Dell M3800 Mo­bile Work­sta­tion

Animation Magazine - - Visual Effects -

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]

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