Boom! Finally Bob gets to join in on the artwork again, adding dust and effects and of course explosions. Bob would have been fine with just a panel or two of the crash and then a big explosion, because, y’know, explosions, but Max-The-Artist insisted the page would be stronger if he established some innocent bystanders first to really boost the visceral and emotional impact of the destruction. He was right. Usually is.

Of course, we didn’t expect to get pre-empted by actual terrorists. It’s worth mentioning once again that the script for this episode was written months and months ago. And (as Patrons who viewed the rough layout know) this particular page has been in progress for weeks; the idea of using an ambulance as a VBIED seemed particularly vile and coldblooded in the concept stage – just what we wanted. Plus as far as we knew it had never been done before. So we were patting ourselves on the back for our cleverness and having a good time and getting ready to put this page up… when just before we post, the Taliban decides to use a real ambulance as a VBIED and kills a whole bunch of real live people.

Sigh. Naturally our hearts go out to the victims and their families. And we did consider holding this page back just because of it. But hell, if we wuss out like that just because something happens that we had nothing to do with, well, The Terrorists Have Won. So we’re publishing the page, but we wish to emphasize that A) What Bob blew up was a toy; B) No one was hurt in any way; and C) This is fiction.

On the upside – hey! New vote incentive!

And more below!





One of the reasons I was looking forward to this page is that I finally have a decent camera (a Panasonic GH5) that shoots pretty decent slow-motion in HD. Now, I know some of you are going to pipe up that you have phones that shoot HD slow-motion, or that some GoPro cameras will shoot slow-motion in 4K. Let it be said that I have both such a phone and a GoPro, and while they’re good, they are not good enough. It all comes down to something called “bitrate,” which is the amount of information per second that the camera can record. If what you’re recording is someone doing BMX bikeflips in the park, those lesser cameras do give great slo-mo results. With all the trees and rocks and excitement, you’ll never even notice all the compression artifacts caused by the camera’s processor trying to keep up with the action.

But if you really want to see those cameras fail, try to shoot some full-frame drifting white smoke or steam or dust against a black background. Or for that matter, billowing black smoke against a blue sky. Once the entire frame starts filling up with billions of tiny moving particles, a digital camera really starts to panic. It will choose large areas that are mostly almost the same gray color and it will make them exactly the same. You get a big jagged chunk of flat gray in your drifting smoke. And that looks bad, especially when you’re trying to key out the background to use the effect elsewhere.

If one has the budget for a RED camera or – lordy – a Phantom, plus all the lenses and requisite accessories to go with them, then hey, no problem. But that ain’t me. For me, it wasn’t until the GH5 came along that I was able to get a decent-bitrate camera capable of shooting fairly clean slo-mo at a price that I could actually justify. (Plus it could use all the lenses I’d already purchased for my earlier GH4, so that was a bonus.) I had to buy super-high-speed memory cards for it though. There’s always something.

In truth, the shot actually used on this page was not filmed with the GH5; I was also shooting with my GH4 in 4Kp30, and it just so happened to catch the best frame. I’d rather expected that. But I did have the GH4 shooting at 1080p120 at a wider angle, just to see the results, and I have to say they were encouraging. The clip below has been compressed for the web, so you will see some artifacts; but the actual footage from the camera is nice and clean.


I wasn’t able to find an actual die-cast scale model of an ambulance for the shot, which I would have preferred; instead I had to use a rather obvious plastic toy and do a lot of work on it. For those Patrons at the Digital Onslaught level and above, there is a 4-minute “Behind The Page” video here which shows some of the process involved. Naturally, that was shot weeks ago.


But what it doesn’t show is my expression when I clicked open Google News on Friday morning. Rather like our hapless orderly here.

Damn. I suppose, given the core concept of our adventures here, these things are going to happen occasionally. But still.


— Bob out