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Uncategorized

Seven Years at NetNumber (now Titan.ium owned by Lumine)

The tradition continues as the year passes once again. I feel disinclined to break things out into a numbered list so I am just going to talk about the year in general.

I have completed my seventh year of employment at NetNumber (now called Titan.ium). This has been by far my longest term of employment at a company in my life. We pulled the plug on the office late last year so we have gone fully remote as a company. This is my first time being officially remote (with covid being a period of unofficial remoteness). It is not that different from how it used to be (given I used to only go in once a week), but it is still interesting being fully unmoored from an office. I do kind of prefer it, but I would also prefer a mix of office visits, if only to remember what people look like and have lunch with my friend who works nearby. Not much more to say about work. It exists so I can pursue other works.

I continue to have a reawakening regarding my AMV hobby. This year I am on pace for double digit videos (a first) and while I do think this is an aberration I am producing more videos than I have done at any time before. I have moved to a model where I try to do an hour or so of editing a day. That keeps me focused and limits the burnout, but an hour a day really adds up to a lot of editing time hence the increased video production. Interestingly my creativity has outpaced my creation speed. In the past I struggled for ideas, but I am overwhelmed with concepts as of late.

I started attending a formal anime club this year. It has been a real good way to work through my backlog of titles and has given me a more analytical perspective on some of the titles I have been watching. It is a different kind of viewing when you take notes on what you are observing. We have watched some great shows so far with Summer Time Rendering being my favorite so far.

The gun collecting continues apace. This year has seen a number of good acquisitions with minimal purchases requiring me to reload. That said I do still need to find brass for my Bodeo and sort that out. I have also found a good local gunsmith (finally) so a number of my pieces will be visiting him this year.

Overall, a pretty standard year. I feel pretty locked in on my hobbies, jobs, and extracurriculars. Not much to change or improve on, just sit back and enjoy as it all rolls by.

Categories
AMV Anime Hobbies

AMV: Called to the Colors

You can watch the piece here. This was submitted to Rice 2024 where it was a finalist in Best Storytelling and Best Use of Space category. It was also submitted to Anime Boston 2024 in the Drama category where it was not a finalist.

I had two impetuses for this work, which both ended up complementing each other. One was a desire to flout rules. When I started work on it there was a contest rule somewhere that said “75% of the entry has to be set to the same song.” I thought it would be amusing to start with one song and then switch to another, while still being within the boundaries of the rule. The second impetus was to try and produce a work that was more challenging to the viewer. I would like to try and grow the artistic purview of the AMV by creating works that entertain, but also get people thinking. That may be a quixotic endeavor, but I have always admired and desired to emulate the windmill chasers of the world.

This work has some successes and some failures. I really like the intro. It creates an atmosphere that is then immediately broken while introducing the games I will be playing with color. It is basically the first quarter of an entirely different AMV. I then got to play with some SFX without music, which I like and makes the work more distinctive. As we ease into the real AMV I was mostly influenced by the last episode of GunBuster, which is almost all in black and white. I did a couple of tests with colored footage from other episodes and all the results were great so I knew it would work for a longer piece. I like pretty much everything until the last quarter where I struggle to introduce Noriko’s relationship with Kazumi. I do like the ending though. Song wise it was a clear choice to start with Over There, given its bombastic tone and galvanizing intent. When I Lost You by Frank Sinatra was a bit harder to find. I knew I wanted to do something with Sinatra, but it took a little digging in his catalog to find something I liked while also being short enough to fit with another song.

Overall, I really like how this turned out. It is certainly unique. Have I really conveyed the loss of innocence for a child soldier and gotten people to question the tools and stories governments use to enlist soldiers? Maybe not, but its pretty cool to see flashes of blue set against black and white.

Director’s Commentary:

00:14 : There was a weird black smudge for a single frame here that I removed. It took me a while to find, but it was unconsciously distracting until I did.

00:34 – 00:36 : I like how all the characters are introduced here, but I probably should have excised the two characters who never show up again. That said, maybe its good to show a spread of combatants here.

00:46 – 00:59: Most of these sounds effects are from Steel Panthers World at War, which is still a quite competent game despite its age.

00:59 : This is the sound of one of those paper cutter guillotines in use. I was never quite sure what to put here. I fiddled with some VCR noises (given we do rewind things in a moment) but I like the noise of this so I kept it.

01:47 : Sometimes, for mixed color scenes, I used a mask like on the picture here. For others I used the Vegas Color Corrector (Secondary) tool (see 2:55). I was a little afraid I was going to have to mask every time so it was quite a relief to find this color tool in Vegas.

02:28 : Masking mouths on old anime is tough, especially for me: an advanced idiot. I think this is just the best I can do at present.

03:48 : I get why I did this, but it seems kind of late to be introducing a pivotal character. Maybe I should have put her in the intro?

04:04 : Again masking is tough. You can also see her ribbon is not blue here. In the unaltered anime it is in grayscale as she is on a TV screen here. I did not want to add it in, but I can see it be confusing as it does break the color rules I have been following.

04:48 : I really like the ending here. Its quiet and reflective of the journey our character has taken.

Categories
AMV Hobbies

AMV: The Square

You can watch the piece here (and without SFX here). This was submitted to Rice 2024, and was a finalist in the Drama category.

While not a typical AMV, this Art Music Video was an interesting idea I wanted to pursue with some novel technical challenges to overcome. Overall, I am happy with the outcome. It is a good way to appreciate the many embellishments in the work and it is a modern take on how the Victorians may have experienced at the time.

Our primary medium for this work is the 28th Regiment at Quatre Bras by Elizabeth Thompson. It depicts the 28th Regiment of Foot from the British Army (under Wellington) in square formation (with focus here on one of the corners) during the Battle of Quatre Bras. As part of the Waterloo campaign (summary for visual learners) Wellington is taking his army to reinforce his ally (the Prussian army under Blücher). Together both Armies can outnumber and destroy Napoleon’s army. However, Napoleon has correctly identified this threat and has moved to destroy the Prussians first (in the Battle of Ligny) and after that he will turn to destroy the allied armies (primarily British, but also Dutch and ‘German’ units). This will be the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon has dispatch Ney with part of his army to delay the allied army at Quatre Bras so they cannot join up with Blücher. At this moment in the battle Ney has ordered a cavalry attack. Infantry under threat from cavalry will almost always form square (minus some exceptions) with the front line kneeling to present a wall of bayonets and the second line shooting at the approaching horseman. The square provides 360 degrees of protection with no space for cavalry to get in-between the infantry. Horses will not charge into a line of steel so cavalry is relatively impotent against this formation. However, this kind of formation requires a great deal of training to execute properly under fire and it makes the unit very susceptible to artillery fire or other infantry. We can see a good example of this formation in Waterloo (1970).

The historical context having been covered, let us turn to the art itself. Painted by Lady Elizabeth Thompson in 1877 (62 years after the battle in 1815), it is one of the crowning achievements of her artistic career. Known for her careful research and a focus on individual soldiers her work has been reproduced an innumerable amount time. This piece is currently on display in the National Gallery of Victoria. More information on the painting itself here.

Over the summer I read Waterloo: The History of Four Days, Three Armies, and Three Battles by Bernard Cornwell (ISBN10 – 0062312065). A very engaging and readable account of the Waterloo campaign. While doing some additional reading I discovered Lady Butler’s work. It is an immensely captivating piece managing to record the intensity of the battle without sacrificing the detail of the individual combatants. After seeing it I knew I wanted to mimic how it would be to experience this work in person. You would not take it all in at once, but instead inspect small portions and cast your gaze slowly around the whole thing. It was a simple leap to add some music and sound effects to accentuate the piece. Although, to spoil some of the magic most of the heavy work is done by this backing track that plays throughout. In essence this is an extended cut of what you might find in a documentary on the battle.

On the technical front I used an image enhancing tool to add extra detail to accomplish those tight zooms. There are some decent high-res scans online, but I really needed a lot more detail as I would be zooming in very close. It took a couple tools, but I managed to get a very sharp image for close up work. I also used an audio separation tool to pull voices out of some films separated from their music. The results were mixed. Sometimes it was perfect, other times not, but I got what I needed. With a pile of audio, music, and a very detailed painting I simply had to sweep the camera around in Vegas and call it a day. There were a few tricky parts, but I will speak of it more in the commentary.

Directors Commentary:

00:00 – 00: 20 : I wanted to have people wondering what exactly they were watching at first so I started with just they sky, then I let the battle noise seep in, and finally you get your the first clue.

00:43 : “Now’s your time” is a quote from Wellington, but during the Battle of Waterloo.

01:07 : Great find on my part with this “Help me…” dialog. It is from Sharpe’s Waterloo, although its more comedic than tragic in the show.

01:26 : I like lingering on the detritus of battle. Armies of the era were so ornamental it contrasts well with the brutality of their engagements.

01:30 : Horrifying audio from The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), an odd film, but the best representation of the charge we have. As an aside if you are interested in the Crimean War check out this.

02:49 : Maybe the most striking piece of this work is these two boys here. Have they lost themselves or is it relief at having survived so far? I struggled for a long time trying to figure out what would go here. The audio is from Zulu.

03:04 : So many times I missed this detail of the wounded soldier draping his arm around his comrade. Once I saw it late I knew I had to include it.

03:45 : Not a huge deal, but this subtle stop on the saddle is to work around an issue in Vegas. I wanted to curve the camera following a particular arc, but as far as I can tell, you can only instruct the camera to move in straight lines. I needed to avoid parts of the painting I would get to later so I ended up lingering on his saddle as a compromise, but I would have preferred something else. Audio is from the greatest depiction of a cavalry action on film. This funny enough is inspired by another of Lady Butler’s works.

04:16 : I really love the building climax here. The music is really coming into center stage at this part.

04:24 : I never could get the right reloading sound effect here. This is just a little too slow and isolated. It is the best I could do.

04:37 : Lady Butler can really capture eyes well. The man behind these two officers is saying so much with his.

05:07 – 05:13 : The screen used to flex oddly here until I eased us into the correct aspect ratio with the earlier pan. It is still a little noticeable, but cleaner overall. The payoff seeing the whole painting is really worth it.

05:13 : Right here is where I had the most issues in this project. As we switch to the museum I need to pull back so the art is just one more piece on the wall. I tried putting the high-res piece and the museum wall in one image and just using that, but GIMP was fighting me. Trying to scale down the image was causing a quality loss. What I ended up doing was using the high-res image until right here and then I switched to my combined image with artwork plus museum wall and then I continued to zoom out from there. To my eyes its seamless.

05:30 : I love the ending.

Categories
Guns Hobbies

How To: Owning a Machine Gun In Massachusetts

Massachusetts has some of the strictest laws in the union when it comes to firearms (at least when this was written in December of 2023), but through some hard work and a lot of money there is a path to lawful machine gun ownership via the “Machine Gun License”. This is sometimes called a green card. If you are starting as just a normal MA firearms owner (which is to say you have a License to Carry) then this process is going to take about two years, although some of the steps you can execute concurrently. If you have no license to start with then add five or six months and ~$200.

First some background, machine guns federally are regulated via the National Firearms Act. They are defined as “any weapon which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.” Prior to 1986, anyone could buy a machine gun so long as they registered it with the federal government. In 1986 with the passage of the Firearms Owners Protection Act the registry of machine guns was closed (via the Hughes amendment). Today you can no longer register a newly produced machine gun. However, any gun registered prior to the closure of the registry is still legal to own and transfer. These guns are colloquially called transferables and this is the kind of gun you will most likely be trying to get. A machine gun is a NFA item. You may also hear it called a class three or title II weapon.

Before we get in to it, remember I am not a lawyer. Be sure you understand the law and what you are doing before you make a mistake!

These are the steps I took on the path to lawful ownership:

Step Zero: Acquire a vast amount of patience as it will be sorely tested over this process.

Step One: Acquire a Curio and Relics license. This is a type of Federal Firearms License (type three). The boon to this (outside of how it helps us to get a machine gun license) is the ability to ship firearms older than 50 years (or ones that are explicitly noted as curios) straight to your door without having to go through a dealer. Usually a firearm transfer must take place through a dealer (a holder of a federal firearms license) in your state. You need this license because MA law says it will not issue a machine gun license unless you are: “a bona fide collector of firearms” (General Laws Part I Title XX Chapter 140 Section 131 Part o). How does your local PD (who you will be submitting your application to) determine this? By asking for a C&R license. Even if you are not into machine gun ownership, this license is very useful for collecting so you should have it anyways. The law does not explicitly state you need this license, but I was asked for it and so have a number of other people.

This form is submitted to the government (the ATF). It costs $30 and will take about three to four months to process. If you complete the form properly and you are not a prohibited person the government must issue you this license.

Step Two: Now that you have a C&R license go ahead and submit your machine gun license application to your local PD. Each PD has their own policy regarding this license. This license is “may issue” so some PDs will not issue it at all. Some may require you to prove you are a bona fide collector (which is why we got the C&R license). Some may require nothing. In my case they required my C&R license and they wanted to do an in person inspection of my storage setup. Your mileage will vary. This will cost you $100 and will take about six months.

Step Three (OPTIONAL): You may wish to acquire a NFA trust. I got mine via this site. This used to be a workaround if your local police chief would not approve your form four (see step six), but now that is no longer required. It may make things easier for your beneficiaries if the trust holds your NFA items. It may also make things easier if you have a partner and wish to share your NFA items with them. There is no downside (aside from the extra paperwork) to putting things in a NFA trust to start with, but it can be expensive if you decide later on you want to transfer them into the trust.

Step Four: Now that you have your machine gun license and your NFA trust (if you wanted it) you will actually need to find a machine gun. This will obviously be the hardest and most expensive part. You will probably need somewhere between $8,000 – $10,000 to get your feet in the door. You can use this site, to judge where the market for your particular gun is at. The easiest solution is to find one for sale locally as then you can just do a private transfer. If you have to go out of state your best bet would be an auction house like Rock Island or Morphys Auction. If you do this then you will have to have the auction house transfer the gun to a local dealer who you will then work with. Buying a non-C&R gun out of state means you must transfer that gun to an instate dealer who will then transfer it to you. This will slow down the process by a month or two and will add $150 to $300 to your expenses. The local dealer must have an addition to their federal firearms license to transfer machine guns (Class 3 – Special Occupational Taxpayer (SOT)). One such dealer in MA is GFA Armstec. Make sure you have your dealer lined up before executing your transfer. You could also engage with a machine gun dealer like DealerNFA, but their prices will be high compared to the rest of the market. Remember, all the guns you will look at will be from 1986 or older which means they are grandfathered in and not subject to MA’s 1994 “assault weapon” ban. However, if you wish to purchase new magazines for your piece they must comply with the 10 round magazine limit (unless they are preban magazines).

Step Five: Once you have located a possible purchase, take some time to inspect it. If it is a private purchase, ask the owner about their use of it and any issue or quirks it has. Verify they have a valid tax stamp (example here) to prove legal ownership. Look at it in person if possible. If it is at an auction house, go to the preview day if possible. Always ask questions if you have doubts.

Step Six: Regardless of if you are doing a private transfer or working with an auction house/dealer you will fill and submit ATF Form Four. This form, that both you and the seller fill out, will tell the government that this gun is being transferred to you. Take your time and carefully fill it out. You will need to include a passport style picture and fingerprints. You will also be required to pay for $200 for the transfer. When the form is approved you will receive a tax stamp to prove your ownership. Finally, you must submit a copy of this form to your local police chief. This process can take eight months to a year. Check current wait times here. In some cases you can efile, but I had to submit a paper form. It took 11 months for that form to be approved. The completed form and tax stamp will be sent to the current owner (or dealer you are working with) who can then legally transfer ownership to you.

Step Seven: While you wait you will need to find some place to shoot. Many clubs in MA prohibit full auto. One such club that allows it is Harvard Sportsmen’s Club. Another is Leominster Sportsmen’s Association.

Step Eight: Insure your property. You now have a very expensive, highly regulated piece of property. It makes sense to insure it and you can do so affordably. I use Gun and Trophy Insurance. You can insure $50,000 worth of your collection for under $200.

Final Thoughts

Welcome to a very exclusive club. MA says there are only 306 active machine gun licenses as of 7/1/2022.

Finally, It is worth noting that if you ever move you will have to let the government know.

Categories
Uncategorized

Man vs Dog: My Rules For Contests

On May 27, 2022 I published “I got fired so I watched anime, fell asleep, and woke in a new world”. This is the same day it was shown at Anime Boston 2022 in the Other category. In that same category was another video, Contemporary Dog by Hikikomori, which was uploaded a little over two months earlier: March 11, 2022. Both videos have had different levels of visibility and I wanted to comment on that a little.

I submitted my video to one contest, Anime Boston 2022, where it won Best of Show. It was also submitted by someone to the Viewer Choice Awards 2023 where it won Best Use of Live Action Source.

I am not sure how many contests Contemporary Dog was submitted too, but it must be many based on its award list:

  • Best Editing Award at Anime Boston 2022
  • Best Comedy Award at Thy Geekdom 2022
  • Editors’ Choice, Judges’ Choice & 1st Place Comedy/Parody at Momocon 2022
  • “Best Trip of my Life Award”, Judges’ 1st Place (Best in Show) & Audience Favourite at Otafest 2022
  • 1st Place Fun at SacAnime Spring 2022
  • TOS Contest 2021: Creativity Category — 1st Place Visual Effects Category — 1st Place Best Video Best Comedy/Fun Best Original Work Best VFX Composition Most Time-Consuming-Work
  • Best Parody Award at AFO 2022
  • Northern Lights – Best in Show Award at Anime North 2022
  • Winner of Fun Category at AnimeFest 2022
  • Audience Favourite at Animethon 2022
  • Best Conceptual at Abunai! 2022
  • Best Originality & People’s Choice at Otakuthon 2022
  • Winner of Category X, Best In Show (Editors Choice), Best in Show
  • (Audience Choice) at Nan Desu Kan 2022
  • Best in Show at Saboten Con 2022
  • 1st Place at Anime Messe Babelsberg 2022 (Open Category)
  • 1st Place at Connichi 2022 (Expo Category)
  • Best Comedy at PMX 2022
  • Best Technical at Anime Weekend Atlanta EXPO (AWA)
  • Best in Show at Nekocon 2022
  • Best Fan Fiction & Best in Show at Kumoricon 2022
  • Best in Show at Anime NYC 2022

There should also be a few VCA 2023 awards in there.

Therefore, I think it is a not a great leap to assume that if my video won high praise competing with Contemporary Dog then had I submitted this video to more conventions or contests it would have also won a number of awards.

So the question is then: why did I not submit to other contests?

That question has a few answers.

  1. I only like submitting to the conventions I go to. A lot of the value I get out of making videos is seeing it at the convention, judging the audience reaction, and seeing how it complements or fits with the other videos in the contest. Obviously I cannot do this submitting it to a contest I will not be at. It is the proverbial tree falling in the forest. If I am not there to see the contest, why submit?
  2. If the video I submit makes the finals, then I do not submit it to other conventions. I do not like the idea of having a popular video making the rounds and scooping up awards. I accept that contests have to draw from a limited pool, but I want to do my part to avoid having contests become mirrors of each other and allow for the most possible variety in entries.
  3. I am concerned about the “contentification” of art online so I intentionally limit the audience (see above). Mr. Willems does a good job covering this, but a lot of platforms have moved to pushing people to just make “content” to fill time. I never want to be in the mindset of grinding videos just for maximum audience or contest engagement. Therefore, by limiting the number of contests I submit to I can stay out of that trap since it will limit the focus of my videos to specific contests and specific times.
  4. Somewhat riffing on the last point, I am concerned about a video being devalued as it is shown again and again. I would like my videos to be almost like a live event. Experienced once at a specific time and place and rarely again. I even briefly considered never uploading my videos, but cooler heads prevailed. Still, I do think a video seen on repeat at convention to convention loses something, even if it is shown to new audiences.
  5. Likes, views, comments, and awards are a popularity trap. You will never be able to get enough of them. We should be very cautious around doing things designed solely to maximize these metrics. There lies the path to madness.

I present these answers, not as guidelines for others to follow, but merely as an explanation for my peculiarities. I do not expect everyone to follow them, but for me they are helpful guidelines for maintaining a healthy relationship to my art.

Categories
Uncategorized

AMV: The First and Last Men

This AMV was submitted to ConnectiCon’s 2023 FMV Contest and PopCult’s 2023 AMV Contest. It made the finalists in neither. This AMV primarily concerns the Charge of the Light Brigade, based on the famous poem. It helps to have an understanding of the events, so I would recommend Hell Riders, by Terry Brighton. That said a brief perusal of Wikipedia should be sufficient.

I have been of late really interested in the Crimean War so it is no surprise I would make an AMV about it. This of course is really just an evolution of my last historical AMV. A poem makes a bit more sense for an AMV given its brevity and it is already predisposed to musical accompaniment. I searched around YouTube and went with Lawrence Harvey’s reading as it had the least flourish to it. I wanted just the poem without a lot of unnecessary additions. I then ran the audio through Adobe’s audio cleanup tool just to clean up some of the cracks and hisses.

Given the subject matter of the poem it paired very nicely with Legend of the Galactic heroes, which heavily features a lot of the themes the poem is getting at.

It is no surprise then I liked how it turned out. I especially like how the poem comes in and out in respect to the song and the sounds effects I put in at the start.

Director’s Commentary

00:00 – 00:22: I really liked how the sound effects set the stage here. I think it is a pretty cool intro. These are recordings of the Saturn V launching.

00:34: There is a real time crunch from the start to about this point. We have to establish the setting and the basic plot before we get to these vocals. The vocals will overpower the poem reading so that has to stop before, but we need to get enough of a teaser if you will so that the viewer knows what is going on.

00:34 – 01:06: This is from LOGH: Gaiden (stories adjacent to the main LOGH story). I needed some clips showing some students and Gaiden has a series set in a school (Dreams of the Morning, Songs of the Night), so that worked nicely. I wanted to humanize the spaceships you see and show where the operators had come from and what better way to do that than show a school.

01:06: Right as the vocals end I wanted to get back into the poem. The poem in a sense represents current time or that actual charge unfolding.

01:33: I wanted to include some scenes of the destruction inside the ships to show it is people operating these things. A lot of war films just concentrate on the equipment and it kind of sterilizes the event. There are a couple of clips like this throughout the piece.

03:07 – 03:27: The end of the poem is fairly jingoistic, so I wanted to contrast that with a bit of destruction. Eager readers should contrast the Tennyson work with Kipling’s follow up.

03:44 – : I am not in love with the end. When the poem is finished the whole piece kind of feels done, so it is overstaying its welcome a bit here, but I do like how it wraps up visually with a funeral.

Categories
Reloading

Loading .577 Snider

Introduction

As part of my series on loading archaic cartridges we now turn to .577 Snider for use in the Snider Rifle. The Snider system was a way to convert existing muzzle loading rifles to modern breach loading rifles. The most common use of this system was with 1853 Enfield rifles by Britain. I recently acquired a Snider Enfield Short Rifle at auction and since you cannot buy ammo (without going broke) I again had to return to the loading workshop. I mostly followed the steps laid out by British Muzzleloader.

As always, I am not an expert. Follow these instruction at your own risk.

What You Need

First, you need to decide if you are going to make your own brass or purchase it. If you purchase it you can find it online (here too) or you can email Martyn at X-Ring Services (xringservices@yahoo.com) and ask for his current price list. I decided to make my own brass.

  1. Get 24 Gauge Brass Shotshells, this will be the parent case we will cut down and reform.
  2. A cutoff wheel like this one. This will cut the brass down to size.
  3. A set of reloading dies. You already have a reloading press right?
  4. Black powder, in this case FFFg (I use Goex)
  5. Large Magnum Rifle Primers, I use Winchester ones. You can use non-magnum ones if you have those too.
  6. A bullet mold. I went with #60-530XR, .577 Snider grease groove .600” diameter 530gn RN bullet from Martyn at X-Ring Services.
    • Alternatively you can get 577 Minie Bullets and use those to fireform your brass.
  7. A blow torch

Pre-Loading Steps

Before we get to loading we need to cast our bullets and prep our brass.

Bullet Casting

The bullet was originally all lead, but you can add a bit of tin to improve the hardness of the final bullet and make it a little easier to fill the mold. I usually buy blocks with the tin and lead already mixed. You will have to work fast here as this is a big mold and it needs to be kept very hot or else you will get wrinkled bullets. In the future I am going to look at getting a hot plate to keep the mold at temperature. But for now these will suit our purposes, even if they do not look that pretty.

Once you are done lube the bullets to your preferred method. I did a mix with half being just Lee Liquid Alox and the other half being 50% beeswax and 50% lard.

Here I did a mix (Alox on the left, traditional lube on the right). I also tried British Muzzleloader’s dip strategy (instead of pan lubing), so we will see how that goes.

Brass Prep

We are going to take the 24 gauge brass and cut it down to size. The original cartridge has a case length of two inches exactly. I cut a block of wood to a little under two inches (1″ 7/8) and then bored that out using a 11/16″ spade drill bit. This leaves just enough space for the rim to catch at the end of the block. You can then use the block to mark the part of the rim to be cut off or use the block as a guide when cutting. Either way this will cut the brass to two inches.

Do not worry about hitting two inches exactly. As long as your are close. The cartridge will headspace off the rim so it just needs to fit into the chamber.

Once you have done this clean the rim as best you can, removing any jagged edges by using a chamfer tool.

Cases ready for annealing:

You will then need to anneal the brass so it will be easier to resize. I use a blow torch. Drop the brass into a spark plug socket and add a ratchet extender to it. This will keep your hands well away from the heat. Fire up your blow torch and hit the top of the brass for a seconds while you rotate it. You want the brass to change color. I waited a few seconds until it turned a little brown. Then dump it into some cold water right away. It is useful to watch a video on the subject to get a feel for the process.

You should get something like this:

Notice the color change at the mouth of the brass.

Now that your brass is trimmed and annealed. Lube them up (I use One Shot) and run them slowly through your resizing die. Once that is done you now have Snider brass ready for loading. Double check the sizing is right by inserting a few into your snider. They should go in and out without a fuss.

The Loading Process

There are a lot of different charges you can use here, but I am going to use Rob’s from BritishMuzzleLoaders load, which is 62.5 grains of FFFg black powder, corn meal filler (a 2.3cc dippers worth), a wad, and then our .600 cast bullet.

Final Product

Oh wait this looks awful, what happened? Those bulges! It turns out I thought I could skip a step which was incorrect. I used a .600 inch diameter bullet here (#60-530XR). I thought I could flare the mouth enough to have this bullet be accepted into our .570 inch case mouth, but you need to fireform these cases first so that they are a little bit bigger than what you get straight from the reloading die. If you skip that step the bullet is just too big for the brass so you crush the case (the two on the left) or you get an ugly weird bulge (the four on the right). Some of these do fit with some persuasion, but feel unsafe, so they will not be shot).

I made new brass and used a smaller bullet (the aforementioned 577 Minie bullet with a .580 inch diameter) that fit cleanly:

The left two are large rifle magnum primers, which I suspect will have no discernible effect, but I wanted to test them compared to the regular large rifle primers on the right.

Check the fit in your snider by carefully loading them and ensuring they fit smoothly.

Shooting Results

Out of the four I shot at the target they were unexpectedly very good. Admittedly it would be nice to be dead center, but I am more concerned with consistent placement than accurate placement. I was expecting a lot larger group at 25 yards, but this is pretty tight. Perhaps if I stretch it to 50 or 100 it will open up significantly, but for now I am pleased. Especially since I was told the Minie bullets would be inconsistent at any range.

Next Steps

I am going to load some more using the Minie bullets and test for longer ranges. Once I have a bunch of fireformed brass I will use the larger bullet and test the accuracy for that.

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AMV: Many Faces, One Story: The Japanese Siege of Port Arthur

You can watch the piece here. This was submitted to Rice 2023, where it was a finalist in the storytelling category, Anime Boston 2023, were it was not a finalist, and ConnectiCon 2023, were it was not a finalist.

Of all the pieces I have done, this one is probably the most unique. It took a lot of work to realize and I am very happy with how it turned out. It is heavily inspired by this AMV. I have always been pretty interested in making different kinds of AMVs and making a very historical AMV with voice acting hits a number of unique checkboxes.

If you would like to know more about the background of this war, the best one volume work would be “Rising Sun and Tumbling Bear: Russia’s War with Japan” (0304366579). It is fairly short and hits all the high points. Notably it covers the Battle of Mukden, the largest land battle before WW1 with 165,856 casualties. If you are interested in the naval aspect of the war (which includes the Battle of Tsushima, probably the most significant naval battle of the 20th century) I would recommend “The Tsar’s Last Armada” (0465057918).

If you are a visual learner The Great War channel has a good documentary on the subject, although it is pretty brief.  If you want something more cinematic check out: The Battle of Port Arthur.

Overall Commentary:

All the quotes in my AMV come from “Human Bullets: A Soldier’s Story of the Russo-Japanese War” (080329266X), you can read the full text here. Everything came from chapter 26, “The Forlorn Hope” and chapter 27, “Life Out Of Death”. The chapters I referenced are worth reading, but I would not recommend his memoir on the whole. It is fairly jingoistic interspersed with casual racism against the Chinese.

The voice work was provided by Yoshi-8301 through the service Voquent. Overall, I would have preferred the dialog be a bit quicker (and I did speed it up in a number of places), but I really do like a lot of his reads and I think it complements the visuals quite a bit. Part of my problem was I should have been more explicit about my needs upfront. I figured I would have more direct access to the voice actor prior to recording and that was not the case. Not a big deal, but I should have asked more questions. I also had him record a number of lines which I had to pare down drastically to fit the length of the video.

Finally, here is an early draft when I was trying to get the timing right, complete with occasional line flubbing.

Director’s Commentary:

00:00: Originally I started with an intro basically describing the coming battle (and you can see that in the early draft), but I dropped it so we could get right into things.

00:00 – 00:09: I wanted to be very explicit about what is going on as I knew the audience is not really going to be familiar with the setting so I added all this descriptive text here. If you have seen Golden Kamuy you may be aware of this campaign, but the Siege of Port Arthur and the Russo-Japanese war on a whole is fairly obscure. I tried a bunch of different fonts until I found this one. I like how it fills the screen.

00:09: This is one of the hills surrounding the port and it mirrors a famous photo from the time.

00:25: This scene is from a later episode covering the battle of Mukden. I was so short of clips I had to use it. Golden Kamuy does not have a ton of applicable footage for this AMV so I had to cheat when I could. An eagle eyed viewer may notice the lack of snow, but it is close enough.

00:27 – 00:40: One of the key concepts I tried to convey here was this AMV would use many faces to tell a single story. This is also why I went with such a verbose title. I had to do this since there was not enough footage to use one character to tell the story I wanted to. This is why these clips feature many different faces.

00:29 – 00:31: I color corrected the soldier here to have a more gray and washed out look to match the earlier and later scenes.

00:57: I tried to add a cannon sound here, but I never liked the various options I tried. It still feels a little empty with no sound though.

01:34 -01:37: “Great confusion and infernal butchery followed” is such a captivating line and really captures the austere style some war memoirs from this and earlier eras take.

01:49 – 01:51: I was pretty lucky to find this eye fade to black. It is one of my favorite clips.

01:54: I faded quickly into and out of a solid red here to convey a bit more violence with the bayonet stab.

01:59 – 02:01: I really like these three clips in quick succession. I went back and forth on making them black and white. Ultimately I wanted to tone down the violence just a tad here which removing the color helps achieve.

02:19 – 02:21: I flipped this scene so he is holding his right leg.

02:28 – 02:43: These scenes are color corrected to be a bit more red. I wanted to convey a bit more of a hellish atmosphere.

03:05 – 03:14: I was pretty hit up for clips here as the dialog is not literally matching the scene, so I had to be a more imaginative.

03:47 – 03:52: I really like the quietness of this ending.

03:53 – 04:02: I wanted a bit of a wrap at the ending, putting one man’s experiences into context with the larger battle as a whole. I did try adding some distant battle noise here, but it always sounded out of place.

Conclusion

I am very happy with how this turned out. It is pretty unique and covers an area I am very interested in. I hope it sparks people’s interest and gets them doing some reading on the subject. It was also pretty fun to work with a voice over artist, but I probably will not be doing that again given how long it can take and the cost associated with it.

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AMV: I apologize to both of my sisters, I am just trying to win trophies

This AMV was shown at Anime Boston 2023 in “Hentai AMV Extravaganza!”. Originally I wanted to submit it to the regular contest under comedy, but it ended up being too risque. That was disappointing, but understandable.

Overall, I really like this one. The concept is pretty wild, but well complemented by the song which was rather hard to find. I remember this song and video doing the rounds a number of years ago, but trying to find it in 2022 when I was making this turned out to be a challenge. I knew from the get go I wanted to use this song, but I was not sure what anime I would use. I like to fully watch the shows that I edit with so I ended up watching a lot of fairly low quality shows (“Recently, My Sister Is Unusual” and “I’m in Love With My Sister”), until I ended up watching both Kiss×sis series (24 episodes total). This show has very little to offer and I would not recommend it. It did have all the footage I needed to work with though.

Director’s Commentary

00:36: I tried a couple different things in this video, like this scene where the character is mirrored across the vertical axis. It looks ok (minus the seam in middle), but was chiefly done so I could cut the other sister out.

00:49: This lighting bolt is from another scene. It was set against a black screen so I just removed the black and superimposed it on this clip.

00:54-00:57: Regarding this turtle I originally toyed with putting a flashing label underneath saying something like: “metaphor alert”. I figured I needed to explicitly make the joke for people to get it. I ended up not doing that and based on the audience reaction they understood what was going on, so it was the correct decision to remove it.

01:45 – 01:47: This is a tricky shot because the character here is talking as the camera pans up. There are a couple shots like this where I had to get a single frame with her lips closed and then match it as the camera angle changes. I like to avoid the lip flaps when I can and the work was worth it as without the flaps this scene flows better.

02:03 – 02:07: This is definitely the weakest part of the piece. I wanted to convey that his mind was elsewhere during this scene, but I never could quite get it looking right. Originally I wanted to drop in a thought bubble, but its only going to be a few seconds long so it took too long to develop. We have to move the main character out the way once we start flashing back so there is enough space to see the other clips. This does give a little awkward shadow of him early on. I lived with it since I think it is better to have than not have, but I bet a better editor could improve on it.

02:08 – 02:11: Definitely my best joke in the piece and so cheaply achieved.

02:30 – 02:31: I generally do not like to layer clips with different opacity layers over each other, but I really do like it here. The firework is also fairly sperm shaped which is an additional joke I wanted to include.

03:03 – 03:04: There is a bit of a zoom at the end here. I wanted this clip to last a second longer, but there was not enough footage to do that. I could stretch it, but I have had inconsistent results with that approach. I chose to freeze the last frame, but add some movement in with the zoom to keep it dynamic.

03:20 – 03:44: I wanted to save all this physical contact until right at the end. A gradual build up through the whole music video that pays off right at the end. A crescendo if you will. I think it hits well. It also does a great job of showing a lot of saliva, which was more frequent than you might expect in this show.

03:44: These hearts are cut out from another part in the show. I wanted them here to close things out. They look a little jagged on the edges, but it was a quick scene and its good enough for government work.

Postscript: I did want to actually end this on me looking embarrassed and being beat up with pillows, but that idea never came to fruition.

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Six Years at NetNumber (or Titan.ium or Lumene)

The tradition continues as the year passes once again. I feel disinclined to break things out into a numbered list so I am just going to talk about the year in general.

On the positive side of things, I have had a number of interesting projects this year. The work to convert hard subs to soft subs and resync the anime Ketsudan has been far more work than I thought, but it will be nice to at least have a partial translation of this series. I have sent all my OCR-ed subtitles to a fansubbing group and will work with them to edit their forthcoming releases. Follow @Perevodildo to keep track .

AMV wise, I have never felt more creative. I already have made a bunch this year and I have a dozen or so other ideas slowly coming to the surface. It was also fun to do a hentai AMV this year. Retrospectives for those works will be coming soon-ish once I have completed submitting them to various conventions. I also took part in an online contest this year, where I did not win anything, but had fun.

Panel wise I did three at Connecticon 2022 last year (Guns, Titanic Media, and Star Trek Porn). I am hoping to do all three again at ConnectiCon 2023 and hopefully one or two at Arisia 2024. Doing panels has been fun, but I wish I had some more ideas on panels to do.

Convention wise, we hit all the usual conventions for the first time since 2019. It was nice to get fully back. We also went to GenCon for the first time, which was fun if a little overwhelming. I am hoping we can continue to go to different conventions.

Work wise the company I am employed at was purchased twice over, which has been financially beneficial, but has done little else. Not really much to say about work. I consider myself a mercenary for hire so I am not particularly attached to any one business or job.

On the negative side of things, not really much bad of note this year. My car had another expensive fix and it does seem that much closer to the end. I am hoping it keeps limping along though as I hate car shopping.