Dragon Films

Webmaster Webmaster

A quick note to all you Internet archaeologists: this was written in 2003, so as you might imagine, things are a bit different these days. Rather than try to summarize everything that has happened since this was written, I'll let you piece together your own story by finding me on Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. - Greg

Greetings, I am Greg Strnad, webmaster of Dragon Films. Allow me to introduce myself a bit. I am 19 years old and live with my parents and brother in a nice ranch house in Ohio. I graduated top in my high school class in 2002 and am currently in my second year at Case Western Reserve University. My major area of academic study is computer science, in which I plan to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree, and I am also minoring in Japanese (I plan to spend my Junior year abroad in Japan to study). During the summer I work as a computer technician for the North Royalton City School District and do house-calls for computer repair; when not at work I am usually sitting at my Sony VAIO computer, listening to video game music on my headphones and creating something: webpages with HTML and ASP, computer programs with C++ and DirectX, digital artwork with Adobe Photoshop Elements and various graphics programs, movies with 3DMM, and, of course, Dragon Films.

Although some people call me a nerd or a dork, I consider myself to be more of a geek. I wear glasses, I do stuff on the computer that makes people's heads spin, and I enjoy mathematics and physics. And no, I don't get out too much. But that's okay, since I acquire personal satisfaction by getting things done on the computer, such as Dragon Films. However, I do have a life outside computers (believe it or not). When I'm not typing away at my computer, I busy myself with writing novels, playing chess, drawing, filming live-action movies, and reading (usually books about quantum physics, astrophysics, or computer programming, although I do fancy the Redwall series by Brian Jacques). During the summer I play co-ed softball with the city softball league, and when at Case I practice Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art that includes a lot of kicks, flips, and break-dance-ish moves). I also play Dance Dance Revolution and take pride in the fact that I can clear even 10-foot songs with little difficulty. As an example, I have obtained an A or AA rating on every song in DDR Max for the PS2, including Max 300 on Heavy, the only 10-foot song on DDR Max. For a song that makes you hit the pads 555 times in a minute and a half, I think an A is rather decent! Sometime or another I plan on building yet another website that will be all about me and what I do: photos, digital artwork, journals, all that kind of stuff. Don't know when that will be done, though... but as soon as it is it will most definitely be linked to Dragon Films.

Dragon Films began back in 1998 primarily as a site to host one of my old movies series, Final Fantasy VIII... the Legend Continues (which, by the way, is still available for download here!). Through Dragon Films I have learned quite a bit about programming, site design, and even a lot about myself. Prior to Dragon Films, my websites were primarily simple text-based sites with some graphics here and there. They weren't terrible, but they weren't exactly great either. The evolution of Dragon Films over the years (which you can see below, by the way) is a testament to how my programming skills have developed. And in a sense, I feel that I have grown up too alongside Dragon Films. It has taught me a lot about time management, dealing with loads of stress, communicating with people from across the globe, and balancing my computer life with my human life. Sometimes I see Dragon Films as a childhood friend I grew up with: we shared a lot of great times, quite a few sad times, and we both matured quite a bit. At other times I see Dragon Films as my own child: I gave it life and poured out my heart to help it grow to the website it is today. And at other times I see Dragon Films as my mentor: it has taught me things about life I never would have learned otherwise.

There are volumes more I could say about my life, philosophies, hobbies, and so on, but instead of putting it all up here, I'll invite you to talk with me sometime. I enjoy getting feedback about my site, answering questions about Dragon Films or computers in general, or just carrying on intelligent conversations. I would especially appreciate it if you reported errors on the site to me: graphical errors, programming errors, and the like. Don't be shy; I don't bite. I'm not really a dragon... not yet, anyway.

In tribute to Dragon Films's past, present, and future, I have reconstructed the previous versions of my site from old backups of the HTML and graphic files I made many years ago. Below you can see the evolution of Dragon Films from its humble beginning in 1998 to how it is now. Long live the experience.

The Original Dragon Films

This is Dragon Films in 1998, when it was first made. Simple, centered text made up most of the site, with a few graphics (mostly made in 3DMM) tossed in. The main attraction was the great animated GIF at the top: a rotating cube welcoming visitors to the site with a cool scanned image of the 3DMM CD. In those days, animated graphics like that were unheard of. This page was also the birthplace of the classic Theaters image, which I used to welcome guests to the Theater page for many years.

The Ultimate Dragon Films

Next came the Ultimate Dragon Films. Its main features were the cool animated logos at the top, and the not-as-cool gigantic animated pictures throughout the site. Those other animations caused Dragon Films to load so slowly it wasn't funny... fortunately I un-animated them eventually (which made the images load at least 10 times faster, no joke). This version also saw a primitive form of the sidebar that would be present on every following Dragon Films site. Back then, I had some big problems programming with frames, so I ended up doing the entire site with tables (which made changing the sidebar a real pain). One of the best features, I think, was the great implementation of disco MIDI in the background. A tear came to my eye when "Night Fever" began playing when I loaded up the site after reconstructing it.

Dragon Films: Omega Update

Then sometime before the turn of the millenium millennium, Dragon Films went through what I called the "Omega Update" and adopted the computer-like "sidebar" which hosted all the links. This was a giant accomplishment for me... I was just starting to create more complex images and experiment with high-quality 3D-rendered graphics, such as the Dragon Films sphere which you see here. While the banner at the top still read "The Ultimate Dragon Films", it was more of "The Ultimate Dragon Films 2.0". One of the neat features on this version (which was also present in the previous version) was the 3DMM Directors List, which was my attempt at getting people to know each other before the 3DMM Community really established itself. This directory has since been removed due to its massive length and always-out-of-date information.

Dragon Films 2000

When 2000 arrived, I decided to do another massive resurgence to the site once again, and the site became (surprise) Dragon Films 2000. This time I adopted, for the first time, JavaScript image rollovers on the sidebar, which made the buttons "light up" when the cursor was moved over them. It was also at about this time I started to seriously consider intense image optimization, something that I learned to be crucial to making websites. Using all the tools I could find, I did my best to made Dragon Films as low-bandwidth as possible, but still full of the graphics that I (and my visitors, I assumed) liked. DF2K saw another attempt at frames for the sidebar, which I was still trying to get down... however, I still couldn't figure out why they didn't work correctly!

Dragon Films of 2001: Original Update

When 2001 came, DF2K really didn't make much sense anymore (it wasn't 2000 anymore, now was it?). So I made what I called the Dragon Films "Original" update, one which went back to the "roots" of Dragon Films. Everything on the site was cleaned up, polished, and put back on display. I completely reworked several sections of the site to get them running smoothly, and finally figured out how to get frames to work correctly (now I know it was because I put a BODY tag on my index page... that was the only thing that was messing me up all this time!). This is probably the design most long-time visitors remember the best.

Dragon Films in 2003

After years of operation, Dragon Films reached a state that was superior to all previous iterations in terms of design, layout, efficiency, and visual appeal. The images were super-compressed and designed to "flow" together with the rest of the site, which came complete with visual niceties such as rounded edges on graphics. Aside from a complete reconstruction of the layout and movie searching system, I also took the time to rework all of the policies on Dragon Films, from rating movies to sending website links. Everything was explained in plain English, with little doubt of what I meant. In this design, everything was made just using plain HTML typed up on Notepad and some simple JavaScript. Little did I know, however, that all of this would lead to problems later on when I entered college. Updating Dragon Films became difficult because of the massive HTML overhead, and there was no way I could streamline the updating process; everything had to be done by hand. Thus was the stage set for the biggest evolution of Dragon Films yet...

Dragon Films Sigma

At first glance, you may wonder what is different about Dragon Films aside from a few visual updates. Everything looks pretty much the same, and there doesn't seem to be anything very revolutionary going on. That is exactly what you should be thinking, though, for the most important changes are not always the most obvious. The current iteration of Dragon Films, which I code-named "Sigma" because it is the sum of many years of programming and research, harnesses the awesome power of ASP and SQL databases to deliver a website that can be custom-built to each individual visitor. Perhaps the most significant change, though, is the fact that updating the site no longer requires me to painstakingly go through several pages of titanic HTML files. Instead, I simply update the central database and Dragon Films Sigma updates itself in real-time. In addition, sitewide modifications, additions, and deletions are a snap: I just have to update a few lines of the Dragon Films programming instead of wading through over a hundred HTML files. All this makes for what I believe is the coolest, most user-friendly (and webmaster-friendly) Dragon Films ever. My dreams have truly become reality... thank you for sharing the experience with me.

Dragon Films 1998-2006 Greg Strnad. All rights reversed. 
Dragon Films