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Review of "Kaze, Ghost Warrior"

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

I just got my DVD of Khaze, Ghost Warrior in the mail this Saturday.

First, realize that the entire 20 minutes of video was done by one person with 2 off-the-shelf computers and off-the-shelf software. It is amazing that the film was created at all.

It’s a great film for furries, no doubt about it. The anthropomorphic characters are very realistically done and impressively rendered. Much work and time went into the production, there’s no question. And considering the producer, Timothy Albee, used what he had at his hands to make this film, it’s a considerable feat.

The characters show impressive raw emotions at times. Several characters in the film show expressions ranging from contempt to joy to abject sorrow as the story progresses. And though the ending seems to take too long, it is a powerful moment and a gripping denoucement.

Unfortunately, there are many problems which detract from this work.

First and foremost is the story itself. You MUST read the back of the DVD case for the movie to make any real sense. The film doesn't stand on its own. Just watching the movie will leave you puzzled as the monologue at the beginning only creates a basic understanding of what has happened. Sadly, it misdirects the viewer into thinking Kaze murdered the royal family while the action in the story says quite the opposite. If this were shown on television as part of a series of short movies, where nobody could read the notes, the audience would be very lost.

More jarring to watching the show is the problems with sound effects. Some sections have effects and some sections do not. There were a number of places where background sound effects were expected, like a hostage gasping for breath or the metallic crash of swords crossing. Their absence breaks the magic of the show and jars the viewer out of the world that the artist created in the movie.

Another issue has to do with the fur everyone has and some visual problems. Kaze’s fur is much, much too bright in spots. At times, it is so bright that it seems to “burn” the overall scene. One wonders if this was intentional as only Kaze seems to have this effect, but it is excessive if it’s deliberate. Another smaller matter involving fur is that in one scene, Kaze’s claws pass right through tufts of it as if the fur is not solid at all. (I know this is a common problem with CGI.)

For those of you watching this on a computer, a caveat – the DVD will NOT play on WinDVD. This is a known issue and I assume it is being corrected, but those of you who do everything through their computers and have no standalone DVD player will need to use a different player on your machines. Fortunately, the disc comes with a list of players (some freeware) that are known to work just fine.

Timothy Albee has worked hard getting this far and created a visually impressive world full of animated and emotionally-vivid furries that are nearly as perfect as anything Pixar could produce. But problems with the background noises and the less than straightforward plot make the movie feel half-finished rather than a final product. It’s worth the money to purchase and watch, but it should be viewed as a proof of concept test rather than a finished product.

You can find the DVD and short demo clips at
http://www.kazeghostwarrior.com/

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Timothy Albee has also written a book on the making of this film, which has received good reviews (at least on my favourite bookstore's site).

Additionally, he's written several books about Lightwave.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

A small group of furs who stayed in their seats after the closing ceremonies at Anthrocon were treated to a big-screen showing of the film in the Grand Ballroom. It looked amazing in a theatrical setting, and earned plenty of applause.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

I just got my copy of GW, and have a few comments based on a first viewing.

I agree about the 'missing' sounds. Not a major issue, but noticable. The missing sounds are usually during slo-motion fights, so this may be an intentional 'style' decision. One other quibble about the sound, some of the voices have a 'recorded in the bathroom' sound to them. This may be due to some filter used to change the voice, as not all voices have this.

There are a few times that the inside of the mouth of Kaze has too much lighting, or almost seems to be lit from inside. This is WAY better than in a couple of scenes in the GW trailer, where there was an obvious glow coming from his mouth. Or, again, is this part of the story???

Also during my viewing, at one point near the beginning, the subtitles popped on for a few lines of dialog. It came on without me doing anything, and went off a few seconds later, again without me doing anything.... Wierd.

But my main gripe, and this is major, is that it just ENDS, a sudden ending just about the time that you think it's getting going. The pacing of the story is a bit slow, but I expected a finish to the storyline... You don't get it... I don't see anything on the cover or the DVD that says 'part one' or anything. So unless I'm missing seeing a 'chapter' button, this seems like half of a story.

That said, I love the 'look and feel' of the animation and the design. The characters are some of the better CGI furries that I have seen. I did enjoy watching it, and I'm glad that I bought it. The technical quibbles are minor. Tim Albee has done a great job on this. You sould get this, if only to inspire you to get out there and create something...

Oh, and the end titles are pretty good. Best of this kind since Marv Newlands 'Bambi Vs. Godzilla'. ;-)

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

If you have read the Kaze Ghost Warrior web site stories and information you know that this is a short film, not a complete film. It is 23 minutes of a much longer story.

Please watch for other screenings of Kaze...

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

A short film, perhaps, but even a short film should stand alone. Think of it as a short story that is part of a larger novel. It shouldn't just end and leave you hanging.

If this is indeed just 22 minutes of a larger film, then a simple "TO BE CONTINUED..." printed across the ending scene would help. Even with that, though, I think the story should have a clear beginning and ending. A reader shouldn't go, "Huh, whaaa?" at the end of your segment, like I did.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

The man is making and selling a movie. I do not have to go to the website of other movies i purchase to determine it its a short film or not. The original poster had a valid complaint, the film needed to be marked as a part of a larger work and / or a 'to be continued' added at the ending. Normally, parts of a larger work end at a logical conclusion for that section of the plotline...they don't just end without warning as Kaze does.

Pulling a fanboi 'you should have read the website' is uncalled for.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Spot on review, Shockwave.

Kaze is an amazing piece of work. The idea that one guy, locked in an Alaskan house for six months could produce something of this visual quality with cheap computer software and ordinary PCs... Quite an acheivement.

At the same time, however, I can't help but be aware of Kaze's flaws. Its furred creations are probably the most realistic, life-like vision of anthropomorphics I have ever seen. I also feel there is probably a good story buried somewhere in Kaze, but unfortunately the film lacks cohesive story telling.

Much like the so-called Phantom Edit, I believe if you gave an experienced editor the raw footage to Kaze and had them work on it, they would produce something that flows a lot better. It wouldn't leave me in such a sad, confused state as the credits rolled by. I shouldn't have to read any ploy summaries, on the DVD or on the web, to understand this film. The film should speak for itself and not require cliff notes.

Timothy himself admits in the documentary included with the DVD that he loves Digital Fusion's glow filter. Unfortunately, like a kid with a new toy, he overuses it. Most of the scenery in Kaze is blurred, overexposed and garishly bright. Characters have unnatural rim-glows or, as has already been pointed out, the inside of muzzles glow. A lot of the 3D footage looks like it was either sped up or slowed down (using per-frame interpolation) as action scenes are usually smudged and hard to make out. There is a lot of jumping of camera angles where Kaze is fighting, and this gives the fight scenes no sense of unity. "What, this guy is over here now? But wasn't Kaze holding him....?"

The lack of consistant audio is indeed jarring. With the addition of a little more sound effects, it wouldn't be quite so distracting. I noticed the unusual silence of the demo that was played at FC2004, but I assumed this was due to an incomplete sound track. Unfortuantely, that is what the final product is like. The music, however, is well done.

I'm not bashing Timothy. The guy has a ton of experience and really knows how to make Newtek's products stand up and sing. But he needs some editing help, or more time, to make Kaze something truly breath-taking.

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

Agreed. Graphically Kaze is quite impressive. It falls down on only a few technical points, the most glaring being the overuse of glow that makes fur and muzzles shine excessively. However, Timothy really, REALLY needs to move away from the 'one man band' hiding out in alaska mystical mindset and hire a proven, non-fanboy, editor. And if he can afford it, a voice artist.

The story line was muddled and there was no proper ending of one chapter. It just ended. There is no excuse for expecting anyone to read the case / liner notes or a website to understand the film, period. And a lack of ending point / chapter conclusion shows he's new to editing for continuity.

These are not a killer issues...he has the raw footage, he just needs to bring in a competent editor to help him rearrange it more logically so that the viewer that WASN'T a rabid Kaze fan before release and who has read the website daily, can make sense of it.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (2 votes)

Apparently, this film demonstrates two lessons of the creative process (and I am just taking this from the comments I read here---I haven't seen it):

1. Sound is infinitely harder than graphics. (sound effects)
2. Although one man may be capable of creating a work, others are needed to keep him within reason. (confusing plot, overuse of filters)

Your rating: None Average: 5 (2 votes)

'Editing' or 'polishing up' is an essential part of creation. This holds quadrupily true if the art you are creating is for general sale.

And this is one of the hardest things for an artist to do. At least on their own....

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About the author

shockwave (Allen Kitchen)read storiescontact (login required)

an engineer from Houston, interested in space development