February 19, 2009 . Pixar Films permalink ]

In the past few days, I watched two recent Pixar movies that I have not had a chance to see yet: Ratatouille and WALL-E.  Ratatouille wraps up my efforts to see all of Brad Bird‘s movies; I saw WALL-E because it looked to have some great animation from a great studio.

Ratatouille, along with the other Brad Bird movies I watched, was fantastic.  It is an excellent story that is well animated and well directed.  It might not be as good as The Iron Giant, but I did like this movie better than The Incredibles (not that I have any problem with The Incredibles – it was a really good movie, too).  And that fact suprised me — if I guessed in advance which movie I would prefer, one about superheroes or one about a rat that likes to cook, I would have gone with the superhero movie!

Unfortunately, I don’t have such high praise for WALL-E.  Although it was very well animated and the 3D work was very beautiful, I could not connect with the story enough to really care about what was happening.  I don’t know if it was the fact that the characters were not easily relatable, or if the story wasn’t written well enough to make me interested in the characters, or something else, but I found myself checking my watch and waiting for the end of the movie.  I personally blame the story, especially if you contrast this story about robots with The Iron Giant, where you really care about the giant robot by the end of the movie.

On a final note, I really liked the specials available on the Blu-Ray disc for Ratatouille.  It has a lot of interviews with Brad Bird and other Pixar staff, a few deleted scenes with commentary, and a couple of extra shorts.

Posted at 10:50 am [ 2 comments ] | [ Post a comment ]
January 20, 2009 . Catching Up On Email permalink ]

Over the past few weeks, I’ve fallen behind on keeping my Inbox neat and tidy.  I just started catching up today, hoping to clear out all of the emails that I want to read and deleting the ones that are just junk.

One of the first emails I opened is a daily newsletter from G4TV’s Attack of the Show (which I haven’t really watched since Sarah Lane left, but I do like some of the occasional features in the newsletter).  In it I found this link, which is a short video segment from their show about 3D animation blogs:  http://www.g4tv.com/attackoftheshow/blogwatch/65912/Best-3D-Animation-Blogs.html.

If you want to skip the video (it’s only 1:47 long), here’s the summary:

Sadly, I haven’t visited these sites yet, but I plan to once I’m done cleaning out my email.

UPDATE (11:07am):  Another G4TV video, this time about digital graffiti:  http://www.g4tv.com/attackoftheshow/blogwatch/66021/Digital-Graffiti-Blogs.html

It’s a very interesting topic about an intersection between technology and art.  I especially like the PiKAPiKA stuff.

Posted at 11:50 am [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
January 9, 2009 . Stay Away From My Street permalink ]

What is going on with my street lately? First, a fire truck catches on fire. Later that same week, I heard someone crash into light post late at night. And now today, a car dealer’s transport truck trapped itself during a turn by hitting a parked car with its rear end. This took over an hour to fix, because the truck could not move without doing more damage to the car (and possibly to the next parked car, too) and no tow truck could get to the victim car to move it out of the way.

Finally, the owner of the white SUV in front of the victim car showed up and moved his car, giving a tow truck enough room to pull the grey SUV off the truck’s back end.

Posted at 4:46 pm [ 0 comments ] | [ Comments Off on Stay Away From My Street ]
December 7, 2008 . Building Update permalink ]

I finished one floor of the high-rise I’m modeling, so I rendered out a quick test with a bunch of the floors stacked on top of each other.  You can take a look at a much higher resolution image of the render by clicking on the image.

Part of the final building will actually look like this, but the top half of the building has a slightly different layout.  And, of course, I will need to setup texturing and shading.

In response to a comment from the previous post:  I am creating this in Maya.

Posted at 11:25 pm [ 0 comments ] | [ Comments Off on Building Update ]
December 5, 2008 . Modeling Again permalink ]

A floating floor!Work has been keeping me pretty busy lately, but I have started a new long-range project to help me hone my 3D modeling skills.  I started creating a detailed building exterior.  I figure that I can add to the model whenever I have time, and once I have one building done, I can start on another.  Eventually, I can have an entire city to use as background shots or even as environments for scenes.  Anyway, I’m treating it as a hobby, akin to building model airplanes, except my models are all in the computer!

Although you can’t tell from the image, I have finished three sides of the first floor I’m building.  I’m actually creating the building from a reference (anybody recognize it?  probably not….), so I need to snap a few photos of the fourth side before I can finish and start stacking floors.

I’ll post some updates once I have something that looks more like a tall building than a floating townhome.

Posted at 1:54 am [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
November 11, 2008 . Vandread permalink ]

I recently finished watching an anime series that I rented from Netflix.  The series, Vandread, turned out to be pretty good, was fun to watch, and had a very satisfying ending (which is a rare treat for anime).

The main characters in the show come from two rival planets. The planets are rivals because only men live on one, and only women live on the other. For reasons unknown, they have become each other’s enemy. Of course, through some twist of fate, some men and women end up on a ship together and are forced to share adventures.

The premise sounds a bit goofy, but the interactions between the characters make them likable and add humor to the show. I don’t want to give anything away, but the main plot of the story ends up revolving around a new, shared enemy that threatens both planets. It is actually that plot line which makes the series so good, rather than just a silly show.

Much of the show has a traditional cel-shaded look, but there is also a fair amount of clean-rendered 3D animation, especially in the space-fight scenes. The show does it in a well-balanced way that doesn’t make the 3D shots seem out of place. In fact, some of the 3D action scenes are very well done, especially given that the show was released around 2001.

It was fun to watch, and I definitely recommend the series.

Posted at 3:37 am [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
November 6, 2008 . Irony permalink ]

What is irony? How about a burning fire engine, that needs the fire department to come and put out the flames?


The picture above was taken after a fire engine crashed into a building and caught on fire. Two hours later, the streets are still barricaded for a block in every direction. The building is missing a good section of that corner, too.

EDIT: According to the news, the fire engine was knocked into the building by a another car (I think the grey one parked next to it in the picture) that did not stop for the emergency vehicle as it crossed the intersection.

Posted at 6:12 pm [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
October 9, 2008 . Samurai Jack Movie? permalink ]

So I was reading an interesting commentary on the new Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series and it got me thinking: what is Genndy Tartakovsky, the directory of the (much better) original Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series, doing nowadays?  He also created Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack, plus was involved pretty heavily in the Powerpuff Girls series (in other words, he’s created a lot of great material).

His wikipedia page mentions that he formed his own animation company and they are working on a sequel to The Dark Crystal.  Honestly, I only know of that movie because The Crystal Method used a sample from the intro for their song Trip Like I Do (great song, great album).

Anyway, back to the point.  Although that new movie is his primary focus, a new production company has been formed, Frederator Films, which plans on first working on a Samurai Jack movie.  Genndy will write and direct it, and it will end the story of Samurai Jack.  For those that don’t know, the series never gave Jack a chance to get back to his own time and destroy Aku.  If you don’t know who Jack is or why he’s trying to destroy Aku, get your hands on the DVDs or click on over to the Cartoon Network site and watch some episodes for free!

Posted at 4:59 pm [ 1 comment ] | [ Post a comment ]
October 8, 2008 . Maya Textures permalink ]

SpheresI’ve been playing around with Maya recently and created this simple image to learn basic texturing.  The modeling is… well, there wasn’t really any modeling except for creating a few NURBS spheres and a flat plane.

But the textures are my own.  I created the one in the top-left first, to try different layering and bump map effects.  The green glassy one was a simple dielectric.  I’m quite proud of the marble one – I think it looks really good!  And I added the last one just to have a very reflective material in the shot.

Posted at 2:57 pm [ 2 comments ] | [ Post a comment ]
September 17, 2008 . Geneon Distribution Rights permalink ]

Last year, Geneon announced that they will no longer distribute their anime to North America.  That meant that I could no longer get official dubs of two new anime shows I like, Hellsing Ultimate and Black Lagoon.  But I just found out that Geneon has found a new North American distributor for their works (it was actually announced a few months ago – I guess I haven’t looked in a while).  Funimation, a well-known North American distributor, will pick up the licenses for Geneon distribution.

Hellsing Ultimate follows the vampire Alucard, who is in service to a secret British military order, the Hellsing Organization.  The Hellsing Organization’s mission is to destroy monsters, such as vampires and ghouls.  The series (it’s actually an OVA, or direct-to-DVD series) follows the original manga pretty closely, which is why I’m a fan of this anime.  The original Hellsing TV series did not follow the manga after a few episodes, at which point the writing quickly went downhill.

Black Lagoon has been compared a lot to Cowboy Bebop, except the main characters are mercenaries and they are not in space.  I’m not saying it’s as good as Bebop, but it’s a good show and has some cool scenes.

Posted at 3:21 pm [ 2 comments ] | [ Post a comment ]
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