Constructive Criticism:”Don’t believe in Goldman, his type like a curse. Instant karma’s gonna get him, if I don’t get him first”

Welcome back to the Manifesto’s regular feature where I provide a builder with some feedback that is hopefully both entertaining and helpful.  The format is simple: a reader submits a MOC for evaluation, I come up with at least one good thing about it, at least one bad thing and one random observation that falls outside the first two categories. Today’s volunteer victim on the rotisserie spit is…me.  As promised, since nobody signed up in the comment section of last week’s edition, I will critique my own work.

My name is Keith Goldman (formerly Don Quixote 2×4), you may remember me from such popular models as: Logan’s Run, The Dragon Wall and my most popular model of all time with over 70 thousand views… HUB-14 Swag: part 1.  As per standard operating procedures in this column, I will be reviewing my latest model from June of this year, A Bus Stop in Bucharest.  The diorama took me six months to build and it’s my first build of any kind in over a year.  The layout is 4ft x 8ft (the size of my table) and it is the 5th time I’ve covered the entire build surface, the time I went for it was 2014’s critically panned Spirit’s Rise.  Although Bucharest was not conceived as a convention model, it turned into one about 2/3rds of the way through the building process.  The diorama was a collaborative effort and it eventually displayed at the BrickSlopes fan event in Orem Utah, where it took home a handful of trophies.  It should be noted that none of the vehicles are mine, as usual I don’t have the patience or energy to fill these bloated dioramas so I recruited 12 studs and one idiot (Rutherford) to help me breathe life into the dull gray landscape.  Instead we’ll be examining the stage, which is entirely my contribution, and not the actors.  So let’s talk about “A Bus Stop in Bucharest“, what went right, what went wrong and the ghost of an old diorama.

the good the bad and the ugly - 1966 - the good

If I had to point to one single detail that went really well, it would be the transition where the curved towers emerge from the arches built into the slanted wall.  It’s an easy technique, a cheap technique even, but it works perfectly.  When I paired it with the staircases that cut into those slanted walls, it made for a background that was visually interesting but not so complex that it distracted from the vehicles.  When you have so many smaller, colorful, amazing subjects, the background benefits by being a little less detailed.  As I’ve said before, I’m a big believer that the eye needs a place to rest and the bigger the project gets the more I find it to be true.  That single transition from tower to wall makes the whole thing work, and I’m very pleased with the effect.

Bucharest started with the islands in the street, with the canopy-built overhang for the seats.  At that point I had no idea what I direction I was going to take the project, how big it would be or anything beyond, but it all came out of that relatively small section and I’d put that in the ‘good’ column.  Again, the curb technique isn’t reinventing the wheel, but sometimes the simplest answers are the best.  The sloping ramps were intended for wheelchairs that never made it into the final staging, but I was really proud of them at the time and I think the almost mundane simplicity of it will look good for years to come.

In a more general sense, I did a pretty good job providing platforms for action to take place on multiple levels, which I regard as one of the keys to building large-scale dioramas.  I have street-level, bridge-level, train-level and roof-level, with a couple of spots in between that don’t fall into easily labeled categories.  Each terrace had a specific function that allowed different elements to shine: the trucks, minifigs, aircraft, trains, etc.  All of them were well-integrated and didn’t seem tacked on and they were all pretty unique in terms of style, while still being tied together as a whole with certain common design elements like the blue chairs on both the main road and the roof.

Lastly, I think I did a good job with the spectacle of minifig action.  The crowd scene looks great and I think I came up with just enough interesting vignettes to maintain interest without it becoming overkill.  My favorite of these minifig driven setups Simon’s garbage truck running over the dog.  I love dogs, but let’s face it all the best dogs in books and movies get killed, usually in gut wrenching fashion, and I wanted to insert that notion into the model.  The setting is so vast, and a scene like that really takes it down to the “human” level. So I give myself high marks for set-dressing with the minifigs.

The_Bad

Speaking of levels, Cole Blaq challenged me very early in the process to create a subterranean level that might hold a parking garage or visible infrastructure of some kind.  He envisioned the road ramping downward, with exposed pipes and a HAZMAT spill that would have looked much better with his rig.  At the time I was just far enough along in the process that I didn’t want to take a big step backward to re-work the foundation of the project, and I wasn’t sure I had the resources to create a sub-level and still achieve my other big-picture goals.  In retrospect, I think it was a bad decision and I should have taken his advice and gone the more difficult path.  I think it would have added some much-needed interest to the flat road layout and it would have allowed his central contribution to shine even more than it did.  I think iso would have helped with comparisons to Highway 44, but whatever, we’ll talk about that later.

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Although it’s a relatively small detail when you consider the scope of Bucharest, I definitely dropped the ball with the light-posts.  Although they were one of the first details I worked on, I tinkered with the design during the entire six months of the project and I still wasn’t satisfied at the end.  I tried endless variants but either it looked worse, or it was too prone to sagging, or a number of other issues.  I don’t think they really match the surroundings, they look like they belong in another diorama entirely.  They are basic and chunky, like a mall-girl from the 80’s.  I originally envisioned them with a lot of stuff attached to them like signs and little pieces of technology, like you see in Japan for example, but because of the round bricks I just wasn’t satisfied with any of the attachment points.  In retrospect I wish I’d used rubber bands and figured out a way to make them more interesting…or just ditched the round bricks.  Also, for constructs of that size, I should have at least tried to work in some functioning lights.  I would expand this criticism to include my decision not to make some kind of futuristic stoplight or large-scale road sign or billboard.  sometimes I get really lazy when the fine details matter the most, and I think I could have done a little better with the set-dressing on this one.  A 10 year old could have designed better lights.

The bridge to nowhere on the extreme right hand side of the scene is the single biggest thing that bugs me about the diorama, when I step back and examine the thing as a whole.  I should have figured out a way to have something more satisfying in the foreground for it to connect to, like a tower or a platform…something.  Just having it end looks unfinished and sort of sloppy.  The design itself is fine, but it was supposed to be just one part of a large side-wall that would merge with the eye-block that runs the length of the project.  The intent was to create a corner that would allow me a wider range of camera angles without non-Lego elements in the background.  Ultimately I ran out of gray brick and I was forced to reduce the side wall to just the bridge.  It wasn’t ideal, but on projects the size of Bucharest there are always compromises to be suffered, especially when the deadline of a convention is involved.

I wish I could have a re-do on the train station.  At that point of the process it was the frantic last few weeks where it seems like every sub-section of the project still had a serious issue to deal with.  I’ve got the ticket kiosks, and they are ok…and the chairs are a nice echo of the chairs on street level, but the whole stretch just lacks panache.  It’s just “ok”, and that’s not good enough when you have aspirations to do your best work.  There is utilitarian, and then there is boring, and the train station is boring.  I was fortunate that Rutherford’s bizarro-triangle-trains were there to distract from the mediocrity.

And finally, a gripe about the presentation side of things.  I posted way too many photos and I diluted the impact of the project, which is a shame for all the talent involved.  Less is more sometimes and I was so proud of the project after a year layoff that I went overboard.  None of the photos did particularly well in terms of metrics, although the 89 shots have racked up over 100k views combined.  It was the lack of comments that put me off, and I think it was directly related to the number and quality of the photos.  I also dropped the ball with the photos in general.  I kind of resent the fact that to be seen as a good builder, you have to be a good photographer too because one doesn’t have anything to do with the other.  Photography has always disinterested me, I find it to be a tedious and difficult skill to master and I’ve got no Photoshop skills either.  So this year I decided to use my “smart” phone for the first time and the results were mixed to say the least.  On the one hand, it saved me a lot of time and effort, it was much easier than using a camera and some of the photos are good, but I’m not thrilled with the focus and lighting on many of the shots.  The biggest fail was not getting a good pullback shot that showed the model in its entirety.  Some of that was because I have an extreme aversion to having non-Lego elements in the photos (and that requires serious cropping), but some of it was just that I could not get a good pullback shot to save my life. Having the deadline of the convention didn’t help matters either, it didn’t give me much time to experiment before I had to get it ready for transport.

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throughout the process of building Bucharest, I was obsessing over an older project that would not let me rest.  2008’s Zero Hour on Highway 44 is one of my favorite builds and as soon as I committed to building another 8 feet of roadway I couldn’t stop comparing the two and often unfavorably.  I was determined to make them sufficiently different from each other but I’m not sure I succeeded, I’d be very interested to get your take on this issue in the comments, constant reader.  In the end I tried to embrace the similarities and I’m determined to create the third in the series, with a new cast of characters in the next few years.  This feels like a road trilogy to me, although promise not to split the final installment into separate projects like the current trend in Hollywood.

We’ll conclude with the song quoted in the title.  When he sings about “Goldman”, Bono is referencing an author who wrote an unflattering biography about his hero John Lennon.  Apparently Bono didn’t like reading about Lennon occasionally feeling the need to beat his wives.  How often do you hear your last name in a song though…it’s kind of cool, and I dig the thought of Bono trying to “get me first”.  Who wouldn’t love a chance to kick Bono’s ass?  Even if I lost the fight it would make for a great story.

Just a reminder, if you’d like to have one of your models get the (good/bad/whatever) treatment, just sign up in the comments below.

26 thoughts on “Constructive Criticism:”Don’t believe in Goldman, his type like a curse. Instant karma’s gonna get him, if I don’t get him first”

  1. I volunteer as tribute! Does it have to be the most recent offering? I don’t know how much of a military fan you are, though you seem to enjoy police state brutality as much as the next guy. I suggest my Edgley Optica because it’s weird and wouldn’t seem out of place in your universe.

    I didn’t comment on Bucharest because I was taken aback by the deluge of photos and wasn’t sure how to contribute. It’s an outstanding model that exhibits your modus operandi. You are skilled at avoiding the dreaded grey wall syndrome and everything’s interesting to look at. You also excel at minifig staging (I enjoyed the riot) and collaboration with others. There’s good scaling and tiering. I had a city scape once that had decent tiering but suffered from too small vehicles and buildings. I tore it down and gave the space to my daughter to play with her Legos and Playmobil. The lights are simple, but worked because you could deconstruct them for the riot scene. Anything more complicated would require additional effort to rebuild in a “destroyed” state.

    My one nit is that the main sidewalks (not the island) are a little too clean. There are benches, but trashcans, fire hydrants, trash, grating, storm drains…. these are the kinds of things I would look for. Some kind of advertising with stickers or brick built Cyrillic would enhance this. It is the future though, and the future is shiny and chrome, so I’m giving it a free pass.

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    1. Juan, kudos for throwing yourself on the rotisserie spit for the enjoyment of the crowd, I would be delighted to offer my jackassy opinion of your work. It doesn’t have to the the most recent offering, it’s just my default setting because I assume people are the most invested in their most recent model. I will be happy to review Edgley next Wednesday.

      Thanks for the feedback on Bucharest, it kind of confirms my thought in the article about too many photos killing the comments. You bring up a good point about the lights, if nothing else they worked really well with Gilcelio’s crane and they were super easy to give them a ‘ruined’ look. I still think they are uninspired but it’s good to know they were not as bad or at at least not as noticeable as I thought.

      I hear you about the cleanliness, Rountree and Rutherford were both on me to “junk it up” a bit, but I don’t trust my own abilities in that department, it always ends up looking too…fake? Advertisements would have been a good idea for sure.

      Thanks again for the review!

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  2. I definitely think not getting a good pullback shot is a letdown… But I think when it comes to pictures, I’d err on the side of taking too many rather than not taking enough, especially on large builds like this with so many small details. I’m always slightly disappointed when I come across a cool MOC, only to find that the builder only has a single (possibly photoshopped) picture of it. I want to see things from every angle, and maybe some breakdowns of how it was built.

    I’m right there with you in terms of hating the fact that Photoshop is kind of a requirement to be seen as a good builder, but I suspect that’s largely because I haven’t bothered to master it. There’s certainly a bare minimum you should meet when taking pictures of your MOCs (good lighting, in focus, etc), but not every spaceship needs to be Photoshopped into a star field with glowing exhaust (for instance). It’s also interesting that this need to Photoshop everything doesn’t seem as prevalent in other hobbies like building model kits (especially Gundam model kits, aka “gunpla”), where I often see pictures of finished works photographed on the builder’s work desk or at a convention.

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    1. I think the photography standards started out pretty low for us and then were pushed higher as more photography/graphic design folks entered the scene. Some of the edits out there are damn impressive without overshadowing the model, but I’m still a sucker for the minimalist background with good lighting a la Calin (Tiler_ on Flickr). His edits look deceptively simple but he puts a lot of effort into them.

      That said, photography is my most dreaded part of the hobby. I put a lot of time into polishing my MOCs and I’m constantly frustrated by my lack of know-how to do the same with their presentation. I’ve always liked the artistic aspect of photography, but the technical minutia is a particularly menacing rabbit hole for me to go down.

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      1. It’s not evil but it is absolutely necessary. The quality of images now has really upped the ante in the presentation area. The websites are getting much better with resolution so everyone on this building end MUST keep up.

        I like to think of the photography end of this endeavor like a frame for a painting or a base for a sculpture, it shouldn’t ever detract from the art but should rather pose it properly to fulfill the artist’s complete vision. I know some artists like Mark Kelso make their own frames and it is the exclamation point for the sentence that is that artwork. Otherwise it is just a period and filler material. With Lego there is so much potential and possibility for the edits that to pass up the opportunity, even for just a plain but very well done background clean up, the vision fades quickly.

        Presentation is something that needs to be considered at the start of any and all projects. If you cannot say what you mean, then you cannot mean what you say; if you can’t show what you’ve done, then you can’t do. It’s brutal to say that but it’s the truth in the eyes of the audience, and should be in every artists mind too. How often have you passed over a build because it was posed on a wrinkled sheet with harsh lighting and an out of focus camera? EVERY time. You never remember the build in that case, only the fact that it burned your eyes to look at the whole image. Presentation is vital for the complete artwork. This goes for every bit of art and Art out there including Lego.

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      2. You’ve got the right attitude about it Matt, I should probably give up fighting it one of these years and just figure out how to be a better photographer / presenter. I’m a creature of habit though, and I’m spoiled to want everything involved with the hobby to be fun. I tend to viciously cut out the stuff and people who are not fun.

        I like your analogy of Kelso making his own frames…but man, if I was a painter I’d be the same way…fuck making a frame, which way to the frame store. I’m lazy and that’s why I’m no Kelso, or Tyler Clites, I’m a hack with a huge collection and the willingness to use it.

        I admit to being suspicious of people who have to much photo processing, I always wonder what sins the effects are hiding. I think people can definitely go too far with it, changing colors and blurring unsightly elements. That stuff pisses me off far more than it should.

        Good insights once again, dude.

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      3. Agreed, the presentation standards have ramped-up as the hobby has become more and more popular, especially among younger builders who are more likely to have the skill-set for post production. Believe me, if I was comfortable with the program and I could do it in a timely matter I would do the same thing, I’m just not willing to take the time to learn and practice. Some of the results are great, but as you sayh, there is a certain charm in the approach of people like Calin.

        I think we’re in the same boat, I dread the process of photography but I do love framing the shot and going for something cinematic. That’s one of the most rewarding things about big dioramas, getting that long…sweeping shot.

        Thanks Christopher!

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    2. Yeah, I probably place too high a premium on immersion, but I can’t escape the notion that to show the edges lessens the impact of the the model. I know some people would much rather see the ugly truth of the back-side or where the edges of the project are, but very rarely can I bring myself to do it.

      That’s a good observation, you really don’t see the slavish devotion to photoshop in other hobbies, the focus on presentation has perhaps become a distraction, I’m honestly not sure. I know I’m getting tired of models posted against a blinding white background, it looks so unnatural and kind of unpleasant. Part of the reason I build dioramas is to avoid photoshop. I don’t need a digital background, I’ll build my own. Of course not everyone has the luxury of space or inventory to do such a thing, but it’s my favorite option. I’ve got nothing against picking up a new skill like photography or photoshop, but it just doesn’t interest me, and to really be good at something you have to have the patience and motivation to learn. I have limited free time, like everyone else, and I don’t want to spend it meticulously tweaking photos.

      Thanks for the feedback!

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      1. To me, a big part of the impact of these large dioramas comes from seeing the size of them, and I can’t quite do the mental arithmetic to appreciate that size without a pullback shot.
        It also occurred to me that perhaps the reason it feels like the Lego community sometimes emphasizes fancy photos more than other hobbies is that my primary means of seeing other people’s MOCs is Flickr, which is a site that caters to photography, whereas for my other hobbies it’s mostly personal blogs and Facebook. You certainly don’t see the same level of Photoshop frenzy on Brickshelf, for instance.

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      2. I thought about the Flickr effect, but I think the emphasis on presentation would have developed regardless of the site. Even MOCpages, where the focus is decidedly not on the photo quality, saw a great deal of improvement. I almost never look at Brickshelf, but I’ll take your word for it. I think it’s a function of age too, I think photoshopping is, generlaly speaking, something younger people are better at and/or more interested in. That could be my bias as a techno-peasant showing through though.

        I’ll try and get a better pullback shot next time though, that seems to be the consensus.

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  3. Nice review, Keith. I’ve long been a fan of your big dioramas, so it’s cool to get to read about your process and what you thought worked.

    When you first posted Bucharest, I thought to myself, “This looks like Zero Hour.” Now though, looking back at both dioramas, I think Bucharest is the more successful iteration of the theme, if only slightly so. Zero Hour has a very effective sense of scale, and a lot of interesting details and building techniques. I’ve always loved all the fleeing minifigs on the upper-level, and the motorcycles on the lower roadway. However, I don’t think Zero Hour has quite enough ACTION. Everything just feels a little bit too ordered on the upper roadway, perhaps. Bucharest, though, has ACTION in spades. There’s just the right dose of chaos, and, as you say, the vignettes came together just right; the photography documents them particularly well. Anyway, I wouldn’t compare the two unfavorably. Both are successful in different ways.

    The lack of comments and big metrics sucks. This project definitely deserved more attention than it got. The Flickr/photography game is a hard one to play, especially if you’re more interested in building than taking pictures, editing, or self-promoting.

    I’m really enjoying the blog; it’s the most readable Lego material out there.

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    1. Thanks Nathaniel, I’m glad you found the review entertaining, that’s mission accomplished for me.

      I really appreciate your feedback on the Zero Hour comparison, although I was surprised to read that you prefer Bucharest, or at least that you thought it was a more successful iteration. I completely agree that Brian and I dropped the ball with the staging of the vehicles in the traffic jam, we should have had more chaos, more vehicles mid lane-change and fender-benders. By the time we got everything set up and lit just right, we were hard pressed for time so we just went for it without taking a second pass to improve the spectacle.

      Don’t get me wrong, the overall numbers are really good, over 100k hits for the entire album, and several of the contributors had huge numbers. I let my ego get bruised with the lack of comments, I thought that after a year or more away from the scene that people would have more to say. I think that was a mistake though, because you can’t expect comments if you don’t leave comments, and for that year off I didn’t have jack to say about anyone’s work.

      Thanks for the encouragement about the Manifesto, it keeps me going!

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  4. Moah trash!

    Brutally honest, I love that. I cannot disagree with any points at all, they are completely valid and sound. My “good” here was the overall presence of a futuristic, utilitarian, dystopia (kinda). It was a complete vision fully realized. I guess the “bad” would be directed more at the details. Lights would have been awesome here and there (instead of those shitty dollah store flashlights) as spots even though this reads as a daylight happening. Integrating them into the fixtures would have given a real overwhelming depression with the right color. I am on the fence regarding the sublevel disaster. A missed opportunity perhaps, but I see it detracting from all the other detailed nuance going on elsewhere. A build like this and Zero Hour are reliant upon there not being any specific “thing” going on but rather a sense of urgency or, in this case, mundane. There is something to be said about celebrating something like that AND wrangling such talented builders in to not go crazy ape bonkers on a simple vehicle set a dozen or so years in the future.

    The metrics of Bucharest are disappointing but the build certainly was NOT. There was more going on there than could really have been captured in a photo. Plus, it was open at both ends. Not just in the physical build and observable roadway but more in the narrative. AND that narrative is what I think mainly leaves people sort of dumbfounded by this. It’s not that it lacks a story, but aside from the crash into the light pole, there really wasn’t any specific focus to draw people in. The beauty of that was THAT IS THE POINT. Mundane! Every day! A goddamn bus stop! Not a battle on Hoth, not an evacuation of a city, not a castle siege; just a bus stop in Bucharest in the not too distant future. Don’t let the metrics determine the success of something like this because they are misleading. It relies on the public understanding and empathizing to some extent. It’s difficult expecting people to relate to an average day at a public transportation hub in a big city and not feel slightly miserable about being able to do so. Hooray, life sucks for everyone, at least there’s a PB&J in my lunch. -sigh-

    I find the best part of something like Bucharest, the best part of this blog, and the best part of self critique is that it IS communal. And specifically with Bucharest, that community may not have gotten the entire scope, but I wonder if any of us participants did. There are more potentials created than missed. Same with the blog and same with self critique. And it is why I keep asking what is next.

    This was an excellent example of how to be honest with yourself and certainly a rather brave thing to do. I can’t wait for you to do the same with Matango! 😉

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    1. awwwww yeaaaaaah, Chinee dollah flashlights, sometimes cheaper isn’t necessarily better. Those magnetic Ikea lights were the bomb though, I just wish they were a little stronger.

      I think you’re right, regardless of what the numbers say, more potentials were created than missed. I can’t believe you passed up an opportunity to tell the folks about your ground breaking idea. Since you’re too humble I’ll break it down for them.

      Matt had a brilliant idea about halfway through the project that to really drive home the notion of a gritty bus station we needed to have a container of urine housed somewhere in the MOC. Smell-O-vision! Brilliant stuff and surely the next step in convention presentation. We’ve seen lights, heard music and sound effects but never a smell. We thought one container with urine and another with stale beer or hotdog water. The man is a genius.

      It should also be noted that without Matt and his buses, this whole thing makes no damn sense.

      Hurray for the mundane, hurray Matango, and finally, hurray beet!

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      1. And it’s actually pretty good beer. Win, win! Hooray beer!

        I still think the tub o’ urine would have been the greatest kick to the daddy bags if you really want the true bus stop immersion. I would call foul if you had wanted to litter it with used syringes and condoms. That’s where I draw the line. XD

        I think the grittiness just wasn’t fully realized. Like Kyle’s tower, building that in is enormously difficult. But I think those were really the only lost opportunities. Brick built graffiti would have been a huge undertaking in itself, and in Romanian! Maybe like the Brixe signature under the bridge. A build this massive will always carry a load of we-shouldas with it. I think all we can hope for is to cover most of them, and that no one brings a plastic tub of yellow liquid after disappearing for an hour or so with a sixer of Red Stripe.

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  5. Endless possibilities of LEGO means we never be out of work, but being presented with so many choices does drive me crazy sometimes, and that’s at the low end of the scale.I usually include what I missed out on the current model, on the next one I build.

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    1. Too many choices can be problematic, that’s when I tend to fall back on tried and true boilerplate. It’s a shame because it’s the enemy of originality. I get the same way at the grocery store sometimes…if there are too many choices for the same product it fries a circuit in my brain. It’s good to know it’s a problem on the smaller end of the scale too. Thanks for the feedback, Angka!

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  6. I feel you with the pgotography part. Not a fan of it myself either, but photographing with a phone is a sin. Myself I have a weird dichotomy with it, because on one hand I dislike it and am bad at photography, but on the other hand I am overly proud and also want to give my creations all the respect they are due.

    Anyways, fun review. Some of that negative feedback seemed fake and forced and some positive self-praise was a bit off (both understandable, since criticising oneself is not a natural activity). The whatever was very insightful and objective though.

    Lastly, you might want to still make just one photo of the whole diorama with the edges and everything, so those with a more technical view towards art can appreciate it. See, some of us like to imagine what it would feel like to have made a MOC we are seeing, having it on the table with all the ugly parts showing and everything. I guess that must feel like looking at a stripper and imagining how it would feel to have her cook dinner for you and then sit besides you reading a magazine while you watch TV. And if you do not want to show a picture like that to the world (I guess that would be analogous to a fantasy of that stripper opening a chain restaurant line?), you can just make a photo like that and send it to me private.

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    1. I’m surprised you’re so down on phone photography, I thought most young people would celebrate the convenience and the relatively good quality. Sure it’s not as good as an SLR, but I didn’t think the results were that bad. It sure is easier to get things into focus.

      Wow, some of the negative feedback seemed fake? Well, I can assure you I was being quite honest. I don’t like the streetlights, I think the roadbed is too plane, the bridge-to nowhere is sloppy and the presentation was overkill. Don’t know what’s fake about any of that. Then again, I figured you’re doing your usual trolling thing, and I can appreciate that, it’s part of your image. I thought the “whatever” was the weakest part of the article, so that was surprising too.

      It’s far too late to take the kind of photo you’re talking about. RountRee too some pull-back shots at the convention, so check his photostream if you’re interested. Yeah, I don’t want to chill out with a stripper while she cooks. In my experience, strippers are predators that you don’t allow into your domicile…so I don’t really get the analogy but go for it man, it sounds like you’ve given it a great deal of thought. Like I said above, I don’t like those kind of photos, I like to preserve the illusion of immersion, it’s kind of my trademark. Next time I’ll send you a behind the scenes shot if you’re still interested.

      Thanks for the long-form comment, I do prefer it to your once-sentence wonders. I’ll try not to be so fake next time.

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  7. I find it hard to critique builds like this one. Truth be told, I find it hard to perceptively digest them to start with, for many of the reasons you outlined in your Bad section. The limits of photos to capture them in their entirely while still retaining a contextual viewpoint is difficult, if not impossible for most of us that don’t have access to a large professional studio. As a result, I tend to focus on the individual elements that my cookie cutter sensibilities can process. While that is fine to a degree, it staunches the soul of the project and its purpose. I think your other builds such as Logan’s Run and Highway Zero deftly negate this by establishing a very strong visual pattern that allows the viewer to easily see a tranche of it as part of unified whole. Within the pattern, the details germinate from the build and become part of the pattern. If you have something that is predominantly pattern (such as Spirit’s Rise), or more visually episodic such as Bus Stop, they don’t set up as rich of a harmony for the viewer’s eye to dance to.

    All this being said, the build is an absolute success. The power of the collaborative effort is resounding as always, and the elements of the dio are a degree’s worth of lessons to take away. The fact that you continually experiment on this large of scale and that each one leaps with hope into dark is amazing.

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    1. That’s good insight Gil, I never thought it that way but I guess sometimes people just don’t know what to say so they look, maybe they “favorite” and then move on. I can see what you’re saying about the difference between Logan’s Run and something Like Bucharest, the big patterns make the whole thing more easily digestible. With Bucharest things kind of jump around with no obvious focus like all the figs moving in one direction in Logan’s Run or the convoy on the Highway. Bucharest is a bunch of tiny scenes with only a nod towards a focal point or theme. All that stuff only seems to occur to me after the build is done and gone, I never give it much thought when the projects are in their initial stages. Maybe next time I’ll give it more thought, but these things tend to evolve more organically and spontaneously.

      Thanks for the feedback and encouragement, hopefully I can take it into account when I go back for the third in the road trilogy. The collaboration is definitely the key, I don’t think I could maintain interest or the quality level without the wild-cards provided by my fellow builders. I’m gonna need a Gil Shaw original next time so you should keep that in mind.

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      1. Deal! Just give me some heads up and I’d love to contribute.

        One thing I should clarify is that while I find the large dios hard to digest, I’m thrilled to simply because they ARE hard. The scale forces my out of my desktop build scale mindset and makes me work for the payoff. In someways, they are a bit of a reflection of this blog. As stated before, most of the other blogs out there are a show-and-tell affair (which are an important pillar of the community), but this one has a chair and whip and makes you sweat a little. Sure, sometimes reading one of Micheal’s treatises is like following Virginia Woolfe through the Ikea showroom, but you always get to the checkout and greatly appreciate both the journey and the purchase over your steaming $2 bucket of meatballs.

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      2. We finally got an Ikea in Vegas and I’m worried it’s gonna lead to my divorce. That place is particle board hell, I don’t care how cheap the lunch is.

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      3. Haha…yes. It’s one of the few arenas in modern Western life where my wife and I completely diverge. She and my daughter see it as Nordic Disneyland, while I see it as less preferable than a pine cone enema.

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