Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry X-mas

Today's Holiday was the inspiration for the colors used in this image. I figured out that using Maya's Paint Effects to generate the geometry on the line my script generates is probably the way to go. It is fully animatable, can be converted to geometry and I do not have to deal with the upper limit of 400 lattice divisions.

Vista Seven

A few months ago I bought a new laptop. It came with Windows Vista but I would get a free upgrade to Windows 7, and I did about a month ago. I did not want to deal with the downtime during the semester, but after having handed in the grades (that is: entered them in an on-line form) I felt it was safe to upgrade.

I should probably do a web search on the differences between Vista and 7, and why either is better that XP. I hope there are a lot of improvements under the hood as I have not found many on the surface. A lot of re-shuffling, that I did notice. And that it is harder to get rid of the Eye Candy in 7 (the Germans call this "Augenkitzel" - in stead of being fed sweets the eye is being tickled) like the fades on windows. I did find it and switched the display settings to best performace. Great! Now it almost looks like Windows 3.11 for Workgroups. I think I'll keep it this way. Interesting how they do admit that all the visual effects do affect performance.

Now I just need to get rid of that terrible login screen...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Doodling

Digital Artist
The semester is finally drawing to a close, so it is time to reflect on things past. Like the discussions that transpired during the last two faculty meetings. Something about digital artists versus more traditionally oriented ones. Or was it practical thinking designers versus fine artists? My notes and doodle are inconclusive. I know we discussed the merits of having two people at the helm of a department reinvented as school. Or lack thereof.

No idea what inspired the image below though. Must have been totally immersed in the arguments.

Making a line in Maya

With the semester just about over I found some time to port a Python script I wrote for Blender to Maya in the hopes of animating the result nicely. I got stuck in Blender when I ran into transparency / alpha issues with the node based materials. Probably fixed in Blender by now, as the issue with nodes not being animatable has been addressed. Here is a test:

Only a curve is generated procedurally, the rest is a hand "crafted" test. Found some stuff in the old script that should never have worked. The line is still intersecting and there are a few more issues, some of which I may not actually care about as long as it looks good.

Earlier Posts: Animated Swirl, Plane Render

I have absolutely no idea how this thing got 308 views on YouTube in about an hour...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Another Ball

Turbulently displaced this time.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Tar Sand Animations

These animated segments for the upcoming documentary H2Oil do a pretty good job explaining why the whole concept of extracting oil from the tar sands in Canada is utterly stupid.

Via Drawn!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Can Maya come out to play?

At Montclair State we switched to Maya this semester (from Lightwave) and that meant that I had to update all my lectures and instruction. That did take up most of the time I spent at the computer. But all work and no play make not only Jack a dull boy, so after Thanksgiving, after the Family left, I found an hour or two to play and stumbled across the fact that every single point on a Mesh can be animated individually:

I rendered it using Mental Ray with a shader that is using the distance to the center of the sphere to change appearance a bit. No bones, blend shapes or other deformers, just point animation. Though it may be considered pointless. But that is the point of play, right?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Yesterday I was notified that my animation Seeing Red has been selected for the Holland Animation Film Festival 2009 Web competition. This contest was entered via YouTube:

The winner of the webcompetition will be revealed in the end of October. Also, the film will be screened at the Opening Ceremony of the festival on 4th of November 2009.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Faculty Doodle

Hovering GradeObjective MeasurementI cannot help but doodle during faculty meetings. One of my colleagues asked if I was paying attention at all. It actually helps me focus, to keep my mind from wandering. You can see these drawing clearly cover the topics of grading and how to objectively measure student performance. Especially is the one with the student working on the tip of the tongue.....

Tongue Out of Cheek

Thursday, October 8, 2009

MetroCAF 2009

It has been a hectic time since I accepted the position of MetroCAF 2009 chair about two years ago, but a week ago all the hard work culminated in a successful screening of the best students animations from the NYC metropolitan area. A good crowd of about 350 came out on that cold night.

Just in time students of mine from Montclair State University completed the opening animation:

It was created using Lightwave. I did also work on it a bit and took care of the postproduction.
I will be posting images from the event on the NYC ACM SIGGRAPH site soon.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

DaliDisney Update

The Dali / Disney cooperation I blogged about earlier is back on YouTube, again including the full FBI warning. Let's see how long this one stays up!

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I found out about the existance of the wobuator through the announcement of the Forum Lecture Series Fall 2009 from the Department of Art and Design at Montclair State University (Tuesdays 2:30 to 4:20, Calcia Hall Room 135, Admission is Free). On October 13 [dNASAb] will speak. In his bio he claims to have "worked with the “Wobulator” Nam Jun Paik’s pioneering video synthesizer." I guess it is bad practice to retrocactively claim that when I came up with "Wobble TV" in 1984, I was inspired by the Paik Raster Manipulation Unit, right?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Female Dogging

To the left you can see my taped up Macbook power supply which still sort of worked. The bend in the cable is not a very clever design, mine was not the only one to start having problems there. Damage can be worse though. Some time after this initial repair, it only worked if I got it to bend the right way.

Until today. Very inconveniently it completely failed on my first day back at school (=work). Luckily a colleague was willing to help and we split it open. I shortened the cable a bit and duck taped the thing back together. It works. The bit of cable I removed did smell kind of funny, like plastic melted on a barbecue...

It does fit in rather nicely with the state university equipment now, as you can see on the right

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Those Canadiens

This post is not about the Canadians whom I met at this years SIGGRAPH Conference, though I should have been blogging from New Orleans but was too busy enjoying the experience. Did post a few photos on Flickr

Just came across this post on Drawn!. "Jue" was created by Georges Schizgebel in 2006. Amazing animation, especially since its hand painted and not computer generated. Wonder if an "ordinateur" was used somewhere in the process...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Dali Disney

I wanted to re-blog a post on boing-boing about a Disney / Dali cooperation. I saw the Amazing animation on YouTube, and immediately wondered how long that would be up. It contained the full FBI warning and a text overlay that it was a copy not for distribution. And indeed, it has been taken down

Amazing piece, truly surreal, as is the collaboration itself. From the credits I gathered that it was a collaboration with Roy though, not Walt. The animation is kind of crude with a lot of cross fades but the imagery is wonderful. And the story... who needs a story?

Some images can be seen here

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


My MacBook is a Mac no more. Kept freezing, a complete reinstall of the system did not fix it. Was about to buy a new laptop, looked at netbooks...

Then Ubuntu came to the rescue! Installed as a test to see if my hardware was screwed up, this Linux variant has been running on my MacBook just fine. Okay, my internet is gone after it falls asleep and other small inconveniences, but it has not frozen on me! Wonder what in Os X started fail, was a system upgrade not compatible with my hardware? Bad Apple!

Oh and what have I been so busy with that I did not post for a month? Saturday was Jury day for MetroCAF!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Norovirus Unrelated

A student of mine, Lauren Brown, created a Facebook group to sell the book she created for he senior project: Norovirus book for sale!!! A brilliantly illustrated story / graphic novel which you should all buy.

Automatic content generation does funny things sometimes. In the related groups section of the aforementioned group, these two showed up (see image): "I follow Jesus, Not a Political Party - ...So Apparently I'm Going To Hell". Please also note that the first one actually chooses to categorize itself as "Organizations - Political Organizations". Cyberspace is a funny place, like no place at all.

Monday, May 11, 2009

WobbleTV on YouTube

Today I uploaded two more animations to the WobbleTV YouTube Channel: Multi Dimensional Eye Virus 1.0 and version 2.2. I think I'll just slowly work my way back in time. Maybe I will eventually even upload the original WobbleTV Broadcast from way back when!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Toxic Assets are Illegal Bets

It is early morning on a Saturday, my son woke us up early, so it is time for some early morning thoughts. Being not quite awake, please pardon me is it does not make sense.

There is something I do not understand about these so called toxic assets that are one of the root causes of the recent financial meltdown. These "credit default swaps", at least the ones where the underlying itself asset is not part of the deal which as I understand it far outnumber the simple re-sold default prone loans, are basically bets. And since the financial institutions that issued them do not have a gambling / Casino license, they are illegal bets. Which makes the solution simple: declare the toxic assets illegal bets (which they are) and therefore null and void. Fine the financial institutions for acting as bookies. The people who (or institution that) bought these assets, who placed the bets, loose their money. But that is a relatively small amount compared to what the financial institutions would have to pay to all the holders of bets on loans that have defaulted or will default in the near future. Some rich people loose some money, the financial balloon lets out some air but does not have to burst.

I must be missing something, since this is way too simple. Oh well, it is a bit of a dreary morning. Should clear up soon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

MetroCAF 2009 Call for Participation video

From the award winning entries to the previous two editions of MetroCAF, the local student animation festival I am chairing this year, I edited this promotional video. Since Google Video is no longer accepting uploads, I now also have a YouTube account (hurray, another username and password!) with the name that I used for my early video work: Wobble TV.

The music is "Wake up" by bluebottle, a creative commons file I found on

UPDATE: Found out I actually have two YouTube accounts: you can simply sign on with your Google account. Aargh! Anyway, also put my last latest animation "Seeing Red" on YouTube. In HD!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Amiga Warhol

The second computer I ever bought (and the third) was an Amiga. This video shows Andy Warhol doing a portrait of Deborah Harry at the 1985 product launch. When I moved over to the states (again) in 2005 I managed to sell my over ten years old Amiga 4000 with Macro Systems video editing system (including the huge 2GB internal harddrive) so they aged well!

via Drawn!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wasteful Advertising

All junk mail is waste but here are two particularly useless and this wasteful examples.

Verizon keeps sending us, about weekly, a letter with accompanying folders inviting us to switch to FIOS. The ridiculous part being that, while being mailed to our current address, it explicitly states the address of service: our former apartment

And today I got a great offer from Delta Airlines on flights to New York City. I'm typing this on our porch, and if I stand up and look to the left, I see the Empire State Building. I checked, it is still there. Delta airlines wasted a bit of advertising budget on us once more.

UPDATE: Me and my big mouth! When I threw them into the trash, I mean recycle box, I noticed those Delta flights were FROM New York. It was still SPAM though.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Blender continues to amaze.

I had no idea it was so easy to set up a fluid sim in Blender and create something like this:

Yes, there are a couple of glitches and to be able to remove those, that's the question! I thought that some fluid simulator developed at a university had been incorporated, but it was a Google Summer of Code project. By Nils Thuerey. Wait, just one programmer? Ah, he intergrated his PhD thesis work into Blender. Nice!

No, we have not switched to Blender in the advanced animation class I teach, but the simulated mesh can be imported into Lightwave using a plugin.

And WOW! Someone created this in Blender:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We are not alone...

And now for something completely different: here are dolphins with bubbles up their nose:

[via BoingBoing] - Now back to our regular programming: mashing a banana.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Stanford Celebrity Meltdown

Yes, I really needed to create this to show how to use particles to melt an object. I originally used the full mesh with 34k points, but even though after being non responsive for an hour and a half Lightwave did finish the calculation of a particle system, working with 3.5k points turned out to be more practical

I was really preparing a lecture on facial animation though....

Thursday, February 19, 2009


No, not another post on physics. At least not directly. In my advanced animation class we are getting to the fun stuff. Yesterday that was particle systems. So in preparation I got to play a bit with the implementation in Lightwave and created these examples:

Did not upload the animation through google video this time. That now requires one to install Gears. I do not really like to install stuff that has a unique identifier (a number) that can be tracked, especially if there is no functional reason for it. Putting that off, at least for now. If anybody knows of security and/or privacy issues related to Google Gears, please comment!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tiny Things

Reading the Physics Today the other day in our tiny room, or should I say browsing it in the bathroom, I came across an amazing image of a nanotechnology circuit board (or at least some switches made with carbon tubes) against the backdrop of a human hair at the same scale. This is definitely the stuff that used to be science fiction when I was a kid!

Which seems to be a sentiment shared by Dan Pirarro

Maybe the iPod invisible, as once previewed on SNL, is not too far off (aaarrgh, cannot find video!)

Unfortunately the on-line version of Physics Today has the image behind a password. The image posted comes from the BBC, and they only had this tiny version... and that post is three years old, so image how small the circuits must be now!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Version 3?

Partly in preparation for classes (okay, that is a bit of a stretch, but I will be teaching Advanced Animation using Lightwave this Spring) I have been playing with Lscript a bit. Lscript is yet another scripting language, this one for Lightwave 3D. Wouldn't it be great if they too switched to Python?

Building upon the Multi Dimensional Eye Virus series, I created this:

A rough test, not much yet. I plan to also render a normal map from this and use that in the next dimension to enable re-lighting.

But first there are syllabi to write, classes to prepare, diapers to be changed...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

2008 has been kind of turbulent: moving into a new home, becoming a father, new job (that is: moving up from adjunct to assistant professor, albeit half time) and also some less pleasant things. The next year will likely be even more challenging. Though the challenges will be small compared to what president elect Obama is facing!

I wish everybody a healthy and productive 2009!

My new years resolution? To stop procrastinating in 2010!