March 20, 2012 . No More Futurama on Comedy Central permalink ] [ trackback ]

Oh, it’s still airing (and they are making new episodes, as far as I know).  But I think I’m done watching any more episodes on Comedy Central.  I won’t go into how bad the new seasons are on Comedy Central (they are pretty bad).  But now I can’t watch the syndicated episodes from the first four seasons because Comedy Central has started modifying the episodes.

I just watched “The Day the Earth Stood Stupid” and realized that they cut the entire bit at the beginning with Bender and Zoidberg entering the pet show.  It’s annoying that they cut out a little of the episode to increase the commercial time, but that has been standard syndication practice for a very long time with other shows so it’s not surprising.  But then later in the episode, after everyone on Earth became stupid and Fry’s coworkers were suggesting what they should do, Bender said, “Hey, let’s all join the Tea Party!”

What?!!  The original was, “Hey, let’s all join the Reform Party!”  They are changing dialogue now?  Updating the jokes to make them more relevant?  I am not outraged because they chose the Tea Party (frankly, they deserve to be made fun of), I am outraged that they are modifying the original jokes for no real reason.  Doesn’t the Reform Party still exist?

Time to find my Futurama DVDs, I guess.

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October 2, 2011 . Arrested Development – New Season? permalink ] [ trackback ]

As a big fan of Arrested Development, I have heard the rumors about a possible movie in the future.  But now the creator and cast say that a new season of the show is in the works!  According to the article, the 10 new episodes could air in early 2013.

Posted at 8:08 pm [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
July 19, 2011 . The Dark Knight Rises permalink ] [ trackback ]

Warner released an official poster for the upcoming Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises (click on the picture for a bigger version).  And they also released a teaser trailer for the movie, although a lot of the footage is just recycled from the previous two movies.  But you do get a shot of the new villain: Bane.

What little I know of Bane is from the animated series (and from reading the Wikipedia entry, of course).  It seems like this character, supposed to be one of Batman’s toughest foes in the comics, has not been used very much in television or film.  It will be very interesting to see Christopher Nolan’s version of the character.

Posted at 3:52 pm [ 2 comments ] | [ Post a comment ]
June 2, 2011 . New Gallery Update permalink ] [ trackback ]

AutolabAfter a very long hiatus, I have added a new entry to the gallery.  My goal was simply to reacquaint myself with Lightwave, including basic modeling, texturing, lighting, rigging, and rendering.  I’m pretty happy with the results, and it only took a few days to complete from start to finish.

As an added bonus, I compared the performance of my new computer (well, six months old, anyway) to my brother’s computer, which is about the performance I’m used to using.  A render that took 19 minutes on my brother’s computer only takes 3 minutes on my computer, which is a very impressive increase in speed!

Posted at 1:00 am [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
May 20, 2011 . Displacement Maps: Maya vs. Lightwave permalink ] [ trackback ]

Out of a curiousity to figure out how to improve detail on models without bloating the polygon count of the geometry, I took a closer look at displacement maps. I was surprised to find that Maya and Lightwave use displacement maps in fundamentally different ways.

First, I created a simple image in Photoshop to use as my displacement map (left). My goal was to apply the image to the face of a cube, rendering the pattern as new geometry.

Next, I created a cube in Lightwave’s Modeler with a UV map assigned to one face. After loading the model in Layout, I assigned the displacement map image to the UV map in the object properties (pull up the object properties, go to the “Deform” tab, and apply the texture to the “Displacment Map” texture button). When I rendered the object, the only difference was that the face with the map applied was pushed 1 meter in the direction of the displacement axis.

Suspecting the problem, I reopened the object in Modeler and subdivided the displacement face a few times to create more vertices. When I rendered that new geometry out with the displacement map applied, you can roughly see the displacement map, but with a lot of distortion and odd bending of polygons.

It turns out that Lightwave only applies displacement maps to existing vertices on the geometry. In order to get a more accurate representation of the displacement map, I would need to add more polygons to the face that will receive the displacement map. Since I wanted to use displacement maps to reduce the geometry of the base model, this defeats my purpose for using them.

Maya takes a different approach to displacement maps. I can apply a displacement map by adding it to the shader network for the material assigned to the face that I want to deform. First, I load the image file as an image node in Hypershade. Then I connect the alphaOut (or any of the individual colorOut values, since it’s a greyscale image) to a Multiply/Divide node (to control the strength of the deformation). Finally, I connect the output of that node to the “displacementMap” input of a surface (note: you can middle-mouse-drag the multiply/divide to the surface and choose “displacementMap”, or you can manually setup a “Displacement Map” node that connects to the surface’s Shader Group node — the first method is a shortcut for the second, but the shader network will look identical either way).

Now that the material is ready, I just assign it to a single polygon and render out the results. As you can see, Maya turned that single polygon into a much more complex piece of geometry during the render. The precision can be controlled using values in the “Displacement Map” section of the object properties (higher sample rates == higher precision). But even with high precision, you will still get some distortion and banding of the original image in the final render if you get too close to the object.

So it seems that displacement maps are great in Maya for smaller detail work that does not require close-up shots of the displacement. There are some other neat tricks I found using Maya at this short tutorial, including using temporary geometry in Maya to bake displacement maps and how to get ambient occlusion to work with the displaced geometry.

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May 16, 2011 . YouTube on DirecTV permalink ]

I just accidentally discovered that DirecTV DVRs now support playing YouTube videos directly from the Internet!  Using the search function in an Internet-connected DVR, you can choose to search YouTube for results.  I doubt I will use it very often, but it is cool to know that the option is available.

Posted at 11:27 pm [ 0 comments ] | [ Comments Off on YouTube on DirecTV ]
December 1, 2010 . My Christmas List permalink ]

I know what I want for Christmas — a Lennie Briscoe action figure!

Too bad it’s not real.

Posted at 2:52 pm [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
August 9, 2010 . Printing 3D Objects permalink ]

Here is a pretty cool article from the Engineering department of University of Illinois about printing 3D objects in real life.  The actual details about 3D printing is not well covered, instead it focuses on how the technology can be used in primary education classrooms to engage students.  I wonder how much one of those printers costs….

Posted at 12:35 pm [ 0 comments ] | [ Comments Off on Printing 3D Objects ]
July 30, 2010 . Lakeshore at Sunset permalink ]

A few weeks ago I went to the Chicago lake-front and took some pictures. I finally got around to processing them and I figured I would share some of my favorites. Hope you like them! (P.S.: my favorite is the fifth).

Posted at 8:22 pm [ 0 comments ] | [ Comments Off on Lakeshore at Sunset ]
January 13, 2010 . Anime on Adult Swim permalink ]

Since Adult Swim is not airing any new anime shows currently, I decided to look at their schedule to see if they had any announced plans for new episodes or new series. After affirming that they are not airing anything new through February, I did a little Googling to see if any new shows have been announced, or at least if they plan on airing new Bleach episodes soon.

What I found is an article reporting that Adult Swim has lost the rights to Blood+ (no big loss) and Death Note (a shame, but I have already seen the entire series). However, they have announced that they have probably picked up three new anime series, but they have not said which.  As a side note, I watched the mini-Death Note marathon on Saturday night, not realizing that it was the last time the episodes will be aired on Adult Swim.

Clicking more links from Google, I found out that Adult Swim aired a bump that announced when they are airing new shows: Bleach on April 3, Venture Bros. on Aug. 22, a new unnamed show on Feb. 6 (obviously not on the current schedule), and another unnamed show on Sept. 25.

I learned one other thing: there is a new InuYasha series out called “InuYasha: The Final Act”, which covers the end of the story as written in the manga.  If you watched the original InuYasha series, you may have been disappointed by the end of the series.  Because there wasn’t really an end — the episodes just stopped abruptly mid-story.  Since this time around they have an actual end to the story planned out, I am hoping that one of the unnamed shows is this new series.

Posted at 11:54 pm [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
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