Nov 28, 2014

The Art of Blizzard's Overwatch - Arnold Tsang

Hanzo (via)
Undoubtedly by now you've heard at least something about Blizzard's new multiplayer-shooter Overwatch. If not, allow me the extreme pleasure to introduce the company's newest IP in over 17 years. An impressive looking free-to-play team-shooter with heavily Capcom-inspired character roster and Pixar-esque aesthetic, Overwatch players are thrust into the roles of either the titular peacekeeping force or their mysterious mercenary counterparts in a battle for intergalactic supremacy.

The game is schedule for an open-Beta early next year, launches with as many as 12 initial characters, and from all appearances looks like a colossal load of fun. Sadly, as is often the case in the games industry, audiences are seldom made aware of the host of talented artists and designers that craft these incredible new game experiences. Awesome-Robo ain't having none of that, so without further adieu I'd like to talk about one artist in particular responsible for Overwatch's look; Mr. Arnold Tsang.

A co-founder of the Candian production house UDON Entertainment, Arnold Tsang is an absolute beast of an artist known for his contributions on such titles as Capcom Fighting Evolution, Firefall, and Realtime Studio's tragically-ambitious APB. His eye for creating sartorially impressive characters in dynamic situations is matched only by his aptitude for color composition and visual hierarchy. Born in China, Tsang is now based out of California and has worked for Blizzard for over four years as a lead character artist. Check out more of his Overwatch concepts after the break, including a smattering of his previous APB work!

J.J. Abrams Unleashes The First Trailer For Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Internet Collectively Loses Its Shit

What can be said about Star Wars that hasn't been already? The 1977 classic, the monumental 1980 follow-up, the critically-lackluster but commercially triumphant early-aught prequels. The action-figures, video-games, theme park dance recitals and art installations; all culminating into the definitive sci-fi space opera epic of the past 50 years. After nine long years, we finally have our first look at the first proper sequel to the pop-cultural juggernaut; Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.

Details surrounding the sequel are understandably scant and under ludicrously tight lock and key, but there are whispers on the winds and rumors in the taverns. Set 30 years after the fall of Emperor Palpatine and the redemption of Darth Vader, Force Awakens follows three intrepid youths aided and mentored by the likes of Han Solo and Luke and Leia Skywalker as they confront an awesome and terrible new power in the Galaxy.

And a new enemy rises...

I'm not ashamed to admit that I had an involuntary fan-boy fit when John Boyega popped up on the screen (I love Attack the Block) and Daisy Ridley riding that land-speeder across the dunes of Tatooine got my heart racing. Tie-Fighters, The Millennium Falcon, and of course what would a new Star Wars installment be without a ridiculous new light-saber design? Premature as this assessment might be, but I think J.J. Abrams might actually nail this one out of the park. December 2015 is so far far away now it's cruel.

Nov 27, 2014

Army of Frogs: The Rainbow Serpent Trailer

I'm typically not a fan of book trailers, but this one here is a real treat. The talented folks at Secret Sauce Studio have released this impressive extended animated trailer for the equally beautiful children's book penned by Trevor Pryce and Joel Naftali. The original 30-or-so second trailer is attached to select showings of Mockingjay: Part 1, but this one is twice that length and made all the better for it.

Army of Frogs follows a band of anthropomorphic amphibians as they fight to protect their home in for a vicious host of scorpion marauders. Jamie Lewis' sound direction is on-point and Sanford Greene breathes the awesome fight scenes and gorgeously-rendered mythic anime aesthetic of the books to life. I wouldn't mind an actual show spawning out of this!

Go check out the studio's youtube page for more awesome animated gems to come, and why not give Army of Frogs a read-through too!

Jurassic World's First Trailer Features Hybrid Dinos, Gyrospheres, and Megalodons. Hell Yeah.

Chris Pratt is on one hell of an upswing these days. Following on the momentum of his starring role in this year's Guardians of the Galaxy, the little sci-fi comedy epic that could, he's now snagged yet another lead in the long awaited follow-up Steven Spielberg's blockbuster Jurassic Park series.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, known for his off-beat 2012 debut Safety Not Guaranteed, Jurassic World takes place 22 years following John Hammond's disastrous first attempt at a eugenic theme-park in the original. Now brought into the 21st Century, Jurassic World is a booming financial success with the very latest in preemptive security. But no amount of technology can curtail the fatality of eugenic hubris as a a monstrous hybrid is loosed upon the park, sparking a deadly chain of death and destruction that only the chief security officer Owen (Pratt) can hope to prevent.

Somehow, I feel like this is going to be a whole lot less nonsensical when the film comes out.

Jurassic Park is a film and franchise that means a great deal to my generation. As an avid movie-goer, it was my first childhood introduction to Steven Spielberg's seminal oeuvre of cinematic classics. The fact that there's a new installment, featuring an astounding up-and-coming actor, fills me with a deeply impatient anticipation. Andy Dwyer's come a long way. Jurassic World comes out June 12, 2015. I can't wait to see more.

Nov 26, 2014

Telltales Releases The Tantalizing First Teaser for A Game of Thrones

I have to admit that I'm rather late to the hype-train that is the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series, so I'm no authority to speculate on the canonicity of Telltale's latest left-field announcement in a series of left-field announcements. As excited as I am to see Telltale working with so many irons in the kiln, and multifaceted and far-stretching as the Game of Thrones franchise is, much like Tales from the Borderlands I reserve my enthusiasm until the game drops next month.

We've got celebrity appearances from many of show's principal actors, Lena Heady and Peter Dinklage included, Telltale's signature engine appears equipped to emulate many of the show's distinctive visual nuances. One can only hope that this game will manage to incorporate some of the source-material's content that was excised in the transition to television. Above all else one thing is certain; George R.R. Martin better have some measure of involvement in this one.

Nov 20, 2014

'Tales from The Borderlands' First Trailer is a Smorgasbord of Insanity

When news first broke about Gearbox and Telltale games' Tales from the Borderlands, I was understandably. Sure, the two have worked before on the hilarious-yet-short Poker Night 2, the feeling just can't be shaken that these were just two great developers best experienced at different paces. How do you translate Borderland's trigger happy, high-adrenaline ridiculousness into a genre that's primarily focused on detail-laden deliberation? After watching this first trailer, suddenly all my doubts were evaporated in a fit of starry-eyed laughter and anticipation.

Well whaddaya know, a familiar face!
From the looks of it, Tales has players assume the roles of Rhys and Fiona, an up-and-coming young executive and grifter who are trying to seize fortune and control over the Hyperion organization in the wake of the power vacuum left by Handsome Jack's justly-deserved demise. Things quickly go off the rails from there, as the two are pitted against and alongside one another in a battle of wills that will decide the entire fate of Pandora. If everything goes well, I think Telltale and Gearbox may just deliver one of the most memorable adventure experience in recent memory. Fingers crossed on this one.

Ghost in the Shell Online May Be The 'GITS' Game That We've Always Wanted

Masamune Shirow's Ghost in Shell series has had a rich history of video-game adaptations with diminishing returns dating back all the way to 1997. This all may change (and oh god I hope it does) with the announcement of Studio I.G. and Nexon's Ghost in the Shell Online First Connection, a free-to-play online FPS currently scheduled for a closed beta sometime in 2015. The title is currently only scheduled for release in Nexon's home country of South Korea, but I'm crossing my fingers hard that it'll make its way stateside some day.

Aside from a number of "spiritual contemporaries" in way of Bungie's 2001 ONI and Deus Ex: Human Revolution, not to mention games like Blacklight: Retribution and the exquisite tactical mod-shooter NeoTokyo°,  no developer seems to be quite willing or able to give the venerable cyberpunk cornerstone the game that its premise so richly deserves. First Connection's first trailer looks like a step in the right direction. That recreation of Mamoru Oshii's iconic opening shot fills me with the hope that even if this doesn't turn out to be the game that fans of the franchise want it to be, it may in some way lead to it down the line.

Age of Pinnocchio Mashup Follows A Meme To Its Logical Terrifying Conclusion

It's safe to say by now that you've already seen the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer and been thoroughly entranced by James Spader's maniacally gravel-toned robot rendition of "No Strings On Me". The trailer's menacing stinger track prompted a shockwave of scatter-shot memes across online comic forums, solidifying Ultron's preemptive popularity among movie fans eagerly anticipating the follow-up's release.

Naturally, NerdReactor Editor-in-Chief John "Spartan" Nguyen took it upon himself to take the song back to its source material in a fan-made mashup trailer that is equal parts hilarious and unnerving. Word of advice Geppetto, do not get on Pinnocchio's bad side.

Nov 3, 2014

Worth Checking Out - Cannon Busters The Animated Series

LeSean Thomas is a busy dude, and I couldn't be more happy for him. With work ranging from The Boondocks to The Legend of Korra, LeSean Thomas has quite an impressive body of work. Canon Busters: The Animated Series looks to be another awesome addition to the increasing amount of crowd funded animation (including the still running campaign of URBANCE).

The animation presented in the Kickstarter video for Canon Busters is incredible looking, and holds a style similar to some of the many anime favorites from the 1990s. With influences ranging from Escaflowne, hip hop, and classic RPGs, Canon Busters sounds like an awesomely original experience drawing inspiration an interesting mix of genres. There's something about mashing up of robots and samurai that really gets me excited, but seeing the quality put into Cannon Busters is all I need to start reaching for my wallet.

With the high cost and time requirements of hand drawn animation, it's become increasingly most difficult for sci-fi series to exist in the animated world, but it appears to be making a comeback (and for good reason, it's awesome). The studio at Makestuff LLC is looking for a reasonable $120,000 to produce their first 8-10 minute pilot episode. Once met, future stretch goals may enable them to produce a full 24-minute episode.

If you dig what you see as much as I do, definitely check out the rest of their Kickstarter page over here and drop a few bucks.

Nov 2, 2014

Awesome-Robo Inktober Round-Up 2014!

Day 22, Spraybot (Greg Baldwin)
Salutations Awesome-Robonauts! I have emerged once again from the depths of another hibernation cycle to bring you the fruits of yet another bountiful Inktober! Since it was first established by illustrator Jake Parker, Inktober has steadily grown into an Internet-wide celebration of creativity, the embracing of challenging new mediums, and the tireless continued commitment to artistic growth.

Though Inktober has been going on since 2009, we here at Awesome-Robo HQ only first caught wind of it last year through Emerson Tung's gorgeously mythic illustrations. In the spirit of the season, we have taken the liberty of combing through the vast number of submissions to bring you six of the most astonishingly impressive contributors to the Inktober event. Check 'em out below the break, and start prepping for next year!

Oct 31, 2014

Flying Lotus - Ready Err Not

The latest music video from Flying Lotus' You're Dead! is here just in the time for Halloween. Directed and animated courtesy of David Firth, the ingeniously demented mind behind the mental scar-inducing Salad Fingers series, Ready Err Not takes us into the decapitated mind of Flylo himself; complete with writhing hellspawn, quasimodo axe-men, eye spiders, and mischievous elf children straddling the line of androgyny. Imagine 'Waking Life' as more of a waking nightmare.

Oct 2, 2014

Steambot Studios Launches Urbance Kickstarter

We covered Urbance way back when the story of these gender-bending street warriors was little more than a hyper-stylish proof-of-concept trailer. Look how much a year changes things! Steambot Studios finally launched a kickstarter page for Urbance late last month and the response since then has been staggeringly positive.

"A mash-up of Jet Set Radio and The Warriors"

With over a third of the project's initial funding goal reached and already garnering cosigns from fellow animators such as LeSean Thomas (Black Dynamite) Thomas Romain (Code Lyoko) and Hiroshi Shimizu (Princess Mononoke), Urbance seems poised to break out into the world in full force. I sincerely hope this project reaches its four-hundred dollar stretch goal; I need a full length episode of this!

Interstellar's Final Trailer Slings Us To The Farthest Corners Of The Universe

Christopher Nolan's Interstellar sci-fi odyssey is looking phenomenal. The promotional material and each subsequent trailer leading up to the film's November release date never fail to ramp up the stakes and make the anticipation of waiting increasingly more unbearable. Interstellar's latest trailer shows us glimpses of a world caught in the grip of a global dust storm, crop-dusting predator drones and futuristic robots skirting across snow-capped planetscapes.

While I could jokingly call this "The Farmer Astronaut 2", I am genuinely pumped to see this when it comes out in theaters. I've been starved for an awesome sci-fi epic lately and from the looks of it Nolan is clearly delivering on that. November 7th can't come soon enough.

Flying Lotus - Never Catch Me (feat. Kendrick Lamar)

The video for Flying Lotus' latest single 'Never Catch Me' is equal parts somber and celebratory. Beautiful transitional shots of an empty morgue humming with ambiance segue seamlessly into a church chapel packed with parishioners.The camera pans to the bodies of two young children cut down in the prime of their life. Just as the song ramps up in intensity, the children leap up out their coffin beds in a phantasmagoric display of dance and acrobatics.

Featuring the directorial talents of Hiro Murai, known for his equally bizarre yet beautiful work with Earl Sweatshirt and Queens of the Stone AgeNever Catch Me is true to the song's sentiment that though life is short, death is only the beginning.

Don Hertzfeldt's Simpsons Opening Is Completely Insane

I'm partially kicking myself for having not posted this sooner, but after watching Don Hertzfeldt's mind-shattering opening for the Simpsons' season premiere last Sunday, I needed a couple of days to put my head back together. In his attempt to correct his accidental aging, Homer inadvertently speeds up time and reality to a terrifying alien future of amorphous amoeba-like existence fueled only by capitalism. Sound familiar?

Can't wait to see a David Cronenberg Couch Gag.

Remaining true to his legacy of juxtaposing dark humor and stick figure simplicity, Hertzfeldt's couch gag is a meta-commentary on the once venerable sitcom's longevity and whether anything good can truly last 26 seasons. My question is, how the hell did this make it on the air!?

Sep 25, 2014

'The Animated Adventures Of Buffy' Is The Spin-Off That Fans Deserve

I was never much intrigued by the apocalyptic misadventures of Buffy the Vampire Slayer back when it was on the air. Recently though, after having finally bitten the bullet and binge-watched what some might delicately describe as a "terrifying" amount of the show, I found myself now starved for more of Whedon's magnum opus.

That's where animator Stephen Byrne comes in with this fantastic fan-made opening that doubles as not only an achingly beautiful reminder of the spin-off that never was, but also a loving tribute to Ms. Summers and her lovable misfit band of Scoobies. Not to mention that terrific theme song cover, courtesy of Jeff Ball. Has someone told Joss Whedon about this yet?!