Snow in May

A couple of days ago we had a nice spring snow fall so I took this shot of our neighbor’s tree. I think it makes a good reference shot (especially for those of you who don’t get the benefits of snow in those milder climates). Of course all the snow is gone now and it’s quite warm (24C or around 75F). If you click on the image it will load the larger version (about 225kb).

Upgrade part 2

So the upgrade is almost complete, but I’m sure I’ll be tweaking things here and there. Quite a different look this time around, but I think it has both form and function. For those of you in the USA, have a great Memorial Day weekend!

Upgrade

You will have no doubt noticed that the old blog has changed back to a ‘Wordpress’ default look and feel. I thought that it was time I upgraded wordpress so until I decide on a theme I’ll just use this one. Edit: I’ve also enabled comments for new posts. Hopefully spam will be limited.

Insomniac Artists

The Character Design blog has a new interview up with Dave Guertin and Greg Baldwin of Insomniac Games. Their style is amazing. More to learn!!

Miscellany

  • As usual it has been a busy couple of weeks. In that time Pixologic, the Zbrush people, decided to release version 3.0 of their software. I have to say that this is one of those really ‘fun’ tools. I wish they had more clear documentation and training material, but you do with what you get (hey, maybe I should create some video tutorials… then again, maybe not). I sculpted this head in about an hour (with more time spent later noodling). The tool has a bit of a learning curve, but most of your questions can be found on Pixologic’s forums (although that can take even more time if you don’t know what you need to search for). Hopefully they will create some decent documentation in the near future.
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  • On the game front I finally had a chance to try out a DirectX 10 game on Vista. If you don’t know, DirectX 10 requires Vista and a new breed of video card (NVidia 8800+ and ATI has a similar version – how can you tell I’m an NVidia fan) in order to run. I downloaded a demo of Lost Planet . It was pretty cool. It took advantage of HDR and some cool new shaders. I cranked all the settings to high and it ran really well (at least 80 fps, if not more). A neat feature was the ability to run the game in window mode in Vista. Overall I think that the eye candy of most games have reached a plateau with today’s latest graphics cards. You probably won’t get much more ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ from the visuals (unless you get into 3d monitors or something like that).
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  • On the movie front: There is an animated film being created by Berkley Breathed, based on his book “Mars Needs Moms!” (say that 9 times in a row). Breathed is the creator of the Opus comics. He’s apparently teamed up with Zemeckis to do a mo-cap feature. According to Breathed they are using mo-cap to ‘annoy the animation community’. Well, at least he’s honest. If you know me at all then you know I won’t be seeing this movie at a theater or on DVD.

    One other note in regard to movies… what’s the deal with all these sequel movies? I know, they make money. If the first one is a hit, then people will go see all the other ‘versions’. Your marketing job is already half done. Personally I don’t get what people see in a movie like Shrek. I saw the first one. It was okay. The second was not so okay. From the trailers the third one appears to be even lower than ‘below okay’. Even though it’s animated I have no desire to see it – whatsoever.

    On the other hand I’m itching to see Ratatouille – 1) it’s not a sequel (sequel = yawn – generally speaking); 2) it’s actually animated (and what I’ve seen, animated really well); 3) it appears to be an actual story (an interesting story that hasn’t been done before)! I don’t buy all the hype that Remy’s (the main character) being a rat is going to affect people negatively. He’s a darn tootin’ cute lookin’ little rodent and that works just fine for me. Even his fat brother, Emile, is appealing. I think the designs of the animals as well as the humans are well done. They totally fit the genre and are interesting to look at. Moreover, the acting really sells the characters’ charm.

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  • On the web front there are a couple of new favorites in my favorites links. I don’t know why, but this guy’s work (Florian Satzinger) is totally interesting and appealing to me. I just really like his designs. More of his work can be found on his blog and his company website. Needless to say I’m spending time analyzing his work. Too bad he doesn’t have any training/tutorials on character design.

    Another blog that I make sure I visit is Chris Walley’s blog. Chris is a Geologist and, among other things, he writes Christian Sci-Fi Novels. I’ve only read two of his books so far, but I have really enjoyed them. They are the Lamb Among the Stars series (with a third book on the way – keep writing Chris!). I also enjoy reading his blog.

  • This is cool, well sort of…

    Ok, get this… I know, I know… only really weird nerds get excited about this kind of stuff, but at three minutes and four seconds after 2AM on the 6th of May (this year) the time and date will be:

    02:03:04 05/06/07

    Cool, eh? Now back to your regularly scheduled programming. Hmm… I think I need a new category – something like ‘weird and useless stuff’ or something.

    A follow up… and update

    Sorry I haven’t been posting very much lately. Work, life… they seem to get in the way. Anyway, this past weekend I was doing bathroom renovations (something you need to do rather quickly when you have only one bathroom and 5 women in the house). All this with a cold and fever… so the weekend was a doozy (I sure hope I installed the plumbing right). I’m not sure what made me feel wonkier… the cold medicine or the tub surround adhesive.

    Anyway, on the animation front be sure to check out this great little interview with Nancy Beiman, the author of ‘Prepare to Board’. It’s definitely worth a visit. I haven’t checked out the rest of the magazine, but Flip is looking interesting. Here is a quote from Nancy (I’m not alone!!):

    I’m surprised that you have not asked me about Motion Capture. I feel that this has the same relationship to animation as paint-by-numbers kits to the original artist’s painting. We all had those kits when we were kids. Well, I never painted them; I used the cheap oils to customize my toy plastic animals. Paint by numbers did not contain any challenges. Art comes from interpreting reality through the artist’s subjective lens. Mo-capped animation anchors the characters firmly to the physical movements and limitations of the human body. Worse yet it turns animation artists into machines.