Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pope blessing consumer credit?

Didn't get to post this earlier but on December 16, the following appeared on my Yahoo! mail:

On a related note (sort of): when posting to blogger, the new post page suggest the following:

"Labels for this post:

e.g. scooters, vacation, fall

How many stories are there on blogger about scooter accidents while on vacation?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Say it aint so...

I really hope this is not as bad as it sounds: Bush Insider Who Planned To Tell All Killed In Plane Crash (via Boing Boing)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stylized Depiction

No, I do not have too much time on my hands, but I couldn't help myself and started building kind of extensive shader node networks in Lightwave for a class on one of my favorite subjects: Stylized Depiction (better known as Non Photorealistic Rendering).

Posted an image on the class blog

Monday, December 1, 2008

Creative Commons

Creative Commons LicenseNow that everything on is licensed under a Creative Commons license, I have finally added a similar one to this blog (again: thank you Boing Boing)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Canada blames itself.

Living in the U.S., it appears we have reasons (or a reasOn) to be hopeful. But I should maybe pity my sister who lives in Canada who has a slight internet addiction, while here country might become a digital getto according to their own public broadcaster's site! (found this on boing boing)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I thought there were things like anti trust laws and the like, but now that Autodesk acquired Softimage from AVID they have three out of the four leading 3D animation packages. Kind of scary, isn't it? Well, there are of course the Apples like LightWave and Cinema 4D. Or will it be 3D studio Softimaya versus Blender?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Level of Detail

So I have been "off the grid" for a bit. I did start a blog for my students to use as digital workbook. I'm teaching two Lightwave classes right now, and for the one on lighting and rendering I just created this test, using level of detail in Lightwave. Hope to return to regular posts soon!

Too bad internet video does not have an adequate image quality to show off the results of my efforts! Also uploaded it to Google video, but as was to be expected: exact same quality...

Friday, August 15, 2008


I'm at the airport, leaving Los Angeles. The plane has an hour delay, so I have a little time to reminis over this years SIGGRAPH conference. As always I had a great time. Highlights? Really enjoyed seeing a lot of artwork from the Blue Sky animation "Horton hears a Who", which apparently is not going to be published in a book. Saw a number of interesting technical talks, but now that the developments in the computer graphics world are mainly incremental with tiny steps, there was nothing shockingly new.

There were a few amazing images on display though: holographic computer prints! Not the way we (that is: Harris Kagan in his Holography lab at Ohio State in the late nineties) did it analog by multiple exposures of computer generated images printed on slides, but by printing directly on the photographic film. It actually turned out that the guys who were with the exhibit of these images had no idea how traditional holograhphy is done. The images were stunning, but I did not take pictures of them because they would not be able to display the dimensionality of the images

As far st the Art show goes: one installation stands out: "Echo Location" by Kirk Woolford (U.K.) and Carlos Guedes (PT). If you walked in front of it, it displays a cluster of white lines moving frantically over a background of what seems to be an old castle, moving through the door or window like opening. When you stand stand still long enough, the lines slow down and eventually form a human figure. I like the atmosphere of the piece

But the best part of the conference was meeting people and as always: being inspired by the strong computer graphics community!

It seems the delayed plane is finally at the gate, so I'm signing off!

You may wonder: how come he has internet at the airport. Well, I was quite suprised to find a "co_presidents_club" WiFi network, and even more so when it turned out to be open: no password. For those of you who may need internet at LAX: go to gate 60!

Dodgers Reception

It is already the last day of the SIGGRAPH 2008 conference. Yesterday was reception night, which was this year held at the Dodgers Stadium. During a ballgame. Which was fun, since I had never seen a ballgame. But as a reception it was worthless, there was no room for socializing. And that is what receptions should be about, right? At least the Dodgers beat the Phillies 3 to 1

Meeting people and renewing contacts is also one of the functions a conference in general. Had ample opportunity for that. Like getting reacquainted with the guy nobody recognized at the ACCAD alumni reception. He had transformed from a bald and bearded grad student into a clean shaven chair of the department with a wavy head of hair. Go figure!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Computer Animation Festival

Got an early start at the SIGGRAPH 2008conference today, with a presentation on "Teaching Computer Animation for Results" where the importance of knowing the basics was stressed. Not the software is the pivotal issue, but knowing how to have your objects convey the proper weight through their movement. Or as Karen Sullivan from Ringling School of Art and Design put it: it is not about moving objects, but about moving an audience". I do not entirely agree with her observation that we are in the business of entertainment. I teach at a fine arts program so there should also be an element of Art in there

Kevin Geiger (like me a former ACCAD student and currently heading Animation Options) showed an interesting animation off off YouTube that I like to share with you all: Believer by Jim Ellis. (Kevin also blogs about the conference)

When next I could not get into the technical session I had picked because it was full (e.g. the room was too small) I went to the Computer Animation Festival (CAF) screening and enjoyed two hours of animations. There was a remarkable amount of European student animations in the selection. The CAF is completely changed since last year, and unfortunately they killed the Electronic Theater where the best of the best used to be shown. But still, watching this many animations of high quality is always inspiring. No clear favorite form me yet.

If you are wondering how the cowboy music saga from last night ended: I do not really know, but when I returned to my room it was quiet. Until four in the morning at least, when the next door neighbor returned and again played the TV loud. I banged the wall, heard some cursing and the volume went down. Let's hope that's the end of it. Slept well for the most part

The image shows Sandro Alberti (who made the T-Shirts for the International Committee), Kirsten Cater (One of the International Committee chairs) and me in front of the International Center booth

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sleep I must!

Right now I'm enjoying what I think to be the constantly looping music from a DVD menu coming through the hotel wall from the room next door. Nobody is responding to anything in that room, someone from security is now banging on the door with just as little result.

So, I have some time to blog about my day. Spent spent some time on the exhibition floor, where companies display there ware, and at the "New Technologies" exhibit, which used to be called "Emerging Technologies" or "E-Tech" for short. Most of the things on display have to do with haptic displays and the like, not quite my cup of tea. Went to a few talks as well.

The evening I spent at two Japanese parties with Miho, a friend from grad school. Free food again :), and we had a good time. In the photograph it seems like I gave Professor Kawaguchi quite a scare when I used my flash.

And to come back to what I started this post with: I'm now in the lobby, the only place here with internet access. It is midnight and I would rather be asleep but the continuous loop of cowboy movie music is driving me bonkers. Apparently the lock on the inside of the door is on and security is now fetching cutters to cut the lock and get in. Did I mention the alarm in the room is also going off? If there indeed is somebody in the room, he (or she) cannot be feeling too well

To be continued...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ed Catmull

Today is the first day of the conference, which for me started off with booth duty at the International Center and an Education session, followed by the International Committee lunch.

In the afternoon there was the awards ceremony (my former professor Stephen Spencer received the award for outstanding service) the conference officially kicked off with the keynote by Ed Catmull, the computer graphics pioneer who is currently heading both the PIXAR and Disney animation studios together with John Lasseter. It was not a technical talk but addressed the issue of how to have a creative team create the best films by working as an open community. Quite insightful!

I found it interesting when he mentioned that when the goal he set for himself while a student, namely creating an animated feature which he then thought would take ten years, left a big gaping hole when it was finally achieved twenty years later. A huge: "what's next?" Building a healthy studio community was the new goal he then set, and while this might have been achieved at PIXAR, Disney still has a way to go there. Although he made it sound like the new Disney production coming out this fall will suck a lot less.

And now I'm off to the Chapters Party!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Meetings Day

Sleep last night was OK. There was a reason the Hotel was cheap: no AC (but luckily there is no heatwave) and really thin walls. My next door neighbors were watching a action movie 'till after midnight).

Today is the day for pre-conference meetings. Spent the morning in the Education meeting, than off to the conference center for the Chapters meeting (I am the secretary of the New York Chapter). Good food today, with the education dinner coming up tonight. Which is good, since feeding oneself tends to be a bit of an issue during the confence, especially in L.A. where the conference center is kind of in the midle of nowhere. That is to say: that wasteland of empty parking lots is filling up with new buildings soon!

As for the picture: looks promissing for the conference, right? :)

Saturday, August 9, 2008


After doing quite a bit of work on our new home (friends can see an image of our newly painted porch on Flickr) and preparing for a new arrival, I have just arrived in Los Angeles where I will be attending the annual SIGGRAPH conference. I hope to find the time to blog a bit from here, or at least post pix on Flickr. The image to the right shows my point of departure: Broad Street Light Rail Station in Newark. The trip wasn't as messy as this image might imply: all went according to plan. And now it's time for bed

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Jello Wobbling

Couldn't resist re-blogging this. In the category "all things wobbly". Too bad it has nothing to do with Mr. Biafra. (via Boing Boing)


I have always been a great admirer of American Wiring. This is what the telephone hook-up looks like in the basement of our new home. I wonder if this was installed when the house was build in 1926. Can you imagine a DSL signal getting though that thing? Well, my posting this from the convenience of our still empty living room is proof that is does!

On a related note: I have been on the phone with Verizon quite a bit lately. And I found out that, while in their automated phone system, when you say "Person Please" you quite often get asked if you indeed want to speak to a person, and even more amazing: if you confirm you do get an actual person on the line! After being put on hold of course.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wobblyland Music

Too busy with our new home to do any animation. Here's an animation I found on Drawn! As a kid I used to draw maps of "Wobbelonia", a country not half as weird as this Wobblyland. Apparently it is completely logical for kids that when you squeeze a tree, it makes a noise that reminds me of air being let out of a balloon while you pull and stretch the opening wide. Kind of like this silliness.

Thursday, June 19, 2008


I am not particularly fond of software that tries to be smart and guess what my intentions are. This usually results in weird suggestions that break the flow of things. So after contributing to the Firefox 3 download World Record attempt, I was quite annoyed with the location bar that is supposed to be "awesome": not simply auto-completing what I type but suggesting unwanted alternatives!

Of course I immediately went to the preferences in order to turn off that feature. I know they are trying to compete with Microsoft, but did they really have to bury this preference that deep? At least it is accessible. But when you turn it off, it turns off auto-complete altogether. D'oh!

So I turned it back on, and try to live with it. It is supposed to be self learning, maybe in time it will understand that I want it to just suggest a straight forward auto-complete....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ghost People

Boing Boing today has a post on Long-exposure shots in St Petersburg, Russia turn people into ghosts, about these great photographs by Alexey Titarenko, who moved to New York the same year I moved to the area (random trivia). These images are reminiscent of one of a somewhat dormant project of mine: CityFlow. Here's the (HC) version:

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Animated Swirl

The last few days it has been to hot to work to work on my workstation. Our only AC is in the living room, and that's where I sat with my Macbook. Inbetween other stuff I have been playing with Blender again. I had temporarily abandoned the Python scripting experiment that led to this plane render. I could not get it to animate. But I finally figured it out:

Still using a bit of a roundabout way, but inching closer to making it work for me.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

$1 Treasure

Yesterday, after escaping the first heatwave of the year into the New Museum to see Paul Chan's great show called "7 Lights" (Flickr), we happened to run into outdoor book sale. In the sweltering heat people were filling cardboard boxes with books to buy. Who says nobody reads anymore? It might have helped that each book was only one dollar.

It was a sale for a good cause. Amongst the donated books I found one by a favorite author of mine: H.G.Wells. I have actually only ever read his classics, but just had to buy this one. It is a first edition of "Mr. Brittling Sees it Through" from 1916, the year it was first published. It must have been a bestseller right away, since it was reprinted ten times within two months. Another nice detail: according to the adds included at the end of the book, an edition like this would have cost about $1.50 at the time. So I got it fifty cents off after more than ninety years!

On the photo you can see it was still 83 degrees when we got home (thats 28 Celsius). Inside.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Bizarro on Oil

I used to get my daily dose of Bizarro though the Daily Comics Widget, but that link broke so I now get it directly from I just had to post todays, which isn't all that funny come to think of it...

The widget isn't itself broken and still brings me daily Dilbert. No. I insist: I'm not a geek!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Final Touch-Up

Unfortunaly I cannot yet say that I am finishing up my EyeBrain animation. I am about to send my previous work, Seeing Red, to a couple more festivals I have decided to finally attend to the last fixes that were needed on that animation. Almost done!

Have been working on the new animation as well: a lot of set dressing. The image to the right is part of that :)

No blue death screens for two days in a row: fingers crossed...

Friday, May 30, 2008

I Love Windows

Windows are great to look out of while waiting for your computer to re-re-boot. If I were into conspiracy theories, I would think that Microsoft released Service Pack 3 for XP to sabotage PCs that have not been switched over to Vista ("upgrade" does not seem appropriate here). Because installing this servicepack seems to be what made my computer display the famous Blue Screen of Death. But I am not paranoid. The thought did not occur to me that my Dell may have been set up to start crashing at the end of the warranty that is about to run out, in order to make me give in to the numerous letters and phone calls trying to convince me to extend that warranty. That would be crazy.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Great WWF ad.

The first time we saw this on TV, we were blown away by this storm:

Movie from Glossy

Saturday, May 17, 2008


So this is as far as I got with my animation this semester. Hope to find time over the summer to make more happen! This semester the advanced students in my class (students who took my 3D class last Fall as well) also created some animations. I just uploaded a gallery of student work.

Same video on google video

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Lost Reference

In my post about the box I build in Lightwave, I referred to an installation I once read about, I think it was about a year ago and it was probably in The New Yorker. I just found my original notes on it: " the interactive installation box that closes when you get near it and slowly opens up again some time after you move away". Ha! Now I know where I read about it, I thought. So it was slightly disappointing to see the note next to it: "&rarr get Ref". D'oh!

Anybody know this installation from about a year ago? Anyway, here's a new version of the box:

Artificial Sillyness

While reading this very interesting article on Artificial Intelligence in the on-line version of the New York Times, I noticed that the site itself is uses a not so intelligent algorithm to create hyperlinks in the text. Here's a quote, including the original link: "“She’s on the bleeding edge of the leading edge,” said Gary Bradski". Yes, it links to the medical issue of losing red fluid.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Bad hair day

Last week in class I mentioned how hair is often rendered from small polygon strips that always face the camera. Can we do that in LightWave? Please? No, not really. But there is a plugin called sasquatch. Et voilà: Jane Hair. LightWave does not come standard with the full hair render plug in, so theses results from "SasLite" are not something any barber could approve of.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Box

Not the one I'm living in (just kidding), but build to be an antagonist to EyeBrain. How is that going to work? I'm not saying! At least not yet.

Has something to do with an art work I read about a while a go, need to find that reference. Here's a YouTube video of something that is just as annoying: an "Ultimate Machine" that turns itself off as soon as you turn it on (via Boing Boing, via Make)

Monday, April 21, 2008


Been busy, but not with animation. Purchasing a house is a lot of work, and will keep me occupied in the weeks to come. I have been modeling a bit, as a distraction form the legal mumbo jumbo of real estate contracts. The head on the right is the result, build from the mask I created a while ago. The reference images I am using do not show the ears, I think I might have made them a wee bit too big.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Originally uploaded by ebmorse

Not really in the habit of re-blogging (yet 8^}) but here's a very interesting review on Generator.X of the work by my friend Brandon Morse. We went to grad school together.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Added Tentacle Thing

Heres Yet Another Turnaround, added the tail-tentacle-spinal-cord-thing to my EyeBrain model

Yes, need to work a bit on the rigging and animation of that "tail", and it would be nice to grow some scattered hairs on it

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The brain has eyes!

Yes, another brain turn. Now with Eyes. Add a tail and EyeBrain can be animated.

I am doing this in Lightwave since that's what I'm teaching at Montclair State. Have been struggling a bit with the IK system, their base system has some quirks*. There is another system, called IK-Booster, which seems to be easier to manage. Downside is that it is quite different from what I know from other 3D software packages. So it is not something I am going to encourage my students to use, since that knowledge will not be very useful unless they stick to LightWave.

* It seems the IK gets evaluated before any "point at target" constraints, which makes having eyes look at a target a bit harder. Especially if you have these muscles on the side that need to move with it. Finally got rid of all the bones in the muscles and faked it...

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Displaced Brain

So here's another brain spin. After discovering that displacement in Blender works just like LightWave, I turned to good ol' Mental Ray, which I used to render this version (from XSI). Real displacement at rendertime that does not need denser geometry to work. The difference is most obvious on the cerebellum (the small part at the bottom).

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Turning a Brain Around

When working on my thesis piece at The Ohio State University I started building a brain in Maya (I think it was version 1 back then). I had conceived a scene where what I refer to as EyeBrain would be playing chess with a fleshy blob vaguely resembling an elephant who would be moving the pieces with his trunk. I later cut that scene. As I blogged in January I revived the EyeBrain character recently, so I took the old Maya object, converted it to polygons using Softimage XSI and edited it in LightWave. Got sidetracked over the last months but here is a test render:

Geek alert: skip this next paragraph if you could care less about technical issues. A great feature of LightWave is that it shows image mapped displacement in the interface, in real time Open GL. And it is FAST, also in rendering. Downside is that it seems a shortcut has been taken to accomplish this. The displacement is not based on the surface normal, as it should be, simply displaces along one axis, giving you a choice of displacing along X, Y or Z. Not very useful for an organic object like a brain. So I had to create three displacement maps, one for each axis. Luckily LightWave does enable you to "bake" a normal shader to a texture, so using a texture map of the object normal to determine which map should be active where, I finally got the above result. Not very practical, no. But did I mention it renders really fast?

Update: So there is a way to use the displacement map based on the normals in LightWave. You can add a "normal displace" modifier. I also found out why it works so fast, something I should have guessed: LightWave only displaces the geometry points, not the resulting surface. Aargh!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Double Agent

Yes, I've been awfully quite lately. I actually do have a life, and that has been sort of tumultuous. Like: we almost bought a house. And we still might. The real estate business here in New Jersey is... interesting. It has been a bit of a learning experience.

So what's with the image? This came into being while explaining texture mapping in class a few weeks ago. A term we learned last week: Dual Agent. Refers to a Real Estate agent who is working for both the seller and the buyer, and represents both interests. Yeah, right!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Wow! CSS3 *CAN* be fun

Select this text to see ME! Terrible huh
? You do need FireFox or Safari for it t
o work. So if you are using windows expl
oder, you are out of luck! :) ---- Clean
, Rinse and Repeat -----Select this text
to see ME! Terrible huh? You do need Fi
reFox or Safari for it to work. So if yo
u are using windows exploder, you are ou
t of luck! :) ---- Clean, Rinse and Repe
at -----Select this text to see ME! Terr
ible huh? You do need FireFox or Safari
for it to work. So if you are using wind
ows exploder, you are out of luck! :) --
-- Clean, Rinse and Repeat -----Select t
his text to see ME! Terrible huh? You do
need FireFox or Safari for it to work.
So if you are using windows exploder, yo
u are out of luck! :) ---- Clean, Rinse
and Repeat -----Select this text to see
ME! Terrible huh? You do need FireFox or
Safari for it to work. So if you are us
ing windows exploder, you are out of luc
k! :) ---- Clean, Rinse and Repeat -----
Select this text to see ME! Terrible huh
? You do need FireFox or Safari for it t
o work. So if you are using windows expl
oder, you are out of luck! :) ---- Clean

Anyone can do this... LINK, via Boing Boing

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Nosy Thing

Here's a little test I did to figure out LightWave's rigging system. Have been meaning to blog about the galleries I saw in Chelsea last weekend, posted an image on Flickr. What have I been so busy with? Submitting my animation to festivals, for one thing!

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Playing with lights and dynamics, tinkering to see if I am inspired to make a more abstract animation. Character animation should be pursued with caution for it can lead to insomnia and carpal tunnel...

Add colour I must!

Or do I?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

EyeBrain Returns Once Again

The Eyebrain 'character' is something I have been toying with for years, and I am contemplating creating a little animation with it to practice animating in Lightwave. This semester the advanced students in my class will try to tackle animation, so I have to get up to speed.

The image on the right is also the result of testing out my new birthday present :)

Friday, January 25, 2008

Let there be Sound!

I am very honored that Jef Nassenstein, my former coach, boss and colleague from the Netherlands Film and Television Academy has created a soundtrack for my animation. I just sent him a bunch of comments. It's not easy to critique one's mentor!

Jef is now an animator himself, since his retirement he has created two animations, the first one ("Match") made it straight to the Venice film festival. He recently sent me a copy of his second animation ("Shells") which has almost painterly backgrounds that created by a clever use of textures, transparency and an enormous amount of reflections. The image on the right is a still form that great animation (FIVE times as long as my latest piece... )

Got Balls?

I am teaching a 3D Modeling class using Lightwave this Spring. Basically the same class I taught last Fall, but now I also have advanced students doing animation. They have to create the standard first assignment in animation for the next class: a bouncing ball. Here is what I created as a test.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Done! Almost...

I did not actually drop off the face of the earth, but did finally finish my animation. That is: there are a few compositing issues to correct and there is no sound yet, but the edit is final at a whopping two minutes and five teen seconds! Barely made the festival deadline I was working towards.

Hope to return to life and blog a bit more. I did live as a tourist for a week when my parents came over for a visit (Statue of Liberty, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the whole none yards: see Flickr). Classes start again next week, so you can expect a post or two with Lightwave stuff.