Evangelion, FranXX & Near Misses.

Posted on July 7th, 2019

Filed under: Reviews — Karl Olson @ 11:14 pm

So, I’ve run into an unexpected side-effect of the renewed Evangelion discourse: kind of reconsidering Darling In The FranXX. I still think Franxx is quite problematic in how and what it tried to say; however, through one narrow angle, I can see better what it meant to reference/respond to in Eva but fumbled at best. Two of the big ongoing themes in Eva are the folly of man in chasing self-perfection to the point of losing essential humanity via exploitation of the young, and the value of continuing to live despite the massive pain of ego-distance that existence can incur. Those messages resurface in other Gainax works – obsessions with hyper-perfection are always folly when that gets in the way of embracing yourself for who you are at this phase of your life. It’s the same for Shinji, Noata, Sasshi & even Nadia, while their villains share that toxic obsession with their idea of perfection with different manifestations.

Which brings me to FranXX. Ultimately, it stands as a rejection of transhumanism as post-scarcity technological immortality when it also sacrifices (very traditional) relationships, the future of the youth & the Earth’s ecosystem as we know it. Missteps aside for a moment, it is trying to lift from if not comment on Eva: to save humanity, embrace flawed existence over the obsession with perfection. Where FranXX loses it, is that it heavily implies throughout its run that valid human existence has a very narrow definition. FranXX fails to get that the exploitation of youth Eva alludes to can include the narrow definition of validity that FranXX elevates at every turn, and that such narrow definitions of validity are in ways their own toxic obsession with perfection. This is to say, FranXX’s over-specific meditation on and response to Eva misses a key point that Eva, most other Gainax bildungsromans and most derivative works thereof make: it’s not the who, but rather the how of connection that matters. Further still, to make that connection, those works often suggest it requires a kind of self-embrace that often means rejecting some norms and/or letting go of the pursuit of those norms if they result in the destruction of self. FranXX implies the who and so dramatically narrows the how of connection throughout its run, then hurriedly tries to broaden its thesis at the finish line with a couple of wordless montages. Eva didn’t have to try to save it at the end because it never boxed itself in to start with & if anything broadened its scope as much as possible given the focus on a solitary lead character.

Ultimately, this doesn’t save FranXX much for me, and if anything, having a better sense of what it didn’t understand in the work it owes its greatest debt to is kind of a bummer, but at the same time, I better appreciate when other works with Eva in their genealogy manage to get it right even when not made by any of the same staff. The Big O, the FLCL sequels and SSSS.Gridman (to name a few) all got Eva‘s point and iterated on it more effectively than A1 did in FranXX.

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A couple more LPs

Posted on April 20th, 2019

Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 12:32 pm

Both instrumental releases, but very different eras of my work.

1. Contemporary Vintage. A Drum n’ Bass LP that I started writing while in the Narita Airport Tully’s Coffee waiting to fly back to Canada, it’s 10 more energetic jams that range from super aggro to almost chill despite never falling below 170bpm. Check it out on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon and Youtube:

2. Brobdingnagian Brimborion. Over the years I’ve done a lot of remixes for other artists, and the ones I’ve done for rappers tend to be such dramatic re-imaginings they can stand on their own as instrumentals because I didn’t use anything but the vocals from the original track. Thus, I’ve compiled 29 of those instrumentals spanning a decade and a half of work. Again, check it out on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon and YouTube:

PS: You could be listening to one more new release right now plus some forever exclusive content if you subscribe to my Bandcamp. It’s like Patreon but for music, and also annual so less money goes to fees.

PPS: Bonus cover!

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Kintsugi

Posted on January 9th, 2019

Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 1:03 am

So, my new album, Kintsugi, is out. It’s kind of a lot like my self-titled album from last year in some ways. In others, it’s probably unlike anything else I’ve released. I really don’t know what I’ll do vocally after this one at the very least. This was a fusion of the synth pop/alternative rock album I’d thought about doing almost as long as I’d thought about doing Nerdcore Hiphop, and of much more recent material and more modern genre aesthetics generally. I’d written a lot of music and lyrics I didn’t have the right production style for yet I guess. It’s kind of a project I’ve put a lot of effort into by virtue of nudging it along occasionally for years, but also one I’ve not put much effort into because I specifically recorded the vocals as briskly as I could rather than trapping myself in much second guessing or over-polishing. Rather, the effort was, after years of over thinking it and not killing my darlings, finishing it as fast my voice would let me. It’s weird, like me. Hopefully, a few folks enjoy it.

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You Could Be Listening Already

Posted on December 9th, 2018

Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 12:00 pm

If you had already jumped on my $5 a year sale to subscribe to my music (including lossless downloads of everything I’ve released on bandcamp,) you would already be listening to my latest vocal release, Kintsugi. It’s basically the long over due Electronica Pop EP I’ve been playing with since before I even released the first Romance Language LP. Material that spans over a decade & a half. It goes wide release on January 9th, 2019, but if you want in early while locking in all the new releases I do for the next year for only $5, now is the time.

Alternately, I just need at least 10 people to leave my albums loop playing on Spotify or the streaming service of their choice 24/7. It all works out 😀

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More Storyboard Pro Scripting!

Posted on November 24th, 2018

Filed under: Code — Karl Olson @ 7:13 pm

Yet again, I’ve helped my animator friend Corey Barnes (who I’ll again note has worked on a litany of animated series) with another very useful script for ToonBoom’s Storyboard Pro.

This time, we’ve made it easier to bulk rename layers across multiple panels, making it easier for storyboard artists to relabel layers after working on a draft. Instead of cleaning up each panel by hand, you select your panels, enter new name, pick the layer on each panel and/or skip panels you don’t want to rename anything on, then let it rip. It’s easy to use, just like our previous script for bulk editing captions across multiple panels. Both scripts are on Corey’s Gumroad page as pay what you’d like, and he and I should have more scripts to come on Gumroad, so if you’re an animator, you’ll likely want to get updates from his page in future.

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A Considerable Music Update

Posted on November 18th, 2018

Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 2:53 pm

First off, I’m doing a massive sale on subscribing to the Ultraklystron bandcamp. Until 2019, it’s only $5 a year. Yes, only FIVE DOLLARS PER YEAR!!!

This gets you access to everything in my backcatalog on Bandcamp, plus advance access to any new music or back-catalog music I release during the year, and it’s not just streaming via Bandcamp, but as lossless downloads you get to keep forever, even if you end up dropping the subscription. All for less than a penny and half per day! Even if you’re already subscriber, cancel and re-sub during the sale, lock in this lower price!

Meanwhile, another Drum n’ Bass album (my sixth in the past couple years,) is out. Enjoy Sorekaradoshitano:

Available on BandcampSpotifyApple MusicYouTubeAmazonNapsterDeezerTidalKKBOX and many more.

Releases like this are included of course with subscription, and you’ll get them in advance of every other service I push too!

Lastly, there’s definitely one release already queued up and in the pipe for early release on my birthday (November 27th) – it’s called Kintsugi and while I can’t link the Bandcamp info yet, for those who won’t subscribe even with a sale, at least be sure to get it first thing on January 9th, 2019 by using the Spotify hyperfollow option here: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/ultraklystron/fpET.

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But wait, there’s more (for Storyboard Pro users)

Posted on September 4th, 2018

Filed under: Code — Karl Olson @ 9:38 pm

Set or Reset Captions in Storyboard Pro.

After the very positive response to the previous script from storyboarders and animators working at just countless major animation studios all over the world, many independent creators and the actual software company itself regarding my first Storyboard Pro script, I was eager to revise the script with my friend Corey and make it even more useful by extending the simple caption delete script into something with a text input so you could also replace captions across multiple panels (or just do a delete still by leaving the text input empty!) So, after a few false starts and some double checking, the result is already being just as well received as the first script. I hope I can do some more of this work in future, so maybe I’ll see if I can get an old copy of SB Pro at some point (the script engine is an older version of QT Script, so the latest/greatest is probably fine.)

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My First Storyboard Pro Script / Remote Pair Programming

Posted on August 26th, 2018

Filed under: Code — Karl Olson @ 12:50 pm

One side effect of writing and modding for an animation news website back in the day, is that I made some great friends who went on to actually work in the animation, comics or anime/manga industries professionally. One such person is Corey Barnes, an animator/storyboarder/director who has worked on a number of high profile projects in various animation roles including Netflix’s Big Mouth, FX’s Archer, Adult Swim’s China, IL and much, much more.

Last night, he hit me up for programming advice with an issue inside of ToonBoom’s Storyboard Pro, a rather popular piece of software used for the storyboarding process in modern studios. Basically, while it’s easy to copy and paste existing storyboard panels, you’re then left with clearing out anything you didn’t want duplicated by hand, such as captions, unless you’re feeling confident enough with QTScript (a cousin of JavaScript/ECMAScript,) and Storyboard Pro’s API docs to start to automate clean up the specific info you want. Thus I hopped on Skype wtih screenshare, and over the next hour, we worked together, stumbling through the documentation to work out which options and data lived where, towards building this script: TB_Delete_Caption_Text.js on GitHub Gist (Dropbox.)

Now, instead of manually cleaning up each storyboard panel’s captions, you can just select as many panels as you want, pick which captions to clear in that selection, and the script does everything else. I have no idea how much time this might save storyboard artists, but it’s certainly proving popular with storyboarders on Twitter. I hope this is the start of writing more scripts that help animators. I can’t draw, but I certainly can code, and if I can use that skill so software gets out of the way of animators, that seems like a cool way to help with/participate in that industry.

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White Elephant: Ever More Drum n’ Bass

Posted on August 21st, 2018

Filed under: Music News — Karl Olson @ 8:47 pm

18 months, 5 drum n’ bass albums, each with 10 songs. Below is the 5th. Technically not my most productive stretch of time (even including the 20 song beat tape, 10 song Nerd(?) Rap/Pop(?) LP and 5 song Chiptune EP,) but I think the quality has been consistent. Give it (and the rest) a listen:

Spotify
Apple
Amazon
Tidal
YouTube

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Nick Arcade Game Board Demo: A 3 hour React sketch.

Posted on August 2nd, 2018

Filed under: Code — Karl Olson @ 1:19 am

Remember Nick Arcade? If so, you might recall the basic game play of the show involved moving a cartoon character, Mikey, around a map, where you might reveal a prize, a trivia question, a game challenge or an event where you lose control to the other team. A friend of mine who streams old shows joked that he wanted to pick shows the same way – randomly as you moved around a map. So, while he streamed recently, I wrote up this very rough draft of the Nick Arcade board, complete with shows. Since it’s a pain to share a JSFiddle otherwise, here it is embedded.

In future, I’ll definitely add a component to populate the show list so it’s not fixed in the component (it is randomly built each load though – navigate around and see which “classic” you might get to watch,) options to load a background graphic, and maybe even an animated Mikey (well, probably not.) Still, I think I have a good basis here, and it’s a fun, small project I can probably handle in the background.

Edit: took an extra half hour the next day to get it a bit more visually polished, look at the fiddle history to see the process in action.

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