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

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Time consuming stuff...

Spent most the last two days animating, but do not have much to show for it. Animation Tips:

  • When you build a truck, make sure there is enough space between the seat and the steering wheel for the character to move if he is to get out of the car.

  • When possible, make characters walk in straight lines. Making them turn long corners su... is much harder

  • When you take a break from a project for two months, write down where you just found that option in your 3D program so you do not need to look for it when you pick up where you left off. Off course, it helps to know that you might not have time to touch the project

And still... it's so great to see this thing I build come to life!