November 28, 2009 . Congratulations! permalink ]

Congratulations to the newly engaged couple!

Chickens don't clap!

Posted at 8:30 pm [ 2 comments ] | [ Post a comment ]
October 10, 2009 . Two Sonic Guys permalink ]

I watched Stranger Than Fiction last night and noticed that two co-workers of the main character are the guys from the Sonic commercials.  I looked it up on IMDB and found out that the dark-haired guy, Peter Grosz (aka the driver in the commercials), is also a writer for the Colbert Report!

Cool stuff.  Now if only there was a Sonic nearby, I would actually try their food.

Posted at 1:04 pm [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
September 2, 2009 . Paint Effect Using Lightwave permalink ]

I stumbled onto this cool video from Keith Lango’s blog. It shows how you can use built-in features of Lightwave to render an object to look like it was painted, instead of getting a photo-realistic effect. Very creative!

Painting with Polygons from Outside Hollywood on Vimeo.

Posted at 7:49 pm [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
June 18, 2009 . I Want To Dip My Balls In It! permalink ]

Finally, after over 15 years, MTV is releasing “The State” on DVD.  You can buy the entire series in one set, which releases in less than a month.  I just pre-ordered mine for a nice discount from Amazon.

“The State” was a great sketch comedy show on MTV.  Some of the cast members have gone on to create some other memorable shows, such as “Viva Variety” and “Reno 911”.  Comedy Central has another new show premiering next month with two other State alums, “Michael and Michael Have Issues” (starring Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter).  In fact, it was this new show that prompted me to check Amazon to see if any new “The State” releases were scheduled.

I have been waiting for this release for a very, very  long time.  I even sent Viacom an email years ago asking why they have not released the series on DVD or at least shown re-runs on Comedy Central (a natural fit, given the sensibilities of the show and the fact that cast members have had several shows on Comedy Central).  Of course, I never heard back from Viacom.

In case you are wondering about the title of this post, it is one of the more memorable repeat sketches from the show.  The main character in the sketch, Louie, spends the entire sketch praising items by holding up ping-pong balls and declaring that he wants to dip them in the item.  Juvenile?  Yes.  Hilarious?  Definitely.  Which pretty much sums up the series.

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May 12, 2009 . New Full Metal Alchemist Anime permalink ]

Ed and AlI just learned today that Japan is airing a new Full Metal Alchemist anime series.  Full Metal Alchemist is an on-going manga series that was adapted to a 51-episode anime with a subsequent movie.  Unfortunately, the original series and movie only had a few volumes of manga at the time to use for the storyline.  Instead of waiting for more volumes to be written, the production studio decided to write their own story, which angered many original fans of the manga.

Personally, I did not read the manga until after I finished watching the series.  I wasn’t thrilled by the ending, but I did like the series.  However, once I started reading the manga (which you can do for free, if you are so inclined) , I realized just how different (and inferior) the anime storyline was from the manga’s.

So the new anime was created with the intent of following the manga more closely.  But it doesn’t follow the manga in lockstep (like the Hellsing Ultimate OVAs are doing, another series that had a similar problem with its first anime run).  The first episode, for instance, never appears in the manga.  But it does a good job of introducing  a lot of the characters and sketching out the various relationships between them.

Lust and GluttonyYou might be wondering how I know what happens in the first episode.  It’s because I just watched it online through the US distributor!  Funimation announced that they will release subtitled versions of the episodes online within four days of the original Japanese release.  There are currently five episodes online (I have only watched the first).  The fact that the episodes are subtitled may turn you off to watching the series online, but personally I am excited to get to see the series now that I have become more of a follower of the manga.

Posted at 3:53 pm [ 0 comments ] | [ Comments Off on New Full Metal Alchemist Anime ]
May 5, 2009 . Bouncing Ball permalink ]

Bouncing Ball PreviewI created this video a couple of weeks ago and I have been meaning to post it up for a while but… I guess I’ve been busy. Or lazy. Take your pick, either one may be true.

Anyway, it’s been a while since I used LightWave so I decided to create the classic “bouncing ball” animation to quickly reacquaint myself with the keyboard shortcuts and general workflow in the program. Luckily, I have a copy of “Learning LightWave 9.0” handy for looking up a few basic things I completely forgot (like how to parent an object to another).

One thing I realized this time around: the procedural textures built into LightWave are very limited and difficult to work with. I played around with Maya a bit and created some interesting surfaces using the built-in textures. Maya spoiled me, because each procedural texture has its own set of custom controls that let you change the way the texture looks. For instance, the “marble” texture of Maya let’s you choose how much marbling is in the texture as a percentage. The equivalent texture in LightWave does not have nearly as much flexibility.

In this specific case, I was trying to add a very slight smoky marble to the floor. I needed the marbling to be small in scale, a small percentage of the overall surface, and zigzagging throughout the floor in a random pattern. I ended up having to use a multi-fractal pattern instead, because the “Marble” texture couldn’t accurately create a marble surface.

Live and learn, I guess.

Posted at 10:19 pm [ 0 comments ] | [ Comments Off on Bouncing Ball ]
April 28, 2009 . Whoa! Julia! permalink ]

Somehow, this fact slipped under my radar for months: Keanu Reeves has signed on as Spike Spiegel in the live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop.

If you have never seen Cowboy Bebop, run out today and buy, borrow, or beg a copy to watch. Cowboy Bebep is one of the best anime productions ever made and has a very strong following. The strength of the show comes from the combination of great, believable characters, fun action sequences, and excellent soundtracks. What really solidifies Cowboy Bebop as my favorite anime are the over-arcing story lines that reveal each character’s past and then show that past catching up to them. And most of the time dedicated to those story arcs are spent on the main character, Spike Spiegel.

Unfortunately, that style does not translate well to a movie format. Although the characters can stand on their own, the movie will lack the story-telling magic that defined the success of the series. Instead, the movie will have to rely solely on the characters and a well-written, self-contained story. And in a live-action adaptation, that means that the actors must do a good job of matching the original character from the series.

So that means that the big question for the movie is: Will Keanu be believable as Spike? I guess we’ll find out when (if) the movie is released.

I also want to know: Who will be cast as Faye?

Posted at 3:39 pm [ 2 comments ] | [ Post a comment ]
April 15, 2009 . General Animation Sites permalink ]

I found a couple of good sites that discuss general animation technique. The first,, is a free online book by an animator that has been in the industry for decades. I’ve read the first few chapters and I look forward to reading the rest. The author, who is trained in classic 2D cel animation techniques, talks about animation as a general art form, not tied to any specific mediums or technologies. So it can apply to cel animations, Flash, 3D CGI, or (the author hopes) any new forms of animation that are created in the future.

The second,, has a few short tutorials about hand-drawn 2D animation. It covers some pretty basic material, but it’s still a nice read. It’s good to be reminded of the basics every once in a while, just to make sure you don’t forget the fundamentals.

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February 27, 2009 . Animated Rag Dolls permalink ]
Nine - Landscape

Recently, PiVisuals posted about the movie Coraline, which is being distributed by Focus Features. Coraline is the first animated movie to be released by Focus Features and they already have a second one slated for later in the year: 9. 9 is a 3D CGI story produced by Tim Burton about rag dolls in a strange, post-apocalyptic setting. Even though the release is still half a year away, they already created a trailer for the movie: It’s tough to tell if the story will be any good, but the animation looks fantastic.

9 was originally a short 10-minute film from 2005 which you can still see on YouTube: There is no dialog, but it is well animated and makes the movie seem very promising.

Nine - Characters
Posted at 12:22 pm [ 3 comments ] | [ Post a comment ]
February 27, 2009 . The Pixar Guarantee permalink ]

Pixar Guarantee

When I was watching Ratatouille the other night, I watched most of the credits because I enjoyed the 2D animation that ran during them.  Shortly after the animation ended, I noticed the image to the left scroll by.  I knew that Pixar animated everything by hand and did not use motion capture, but I find it interesting that they make it a guarantee.  I hope that they stick to their guarantee as an animation studio, because it lends a certain “hand-crafted” charm to their movies that cannot be replaced by motion capture.  The animations are actually works of art, as opposed to just virtual representations of data captured from the real world.

Posted at 2:03 am [ 0 comments ] | [ Comments Off on The Pixar Guarantee ]
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