Monday, July 9, 2018

Anime Expo Time!

That time of the year was upon us once more, Summer! And with Summer comes Anime Expo! And, like it has been since the time I've been going (this was my sixth year), it's 4 days of fun in Los Angeles!
You may have seen people during the 4th of July weekend in downtown dressed up in costumes, and Anime Expo is the reason why. Yes, I have written about Anime Expo before (last year) so what is new?
I decided that the best course of action for this article would be a little show and tell; after all, is better if you see it and I will provide the context. Since last year we didn't spend too much time inside the exhibit hall, this time we are gonna be delving into the experience that is AX!

 We'll start with the scope of things, as always, AX was PACKED! Lots of people running around everywhere, whether it was to a panel, to buy something, for a cosplay meet up or what-have-you, it was gonna take you a while to get to point A to point B. You best have all your day planned ahead!

Cosplayers is one of my favorite things about AX. Seeing what new anime or pop culture characters are gonna pop up, and the exchange between those demonstrating their abilities and skills on recreating that particular character they love, and those that want to capture it for posterity.

Now, not all people dressed up are cosplayers, the various booths also have people cosplaying a particular character, and, more often than not, they are, in their own spare time, fans or even cosplayers! 

 On our way to check out how the signings work on the West Hall, on the opposite side of the Convention Center (hence the need to always plan out the day), we rain into this art piece:

You were allowed to paint on the boxes as well, who said promotions can't be also fun? Once we arrived at the West Hall, we realized the signings were actually on the other side, but we actually used the opportunity to check out the Fate Grand Order VR game, which we actually discovered it was more of an experience where you just get to look around and see one of the characters dance in an arousing fashion. And, oh, they were actually two possible random experiences you could do:

After the VR experience, we finally made it to our destination, as the music composer from the seminal Super Nintendo game, which was recently redone and released on PS4, Hiroki Kikuta,who signed our Indivisible soundtrack CD! 

After meeting Kikuta, it was time for the RWBY signing with voice actor Yssa Badiola and RWBY writer Kerry Shawcross, who were really nice and attentive to all the fans, taking their time to talking to fans, signing and posing for photos! 

 Another aspect of AX that is expected every year is for cosplayers to exhibit their creations to attendees outside the South Hall. All day, everyday, you can just peruse and be amused by all the creativity displayed:

 Remember to always be respectful of all the cosplayers and to always ask for permission to take their photos, courtesy and respect should go without saying, so don't forget!

More photos in the next article as we share some of our experiences on the panels and battling the killer heat to get to Funimation's event at Lucky Strike!

Words by Humberto Sandoval
Photos by Lauren Label

Monday, June 4, 2018

AT&T Shape 2018 - Where Technology & Entertainment Merge

AT&T Shape brings to us the incredible use of technology used in entertainment and how it continues to further revolutionize the industry. Here at this event, you are welcomed to experience how the advancements of technology have pioneered new breakthroughs in entertainment and its ongoing impact on how we get to experience this world. 

This convergence of entertainment and technology took place in the Warner Bros Studio backlots. As you walk in through the entrance and guided to the central location, you come to realize that you are standing in the middle of the outdoor set stage notably recognized in Pretty Little Liars as the city of Rosewood. Here, as an attendee, you dispatch onto your journey to visit a variety of different interactive booths that range from motion capture to augmented reality.

Photographed by: Denisse Alejandre-Huerta

First booth that we attended was a live facial capture exhibit hosted by the New York Film Academy. The booth was set with 3 stations rigged with cameras for the live capture of every participant's face. By the exhibitor's request, we make different facial expressions not knowing the end result of our silly acts, but to give you a glimpse, I have provided my personal video. Hope you enjoy.

Within the same vicinity, The New York Film Academy had an additional booth giving participants a taste of green screen action. You were able to costume-up with provided costumes and props to act in front of a green screen for different roles. Some of these rolls included: an enchanted forest, a skyscraper cityscape, the moon, and few more. 

Photographed by: Denisse Alejandre-Huerta

In addition to great interactive booths, another highlight of AT&T Shape were their guest speakers. An eclectic group of speakers were present on stage to enlighten us on diverse topics ranging from Esports to 5G networks. These presentations offered great insight in future plans that are shared by AT&T and the entertainment industry. Attending two very distinct presentations, each one delivered something innovating that captured the attentions of all of those present.

Photographed by: Denisse Alejandre-Huerta

The first presentation dove into how our worlds are being shaped by data. Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel Corporation, spoke in depth on the specifics of how we interact with data, whether it is through phones, computers, homes, or even our autonomous cars, our consumption of data will only grow as we continue to move forward. Presenting some staggering statics on data usage, Brian focused on the importance of investment into 5G networks. He further explained how 5G networks will allow us to meet our growing demand for data. Not only will 5G networks meet those demands, but will also evolve how we immerse in entertainment experiences. 

Photographed by: Denisse Alejandre-Huerta

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

State Of Decay 2 Xbox Gaming Bunker

Photo by Humberto Sandoval

For the release of State of Decay 2, Xbox got creative and offered a few lucky fans the chance to experience the game before its release in a very special way, inside a WW2 bunker!

We were a little worried as we arrived to our destination in the outskirts of El Sereno right by Cal State LA, we didn't get a confirmation for our reservations, but thankfully our names were on the list. The staff handling the event was very accommodating and welcoming, always a good sign. As we arrived we were told about the three bunkers (we were on the middle one), "an authentic WW2 bunker built in 1947" and offered us food, an all you can eat BBQ buffet!

State of Decay is a survival horror zombie film, a game where you not only have to kill zombies to survive, but build up your character's levels and take care of your home base. I have to admit, I didn't play the original State of Decay so the controls and features were a little difficult at the beginning. I also brought my non gamer friend along to see how the game would test with someone even at a major disadvantage than mine.

One of the first things you notice about the game is the graphics. State of Decay 2 looks amazing! All the detail in the surroundings and characters made the zombies more menacing, also making its rural settings more enjoyable (one of the three choices of location available, we were told), with lots of houses, barns and sheds to explore, cars to drive (if you have found gasoline, of course) and all the different options of stations to build at the homebase; whether its an infirmary, an armory or a shooting range (among many other options), one has to take into account not only your character(s) well being, but also the NPCs.
It took me a while and some assistance from a member of Team State of Decay 2, Shawn, to get the gist of it, but after a few minutes (a warning -"if your character dies, he dies!" and some guidance) I was out and about killing zombies and breaking into houses looking for supplies and health and ammo (and everything I could find to help the cause and survival.) You also have to pay attention to the sounds, as you can hear the zombies approaching you from behind as you're checking for supplies, but the dodge and melee fighting (a lot depending on which character you got) help a lot. The selection of weapons was also vast, given that this was a stocked-up demo version so we could test the best ways to kill the undead.
But, the best thing about the game, hands down, is the co-op option. You and three other friends can team up and take on the zombies and the missions, it was a lot of fun playing co-op at the bunker, with a friend and even a stranger, making the game, in my opinion, even better. I grew up playing multi player games with my siblings (and still do!) so co-op is always an option I look for in a game (though nowadays the days of split screen are almost long gone...) and having a game where I can team up with my friends to kill zombies is always a plus.

The three hours of gameplay we got flew by fast, and we can't wait to play this game again at home.
Ah! And how did my non-gamer friend Marc -a screenwriter from Washington DC- fare? He not only loved the game and graphics; but let's hear what he had to say:

A member of our State of Decay 2 zombie killing team, Alam from Highland Park, had this to say about the game himself:

The Xbox Gaming Bunker for State of Decay 2 is going on until this Sunday, May 20 for those lucky ones that got to RSVP, But you never know! Keep an eye out  for openings on twitter! @stateofdecay

State of Decay 2 is exclusive to Xbox One and Windows 10, and if you pre ordered the Ultimate Edition you can play it this Friday, May 18 or wait for its retail release on May 22 and play it, for FREE, on Xbox Game Pass*!

*if you pay the Game Pass subscription fee, free as in, no additional charges with the service

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Sunday, April 1, 2018

FX's Legion Chamber

Photo By Humberto Mendez
Marvel's Legion Season 2 April 3 on FX
      Fans of the Marvel show Legion in Los Angeles got to experience a pop up event from the show at Goya Studios in Hollywood on Easter weekend. Tickets were free on the Eventbrite App, but even if you hadn't RSVPed you could line up and eventually get in. 

Photo By Humberto MendezFor those that don't know about the show, Legion is a character from the X Men comics, one that so happens not only to be one of the most powerful mutants, but also the son of Charles Xavier (Professor X)!  The first season was not only a critical success, with a Metracritic score of 82, Legion was also a hit among the fans. The first season dealt with our main character trying to figure out if he was going mad or there was something more to the visions he was having. Easily one of the most artistic and out there shows of last year, Legion may not be for all, it doesn't quite follow the standard expectation of an X Men TV, it's more of a character piece as we are figuring out what is going on along with David Haller. Audrey Plaza as his best friend/Bad Guy was one of the highlights of the show, and fans were excited to hear that it got picked up for season 2. Flash forward to March 30, the first day of the pop up. 

Photo By Humberto Mendez

Photo By Humberto Mendez

Photo By Humberto Mendez

Inside you were able to take photos in front of character posters, as the shows music can be heard in the background. Besides photos, there was an "immersive 360 experience" which is where the "Chamber" part of the event came from. Groups of eight are led inside this small room surrounded by LEDs showing you a glimpse inside the mind of David Haller, a 2 minute and a half "trailer" for the new season. 

All in all, a fun if short taste of what it is to come, only for hardcore fans that have some time to browse and take photos, but not much to do here.

Legion Season 2 starts April 3!

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