o · tac · ra · cy [oh-tok-ruh-see]
1. government by otaku; a form of government in which supreme power is


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Anime LA 2011 in Slow Motion

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Cosplay photography kinda bugs me. Yeah, I've been doing it for a while, whether it be for friends at co... [More]

Review: The Olympus E-3

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After nearly two years with the Olympus E-3, it's time to put this DSLR back out on the market and into ... [More]

Review: The Horipad EX2 Turbo

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The Horipad EX2 Turbo is a good pad for Xbox 360 gamers needing a pad for fighting games.  After al... [More]



Current Craziness PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vincent Diamante   
Friday, 24 July 2009 16:19

There's a lot of things on my plate at the moment.

Probably the most important thing is this summer class, which has been killing me every day for the last 20 days.  Come July 31st, I will be free!  FREEEEEEEEEE!  I gotta admit, though: teaching about video game design and production is not a bad thing to do at 9 AM...

Also working on a bunch of stuff right now.  One small music job, a couple of largish photography jobs, and yet another move between apartments.

In the GOOD THINGS category, I've got a new laptop on the way!  Courtesy of PAYMENT!  That's always good!

Also: Will I shave my head?  Watch this space!

Auto-Tune the News.... PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vincent Diamante   
Tuesday, 14 July 2009 23:22

I love this auto-tune stuff.  The Gregory Brothers are crazy/awesome/rocking.  (Choose two)

Here's my personal favorite.  (Slightly meh ending, but it starts incredibly strong.  GOD BLESS AMERICA!)

Random Bursts of Otacracy, Cosplay, and Photography PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vincent Diamante   
Tuesday, 14 July 2009 23:13

SMJ CosplayDespite the name of the site, I'm just not THAT much of an otaku.  At least, not in the sense assumed by most internet denizens.

Nowadays I'm writing random music and working on lectures rather than watching the latest and (not necessarily the) greatest anime out there.  My overall video game playing skill has dropped precariously in the last year as I've focused more on things like: studying Choroscript and: washing dishes.

But then I do random and not so random things like take pictures of Magic Knight Rayearth cosplayers in a national forest and drive 2 hours to get to an arcade and play IGS beat'em ups and Puzzle Bobble 3 (since the Puyo Puyo Fever machine was out of commission).

In just under 48 hours I'm going to hop on a plane and hit Otakon... and quite honestly I have: no idea what I'm going to do there.

All right.  That's not true.  I'm pretty certain I'll do my fair share of people watching and hanging out with friends I've made over the years.  And I'm really looking forward to our pre-Otakon dinner plans at Obelisk.  But what of the stuff provided by Otakon?  What panels, concerts, events am I REALLY interested in?

At the moment the answer would have to be: none.  But that's mostly me being in teacher mode and splitting time between writing this quick update and writing a mid-term exam for my students.

So this makes now a good time to talk about the photo that heads this article.

This photo was taken just over 10 years ago and remains my favorite among all the photos of cosplay I've taken.  The cosplayers in the picture above are portraying characters from the Saber Marionette anime series as they walk the halls of Otakon 1999.  And they look absolutely fantastic.  Nevermind the fact that you really can't see that much detail in their costumes (the combination of a slightly crappy photographer dealing with a slightly crappy lens and relatively slow film)... but forget about that.  These girls are: having fun.  People around them are seeing these girls: having fun.

(And then there's the artistic aspects of the photo.  Lines and eyelines.  But I don't care about that at the moment...)

Otakon 1999 was a hugely fun experience for me, and this picture, more than any other picture I took, represented how much fun it was to be there.

I'd really like to take more pictures of cosplayers: having fun.  Allow me to go ahead and push that a bit to: I'd really like to take more pictures of cosplayers being people in costume, people having fun, rather than simply models struggling to reach the iconic ideals presented on dead trees and LCDs.

If only they'd allow me to do that!  Because: heaven forbid I catch them cracking an out-of-character smile or chatting with their friends who aren't similarly dressed.  If I had to choose between taking pictures of interesting people doing interesting things and the most utterly beautiful drop-dead gorgeous stylishly accurate cosplay ever made... I'd choose the pictures of people.

And please don't think that this means I disrespect cosplay; in fact, I love cosplay and would love nothing better than to show cosplay, the entire process of cosplay, in a really positive light to fans and non-fans alike.

Okay... I guess that's one thing I'm still incredibly otaku about.  I thoroughly enjoy taking pictures of people pre-con/at con/post-con, doing the con thing (aka having fun), and I look forward to seeing all the people that will be hanging out, rocking out, making out, passing out, and anything else you can think of at Otakon.

If you see a guy with a black photovest stuffed with camera equipment shooting pictures at Otakon, you've probably found me.  Feel free to say hi.  If you rock at Asuka 120% Limited or Garouden: Fist or Twist, even better.  I'm looking forward to hitting that game room as well...

(This was originally going to be a post about 2 cosplayers who screamed at me for a minute for taking their picture, but thinking about it just depresses and frustrates the hell out of me, so I'd rather not write about that.)

Music in Weird Places PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vincent Diamante   
Tuesday, 30 June 2009 09:41

Every now and then I'll find my music used in a place I don't expect.  Here's an older example featuring a speaker made out of a hard drive:



And here's a much newer example that I find more surprising, as it means that this guy actually reads this blog (the only place I put this silly bit of music):



Always fun seeing these things pop up.

Bait and Switch on Amazon Marketplace PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vincent Diamante   
Sunday, 28 June 2009 20:40

thegrandchefLast week I decided I would buy The Grand Chef Vol. 1 DVD set on Amazon Marketplace.  Ninety bucks is a bit much, so I decided to get one of the much cheaper used copies being advertised.  A couple clicks here and there and the item is bought.  The next day, the seller sent this message:

Thank you for shopping with me. I upgraded your set to a double volume collector's set (which includes the sequel, "Grand Chef II" (also known as "Gourmet 2"). The USPS parcel's # is...

Huh, that's interesting.  I wonder what this collector's set is.  No sign of it on Ya Entertainment's web site.

When I open the package on Saturday night, I'm greeted with this:

gourmetYep, I am not happy about this one bit.  I believe this might be the first time I've actually fallen victim to a bait and switch.  If I really wanted to get the Chinese version, I would have spent half the price and bought it on ebay.  I'm not looking forward to dealing with Amazon and the seller in the morning...

A Rayearth Photoshoot PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vincent Diamante   
Sunday, 28 June 2009 13:39

Magic Knight RayearthMagic Knight Rayearth is: one of my favorite series ever.  When Alice asked if I'd be interested in being part of a Rayearth cosplay photoshoot, I broke into a big grin and said: "Sure!"

(Inside, my mind was thinking: "OMG AWESOME SO COOL RAYEARTH I LOVE RAYEARTH!!!@!@1!@11111!!!!")

Thing is, as the photoshoot date inched closer, I started to feel more and more nervous.  Performance anxiety, a relic from my serious pianist past which had started to crop up again in my video game career as well as my teaching career, was now rearing its ugly head with this relatively trivial pursuit of cosplay photography.  I suppose it was only natural; I would be the proverbial newbie in a group of experienced photographers shooting a trio of experienced cosplayers.  It didn't help that fashion photography and modeling was never what I concentrated on (always considered myself a documentarian since I started shooting back in the early 90s), and giving direction was far from my strong suit.  I must have imagined a Hollywood movie worth of embarrassment in the weeks prior to the photoshoot.

Thankfully, none of the horrible predicaments I was imagining for myself actually took place.

Why I Don't Like Motion Controls PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vincent Diamante   
Friday, 26 June 2009 10:52

Op-AmpBehold: the amplifier. 

I like amplifiers because they take something and: MAKE IT BIGGER

I like that attribute in my microphone pre-amps and mixers.  I like to hear that in my sports radio talk show hosts. 

I also like it in my video games. 

I enjoy the way that video games take the little input I give them and explode it into cornucopia of heady ideals and intricate details.  If you watch me while playing some of my favorite video games, all I'm doing is twitching a few thumb and wrist muscles here and there.  From a distance one would wonder whether I'm doing anything at all.  But view the output visuals on that television screen and listen to the audio on those speakers!  One realizes how great the video game is, amplifying my small (if relatively synchronized) muscle movements into ballet, cinema, novel, and symphony.

Nowadays, however, there's this thing called the Wii.  I look at it and many of the games and I can't help but think that it's not an amplifier.  It's a band-pass filter.

Band-pass filterA little more complex, right?  Now, don't get me wrong: I like filters when I'm doing music recording.  I can take a sound that's full of stuff that I don't want and excise it, leaving the part that I care about.

In my video games, however, I don't want the game taking my rich, expressive, emotive input and turning it into an icon, which is what I see many Wii games do.  With the Wii, we see players gesticulating wildly with the wiimote and nunchuk in an effort to make certain that the video game properly filters the beauty that is human motion into: the iconic reduction necessary to make video games work as video games.

I like icon.  It's useful and effective and it's the way we humans appreciate and manipulate the world... and the fact that I can deal with icon is precisely why I don't want video games having to guess at the icon I wish to insert into the structure that is my video game performance.

No: I don't hate the concept of Wiimote.  In fact, I think it has the potential to be fantastic.  The rich input that the combination of the player and the Wiimote is capable of makes me think: OH MAN, NOW THE GAME OUTPUT COULD BE EVEN BETTER!  Alas, no game has made me think that, as game after game released on Nintendo's system has seen the player's input be reduced to output more befitting the series of 1s and 0s created by the lowly gamepad.  Swing sword or don't swing sword.  Throw item or don't throw item.  Toggle switch or don't toggle switch.  Despite the burgeoning popular success of the Wii, you cannot convince me that the variable swinging of a peripheral triggering an individual action can compare to the feat of translation that is: down, down-forward, forward + punch.

I guess all I can do these days is be thankful that the Wii and its design philosophy has not infected all the games that I enjoy.  Action games, adventure games, sports games, fighting games, racing games, even role playing games: you continue to have my respect as you continue to push what is created when the simple action of a thumb pushing a button is amplified..


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