Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Venus Rises first webisode Ikarus available

The first episode of science-fiction series "Venus Rises" is now available on vidcast. "Ikarus" is a short film prequel to Venus Rises Series 1. Viewers can watch "Ikarus" Here. The main url for the project is http://www.venusrises.com/ where you can find all sorts of information about the project. This is what I have been able to glean from the website about the series:
  • "Venus Rises" is an independent science-fiction vidcast series by J.G.Birdsall. The year is 2050. Earth was devastated by a chain of cataclysmic events leading to a pandemic collapse of governments. The human race colonize Mars and Venus, narrowly escaping with technology amassed by mega-corporations during Earth's final days. As Venus becomes home to the working class, and Mars the seat of power, two friends enlisted in the Mars Defense Directorate uncover the first signs of civil unrest. Humankind finds itself once again at the crossroads of extinction.
Ok that being said, I have watched it and can now review it. I really have to make a couple of points. The internet and therefor the web is certainly not a new incarnation. In the early day, yes, the whole system was the wild west so to speak, large big name sites were far outweighed by the hobbyist, hacker and scammers. Original material was truly forward thinking and deserved every bit of support that could be garnered. But at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, many parts of the web are getting long in the tooth and for the most part its a pretty staid mall. Major studios and network work in tandem with their web counterparts. In general this gives us choices of high quality entertainment....for the most part. In the past the wildcat producer was constrained by lack of fund, expertise and equipment, but their offerings were balanced of the bleeding edge of tech. Wild cat producers today have pretty much the same constraints, but for a different reason. The expertise is there, the equipment readily available and funds, well considering that the cost per minute for production is vastly lower due to the fact that so much can be produced in the very powerful computer equipment available for pennies...its not as much a major concern as it used to be. If your an independent producer today on the internet, its because you HAVE to or WANT to. But conversely the output does not HAVE to be less than acceptable. Sanctuary shows us that professionally made programming is possible with little more than an actor and a green screen. When I see SanFran invaded by Star Wars on YouTube, produced by a single person with a digital recorder and a working knowledge of digital production and editing....and find it damn good. Or when I see parodies of Tron done with Cardboard for Christ sake and find it wildly entertaining I realize that the internet viewer no longer has to be equated with sub par production. So with Venus Rising I find that what would have been viewed as ground breaking 10 years ago, merely comes off as painfully quaint. Maybe if VR wasn't reaching so high. If it placed itself right in amongst the fan produced Star Trek movies, it certainly would not be out of place. The graphics are on par with a quickly produced video game, The sets are overly dark and poorly lit, the dialog is poorly mixed - overly loud and then inaudibly quiet - which leads me to think the actors were all wearing mics and no boom operator... the dialog has characters thinking out loud to themselves and at times seems to be pervy 13 year olds. One minute drooling over the lone female and next calling off closing distances on a screen. yes, I am afraid I flinched quite a bit.

So... independent content is always of interest so go check it out. Don't go in expecting too much and you probably will have an entertaining few minutes.


Anonymous said...

I went on the website and watched the episode, which does say its not the 1st episode of the series but an interepisode. Maybe its like how cable tv did "Blood Trails" for 30 Days of Night. More importantly, I searched more online about Venus Rises and found out that this show is filmed in homemade sets in rooms of houses, it has NO budget, and the actors, gc people and crew all donate their time.

Pretty F'n impressive if you ask me.......

Anonymous said...

correction for last comment- "CG people"... graphic artists

Beam Me Up said...

Oh it's impressive in the scale of effort yes. However check out ANY of the star trek episodes that were made in the same venue. No budget no professional actors, home made equipment etc. Head and shoulders above. Now as far as home made sets? Why is it then that they go to extremes to let us know that the company helping out is known for renting science fiction sets? Its right there. I applaud the effort. But lets look at the argument for a moment. I am not a "professional photo editor" However when I put my works up for consideration I do not say "take it easy on me, I am just an amateur and had to learn this stuff all by myself and I had to scrimp to buy the equipment oh and you know, I'm handicapped. so please take that into account when you judge me against professionals." Oh and I expect to be treated like a pro as well. Anonymous, I really do thank you for the information. really honest. But I have to say, that if the producers of Venus Rises knew that people were defending their efforts on this level they would be mortified. When I compete I expect to be judged on my efforts not my circumstances.

cyr3n said...

Hi Beam me up, sorry we didnt send you the footage ahead of time to review.. it may have cleared up some questions right off the bat and saved you some flamebait.

As someone mentioned earlier.. this is an "Interspace" episode. A short film that fills in details of a character's backstory. This particular piece pertains to Aeriana, the deaf pilot. The audio dips you heard are intentional, she can't hear what the captain is saying but can read his lips.

Hermit of the Mountain is (writer/director) J.G.Birdsall's company. It was established in 2006 after production of VR was already underway and became a set rental biz after other indie filmmakers in the NYC metro area were asking to rent sets. The sets are home-made by the director, each taking about 1.5 months to complete. With 7 sets, thats close to a year in preproduction.. just to build sets! The fuss isnt all without merit, he was very particular about not relying on greenscreen to fill out scenes because inexperienced actors would find it harder to deliver a performance and we'd lose an element of interactivity.

VR is a volunteer project similar to a fan film except the story is original. It's not in the same league as Sanctuary and NBC's webisodes.. those productions have budgets, guild actors, and industry professionals on their payroll. FYI, Sanctuary is "indie" only in name.. they're all ex-Stargate people. We're very flattered that our look draws comparisons to shows like Sanctuary, Firefly, and BSG .. but we'd be the first to admit we're not there yet. =)

So stay tuned for the series debut, and give us your opinions on the forums! We love hearing from budding & established sci-fi writers alike. We think the show's concept has a lot of room for growth and anyone who wants to contribute is more than welcome to join up!

Beam Me Up said...

Cyr: No no, I never mentioned the handicapped as a reference to one of the characters, in truth I was speaking from whence I know. But in fact I DID understand the variances in the audio track. I don't recall bringing that up as a problem.... I am starting to see that some of the confusion is being generated by blogs posting this fraction of the story line as a complete effort. Judging it in that venue it lacks, but as a filler is informative. I welcome you to send any and all materials you feel the readers as well as the listeners of the radio program to the programs email address (beammeup@gwi.net) or hard material to the station WRFR lp/fm
20 Gay St. Rockland Maine 04841 att Beam Me Up crew. Thanks. BTW

Star Creeper said...

I was not defending this show as "bravo in consideration of a handicap" sort of way... not trying to cut them slack either. Just, I am judging what im seeing and its pretty good. it has its flaws but its better than some of the Trek crap out there on the web. (Im assuming you meant Star Trek fan films (webisodes), not any tv series). That stuff with cheap prosthetics, makeup, bad green screen and worse awkward acting is no comparison to this.
And Cyr3n is right about Sanctuary.

If you want to compare or contrast indy to pro stuff or judge on efforts, lets look at ANY Sci-fi Channel original movie with decent budgets and compare shot to shot, line for line, cg to cg to Venus Rises and maybe sci-fi originals, sanctuary, trek tv shows, etc... are "better" per se, but THEN reverse YOUR argument and put all of those shows on Venus Rises' budget!
Sci-Fi originals on tv are BARELY better than this and Trek fan stuff is just badly done, campy reworkings of the same storylines done in Trek tv series.

I think you hit on some good points but I am completely judging them on efforts and think the show may be cool. Thats all.

-same Anonymous, actually Star Creeper as I put in the original article I commented on.

Star Creeper said...

oh, and didnt you just want to punch the second mate JUST for being pasty-creepy on the girl!!!!

It worked for me because it wasnt the big strong male able to forcibly rape the girl but that sleazy "slip a drug in your drink rape and choke to death" wimpy guy scenario.

hahahaa! cmon, tell the truuuuth.

cyr3n said...

actually "creepy dude" is a friend of mine from engineering school and we've been to a few parties together. I don't recall waking up with a kidney missing... come to think of it there was one less stick of RAM was in my PC...... does that count?

thank you, beam me up! We'll send some stuff your way =)

//cyr3n plays aeriana

Beam Me Up said...

Star Creeper, First thing I want to address, is yes, I wanted to break fingers and staple that nasty tongue to the bulkhead. Now down to the matter. With Sanctuary, it was the fact that it was first produced totally online before Sci-fi got their sweaty meat-hooks on it. I had no allusions as to the level of the cast in comparison with VR and now with a big budget. My bigest comparison is with the fan made Star Treks. Now that is a fair comparison. Hand built sets, volunteer actors and zilch budget. And yes, there are some BAD BAD star trek fan films yes but I remember the group that George Taki and Koenig were involved with. Even before the production value and acting was damn high quality and that was several years ago. The point is not is VR junk.... no, it is can we expect better from amateur film makers today. Look at open source animation projects going on as we speak. For that matter look at any digital offering and we find more often than not, pro level in most instances. When we use audacity audio editing, or open office we expect it to be on par. Now I know, these are extreme examples, but what they illustrate is volunteer does not instantly mean less than professional. But of course budgets do! lol How well I know that.

paul said...

Oh Cyr3n, that's the 21st century version of a missing kidney! lol Thats so funny! The more I hear about the cadre the more I see a labor of love in action. That has to be fun. envy building...lol