Thursday, December 9, 2010

Wrapping up

This semester has been a busy one. With the addition of a course at Pratt to my half time job at Montclair State, I have basically been teaching a full load. Only one more class session to go, and then its finals. Pfew…

I think I have also finished main part of the latest rendition in a series: "Multi Dimensional Eye Virus 3d". I need to add title, credits and (very important!) sound. So it may be 2011 by the time it is completely done.

I have also finally finished reading Spinoza's "The Ethics"

Monday, November 8, 2010

R.I.P. Peter Vos

One of the most talented illustrators from my home country died over the weekend. I have had the pleasure of meeting him, through his son Sander Vos (who has become one of the top film editors in The Netherlands)

I think most Dutch people from my generation cherish the memory of children's books he illustrated and his great "Beesten Kwartet", which is probably pretty untranslatable. Rest in Peace!

Friday, October 15, 2010

City.Flow() executed successfully

I have finally finished a video piece I started working on over half a decade ago. Mixed the audio over the weekend. Updating my website to include it right now. I used my students at Montclair as a test audience, and now "City.Flow()" can be now be added to my list of works created.

Here is a scene that I created for it in 2005 which I just put up on YouTube:

Eventually I will put the whole thing up on YouTube, though this type of imagery looses a lot of detail in the compression judging from how this one came back.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dangerous SPAM

I could not help noticing the other day that the amount of junk mail on my computer had reached dangerous levels…

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Flow Test

I have a lot of unfinished bits and pieces (bits and bytes actually) on various disks that are part of an ongoing City.Flow() video project. During our recent trip to Arcadia National Park I shot some HD footage to complement the heavily processed city stuff. While experimenting with that footage I created this test. Can you guess what the original footage was?

Play it in HD to get the best view. Embedding in HD is possible with YouTube videos but the player is then too big for this blog.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Not a bad way to turn ninety!

Some Great Artists

(Left to right) Tony Dalton, John Landis, Ray, Tim Nicholson (associate event producer), Randy Cook and Terry Gilliam. Photo: Mark Mawston.

Through a post on linkedIn I came across this image. At least three of the people in this photograph I admired or even consider myself a fan of. Terry Gilliam is my favorite director. As a teenager I was very much into John Landis' movies. When "An American Werewolf in London" came out, I clipped many an article. Especially on the work of Rick Baker, who is not in this picture but was present at the event.

I did see the new nonagenarian (I actually had to look that word up) a couple of years ago when this master of animation was in his early eighties. He showed some of his original art work and I was much impressed by the quality of his drawing, which are works of art in and of themselves. I also admired the sharpness of his mind and foound his talk to be very inspirational. This was in Amsterdam, and we went there with a bunch of Visual Effects students from the Netherlands Film and Television Academy, where I taught at the time.

I am not even half way there, but turning ninety this was does not seems a very daunting prospect!

Sunday, August 8, 2010


Last week, while at least one computer was rendering most of the time, I finally found time for one of the other reoccurring summer activities: home improvement. After banishing the groundhogs from our back yard it seemed that they tried to create new dwellings under our porch. I have replaced one of the rotten lattices, three more to go. A severe cold kept me from doing much this weekend, but I should be able to make the other ones next week. Of the next and biggest one the frame is already build and painted.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Back from SIGGRAPH 2010

I am back from Los Angeles and kind of recovered. Here are some of the things I saw at SIGGRAPH 2010. This year I had no time to blog from the conference. I spent quite a bit of time working for the SCOOP podcasts and videos which can be viewed on ACMSIGGRAPH's YouTube Channel.

3D stereo was big again this year, but the display that impressed me most was a computer generated hologram with full parallax. As a graduate student at Ohio State I created animated holograms of my 3D character Earguy, but they only had left/right parallax: only 3 dimensions in the horizontal direction (just like Avatar, by the way, and all the other stereoscopic 3D movies). At the Emerging Technologies I saw the "An Interactive Zoetrope for Animation of Solid Figurines and Holographic Projections" which not only had left/right AND up/down parallax, but was interactive on top of that. Impossible to video or photograph since it was set up facing another interesting exhibit that displayed bright and colorful images on bicycle wheels.

In the adjacent Art Gallery, which was very focused on haptics (stuff you can manipulate of get feedback from by way of touch) which is not my thing, had an interesting piece called "Tools for Improved Social Interacting", a clever piece with an explanatory video with good content but not so great cinematography that reminded me of my "New and Improved Smiling Device"

Of course I also saw some great animations and a lot of friends, old and new. Another successful battery recharge.

Yes, I took the pictures accompanying this post and they indeed depict the exhibits described. In case you VVOh!\|[)3red

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A neat mess

Moving along, way slower than I would want of course. Hit another snag last night. It turns out Mental Ray does not like to render a few hundred interpenetrating polygons. Gee!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


It is a bit silly, but I could not help noticing two things when this imaged popped up while I looked up a word on Merrian-Webster:

  1. Why did it make me think of Sarah Palin (I do not particularry enjoy that thouight)

  2. Why is this lady holding a Wacom pen? Did nobody notice this graphic designer fetish?

Just an early morning thought. Or two. Back to work.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

One neat, one messy

Judging by this blog it might seem that I have not been that busy, but I have been creating quite a few intermediate renders for my next Multi Dimensional Eye Virus animation. The process involves a lot of image textures rendered into image textures rendered into&hellip ad infinitum (well, not quite, though that would be great)

I just rendered the first tests for the next dimension. To the left you see a neat version, to the right a messy one. The final shot is probably going to be somewhere in between. And with more lights and some unexpected action.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Going HD

Originally uploaded by Wobbe F. Koning
I went to an electronics store to buy a WiFi adapter and came home with that and a tiny HD camera.

In unrelated news: This morning one of our resident groundhogs was stupid enough to walk into our live animal trap

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Animation Stand

To test the copy stand I have been setting up for our program I put my sketchbook on the stand, resulting in this sequence of the opening scene for ">Hello World"

Friday, June 11, 2010

Fingers Crossed

A hopefully minor setback: The aforementioned Blue Screens started appearing more consistently and seemed to point at a failing hard drive. The occasional loud clicking sound was not encouraging. I had just about decided to go and buy a new drive, and install the entire system again: it is the system drive that seems to be dying, when my wife asked if it could be a loose cable. Well, theoretically, maybe. Opened up the machine, took the drives out, put them back in and booted up the machine. It finally finished the diskcheck (/repair) I had asked the system to perform, and has been rendering for four hours straight since (it had been crashing within two). So, fingers crossed!

Update: After chugging along nicely for the entire weekend, this Monday morning (June 14) it actually finished the two renders I need to move on, a total of 574 frames! I bought a new hard drive anyway, since I was thinking of re installing the system before the crashes started as the system was getting sluggish. Better to no re-install on a flaky HD, right?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Small Steps

Tweaked the head a little and created eyes. Looked at this tutorial for reference, but I do not want the eyes to be so cartoony, so Bugs Life. Looked at quite a few more reference images. Question now arises: how realistic do I want this fella to be?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Normal Issues

Because a Plug-in I'm using does not work on my 64 bit laptop, I changed a shader today without being able to actually render it. Looked pretty good at first when I could render it tonight on my desktop (running 32 bit XP) but I have the feeling something is off. Will figure that out tomorrow.

Gave my desktop a task to render. Went to check a few minutes later and was confronted with the blue screen of death. Maybe it did not like me pulling out the network cable. Oh well. Restarted it.

BSOD BS Update: And it crashed again. Not at frame 4, but at frame 49. Another nice Blue Screen starting Memory dump. Restarted it from frame 49. Still going strong at frame 63. I had rendered the same scene at draft quality before, with no problems. What the Fietspomp!

Full Head

Updated the head model. Getting there. I think.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Frame 163

Just checked: the render is now at frame 163 out of 192. For some reason what should be the easy frames take way longer that the complex ones. I think I have a fix, but I am letting the current render run for another day. Total render time will by then be four days. Resulting screen time: 8 seconds. At this pace I will surely finish the animation by the Dutch holiday "Sint Juttemis". Optimize I must! Yeah, yeah, I said that before.

Update : Finished today, hurray! Too bad I do not have the next scene ready to render yet. Close though.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Half res test

Tonight the test I am rendering will be at half resolution. Will probably still take quite a while since I now put four lights into the scene. The result will be dramatically different!

If this turns out well, my computer will have something to do for Memorial Day Weekend.

Update (the next morning): rendered in about five hours and actually looked rather good. Rendering full res at production quality right now!

Update #2: Oops, those frames were taking at least 45 minutes each. For the easy ones! Changed the sampling settings and brought the render times down to 15 minutes per frame. Could be done in two days now.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Head Modeler

Worked on modeling the head of the guy for >Hello World, amongst other things.

Not quite half res test render

There is so much stuff in Maya that you learn something new every day. You can test render at half resolution by selecting Rendering → Render → Test Resolution → 50% Settings. Real handy. So why does the batch render of the entire scene is still take more than 12 hours? The batch rendered at full res. Here is an image from last nights render (if you click on it you can see it bigger but scaled down to half res).

All progress is slow. But we should hit the next dimension in about a week.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chair Model

With the semester over I should make some headway on my animation projects. Here is the current state of the model for the office chair that is to be used in one of them: >Hello World.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Documents moving mysteriously on Windows 7?

Even though I switched back from Os X when I bought this laptop, I have been pretty happy with Windows 7 so far. Yesterday I ran the usual updates and cleaned up the startup settings, killing useless background processes like some Windows media player internet thing which I did not even know existed and is of no use to me since I do not use Windows Media Player (and if I did I would not want it to connect to the internet without my explicit consent). Then I booted my machine this morning and my entire documents folder was gone!

I was using a "documents" folder and not "My Documents" as I find that name silly for everything on my computer is mine. I frantically looked in the recycle bin, fearing my infant son may have pressed delete. No luck finding my stuff there either. I did finally locate everything: all my files were moved to "My Documents"! Aargh! The weirdest thing: all references to "documents" still work, probably because there is a library (an addition to the OS for which I have found no use yet) called "documents" which points to "My Documents"

I guess I need to conform to the Microsoft conventions and use "My Documents"… Sigh.

I am wondering: is it just me or did this happen to anyone else? A quick search did not reveal anything.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


A tweet from my friend Wooksang pointed me to this amuzing and really well executed animation. Note the Commodore and Atari signs. The creators must be old school themselves!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Maybe I need to do some optimization.

After three and a half days of pumping bits to and fro my computer finished rendering a first scene of Multi Dimensional Eye Virus 3D. A little over 300 frames or almost 13 seconds. The result is not half bad if I may say so myself. Inspired to move on but at this pace it will be a while before I finish…

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Let's hope it is a coincidence

Finally I had an opportunity to go running again this morning, Spring has arrived. My eye was caught by a folded up newspaper on the sidewalk, displaying a swastika right next to a picture of Obama. The images belonged to two completely unrelated articles of course. But the way the paper was folded for delivery did not immediately make that clear. I know of The New York Post and its reputation, let's just hope this visual insensitivity was unintentional.

The full cover was not very subtle either, by the way

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Testing, Testing, Dimension Three

Seriously moving into the fourth dimension with my new Multi Dimensional Eye Virus animation.

A lot is fixed. Found more room for improvement, which will unfortunately involve more scripting. Oh well. But I am NOT a geek!

Friday, March 12, 2010


No idea how it works, seems to have been written entirely in Javascript. But the effect is amazing: Harmony - procedural drawing tool. I drew the image posted here on the left in a few minutes. Using the touchpad on my laptop. (via Drawn!)

Update: could not help myself and played with it again the next day (image on the right, just using shaded mode). And then found out that if you press Contol you can select a color to draw with. So I guess I need to play with it a bit more...

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Into the Second Dimension (again)

After working hard for a day and a half, briefly interrupted by an only seconds long power outage that shut it down none the less, my desktop computer finished rendering a HD test of the second dimension for Multi Dimensional Eye Virus 3D. It did not quite turn out as I had hoped:

Too much camera movement, too much moment overall. At least now I know what I need to change! At production quality the render times are about 13 minutes per frame. And that is with just one of these objects... may need to look into some scene optimization.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Update from the Fourth Dimension

The recent blog silence was mainly due to the fact that the semester started and classes took up most my time not spent caring for my son now that my wife is in the Antarctic. But I also did not have much to show for the progress I was still making on a 3D version for the Multi Dimensional Eye Virus series. I have been scripting stuff to get Maya to do what I wanted, which it now sort of has:

Would love to write a few more words now, but the human alarm clock will sound in about seven hours so I should really call it a day.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

But can one bake an egg on it?

To keep up with the Joneses I thought I would have to throw my two cents in about the Apple Tablet and it's awkward name. But I think I just limit myself to posting the Mad TV sketch from 2005 (via NPR-All Tech Considered)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Next Dimension Test

Trying to figure out an interesting way to create the next dimension by relighting on image of the object now flat on a plane, using a normal map. Needed to install Mental Ray nodes to get it to work, from Jan Sandström. Unfortunately there is no 64 bit version for my laptop. The source code is included though... time to download Visual Studio? Do I really want to be that much of a geek again?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Got a chance to see it.

See what? Well, Avatar of course. I must say it did not disappoint. The 3D was really good, both the stereoscopic 3D and the 3D computer animation. Somehow the stereoscopic effect seemed to work better with the life action footage, must be some camera Mr. Cameron helped create. I think this has something to do with the depth of field, but I may be wrong.

Maybe I am getting old, but I could have done without the all out war. Bit too much testosterone aggression here and there. The Epic destruction had a strong 9-11 feel to it and was very impressive though. Some plot points were rather predictable, but I agree with the friend who gave me the opportunity to go and see the film by looking after my son for the afternoon: great to see a movie where the scientists are not the bad guys!

Now I can go and read the article in last months Computer Graphics World (printed in Stereo 3D!) to see if my observation is correct that they only used Sub Surface Scattering on the hero characters and even then faked most of it, or if there was some other reason these blue monkeys did not look all that "fleshy". May have been by design, or just to keep render times in check, or both! Yeah, I could not help myself but look at the technique of this amazing bit of cinematography most of the time. It is not the type of flick one goes to see to be deeply moved by the character development, but one can get engulfed in the action and occasionally loose oneself in the spectacle and forget about professional observations for a moment.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Another test

The thing to do now: take this into the next dimension!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Duplication

Still Reading Gene Youngblood's "Expanded Cinema" and came across an interesting section on television and the gallery oriented art world (p292):

"The traditional triangle of studio-gallery-collector in which art historically has thrived is slowly being transformed. The psychological effect of television's totally immaterial nature may be largely responsible for the contemporary artist's awareness of concept over icon."

The operator of a "television gallery" (Fernsehgalerie), Gerry Schum, is quoted:
" '&hellip After the broadcast there is nothing left but a reel of film or videotape. There's no object that can be seen 'in reality' or be sold as an object.' "

This immateriality, the absence of an object to be sold, is even more pressing for digital artists. Back then the original video tape master was the highest quality original, any copies would be degraded (generation loss). Digital copies on the other hand can be identical to their original. The original? The file in which the data was stored for the first time? Is that file not a copy of the data that was stored in memory first? One step further back and one could argue that the original is the input data from which the computer calculated the output data, the manifestation of which is the digital work of art. Which brings me to The Big Paper I may never write: "The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Duplication". Maybe it is time to read Benjamin again.

Unfortunately the Art world transformation never materialized. Video artists in stead created objects: installations. Still enjoying reading the optimistic text though!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

From the Wobble TV Archive

I had been planning to do this for a while, and since my new years resolution for 2009 was to stop procrastinating in 2010, I have uploaded some of my first computer animations to the WobbleTV YouTube channel.

This was my first ever character animation, created in 1999 using Houdini while I was a student at ACCAD. But it was not my first 3D animation ever. That I created some thirteen years earlier, at The Netherlands Film and Television Academy:


I never wore hoodies. When I was a teenager they were not really around much and never having paid attention to fashion I never got to wearing them. Until recently: I went to buy an expensive coat, which turned out to be less than half the original price during the After Christmas Sale, and the one that fit best had a hoody. A detachable one, so not much risk there.

When it is cold and windy, and the wind chills have been fierce lately, it is actually real nice to pull the thing over my head. But I did notice that it is almost like wearing what in Dutch are called "oogkleppen" (blinders, the things they put next to a horse's eyes to limit his field of vision). With a hoody on your head you get a kind of tunnel vision, and you peripheral vision, the part most sensitive to movement, gets no stimuli whatsoever. That feels weird, a bit claustrophobic. I notice I turn my head more when I wear it. That is the one thing I do not like about it. The same reason I do not like to wear small spectacles: your view is limited by them.

And so this character came up in my mind, wearing a extended hoody for true tunnel vision. With headphones on top to block out audio. While sketching, I discovered he is riding a skateboard while checking his so called smart phone. May turn up in an animation, like "Hello World (Working Title)"

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Back to the Future

By Leo Hourvitz, a friend from the SIGGRAPH Systems Managers team, I was alerted to YouTube user VintageCG who posted a plethora of clips from the early days of Computer Graphics. Which of course includes a lot of stuff from my Alma Mater ACCAD, like this 1982 demo reel for Cranston / Csuri productions

Real interesting stuff, amazing at the time, very crude and sometimes cheezy for todays standards. A great bit of history, my student should all see this stuff. Would it be possible to convince them that back then it was really hard to make anything in 3D?

I think it is about time I follow through with my plans to put my own vintage stuff on the WobbleTV YouTube Channel. I will keep y'all posted!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back to Basics

After loosing myself for a while in vector math, trying to make the generated line not to intersect itself while moving in interesting swirls, I went back to basics. Sine curves that is. By generating a couple of these lines with the same amount of points, they can be morphed into each other (shape blending) and made to move.

Maybe this is the first real test for a new rendition of an old series: Multi Dimensional Eye Virus 3D!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Wishfull Thinking

I opened up Gene Youngblood's "Expanded Cinema" once more and was amazed by the optimism in the book (it was published in 1970). On page 260 he writes about the coming expansion of the amount of channels available to viewers and how the advent of Community Antenna Television (CATV) will offer customers as many as eighty additional channels. He states: "Much of this programming obviously will constitute the personal aesthetic work to be discussed in this book". Video art on cable, multiple channels of it no less? Sweet! But didn't happen of course&hellip

The closest thing to a channel of time based art I have seen was broadcast on local cable in Amsterdam in the nineties and only at night time. That broadcast encouraged viewers to tape the entire show, stating "Steal This!". There may be quite a few now obsolete VHS tapes out there filled with Video Art.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Now I get it!

I always enjoyed animation but now I should also be able to comprehend its deeper meaning. Last night I finally finished reading Paul Wells' "Understanding Animation". There seems to be quite a bit wrong with it, but that did not keep me from enjoying it. There are not that many books out there taking a serious look at animation. If you do not mind having to skip pages, you can read most of in on Google Books

I did find it rather odd that he often referred to an animation as "text". Somehow his tools are not entirely adequate for the subject matter. Maybe that is why he in those instances focuses on animation which can be described, whose story can be translated into words. Cartoons that is. The book does cover a lot more though!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Eye Brain in Maya

I had been working on my Eye Brain animation in Lightwave 9.6. At school we switched to Maya, and so have I. To get an idea how much work it is to port the whole thing, I exported the last Lightwave Scene I created as FBX (using the standard settings) and imported that into Maya. Not too shabby! The first render came out all white since all the lights, which were all spotlights with falloff and shadow, were imported as point lights with no shadow or falloff. Most UV maps even came through, unfortunately only one per mesh though. Oh well.

To get everything back to where I was is going to take a while though. What to do, what to do…

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Hello World (Working Title)

As promised, sketches for my new project that is currently filed under "Hello World (Working Title)"

These images of the initial character design and a pivotal scene from the beginning of the animation (the walls of the room / large cubicle fall down to reveal a big open space) were created during SIGGRAPH 2009 in New Orleans. The story has evolved somewhat, but is nowhere near finalized. The screen is no longer attached to the guy, may be floating. The chair still is.

The world that is revealed could contain the Eye Brain…. The whole thing should be somewhat dream like.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Animate I Must!

And a happy 2010 to you too! I do remember last years resolution, so I had better get going and create new work. Now, I do have three project I could work on. Since it is (or was last week) the season for lists, here is one:

  • The experiment that created the image for the previous post could yield a Multidimensional Eye Virus 3D, created in a 3D package in stead of a motion graphics package.

  • I could convert the Eye Brain to Maya (The original brain model I created in Maya 1.0 back in 1999) and work on that animation. Do not like the story I have for it now though.

  • I also have a new project in development. I am working on sketches, storyboards. Will need to build a lot of assets for it though, so will take quite a while to complete. Will post some of the stuff I have been working on for this project soon, the working title is "Hello World"

Whatever the project: Animate I will!

The image is taken from the University of Bremen and shows that there is no sea ice where my wife is heading. She left today