Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Graffiti Wall

This started a while ago, but it's gotten silly recently so I felt I should mention it.

In the covered stairs leading up to Flint and Day, there are a couple of large bulletin boards. A while back, I noticed that one of them had been covered in some unique graffiti: (horrible quality, courtesy my horrible camera phone)

Sure, it's a nice message, although I found it odd (and a bit amusing) that the best way someone could find to express their patriotism was through (admittedly minor) vandalism. As I had just seen V for Vendetta at the time, I briefly thought how funny (albeit somewhat disprespectful) it would be if someone spray painted a giant red "V" symbol over it. However, troop-supporting, law-abiding coward that I am, I didn't seriously consider it.

Fast-forward to the present, and it seems others do not share my hesitation at defacing this defacement, although their reactions aren't nearly as clever as my thoughts were. First it was just someone adding a couple words to make the message "Support our troops OR DIE". Since then, the poor bulletin board has evolved into the unoffical Political Graffiti Board. (better picture, courtesy my real camera)

Am I the only one who thinks this whole thing is funny?

I'll post any new developments if they happen before I leave.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I Feel Special

"CAR 232 - Introduction to 3D Computer Art," the computer art class I've learning Lightwave in, is being offered during the summer session here at S.U. this year. To make people aware of this, the people in charge have been putting flyers all over the Shaffer art building.

One of my renders is on that flyer.

I didn't even know they were doing this, so it kinda took me by surprise when I first saw it. I'm not even in that major, yet they put my work on the flyer advertising the class. That make me feel mildly special.

...and wonder if I was in the right major. :-/

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Even More Lightwave

Earlier this week I finished the landscape image I posted a work-in-progress of in my last Lightwave post. Here's how it turned out:It didn't turn out exactly how I'd originally intended, but overall I like the results. The SasLite grass with the sunset lighting hitting it came out particularly well.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Just some random things of note today. May be updated as new stuff comes to mind.
  • I'm sure everyone has seen those "double entendre" shirts. Tonight in the dining hall I saw one that said "Rogues do it from behind." I don't know if it was a D&D/RPG reference, but I still laughed.

  • So now Facebook has an "I am..." feature. Great, so now I have two sets of away messages (Facebook and AIM) to keep me distracted from my work? I think Sue currently says it best though: "Susanna is happy to see there is one more way for me to stalk people via facebook :)."

  • "Leon" (AKA "The Professional") is a good movie, but I don't know how Natalie Portman's parents let her do it.

  • There were pro-life demonstrators showing off banners of bloody fetuses outside Bird Library today. A news team interviewed us about what we thought, and we said something about how sure the images are kinda disturbing, but they have a right to express their views. The reporter didn't seem happy with us - guess we didn't give her the extremist "sound bites" she was looking for. ;)

I'm sure more stuff will occur to me tonight. Update: Nah, it really didn't.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Deleted Scene from "The Vase"

Stumbled across John August's CSS styles for screenplays, and figured I'd add them to my blog's template. (Yes, that John August, the one who wrote Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, etc. Looks like he's got a geeky side.) Actually, his entire blog should be of interest to anyone interested in movie script writing.

Anyway, in the interest of testing new features, I present the never-before-seen original opening to "The Vase"! I never filmed this because it would have been too hard, logistically, in the time I had. That's why the existing movie starts a little more abruptly than my others.
  • FADE IN:
  • A car comes over a hill and drives towards the camera.
  • JACK is driving. He looks a bit nervous. Not scared, just a little uneasy.
  • JACK
  • Why is this guy following me?
  • Out the rear window we see another car. It's black, plain, and inconspicuously official-looking. Jack glances down, flicking the lever for the turn signal.
  • Stopping the car, Jack turns around to look out the back. The strange car slows as it passes the house, but continues on down the street.
  • JACK
  • (sighing)
  • That was weird...
  • Jack enters through the front door carrying a backpack over one shoulder. Worn-out, he moves over to the couch, dropping the backpack carelessly onto the floor.
  • JACK
  • Man, I'm exhausted.
  • He collapses onto the couch and falls asleep as we:

After that, the movie continues as normal. So there you have it - the mighty "Lost Scene" of The Vase. What? Not impressed? That's OK: This post was really jsut about me playing with the screenplay formatting styles for this blog. They should come in handy next year, when I take my Screenwriting course.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lengthy Lightwave Update

It's been a while since I posted about what I've been doing in my 3D Computer Art class, and with the end of the semester fast approaching, I think it's time for a little catch-up. After my last post, we did a few more fairly simple modeling assignments that I really don't find worth uploading pics of. After that, we moved into rendered images, and things got a little more interesting.

Assignment 3-4 (don't ask)
This had a really weird prompt - we had to create a "self-representation" that combined items that had some importance to us, creating a bizzare creature/character/person that represented our interests. Uh... riiiiiight. We then had to create a simple setting out of additional objects, place the character into that setting, and produce a final rendered output.

After a few false starts (I really hate out-there "artsy" prompts like this), I eventually created this image:

In case you can't tell, the objects included are: video camera, book (on back), keyboard, laptop, LEGOs, pencil (art), light bulb (creativity)... and the hand I made earlier in the semester because I didn't know what to put for the guy's left hand. The hardest part of this project was getting the skelton to work. This was the first character I'd made from a solid mesh, with controlling "bones" inside that would deform the mesh in a "natural" way. Problem was: bones are stupid, and don't know what parts of the body they should affect. I would move the right arm, and half of the right side of the torso would come with it! This project also took waaaay to long to render, as I foolishly modeled the actual raised "LEGO" text on the blocks. I only did it once, then copy/pasted the rest, but the final result added up to a lot of polygons.

Assignment 5
This was a lot of fun. We were supposed to create a scene in which every object was the default "light gray" color. Everything interesting had to be done with geometry, bump maps, and lighting. Since the 3 final renders were to be in black and white, we were told to create 3 distinct, interesting lighting setups. I made a castle/mansion-y interior with a fireplace and whatnot. My first render was a somewhat boring overview of the room lit from various places:

My second render got a bit more interesting, and I played with the volumetric effects Lightwave has (about 1000x more flexible and better-looking than TrueSpace's):

Finally, I decided to try a fairly radical angle with dramatic lighting from the fireplace (turn your head to the left if you don't see it immediatly):

I really enjoyed this assignment, although in retrospect theyre are a lot of things I would have done a little differently, and I never had time to do some of the cool things I planned (chandeliers and such).

Assignment 6
(current project)
We pretty much jsut started this one, so I'm nowhere near finished yet. We're supposed to "...recreate a past environment, room, or space that you associate with." This environment doesn't have to depict a real place, but the final image should "tell a story." The depiction can be abstract, surreal, impressionistic, emotional, or realistic. (Obviously, I chose realism - I want to do CG for my movies, not "explore the human condition" or somesuch) Yeah, this is another wacky "artsy" assignment, but it's vague enough that I can do just about anything and justify it. I chose to depict a landcape scene, with the story being someone who is camping. (for Halapy: I'm basically re-arranging parts of the land around the lake at Heritage, with a few "artistic liscence" additions of my own).

I still have a long way to go, but as of tonight I've made a lot of progress on the grassy hill where the campsite will be (using Lightwave's SasLite hair plugin to make the grass), a pretty decent tree, and a broken-down stone wall. (Why is there a stone wall on this hill? - Because it looks cool there.) Anyway, here's my W.I.P. shot:

Obviously, everything beyond the hill in the foreground is still at a very rough stage. At one point, I tried covering the entire terrain with the simulated grass, but I ran into an internal limit with the SasLite plugin (they have to give you some incentive to pay money for the full version of "Sasquatch"). In light of this, I'm now using the SasLite grass just for the hill, and will find a simple grassy texture map for the rest of the land, since it's too far away to tell the difference anyway.

I also still need to do the water properly, clone that tree about a million times, and add the campfire. All of this while trying to finish my final Writing 205 project, and catching up on play reviews for my two drama classes. This next week should prove interesting...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

An Interesting Day/Night

This is totally random, so I'll just write everything that happened today. Skip to the end for a humorously short summary if you don't want to read. (actually, it might be funnier to read the short version first, then find out WTF I was talking about!)

First of all, I had to get up at 8am (Nooooooo!!) to meet a go to a sophomore's film shoot I'm helping out with. We then spent the next 7 hours or so moving heavy film equiptment all over campus in impossibly warm weather (think high 70s...), sitting on a dolly to provide ballast, telling passers-by not to look at the camera, and sometimes just sitting around waiting for the guys in charge to figure out what they were doing. Tiring, but it was kinda fun, and I got to get a sample of what I'll be doing in my film classes next year. (Their advice? Learn to use a light meter. Doesn't matter how artsy your shot is if the film isn't exposed properly)

Around 8pm I went to see "Horatio Sanz and the Kings of Improv" at Goldstein Auditorium with Mike and Maisha (both from film) and their friend Diana, who happens to be a witch. The improv show was alright, but not quite as great as I expected. Afterwards, I ended up getting autographs from Horatio and the other people he was performing with. (Hey, the opportunity was there, and the line wasn't too long.)

(I was too lazy to get the scanner, so I took a picture with my digital camera)

When the show was over, Mike wanted to do something, so Diana suggested we check out this "Unique Tea House" on Marshall Street. None of us had heard of such a place, but we went to see what she was so exited about.

You can't really blame us for not knowing about this place. It's on the second floor above an Indian restaurant, hidden away behind a doorway labeled for a hair stylist. The only sign advertising it is a smal lighted one about 20 feet in the air, where no one ever looks. Once inside, you find this nice little... tea house, guess. I'll take a picture the next time I'm there, but the whole place has a subdued, calm, eastern feel to it. In addition to various teas, they have these colorful fruit drinks with all kinds of odd things in them, that actually taste quite good. I had something with apple, honey, and a hint of lemon. Unusual ("Unique," even!), but good. The Unique Tea House is definitely one of those little undiscovered gems one finds around college campuses.

We talked about a ton of things, from filmmaking to coffee, to funny "drunk roommate" stories, to Diana's paganism (She's a "good witch" - no spells on other people, but she'll give a free Tarot reading if you like). All in all, just hanging around in a cool place wasting a couple hours in random conversation.

Aftward we met Diana's boyfriend, who seems to share Tony's enthusiam for Kingdom Hearts 2 (although I don't know if Tony can be surpassed in fanaticism... After helping with the film shoot he bugged out in a hurry because he had to "save the Pridelands." "Simba needs me!") The (now) 5 of us talked a while longer while wandering around campus. We actually ended up at an overlook by the College of Law with a nice view of part of the city, and a nearby parking garage that looks really cool at night. After that I came back here to my dorm.

The humorously short version:

Carried heavy equiptment, acted as ballast. Got Horatio Sanz's autograph, and then was treated to some tasty colorful drinks by a witch. Ended up in a parking garage. All in all, a fun day. ;)