Dell M3800 Mobile Workstation
Ever since Michael Dell pulled the company reins away from stockholders and back into private ownership, there seems to have been a push to increase innovation while also making sure not to leave us professionals behind. From consumer desktops to Precision Workstations to 4K monitors, Dell wants to satisfy everyone. And this is what brings me to the M3800 Mobile Workstation.
At 4.6 pounds, the M3800 is pretty much the thinnest, lightest “laptop” in its class (being beat out by 0.1 pounds by the MacBook Pro). The body is single molds of aluminum with carbon fiber, making it not only light, but pretty to look at. However, it makes it more vulnerable to bumps and bruises. So, don’t throw it.
The interior is a 2.2-GHz Intel i7 processor with 16 GB of RAM and a 512-GB solid-state hard drive, so there is enough punch to get most mid-level animation, editing or visual-effects work accomplished. Aside from the foundation guts, the joy inside is the NVIDIA Quadro K1100 pushing the 15.6-inch display up to 3,200 x 1,800 dpi – a resolution so high that I had to drop it just to make the touchscreen usable.
Despite pushing the system with some pretty heavy-duty calculations, it miraculously stayed cool enough to work with it on my lap, and the palm rests and touchpad seemed to heat up not at all.
While the M3800 may not have as much oomph as its bigger brother, the 4800, or the competing HP ZBook, the power-to-size ratio is a huge selling point. If you are frequently working on-set or on the road, I would seriously consider the Dell. Your back will thank you. That being said, if you find yourself in the field, on location, or otherwise rugged territory, go with the 4800 or the HP ZBook. The M3800 is a little sports car with a lot of horses – not a 4 x 4 truck. It deserves to be kept clean and shiny.
Turning Point: 1997- 2008 is a collection of interviews, articles, speeches and poems by Hayao Miyazaki from the years when he made some of his most mature films: Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001) and Howl’s Moving Castle (2004).
Miyazaki doesn’t offer a genial tour of his career and ideas, as Chuck Jones did in Chuck Amuck or Ed Catmull in Creativity, Inc. He follows his intrests where they take him, from a proposal for a short film for the Ghibli Museum to what he thinks Japanese schools are doing wrong, to the mistaken views many people hold about the natural world. It’s difficult to imagine an American director, even one as gentle as Pete Docter, writing poems about the characters in his films, yet Miyazaki writes of Ashitaka, the hero of Princess Mononoke: “Though cruel fate toyed with him / How deeply he loved people and the forest … / How clear were his eyes.”
When he focuses on books and films that have inspired him, Miyazaki cites two features American readers are unlikely to have seen: Tale of the White Snake (sometimes referred to as Panda and the Magic Serpent) by Taiji Yabushita (1958) and Lev Atamanov’s adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen (1957). He notes Atamanov’s emphasis on Gerda’s dream of rescuing her beloved Kai from the clutches of the title char- acter, adding, “… from a young age I had always thought that the medium of animation was particularly suited to depicting that dream.” The Snow Queen made him glad he had become an animator: “Up until that point, I had just been punching a time card at work every day, wondering if I should do something more with my life.”
Miyazaki’s literary tastes are eclectic. He praises the juvenile novels of British author Robert Westall, and wrote and drew a design for the wrapping of a re-issue of three books by novelist Yoshie Hotta. Not surprisingly, he treats the work of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry with special warmth. No one described the pilot’s mentality with comparable poetic elegance, and Miyazaki has incorporated his fascination with flight into virtually all his films. He retraced the mail route in Saint-Exupéry’s memoir Wind, Sand and Stars, from Toulouse to Cap Juby, Morocco, in a vintage airplane, savoring the link to a book he clearly loves.
During this time, Miyazaki also planned the Ghibli Museum in Mitaka, which opened in 2002. He did not want to create an “arrogant museum” that “treats its contents as if they were more important than people,” but a space where “… visitors can enjoy just by looking, can understand the artists’ spirits, and can gain new insights into animation.” He succeeded.
Miyazaki has frequently said he dislikes be- ing interviewed. Like Bill Watterson, the reclusive creator of Calvin and Hobbes, he prefers to make brilliant works of art and be left alone — an attitude that seems almost subversive in today’s self-promoting media culture. But the mutual respect and affection between Miyazaki and British stop-motion director Nick Park is almost palpable in a long discussion held at the 18th Tokyo International Film Festival in 2005. (An Aardman exhibit was held at the Ghibli Museum in 2006-2007.)
Some of the subjects that engage Miyazaki’s attention will be unfamiliar to American readers. He reflects on how humans have changed the landscapes and forests of Japan. At an exhibit of recently excavated objects from a Jomon era village (c. 12,000 to c. 300 B.C.E.), he speculates about the lives of the people who inhabited it, which leads to a series of vivid watercolor sketches.
The lively translation by Beth Cary and Frederik L. Schodt effectively captures the tone of Miyazaki’s speech. A companion volume to Starting Point: 1979-1996, Turning Point: 1997-2008 belongs in the library of any serious animator, animation student or fan, along with the volumes of Miyazaki’s storyboards.
However, in an interview conducted in 1998, Miyazaki commented sardonically, “We animators are involved in this occupation because we have things that we left undone in our childhood. Those who enjoyed their childhood to the fullest don’t go into this line of work. Those who fully graduated from their childhood leave it behind.”
& Iron, Stones is joined by veteran TV director Victor Cook, and takes Hellboy and company on a wild tour of a haunted mansion to uncover a plot to resurrect a beautiful but monstrous vampire. Oh, and they have to fight off a few harpies, a werewolf and an evil goddess along the way. Cheers to the big 2-0, you glorious red bastard! [Release date: May 13]