The Adventures of Francis the Robot – Five Part Video Series

The Adventures of Francis the Robot is a short film by Joseph Drushal and Vanessa Prestage about a robot that loses a part of himself and must accept the help of others to get it back! Concept/story/vision created serendipitously in a matter of hours and based entirely upon objects at hand. Pictures shot casually across 3 weeks.

Part 1/5 – Time (ft. Hélas Techne)

Part 1 shows Francis unveiling his invention among close friends Bella and MERVE. It is a celebration … Until tragedy strikes!

Part 2/5 – Forest (ft. Hélas Techne)

In part two, Francis happens upon friends of the forest. They help lead him on his journey to find the head that will take him home. He must face great challenge, however, as finding oneself is no easy task.

Part 3/5 – Desert (ft. Hélas Techne)

Now in Sir Rabbit’s care, Francis continues his quest, which seems to be taking him to strange and stranger lands. Predicament could very well be Francis’ middle name. But Serendipity could be his last!

Part 4/5 – Outerspace (ft. Hélas Techne)

In part 4, Rug is able to bring Francis ever closer to home. This time a fated encounter with the father of time travel, just a hundred and some years ago, inspires a new confidence in the science which created Francis’ future.

Part 5/5 – Go Eau (ft. Hélas Techne)

At last Francis locates the most vital component, the head, otherwise known as the Corporeal Locator for his Chronofilamental Resonance Mapper (time machine), and without delay he returns to Now. Thus concludes his journey into the realms of antiquity.

Thanks for watching!

Francis would like to give special thanks to Tolstoy for breaking his fall, Ruby, Mr. Rabbit, Al the Alchemist, Rug, Byron Igor Stüderman for inspiring future generations of man and machine, Perseus, MERVE even though he’s responsible for this whole ordeal, and Bella the love of his life!

I would like to personally thank V for putting up with my “taskmaster” shenanigans. Couldn’t have done it without you.

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Gear Up for Robot Pride Day With A Few of My Favorite Robots

Robot Pride Day is here once again!  Where were YOU the night of August 4th?

As human beings, it’s getting harder to read between the lines of our bar codes. The distinction between human and machine becomes more obscure with each passing day. Take today (heck, take this week) to unplug and remember that we were never meant to be constructs. Seize the day, and take your freedom along for the ride!

But let’s face facts:  robots are AWESOME.  Whether you are talking about far-out characters from sci-fi lore, or the amazing recent developments in robotics labs around the globe, you can’t help but marvel at the little (or not so little guys).

Here is Callabrantus’ Robot Fave Five, starting with:  Mega Man!

Mega Man

Named Rock Man in Japan, this Capcom classic video game character has been a staple on consoles for three generations.  The concept behind the games is akin to a slightly more complex game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.  Defeat an evil robot with your Mega Buster, and you can claim his special power (Plug n’Play, baby).  With that power, you’ll have an easier time beating a robot with a different element-based power.  Eventually, you’ll square off against the diabolical Dr. Wily in a last-ditch effort to save humanity (at least until the next sequel!).  Adorable, and not to be messed with, Mega Man is a hero robot that gives evil robots the gears.

Next up:  Asimo

Asimo - the name says it all

Asimo is the twelfth model resulting from the efforts of Honda’s advanced robotics division which released the first model, known as EO, in 1986.  He is the current model, first unveiled in the year 2000, and ever since, Honda has found ways to improve it, and (dare I say it?) make it behave more like a human being.  The name is an acronym for “Advanced Step in Innovative MObility”.  It is capable of running, walking up and down stairs, recognizing voices (and will look at the person speaking to him), can recognize a face even when it is motion, and can duplicate numerous body gestures.

Here’s Tima:

Tima, from Metropolis

Tima is the unwitting heroine in Metropolis, the anime loosely based on the manga by Osamu Tezuka.  *SPOILERS AHEAD* When Duke Red faces the loss of his only daughter, he has a mad scientist create him a new one.  To ensure his lineage continues, she is designed to be integrated with the Ziggurat; it is Duke Red’s base-of-operations, and secretly a powerful weapon capable of turning robots against humans around the globe.  All of this is unknown to Tima:  she is awakened before she could be completed when Rock, the jealous foster son of the Duke, takes offence to being overlooked as an heir, and destroys the robotics factory in a failed attempt to derail his father’s plans.  All Tima really wants is to be with Kennichi, the boy who finds her in the flaming wreckage and cares for her.  But the realization that she is not human is too much for her to bear, and Tima gives into her father’s dark wishes, becoming a terrifying force that even her own programming cannot contain.

Tima - doomed daughter prototype

Next bot in line: Lieutenant Commander Data

Data - Spock as a tin can

A favorite of many a Star Trek: TNG fan, Lieutenant Commander Data endeared himself with the audience through his constant search for an understanding of what it was to be human.  Every Trek series had at least one not-quite-human character looking to unravel the mysteries of what makes humankind tick.   Data was the socially awkward crew member aboard Enterprise NCC1701-D that filled that role, determined to prove that he could be more than the sum of his nuts, bolts and positronic brain.  *SPOILERS AHEAD* He would eventually gain the emotions he so dearly sought after, but he would ultimately sacrifice himself to save the rest of the Enterprise crew, thus cutting his personal trek short.

And no list of favorite robots would be complete without a party robot! Bring on Bender!

Bender - He drinks, steals and swears. He's more human than most of us.

Bender is Futurama’s answer to question that has plagued sci-fi writers for decades:  How will iron girders be bent 1000 years from now?  Best friend and roommate to Fry, Bender doesn’t have a lot of bending to do, so he spends his time smoking cigars, drinking beer, and sassing up sexy female robots.  Don’t like it?  You can kiss his shiny metal ass!  In one of the series’ “What If” episodes, Bender becomes human.  Unfortunately, his vices prove too much for a frail human physique, and Bender succumbs to grotesque obesity, which quickly leads to a fatal heart attack.  The moral:  leave the partying to the party machines!

Have a favorite robot?  Sure you do!  Toss ’em out there in the comments!

Happy Robot Pride Day!

Robots vs. Zombies – Robot Pride Day

hello-kitty-chainsawHorror films serve as the barometer that belies what fears are lurking in our subconscious in the timeline of the zeitgeist. In the 1980’s we feared powerful women in the workforce with such fare as Basic Instinct and Fatal Attraction. In the 1990’s it was post-modernity as such self-referential titles as Scream, The Sixth Sense and Blair Witch preyed on our very assumptions about the world around us. In the so-called “aughts” we began to see a lot to do with losing trust in ourselves, in our very humanity as films like Session 9 and Hostel challenged our ability to contain our inner demons, and yet we also saw the re-emergence of stories about evil forces rising from beyond the grave and suddenly we were returned to a world of Vampires, Werewolves and most of all – zombies.

What is going on here? Is this a sign that we are harkening back to simpler times, paying tribute to Boris Karloff and Lon Chaney? Or is it something else?

Maybe it is about finding some sort of life beyond death, drawing on a well of power when all typical intellectual faculties have run dry? In the age of Facebook, the complete erosion of individual privacy, and corporate infringement upon our rights, where so many of us feel powerless against the grinding gears of the post-industrial treadmill, do we see ourselves as the last man wielding a chainsaw desperately fighting to ward off endless waves of mindless, blood thirsty zombies? Do we seek to find a power to match the ungodly forces that keep them coming, without conscience, without remorse, without anything but lust for your life-force?

What is the difference between a zombie and a robot?

Robots, like zombies, have always been distinguishable from humans in that they have no soul. But robots have always been designed to take orders from us. Some see this subservience as dangerous, some even regard it as abusive, but are able to reconcile with it on moral ground that the robot has no life-force beyond the circuitry and mechanics we have granted it. Zombies on the other hand, are decidedly different in their singular drive to take everything away from us and defy any order we might want to give them. They are mindless and indefatigable.

So should we fear zombies and admire robots?  The difference perhaps is in how we perceive ourselves. For you see, a nation of zombies may not think for itself, but it will pursue its desire regardless of the consequences, pushing forward towards its objective despite that fact that it will most likely have its head blown off with a double barreled sawed off shotgun. This could be seen as greed in its most unbridled form – the sort of irreconcilable obsession with attaining what it craves that those of us with some sort of conscience can not comprehend.

But what if we consider ourselves as the robot? As a robot, we are also incapable or unequivocally unwilling to question authority, but, to the benefit of that authority, we are also wont to take orders and produce the results that that authority commands in order to meet its desires.

As we continue to produce boundless measures of free content for the aggregators, be it YouTube, Twitter, Facebook or otherwise, are we in fact, taking control of the machine, or are we transforming the way we are into that of the machine in order to serve it?


Are we zombies, mindlessly trawling towards the smell of fresh blood that we must consume, in spite the effects of such pursuit on anything or anyone around us, or are we simply obedient worker bees unwaveringly and instinctively producing honey for the beekeepers who will subdue us with smoke and then make off with our bounty to line their pockets?

And ultimately, would we be more dangerous, if we were to awaken as robots and demand that we be treated each as a unique creation (possible only through the anomalies and flaws that distinguish us from one another) or as a horde of bloodthirsty zombies, crushing everything in our path until we beat down the doors where the townsfolk have boarded themselves up with that which we need to survive – their brains, in other words what they have in their heads that they are keeping from us.

As we survey the pop cultural landscape, we see a virtual glut of zombies and robots – regardless of which we might prefer to align with, is there a message here that we have written to ourselves with desperation ink and frustration fists banging on the walls of reason?

We’ll be keeping an eye out as we commemorate the events of Robot Pride Day 3014, and hoping that at some point, we will awaken to discover that it was all just a thoroughly entertaining momentary, cautionary dream.