Web Wanderings - Ren captures medieval fantasy atmosphere

Yorkton This Week’s editorial staff takes readers on an explorative journey around the Internet, searching out the best in videos, podcasts, webcomics, music and anything else that catches their collective eyes which might interest our readers.

A good fantasy show almost always draws my interest, Lord of the Rings on the big screen and the Shannara Chronicles on the small, being examples.
So when I happened upon Ren: The Girl with the Mark, it was pretty much an automatic view for me.
“When a sheltered young woman, Ren, is possessed and her face branded by a powerful ancient spirit, she becomes feared by all who see her. Even when far from home and hunted by the powerful ruling order of the Kah’Nath she refuses to accept her fate and journeys across the land to discover what she is and if there are any others like her. Joined on her perilous quest by a small band of outcasts, led by the charismatic Hunter, she discovers that the truths she has been taught may all have been lies,” details a Kickstarter campaign page which raised more the 35,000 British pounds to see the series come to life.
And bring it to life they most certainly did.
The first thing you notice when clicking on episode one is the quality of everything about the film.
The sets are amazing, and the costuming on par with anything for the aforementioned television and movie fantasies.
Actress Sophie Skelton is feisty and charming in the lead role of Ren, and Duran Fulton Brown does an admirable job of the roguish hero Hunter.
Yet it might be Christopher Dane as the mysterious Karn who carries the day as the most interesting of characters here.
The first episodes (about 10-minutes each) “introduce our heroine, Ren, and the small village, nestled in the woods, which she calls home. We’ll meet her father and her little brother, whom she adores, and we’ll also meet her outcast mentor, Karn, who could be the link to the real story of the Marked. But all is not idyllic and we soon come face to face with the Kah’Nath, the warrior monk-like order ruling Ren’s part of the world, and Hunter, a young rogue who seems to be the guardian of a Marked girl. It’s a dramatic, exciting and fun start to the incredible adventure that Ren and her small group of outcasts eventually embark on,” notes the Kickstarter page.
And therein lies the one unfortunate aspect of this great series, we really only get a taste. It appears a second season may still be forthcoming, but for now you quickly immerse yourself in a story that has the sort of feel of the best of Robin Hood when I was a youngster, with just a bit more magic hinted at.
I wish there was more, was left hoping more will be made one day, and yet still I am happy I took the time to watch what is already there because it was fantasy at its finest. Check it out at www.rentheseries.com
— Calvin Daniels

Game music series
While there was a time that people would be roundly mocked for having an interest in the music from video games, the songs and sounds of 8-bit and 16-bit games have become fairly influential in the long run. Take a look at the wide range of musicians interviewed for Red Bull Music Academy’s six-part web series Diggin’ in the Carts (http://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/digging-in-the-carts), what was a weird niche hobby has become pretty mainstream. Of course, given that everyone can hum the melody from Super Mario Bros, that shouldn’t be a huge shock.
The six-part series covers the origin of Japanese game music and the evolution of the medium, as new technology took over and composers were allowed the freedom to do more. Composers talk about their challenges, their inspirations, and what they wanted to accomplish with the music they composed.
It seems like a niche subject but there’s something of interest for anyone, whether it’s musicians, fans of technology, game nerds or even just people interested in the creative process. Even people who otherwise have no interest in games can find something to enjoy in the series, and people obsessed with games should watch just to see conversations with the composers behind some of their favorite titles.
Take, for example, the story of composer Masashi Kageyama, who did the soundtrack of Gimmick for the NES, which was released in Europe and Japan but not North America. He talks about how he had left music for many years before discovering someone from New York playing his compositions from the game on YouTube, and that inspired him to pick up his instruments and begin composing again. It’s a genuinely uplifting little story, and just one of many from the composers interviewed.
It also doesn’t just stick to the hits. Mainstream titles like Street Fighter II and Sonic the Hedgehog are talked about on the same level as Lagrange Point, which very few people outside of Japan have even heard of, let alone played. The thread that ties it all together is the quality of the music, which is great. It is all synthesizers, which not everyone will like, but even people who aren’t fans might appreciate the hoops people went through to make those sounds.
There are inevitably composers they didn’t cover and games they didn’t mention, and the series stops when games move to optical media and can use pre-recorded tracks as opposed to synthesizers. There’s a lot more material to be mined here, and one hopes that there’s a sequel series to highlight more music and bring it to a wider audience.
— Devin Wilger

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