Jun 30, 2010

2009 Goals

I can't believe it has been over a year (by a few weeks) since I last really sat down to layout where I've come from creatively and where I want to go...

So lets start by looking at what I accomplished and didn't in 2009:


Success- I got Traum out of Alberta!

Failed- To get Traum into the many New Zealand adventures I have lined up for him...

Failed- To get an adventure done every 6 months as I'd hoped

Delta Patrol

Success- I got the rough cut of the movie done!

Failed- To get much modelling for the effects done...

Failed- To cranking out any final effect renders

Failed- To setup myself up to have the final film out next year!

ART Evolved and my Palaeo-art

Success- I have managed to get a piece into EVERY gallery on time so far (making me one of two people to do so!)

Success- I have continued to up the quality of my art (for the most part... when I have had the proper time and oppurtunity) when creating pieces for these galleries.

Success- I have managed to get my art published (non paid mind you) in several magazines!

So clearly of my creative projects my palaeo-art is the only one going well for me thus far. Traumador in particular has become an ongoing regret, and I need to step him up (like usual).

With that in mind, I now launch into my goals for 2010 and beyond next post...

Cha...cha... Changes!

Looking through my older files and blog posts I stumbled upon two independent discoveries, that actually go well together.

First was that my last real outlining of creative goals on the blog was just over a year ago... I had been planning on updating these every couple months!

The second discover was this old pic here.

This is an old Mark 0 Centrosaur model from back in 2005. Prehistoric in both subject and in terms of my art work.

I just found this funny, as I just upgraded my current Centrosaur.

This was the orignal Mark 3 version from back in 2008.

He just recently got a Mark 5 upgrade this year.

This past week he got a head upgrade. He now has perfect skull proportions and placement, a better beak, a proper nose, and a few other minor but better enhancements.

Anyways apart from this quick showcase of my current tweaking (the Centrosaur is about to play big into Traumador's adventures), I'm stating for the RECORD my next post WILL BE a look at how well I did with my 2009 goals and outlining my official 2010 goals!
So tune in for a look at what the Weapon of Mass Imagination intends to do with his next "year"!

Jun 23, 2010

The Storm MAY be passing...

The aftermath of last week's debacle is still playing out around me. I had thought our renting a new place last night would have been the end of it all, but I have learned (much to my extreme depression) it may have been too little too late.

This situation, caused by my thinking I was doing the right thing, has put a strain on many of my relationships, however I learned the damage between me and Lady R is a lot more serious than I'd thought. She has assured me that things should return to normal once we move into the new place, but I'm not a big fan of how upset she has been lately. Leading like usual to my outlook on life, that no good deed goes unpunished.

I've also shifted from not working all that much to working all the time! I only have Sundays off, and at moment my days are all 8-11 hour ones! With school getting out next week it is looking like my schedule should shift into at least a more manageable version of this timetable (I currently don't finish till 7-7:30pm each night).

Yesterday I had an unexpected bubble of time, so I popped back to my Trilobite piece. I now have a rough composition I'm working on, but had an interesting malfunction with one of my lighting effect.

This was the initial result trying to get my watery haze going. I like it. Not my usual attempt at realism, but the picture has a certain awe factor to it I like. So I might work on as final version like this as well.

Jun 17, 2010

Keeping My Mind Off Stuff

Things have returned to not good in my life. I shan't go into detail, but I've just discovered all the reasons I came back to Canada were not only wrong but a complete waste of time. We're not talking a little bit of time either. A whole year!

Rather than dwell on it (that is what "sleep" time is for... it is probably not good that I've gotten used to 3-5 hrs of sleep a night these day come to think of it!) I've been trying to keep myself busy.

With the upcoming Trilobite gallery on ART Evolved it is time to get something ready for that...

Here is a sneak peek. This was just a play render with my fill in sand I made today. The sand needs a bit of work, but I like the hiding it effect.

Here he is in the open. He is looking alright. I'm not entirely happy with the head, but the body/tail are quite awesome.

Next he needs legs and a proper environment.

Jun 15, 2010

Soundtracks: 2010 Keeps Them Coming!

So I know I promised my next soundtrack related post would be on popcorn music gone bad...

However this promise was made when I thought my than next trip to the cinema would fuel my rage with the second Iron Man soundtrack, and we'd get that post organically. Instead I was in for a very pleasant treat, which would than be followed up by another wish list album!

Basically 2010 has been defying all my expectations, and setting itself easily apart from the past 3-4 years... Good soundtracks have become a rarity in recent years, with the Zimmer clones choking much of the market, and many of the great composers lower their productivity (possibly due to this increased demand for popcorn music by studios). It appears that perhaps there has finally been some backlash against generic film music, and as of such I'm struggling to keep up with all the great new scores coming out!
The first Iron Man, while an amazing movie, had one of the weakest superhero soundtracks ever made (only Danny Elfman's Hulk comes to mind as worse). The official line was Director Jon Favreau wanted a score that could be played solely on an electric guitar. Okay on face value this sounds "cool" right? It was his intention to have a very cool sound for the film. Well think about that for a moment. Basically you're asking for a whole movie to rely on music a 12 year old in guitar lessons could play... It was just a really weak score, in every sense of the word!

I had expected a repeat of this entering the sequel. Only to discover seconds into the opening credit music I was in for a surprise, the music was of a more strong nature! Thinking this had to be fluke, and we'd leave the nice villain theme and reenter generic music, the explanation was spelled out on screen. Zimmer-clone Ramin Djawadi had been replaced by veteran utility composer John Debney.

I can only wonder if someone had realized how pathetic the first movie's music was, and thus sout a more capable composer (as Zimmer-clones of Djawadi's generation are not really capable of making more than one type of sound), or if the Zimmer clan was so engaged else where they couldn't be booked (I hope to learn of the first option personally).

The choice of Debney was frankly kind of brilliant. Debney has built a career on being incredibly versatile, and has often been brought in to save franchises musically. While he is not in my top 5 he is a composer I respect, and typically enjoy the work of. His Iron Man 2, while not the best score of the year (he is up against some very steep competition!), is a remarkably enjoyable score.

It still has electric guitar for the cool factor, but it is wisely a buried element among a strong orchestral arrangement. The highlights are the villain theme of Whiplash, Iron Man's new much more defined theme, and the finale action sequence where these two themes duel with each other on a epic scale!

This was nice extra punch by 2010. Though I'd settled into the notion that Avatar and How to Train Your Dragon were going to be the true highlights of the year... When we had another heavy hitter enter the ring this week!

The Last Airbender, by none other than my favourite composer James Newton Howard...

I'd been starting to miss Howard. His productivity dropped considerably post 2006, and what he was doing proved impossible for m3 to track down in New Zealand. In his absence I found that John Powell's huge recent output and old Jerry Goldsmith classics I hadn't owed were eating up the niche in my musical listening that Howard had occupied back in 2000 till my move to NZ.

It is so lovely to have him back!

With one of his most ambitious epic scores yet! What is even more cool is it is one of his M. Night Shyamalan collaboration scores. Howard has done all of M. Night's music, and these have resulted in some of my favourite musical tracks of all time. However as overall albums they have typically been lacking in across the board quality, with isolated tracks (one of which inevitably always being the climax track) being the highlights and the rest being somewhat forgettable.

The exception to this was Lady in the Water which is one of the strongest soundtracks of the modern age if you ask me. There had been hope that this new high quality would continue in their joint projects. From what I hear The Happening (in addition to being a truly awful movie) was not able to keep this going, with Howard's music being more like his earlier M. Night efforts. I won't judge it as I still haven't heard it.

However with Airbender we have another absolutely solid album start to finish! While not as immediately obvious as How To Train Your Dragon on the thematic end, Airbender is an absolutely solid fantasy effort on par with Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings. I have had to listen to it three times in the last two days to grasp its scope and more subtle (but very rewarding) themes. Once you get in its head space it is incredibly compelling!

Like the other greats of 2010, I'll do a proper review of these later. I'm still having to absorb most of these scores properly yet. I'm just enjoying having more music to absorb than I can handle. This hasn't happened in over 5 years!

Avatar has fully sunk in with its 6 months to digest. So I will get to these shortly when they have equally fully hit home.

I conclude with the hope this isn't the end from 2010 on the movie music end. It is turning into an incredibly memorable year!

Jun 9, 2010

The Good News

So life has been quite jam packed for me the past week or so...

On the same day as my rejection from the Calgary Board, I received a job working with a young boy with disabilities. Having now met with the family a few times we've got things ironed out so that I will be working with him every evening this last month of school, and than during the days in the summer.

Lady R is the best girlfriend ever, and bought me a new computer! Given its vastly superior performance over my old one (it renders in Carrara about 6-8 times faster!!!), and DAZ having a sale for the brand new Carrara 8 I broke down and picked that up relatively cheap (it was 50% off) new version of Carrara (finally!)...

So things are finally starting to pick up.

I've been too busy sorting stuff out for my new job (I have a pretty full on program to learn and set up), to sit down with the new Carrara and play much. Also most of its new features are pretty intense, and I'll need to sit down with the manual to get the hang of them. More to the point not having a physical copy of the manual I'll need to go to a print shop and get the PDF printed. However being 750 pages this is going to have to wait a little while!

I have plugged some of my "old" Dinosaurs into the new program, and no problems thus far. A few environmental factors didn't make the cross over for some reason, which is a bit annoying. In particular my water's caustic effects and tree bark shaders didn't get saved in the model files, and thus were left on the old machine. It is not the end of the world, it just means I have to manual copy them over to the new machine and tell my 3D models where to find them...

I've been toying with my "top secret" ART Evolved project while working on my job stuff. As I'm currently just trying to make the river work it is just a matter of adjusting the shaders and rendering. Given that the new machine renders the whole scene in 20 minutes this is making progress much faster (on the old machine this scene with plants and such would take over an hour!).
This was were I started on the new machine. It is a slight step back as, again, I lost all my tree bark in the cross over to the new puter.

While I liked the baseline of the water effects, the details were all wrong. The splashes were too defined, the colour of the mist and water were not working, and the whole thing seemed artificial.

Tweaking the water colour and reflection I started to sort of step in the right direction, only the colour was too bright. Now my Rex was standing in a river of Cool-Aid OH YEAH!

A key factor to water is its reflective nature. I'd only had its reflection up to 50%, so I cranked it up to 90% while darkening the colour and got something much better for the river. At the same time I made my splashes more transparent which removed the orb like nature of the water droplets, but the splashes weren't big enough and still not quite right on the colour scale.

Expanding the splashes and lightening the colours I likes the size of the splashes, but not the brightness.

Darkening down the splashes and their mist I arrived here. I like this, and think I'm done on the water front.
I also decided I didn't like the red colour scheme of the T-Rex sticking out from the environment so much. A T-Rex doesn't strike me as the sort of animal that wants to stand out. So I applied the Larry colouration to the model, and like how it subtly blends in with the background. Though I need to tweak the feather colouration as they currently disappear all together.
Next I just need to fix the riverbank (which also lost its texture map), the tree bark, and play with Carrara 8's new tree systems that should let me add dead leaves to the trees and play with some other settings to get way more realistic looking plants!

Jun 4, 2010

The Recent Bad News...

Have had a lot going in my life lately. Yesterday in particular had a particular nexus quality to it, with about 6 things all going down at once. Rather than one big post, I've decided to break this up into bad and good news posts. Partially as my good news still needs a day or two to get sorted out.

The first immediate and devastating piece of bad news is that I have been formally rejected from the Calgary Board of Education. So I won't be teaching in Canada anytime soon...

Without so much as an interview, I got a very generic letter stating I don't fit into the Board's ideals. How I don't fit in it doesn't say. Rather than take this personally (which it is hard not too) and assume this is do to with my application package I sent them, I need to remind myself of the more likely underlining cause. That being the 200 teachers they laid off as of yesterday...

In general these are "wonderful" times to be a beginning teacher. Of my dozen or so friends who all went into the teaching profession, only 1/3 are actual still teaching and most of them overseas. Yet people wonder why we're losing our edge? When we can't be bothered to invest in our education system...

Rather than end on this downer, another recent piece of news has hit my radar that has given me an employment idea.

The supposedly upcoming Hobbit movie is looking for a new director, while coincidentally I at the same time need a job. Hmmmmm

I propose I get the job! After all I'm qualified!

  • I've lived in and explored New Zealand to the point where I can tell you roughly where all the previous LOTR movies were filmed, and know some great untapped locations for new Middle Earth locales.

  • I have extensive experience with low level special effects... how much harder could it be to have high end ones that actual do all the stuff I'd like them too?!?

  • I could cut down the budget, by playing Gollum myself. Anyone who has been around me can tell you how eerily close my Gollum voice is to the real thing!

  • I bring star power to this new project. Apart from Gandalf and maybe Bilbo (Ian Holm is sadly getting really old) what other established names are attached to this film (again I replace Andy Serkis as Gollum :P)? None, as the characters are all new to the film franchise. Sure the studio could search out people to fill in many of these roles, and they will have to. However I bring one star they'd never think of to the role of Smaug the Dragon, Traumador the Tyrannosaur!

  • Finally my asking price is very reasonable and very competitive in today's modern entertainment industry!

So there is my official application to become the new director of The Hobbit.

(Oh I just thought of another thing. How many fancy pants directors could throw together their own crude logo like mine above in under 5 minutes like me :P)