December 4th, 2009

Ann Vole

Time for banks

"Banking hours" is the phrase people use for businesses that are only open for a short time on certain days. Basically the business or bank is not considering the needs of the customers. Like I was mentioning in an earlier post, my parent's bank does not consider their customer's needs and as you might guess, their hours of operation reflect that. My bank, that wins awards for customer satisfaction (based on independent assessment surveys), has the longest open hours of any other bank in Canada. the main reason for this post was to respond to the suggeston of cheques or electronic fund transfers in a response to that previous post on the topic. My parents bank does not process cheques in the branch the cheque was received in but is couriered to the branch the account is in and then the funds are held in reserve for 7 business days so half a month may go by before the money is available. Paying with a credit card has the funds held for 2 days and has a $5 charge (plus my credit card company has it's own $2 charge for cash advances). Putting money into my credit card account has a 2 day delay if it is paid as a bill but a 1-2 hour delay when done as an electrinic funds transfer. I get paid often around 2-3 PM when the cheques arive but my parents bank closes at 5 minutes or more before 4 PM leaving very little time to spare to find out the cheques are arived, take the bus to work and then to my bank... wait in a long line-up at my popular bank to get enough money as cash then run a few blocks to my parent's bank to put it in (but there is never a line up at my parents bank... not many customers it seems). Things have improved now that they pay us for a pay period that is 5 days earlier and have electronic transfer so the money is usually in the account the previous day before the end of the month at about 2AM leaving lots of time to do the cash transfer between banks. Working at night means that I sleep all morning and wake up sometimes as late as 2PM making the same rush but a day earlier so my parents are not so stressed if the money is on the first of the month.
Ann Vole

Art of Sleeping Beauty and Flash

I was looking at the galleries of images in the extras of the "Sleeping Beauty" DVD and noticed something about the perception of detail. The image was of the bricks in a castle wall that was bathed in a green light. The art had a detailed texture of soft-focus green and then had sharp-focus detailed mortar and cracks between bricks done in black. One aspect had color details but the other was silhouette of a single color but provided the detail of surface texture. At first glance at that image, I was surprised at the level of detail... seemed even more detailed then reality. When I realized that it was actually two types of detail that were separated into "layers" to be exagerated beyond reality, I figured I could manipulate the automatic creation of images in the same way to quickly create detailed animated images. Flash (the image and animation program) can be programmed to work as a video game platform which gives me hope that Flash could be used to give artificial intelligence programs a virtual body to control. Adding fur/hair/feather and scales or skin textures to such a character image would make for an incredible AI experience that could possibly be recorded as final animation "live".
Ann Vole

Acting with children and animals

The old sage advice for actors and their career advancement is to never choose roles with children or animals... they will steal the show. Disney planned to make "Sleeping Beauty" as a serious film with a human-only cast and no gags. After spending years and 10 million dollars (in 1950s) one one scene in the movie, Disney watched what they had at that point and said "this is boring" and suggested adding animals and gags. Note that I have been watching the DVD extras... and watching this film primarily for the animal gags... the only part of the film I clearly remember. Is making a film starring young animals "too much of a good thing"? I noticed lately that several voice acting roles for young animal characters have been filled with deep-voiced macho actors who are raising their voice to fit the role. Playing a young animal character seems to be fine for their filmography although I suppose being already big-time actors affords branching out into roles just for the fun of it or to be in something the actor's kids can watch. The other "boring" scene spiced up with gags in "Sleeping Beauty" was where the court minstral was sneaking the wine the kings were enjoying and getting thouroughly drunk. Drunk or drugged characters also steal the show but my not be a good idea to subtly promote substance abuse. Midgets and dwarfs also steal the show and being an actor is a cool job for someone stuck in such a body but... it is almost impossible to avoid adding negative stereotypes to genetic deformities. The one show-stealer that is aproved for normal characters is abnormal personalities. For examples, look at most of the roles played by Johnny Depp... make the character "over the top" yet consistant enough to be believable and you will totally steal the show. Acting a mentally challenged character or genuinely mentally "disturbed" character seems to be a good way for a new acting career can get an Oscar nomination. I don't see such characters as stealing the show but maybe that is just my bias thinking that the majority of humans are mentally challenged and rather mentally disturbed somehow. Again, there is a risk of adding negative stereotypes to these conditions of the brain. Finally there is the incurable misfit or slob. I just watched G-Force and Hurley, the guinea pig who nobody would buy at the pet store rather stole the spotlight from the more suave G-Force team guinea pigs with his farts, overweight body, obsession with food, etc. It could be the "everyman effect" where we all identify with failing inspite of a strong will due to "the flesh is weak".