Seen the Animatrix...greenspun.com : LUSENET : Aeon Flux : One Thread
Well, I have had the privelage of seeing the Animatrix already, the whole thing... (actually a few times now, I couldn't help myself from playing it over and over) and I have some very mixed feelings.
If you check this before interviewers get a hold of you and beat me to these questions, Peter... I would like to ask a couple things about your experience with the process and the final product. (without spoiling anything, plotwise.)
While I was impressed with the style of your segment, "Matriculated", I felt a bit wierd about the meshing of 2d and 3d animation. (I am assuming that anyone who has not seen "Matriculated" *has* at least seen the ads for the Animatrix and seen the heavy use of our favorite 3rd dimension in some of the works... all of the robots in the Matrix universe just beg to be 3 dimensions.)
In some other sequences (like "The Second Renaissance") the integration is seemless between 2d and 3d shots... while you cannot help but tell the different between flat work and 3d work, it seems to just blend well - maybe that is because of the style of that particular sequence's flat animation?
However, in "Matriculated" I thought it was a bit more problematic at points.
While I loved (almost all) the 3d models used and found their animation to be fluid and extremely well done, putting them on top of a flat, very stylized background like that of your own work looked strange at points. I wanted to know if you had input on the use of 3d vs. 2d, and had any opinion on it. Let's say, if you could have had COMPLETE control and done it any way you pleased - would it have been different (such as more or less use of 3d models)? Or did you feel that the route chosen was for the best result?
One of the biggest reasons I ask this is because I have been around the board here for a long long time, and I remember when Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust was originally created, you commented on the beauty of the painted cells and what you said might be the last example of great flat animation from these animators whom you admired as we moved into a new area of experimentation... (if my memory is correct, Metropolis was just getting finished, utilizing a mixture of 2d and 3d). So I wanted to know if you would have rather done a completely flat segment for the Animatrix, or if it was your idea to jump to 3d?
I will save any other questions for after it is released so that people are not in the dark over what exactly I am talking about... but anyone who hasn't seen it (everyone else?) - there are some really really great pieces of animation. Definately worth waiting for... and had I the opportunity to be anywhere near a big screen who would play it, I would've waited (you're lucky if you're in LA!)
-- Attrox (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 05, 2003
Well I haven't seen the Animatrix yet, but it is being shown on Cox digital tv. Anyone see it on digital?
-- Barb e (Suesuesbeo9@cs.com), June 13, 2003.
I realize I came off wrong by saying "mixed feelings" - I really feel very positively about the Animatrix. Actually, my least favorite piece ("Program") was already released online, so it can only get better from there. The story was just so... nothing, and the animation was so beautiful and stylish, it was a shame.
-- Attrox (email@example.com), May 05, 2003.
Oh, and - this is not a spoiler... you can see this in any of the trailers or ads or magazines...
but the girl in "Beyond" bears a striking resemblance to Molly Star Racer, though I don't know who came first, I think it would be Molly... I don't know if there's any connection there.
-- Attrox (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 05, 2003.
I'm not answering questions on Animatrix until after May 14, the first official screening date.
-- Peter Chung (email@example.com), May 06, 2003.
Attrox, I'm guessing you downloaded the pirated dvd rip that's floating online. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, though.) Was it the 700 mb version? If so, the picture is considerably inferior to what will be on the dvd. You might think differently when you see it as intended (but maybe not).
Also, it might occur to you that asking me to respond to what amount to complaints based on your viewing of a pirated edition might not elicit the most willing reaction.
-- Peter Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 2003.
I just finished snagging the 1.6 gig version.
Mein Gott. I don't know *how* they achieved the beautiful effect of Kid's Story, but that was incredible. The feel, the, dare I say it, soul, of that style is just... Man. Hell, the entire Animatrix feels like a sampler of what good comes from letting the people behind the work have free reign over it.
I can't wait to get the full DVD and take some screenshots in their full resolution glory....
Anyhow, non spoiler comments.
The animation in all of them is beautiful. Often quite unorthodox, like in World Record, which reminded me quite of bit of your work, Peter. Maybe I blinked during the credits, but did you work on that? The movement and character designs were very... Chungian.
I noticed Madhouse did a lot of the animation work, and I gotta say. WOW. Those guys are incredible.
Right, so... Beyond! Beyond was beautiful. I didn't like the voice they picked for Yoko, but I can deal. I mean, really.. its a piddly complaint for something as beautiful and playful as that.
World Record. The animation style was so strange and so cool. There is a lot to be said for stylishness, and a moment involving a stopwatch that gave me Utena flashbacks. The idea is also really cool.
Second Rennaissance. Wow. This was.... Well, you've all seen it. It remains powerful and... Well, disturbing.
Last Flight of the Osiris. First time I saw this. The idea was very interesting... I wasn't expecting quite *that.* Rather fitting, considering the title and the studio. Take care, Square films.
Program. Been there. Discussed it.
Just like the DVD... saving Matriculated for last. Its so *good* to see Chung work again. I mean, from the very start I was drooling at the Aeon Flux vibes... The, ah, things, that TOTALLY have the legs from that one short. There, you'll squawk when you see them, I know I did. The animation was odd and intriguing... The colors are very contrasted and vibrant. Incredibly smooth animation. Madhouse... good guys.
Overall... Goddamn I want the DVD and the big screen for these.
How much control were the director's given? I'm amazed how stylish and free the art design was. That really makes this collection stand out from an artistic standpoint.
-- skye (email@example.com), May 06, 2003.
Not complaints, I just was interested in the design process and wanted to know about your thoughts on the mixture of 2d and 3d, as I saw the contrast of visuals the greatest in your work. I will have to wait and see, though, once you do begin commenting.
Also - I didn't watch it on a pirated copy, it was DVD, top qual.
Maybe I didn't present the question clear enough, it was not that it looked bad, but when you place even the highest resolution 3d render on top of a high resolution flat image, it creates a specific look. I simply wanted to know if that was a practice that you especially had in mind prior to the creation, or if somebody said "Hey Peter, this is how we're going to do it..." and had it been a personal project of yours (like you will be taking on soon, possibly with Tinhouse?) would you have chosen to draw everything flat, rather than use renders.
Actually, the Wonderful Days project is doing that as well, so the question doesn't even have to reference "Matriculated". They use a ton of 3d (in the trailer, at least) over flat images, and it is also very noticably. Just wanted to know your opinion since it is a process you've been involved in.
Thanks for being so available on the board.
-- Attrox (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 06, 2003.
Skye, you can see a longer piece by Shinya Ohira (the animator with the expressive drawing style who worked on Kid's Story) in Hakkenden OVA episode 10.
Madhouse's contribution to my episode was, in the end, very small. Just to give the credit where it's due, almost all the animation was done by Korean animators at DNA.
Attrox, I will answer your questions regarding the production process at a time when more viewers can participate in the discussion. Also, I don't like talking about animation technique outside the context in which it's being applied.
-- Peter Chung (email@example.com), May 07, 2003.
(I think the question regarding my input into and opinion on the use of 3d vs 2d would have been addressed from viewing the "Making of Matriculated" segment on the dvd...)
-- Peter Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 07, 2003.
Hey it seems like my country is getting with the program! Just saw Animatrix at the movies - sooo good!
Bias aside (I think), Matriculated is my faveourite - Totaly mind blowing and wild. Peter, your work has an x-factor that denies me the ability to describe it properly. Awesome!
Yeah Skye, Kids Story had a very nice style, reminded me of Waking Life, here and there. And yeah, World Record had an insanely cool animation style.
I dont imagine a cinematic experience on this level shall ever come my way again. I'm gonna go see it again.
-- Sam (email@example.com), May 11, 2003.
yo can someone link me to the latest codec i need to view this video? i was up to date for a long time and then noticed that a couple of video files i had weren't working. ive got DivX player 2.1 right now. any help is appreciated, thanks
-- owen black (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 12, 2003.
Can't anyone just wait for the DVD release? :)
-- Michael Gehrig (email@example.com), May 12, 2003.
I'm waiting until marriage... no wait, that's not right. I'm waiting until the 14th.
-- Inu (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 12, 2003.
-- Sam (email@example.com), May 13, 2003.
fuck you all your shit head
-- yuyu titi (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 15, 2003.
RARR! I had just written out my initial Animatrix comments, when Lusenet crashed and ate my entry!
Top class film. Matriculated works on the head, Beyond works on the heart, Program works on the optic nerve, and World Record (the first squash-and-stretch anime?) works on the gut with the most convincing depiction of physical pain since Aeon bit it coughing up blood in "Night".
The Second Renaissance was pretty damn gut-wrenching too -- I'm talking absurd, kill-yourself, end-of-Miracle-Mile levels of darkness here. Thankfully the melancholic rapture of Beyond came along just in time to save our souls. In fact, all the pieces complemented each other perfectly; watching The Animatrix is like slipping on a nine-fingered glove.
I was, however, unimpressed with Shinichiro Watanabe and Andy Jones' offerings. Osiris was little more than eye candy, and Watanabe's -- as usual -- had great style, but didn't make me feel anything (I'm sure I'll get pilloried by Sam, Skye and Logo for that one ;-).
Oh, and Peter: what was up with that homunculus-in-a-jar in Matriculated?
-- Inu (email@example.com), May 15, 2003.
This description of laking "feel"... Well, Ive always found a certain 'numb' quality to Watanabes work, and I also find his stuff to be very self questioning, I think that emptiness of "why?" is what he means to instill.
I'm stepping out into Bebop here, but think about its action qualities. Certaintly there are a lot of shows out there that get very self serious and enthusiastic about their application of fighting and action, that is often, *not good*. Bebop has outstanding action and fighting, but unlike so many others, it chooses not to ride on these aspects, the chance for resonating levity is consistently shot down by harsh endings.
I find it all self questioning, largely because the protagonists are just that. Right here is where I find Watanabe's stuff can be somewhat dependent on how well the characters go over; some characters are made to be worn, I loved the characters of Bebop, I want to see through their eyes and the show lets you do that. I loved Kids Story, maybe because I'm just another miserable reality questioning teenage boy; I sure did recognise the mood. The validation of potential suicide seemed a tad irresponsible though.
I'm the same as you on this Inu, by the end his work, despite all the brilliant action and style, I don't just feel nothing, sometimes I feel less, but I have to acknowledge that there were many points where I did feel - I like that.
Detective Story was about my least favoured though, I didnt get into the character, I guess detectives like that make good instant renditions of people who've, 'been through a lot'.
-- Sam (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 21, 2003.
Well, I had originally posted my comments on the art style. And on that level, I stand by Kid's Story as an artistic masterpiece. The animation looks like it came out of a sketchbook, alive and organic. Granted the story was one dimensional, and the ending, well, poorly thought out. It almost seemed like an advocation of suicide for those in the matrix.
Speaking of: DAMN FANBOYS BUYING ALL THE TICKETS BEFORE I ARRIVED!
I figured I'd snag some when I showed up for hentai night. No such luck!
And I'm so busy with psych research and graduation right now... Blah! A pox on them! I'll just wait for the DVD.
I'm in the process of trying to decipher all the imagery of matriculated, but I don't think I'll post it here until the 3rd. My brain is munching on the ends of its virtual hair over some of the sections... Especially the worm/centipede in the glass.
Second Rennaisance Part 2, now that I'm thinking about it, has me pondering the space program in the world of the matrix. What would off-world colonists think when the Earth's skies went black, or even when the robotics and automation that they depend on to survive are villified? Of course, as much as I want to write this, after seeing reloaded... well, I'm beginning to suspect the Wachowskis plan to make everything a big video game, or dream, or whatever. Essentially "The Thirteenth Floor" as told in 3 parts. I'm not sure if my tone communicates how much I dislike this possibility.
Now for a little ramblage... The trailer for revolutions left me thinking DBZ, to be honest. Smith: "Hello Mr. Anderson! I see your power level has increased." Neo: "Yours has as well! Let's fight!" Smith: "We shall fight when I am ready!" Neo: "urrrrrrrrrrrgh! Power level going up!" *fighting ensues* Smith: "You shall not have the upper hand, Mr. Anderson." Neo: "Neither shall you!" *fighting continues* Smith: "Only Mr. Anderson's spirit bomb could destroy me!" Neo: "Only my spirit bomb will be able to destroy him!" etc.
Wow I sound jaded.
-- skye (email@example.com), May 23, 2003.
I'm inclined to say that the Matrix backstory, as told in The Second Renaissance, really only works as metaphor. There are too many holes (How exactly do humans become energy sources? What about space? ect.)
However, taken as a cynical, socially conscious parable on how far humans (and human-like organisms) will go when they feel threatened, it works. At the very least, it made me feel the sheer momentum of war: it's very hard to get out of a context once you're in it, especially when the desire to follow through is so great.
The fact that the humans are being used as batteries makes me think of the price of stasis: the "energy" that humans could be using in the real world is being applied to the world of the Matrix, and it's slowly killing them. Either wake up or be recycled, it seems to say.
-- Inu (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 23, 2003.
Thats an interesting interpretation... in fact, I like it a lot better than "magical fusion" as implied by the first movie.
The idea that unless you start thinking outside the system you're born into, all that energy will go to waste, powering the machines that control you instead of your own creative efforts. Indeed, "freeing your mind" and thinking creatively is a blow against the system, even if your creativity isn't directed towards freeing others. In that sense, "living in zion" is a rebellious act in and of itself, because you can no longer be controlled, and are no longer providing energy on the treadmill.
In that situation, co-existence isn't a possibility, the freed can never be imprisoned again, and are a constant threat even when not actively rebelling.
DAMNIT INU! Why aren't you the one writing the matrix sequels?
-- skye (email@example.com), May 23, 2003.
Matriculated was a fine piece of art HOWEVER I notice Mr. Chung has a flair for the overly depressive and sometimes a little tweaky storylines. (As evidenced by Aeon ALMOST ALWAYS getting killed or lost in his Aeon Flux series. Reign the Conquerer has an element of this "oblivion-always-around-the-corner" feel to it.)
I wish since he had the opportunity to set it into a bright and must shiner future that he would have have made it must brighter and shiny. Personally I would have focused the story line about each time and A.I. was re-awakened or captured to meld minds to a human.
INSTEAD we can easily assume: 1.)The awakened runner will try to kill as many of the non-awakened before getting destroyed. 2.)The next human that the awakened Runner will meet would get killed or get killed in the event of a human squad would show up. 3.)The runner is stuck there for all time.
Overall SHOULD Peter Chung have thrown in some elements of 2001: A space oddessy, Dune (Delorencio House), Ghost in the Shell and Akira. We may have had something to build on as a foundation of future work. Something along the lines of having humans and machines reach the concept of Singularity (something along the lines of Melding the imagination and choice of humans and the raw computation power of machines to get something more then the sum of two parts.)
Wish that he would quit presenting us with Happy Shining Glowing Red Apples that are rotten and poisonous at the cores. The Artwork/Animation is the Shiny Red Juicey looking skin where as the story...
Well no offence, life is already as depressive to not try and awaken people to the what could be instead of what could be really fricked up... Kid Story was much nicer in that vein...
-- John (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 26, 2003.
You found Matriculated depressing?
I thought its final message, that the humans had taught the Runner how to feel, how to empathize, and interact with humans on an equal level was very uplifting. The machines aren't necessarily "evil" or antagonistic, instead they live their lives as they are taught. When shown a better world, a better way of life, they don't mindlessly struggle against it, but strive for it. The ending, with the Runner staring off into the distance, waiting for someone (anyone?) to come and share its new world with it, is only depressing if you feel that there is no one coming for it.
For me, I found it incredibly hopefuly: one day another machine will come and join, and another, and another. Choice, dare I say, freedom, is a powerful thing.
-- skye (email@example.com), May 26, 2003.
Yeah, considering pre confines of the Matrix storyline, I think, despite any mandatory depression, Matriculated had a very commendable sense of levity. Besides, I doubt Peter had the liberty to write in any such ultimate conclusions that could get in the way of the actual Matrix storyline.
-- Sam (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 26, 2003.
I'm having a hard time finding the levity or hopefulness in Matriculated. Maybe I am missing something, but my interpretation was vastly different. Perhaps it has something to do with my failure to understand the final shot (the Runner atop the junk head--anyone care to explain this to me?)
Anyways, the message I got from it was a lot more... not so much depressing, but eerie. The humans mind-melded with the Runner, and in doing so gave him a sampling of an existence much more pleasurable than his current seek-and-destroy routine. During the matrix session, he seemed to develop an infatuation with the humans, particularly the Aeon Fluxy-looking chick.
This is where I have to disagree with you, Skye. I saw nothing that resembled the Runner learning to emphasize, feel, or even behave appropriately with humans. If I am understanding the plot correctly, after saving the woman, he then plugs her back into his mind. Her horrified scream upon waking up in the construct with him tipped me off that this was something she didn't like. The reason he plugs the both of them back in is because he wants more. Instead of empathizing with her, he simply wants to continue devouring her humanness with machine-like efficiency. This carried a sort of "machines will always be machines" message for me.
In this respect, it shows that the machines ARE necessarily "evil", at least to some degree. Not so much in their intentions, but in their methods. What made it complete, however, was the similar idea that was correlated to the humans. The humans tricked the Runner into doing their bidding. They teased him with their sensuality, inviting him to come join them when they knew damn well he would never be accepted among them. This backfires on the woman, however, because now she is trapped with him forever, and he wants what he was promised, but she was never willing to give it to him.
By the way, this is my first time posting here; I have been lurking for a while now. I really enjoy reading the insightful posts here. And overall, I think the fact that this forum seems to draw so many thoughtful people is a testament to the Flux series' quality.
-- testrider (email@example.com), May 26, 2003.
while I agree with you on the point that the humans are most definitely using the robots, I don't think the same can be said of the reverse.
The humans show the robots a world that has so many more dimensions than the world the robots are programmed to operate in. Dimenions of love, both emotion and physical.
A new body, a body compatible with a new way of relating to humans. They are no longer alien, but the same: bipedal, glowing with life and vitality.
Games and fun exist in this world, as well. One can play games with humans, interact with them comptetively without it being a life or death struggle. Intellectual exchange can occur freely.
When the times get rough, the humans are willing to risk their lives for their fellow sentients. When the snake started reproducing exponentially, the other humans tried to save the robot from its danger.
Indeed, the only thing that threatens this utopian world of cooperation and interaction is the robotic worm that expands and consumes everything, and binds both humans and robots. However, in the end, the humans rescue the robot, pull it into the real world of organic life, organic emotion, and offer it affection.
At this point the alarm goes off, ending the electronic dance before it is complete. The humans struggle alongside the robots, but ultimately lose without the help of the new Runner. It tries in vain, not understanding that the human it was bonding with is dying. It jacks her in, and she realizes that the humans have lost, and she is trapped with a robot. In an ultimate betrayal, she turns on it and dies, denying it the connection seemingly promised to it.
At the end, it jacks out and sits on the beach where it saw her, waiting for another robot to see it and join it in the new world. To teach it emotions and comraderie. To end its loneliness.
of course, I could be way off.
-- skye (firstname.lastname@example.org), May 26, 2003.
why did the runner in the final shot have the "lower body eyes" in red not green? was it the matriculated one or not?
-- cryptochild (email@example.com), May 28, 2003.
John, your points are all well made, and I actually agree with your complaint about my generally depressive endings. But Skye is also correct in surmising that I could not show the rebels in Matriculated succeeding in their project, as that would interfere with the broader Matrix mythology.
I disagree, though, that the ending of Kid's Story was "nicer". I see it as a truly depressing and hopeless statement. It's a tract in favor of suicide and martyrdom. This world is not worth living in-- so look for a better existence after death. All you need is faith-- irrational faith in some distant "voice of God" (Neo).
I'm glad that Skye and Sam took notice of the touches of humor with which I've tried to offset the bleakness. The levity is there, I promise.
Testrider, your comments reflect an interpretation close to the summary I myself offered to my crew as we worked on the film. The main disagreement I have is of your use of "evil" to describe the machines. Also, in what sense are the humans really "tricking" the Runner? From the point of view of the machine's artificial mind, what is the difference between sincerity and deception? Is the distinction meaningful?
As for the woman's (her name is Alexa, by the way) final rejection of the Runner's avatar-- think of her final view of the real-world Runner before she's knocked unconscious. What is her last memory of it?
(Something else to think about-- what was the Runner's last image of Alexa in the real world before encountering her in the mindscape?)
Cryptochild-- all I can say is, you're very perceptive.
-- Peter Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 05, 2003.
Sorry, I should have said Sam, not Skye, when I mentioned being required to show the rebels' failure.
-- Peter Chung (email@example.com), June 05, 2003.
I was struck by how the effect of the artificial reality on the runner mirrors the effects of recreational drugs on a new user. By trying to control someone by introducing it to an enthralling alternate reality that only you can give it, you create problems in that the new addiction becomes their primary focus. They will only help you as long as it directly leads to them getting more high, shown when the runner immediately jacks back in as soon as he has someone to join him. It doesn't really care about her, it just wants someone to get "high" with. It's interesting that even needed someone to join it. I guess nothing really happens automatically in that reality.
why did the runner in the final shot have the "lower body eyes" in red not green? was it the matriculated one or not?Nice catch, I hadn't noticed that. I had caught that the matriculated runner's eyes change when he wakes up from artificial reality. So did it change it's eye color back to red because it has to in order to trick the next runner that comes along, or does it signify a reversal back to it's original state? (assuming it's the same runner, why would a regular one be just sitting there?) I think the former because it wouldn't be waiting there if it reverted back. I love how every small detail is thought through!
The artificial reality sequence has to be the most visually stunning pieces of animation I've ever seen. Peter, I'm amazed that this was your first time working with the 3d stuff. You have to be happy with the result, the coloring is unlike anything I've ever seen. My question (that I was too nervous to ask at SIFF) to you is: Do you see the 3d tools getting alot more use in your next project after this experience? Has it led to some new ideas or directions at all?
-- scott (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 05, 2003.
I just saw it (The Animatrix) last night, and I have to say I was somewhat disappointed. The first four (Last Flight of the Osiris, The Second Renaissance parts one and two, and Kid's Story) are just movie tie-ins, and are pretty weak, imho. The four after that (Program, World Record, Beyond, and A Detective Story) are stronger, but they're almost completely anecdotal, without very much meaningful plot. I liked Beyond and A Detective Story, but Matriculated is the best for that reason; it's the only one that's really *about* something.
I actually found the short documentary about anime and the making of Matriculated more interesting than several of the actual segments. "At the time, I was working on Rugrats, and I felt very limited by the characters... so I created Aeon Flux." Priceless.
-- extarbags (email@example.com), June 05, 2003.
After viewing the animatrix several times now, It has gotten better and better. I do wish that the directors' each had been given a more substaintial amount of time. Beyond reminded me of Labyrinth, an animated short by Rintaro, one of my all time favorite peices of animation. I feel that Matriculated was the strongest all around, each frame was gorgeous, the dialogue was very well written, and god damn I love the character designs.
-- Joshua Anderson (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 05, 2003.
I've refrained from even glancing at this thread until I saw the Animatrix, and now that I have, I have to say this is one of the best threads I've seen in the forum. There have been a lot of cool ideas kicked around. I especially like Inu's and Skye's dialogue about recycling energy and Testrider made some really good observations redarding Matriculated. I would question the whole idea of labeling the machines evil though. The concepts of good and evil are based on two things: freedom of choice and a soul. The machines have neither. They simply do what they are programmed to do. When we see the green runner fight the red runners, I got the feeling it was more as an addict protecting his stash than that it "felt" anything for the humans. However, in Chung's visualization, the machines clearly do have a concsiousness of their own, a self awareness that can be manipulated, which brings into question the issues of choice and the soul. I don't understand why the rebels bothered going through all that though. Why not just reprogram them? Is it because those methods are too machinelike and they have to stay true to themselves? Or is it because the machine consciousness would reject the reprogramming much like the humans rejected the early versions of the matrix? Does the machine soul require that it be manipulated like a human, that it be given the illusion of choice rather than be reprogrammed like the machine it is? Essentially the whole thing is an illusion; it's a simulation designed to play upon the machine's weeknesses of alienation and isolation as an identical unit among thousands of such units; the same feelings that drives the humans to reject the matrix. But any "emotion" it feel is just manipulated by the simulation. The humans deconstruct it's psyche, exposing it's weeknesses, and then rebuild it with positive reinforcement. Their brainwashing it, which is just another form of programming and which involved no real choice on the part of the machine. It's simply responding to positive stimuli like any biological organism would. Now Chung raises an interesting question: "From the point of view of the machine's artificial mind, what is the difference between sincerity and deception? Is the distinction meaningful?" In my opinion, a mind is a mind. If it can be emotionally manipulated, as the runner's mind seems to be, then the distinction is very meaningful. The humans are adopting the same methods as the machines they villify.
One final question. Chung, you say that for continuity reasons with the movies you couldn't have the rebels convert a machine, but didn't they already succeed in converting one?
-- Logo (email@example.com), June 06, 2003.
Logo, they converted all the machines you see that choose to protect the humans against the invading sentinels. For purposes of continuity, I had to show the eventual failure of their plan. I couldn't have ended the episode with the humans alive and carrying on because that would have interfered with the storyline of the movies. I was responding to John's comment that my stories never have happy endings.
Why not just reprogram them? That's the question Alexa asks. And it's a good question.
But then, the story isn't really about man vs. machine, is it?
-- Peter Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 06, 2003.
It't not? Well don't I fell stupid...
-- Logo (email@example.com), June 06, 2003.
Sorry, just screwin' with ya. It's about what ever you want it to be about.
I'll tell you that in my original version, the Runners were androids, not those crustacean-looking jobs. The W bros told me that the machines could not be human-shaped, as that would violate the principle that the machines in the Matrix universe would never build machines in the image of their former tormenters.
I managed to get the Runner to at least assume human form in the mindscape. In the end, I'm happy with the look of the Runners. But the film would have been a lot different had they been androids. I'm not sure it would have been better, though.
-- Peter Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 06, 2003.
I figured the humans forced it to take on human form in the mindscape, to make it identify with them. But the wording you use (assumes) seems to imply that it took that form of it's own volition. err, So now I'm kinda confused, actually.
Also, how do you explain the strange coincidence that both Matriculated and Reloaded revolve around the idea of "choice?" You say they didn't give you any info on the second movie, but you cut to the bone of the matter in Matriculated in a much more concise way than Reloaded did.
-- skyknyt (email@example.com), June 06, 2003.
Skye, You make a good point. Maybe "assumes" was a bad choice of words. The transformation to humanoid form is more a projection of the humans than the robot's -- at first, at least. On its second time in, it is self-motivated.
The dealing with the theme of choice (free will) is total coincidence. But since the Matrix is a story about escaping control and self-discovery, maybe the coincidence isn't so surprising.
-- Peter Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 06, 2003.
I like the way it brings up that the machines are not all just mindless drones either. I don't know if this means that they are capable of creative thought or individuality, but they definitely mentioned that one of the runners was pretty smart. I don't know what sort of morals the machines would be working to, would they be able to create slaves? What sort of a 'life' do the individual robots lead, if they even stop to consider that they have a life. My only major problem with the plot of The Second Renaissance was that the nukes dropped on 01 were ineffective whereas the sentinels in the future are quite clearly and devastatingly affected by EMP. My favourite was Beyond, although one of the voices was the same as Phillip from Rugrats, so that put me off a tad.
-- Lindsay (email@example.com), June 06, 2003.
Late night ramblings...
Cypher betrayed his fellow humans with full knowledge of what he was doing. He knew the Matrix wasn't real. It only mattered that he knew he preferred it to the bleak existence the real world offered him. Even to a human mind, the question of being tricked or not may be irrelevant, if the false version is more palatable than the true.
It does limit the story's meanings if the Runner remains literally a machine. Just as if we regarded Pinocchio as being about a wooden puppet, A.I. about a robot boy, or Blade Runner about androids.
Matriculated = A Clockwork Orange (the Purge) run backwards?
The capacity of film to function as virtual reality. The spectator is the subject.
I'm tired of animating humans. (reference J. Fletcher) But no talking rabbits, either. It's all becoming obscure.
If MTV had done %1 of what Warner is doing to make Animatrix visible... Hey, it's #2 on Amazon today. (Coulda been #1 if #10 weren't also Animatrix.)
I'm going to shut up now...
-- Peter Chung (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 07, 2003.
Lindsay: I've been bugged by that too... Since Nukes are how we discovered EMPs, anyways, and they also clearly use other electrical weaponry to kill bots later on (the big lightning lances). My only answer is that they aren't affected by it: the sentinels are just part of a video game, and the EMP is the chosen weapon of that video game.
The Purge as Clockwork Orange... That seems so obvious in retrospect. And I think we all know that MTV is full of jerks who cancel good shows for bad ones and stopped supporting anything resembling artistic expression long ago, in favor of giant mounds of cash.
For some reason, when you mentioned no longer animating people, I thought of Fantastic Planet, which really was about people, but... very strange. If any of you haven't seen it, I suggest it... It has some very interesting ideas, and a totally cool animation technique.
-- skyknyt (email@example.com), June 07, 2003.
Now that I think about it, how do we distinguish the real world? I've often thought of it as the place where, if we die, our consciousness is killed.
Thus, any world where you can be killed is just as real as any other, despite how different and strange it is compared to the others. Even if it's incomprehensible- in this line of thought, the Matrix and Zion are both real, real enough to kill, at least. So which would you pick, knowing the two were equally real?
-- skye (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 07, 2003.
The matrix is obviously much more appealing than the real world, except for the fact that people in the matrix are being controlled. The movies never really say exactly how people are being controlled though. I mean aside from the possibility that your body may be randomy replaced by that of an agent at any time, there's no indications that people's actions are being directed by the machines. So what's so bad about the matrix? If anything, the machines are just fullfilling our society's goal of progress and efficiency: using our heat to supply two worlds with sufficient power to exist. The fact that one of those worlds is a simulation is irrelevant. It's still populated by real people and so the interactions are real. Actually it reminds me of some massively multiplayer online role playing games of today. It's still real people playing these games and in a lot of cases a huge economy has developed in trading these virtual game items. Britania, the country of Ultima Online has a bigger GNP than some real world economies.
-- Logo (email@example.com), June 07, 2003.
How much are the humans 'in' the Matrix really controlled though? Everything has to follow the rules set out. Aside from a few rogue programs and the agents, everything has to follow the rules of virtual gravity, cause and effect etc. In "Beyond" they were unable to fix the anomoly remotely, they had to follow the rules of the matrix and create the truck and biohazard guys to deal with it. The amount of humans that exist within would be too many to control at once so the agents are there only for the ones that may escape.
-- Lindsay (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 07, 2003.
Every once in a while I'm getting matriculated. Once I was matriculated by Peter Chung's Aeon Flux.
I think every one of us lives in his own reality. Perception is subjective, and input from the senses gets translated by the brain according to multiple factors - "I don't know what I'm after, one day tears and one day laughter".
-- cryptochild (email@example.com), June 08, 2003.
For now I'll confine my thoughts to "Matriculated"... it's on my mind most right now.
I hadn't considered for some strange reason Testrider's ideas about Alexa's reaction... after first watching it I found myself somewhat puzzled (or maybe just dazzled too much by the film to absorb it all). I hadn't thought of her as dying, either, but I suppose that doesn't matter to what's going on anyway. But I do agree now that of the crew, Alexa, at least, wasn't truly a friend of the machines. She seemed perfectly happy (positively giddy in parts) when she (and they) had the upper hand, but when the machine jacked her in, she felt the opposite reaction. I hadn't realized the signifigance at first of who exactly was initiating the process -- but when a man creates a dream world, it is victory; when a machine does the same, it is the Matrix and it is domination. This would seem to be Alexa's perspective. I find the distinction to be a little silly, throughout the Matrix series; I have to say that I'm somewhat of a Cypher. But then, I've always been of the mind to join the conqueror or to become conquered rather than to fight to the death in opposition. As far as we can tell, life offers more options than death, and I think a life in the Matrix offers potentially more interest than one in Zion. (Note to self: does my life revolve around interest?) I've never been one to stick to abstract principles.
Peter, I really did enjoy the levity you sprinkled throughout. I agree that your endings are generally "depressing", but I don't see this as a flaw. It could just be that I'm drawn to such endings, but I think that genuinely happy, good-natured films (like any number of recent comedies, especially romantic comedies) are somehow trying to escape and ignore some intrinsic aspect of reality. Working with it directly, as you seem to, seems to me more natural. Anyhow, the character animation (even for the machines) was delightful. Nonaka (if I've identified him correctly) was fun to watch -- he seemed to like hopping around a lot. Rox and her lover enjoying each other seemed a natural for the virtual world... the sensual seems under-exploited in the Matrix universe (also one reason I liked the beginning of "Osiris"). And I had to smile at the comedy/horror of the Looney Toons skin-ripping theater -- or whatever you'd call it. Somehow, I identified with the feeling. And grasping at the spiraling ball was very cute.
Anyone notice that the machine avatar, in his final stages of making "the choice", is evading frightening flesh sentinels? Notice that he runs from these organic beings to a virtual Alexa -- he's still fleeing nature and seeking artifice, in a sense. So what's really going on here, then? (a rhetorical question.) Maybe I'm getting at the idea that there are different ways to reprogram someone.
The other machines who had "chosen" to aid the humans seemed rather under the yoke of humanity's button-pushing... to pursue the geeky route I could always argue that they were just resting their batteries or something, and the technician woke them from their slumber. To me, though, it seemed like he just sic'd them on the sentinels. I'm having a hard time differentiating a machine from a human brain. And on top of that, given that machines we create can even become sentient, how could we possibly assume that they'd have the same concepts of emotion, or similar thought processes? It seems to me that they might operate on an entirely different level.
Finally, I really enjoyed the machine designs. You've managed to merge the Matrix aesthetic with your own very cool ideas and usual motifs. I, for one, agree with the choice of the Wachowski brothers in keeping them non-humanoid.
-- Mat Rebholz (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 08, 2003.
"Matriculated = A Clockwork Orange (the Purge) run backwards?" - Peter
Peter, have you seen the music video with a guy who runs backwards, past everyone, for quite a long distance, until he ends up going forwards with everyone? The songs off the first Matrix soundtrack, I think its called "Clubbed to Death".
"I think every one of us lives in his own reality. Perception is subjective, and input from the senses gets translated by the brain according to multiple factors" - Cryptochild
"Anyone notice that the machine avatar, in his final stages of making "the choice", is evading frightening flesh sentinels? Notice that he runs from these organic beings to a virtual Alexa -- he's still fleeing nature and seeking artifice, in a sense. So what's really going on here, then? (a rhetorical question.) Maybe I'm getting at the idea that there are different ways to reprogram someone." - Matt
They are intelligence created by intelligence. As long as all thatís discussed essentially boils down to motives to live, it ought to be hard to distinguish between Human and machine. The machines are still of human design, they received the title/state of "Artificial Intelligence" through the human understanding of what intelligence means. Human intelligence is meant to come from the faculty of thought and reason, thought and reason comes from an inescapable motivation; preference; most prevalent being life over death. Human thought is governed by higher anatomy through being bound by the desire to please it in order to be pleased. Animal senses outline our basic preferences for us; they are attuned to rewarding pleasure with that which is (or seems) beneficial to the host self. Such senses in any species are concerned with specie's survival. The machines do not want to die, whatever it is that life offers them, they perceive it as preferable to death, so like (most) humans they associate the good things with life. I guess asking, how they were programmed to do that? is like asking, how do we program ourselves to do that?
"So what's so bad about the matrix? If anything, the machines are just fullfilling our society's goal of progress and efficiency" - Logo
Are they? I was wondering about that, they've achieved a sort of contemporary goal for humanity, but by containing us whithin that state aren't they denying a rather essential element of such progress? And its not that especially efficient for humans sake because people keep having to be killed: The Matrix is maintained with the help of a subculture that must be slaughtered on a continuing basis and re colonised by the ejected "1" anomaly. I guess, depending on your world view, a good reason to fight it, would be that defeating such a formiddible foe could lead the human species to an unseen aphex of societal efficiency and progress? Or that harmonising with them could have greater good going for it too?
-- Sam (email@example.com), June 09, 2003.
I have seen both matrix movies, the animatrix and listened to all the sound tracks. They all intrest me intensely, even the when I don't like them. My instant reaction to New Renaissance I and II was gut wrenching. (It reminded me of our last few hundred years of human history)
These stories are created by humans, reflecting human behaviour, even in the machines. Good and evil are blurred, and no matter which side you take there is always a sense of something not being quite right.
Very similar to thoughts I have had since I was quite young. From religon to politics and daily life customs, existance seems futile, yet we continue. To break free of what seems a very bleak world is difficult, yet if we achieve it, would we know? would we like it? Many humans now want money to be free, yet having it does not make us free. We are bound by our own construct.
I haven't been able to see the machines as evil. As an enemy to humans yes, they threaten human life and existance, but otherwise they act very similarly to humans, Humans in history have enslaved and used animals, plants and other humans to support themselves.
In fact it hints at the possibility of there being no evil, just existance with change and cycles. If the humans were to win against the machines, would they make machines again? repeat the cycle like the city of Zion in the Matrix Reloaded or would they give up all technology and the drive to explore further than nature and live in equilibrium with thier surroundings?
Neither Machine nor Humans seem to preserve the natural environment, they preserve themselves, as all life forms do. They are evolving the planet into its next stage of life... it is dark looking and bleak to us, but at one stage the planet was possibley covered in clouds of gas and volcanoes, who is to say the current green vegetation and blue water feel to our planet is the correct, only, best or final stage of our planets evolution or that the way we exist is the best for our planet.
The Runner at the end does have red and green eyes, like all humans maybe it is capable of anything, it may be influenced by programming, environment, events, thought, and a drive to be functional and to continue, and like us when left all alone with no one to advise, counsel, instruct or guide us, it just doesnt know.
The worlds in the Matrix and Animatrix seem like religion and fairy tales, a way of explaining concepts and things for which we have no answer.
Whether it is that this world is real and we go to the perfect simulation when we end in a heaven of some sort or that this is the simulation and the real world awaits, it could be a way of helping to cope with the possiblity that we don't or are not meant to understand beyond our scope of senses. If we try to deal with these concepts without the shield of story, our brains almost short circuit, we can't quite grasp it.
If something is not right, we have to create a story, theory or reason for it or destroy it. There is no reason why a machine created in our own likeness would not do the same.
I found the peace embassadors from the nation of 01 in new renaissance very intersting, a peace offering, a very human thing to do and the humans reject it. Maybe we don't trust each other either.
It made me wonder also, if machines evolved in their own way, would we know or even get close to understanding how they thought? what senses or communication methods could convey this? would it be like seeing a new primary colour? or hearing a new frequency?
I also find it interesting that our brains would require a world based upon the current reality or even any world at all to exist if we were organic batteries to power the world. If all our senses were controlled from conception, how would we determine not only what is real, but "what is" generally in terms of thought. If all our life the world was pink haze with no sound, would we exist in it? would we really need to interact with others if all the needs of our bodies were met and we were given no other purpose. With out an environment to react to or instruction on how to think, would we think like we do now and why would we?
If we did this might suggest that we have base programming like a machine.
The whole Matrix world seems a lot more like our own rather than one created by machines, unless of course machines are just another version of us... whether through evolution or assimilation.
I really enjoyed the varying styles in the animations and they have made me think some more. It is a pity they were all so short though. The ideas could be explored almost endlessly.
An interesting point with the final flight of the osiris, if looked fabulous, almost real. If we do succeed in making animations that look totally real, what will we do with them, and are they animations?
-- Kyan (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 10, 2003.
The more I think about it, the only reason the machines are "evil" in the story of the Matrix is that the filmmakers are directing us to believe that through technique; of course, this is a simple idea to us Aeon Flux fans. The Matrix is only a bad thing if you believe that your ability to live a happy, productive and interesting life depends on some silly, omniscient ability to comprehend your ultimate freedom. Ultimate freedom, of course, doesn't exist. So what's the point? Constrained by the Matrix, constrained by Zion. It was brought up that maybe humanity is being crippled in the Matrix, prevented from progressing socially or technologically or however. But even with progress, man lives with the same conditions, the same emotions. If history is cyclical, what does it matter which era we live in? The turn of the millenium seems an interesting enough period to choose. And the only reason the machines and the agents are responding with violence is because we've forced them to it; ideally, an agent never has to use force. Ideally, the spooky motifs and spidery beings of the dark Real World never need to be seen by human eyes, just as we never, ideally, need to see the gross inner workings of our own bodies.
-- Mat Rebholz (email@example.com), June 12, 2003.
I agree with Mat on his point. Barring any real system of universal control, what exactly makes the matrix so bad? Within this "false" reality so closely modeled after true reality, individuals still have freedom of thought and freedom of expression. In fact, that's the way the machines designed it. The agents are simply crude stop-gap solutions to problems that haven't yet been ironed out of the sytem. If the matrix were working properly, there would be no need for agents. But would this be a condition of absolute control? Is the freedom to express yourself within certain invisible boundaries still true freedom? When are there ever not boundaries?
Kyan also brought up an interesting question: "would we really need to interact with others if all the needs of our bodies were met and we were given no other purpose. With out an environment to react to or instruction on how to think, would we think like we do now and why would we?"
This theory was actually tested by some game guy named Duke Frederick back in Medeival Europe. He wanted to determine what the natural language was so he took a serf baby and made sure it's basic physical needs were taken care of, but decreed that its handlers could not touch it or speak to it. The baby died within just a few weeks.
-- Logo (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 12, 2003.
This may be a simple question to answer, but why does the converted runner hesitate and look on while many of the human crew are slaughtered by the invading sentinels. It seems as if the newly converted runner is contemplating something or other before finally making a decision to help Alexa when itís too late!
Any ideas on this one?
-- Colin (email@example.com), June 13, 2003.
Colin, guess its just coming to terms with whats happening around it, and how that affects it in its new understanding of life - Really, it would seem strange I think, if it just sprung into action and began helping everyone - It ought to be so disorientated.
Well, I just got Animatrix on dvd... Man, this package is really worth owning! Having a 'making of' segment to go with each story really is just awesome, also very neat to see Susan Napier being interviewed. And heck, there are AF clips! Better than nothing eh? It was cool to hear Todd Mcfarlane talk about Aeon - He thinks that if Peter was making Aeon Flux now, it would do much better than before because people have been more broken in to anime. Learning about Koji Morimoto's processes with "Beyond" was great, really lifted my appreciation for it, he seems (and looks) like the kind of cool guy who would come up with such a piece. I particuarly liked learning about the young and aspiring Takeshi Koike (World Record), his style really is great, the producer expects he's been influenced by Peter, I've always been into drawing people with that kind of "deformed" dynamic myself. And I was quite taken by Kawajiri's comments on Koike: "I'm thrilled that he did something that went beyond the imagination of the people around him. When I watch "World Record", I think there is no one who can draw cool art like him. He is out of this world" - Cant wait to see more from Takeshi Koike.
A couple of questions Peter: In several of your interviews you mentioned there being, references to "Aeon Flux" present in "The Matrix", could you go into that more? What were they?
And, when coming up with the Matriculating vr-world, did you look for and/or take any influence from other 'Phsychadelic Art'? If yes, any artists to mention? In fact what do you think of that particular field. I know its old, but my generation is quite new to it.
-- Sam (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 19, 2003.
I think the idea of Matriculated was that the machine's were AI's, so were effectively beings like humans (just with circuits instead of blood vessels). Note the beginning reaction of the runner to having it's partner killed. It's head lowered sadly, quite an emotional scene I thought, obviously showing that the machines of the matrix world DO have souls (indeed, the machine reacted the same way when it looked at the woman dying at the end). The whole story seemed to show the runner being deconstructed so it could empathise/identify with the humans. There seemed to examples of what makes the human world great that machines might enjoy-like complex games, sex and helping eachother out/comradery (all the human noises in the soundtrack sounded like they were meant to sound like "pleasurable" noises, thus adding to the appeal of humanity) (I also like the idea of the VR Matrix being used to teach people how not to hate their enemies personally in wars-like they're people too just doing their job/following their orders) The runners having ports in the back of their necks indicates that they plug into matrix's all the time-and I'll wager that the idea that the helpful programs in the matrix like the Oracle and Serif all might be machines like the runner plugged in and doing their bit for their new friends who just convinced them of what is so good about the human life.
I thought the piece was absolute perfection, in the multiple ways the story could be interpreted and the unreal visuals- the cel shading and the design (combat ready perfection) of the runners was just beautiful. I would like to think that my own designs could be as kick ass as those. Did Peter Chung design the runners? I think more animation should have cutting edge design like that- not just more square spaceships and boring robots with two legs and human shape.
Not wanting to sound like I'm sucking up here, but Peter's film really moved and inspired me- I've watched it quite a few times in the last fortnight and it's my favourite animation of all time (for now at least-and mainly becuase of it's distinguishing itself as art not just animation with a plot).
Keep up the good work Peter! I loved Aeon Flux and hope you produce more of your "specialty" soon.
-- Peter (email@example.com), June 19, 2003.
Anyone think there is symbolic meaning to be gained in Matriculated, when the snake enters the cube with the ball inside it? What the snake represents is obvious (I think...), but I was wondering about the cube and the ball.
Its as though the ball inside it becomes like a seed, causing the growth of what has a kind of plant like shape. The snake penetrates the cube, and I imagine the ball as well, subsequently it looses the containment of its snake form, and begins to occupy the 'plants' form. So, it goes from moving like a snake, to growing like a plant, but it would be contrary to its programming to stop moving, so it continues to grow, breaking through the parameters of the 'plant' and the cube. The humans trap the runner in the same room as this consumming form, turning its own programming against it.
-- Sam (firstname.lastname@example.org), June 25, 2003.
I saw "Revolutions" yesterday, and I was struck by some similarities to "Matriculated" (probably unintentional?):
Neo's vision of the machine city corridor = Alexa's trippy mind corridor?
The idea of tiny machines forming a greater organism, like the machine face or the sentinel swarms (something I guess Peter wanted to do with Matriculated).
It just seemed to jump out at me is all. I'm not implying anything. What do you all think?
-- Matt Rebholz (email@example.com), November 06, 2003.
Neo's divine sight ouside of the Matrix, looked like a more earthy version of that, inside the Matrix.
I can imagine why there would be similarities between the appearence of Neo's vision, and the appearence of areas inside the mindscape, because the mindscape is phsychadelic.
Pshychadelic visions are often associated with some kind of higher perception; like Neo's.
So if they were going for pshychadelic, Matriculated would be a likely source of inspiration.
Of course some people feel that these things all look the same.
-- Sam (firstname.lastname@example.org), November 09, 2003.
I liked it how, as Neo and Smith fought whilst circling each other as the rose into the sky, there water trails formed a double helix. Cool!
-- Sam (email@example.com), November 09, 2003.