Hello! It’s Sterling, and I’m back with my second assignment. In the spirit of They Live (see my last blog post for more details), I decided to do the “Apocalyptic Character Generator” by Martha. The assignment’s synopsis is as follows: “Use Hero Machine to design and create a representation of your character for The End 106. When you’re done, export it as PNG file and then use a photo editing application to place your character in a setting that makes sense. Bonus star if you make the final product an animated GIF!”

I thought it would be great to make a character that represented me and my interests. I liked plopping him in the middle of the screenshot from They Live. This screenshot in particular is very profound, for as I discussed in my last post, the main character finds these sunglasses that reveal the truths and intents of anything from advertisements to the alien species mingling with humans. It is a testament to many of the marketing ploys that only exist for profit today. You may be surrounded by people who are driven by economy and politics, who layer themselves with false empathy. And my character, Sterling (of course) is here to reveal the absolute truth.

For more context on the scene, please watch Roddy Piper repeatedly put on and take off sunglasses in this excerpt (NOT a trailer, YouTube) from They Live:

About Sterling: he is quite a bit more muscular than I am – HeroMachine didn’t have any lean muscle options – though instead of using guns like Nada to fight, he uses his fists. I’ve been doing Tae Kwon Do and other martial arts for 13 years, and I recently got my black belt. I incorporated a lot of black and yellow in his outfit to represent Bruce Lee and his jumpsuit (aka the one Uma Thurman wears in Kill Bill): my #1 role model and inspiration. He is a representation of someone Asian in Hollywood (my dream) and is overall a pretty humble dude. He wears one of my favorite fashion items right now: a denim jacket. His trusty cat, Thai, travels with him everywhere. Thai can see these alien beings, and alerts Sterling when they are nearby.

Here is a better view of the finished product:

HeroMachine was surprisingly difficult to use despite its ‘dress up’ kind of interface. Many of the clothes did not fit the initial body parts I had chosen, and it did not seem to offer any variety in the position the clothes are in. I wanted to go for a power-walk kind of image, but it the clothes wouldn’t quite fit. Colors were difficult to figure out too, as you selected from three palettes for each item and applied them. However, many of the design options were still fun and it was cool to see an ‘action’ version of myself come to life. I might also have some outfit inspiration now! It’s rated three stars, and I think it is appropriate given its straightforwardness – one just needs to play with it for a while.

They Live; I Lived

Greetings! I’m back with something fun for my first assignment. I followed the theme of the 80s by targeting the movie my blog is currently themed around: They Live (1988), by John Carpenter starring Roddy Piper and Meg Foster. The assignment I chose is called “Before and After The End” by Martha. Here is its synopsis: “Take a before/after photo of a person, place, or thing that has survived the apocalpyse. Then use Juxtapose to share a comparison of your two photos. Try not to rely too heavily on Photoshop or other photo editors to show the changes.”

First, let me tell you about my inspiration: They Live. They Live is a science-fiction and action film based in dystopian Los Angeles. Roddy Piper plays the wanderer “Nada,” who overhears someone ‘getting soapbox’ and talking about powerful people and beings that are controlling humanity. Eventually, he recovers a pair of sunglasses that turn his world black-and-white and replace advertisements with words displaying their true intent. Some people are revealed to actually be aliens, and it is up to Nada to survive and reveal the truth as it was shown to him. So while this doesn’t exactly target the zombie-filled apocalypse we know, it targets a dystopia that may as well be an apocalypse to those who discover it. In a way, the fact that it is right under our noses makes it worse, and draws many parallels to the heartless intent of messages in modern society.

If you’re curious, here is the trailer. You can watch it on Hulu if you have an account. (Warning: guns, a muttering Roddy Piper, and repetition of the word ‘THEY’):

This assignment was rated 3 stars, but I spent a solid few hours working on this one to make the ‘alien’ overlay look natural. The assignment made it seem like one should show the difference more subtly in expression, though it is ‘subtle’ in the movie in that no one can see them. After all, I enjoy image editing, and it was cool to put myself in this dystopian society. First, I took two pictures of myself. Then, I selected this screenshot from the movie to overlay over my face using Pixlr Editor:

It was a little difficult to position correctly over my face, though it was still much easier to match human proportions to each other than that of a cat to a person (check out my attempt at that from today’s daily create!). Since the man’s bangs and clothes made his exposed forehead and neck much shorter, respectively, I had to duplicate them and stretch them out to fit my own. I used a spot-blending tool to cover some of the edges. I also had to color part of my face in black since the lighting on the skeleton face is much different than the room I was in, and it was more effective for me to make the edges of my face into shadows. This black color was also used in my hair, since it was too light compared to the shadows on my face.

Here is a colored GIF of my work, just for kicks:

Update:「Week 1」

Week 1 was, as one can expect by the time I have posted this, harder than expected. It certainly pushed me out of my comfort zone to record my voice and my face, though it was a change I was willing to make – as well as creating public accounts. Growing up with an IT Security Officer as a father, I’ve always been taught to use aliases and to lock down my information so that no one can ever witness it. However, as a Theatre major, it is now time that I begin releasing more information about myself so that I can attract others to my portfolio. I also have a passion for the theme and several 80s-related aspects I plan to discuss in future posts. I look forward to customizing my new social media and formatting my blog to read easily and attractively!

One challenge I came across involved my Instagram account: I created a “finsta” in high school labelled with my alias for this class (sincerelysterling). I lost the password, as well as the password for the e-mail account it was attached to. No other accounts were attached to it for recovery, so I will likely have to either communicate with Google or ‘give up,’ which isn’t too hard when it comes to old content. I opted to go with my Twitter handle as my username on my new Instagram (@sincerelysterls) instead. It also took me a little bit to understand the tags, too, so my posts may not have been attached to the main course site correctly. I will link both my Introduction and my 80s posts below just in case (or if you’d like to know more about me):

Here is my introduction!
And here are my thoughts on the 80s!

Memory of the Future

Title inspired by a more modern song by 80s legends Pet Shop Boys.

The 80s is a true cultural phenomenon that shines its neon lights forty years into the future. Science fiction, such as my blog’s current theme – John Carpenter’s film They Live (1988) thrived. This decade was about living life large: from the hair to the fashion statements. Television featured works of art and films that were destined to become timeless cult classics. It was a time of relative peace for the United States as well. Many today pursue the “Vaporwave” aesthetic, and it is often considered popular to listen to 80s music.

An example of the Vaporwave aesthetic: such images are often featured in electronic music videos.

To me, the 80s includes interactive fiction. The first item that came to mind was the Netflix interactive film Black Mirror: Bandersnatch (2018), which revolves around a young man living in the 80s who attempts to develop a classic choose-your-own adventure game. I certainly recommend it, for you get to explore 1984 in the forefront of its technological glory.

Here is Bandersnatch’s trailer, for a glimpse into many of the aforementioned themes and the treat of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” (1983).

Interactive fiction (physical and digital) was new during this era, for Joëlle Delbourgo and R.A. Montgomery’s Choose Your Own Adventure book series was released in 1979. The first game, Will Crowther’s ADVENT, was released in 1975 at Stanford and required that one find treasures in a certain amount of turns. Infocom (1979-1989) was a company and software by MIT Students, released Zork- one of the most well-known interactive fiction games – for home. Although short, the 80s is a proud host of this digital boom that lasted from 1982 to 1986.

A gif previewing Infocom’s Zork: you control your own adventure.

Throughout my life, 80s pop culture has been present. It is in my parents as they spent their teenage and young adult lives during these years. My dad blasts Depeche Mode and The Cure in the kitchen. My mom showed me The Breakfast Club (1985) and Sixteen Candles (1984) in my early teenhood. One of the first movies I watched with my college friends in freshman year was Dirty Dancing (1987). For an 80s revival concert, I tried to learn the Roger Rabbit. And lastly, if I ever get a boombox, the first thing I am going to do is hold it over my head like John Kusack in Say Anything (1989) – or, well, like Deadpool in Deadpool 2 (2018).

In case you were curious, the Roger Rabbit: #ds106thingsthoughts #ds106

Take On Me

Greetings! My name is Sterling (he/him), and I’m a sophomore at the University of Mary Washington. I am a Theatre (and potentially Digital Studies) major with a minor in French. Please watch this space for Digital Storytelling updates and some 80s goodness!

My introductions are listed below on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Soundcloud, respectively: