Nov 30, 2011

Decaying results

One of my procrastination projects at work is to tinker further with my Dinosaur corpse.

I've toned done the blood into dark tones, and smeared it around a lot more.

I also played with a possible means of creating footprints. My only hesitation is that these footprints are 2D effects I painted on with photoshop. Are they effective? They are not the final anatomy, wait on that sort of feedback.
Thoughts comments?

Cheeky Hypie

Got a lot more work on the Hypsilophodont done. Mostly on its mouth, and a new method of cheeks.

I'm also quite fond of my new beaking method.

Thoughts, comments?

Nov 29, 2011

Ironic Timing

So today is a pretty huge day for my long time palaeo-friend Peter Bond. He just had his first legitimate palaeo-art publication with his illustrating our mutual ex-Tyrrell friend Caleb Brown's description of a new species of Thescelosaurus.

This makes Peter the first of the two of us to achieve legitimate Palaeo-artist status. I'm very happy for him.

This however has done a sever number on my self esteem today. Not due to Peter's publication directly, more his tactics and resulting success compared to my own. There is an implication about my own art I can not help avoid detecting.

Whereas I've been proactively canvasing and approaching scientists in a hope of finding an interested party to create art for, Peter simply posted his stuff on ART Evolved and our friend Caleb approached him. So in Peter's case who he knew was as useful as having the art they wanted. In my case I've had every one of my contacts refuse or reject me (in one case mid art creation). Leaving me to ponder does my art suck?

I can not be sure. I know as a matter of fact this year has seen my art ascend to the next level. If even just accidentally. Whenever I open any of my pre 2011 models I immediately have to embark on a major overhaul of them as they are not up to my current abilities.

So in all honesty I may not have been up to the big league standard until now. The question is am I there yet?

I'm also questioning whether approaching people I know is the way to go. My only current hopes lay in essentially strangers (who I approached for totally non-art reasons initially).

So here is to Peter, and may this be the beginning of a brilliant hobby career! Now I just need to sort out my own $h!t...

Ironically I'd started retooling my Leaellynasaura model on the weekend while talking to Bond, which is basically a Thescelosaurus. So I guess I'll call it a tribute to Peter.

In reality its a WIP, so thoughts would be welcome. I can use this for both my New Zealand Palaeo and Traumador books (as I have a CSIish case for Traum Cretaceous NZ)

Nov 27, 2011

Need some focus

At moment I find myself in something of a tailspin creatively.

To help me better focus I'm opening up the floor to outside suggestions. I'm feeling a book or similar project might help me. I seem to thrive better when I have an end product to strive for (in the past Traum or AE galleries have done me wonders).

I could:

1. Work on creating a kid's book format for Traumador. I have a few ideas. My most favourite is working Traum and cast into something of a fossil CSI spoof where he must travel through time to solve weird fossil site mysteries.

2. Work on a series of short articles or possible short book about New Zealand palaeo. Their literacy program requires many new books and articles each year. While it will never be a best seller it'll be good practise for me, and I'll talking about something I know and love quite well. With a possible side benefit of inspiring the next possible wave of kiwi palaentologists!

3. I have an idea for a book/story set in Cretaceous Dinosaur Park Alberta. This one's my most ambitious. While it could be years off, I'll definitely have some goals and hurdles to over come to complete it.

4. I can just tinker and bounce around like I am now on misc portfolio pieces and ART Evolved galleries as they come up. I'm not sure this is the best for me, but people with more experience on trying things like books might have cautions for me...

I put up a poll on the right sidebar for quick input. Though I'd certainly welcome more detailed feedback in the comment section.


More Hong Kong craziness this week. Promise!

Nov 24, 2011

Soundtracks: YouTube is an album's friend!

A short request to record labels and companies.

Do NOT take full albums of your music off YouTube or other online video forums.

You're shutting down a new and unique advertising platform for your product, and not really stopping the "illegal" distribution problem you're seeking to address.

In the past two years I've taken to previewing potential soundtrack purchases by listening to the whole thing on YouTube. It is the perfect venue for encouraging me to purchase music. I can hear ALL of the music to ensure I want it (as opposed to the 30-60 second sample snippets offered on traditional preview sites), but yet not have it convenient enough for me to listen to the way I want. I can't download it properly. I can't listen to it without internet access. It suffers some major quality degradation. It is prone to net failure or lag.

So once I'm hooked on an album from Youtube I HAVE to buy it.

So far I have purchased some 20 CD's in the past 2ish years using this strategy. Of these, I might very well not have purchased 15 of otherwise. Yes I have previewed more than this, but I was never going to buy them without a preview anyways. That means out of say 100 albums I listened to the 20 I bought more than half were because I knew I liked what I was buying. Had I not had Youtube to listen further, I'd have only bought 5-7 of these 20. That is 1/4 the profit for the music industry.

Taking the album off Youtube doesn't stop the piracy of this music anyways. Youtube was never the venue for illegally exchanging the music. Those serious about pirating the music are not going to be detoured by this, and will use the real means of piracy elsewhere. Those are the sites you should engage.

I on the other hand purchase music that is available (limited edition music being another case) if I know I like it. Youtube gives you, the music companies, a new relatively safe means for letting me preview an album before a potential purchase. Remove this certainty about your product, and I won't buy it.

How is encouraging customers bad for business? The pirates will do their thing regardless. Taking music off Youtube only hurts your sales...

Soundtracks: Limiting the profit on limited edition albums.

I'm trying to figure out if movie soundtrack labels have perfected their market, or are simply extraordinarily lucky to not be out of business.

In this age of digital music commerce and easier than ever piracy how can limited edition releases honestly help the industry?

That's right, soundtrack specialist labels still engage in the pre 2000's strategy of releasing rare soundtracks in a mere 3000 disc runs. Back in the day I can see this vaguely making sense. Albums were harder to produce and distribute. It was easier to simple limit the release and make interested parties come to you. This system also helped create the collectors mentality that many soundtrack enthusiasts older than myself tend to have. So it built in loyal costumers.

The thing is the times they have changed. I'm really confused as to how this practise has not.

While I understand that increasing the physical production of albums will hurt this collector niche market, releasing the musical in digital form for sale can't be anything but good for business.

My reasoning, classic collectors covet the physical product. They want the case, the cover art, and nice shiny compact disc. It goes well in their shelves full of other such albums. So long as the album you sold them is only one of 2999 other such items they are happy knowing they possess their one share.

However the rest of us don't really care about the collectibility. If you're like me, you don't care about the case or collectibility of the CD. Hell, I don't care about the CD. I just want the music, and I'm willing to pay. If I was given a venue to purchase the music I'd do so in a heartbeat. As that is not currently the case the industry is limiting itself severely by only allowing 3000 transactions on a particular album.

The thing is they are REALLY losing out, by not offering a digital option for non-collectors. The biggest lose is in the resale of these albums on secondary markets of the modern internet age. Many of the hottest limited release albums are bought in bulk by online traders, who once an album has sold out resell them on Ebay and the like for immensely inflated prices. Meaning not only is the label not making money on these further album sales, but a totally non-related party is profiting more so on their scarcity. This form of commerce parasitism is further evidence that the labels are still living in the 90's. Ebay is not new, and clearly the labels must have noticed some of their limited edition discs going for literally $100's after their out of stock.

This increase in price, and just the difficulty in acquiring the disc in the first place has lead to piracy being one of the only venues to get this music. While still technically illegal, I suspect the label will have a much harder job prosecuting the illegal distribution on a product they themselves no longer distribute themselves. The biggest form of legal action is the lose of revenue, and if your not still selling it we're not hurting your business.

The only pro limited edition argument I've seen presented by collectors (not the labels directly) is that digital releases would lead to the risk of counterfeit albums. How is this not a danger in this age anyways? Seriously if I can find this for download, so could a counterfeiter. If you're really concerned about the legitimacy of an album just make sure you buy one of those 3000 directly from the label.

Digital versions of the music won't devalue the collector's market, as it is the physical object that is collectible in this information era not the content. Like it or not through piracy the genie is out of the bottle one way or the other. Everyone should just accept it, and instead of fighting reality adapt to it make more money off people like me, and thus help the legitimate sale and production of soundtrack music albums by giving the companies more income to acquire more rights and thus increase their sales again!

The 90's are way behind us. Time to catch up soundtrack people!

Nov 19, 2011

Lunch is served

Tinkering away on things in the background.

I'm coming to grips and with much more limited free time than I used to in my substitute teaching days. I miss that job for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one was the ability to leave school at the end of the day and not worry about anything till the next bell rang. I'm certain there'll be things I find equally rewarding in normal teaching. Time to focus on art is not one of them.

Still I'm coping, and getting in work where I can.

The last few nights I've been working on something for my feathered Dinosaurs to munch on.

Enter the partially eaten remains of my Styracosaurus. It's by no means finished, but I think it is off to a promising start.

Quick test with it in the possible environment. I have plans for this scene. Oh I have plans ;)

Nov 15, 2011

More Set Play

Starting to tinker with yet another environment setting. This time for my feathered Dinosaurs to exist in.

While I'm not done, I think I've started to get the rough construction of an environment down pretty good. This is passable as is. Though I do intend on doing a LOT more work on it.

Comments thoughts. Especially from the lighting think tank. I'm thinking a sunset once this is set up a bit more.

Nov 13, 2011

A Chinese Resturant in China... Really?

A direction sign in a train station. Though it was a bit of a let down when it turned out the resturant was called "Chinese Resturant". I still post it for the amusing factor of my inital encounter with it.

They believe in quality control here...

You can order it assured it is very good!

Yet another misspelling nickname

So I have more nicknames from the past 12 years than I can actually remember.

However one subgenre of my nicknames that have always boggled my mind, a bit, are people misspelling or mispronouncing my (apparently very difficult) name. Among these are Craf (misspelled by my roommate thinking she'd found it in the dots on our roof) and Crang (misprounced by the same roommate announcing my name to our coworkers at the Tyrrell).

Now a Hong Kong starbucks employee has given me a new one!

Earthshaking Pizza

Love this name for a pizza parlour. Havn't eaten there yet. It has the worst location imaginable... Right in the middle of TST beside so many other fantastic and tasty restaurants. If this was a local joint I'd try it out, but being 45 minutes away I'd rather eat at the western style places on either sides or across the street from it.

Local Elections

For the last two months the local Hong Kong election has been building up around us. At first it was just bill boards and the odd person handing out pamphlets. However entering late October the vigour picked up substantially.

To the point that every major mall or living complex had a camp full of canvassers outside in your face with their candidate. This is right outside my front door... for two whole weeks (one of the challenges of living in a complex with over 3000 apartments. Yes you read that right. There are over 3000 apartments in my complex.)

My favourite was the ramp up to the actual election last weekend. Where we had random parades (at some points yelling at each other when they ran into each other). Note the candidate at the front wearing the sash. They all wear them sashes boy and girl.

Electrifying Church

Funny how a graphic of lighting and slightly off synonym of lighting can make for a funny sign. All I have to say that is one heck of a sparkle on this sign...

Best Pharmacy Names

Trying to figure out if the owner of this one likes soccer or not... Otherwise he's definately got himself together.

Of course you've heard of this one, even if your from Coruscant or Romulus. What with it being universal and all.

Nov 11, 2011

Feather progress

I think I've got base feathers down pretty solid these days.

While it is time consuming to render I've got my work flow on the feather base coat and over coats to near clock work. Apart from the odd replicator malfunction I can feather a body part every 40-60 minutes (with most of that being rendering time).



Feathers beyond the coats may be another story. How do these primary feathers look beyond placement (which frankly I'm not worried about as we don't know where the feathers on Troodon were).

The digits aren't finished either. I'm debating whether the fingers should be feathered or not too. The toes won't so I can play with my new scaling trick there.

Thoughts or input? (Okay including primary feather placement... Albertonykus :P)

Nov 6, 2011

Another stab at Troodon

Considering how long I've been trying to get a formal Troodon together, I thought it would be the ideal subject for ART Evolved's Feathered Dinosaur gallery in the new year.

I had always planned on bringing Zendin the Troodon back into Traumador's life in a big way (though this effort to rebuild the Troodon model into a Mark 7 model is once again demonstrating the death of the Tyrannosaur Chronicles... this has taken me a week so far, and its only half done. The finale of New Zealand was going to require at least half a dozen new feathered theropods... Though I'm wondering about a point form finale just to wrap up the current loose ends, and because I have some great photo plates).

So here is a half finished Troodon. Let me know your thoughts. The arms and legs have not been touched at all in this new effort.

Little Marmot in the big city...

We're not the only ones enjoying Hong Kong.

Our Marmot sidekick Mukmuk has been having a good time too.

Mind you we're not 100% certain what he gets up to while we're out of the house...

Out on the town

Action shot of my trolley or Tuiche 推车 in action.

Man that is a tall, pale, and fashionably old lady... Oh wait its me. Though that's a nice pickup 推车 I'm using to hail my groceries.

Most random lobby decoration

So while walking through Tsim Sha Tsui (TST as call it here in the good old HK) I randomly spotted out of the corner of my eye the most unexpected and awesome statue in the lobby of an office tower we were walking past.

I had to run in and snap a photo (though I was chased out by security)
The honest to goodness Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

You just can't make this stuff up!!!

Whose house...

The best pet store in Hong Kong...

Temple Street

One of my favourite spots in Hong Kong so far has been the famous tourist market held on Temple Street.

It is a fantastic place to find random fun things... well okay junk. I love random junk.

I'll do individual posts on the junk, but here are some visuals of the place itself...

The most crammed store ever!

One of my favourite stores I've encountered is this one in Yuen Long.

It is as full as it looks. There is not even technically enough room to enter in to it without pushing through stuffed animals. Once inside there is a spot for the clerk and one costumer. The two areas are not connected. There is a 2 foot thick wall of stuffies in between the two. I'd have taken a picture, but it was too tight.

Way to funny...

It's what Bogs Bunny eats

Carrots are good for your eyesight...

I wonder what a corrot is good for? Based on the blurriness here obviously not eyesight.

Evidence of Counterfeiting

So counterfeit merchandise is incredibly here in Hong Kong (shock I know).
It's not everyday the subjects of the intellectual theft realize their being copied on the copy!

Pickup Trolley (Pimp my 推车 part 1)

After my first week with my trolley or Tuiche 推车, I definitely was in need of a modification. The lack of a solid bottom was letting my school nearly fall through my trolley (the bag I packed them in prevented them from outright escaping, but there was some definite dragging on occasion).

My solution sadly confirms me as a true Albertan, but I swear it is functional as opposed to aesthetic.

I turned my 推车 into a pickup.

At a houseware store I picked up a cheap plastic box (for about $4CAN). Key features were the box's size (in this case ideal for holding my school supplies) and the pre-molded handles on the sides.

The size criteria I hope is self evident...

The handles are for properly securing the box to the trolley.

To do that you need the 推车 enthusiast's secret weapon, duck ta... errr no wait not a handy man here... for trolleys you need bungee cord.

The handles give you the means of sturdily attaching your box to the trolley. Just run the bungee cord through both.

The cord ends attach at the top to holds the trolley stable side to side.

Running your cord through the bottom framework holds the box on the trolley.

The only disadvantage is that the trolley loses its ability to easily collapse and fold up.

In my book that is not as important as getting my stuff to work in one piece, so I'll leave with it. You other 推车 lovers out there need to keep it in mind when making this change.

Coming soon a totally aesthetic modification to my 推车...