesn't wear it for the rest of the climactic scene.  This is pretty unusual.  I can't think of any other time (even in the TV series) when this happens.  I'm also not sure why it happens.  Did the animators just not want to draw the fez anymore?

Aladdin's and Jasmine's skin colors look darker than usual here.
Personal appeal: I do like this movie, but it really is a guilty pleasure for me since I know that it's really not that good.  As an Aladdin fan (and a fan of the TV series as well), I will always enjoy it, but I do recognize its many flaws.

Another happy end in Agrabah.
Overally, this film is visually unappealing and the story is pretty shallow.  The music and voice acting are pretty good and save the movie somewhat.  I couldn't recommend this film to anyone but avid Disney or Aladdin fans or children.  It just doesn't offer much on its own.  I don't think it's a terrible film, though.  Overall, I'd give it two out of five peridots.


Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday modeling - Tangy Slice Imagery

This photo shoot occurred on a weekday while I was teaching.  I normally don't agree to weekday shoots, but I made an exception for a reason I don't remember.  I think, perhaps, that I was already booked for the weekend and had no further weekends available for awhile.  Whatever the reason, it happened on a Wednesday evening after I finished a long day of teaching.

I met the photographer I was working with, Dave, at a hospital that apparently led right to our shooting location.  I was extremely nervous and anxious, not sure if I looked good enough or not.  We drove out to a "castle" which I had never been to before.  For the shoot, I brought all four of my formal gowns and tried to look as nice as I could with my limited hair styling skills.  There were no restrooms or anything around the castle, so I had to change in my car which wasn't easy, but it wasn't so difficult that I couldn't manage it.

After the shoot was supposed to be over, I changed back into my clothes and was about to drive away when Dave told me that he saw some other cool settings and asked if I wanted to get some more shots.  I was already pretty tired, but I figured why not?  I was already dressed up, might as well.  He got some pictures by a large body of water (with me reflected in it), a grove of trees, and against some lights.  I wore just one dress the whole time, the gold one.

The weather and lighting was great, and we managed to get a lot of excellent shots.  In fact, I loved so many of them that it took me a month to go through the proofs he sent me and select just a few of them.

As always, I was more concerned with my expression than with my body.  I think I'm decent at making my body look okay, but getting a good expression is difficult since I have no idea what I look like until I see the film.

Overall, this was a great shoot, and I really liked the touch-up work Dave did.  :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Tuesday animation: Beauty and the Beast

The film randomly selected for review today is quite the choice: Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  This film is the favorite Disney film of many, often topping many lists of best animated films.  It's such a treasure that I'm not even sure how to adequately review it.

I don't know if I saw this film in the theater or not.  I was only three when it was released, and it's possible that my parents took me to see it, but I don't know for sure.  What I do know is that I personally was never big on this film.  I certainly did like it, but I didn't love it.  There were many other films I enjoyed watching much more.  It wasn't until much later when I started to really enjoy hand-drawn animation that I understood why Beauty and the Beast is beloved by so many, and certainly, it boasts some brilliant animation, especially for its time.

Today, I still am not a huge fan of this film, but I certainly understand why it was and still is so successful.

Screencaps from

Overview: Beauty and the Beast is an American animated film released in 1991 by Walt Disney Pictures.  It remains one of Disney's most successful animated movies and was the first animated film to ever be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

Art: The art is fantastic.  This is certainly Disney at its best.  Vibrant colors, beautiful backgrounds, lovely characters designs.  The overall look of this film truly is exquisite.  The characters' details are masterful.  They were certainly designed by great animators.  Belle lives up to her name, and the Beast, though hideous, still has an attractive enough design that allows him to appear fearful but also vulnerable at times.  The animation itself is top-notch.  Very fluid and well-done including matching lip movements.  In particular, the ballroom scene is incredible.  I cannot think of a movie that attempted a cinematic look before this film did.  During the ballroom scene, it actually looks like a camera is following the characters as the angles change seamlessly.  In hand-drawn animation, that is not at all easy to do.  The use of CGI (which was fairly new at this point in time) allowed the animators to do things they in the past was much more difficult.  Sure, the CG effects stood out at times, but honestly, it's actually not that noticeable.  I only notice it when I'm actually looking for it.  Otherwise, they do a very good job of limiting it and only using it for backgrounds or other otherwise difficult to animate parts (like Gaston's hair on his chest).  This really was the beginning of some great animation coming from Disney.  They only got better with time.  The only drawback I can find is that sometimes the characters seem too flat against the backgrounds, but this isn't a big deal.  The colors used allow them to still blend in pretty well.

The characters all look a little flat here compared to the beautiful background.

Heavy CG use in this scene, but it's not too much, and it's quick enough that it's not too noticeable.

A mostly CG background, but it allows this scene to look very cinematic.  I also love how the animators actually had Belle's dress twirl around her.

A nice homage to Disney's Sleeping Beauty.

Sound: High quality, clear, crisp sound.  Voices were very well-chosen (as always for Disney).  I love Paige O'Hara as Belle.  She gives Belle a mature and beautiful sound.  Apparently, the part was almost given to Jodi Benson who previously played Ariel.  I am so glad they changed their mind on that for multiple reasons, the biggest being that Belle really needed that more mature voice.  Angela Lansbury as as Mrs. Potts is also a stand-out.  I love the way she sings the title song in the film.  Speaking of which, the music...where to start with the music?  The music is more or less what saved the film.  The film was originally not going to be a musical, but when it appeared that the story was challenging to adapt, it was turned into the Broadway-type musical we know today.  The very talented song-writing duo, Alan Menken and Howard Ashman, wrote the music for the film, and the entire score is just excellent.  There is not one bad song in the film, and the score itself throughout the film is moving and gorgeous.  Although this film did not win Best Picture, it did win Best Original Score and Song (and in fact, three of its songs were nominated for Best Original Song).  It was also nominated for Best Sound Mixing.  Truly, in terms of sound for animated films, this film is high on the list of the best.

Story: As early as shortly after Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Disney had tried to adapt the story of Beauty and the Beast for an animated film, but it proved to be quite the challenge.  The story that Disney finally came up with several decades later is certainly a masterpiece, just perfect for the animated medium.  When Belle's father is taken prisoner by a Beast, she agrees to take his place.  A romance blossoms between Belle and the Beast.  The Beast is actually a prince who has been cursed to remain a beast unless he can find someone love and be loved by in return.  By the end of the film, the love between Belle and the Beast allows the Beast (and his subjects who haven been turned into household objects) to become human again.  The story is a grand love story with engaging characters and backstories.  Belle is considered odd by the other people in town but doesn't change herself for others.  The Beast has anger issues, but we see Belle get through to him little by little.  The servants in the castle each have their own very fun personalities.  Gaston is a great villain who is selfish and manipulative, really driving the story to its climax.  His sidekick, LeFou, is amusing with his eager-to-please attitude.  Overall, it's a really enchanting story with wonderful characters that stay interesting the whole way.

A further note I want to add: many have strongly asserted that Belle is suffering from Stockholm syndrome (i.e. she has developed an emotional bond with her captor and ends up defending his behavior, overlooking his ill treatment of her).  I have no idea how anyone who actually watched this movie could think that.  In the beginning, Belle stayed with the Beast out of obligation, but it became quite clear that she could actually leave anytime she wanted once the Beast gave her a nice room.  Still, she remained because she gave her word that she would stay.  However, when the Beast threatened her safety after she entered a forbidden part of the castle, did she stick around?  No.  The moment she no longer felt safe, she ran away.  Someone with Stockholm syndrome wouldn't have done that.  The only reason she returned was because the Beast was hurt, and because she's a nice person, she felt compelled to help him (since he did save her life).  She only began to develop an emotional bond once the Beast started making a conscious and obvious effort to be kind and make her happy.  And again, it's pretty obvious that the Beast was not actually keeping her captive, and Belle knew that the whole time.  She was only staying due to her word and because it appeared that the Beast really was trying to be kinder.  I'm sure that if he ever made her feel unsafe again, she would've left again, but from what we see in the film (and in other direct-to-video sequels), the Beast never again reached that level of violence and anger with her.  I do not gather at all that Belle has Stockholm syndrome as that would suggest that she was overlooking any abuse or ill treatment from the Beast, and if anyone watches the film, she certainly wasn't overlooking any because the Beast really did become gentle and kind towards her.  She is just a woman of her word and only developed feelings when she saw that this creature really was trying to reform just for her.

Many really hate the Beast's human form.  Hmm...I think it might be the lips and maybe the nose.  Honestly, though, I don't mind his human form.

I think he certainly has the biggest arms of all the Disney princes.  :b

Personal appeal: When I was younger, I didn't care much for this film.  As an adult, I'm still not a huge fan, but I must admit that this is a jewel of a film.  It's no wonder that it is often considered the greatest animated film of all time.  I think it's a wonderful fantasy that enchants me every time I watch it.

Chances are, you've already seen this amazing film.  That's how popular and well-known it is.  It's something everyone should see, not just animation lovers.  It's among the most perfect animated films out there, for sure.  It fits the medium so well and has fantastic visuals, music, plot, and characters.  It's a timeless movie that will surely be enjoyed for many more generations.  For this reason, I honestly think it deserves a perfect score of five out of five peridots.  This film really sets the bar for all animated films.