Book Trailer Unleashed!

Ridley and Latimer have been turned into chibis! Ridley: I only need one eye, like Sauron… Latimer: Takoyaki (octopus balls) anyone? No.. I didn’t think so.

Well, the book trailer is done! Here it is, as we promised! It’s all our own work (animation and art).

Hope you like it!

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Product description of Legend Unleashed
 
When an infamous criminal is unleashed from his prison, it has consequences for everyone in Carwick. Temperance Levinthal in particular…
Temperance is satisfied with her ordinary life. Dealing with her eccentric, childlike parents is all the excitement she needs. That changes when Alastair Byron returns home.
After a failed matchmaking attempt by her father, sparks fly between her and Alastair-just not the good kind.
They are forced together though, when they are implicated in a grisly murder. Their search for the truth leads them to a secret world beneath Carwick, filled with werewolves, wizards and other magical faey.
However, uncovering the truth is far more dangerous than they’d ever imagined.
There are secrets within secrets.
Even Alastair may be more than he seems…
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Ridley: It’s a stop motion animation with black silhouettes, kind of in the style of Lotte Reigner. Here’s some of the pictures below that I took while making it- and when I remembered to take them!

From drawing rough sketches of the different scenes and characters.

From cutting out the silhouettes.

From recording the animation.

The animation was carried out in my garage room (as you can see from the clutter! Go look back at the picture of the camcorder, do you see the empty Tayto box from many Christmases ago? Told you we love crisps in Ireland-see the post Irishisms, if you’re now going ‘Huh?’) Despite the chaos, this was the darkest place in the house, so the best room for animation creating! In a way, I made the light box. It’s a long frosted glass table that I got second hand (at an excellent price) and I went to Woodies (local hardware shop) to buy a light, which I placed underneath the table. It beat paying a 100 euro plus for an official A4 light box. The tripod and the camcorder aren’t mine, they were borrowed!

Latimer: At this point, please imagine me texting, and viber messaging Ridley, saying ‘how’s it going? yeah, yeah? Harder, monkey! Work harder!’, sipping my tea, crackin’ the whip. Editing on the side 🙂 (as Ridley bled real blood, I bled metaphorical editing blood).

Ridley: I recorded the frames of the animation with the programme ‘I Can Animate’, then I used Windows Movie Maker to gather the clips and create the video. Audacity was a programme I used for the music and sound effects. It’s fantastic to use, quite simple once you learn the ropes.

Latimer: I wish I could have strapped a camera to Ridley’s head while she did all of this. Because I would have loved to hear the, ‘oh dear god, noooo! what happened?’ moments. Next time, I will- I’ll document it!

Ridley: Latimer and I collaborated on it all (Latimer: she’s being nice, the animation is Ridley’s brain-baby- I was a sound-board for the story-board, music and descriptions- but really props to Ridley for this!), deciding on what worked in the animation once it was recorded, the font used on the slides and the type of music we needed to create the right ‘feel’ for the trailer.

For the parts like the chains behind the clock and blood drops, I used Deleter screen, which is used all the time by manga artists. The paper has grey tones and designs, which can be cut out and stuck onto your picture. It’s great stuff. I bought it with the trailer in mind when we were in Tokyo after we found one of the best art shops there, Sekadio in Shinjuku (Latimer: working holiday, the only way to holiday! Haha!).

 We were in heaven, except for the fact it was packed and all the aisles were really narrow! And I am a browser, I wander the aisles, which you couldn’t really do there! (Latimer: yeah, poor shop design really too narrow! and claustrophobic!)

Overall, I had an absolutely fantastic time making this. It’s my first ever video, though I’ve always had a love for animation, second only to writing! Most of my favourite movies are animated. Aardman, Pixar, Blue Sky Studio, Dreamworks-I love all their stuff. In Ireland, we’ve Brown Bag films,  Boulder Media and Cartoon Saloon to name but a few of the companies here, all of which are making waves in the animation industry!

So as you can see, I relished the chance to create this trailer and join my two great loves, writing and animation. I just really hope people like it!

The 47 ronin

In the damp wet of Ireland’s ‘rainy season’ (a.k.a. summer), Latimer thinks back on ancient Japan. She exchanges her wetsuit for some samurai swag and sets off on a journey through Japan’s shogun past…

Latimer: Modern Japan is fantastic. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. It’s fun; it looks crazy, but it does leave me thinking, ‘that’s intense… sort of unreal’.

The Japanese past is sometimes hard to find in Tokyo.

But find it you must, because it’s full of fantastic stories waiting to be told!

We were on a pilgrimage of sorts that day. We wanted to find the temple of the 47 ronin- otherwise known as Sengakuji!

My Dad was the one that told me the story of the 47 ronin (master-less samurai). I’m not sure how or why he came to know the story; but he told it to me in his ‘every single detail’ manner…

The story begins in the age of the shogunate… I will attempt to set the scene… actually I may have to leave it to your imagination because my historical knowledge is firmly European. I could tell you to imagine a castle, a wild windswept hill; rough spun tunics and broad swords… but I won’t because I’d be wrong, your picture would be wrong and we’d all be looking at Braveheart and that’s not right! We are going to the orient after all….

The shogunate age was the golden age of the samurai and their masters. The samurai were a noble class and they followed a strict code called bushido. This was all about honour. Honour and respect; that was key to the samurai- you could lose your honour very easily back then it seemed. We use the term perhaps a little dismissively today- but back then, to them, it meant something…

Asano Takuminokami was the Feudal lord of Ako. He was asked by the shogunate to entertain vistors to Edo (the old name for Tokyo). Asano asked his loyal advisor Kira Kozukenosuke for directions on how best to do this. Apparently Kira didn’t like Asano and ‘with malice’ disgraced his honour as a samurai (bad mouthed him basically. This was a major no-no in bushido!). Asano decided to put Kira in his place for insulting him. He drew his katana (sword) and managed to cut Kira on the forehead- but not kill him (ah fiddlesticks!).

It was strictly forbidden to draw your sword in Edo castle. There was also a law that stated ‘equal punishment for quarrels’ so both men were expected to be punished. Now the story gets foggy here, but for some reason Kira got off the hook and only Asano was punished. He was forced to commit seppuku (samurai suicide, not to be too graphic but it involved a knife to the stomach and then your stomach on the floor- grim). Anyway, Asano was forced to commit seppuku in the garden of another lord’s house. This was bad, because seppuku outside was for felons not a lord like Asano. And as if that wasn’t bad enough- his family were stripped of their titles and forced off of their estate!

Asano died and Kira got away scot free! Oh… that’s the perfect start to a story of revenge if ever I head one! The loyal samurai of Asano, the Ako Gishi (47 of them), pleaded against this indignity and demanded the reinstatement of the Asano house.

They were denied. And so began two years of plotting…

They set their plan of revenge in motion on December 14th 1702. They attacked and killed Kira at his residence. Apparently they pleaded with Kira, treating him with respect, to die as a true samurai should (commit seppuku and die with honour). The leader of the 47 samurai, Oishi…

… offered Kira Asano’s dagger (the one he had used to killed himself). Kira trembled before them, but would not kill himself. So, they did it for him (dishonourable) then cut off his head, taking it to Asano’s grave in Sengakuji.

One of the 47, named Terasaka Kichiemon, was ordered to go to Ako to report that revenge had been taken.

Strangely now, the 46 remaining ronin didn’t run. To run would be dishonourable. They turned themselves in to the shogunate straightaway.

They were sentenced to seppuku the following February 4th and buried in Sengakuji with Asano. In a strange twist, Terasaka Kichiemon was pardoned by the shogunate when he returned from Ako. Some reported it was due to his young age. Terasaka Kichiemon lived to be an old man; he died in his 80s and was buried next to his comrades.

And after hundreds of years, myself and Ridley found ourselves at the 47 ronin’s graves in Sengakuji.

It was one of the quietest places we had been in Tokyo. Tucked away from the bustling modern world (though that world did overlook the small temple).

When we got there, it felt like we’d finally found ancient Edo, beyond the lights and noise of Tokyo, behind the modern facade.

The story of the 47 ronin is one of the most popular stories in Japan, because it reminds them of loyalty (Chu) and justice (Gi).

There were no tourists there. The place was serene. It had history. It had a story. I’m in two minds about the samurai notion of honour. It’s an extreme version that I don’t understand to be honest. Then there’s the loyalty part, which is somehow easier to connect with. These men sacrificed their lives to avenge their master. There is something very powerful about that level of conviction.

It was amazing to finally see the place; amazing how such an old story, from so far away, could have found its way through time and tide to us. We were very touched and awed! (Thanks to my Dad for telling us about it!)