Tomhanksgiving 2021: Road to Perdition – Popcorn Not Included

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Tom Hanks plays a violent gang enforcer in 2002’s period crime drama Road to Perdition and he still comes out likable because Hanks.

Road to Perdition

Directed by: Sam Mendes
Produced by: Richard D. Zanuck, Dean Zanuck, Sam Mendes
Screenplay by: David Self
Based on: Road to Perdition by Max Allan Collins & Richard Piers Rayner
Edited by: Jill Bilcock
Cinematography: Conrad L. Hall
Music by: Thomas Newman
Starring: Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stanley Tucci, Daniel Craig
Distributed by: DreamWorks Pictures

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring – Popcorn Not Included

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After a long, unintended hiatus, we’re back!

The seminal movies of our generation are 20 years old this year. Join us as we discuss the film that kicked it all off and changed the way we thought about movies and stories forever. We talk about the impact this film had on us as kids, how it holds up today, and answer the eternal fan question: theatrical or extended?

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Directed by: Peter Jackson
Produced by: Barrie M. Osborne, Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Tim Sanders
Screenplay by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson
Based on: The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien
Edited by: John Gilbert
Cinematography: Andrew Lesnie
Music by: Howard Shore
Starring: Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean, Ian Holm, Andy Serkis
Distributed by: New Line Cinema

Batman: Arkham City – DEBUG MODE

After two years, I’m finally continuing this series. Candidly, what took so long was forcing myself to write it. This was really difficult for me compared to the first. Arkham City is great – it’s the best in the series – but a lot of that greatness is improvement on the solid foundation laid down by the previous game. Iteration is less exciting to talk about than revolution.

I had intended to get this up for the game’s 10th anniversary but it took much longer and became much longer than I had anticipated. I thought, since I initially didn’t have much to write about, that it would be shorter than the first video but somehow it ballooned into the longest yet for the channel.

I hope I’ve done the game some justice here. Everyone knows it’s good, but it deserves appreciation a little deeper than that.

I will be doing Arkham Origins. Originally I was only going to cover the Rocksteady games, but on replaying them all I reconsidered. Since this one took so long, I’m not going directly into production on the next one. But I definitely intend to finish the series before the 10th anniversary of Arkham Knight – and even of Origins. Since there’s a new Rocksteady game out next year and a new Bat-family game, it would probably be a good idea to get the series wrapped sooner than later. We’ll see.

A Critique of “DEATHLOOP” – DEBUG MODE

Oh Deathloop…

I was so looking forward to this game. Arkane Studios had become one of my favorite developers out there with their last few games. Dishonored 2? Great game with amazing level design. Prey? Even better and it featured the best narrative they’ve ever done.

For me, Deathloop falls flat in nearly every regard. The one way surpassess previous Arkane games is in the feel and flow of the action. That’s not nothing, but it’s not what makes them unique. Arkane making a game with lousy level design and boring player choice is like if Nintendo put out a Mario game that messed up the jumping but for some reason had a lavishly produced story.

This game got rave reviews from critics. Audiences seem to love it too. And that’s great. If I didn’t come to it with a set of expectations… I still think I would have found it lacking as I explain in the video. I’m honestly not sure how people are seeing this game as a masterpiece. If it helps people find Arkane’s older, better games or brings the studio attention for hopefully improved future ones, then that’s ultimately a good thing no matter how I felt about it.

Psychonauts 2 | A great game I don’t love – DEBUG MODE

I’ve been looking forward to this game since it was announced waaaay back in 2015. That’s a long time to anticipate release and the anticipation was even stronger because the original game came out waaaay, waaay back in 2005. That game was a bit of a cult classic – big on personality and flavor but not so successful in terms of sales.

This video is a lot of me grappling with why this game didn’t land for me with quite the impact I expected. I think it’s quite good. But it’s one of those sequels that feels like it could have happened shortly after the original but instead there was a weirdly long gap. It reminds me of Incredibles 2 in that regard – although this game doesn’t have that movie’s problem of repeating plot points and thematic elements. It’s definitely its own original story.

My First Final Fantasy – DEBUG MODE

I’ve always been kind of curious about Final Fantasy. It’s been around for so long and seems to have been a lot of different things to different players over the years. Since I got my PS5 and re-upped my PS Plus subscription, I got access to Final Fantasy VII Remake – a shiny new version of (probably) the most talked about game in the franchise and decided now was the time to dip a toe into this series.

I know there are a lot of dissenting options that VII isn’t actually all that great. It sounds very much like a band that’s been around for a while with a divided fanbase that stopped listening after a certain point. The series evolving and changing every time seems like one of its strengths even if that means some fans fall off of it.

I tried to inject a little more humor and personality into the video than usual. I’ve mostly stuck to pure analysis in the past. There are a lot of people who mix humor and serious critique together well but I would be foolish to think that’s easy to pull off. Final Fantasy is often goofy though so it was appropriate to bring a little goofiness into the video, I think. And, as I said, I am not well versed in the series so I can’t do the kind of analysis I can with say, Batman… which I need to get back to soon.

On the production end of things, my workflow is continuing to evolve with 4K as the new standard going forward* – for the most part. There are some lingering older projects that have already been captured in regular old HD and I don’t foresee going back to re-capture the footage.

4K is easy. It’s just a lot of space and demand on hardware – but it’s very doable. HDR, on the other hand, is a massive headache. I may write a separate post or even make a video about a game capture HDR workflow at some point. Mine is still not perfected but it’s getting better… I think?

The Final Fantasy VII Remake footage in this video was all captured in HDR but the final video is SDR. I still haven’t figured out that last piece of the workflow to actually put videos out in HDR while still looking “right” in SDR. That’s the next step but I’m trying to keep some sort of pace for the video content. Only so much of the production time can go to researching the workflow.

Remake has a really nice HDR implementation, I think. And I was looking at HDR footage the entire time while I was editing which I then had to conform to SDR at the end. Tragic. Maybe next time… but probably not.

* If the video isn’t available in 4K yet, it’s because YouTube is very slow to process 4K versions of videos – at least for tiny insignificant little channels like mine.

Let’s Talk About PS5 – DEBUG MODE

Although the PS5 has been out since November 2020, they’re still hard to find and it’s still early days for the console. This is sort of a review, sort of a discussion about the PlayStation 5, some games, and the industry in general right now.

This was probably the most challenging and involved video I’ve done yet. The Nintendo Switch review was similarly complex, but this had a few more wrinkles to it.

To begin with, getting the console itself was tricky. I also wanted to do the video in 4K. Over the last couple of years, I’ve acquired the means to do this. I have a 4k camera, monitor, capture device, and now a 4K console. As of this writing, the 4K version is still processing on the YouTube backend. It’s been doing that for over a day now and there’s no telling how long that will take. But eventually this will be viewable in 4K.

4K 60fps video takes up a lot of space especially if you capture in a format that’s good for editing. All told, this project wound up being about 6TB of data. There was a ton of work to do – lots of games to capture, different versions of games, different modes, on-camera footage, and whole lot of graphics and supplemental material. It took much longer to edit than anticipated.

At the beginning, I also wanted to do HDR, but I abandoned that idea after some experimentation. HDR editing workflows are still too cumbersome and the amount of people who are actually going to watch a YouTube video in HDR is miniscule – especially when your channel has fewer than 100 subscribers (hopefully that won’t be the case for much longer!)

WandaVision – Popcorn Not Included

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WandaVision

Created by: Jac Schaeffer
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Debra Jo Rupp, Fred Melamed, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Randall Park, Kat Dennings, Evan Peters
Composer: Christophe Beck
Executive Producers: Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Matt Shakman, Jac Schaeffer
Original network: Disney+
Original release: 2021

Bowser’s Fury review – DEBUG MODE

Two videos in just under a week? Crazy, right?

I wasn’t planning on making this, but as I played the Switch re-release of Super Mario 3D World, I realized I had *things to say* about the new Bowser’s Fury game that’s packaged with it. This video is mainly about my problems with the game but I do want to stress that it’s still a good time and that I appreciate the risks taken even if I don’t think they all paid off.

This video was a bit of an experiment to see how quickly I could turn out a video that I was happy with. The modern internet demands ever more content at a pace that’s detrimental to quality. I’m not willing to compromise quality that much or dedicate so much of my time to this channel to meet the whims of the almighty algorithm. Still, I think I might try doing more of these short reviews that aren’t as comprehensive or analytical as work I’ve done previously. As long as they’re an interesting central point, I think it’s worth it.

The Triumph of Hitman 3 – DEBUG MODE

I had fully intended for my next Debug Mode video to be the start of new series that I was fairly excited about. Then computer troubles struck and corrupted the footage I’d recorded for that game. That really took the wind out of my sails.

I intend to get back to that previous project, but in order to work on something completely different, I decided to do a quick video on Hitman 3, 2021’s first big release. A “quick” video soon bloomed into a month-long production. The final video is a celebration of the whole World of Assassination trilogy. If you’ve seen my best-of videos for 2016 or 2018, then you’ve heard me championing these games before. They really are pretty special but it’s a little hard to showcase them in a video like this. I think you really need to see someone play the game in realtime or try it for yourself.