My summary of 2009:
2009 was pretty much the year where I felt like I was really starting to become a real professional concept artist. Making the bold move to quit my job (and during the recession!) with no opportunity waiting for me was something I can't imagine myself doing a few years back. I got to work with a lot more companies this year and in doing so, I feel like I gained a lot more insight on the industry and what makes a good company and what makes a really bad one. All in all, I learned a lot. Even with the bad experiences.
Many thanks to all my family, friends and colleagues who stuck by me and gave me good advice and feedback. This decade marks the very beginning of my career and I'm excited, scared, and anxious to see what the next decade will have in store for me. :]
Best of ....2009
This year there were a lot of things that I got to see and experience that really inspired and influenced myself and my art and so I thought I'd share some of them with all of you. Hopefully you'll get to check out some of these someday! Please keep in mind that I obviously haven't seen or played everything that's come out in 2009, so this list is just based off what I've seen and done (which really isn't that much!) Lots of nerdy stuff, but I wouldn't recommend something that I can't enjoy.
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3), Amazon, Wiki
This game was definitely the game of the year for me. It was just as much as a movie as it was a game. The characters and their dialogue were very natural and fun. The gameplay itself was paced extremely well and at times very nerve-racking. The multiplayer component is one that I even enjoyed (I usually hate playing multiplayer. Especially on consoles). For decades, developers have been trying to make games feel more like movies. With Naughty Dog's Uncharted 2: Among Thieves, developers will now be trying to make games feel more like Uncharted 2.
God of War Collection (PS3), Amazon, Wiki
This was actually the first time I played the first God of War, and I'm honestly amazed that a game from 2005 can be just as fun or enjoyable as most other games from the past year. Even with visuals from the previous generation, God of War holds up extremely well and proves that art direction weighs a whole lot more than pure polycount and normal maps. The level of epicness from both games leads me to believe that nobody is going to be prepared for what Sony Santa Monica is about to unleash upon the world with it's follow up, God of War 3 in March. Also, everyone should keep an eye-out on their favorite video game news site in January, as there's supposed to be some new footage from GOW 3 released and I hear it's pretty phenomenal!
District 9 (Blu-Ray, DVD, VOD), Amazon, Wiki
Neill Blomkamp was a filmmaker who I had my eye on for the past few years. I had seen all his shorts prior to the announcement of the now-cancelled Halo movie and the recently released District 9. It's really impressive watching his shorts from years ago. He really does have a nack for blending his CG characters with his environments and at the same time the twist that he puts on his subject matter in his shorts are really intriguing. Before I heard he was going to be doing the Halo film, I was a bit disappointed because I thought he'd make a really good director for a CG/live-action Ghost in the Shell film (especially if you've seen his short, "Yellow" ). But I'm really glad that he got to do District 9. I enjoyed pretty much everything about the movie. The character development of Witkus, the brutality and non-shyness of the violence and gore, the aliens, and the exo-suit. What Blomkamp and company did with $30 million is create something most can't do with $200 million. Along with JJ Abrams, I think Blomkamp will be creating some really interesting work in the near future that will appeal to hardcore and non-hardcore fans of the genres they end up working with. Also, I really enjoyed Blomkamp's humble commentary on the Blu-ray.
UP (Blu-Ray, DVD, VOD), Amazon, Wiki
I love Pixar movies. I know you do, too! And UP is no exception to the people like us who love Pixar. Now, I don't love every Pixar movie, but I sure do love the ones that show a hint of darkness to them. The ones that take themselves a bit seriously at times. The Incredibles had quite a bit of this as did Wall-E (although it was a bit more shy about it). UP, on the other hand has a great deal of this. The entire story is based on a man getting over his recently diseased wife! Props to Pixar for taking a bit of a risk on this one. But of course, the movie has a bunch of laughs, really amazing visuals and characters. To me, it's the perfect family movie. My only nit-pick is that the Blu-Ray didn't come with a 3D version of the movie.
Damages (Wiki) + Sons of Anarchy (Wiki)
Big time tie for these two awesome shows. FX has been doing a great job the past few years with their original series. Damages was a show I didn't think I'd be interested in. I guess I usually don't really care for legal dramas, but the story and the cast really do an excellent job. The way they the plot unfolds is really something special and keeps you involved and curious throughout it all. Also, Rose Byrne's one crazy cute girl! :p Now for Sons of Anarchy. Like Damages, I didn't think I'd care for a show centered on a biker gang. And again, like Damages, the cast and story really draw you in. The conflicts built between the different groups in the show is always suspenseful and you always end up wondering how one conflict will affect the other characters. It's pretty much Grand Theft Auto: The TV Series. The recent season finale for SoA really makes me wonder what I should be expecting for season 3.
I honestly don't know much about M83, but I love their music. For those who aren't in the know, it's like Sigur Ros, but weirder, and for aliens. Simply put, this music can sometimes make me feel full of energy and wonder, scared, sad, and happy. M83 really knows how to make their audience emote. I first found out about M83 by watching this Youtube video that featured one of my favorite songs by them, "Lower Your Eyelids to Die with the Sun".
Muse's new album this year was quite excellent, but the reason why it's not number one is because it lost a bit of it's charm from the previous albums. It's not as bombastic and potent with energy and rock as their preceding albums. But any Muse album is an amazing album. I'm actually going to be watching their show in April at the Oracle arena!
God of War II OST (Amazon)
Yes, a second runner's up and yes, another God of War mention. The music is just really awesome. I used to listen to this on my way to work in order to get my adrenaline pumping. You really feel like you can take on the entire world when you listen to these tracks. I think I had this playing in my car for about 4 months, straight! The reason why it's the second runner's up is because this album was released back in 2007. Still worth checking out, though!