Saturday, December 01, 2007

Facebook Gave Me The Axe

And i'm not really sure why... But last night, when I tried to get online, I got this message:

 

Your account has been disabled by an administrator. If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page here.

 

So, of course, I email the administrator, asking why it happened, and what I can do to fix my account. After some more digging, I found this:

"Facebook enforces limits on the site in order to prevent certain actions that can be considered abusive. Your account has been disabled for persistent and rapid use of a certain feature. Unfortunately, for security reasons, we will not be able to further explain these limits. "

Now the only rapid thing that I remember happening was my iPod touch trying to connect to facebook, so I'm being banned for using an apple product that is has the shakes?

"Facebook has limits in place to prevent abuse of our features and to protect users from potential spam."

That's well and good, we all hate spam, I hate spam. I even hate spam, the 'meat'! but again, what does this have to do with my ipod trying to connect?

"Unfortunately, Facebook cannot provide any specifics on the rate limits that we enforce. Please know, however, that the speed at which you are acting and the sheer number of actions you have made are both taken into account."

Um, ok... So you can't be specific about what I allegedly did, and you can't be specific on how many times I did it... but I did it fast and often.

After doing some other research, it appears that FB does a lot of things like this for a multitude of reasons. People with fake profiles, people with fake names, people claiming to be other people or organizations... Of course, i'm none of those...

As you can probably tell, i'm a bit confused by how this happened. Anyone that knows me knows that I'm not a spammer, not trying to fake anything.. But for some reason, the FB overlords decided that I was a threat to their clean, shiny social utopia of pirates, ninjas, zombies, snowball fights and superpokes.

Like I said, I sent an email to their customer support team, in  the hopes that this is just a machine error, and my status can be reinstated, but this event is very telling about FB. No warning, no 'hey, quit that or we'll kick you out!" to which I would reply, 'Quit what?' and this would have never happened.

What's sad is that FB is so much better than myspace, and I'd rather not go back there for my social fixes.

 

So, feel free to comment here if you want to get in touch with me, as I was kicked out of the cool people club for reasons unknown to me.

 

At least I still have fun with Rock Band.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I'm Such a Sucker for a Good Figure


Assassin's Creed, Ubisoft Montreal's newest blockbuster game came out on Wed. Unfortunately, I was broke until this morning, so I splurged a but and got the limited edition which comes in a tin and has a figure, short graphic novel and small artbook.

The reviews for this game have been very good, and it was highly anticipated. I can't wait to play it, but I have to wait until after dinner plans that I have with a friend.

In other news, I got a but of a response about my story from a couple of people, and they raised some good points on things that I have to flush out. To those of you who I sent it to and haven't responded, please do! I'd like to hear what you have to say!

In Other News:

Awww, someone photoshoped an adorable dog as a Colossus from Team Ico's Shadow of the Colossus!

Too funny!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Current Status: Exhausted and Anxious

Day 21 without a day off. Welcome to the holiday season in retail management, ladies and gentlemen.
After the opening of our new Plaza (see last post), and a fashions show for a (brand) new store to the United States Who.A.U, and the Thanksgiving parade this coming weekend, and Black friday next, I don't know how I pulled time together to do this.

I'm back in the saddle as far as Nevergreen goes. I was thinking a few days ago that I'm worried that I would forget the details of the story because I haven't had the chance to work on it at all. So last night, I wrote a detailed outline of the story from start to finish and descriptions of the characters and locations. I'm really proud that i've even got this far. Hopefully, this will get me to get my ass in gear and go forward with my story.

I sent out the draft to a few friends who know of the story, editors maybe, and i'm waiting to hear back from them on their thoughts about it.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It's Finally Done... Well, sorta...

 Today marked the culmination of efforts started over two years ago. The Stamford Mall, where I work in the marketing department), finally opened its new multi-million dollar Plaza addition.

I'm so proud to be here and part of this, as we all worked our asses off to get this in the news, get people here, and assist in this huge project. The new stores and restaurants are as follows:

  • P.F. Chang's China Bistro
  • Kona Grill
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Cosi
  • Barnes and Noble (the largest one in CT, mind you)

Coming in the next couple of months are:

  • The Capital Grille
  • Mitchell's Fish Market
  • H&M

This is a huge step for this mall, because for the longest time, we had only subway as our available restaurant, and nothing else to speak of. However, with these new restaurants and stores, we're now a force to be reckoned with to other malls in the area.

So please, if you're in the Stamford, CT area, stop by and check these places out. You won't regret it.

 

In other news, because of all this, I haven't had time to work on my comic. I have some changes to make to the evil city Seddus Rhodes (like making it look less penis-like), and I want to make the other city, Lumanor (wink), but I'm still trying to figure out the style I want to go with.

 

Peace out everyone!

 For pix, click here

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

If you're a religious person,

Now would be a good time to pray for me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Maybe...


I think I can do this....


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

No Good Day Goes Un-FUBARed

There seems to be a new unfortunate trend going on in my life.
I've been trying my best to do something that will make me happy each day. So recently, I've turned to modeling and rendering. Unfortunately, each day has been punctuated with something shitty, for lack of a better word, happening. I'm trying to stay on the path of the self-improving, but it's getting harder and harder to stand up after being knocked down so many times. Whether it's something personal or business related, petty or deathly serious, nothing is easy to bounce back from.

I guess this is the true test of how strong I'll have to be.



Seddus Rhodes, by the way.
check it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hey Groove, Welcome Back!

So after much hiatus, I'm finally getting my groove back.
For many different reasons, at many different times, I couldn't bring myself to model anything. Pushing a poly was like pulling teeth, and I kinda just sat there, wishing I was as good as those in the field that I idolize for their incredible skills.

On Saturday morning, I had a conversation online with a peer who lives in Singapore and has taught me a lot over the past few years. He'll be teaching a CG class over there, and wanted to try his act on me a bit, covering different things. After his impromptu lesson, I was newly invigorated, and started modeling.
besides the picture to the right of this entry, I did some other cool stuff having to do with terrains and a major set for my story.

Once I can break out my laptop here at work, I'll transfer some pictures over to show.

It's been a while, and I'm glad I'm back.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Darkly Desiring More Dexter



I have to throw a shoutout out there.
Dear ShinyKaro, thank you for introducing me to one of the most vile, disturbed, grotesque, bone-chilling, blood-curdling, depraved and absolutely brilliant shows that I have seen in a long time.

Showtime's Dexter, the show about your friendly neighborhood serial killer, is my newest guilty pleasure. I don' t mean guilty pleasure as one would consider something like, I dunno, say Rock of Love (wink). I mean it in the sense that despite the fact that the protagonist is a serial killer, and we, the viewers, love watching him stalk his prey, dispose of them through his special brand of justice, don the mask of normalcy and slither his way through dangerous situations that might expose him for the monster that he is. We love it all. From the disturbingly gruesome way that the introduction is shot, to the unnerving way that Dexter throws up veil of false emotions and then butchers criminals, abusers, mafia and other undesirables that he feels deserve the business end of his power tools.

I just finished the first season, thanks to iTunes, and I don't think that I was able to breathe for a good minute and a half after it had finished. In the spirit of not spoiling anything, I won't go into any sort of detail. That being said, I have to thank the writers for veering away from the habit of many prime-time writers to keep the story going trans-season, while answering one question only to ask three more and keep people hooked.

I believe that the story is in the characters. That is to say, one story can end, but because the characters are so fantastically written, the writer can put them into another situation and they would entertain us just as well. That is not to say that the story that progressed during the first season wasn't great, it was! It was enthralling, actually. But I'm glad that the characters are dynamic and multi-layered enough that we don't have to have a static villain (aside from our hero, of course) that we have to contend with year after year.

I like to call that the Inspector-Gadget effect. For those of you who remember, we never saw Dr. Claw, the antagonist of that particular cartoon, and he was never apprehended. We knew that each time a villian came by, he was sent by Dr. Claw, or at least the good ol' Doc had something to do with it, but we also knew that he would -always- be there, and that was that. No greater push, longer and harder journey to put this evil bastard away for good. Nada. It's alright to have a foil, but not for the sake of being a foil. Dexter doesn't suffer this, thankfully.

I'm also glad that this show is on Showtime. Somehow, I don't think that NBC or ABC could hack it (yeah, I went there). Because of the fact that Dexter is on a premium channel, they can get away with showing a lot of things you wouldn't see on basic cable. I'm not a fan of gore for gore's sake, but for being a show about a serial killer, there is surprisingly little gore. We see Dex working the tools, and then disposing of the trash, if you will. Most of the gore that we do see is the work of the Ice-Truck Killer, Dexter's adversary and playmate of season 1.

As far as my thoughts on the finale of Season 1, I applaud the writers for being able to time up everything so neatly. Questions about the hows and whys of the season are addressed in a believable way. Who does what and where is clearly laid out for us to see. I really appreciate that, because again, so many shows try to put a band-aid onto questions that either they didn't have the time to properly answer.

One last thing that I love about the show was the ending to the last episode. We see Dexter and his sister walking back into their police station after doing their justice, but I believe there is a seamless transition between reality, and what Dexter sees in his head. His fellow policemen and Miami residents cheering him on for doing away with the killer. Pats on the back for him doing his dirty deed. A sick appreciation for Dexter's after-work activities. As the monologue cuts out, and Dexter smiles and walks towards the camera, the images freezes with his face blurred but in an extreme close up, and in that one single frame, he really looks like the serial killer that we know him to be.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Go Go Gadget New-Potential-Hit-Series!

Apparently, some people believe that lighting strikes often at the NBC offices. I'm not quite convinced yet, but I plan on driving down later with a kite and iron ring to prove that it can happen.



(The Bionic Women, Past and Present)

September 26 marked the first episode of NBC's 'reimagination' (more on this later) of 1976's "The Bionic Woman". In the new series, a 24 year-old Jaime Sommers, (played by Michelle Ryan), a young bartender, suffers a near-fatal car accident along with her college professor/secret agent boyfriend Will Anthros. Jaime only survives the crash because Will brings her to his place of employ for a quick tune up, saving her life, and simultaneously making her the most expensive bartender ever. After the initial shock and realization of what has happened to her, Jaime eventually understands what she has become, and starts way on a path to a more exciting life of technobabble, espionage and intrigue.

(Look ma, no legs.)









The series is co written by David Eick, of recent Battlestar Galactica fame. Interestingly enough, Eick's screen writing experience wasn't the only thing that he brought over from Galactica. Aaron Douglas, the loveable deck chief of questionable parentage in Galactica makes an appearance in the second episode. Katie Sackoff, (better known as Starbuck, to most) plays Sarah Corvus, the first Bionic Woman. That's right, I said first. Sommers comes into the game a little late. A Version 2.0 if you will. Obviously, this raises the question, "What happened to the first Bionic Woman that would warrant making a civilian into the second?". I'm glad you asked!

(Note: You can also tell that Sackoff is the bad one because of the cigarette and excessive use of eye-liner, if you couldn't tell before.)

Corvus does what Sackoff playes well. She goes bat-shit crazy, some people die and the token asian hand-to-hand combat instructor/operative/love interest played by Will Yun Lee (who, coincidently, plays many similar roles) puts a bullet in her head. Business as usual, right? Not for Corvus. Somehow, she's back, sans bullet-in-the-head, and she's working for the enemy as well as taking the time to antagonize our fair yet somewhat clueless heroine, Sommers. I must admit however, that the idea of one good and one bad bionic woman, while cliche at times (Star Trek and Knight Rider, I'm looking at you...) but I'm getting the feeling that Eick and Co are going to write this one in a more interesting way.

(Apparently facial hair is also a sign of evil...)



  • Spock and Evil Spock








  • Michael Knight and Evil Michael Knight




  • The future for the Bionic Woman?



Reimagination is a funny word. Honestly, spellcheck doesn't even recognize it. (Interestingly enough, spellcheck doesn't recognize the word "spellcheck" either, so take that for what you will). Can you really Re-Imagine something? If the first imagination isn't yours, are you really re-imagining anything, or playing off someone else's work and creativity? It's kinda like regifting, now that I think about it. The only reason that I bring this up, is that Eick so far has been attached to reimagining two series now; the aforementioned Galactica, and now Bionic Woman. Eick and Ron Moore took a campy and at sometimes damned silly series, and made it relevant for the 21st century. They cut out the capes and robotic dogs (thanks guys) and added the interesting and at some times uncomfortable questions that no one ever likes having to ask themselves, as well as updated visuals, and revitalized a good amount of television's sci-fi scene. Can this be done with Bionic Woman? We'll have to wait and find out. But so far, it's on the right track to becoming a fan favorite, as well as another notch in NBC's belt along with Heroes, Chuck, a slew of Law and Order and of course, Deal or No Deal.

The Bionic woman airs Wednesday night's at 9PM EST. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some kite-flying to do.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

It's So Heavenly...

Recently, I purchased what analysts predicted would be PS3's Killer App, or rather flagship game. Heavenly Sword has been promoted since the launch of the PS3, but has only recently been released. Personally, I'm glad that they took the extra time to produce this work of art. Before the release of the game, Ninja Theory released five short animations detailing the history of the game's namesake, entitled "Legend of the Sword". The short series served to provide some background on the sword, as well as some of the main characters, their ambitions and motivations.

In Heavenly Sword, Produced by UK Based Ninja Theory, you play as Nariko, the red-maned heroine and daughter of the leader of her clan. The clan is in possession of the Heavenly Sword, a mythical weapon once wielded by a deity sent from heaven to defeat the Raven Lord, a battle which predates the start of the game.

Over the generations after the defeat of the Raven Lord, the sword passed from hand to hand, leaving carnage in it's wake. It granted its owner immeasurable power, yet drained their life at the same time. It eventually fell into the hands of the clan, who vowed to keep, but not use the sword, until the next heavenly warrior appeared.

The game begins as the clan is fleeing from the armies of King Bohen (voiced and acted by Lord of the Rings' Andy Serkis). Bohen, in his attempts to conquer all the lands in his sights, sees the heavenly sword as a means to do such, and is as relentless as he is evil. The story is about Nariko's journey after attaining the Heavenly Sword to free her people and put an end to King Bohen's reign.

Heavenly Sword is an Action/Adventure game which uses the PS3's CELL processor incredibly well. Each environment is beautifully crafted. The models are well made, and versatile, and the animation is seamless and flows very nicely.

One of the most impressive parts of the game is in the cut-scenes. Serkis was made Dramatic Director by Ninja Theory, and thus, coordinated the motion capture for each scene. Not only are the actor's bodies motion captured, but their faces are as well, leading to very impressive facial animation, adding a new depth of realism to the game. The score, produced by the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, borrows from both Asian and Indian styles and rhythms, enhancing each scene.


Each of the characters are well written, from the heroine Nariko, her adopted younger sister Kai (who reminds me of a certain Icelandic Pop-Star), to the ruthless Flying Fox and Whiptail. Each character has a distinct persona, and nothing is overplayed or reused, as is a problem in many modern games.


In the efforts to not spoil this game for anyone who hasn't played it, I won't go into much detail about what progresses. The game got good reviews, but also come criticism on two major points. 1) Heavenly Sword is so similar to God of War that some have termed it Goddess of War, and 2) The game is comparatively short, and can be completed in 1 to 2 afternoons. There are certain gameplay similarites between Heavenly Sword and God of War, but they do not detract from the overall experience. Heavenly Sword also borrows from the interactive cut-scenes of Shenmue.

All this aside, it looks like game developers are starting to utilize the PS3's CELL processor better. With games like this and Lair, we can only hope to see more beautifully crafted games for Sony's newest console.










Heavenly Sword (PS3) Trailer - Watch today’s top amazing videos here

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

We Doth Been All Up in That Piece

On Sunday, I was graciously invited by Kevin and Jane to go to the Renaissance Festival in Tuxedo New York. It's been years since I've gone to a Renaissance Fair, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. Luckily, I was in good company.

As is tradition, we went around and sampled many types of Renaissance goods like swords and leather. Jane spent about 20 minutes trying on pirate boots with lots of buckles and lots of leather while Walt and I fought off the locals who were making comments and trying to sneak a peek.



As a tribute to the Harry Potter series, Jane and I repped it up big after I bought my wand (geek powers, activate!). We would have taken more pictures, but those cloaks itched like hell.






On our way out, we out, we walked past a lonely wizard perched on a hill. As we are not those to miss a perfect photo opportunity, we strolled up to the kindly old wizard and asked if we could take a picture. He started mumbling all sorts of things that sounded like Jane and I were getting married, while Kevin took the picture. Walt stepped in, but I told him that I wasn't into threesomes. After taking the picture and getting the hell out of there, we broke out, back to reality, but not before Walt and I got put away for attempted assault on a wizard.









video

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Maguire attached to Robotech

Tobey Maguire, the guy who made it clear he was oh so sick of doing big budget, comic book movies while on the press tour for Spider-Man 3, is producing and possibly starring in a big budget, anime movie for Warner Brothers. 

The film is a live action adaptation of one the most popular anime series of all time, Robotech, which is essentially about pilots who take giant mechs into combat against aliens. It may be written by Craig Zahler (writer of the upcoming revenge western, The Brigands of Rattleborge) and doesn’t currently have a release date. 

For more info, click here.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Review: Windows Live

So out of curiosity, I decided to do some checking up on what MSN.com is doing. Much to my surprise, they've been very busy.

 

With Vista out now for a while, and from what I can gather, Microsoft is doing it's best to create as much interoperability between Windows Vista and Windows Live.

 

Windows Vista Start Bar Windows Live Star Bar

On every Windows Live page, there's an icon in the top left corner that looks an awful lot like the start button on Windows Vista. The operation is exactly the same as well. In Vista, you access your programs, documents and settings through the start menu. In Live, you access all your Windows Live services in the same way.

 

Windows Live Hotmail

We all are very aware of Windows Hotmail, which has been offering free web based email for over ten years now. However, after Gmail hit the scene, Hotmail was nothing to write home about. Gmail offered more space, an easier interface, Google's name and stability. Hotmail had a fraction of the space, and because of it's lack of decent filters, was always riddled with spam. Now, thanks to a complete redesign, enhanced filters, it's established user base, and 5GB of space, Windows Live Hotmail is suddenly a force to be reckoned with.

 

Windows OneCare

While many people may find this a bit intrusive, Windows is offering OneCare, a downloadable application made specifically for Vista that offers protection, performance monitors, and more to keep your PC running smoothly. While the application is not free, Windows is offering a 90 day trial. For those who are not particularly computer savvy, OneCare seems to be easy to use, and beneficial for Vista users.

 

Windows Spaces

Microsoft's blog service is nothing new, and honestly, nothing to get excited about. The design is basic and bland, and the only thing it has going for it is it's integration with Windows Live Messenger. Users can see when new blogs and pictures have been updated right in their messenger window.

Normally, this wouldn't be of much news, but it does lead us into...

 

Windows Live Writer

This is one application that I was frankly surprised about. Windows released a standalone blog writing application for use with it's Windows Spaces blog service. What's surprising is that it's compatible with most other blog services. It's WYSWIG editor is very easy to use, and automatically formats itself to match the look and feel of the blog, taking fonts and CSS into account. Comes complete  with spell check, formatting tools, and more! However, as nice as a standalone application for blogging is concerned, one thing that I found a bit annoying is that unless you have an FTP account handy, embedding pictures is not as intuitive as Google's Blogger service. For this entry, I found myself uploading pictures into SkyDrive (see below), setting them in a dedicated folder, setting permissions, copying the web address for each one, and then inserting that into the blog in Writer. Not particularly intuitive, if you ask me. If you're listening, Live Team, integrate SkyDrive into Writer so that I can Click and Drag files into my posts!*

Well, with all this mention of SkyDrive, lets move on to....

 

Windows SkyDrive

SkyDrive is a web based storage drive, much like Google's Drive extension (which was not very intuitive to use). Unfortunately, as of the time of this writing, SkyDrive was having some issues, and I wasn't able to check it out for this review. One drawback is that SkyDrive only offers 500MB of storage, which may be enough for hosting photos and the random document for transfer between home and work, but not much else.

 

There are more services which I haven't had the opportunity to sample yet, but one thing that I have noticed is that the Live Team has left Beta as a suffix to most of these services.  There are noticeable improvements to be made, but so far, the Live Team is making many enhancements to the general service.

I'm not sure if this will tempt me away from Google's iGoogle homepage, or the variety of services that Google offers. Some may think that this is too little too late for Microsoft, however, it is a welcome change from the bare minimum that was being offered before.

 

 (*Edit: As of this writing, an extension for writer has been made to include files from SkyDrive. It's available from the "Add a Plugin) link, but it's not much help...

Friday, August 24, 2007

No blog today

maybe next time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Missed a Day, Sue me.

So I'm not letting my missing yesterday's blog posting get me down. Anyways, here's what I was -planning- on writing....

I could very well write a post about work. About how I hate drama, and people who thrive on spreading it. I could also write about how I detest incompetence, especially when it pertains to my job. I could write about how some people, when receiving bad news, take it out of the one giving the news, not the reason for the news it.
I could write about all that.
But I won't.

Instead, I'll write about something that happened yesterday that was very good. For those who know me, or more specifically, my Father and I don't usually see eye to eye, nor do we exchange touchy feely feelings.

Yesterday, I spent some time with him, and spoke briefly about my future. That is to say, we both spoke in "Man-Code" which is making allusions and implications instead of saying it outright. While he originally kinda disagreed, I think that we eventually reached a conclusion that I have to do what I feel is right for me. I have to walk down my own path.
I think that he and I finally see eye to eye on something.

That made me feel really good.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Blog A Day

For the sake of others, and for my own, I'm going to try to write a blog a day. I have never been very good about keeping a journal, but hopefully this will change. I just have to try to find out what to write about.

This past weekend was mostly good. I spent some good time with good friends who wouldn't let me be alone for too long at a time, else I'd start thinking about things that would hurt the mood and throw me into a depression again.

Jane and Kevin have been fantastic friends during this low point. Jane has been very good to me over the years, and it's good to have someone that cares for me so much back from her travels and local. Kevin has surprised me very much. I met him once years ago, and now that he's living in Stamford as well, he's been very good and calling me even when Jane isn't around, just to see how I'm doing. I've never been very close to guys, but Kevin is a great guy. He's someone that I can talk to, that doesn't try to throw the whole, "We're Dudes! Dude's don't have feelings! We're Butch and Spit and Fart and Belch and Check Women Out" mentality that I hate so much. They're good people, and I'm glad that I have them in my life.

I'm going to have dinner with my old friend Amy from my Umass days today. Amy's always been a sounding board for me, and me for her. She lives a few towns over, but we try to stay in touch as much as we can, even though I've been neglecting her a bit in recent months. Amy's family has been great to me as well over the years. Her mother said that anytime I would like Korean food, feel free to drop by. I wish I took more advantage of that over the years.
Hopefully, Amy and I can spend more time together, as she's been absolutely fantastic to me in the past.

Much to the dismay of my real hobbies, art and music, I've found a new one. Ladies and Gentlemen, Guitar Hero II is addictive. Those who are not READY TO ROCK need not apply.
With a great soundtrack, fun and colorful visuals, a guitar controller, dueling guitar functionality, and 'Tilt the Guitar to activate your super star rock out power' function, it's a good time for everyone. I picked it up last week, and showed it to my roommate, who immediately went out and got his own axe as well as Guitar Hero II: Rock the 80's for his daughter.

Check out this set list:

1. Opening Licks

2. Amp-Warmers

3. String-Snappers

4. Thrash and Burn 5. Return of the Shred 6. Relentless Riffs

7. Furious Fretwork

8. Face-Melters Bonus Tracks
A few songs of note are Free bird, and Trogdor, Yes, TROGDOOOOOOR by Strong Bad.

The ability for one player to play lead guitar and the other to play rhythm guitar, or one to play guitar and the other to play bass, makes for a fun time. I think the most fun that I've had was when my roommate (who's a pretty big, jacked guy), picks up the tiny guitar controller that looks like a ukelele to him, and rocks out to Mother by Danzig and sings along.
I'm waiting for Rock Band to drop in November as well though.

I don't know what the rest of my week is going to look like, but I have to keep busy. I threw on LW again last night and modeled something for my everything but forgotten story. I have to really force myself to get back into that, because as someone at the NYC Lightwave Group said, "If you don't do it, someone else will. Then where will you be?"

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Group Mentality

This is something that I should have done a long time ago. With the exception of two semesters at UMASS under questionable tutelage, I have never had any official training, or professional contacts with those in the CG industry. For a big city, Stamford, CT has a very small CG community. This, of course, has the unfortunate side effect of me pretty much being an island as far as networking goes.

This is where I get the “Duh, stupid… Look right in front of you!” award. I live about 45 minutes out of NYC, and there just happens to be a NYC Lightwave group that meets monthly. These are people who (like me,) are hobbyists, but also professionals. From what I understand, they get together, discuss what the software can do, talk about personal/professional projects and the best way to complete them, talk about news, and generally have a good time.

Like I said, this is something that I should have gotten into a long time ago. I have a hard time with motivation if something isn’t concerned with my current job. If I’m not getting paid for it, it’s hard to force myself to get into something, no matter how much I like it. Recently, everything –besides- my passions have taken the drivers seat in my life, and to be honest, I miss the things that I used to love.


I’m going today into the city to go to my first NYCLightwave user group meeting. I hope to meet a lot of like-minded individuals, make some contacts, and try to find some of that flare that used to be so at hand. I need to find it and get it back. I have to have something to strive towards and keep my mind occupied.

Here's the postcard that they sent to remind us all of the meeting.

Color me excited.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Watch That First Step

The famous lawyer Eugene Ware once said, “All glory comes from daring to begin”. Now, if Gene was alive today, I’d probably ask if I could buy him a beer and ask him what the hell I’m supposed to do next. I don’t know if it’s truly glory that I’m looking for, but I do agree that ‘daring to begin’ is the key to any success.

I’ve been stagnant, going through the motions, but not really moving for a while now. I have a path ahead of me, but taking that first step, and then the next and so on is the hard part. Now that I have the reason to move on, it’s the motivation I’m looking for. Well, that’s not entirely true, it’s the drive. The drive to get off my ass and begin. I know that it’s important, and it’s the rest of my life, and I owe it to others, and more importantly, myself to get going. That first step is always the tricky one. I have to make moves, big ones, for my personal and professional growth. I’m going to dare to begin. I just hope that the ‘glory’ is worth all the exhaustion and heartache that it’s going to take to get there.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Confessions of a Broken Heart

I do read it, and it does matter to me. I read it all.


What Makes Someone Brave?

I believe it's doing what you think is right, no matter how much you hate doing it. And I hate doing it...

I've been wondering over the past day-and-a-half if I'm some kind of masochist. I sit by and watch the pain that I've caused others unfold before me, reading every letter of every word of every sentence at least twice. It kills me. It kills me to think that I did this, that I made a decision that hurt someone that I care for probably more than I care for myself. Maybe that's the point of it all. I don't like it though. I don't like seeing her this way. She deserves better, she deserves all the love in the world. She deserves to be happy, and light, and love herself. Over the years, I've caused trouble and pain for someone who didn't deserve any of it. I can only blame myself for the problems that stemmed from my own faults.

I tried. I really did. I wish I was able to do more. Anything that I could do, or allow myself to do, I did, just to see a flicker of a smile on her face. Sometimes it was there, lots of times, it wasn't. If I could have collected every single tear over the past 5 years that she shed, I'd put them in a crystal vial and look at them every single day as a reminder that I screwed up. I screwed up big. I don't want to keep screwing up, but I won't forgive myself for making her cry even once. She deserved better than that, and she deserves better for herself now.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Love at least once in your life...

... or else you'll never experience of the most fantastic things in the world.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Making It All Work


3D art is not easy.
Putting together a single scene in 3D involves many different disciplines. As in many art forms, you first try to visualize what your end result should look like. This involves deciding the mood, the focus, the color scheme, the emotion and probably many other things I'm forgetting.


You build your models (which include principal actors or a focus), which involves an understanding of scale, spatial relationships, thinking in more than two dimensions, an attention to detail and understanding complex shapes.



Texturing objects involves understanding the physical properties of materials, how light reacts with an object, be it how color is affected, the mysteries of reflection, specular and gloss, light absorption, refraction, diffuse and other properties of light.

Laying out a scene involves, orienting and placing each object,
as well as a main camera, in order to match as closely as possible what you originally visualized. Understand space and scale and how the eye works in general is critical.

Lighting the scene takes into consideration not just your sun or moon,
but also the different properties of different man made light, as well as how light bounces of objects and in a sense, travels around your scene.

Animation, maybe the most popular of the disciplines, involves a strict understanding of natural motion, physics, acting, and concepts related to telling a story.

Each one of these steps is incredibly involved. Many books have been written by artists great and not so great, and many larger studios employ teams of people to handle each one of these stages.

I've somewhat wrapped my head around modeling, both hard-body and organic (although I could stand to get better), I understand the fundamentals of UV/Texture mapping, again, with much room for improvement.

However, there are the three other things that I'm still learning how to do.

Because of the fact that I haven't really attempted much animation, I'm saving that for last, but for the life of me, I can't figure out scene layout and lighting. I've bought books on lighting in the past, but most of it still alludes me.

Falloffs, intensity, the difference between the effect of an area light, an omni directional light, a linear light...

The difference between ray traced shadows and shadow map based shadows...

Global illumination, HDR imaging...

Then of course, there's layouts. What's the scale? How do you define scale in an image? What about the backdrop? How does the atmosphere and the time of day come into place?

I think that if i figure out the concepts behind all these things, maybe I can fly off this plateau that I've found myself grounded on for so long. I want to put things together, not just objects, but scenes. I want to put together little tiny bits of reality, one piece at a time. I want it to look damn good.
And I don't know what I'm doing wrong so far...

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Getting Back To My Roots


Taking a break from cel shaded fantasty stuff, I thought I would delve back into the more realistic types of modeling. Inspired by god knows what, I thought I would try my hand at making a sort of futuristic, high quality, luxury hoverboard (i'm thinking honda or toyota, not sure yet).

Making something that's not bulky, but streamlined and sexy, as many luxury transportation vehicles are, I decided to go with spline modeling as opposed to poly or box modeling. This will allow me to 1) plan out the curves and contours before I start modeling, 2) keep everything sleek and sexy and 3) help me brush up on my high-poly spline modeling.







I'm going for a porcelain/fiberglass frame, with rubber bumpers/foot padding.
Things yet do to:
Finish modeling details
UV Map
Shade and Texture
Produce Particle Emitter effects
Rig with basic character

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far

APPLESEED was a joy to watch.
This is not news, as it's been out now for three years.
Not only was the story intriguing, but it was one of the first cel-shaded action movies from Japan to make waves in this country. Being a huge fan of cel-shading, this was a huge inspiration to me.

Appleseed, based on the graphic novel by the same name, was written by Masamune Shiro, and the graphic novel was so well received that it won the 1986 Seiun Award for Best Manga. Shiro, a fan icon inthe cyberpunk scene has gone on to pen many more stories, but for a large group of fans, Appleseed was a crowning achievement, followed only by the Ghost in the Shell series.

Two things come to mind when thinking about stories by Shiro; his frequent use of strong, female leads in his stories, and his philosophy on mecha and its limitations. For as much as I've seen, Shiro's stories have always had strong female leads, something which I admire. Let's face it, guy's and dolls, there are a lot of kick-ass women out there who hold their own just as much, if not more than men. Recently, there have been more heroine's in major media, Lara Croft, Ripley from the Aliens series, Battlestar Galactica's Starbuck and more that I'm sure I haven't mentioned. This is not to say that Shiro makes them larger than life necessarily, like so many male heroes have been, but he shows a determination and inner strength, as well as physical prowess that matches the boys. It's this fan's opinion that doing such was a great move by Shiro, as it not only set his work aside, but it finally gave the spotlight to those who deserve it.

Shiro once created a Rules of Mecha article a while back detailing the physical limitations of mechanical augmentations to the human body. Why is this significant? Well, in most movies, books and film, the artistic direction is completely implausible. Let's say you have Joe Action who loses both arms while fighting off a ferocious tribe of pygmy armadillos. Joe gets back and has bionic arms grafted to his body. Now he can lift up cars, steel vault doors and the like. Nope, sorry Joe, no dice. According to Shiro's articles, while the bionic arms themselves may have the capacity to lift an incredible amount of tonnage, they are still grafted to Joe's original bone structure. Due to the transfer of weight throughout the body, the shiny new arms would be fine, but the rest of poor Joe's bones would shatter. He's probably cry too... pansy.

Observations such as this changed the way that mecha (specifically human augmentation) has been designed. For example, all of the physical augmentations that deal with strength have been written to include fully reinforced skeletal structures.

So why do I bring all of this up?
Because there's a sequal coming. It has been announced today that Appleseed Saga Ex Machina, the sequal to the first movie, is now in production and will be released Q4 07 in japan (so most likely Q1 08 stateside). From the trailer available on the official Appleseed Saga Ex Machina website, the technique and direction has significantly improved, as well as the quality of animation. Its being directed by the #1 fan of slow motion doves, Mr John Woo, so expect a good amount of gun-play and eye candy.

So am I excited? Oh hells yes. Not only does the fact that the series is continuing excite me, but seeing the cutting edge technique is something that I've been waiting for. Don't get me wrong, I like my share of ogres, donkeys, talking cats, talking, gingerbread men, talking penguins, talking toys, talking rats, surfing penguins, lost zoo animals, superheroes, talking mammoths and talking cars as much as the next red-blooded American, but I'm growing older now. My tastes have changed. I'm glad someone, somewhere has notices, and is making movies accordingly.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dave Loves DAVE Loves 9.0

GEEK POWERS, ACTIVATE!

Ladies and Gents, you are now looking at one of the newest accepted applicant to the Digital Animation and Visual Effects School, affectionately referred to as the DAVE school. Lemme tell you about this place I like to call Heaven.


The DAVE school is located smack dab in the middle of sunny (and from what I hear, friggin humid) Orlando, FL. It's actually in the back lot of Universal Studios, FL. It features a slew of computer labs, motion capture green screen room, recording room, and some of the best instructors that a CG hopeful could ever ask for.

The DAVE School program runs for one year, and is broken up into 4 sections called "blocks". Each block focuses on a different levels of proficiency, starting with basic modeling and knowledge of Newtek's Lightwave 3D program, architectural modeling and rendering, character modeling and animation, bluescreening and compositing, and finally group dynamics, leading a team. During the program, aside from digitally compositing yourself into any movie of your choice, creating a good amount of portfolio and demo reel, you work with your team to create not only a half live action, half CG short film, but a completely full CG short film.

The instructors at this school are second to none. People here have worked on a variety of blockbuster movies, fantastic television, and more. They teach what they know, they teach what they love. These are people that left various studios, companies, and firms to teach people like me how to work together in groups like this, how to put together a demo reel, how to use what we have to create fantastic images and video.

Not only that, but after graduating, graduates can still use all the facilities that the school offers. Demo reel hosting, access to all new classes and new professors, access to green screen facilities, etc. All this for the low price of $29.5K. There inlies the biggest hurdle. Financial loans are available, but that's still close to $30,000.
Kinda makes me really think seriously about it. Not that I would ever miss this chance, but more like I would work harder at this than I ever have; ever at school, and ever at work. I have to put all I have into this. And I plan on it.

In other news, I just purchased the upgrade for my personal copy of Lightwave, bringing me up to version 9.0. This one has a slew of new advancements, and hopefully, It'll help me find my groove again, and get back to producing (and hopefully finishing) many many products before I move over to Florida.

Clock's ticking. Time to get to work.