Monday, September 28, 2009

Stop harpin' on the new computer!

Catchy title, eh? Ok, I guess not. Well, it's finally arrived. I've planning on buying it for almost a year, and now it's arrived, assembled, loaded up, installed, booted, and all that other stuff that computer's need to do before the real fun begins. Love the SSD, booting and loading apps is super fast. Maya (after it's been cached) starts in 8 seconds, which doesn't sound like much, but it's the difference between "yeah, I'll work on maya for a bit right now" and "meh... when I have time". Seriously. Windows 7 is installed, and... (sorry Mac and Linux fanboys) it rocks. I skipped Vista for obvious reasons, so it's all fresh and sparkly and snappy (boy is it snappy) and effectsy (which I typically don't like *cough* bouncing dock *cough*) but they're alright. I can tell the system noises will get tiring though. And... it's still windows, so far from perfection, but hey, it runs (most of) my software. I'll throw some Ubuntu on later as a secondary OS (yeah, sorry again Linux) and maybe a hackintosh someday??? (Keep the dream alive, fanboys!)

But I digress... I haven't really stressed the computer yet, but the initial playing around has been pretty sweet. Played Batman: Arkam Asylum for a little bit, great graphics and framerates (55+ fps! though w/o aa) and maya runs smooth as a rabbit's bum. (Deviated from the typical simile for the sensitive readers out there...) Well now, so I modelled a harp for the directed study I'm taking at UVic, and relatively pleased with the outcome. I think it's probably the best modelling I've done to date, though you can let me know if it still sucks. So there you go, the title made some sense. Blogalogalog.

And here's a WIP wireframe of some lever details:
That's my wife's harp in case you were wondering. I don't play. But it is a beautiful instrument. I'll be texturing it next, so stay tuned! (Despite the fact that this website doesn't broadcast on a specific frequency... or does it?!)


Saturday, September 19, 2009


I just finished another DT course: Intro to MEL, which is about Maya's Embedded Language for making little scripts and customizing the program.
Say you want a quick way to hide some attributes for all objects that are selected... well Maya doesn't come with a single button to do that, but you can make one! And create new marking menus, which are almost like mouse gestures in a way (if you haven't used Maya before). So the main project was to create some pretty little flowers entirely using MEL. Here they are:

Ew... a jpeg... but the png's screw up the transparency for some reason and blogger only accepts jpegs, pngs, bmps, and gifs. I'll try a bmp next time.

All the texturing, modelling and everything was done with this little script:

global proc flowerMaker () {

int $numPetals = `rand 10 15`;
$createShader = 1;

//check for petal shader
string $shaders[] = `ls -mat`;
for ($myNode in $shaders){
if ($myNode == "petalColor")
$createShader = 0;

switch ($createShader){
case 0:
print "Shader exists\n";
case 1:
//build shader network
shadingNode -asShader lambert -n "petalColor";
shadingNode -asTexture ramp -n "petalRamp";
sets -renderable true -noSurfaceShader true
-empty -n petalColorSG;

connectAttr -f petalColor.outColor petalColorSG.surfaceShader;
connectAttr petalRamp.outColor petalColor.color;

setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[3].color" -type double3 1 0 0;
setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[3].position" 1;

setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[2].color" -type double3 1 1 0;
setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[2].position" .5;

setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[1].color" -type double3 1 0 0;
setAttr "petalRamp.colorEntryList[1].position" 0;

setAttr petalRamp.type 8;

//build core shader network
shadingNode -asShader lambert -n "coreColor";

sets -renderable true -noSurfaceShader true
-empty -n coreColorSG;

connectAttr -f coreColor.outColor coreColorSG.surfaceShader;

setAttr "coreColor.color" -type double3 0.5 0.222 0.028;


//create flower core
sphere -ax 0 1 0 -n "core";
string $myCore[] = `ls -sl`;
scale 1 .5 1;
move 0 .2 0;

//connects to core shader network
select $myCore[0];
pickWalk -d down;
string $myCoreShape[] = `ls -sl`;
sets -edit -forceElement coreColorSG $myCoreShape[0];

// build the petal
sphere -ax 0 1 0;
move 0 0 -1.6;
scale .7 .3 1.7;

string $myPetal[] = `ls -sl`;
parent $myPetal $myCore;

//connects to shader network
select $myPetal[0];
pickWalk -d down;
string $myPetalShape[] = `ls -sl`;
sets -edit -forceElement petalColorSG $myPetalShape[0];

//move the tip of the petal
select ($myPetal[0] + ".cv[3] [7]");
move -r 0 1.5 0;

//move center of petal down
//U loop
for ($uCV = 5; $uCV <= 6; $uCV++){
//V loop
for ($vCV = 0; $vCV <= 7; $vCV++){
select ($myPetal[0] + ".cv[" + $uCV + "] [" + $vCV + "]");
move -r 0 -.3 0;

//closed the loops

//duplicate petals
select $myPetal[0];
float $degreeApart = (360 / $numPetals);

for ($i = 1; $i < $numPetals; $i++){
rotate -r 0 $degreeApart 0;

// randomly rotate the petals
float $petalRX = `rand -10 10`;
float $petalRY = `rand -10 10`;
float $petalRZ = `rand -10 10`;

rotate $petalRX $petalRY $petalRZ;


select $myCore;
rename "Flower0";


That creates one flower... yeah, so it would be easier to just make it by hand, but this really taught me a lot about MEL's syntax and commands and different things you can do with it.
I think I'm going to work through another modelling tutorial project next, so hopefully that goes okay.

I also am going to be doing a directed study at UVic to learn some Maya and stuff, so that should be fun. I'll keep you posted on that too.


Friday, September 11, 2009


So this is a little project Daryl and I did, unrelated to computer animation. I've been playing around with different types of animation, for fun, and this is one technique that's pretty atypical for animation. It's basically live-action stop-motion, and it's called pixelation, though I called it pixelmation, cause that makes more sense to me. You pose, take a shot, pose again, take another shot, pose again until you get the idea. These little animation projects usually end up less than half a minute long, and that's fine with me. Not looking for any feature-length stuff. I often get tired of a project if I work on it for weeks, so this length was great by me. Now I'm pretty much rambling again, so I'll post the video now and ramble some more while it uploads. Hope you enjoy it.

Ok, so apparently blogger's new editor that I just switched to doesn't support video uploading yet, so I had to save my text and switch back to the old editor and now it's processing the video. I'm going to be going back to learning Maya now, though there's a couple little projects I need to finish up in the near future. I really need to get all my stuff backed up off my old computer so when my new compy arrives I can have that available. I don't really have much that's critical on my computer. Most of the stuff I have that's not in the cloud is just stuff I've been using to learn things. Like my pod. And music. Well, I own all my CDs, so I just have to burn CDs of stuff I bought from iTunes. I've basically used up my computers to authorize with my iTunes account. I wish they'd thought about that a bit more... really unimpressed with that system. For example, I used up two of my available computers on the same computer, just cause I switched OSs a couple times. Ah well, there's ways around it I guess... legal ones, I mean. Or at least, I think it's legal.... anyway, the video's done processing, so I can stop typing.


Wednesday, September 9, 2009


So I officially finished my first DT course: Intro to Maya 2009... over 9 hours of video tutorials. Yay! At the moment, I'm doing a relatively high quality render of a frame of the animation that I produced over the course of the course (that's alliteration, sorta). The tutorial would have had me render the full 200 frame animation, but considering that I've been rendering this one frame for half an hour and it's not halfway done yet, I think that would be a bad idea... think a week-long render here.

Anyways, in the meantime, here's a render that I did during the dynamics part of the lesson, where I simulated a lightning type effect between the engines and a smokey dust cloud from the back of the engines. Usually renders have default lighting, like the textured pods from the last post, but in this case, since the lightning effect carried its own light, the default lighting was disabled, leaving an eery nighttime looking shot that I kinda like, so here it is.

Remember, you can usually click on the images to get a larger view of the pic, but just click back to get back to the post. That sounds obvious, but when I do that, I always close the tab accidentally cause most web-apps open a new tab when you click on an image. Bah. Then I have to right-click on the tab bar and select "undo close tab" which is one of the awesomest things about firefox. Yes, I said awesomest.

So, just think, when I get my awesomest new computer, I'll be able to render out animations like this with ease, instead of waiting for an hour for a single frame.
It's gonna be sweet.

Next up.... I guess I gotta finish up color grading a little piece that Daryl and I have been working on so you can also see that. I'm pretty pleased with the effect that we achieved there, but you'll have to wait and see for that one.
I'll also edit this post to include the final image once it's done.

Alright, here it is after an hour and a bit. Comments and crits welcome as always. The background was supplied for the tutorial.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Textured Pod

Here's the finished textured pod:

Really annoying with the paint tool as my viewport is very very laggy, and most of the strokes didn't even show up, so I used the supplied textures for a few things. Also rendering is very slow on these things sometimes, so I'm really looking forward to my new computer, which I purchased yesterday!!

It's being assembled before shipping, so I don't have to deal with that or DOA parts or RMAing stuff... which is very nice.

Specs: (for all those techy types who are interested)

Core i7 920 D0 Stepping 2.66 GHz (but I may overclock it :) )
Asus P6T Deluxe V2 Mobo
Lian Li PC-P50 case (with two fans on the roof... cool)
6GB DDR3 Corsair Dominator RAM (with plenty of room for upgrading and oc'ing)
120GB OCZ Agility SSD boot drive (yay, fast booting and app start-up... sweet)
1TB Seagate Barracuda HDD (for all my storage of music video pics models etc..)
750W 90% efficient Corsair PSU (easy on the ecosystem and the energy bill)
EVGA NVidia GTX 275 Video Card (for demanding games and smooth viewport... mmmm)
Samsung DVD writer
Nmedia card reader and eSATA and firewire and USB ports
Noctua heatsink (massive mound of metal)
... I think that's all, I may have forgotten something here, but that's the gist of it. Can't wait can't wait... :)


Friday, September 4, 2009


So I'm working through some video tutorials by Digital Tutors, which I'm quite enjoying. Had some playback problems with the video streaming, but I emailed customer service, and they sorted it out quite well, so that was a definite plus. I have access to their entire training library, for a subscription fee, which I think works out well for my situation, which is to learn a whole bunch of areas as quickly as I can. Basically high-throughput learning... some people are complaining because they can't buy training DVDs anymore, which I can understand if you just want one or two tutorials to keep.

All that to say that here's a WIP for the project that I'm working through. Cooler projects than the Autodesk book, that's for sure (delgo... hmph... that movie made like $600,000 total apparently...). Just finished the very fast-paced modelling with relatively good results I think. I'll keep you posted as I go through texturing, rigging, animating, adding dynamics and lighting, and rendering, all within this training course, so pretty much all the content (and with more depth so far) as the book I spent all that time doing. Plus there's time pressure here to get as much learnt as I can with one month paid for. Alright, alright, here it is:

In other news, I'm going to be buying a sweet new computer in the next little while. I'll definitely put a post up of the specs and maybe a couple pics when it arrives... looking forward to it!