Friday, December 7, 2012


It should not have surprised me that this took me a bit longer to build than I had hoped for as this prop will be featured prominently in my upcoming animation Scattered Brain Matter. But here it is, all six pieces and the board, available in two trendy colours.

[Geek Alert!] Recently I started to like the new node editor in Maya, taking me back to the time when I enjoyed working in Softimage XSI. Today I was painfully reminded of why I had previously abandoned its use. It totally froze my computer three times this morning. When I finally got the Task Manager open (the first crash was so bad that Windoze did not even respond to CTRL-ALT-DEL) I saw it rapidly filling up all available RAM for no good reason. Bad Maya!

I have my three models, rigger and all. On to Animation soon!

Friday, November 16, 2012

More Blob

Progress on my animation has been rather slow. It is kind of hard to work on a computer animation when a tropical system formerly known as Sandy knocks out your power for a couple of days, immediately followed by a Nor'easter. Oh well. I made some progress today on the blob.


[Geek Alert!] Allow me to rant about Autodesk® Maya a bit. I don't think I'm the only one doing some UV editing after rigging and it would be nice if that history could just be deleted, just like normal modeling history. But that would be too easy. Finally found a workaround with a MEL command (polyTransfer) which is of course quite different from the very similar menu reachable "Transfer Attributes" I got the result I wanted in the end luckily.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Blobber Mouth

Just in time for Halloween, I created a first render/animation test of the Fleshy Blob character for my upcoming feature length animation:


It needs a lot of work, obviously. But it is the last main character I need to complete!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Reel Time

I updated my animation demo reel:

Now why would I be doing that?:^}

It contains a sneak preview of "Scattered Brain Matter" but don't tell anyone!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Solitary Mingling

I kind of rushed to the end of this book as I had to return it to our local library, but I did enjoy reading Sherry Turkles "Alone Together", as I did "Life on the Screen" over a decade ago. She raises important questions relating to the potential quality difference between friends IRL and on Facebook. To the point of sounding like an bore, but that is kind of the point: the attention span needed to contemplate these issues is too long for the always-on-the-net (tethered) person.

The subtitle of the book may not be fully appropriate. While she makes clear that people do seem to expect less from each other, the expectations of what technology has to offer are not all that high, except for the robotic part when technology is not just a communication medium (and maybe AI in games). Overall expectations seem lowered, the desire to live life to the fullest diminished to a compulsive need for experiences worth posting.

She also makes an interesting point about privacy being one of the requirements for dissent and thus a functioning democracy. Self censorship can be almost as big a threat to public discourse as an uninformed and uneducated public.

On a lighter note, I could probably have finished the book a lot faster had I not picked up a used copy of Neal Stephensons "Anathem" from that same library for twenty five cents.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Blob Ready to Rig

In the month since my last post featuring this Fleshy Blob, I have not been sitting still. In fact, I have flown across the country (paid to be flown to be more precize) to attend SIGGRAPH 2012 where I did not have WiFi in my Hotel and was too busy with meetings and sessions (one of which I organized) to post any updates.

As far as the "Scattered Brain Matter" project is concerned: the Blob model is basically done (with UVs) and I also modeled the thing it will sit on. Fall semester is looming large, progress will be slow but if I just spend at least an hour every day…

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Been Blobbing

Judging by this blog you might think I have been a slacker on the animation front this summer. Au contraire! I am close to finishing the first scene for what may keep the title "Scattered Brain Matter". The next scene planned contains all characters I have in mind for this piece, so I am modeling the last one: a fleshy blob. The image shows it in its current state, next to the design. The belly is not round and or fat enough. And it does not jiggle yet.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Adding some Sharpness

If the title of this post deceived you into expecting some clever remarks here, you will be utterly disappointed. This is simply a post in the Animators Anonymous category to prove that I have been working. I actually animated quite a bit, getting close to finalizing the possible opening scene for what is still tentatively called "Scattered Mind Matter". Here is a test for what may happen to the tree like structures once the animation progresses deeper into --dare I (ab/mis)use the term?-- the technicum: it gets hard.



[Geek alert!] It turns out the mesh generated from nParticles is not exactly clean and polygon reductions does not work without manually removing all manifold geometry. Polygon Cleanup can do that automatically but results in crappy topology, so the polygons identified by the cleanup procedure need to be manually fixed. And the mesh also has a number of holes in it. I guess that just shows how hard it is to fit a polygonal surface over an isosurface,and that the solution is pretty stable is quite a feat.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Technicum Artis Magistra

Since I have to return it to the our public library tomorrow I finally finished reading "What Technology Wants" by Kevin Kelly. A book that starts out as promising as this one, putting the door ajar to a novel outlook on the way things are, the end almost had to disappoint. It does not explain what technology wants. It is filled with a smorgasbord of interesting tidbits, and does contains a very interesting thesis that the whole of technology, for which he coins the term "the technicum", is simply the next logical step in the evolution of things that started with the big bang. A lot of brilliant minds were consulted and that shows, it is a very interesting read. And when you name Brian Eno in your acknowledgements, the man whose work first showed me that video can be Art, you cannot really go wrong, can you?

The show where I saw that greatly inspiring work by Mr. Eno was "The Luminous Image" in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. I saw it as a wee lad in 1984 (yeah, right). Here is a very low quality video of him talking about the piece I saw back then:



I still have the catalog.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

It's Alive! It's a L...

I do not quite like the overly suggesteive way this thing thrusts up at first, but here is a test of how these tree like structures may come into being. In a bare wasteland or on little islands appearing in a vast bubbling ocean. Oh wait, I was going to try to not make this a mega project!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Towards a Unified Animation of Mind and Matter

I am still busy with several project hoping they will culminate in one animation. Here is a look development test for the environments of one of the scenes, possibly the opening of this animated epos of scatterer-braininess wrapped in procedural matter-of-factness :



[Geek Alert!] Maya would not be Maya if I did not run into a number of quirks while creating this test. For one the Mental Ray renderer does render the Maya environment fog, but when using the camera far-near planes these seem to get stuck at the fist frame when batch rendering. To fix this very frame needs to be rendered separately, so I wrote a small python thingy (program is too big a word for these few lines of code) that uses the command line render to start a batch render for each individual frame. Joy!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Scattered Eye Brain

Eye Brain has been resurrected once more! But now he is sub surface scattered. So far I have only rigged the "tail" which now can stetch and contract considerably. Brains tend to not deform much, this one probably should not either. The Eyes need to be able to look at things, so I again need to set something up that flexes those eye muscles!

To appear in a short also featuring a fleshy blob and a one legged fingertip walker.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Big Foot, Two Arms.

I have been wokring in Maya a bit. As I am teaching Advanced Animation this semester, and since all the students want to animate characters, I thought I'd create a test of one myself. I have a project in mind, one of those ballooning animation ideas, which has a similar character in it. Here is an animation / render test:

My plan is to build on this test and combine it with the original idea for EyeBrain, which is a scene that was cut from my Thesis animation "if(!NULL){". Maybe I will even throw in the tree like structures from the recent Maya Experiment! Do I have a title yet? How about "Minding Matter (Dark)" or "Dark Mind(s) Matter". "Never Mind the Dark Matter" maybe?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Morning News

Theme of this mornings news seems to be the thin line between the virtual and the real. An interesting article in Slate on 3D printing (The DIY Copyright Revolution - through the CAA newsletter) claims that that technology will radically change intellectual property as we are dealing with useful objects. Left aside the fact that the writer fails to show how these 3D printed objects might be useful, there is nothing new here (as a comment from First Banana confirms). Yes, the objects themselves may not fall under copyright protection but the designs will. Try printing Mickey Mouse figurines!

The other article that caught my attention was "Ship's anchor cuts Internet access to six East African countries" - the real getting in the way of the virual. For real. The way the internet is set up it did not result in a total blackout, but still.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Not so Hot Rods

Could not help myself, messed with Maya and created this:

This is a test, and I have no idea where I am going with this and should really be working on ">Hello World" but one must digress to get somewhere, right?

For the geeks: Used Python within Maya to set up the scene by placing locators on the points of a grid and constraining others to the points on a copy of that grid, and then point constraining a copy of a cylinder to the one and aiming it at the other locator. I then manipulate and deform the grid with the constrained points the rods aim at, and your mother's brother's name is Robert.