Thursday, December 20, 2007

One but last shot...

Have not been blogging again lately, but did make progress on my animation. Had to conquer quite a few rendering issues with scene number four, but came out on top! I am now (still) working on the final scene, which only has two shots, albeit long ones. The video below shows my character misbehaving once again, swimming of like an evolved artificial creature:

Monday, December 3, 2007


Daniel Maskit of Digital Domain was right to put Pixar on trial for making an animation that is just too good (Drat, More Rats!). Finaly watched "Ratatouille" and the quality of the animation is depressingly high. The story doesn't completely suck either. And there are no Randy Newman songs in it, another reason why it is way better then "Cars"!

Despite that discouraging DVD viewing I'm still moving along with my animation. Rendering scene 4, animating the final scene (#5).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Tofurkey week is for Animating

Not been blogging this thanksgiving week. Too busy animating. Made quite a bit of progress: scene 3 is rendered and scene 4 is almost animated. And scene 5 will be the final one!

The image to the right is not from my animation, but something I created while testing rendering options in Lightwave, the software used in one of the classes I am teaching this fall. And if enough students enroll, again in Spring!

Monday, November 19, 2007


Reviewing what I have been rendering of scene 3 so far, I found out the way I build the flower for my animation is problematic: the 3D program XSI is not consistent in resolving the solution for its leaf, making it shift in between render passes. But I have work-around for it, I think. It involves rendering one shot backwards so at least the end position of that flower leaf is consistent. The image shows a first full composite of scene 3. Have been animating quite a bit on Scene 4 as well over the weekend. But all progress is slow.

I have sort of thought up a new ending to my animation. I need to figure out how much work creating it will be. And I should probably change the title.


Encountered yet another indication that now that Apple is a serious contender in the computer market again, it starts acting like a behemoth. Just Updated my Os X, including the new Apple Safari browser, and suddenly Firefox was no longer my standard browser. Bad Apple!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Finally got around to reading one of the classics that has been om my list for... dare I say decades? I bought a second hand pocket book of Erasmus his essential works a while ago, containing the one I read: "The praise of Folly". The Dutch title actually has a nicer ring to my ears: "De lof de zotheid"

Reading it, everything seemed quite familiar. Okay, the book is almost half a millennium old, so I should not be surprised. But I think that its reasoning has become so engrained in Dutch culture that reading the book is akin to meeting an old friend. And that's always enjoyable!

I did not know he was friends with Thomas More, whose Utopia is a classic still on my to read list. Time for the bookstore!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Camera, Lights...

With scene 3 of my animation I am now in the stage where the computer has to do a lot of work for me: rendering the images. First up: the lighting passes. This means that animation-wise I'm moving on to scene 4 finally.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Wonder of the World

That's the name of the play I just saw at the Dreamcatcher Repertoire Company, where I occasionally volunteer hanging lights. A review can be read here, which I luckily read after seeing the play for it is one of those extreme spoiler reviews, albeit a very positive one. It was indeed a very fast and witty performance that had the occasional deep meaningful moment always immediately interrupted with a quirky remark. Happy to have seen this very funny play.

Image shows actress and artistic director Laura Ekstrand, from the linked review

Did I mention I spend most of today working on my animation?

Saturday, November 3, 2007


... is the best state to be in. Said Anthony Hopkins during today's lunchtime rerun of Tavis Smiley. I think he also referred to it as "making scambled eggs of your thoughts". Why is it a good thing? Because it makes you reassess everything, makes you get out of the usual hypnosis. I think that is what I would like my animation or videos to do: turn your brain into an omelette and serve it for breakfast

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Today's Dilbert


Posting this daily Dilbert for my scientist friends.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Picking up

Fixed the flower, now my main character can pick it up

Friday, October 26, 2007

Crawling along

Yes, I made some progress on my animation today. Unfortunately the way I build the animatable flower for my animation made my 3D animation program XSI crash a couple of times. Found a workaround, hope to finish that model tomorrow. My guy was being obnoxius again today, pretending to have put on quite a bit of weight almost like he was pregnant.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


During class today, I relayed some of the great tips about facial modeling Jonathan Williamson had given during his talk at last weekend's NYC Blender Conference. Like how great police mugshots are as reference, giving you a nice front and side view. So, in preparing for class yesterday, I googled and found a few. I choose one of Jane Fonda, since I had never modeled a female head, seemed like a nice choice.

I guess I'm getting old. None of the students had ever heard on her. And when I said she's the daughter of Henry Fonda they politely smiled and pretended to at least have heard of him. Although I must admit I've never seen any of her Aerobic videos, I mean films. Except the one where Duran Duran got their name from, yes, I'll admit it. Oops, just dated myself again.

In class I could only show the nose and eyes, couldn't resist and build the rest of the face during Law and Order. As shown on right. Not quite done yet.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

No movement on the animation

I have to confess: did not work on my animation this weekend. Couldn't resist this morning to do a few tweaks on my Blender head, but that hour would not have made a dent in my project. The head is still ugly, but not as bad, is it? Spend the rest of the day on Skype or telephone and updating my demoreel.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

NYC Blender Conference

Today I took the DeCamp in town and the A train to the Polytechnic University in Brooklyn to attend the NYC Blender Conference. I only have one photo, since the batteries of my camera were drained and the spare ones not charged. But it happens to be of the start of the talk I found one of the most interesting. In the middle you see Nick Porcaro, one of the organizers. That talk by Jonathan Williamson actually was not really Blender specific, but dealt with how to build heads. And he builds them real fast and they look great.

Geek alert: skip this paragraph if not into 3D. He insisted on using only quads (polygons with 4 vertices or points) because they subdivide better. I was actually really happy when subdivision surfaces became feasible to work with so that whole terrible NURBS stitching of rectangular patches of quads was over. But he had a point in having his edge loops follow the lines where muscles would be, and how that makes for an easier to adjust mesh.

There were a lot of interesting people there to talk to, like Elephants Dream director Bassam Kurdali. Learned a lot about blender as well, even build a head. A really ugly one. Wish I had time to attend tomorrows sessions as well. And maybe even make the head look good. Did get answers to questions I had, albeit not always the ones I hoped for (it is indeed not possible to animate parameters in the material nodes editor, darn). Had a great day!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Green screen

After instruction and demonstration two weeks ago, students of mine at the University of the Arts had to direct their own green screen recordings yesterday. Unlike during the demo, when I had no clue which socket was connected to which socket in this photo studio, we did not blow any fuses.

What I found interesting is how hard it is to make these animation students collaborate as a crew. I used to teach at the Netherlands Film and Television Academy where that is the default work mode of course. Animators tend to be "loners", individuals working on their own little projects. They are simply not accustomed to division of labour it seems, although they probably will be confronted by that as soon as they venture out into the professional world. Unless they manage to have a career as independent animator. Or win the lottery.

On a geek node: I knew that NTSC DV should be even worse for doing greenscreen than PAL DV, because it uses 4:1:1 sampling instead of 4:2:0. And indeed, the first tests showed some really ugly artifacts. Overall however, I was not unhappy at all with the results of the simple setup we had. And what is really great with these students: they are really creative in finding backgrounds and image combinations for the greenscreen test assignment I gave them!

By the way, if anybody wonders why in the photograph here is this bag on the floor next to the chair where the subject is to sit: this is not because we were being messy. The floor gave a really ugly direct reflection to the shotgun mike hanging overhead. Placing this (light set) bag there made the voice sound a lot friendlier, less hollow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Change logo I must! Or?

After reading todays Bizarro comic, which automatically gets loaded into my Daily Comic Widget, I wonder: should I change the logo for ideePIX? It currently features an old fashioned energy sucking light bulb. Should I replace it with a more energy efficient model?

Sunday, October 14, 2007


No, this post is not about pirates, I'm just voicing my frustration at my animation. Spend almost the entire day fixing stuff. The origin of what went wrong was my own doing: returning to my animation after a three month hold, I was wondering what that old obsolete copy of my main charracter was doing in my scene, next to the newer active one. So I deleted it, no problem. Or so I though. Re-opening my main scene file today, quite some work had not been saved! Sometimes the line between feature and bug is thin. Using external models in Softimage XSI is really powerfull but has it quirks... Aargh!

Almost everything has been restored...

Luckily I had a music break. After yesterdays opening at Gallery 51, the artist's band Scott Gordley Trio played a nice bit of Jazz on the sidewalk in front of the gallery. If you happen to be visiting Montclair, go check out the exhibition of Scott's great photo real and photo based paintings.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Coat Fix

Last week the coat of the main character in my animation behaved badly. I trained it to do better today. Somehow the guy also turned Japanese. Except for his nose of course.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Late Lunch at cafe Mogodor

Went into the city today, to meet with Nick Porcaro. I met him at this years SIGGRAPH Conference during a presentation on Open Source software. He is working with painter / graphic designer Ellen Levy, who joined us briefly for coffee, and is investigating ways to turn these paintings into 3D objects using Blender. He is a musician and has been working with her before, combining his music with her painting(s). An interesting project that will not be easy to pull off: how do you add a third dimension to a broad brush stroke, with a method that should be semi-automated?

I am not really doing anything in Blender at the moment, since I am working on my animation in Softimage XSI and teaching a course using Lightwave (the image accompanying this post I created in Lightwave to show UV Texturing). But I will be attending the Blender New York Conference next weekend, at least Saturdays sessions (The big conference is this weekend in Amsterdam). One of the issues I run into when teaching 3D (or any other computer based course actually) is the access student have to the software. Using open source software, like Blender, would eliminate this problem, since all students can install it on their own machines. I know students are really good at getting their hands on software, but this would actually be legal! Downside: the documentation on open source software usually su... is often not all that good. Not to speak of the GUI issues. But in both respects Blender is actually not half bad. For open source software.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Artificial Life

Through the feed of a friend I came across this article: "I am creating artificial life, declares US gene pioneer". It would be great if they manage to create micro organisms that can eat pollution and even curb climate change. That is the best case scenario, but I have read too much science fiction (as a boy, not recently, really!) to not immediately think of what can go wrong. Giant mutant bacteria ruling the world! Anyway, an intriguing development, let's see it there will really be an announcement tomorrow or if this turns out to be another cold fusion.

Wardrope Malfunction

Been animating again today. Ran into the usual tech problem, like the coat of my character behaving badly as can be seen in the image. Tried using the Cloth function that is present in Softimage XSI 4.2 for this character when I first build him, but that was not practical. I'm using simple blendshapes (morphing hand sculpted shapes) so back to sculpting of the coat again!

Oh, wait, I should not forget to prepare for class as well. It's easy to get sucked into animation and wonder where the last few hours went. Time flies...

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A few seconds

Finally got back to my animation, and animated a few more seconds. Too bad I had to stop and go Barbecue with friends :). By then my character seemed to have turned against me anyway. Not only did it refuse to keep its feet on the ground, but it also suddenly looked a bit like a devil, as shown in the image. Winding down now with a bit of Saturday Night Live on TV, more to animate tomorrow!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Something Awful

Through Boing Boing I found this image, part of the Photoshop Phriday Competition at Something Awful. This week the assignment was to modernize art.

Fascinating: as if the worst fear of humans is no longer to burn in hell, but to lose a game of Halo. How small is the globalized world of the video game player? One image that is missing from the competition I think, was Munch's 'The Scream': The famous guy adorned with the white earbuds that are the signature of the iPod. But that is probably because that image is hard to create. The face would have to be altered from expressing primal fear to glowing with the bliss of ignorance

Lazy Friday

me an mp3?Today is my day to recover from my 5AM till after midnight, teaching two sections with a long commute on one day Thursday. The day I try to force myself not to work, or at least not to work constantly. So through my sisters blog I ended up on Insufficient Intelligence (love that title) and from there onto a test that determined that if I were a file extension, I would be mp3. Yeah, right. Anyway, today I am definetely not an exe.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007


I hear the crickets outside, or are they cicadas? I though those are supposed to only appear every 17 years, but the photo on the right shows one from this year and one from last year. Yes, both are deceased and the ladybug is wooden.

It's kind of quiet in here. My wife has left for the South Pole. So except for teaching two classes there is no good excuse for stalling my animation any further. Animate I must! I will be posting progress reports here soon. Was my last one really three months ago?

Did do more lightwave stuff, since I'm teaching a class in it. I created the image on the right to show bumpmapping

Saturday, September 22, 2007


It's saturday night and my wife is on a field trip, so I'm watching stuff on YouTube while MAD TV is on our telly. Usually MAD TV is not very highbrow, but this Mac spoof is, uhm, interesting...

O.K., not that subtle, but it's hard to imagine this was actually broadcast on FOX.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ceci n'est pas une chaise

I wrote a little tutorial for my students, a very basic modeling intro. They learn to build a really simple chair. Not much of a chair, more like a platonic idea of a chair but then again not quite that either since I don't think the Greek had simple straight wooden chairs. Anyway, played around a bit myself and as you can see from the image on the right it is a good thing I did not take up a career in furniture design

Friday, September 14, 2007

Cool Nerd says I'm a Cool Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!
Tired from another 20 hour day commuting to and teaching in Philadelphia, my sister pointed me to this utterly silly test that determined that I am a "Cool Nerd". Yeah, right!

That site does have some really great pix though!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Live from SIGGRAPH

Since SIGGRAPH 2007 a lot has happened for me. For instance: yesterday was my first day of teaching at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. And will start at Montclair State University in a little over a week. So I still didn't get to blogging about this years annual SIGGRAPH conference. Jared Bendis, even though his visit to San Diego was a stop on his way to Africa, posted an obscene amount of photos here, including a not too flattering photo of yours truly he took real early on day 4. Here's an image I took of him late on the Friday before the conference. The gentleman on the right in Thierry Frey, ACM SIGGRAPH director for Information Services

Hmmm, it was probably not really late when this picture was taken. Even though the time stamp says 11:43 I left my camera on Eastern Time. Having just flown in it was late for me though

Live Sand Animation

Here is some great real time animation found on YouTube: sand animation performed live. I guess the performance was given at the opening of the SICAF festival in 2003

Would those in the audience taking pictures of the screen actually have thought that using a flash and drowning out the image would give them a good result

You can find the same clip on Google Video

Monday, August 27, 2007

Back to Lightwave

In 1999, when I was a T.A. at Ohio State, I taught a class in Computer Animation using Lightwave. This Fall, I will dive into that program once more, for again I will be teaching a 3D class using it. On the right you see a brilliant image from a little animation of a poorly modeled, I mean: artistically simplified jumping rabbit I used to explain renderpasses back in 1999

I guess this will put my Blender experiment on hold for a bit (I just hit a wall there anyway, since I have not been able to figure out yet how to animate shader parameters) but look here soon for great images created in Lightwave!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Nomen est omen

Here's one only Dutch people will understand: watching NOW the name of a janitor turned union activist put a smile on my face. His last name: "Arbogast".

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Macbook Chipped

Maybe I'm using my Macbook too much. Where I tend to rest my right wrist, the cover is now chipped. A tiny sliver hanging on to the rest of the top layer. I sellotaped it for now (or magictaped rather, since I'm in the States), and already bought Instant Krazy Glue at Kmart.

How fast one can get dependent upon technology! Until my wife gave me this laptop for my birthday last december, I could get by without a portable computer no problem. Now I really cannot bring it it for repairs (it still is within warranty) because I NEED it!

Putin Jugend

This New York Times video is quite scary: it shows a Kremlin orchestrated youth organization in Russia, waving flags and wearing uniforms. Ok, they might not yet wear uniforms but apparently they already formed some sort of militia.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Curly Things

After returning from the annual SIGGRAPH conference last week, I really wanted to blog about what I saw there. Posted some image on my Flickr page but got sucked into the production vortex at Mechanism Digital pretty fast.

Since I am commuting again this week I tinkered a bit more with Blender on the train. The line that my Python script creates now does a better job and not intersecting with itself. Some more tweaking and I will move on to figuring out how I am going to animate this.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lol bike

biking lolcat
Had been pointed Lolcats by a friend a while ago (he has two cats) but this image is just great!

I was wondering if, since I come from a dog family (my mom is mad about dogs), anybody created loldogs yet. Yes, someone did. Yawn...

Friday, August 3, 2007

Plane Render

It's that time of year: I'm off to attend the annual conference of ACM SIGGRAPH, held this year in San Diego, California. I'm on a couple of committees so I'll be pretty busy. But good busy. I've been preparing DVD's for the International Services and the Chapters Party and if you will be at SIGGRAPH this year there's a good chance you will find me in what is called the SIGGRAPH Village

The seats are pretty crammed on this plane I am on now (no, I will not be able to post to this blog untill back on the ground), but I managed to squeeze my macbook between me and the reclined seet in front of me. Been playing around with Python in Blender for a while, mainly while on the train to and from New York. And now I finally have an image to show for it. I'm generating a line that revolves around a central point but tries not to intersect with itself. To see if that could generate some nice imagery. Yes, just tinkering. Not quite there yet, the line still occasionally eats it's tail. And have not worked on the shading at all.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Faith Based Physics

The Quick Study in this months issue of Physics Today is called "The Case for extra dimensions". I find it intriguing to read that "But perhaps the most compelling reasons to believe in extra dimensions are ...." Interesting how the frustration of scientist to find a solution for cetrain problems they have with their standard model and the weakness of gravitational forces makes them sort of religious, hanging on to strings of hope. A little later in the article the author does state that "Even if scientist believe extra dimensions might exist in Nature, we don't have blind faith". Let's hope for them their faith is not shattered along with the colliding particles in the new and really huge "Large Hadron Collider" (at CERN, nice Quicktime VR's are linked at BoingBoing). Lets also hope that the theoretical possibility of the creation of a black hole that will suck up the earth does not materialize (or should I say "immaterialize"?)

The theoretical existence of such hidden dimensions were a source of inspiration for my Multi Dimensional Eye Virus Series. Maybe my next project should be about branes. As the quick study explains: "You can think of branes as extended objects that do not necessarily extend in all the dimensions of the higher-dimensional space". In computer graphics terms: an Illustrator file imported in a 3D animation package.

But wait, didn't I have another animation to finish? True enough, and I did just finish the composite of scene 1 an 2 (anyone working in digital media knows that here isn't such a thing as a final version, one can always keep improving, but at some point one just has to say "it is done"). I actually spent most my time this week creating animation DVD's for the international center at SIGGRAPH 2007. Anyway, I will be working full time at Mechanism again the next two weeks, and hope to play with Blender and Python while commuting.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Global Warming Train

We saw this add in a waiting room the other day. Since today is the day of the Live Earth concerts, here it is:

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Flower (test)

A flower is going to play an important part in my animation. Here is a test

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Free Software

If you arrived at this post thinking you might get pointers to places where you can download software for free, I'm sorry to disappoint you. NOT :)

A post on the system managers mailing list of ACM SIGGRAPH about possibly forming a Free Software SIG (Special Interest group) got me thinking again about Open Source. On it is made clear that the 'Free' in 'Free Software' should be interpreted as referring to 'Freedom' and not just without monetary charge ("'free' as in 'free speech', not as in 'free beer'.."). And therefore it has to be open source, since only that gives you the freedom to see its inner workings and alter it.

One of the main reasons why I'm interested in free software is its relation to democracy. We want our media to be free, since that is a prerequisite for the functioning of democracy (Freedom of Speech only works if there are also means by which dissident voices can make themselves heard). Now that the most media outlets have turned digital the means by which the information is distributed has to be free as well. Monopolies in media land are bad for free speech. Proprietary file formats and closed software controlling the flow of news are too. And as for DRM....

A monopoly in the mobile phone business sounds a bit scary as well. Anybody think the iPhone will actually give Apple / AT&T too strong a hold on that market? I'm pretty sure they get a huge chunk of the +$400 segment simply by creating it. :) Anyway, I was interesting to find out through an article in the New York Times that "Motorola, based in Schaumburg, Ill., plans to sell this summer the Razr 2, the successor to its once-popular Razr upgraded with a Linux operating system and full-scale Web browser." I hope they will make it open source, like this one!

Related post: > ANTITRUST <

More render passes.

I found out I needed to render the character's face as a separate pass, so here it is:

Yes, it will look different after it is composited in. Unfortunately Google Video didn't do what I thought it would do and choose it's own still to display. Oh well...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Work get in the way again.

Yes, the updates in my animation will slow down once more. On short notice I'm working for Mechanism Digital again. However, I am rendering the second scene as I write this.

Yesterday I watched about 86 animations, that's most all of the entries for the annual MetroCAF festival organized by NYC ACM SIGRAPH. I was not on the jury, just helping out, and I admire those who were and actually had to pay attention to all of them and give grades. Yes, some entries really sucked, but I think we'll be having a great festival on September 27, 2007! The quality of what students can achieve nowadays is really amazing. Now it really comes down to who can master movement and tell a story, not who studies at the school with the biggest computers.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Spot the differences...

Making progress on my animation. Not as much as I would want, but hey, its animation!

On the left: image from last Friday, on the right: todays version

Sunday, June 17, 2007

> Antitrust <

Yesterday we watched the movie "Antitrust" (2001) on TV. We tuned in because we saw Tim Robbins was in it, always a pleasure. He plays an evil genius Silicon Valley CEO aiming for world domination through a multi media platform, called "Synapse", which can broadcast to all possible media simultaneously: TV, computer, cellphone, whatever. It is a tale of conspiracy and betrayal. The Evil Company steals code from young geeks programming in their garage and even kills them when they got what they wanted. It is not a good movie, at times it is almost an activist pamphlet. They made Tim Robbins look a bit too much like Bill Gates.

But the movie does raise interesting issues. Like what if one company actually controls all media outlets? This Synapse system somehow manages to overrule everything so its broadcasts from outer space show up on every device in the whole world that has a screen on it, including Times Square (just one of the extreme improbabilities in this flick). More realistic is the scene where the "heroes" look for a media outlet to tell the world about the evil doings of this company and find that the major outlets (I think they mention CBS, ABC, CNN) all are owned by or have ties with that same company. That is scary. Nice trivia for conspiracy nuts: this movie was broadcast on ION (channel 31 here) and not one of the major channels. But I guess it says more about the quality of the movie than it's possible subversiveness, since apparently ION is linked to NBC/Universal.

The movie containes a blatant plea for open source software, proclaiming that information should be owned by everybody. A noble thing! I am an avid open source user myself, but unfortunately a lot of the software has geeky GUI's (for normal people: GUI stands for Graphical User Interface) and is often hard to install. No, I don't like having to compile a program myself from source code in order to be able to run it. But I much prefer using something open source that resorting to software piracy!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Scene 2: Shading.

I'm working on the rendering of the second scene of my animation and am thinking of leaving some of the shading underneath the crosshatching. Makes for a much richer look, but also more 3D-ish. The image on the right is yet another render test, composited and all. Obviously he next thing to work on is the sky. Dear reader, what do you think?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Scene 2, Take 2

The animation for scene two is pretty straight forward. The guy basically walks in a straight line, so that's almost done, Especially since I'm re-using the walk cycle from the original test. But the environment needs a bit of work. By now it is already a bit richer, but not quite full enough.

I am getting sucked into the vortex of diminishing return though. Now that I have a faster computer I can do more, add more stuff to the scene and bring rendering times right down to where they were with the old computer... :)

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Gee, was my old box slow!

Originally uploaded by Wobbe F. Koning
My new computer is up and running, and now I really no excuse to make great strides towards completing my animation. Suddenly I have real-time animation preview. Rendering is probably about four times faster. And also quite important: when I turn it on, my new computer starts fast and does not need to be rebooted once or twice. How did I ever animate on my recently deceased old computer?

Of course, the only reason that I now have a machine this fast is that I waited so long with replacing my old machine. Had I bought one last year, it would be outdated by now. But I guess the fact that my laptop was considerably faster than my desktop should have been an indication that it was about time to replace the latter.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Computer Brain

I'm reading a curious little book called "the Computed and the Brain", written by John van Neumann (the godfather of he modern computer ?). It was written right before his death in 1957. Half a century ago the modern computer was just moving from vacuum tube to transistors, but it's funny to read that the basic principles didn't change much and that he anticipated many of the developments that came later.

As a mathematician he has a kind of peculiar way of looking at the brain. He states that the location of memory "organs" has not been pinpointed. He does not take a Cartesion view (like "I remember, therefore I was") but deduces the existence of memory in the brain from the fact that no modern calcuating machine can function without it. Very amusing how he almost seems to take the computer as a measure for the brain in stead of the other way around.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Farewell to my Amiga

Even after being put on a ventilator (see image on the right), my computer, a PC called Amiga, still froze a few minutes after every reboot. If it rebooted at all. The usual fix, vacuuming the inside, did no longer suffice. I'm afraid my home-build computer is finally dying. Sob, sob.

The bad new is that my animation is also suspended with the passing of this machine. The good news is that I ordered a new workstation today.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

Inspiration Deja-Vu

I had seen this before, I'm sure. But this time it struck me as a kind of inspiration after the fact for my Multidimensional Eye Virus animations. The visual similarity makes perfect sense: both trace movement by repeating time phases offset in space!


Too bad futurism is associated with fascism...


Did I mention that version 2.2 will be show during WPA|C Experimental Media Series - ColorField Remix in Washington, DC, this upcoming Wednesday?:)

Fair Use of Disney Animation

Received a great link from Rick Barry (ACM SIGGRAPH Education Committee). It's a movie completely made up of fragments of Disney Animation, explaining Fair Use (the use of parts of copyrighted material for teaching, parody, news and critical comment), found on BoingBoing, originating from this page at Stanford University. It has also been posted on YouTube, let's see how long it stays up there...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wide Wobbe

Did a bad, bad thing. No, I didn't Google myself, but to test a new widget I downloaded for my macbook (feedster) I typed in my first name and found the following:


Animators Boot Camp

Last Saturday I attended the "Animators boot camp and field manual workshop". As member of the board of directors of the organizing NYC ACM SIGGRAPH I was in charge of the Powerpoint presentations and DVD-video's, sort of like a stage manager sitting to the side of the podium with a laptop in front of me and an intercom set on my head.

David Levy (president of the NYC chapter of ASIFA) hosted a panel with the most articulate, eloquent and vocal animators I've ever seen, definitely not the stuffy attic types. It is probably hard to get those shy and timid starving artists to sit on a panel. The subject of the panel was "Attention-Grabbing Self Promotion".

Meanwhile I doodled this image on how to not think about networking if you want to make it in animation (or film for that matter).

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Opening scene almost done

To the regular reader of this blog the image on the right may seem familiar. But this time it is close to final. The opening scene has been rendering for the last week. I'm rendering the frames at HDTV 720p resolution (1280x720 pixels) and each frame takes about a minutes, which is not bad. But that is for only one layer and I'm rendering about 5 layers. The opening scene has 665 frames, which makes the total render time approximately two and a half days. If only I had a render farm!:) Or an extra computer capable of running XSI. Oh yes, I might need another license then as well.

Here's another image, a bit later in the scene. Trying not to give away too much...

There might be yet another break in my animation progress. My in-laws are coming to visit from the Netherlands and they will be using my animation studio. I mean: our bedroom.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

No Ads!

An article in the New York Times pointed me to Adblocker, an add-on for Firefox, my preferred web browser. It blocks most of the annoying adds on websites. Great! Guess marketeers are not really happy with that.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Square Eyed...

After yet another day of tweaking the opening scene of my animation, my eyes are slightly square. Lighting is set up, render passes are created. Almost ready to render...

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Scene 1 is moving along....

Progress report: I almost finished animating the opening scene of the animation I am working on (the one before the scene I rendered as a test). Even though it is only 16 seconds long it took me more than week to nail down the movements. In my defense: it is the only scene with three characters moving around doing stuff. On to rendering tomorrow.

CSI New York is on... later!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Sean McBride

At yesterdays roof party at Mechanism I met animator Sean McBride, who has some nice stuff on his website. Those short flash animations make me wonder once again: why can I not make simple, short and yet effective pieces of animation in stead of always creating there labor intense projects? Oh, well... lets animate a few extra seconds today!

I created this mega project entitled "The History of Animation, part 1" a couple (like seven) years ago.

Bill Viola

Yesterday I went to James Cohan Gallery to see works from the Tristan Project by Bill Viola. And he did it again. The imagery is really beautiful. Again he shows extremely slowed down images people diving / falling into water. Amazing to see. But it has become a bit of a trick, not very surprising. I remember being blown away when I first saw Bill Viola's "Five Angels for the Millenium" in the Gasometer, Oberhausen, Germany. In that impressive building the huge screens and great sound installation made for quite an experience.

There was another work: Passage Into Night (2005). Distorted by the heat of the desert a woman walks towards the camera. It is filmed with an extremely long lens, so even though she is walking a quite a pace, she does not seem to get closer. But she does, all the way till her body fills the screen. Not just any part of the body, but her pelvis. Hence "passage" I guess. Sitting there with ten people watching this video in which hardly anything happens: intriguing. On the galleries website I see that the full length of the piece is a little over 50 minutes, so I guess I only saw a small portion. I really like the high image quality of his work but this one seems to have an interlacing problem, especially distracting on the feet, as if it is just cheaply slowed down video. And the viewing conditions are not optimal. It is exhibited in the front room of the gallery, the door being blocked only by some white fabric, letting quite a bit of light through. The walking lady is dressed in black, so what I ended up seeing was: my silhouette reflected. Don't think it was the artists intention to draw that much attention to my ears...

I do wonder if we all would have stayed and watch the slow moving video had we not just seen those underwater videos. In those, there is this exhilarating moment when the body or bodies break the surface. Maybe we were all waiting for something like that happening in this video. That nothing happens in the end is actually not a disappointment.


Listening to Car Talk on NPR this morning, I realize that when doodle-ing on the train yesterday I must have been sort of inspired by Pixar's Cars, which I finally saw on DVD last week. That animated movie is not quite up there in quality with their other great features, but you can't win them all I guess. When having lunch in Montclair recently at our favorite European Eatery, I overheard a mother saying that her boy, who was about three and wearing a "Cars" T-shirt, watched that DVD every day, and twice on Sunday. "My girl has the same thing with 'Ice Age'", the other woman replied. Guess creating animation that has that much impact on kids is quite something.

Thursday, May 3, 2007


All I have to show now for my animation efforts of the last couple of days is: garbage. I did animate quite a few seconds as well, but here's a test for a garbage bag. Oh, I did also put a cap on the truck drivers head