August 2008 Archives
Not a lot has been happening since I posted last week. I'm on another show, which will remain unnamed for now. It's another 9-1-1 show, similar to The Dark Is Rising and Golden Compass from last year, and I'll only be on it for the next four-five weeks.
Sometime in the coming weeks I'll be at Gnomon to give a small presentation about the work we did for The Mummy. It will most likely be a rehash of the Siggraph booth presentation, but we may add on some more relevant bits depending on time constraints. I'm hoping that the other presenters that were available at Siggraph will also join me, but it all depends on show production.
My partner in crime and I will be headed over to the UCLA campus early in September to partake in a networking function for Amazon's AWS (Amazon Web Services, is that redundant?), where we'll be able to mingle with some start-up founders and bounce ideas off of each other. We're hoping it will be a great opportunity to see if we can use their services for our venture, and it's possible that we may meet some VCs that are interested in funding us. Of course I'll need to formally type up the business plan. Right now it's in a rough state that I should definitely get an NDA made and a plan written up properly. Maybe I'll do that this weekend, since I really don't want to fight with the kids and the lines and the crowd and the mess that will be this Labor Day weekend. And yes, before you ask, we did have to get an exemption written up from Digital Domain. These sorts of things are vital if you want to do any work outside of a company.. If I recall correctly, ILM and Sony Pictures Imageworks have the same sort of requirement. Anything you do outside work may end up being the property of the company unless you get an exemption that stipulates the work you do is outside the realm of visual effects, and won't effect the company's IP rights.
The iPhone has been out for some time now, and many of you are wondering, have I taken that step? Well, maybe you haven't been wondering, but I'll tell you anyway. I'm still using my dinky old Samsung e105 that's four years old. It has an antenna and no camera! How archaic is that. It still works though, but I'm wary of the battery, since it can only be on standby for about 3 days before it dies. To give you some idea, almost every artist that has a phone at the company, has an iPhone or iPhone 3G. I don't use my phone that much, it's mostly for emergencies, so spending 200 bucks plus a two year plan of at least 100 a month, eh... It's not so tempting. Maybe I'll upgrade to the Blackberry Bold or the Experia X1 when they come out, but do I really want to? I'm pretty easy to reach, be it via phone or email!
But all the above brings me to the next topic, needs versus wants. On the whole, All I need has been taken care of. Food and shelter. Everything else is what I deem a want. From cellphones, to a new motorcycle, to a plasma TV, to a new car, to whatever you desire. The work that I do in visual effects enables me to gain those material items in a timely manner. This enables me to narrow down my living expenses (especially living in LA!) and also save for a huge item in the future!
So what does Aruna want? Here's a list. The only way to get everything on that list is to work my butt off on my ventures, which I've occasionally mentioned on this blog.
- Buying a home.
- Buying a car.
- Learning to fly a plane.
- Learning to fly a helicopter.
Learning to ride a motorcycle.
- Having a family.
- Becoming financially independent.
I've checked the digitalGypsy hit log, and I've just surpassed 300,000 page loads as of this week since I've been tracking them! Here's what it's been in the past..
Fancy! That's not too bad given the subject matter on this blog and the limited audience!
On the recreational front, I finished Braid and am pretty close to completing the achievements inGeometry Wars Retro Evolved 2. Braid is an excellent puzzle/platformer, and the game mechanics are pretty sweet. You can't die in Braid, and the puzzles will make you want more! Evolved 2 is just a very pretty shoot-em-up game that is a huge step up from Evolved. I like the XBL Arcade games, simply because I can pick up them up at any time and play.
As a treat for all my hard work at Siggraph (ha!), I decided to splurge a little.. So I picked up an eeeBox yesterday, which came today in the mail. I picked the jet black one, and it's pretty darn sweet. While it is an XP Home box, I'm sure there'll be an Ubuntu distribution for it sometime in the future! There's also a wicked ExpressGate (linux) boot, it comes up pretty much immediately on turning on the box, which allows you to use Skype, surf the internet, browse photos, and chat.
It's easy to get set up, just plug in all the bits, and away you go! It even comes with a USB keyboard and mouse. No network cable included, but it's got 802.11b and n! It also has a 10/100base-T port (can't tell if it's GigE). The hard drive comes split between two partitions; when you check Windows Explorer, the C: drive is 39.9GB (8 used / 32 free) and a D: drive (31.3GB free). I quickly installed Quicktime 7.5, Firefox, and Opera, and I think I'm done for now (I might fool around with flock), but will continue to play with it as time goes on. It does only have 1GB of RAM, but I think I'll pick up another 1GB SO-DIMM and just toss it in, especially for XP. So far it'll play 720p QT movs. I haven't had a chance to toss any 1080p footage its way, but the monitor that I'm using for it is only 1280x1024, so it would have to rescale the footage down.
I'll probably toss some Python tools on it, as I'm starting to learn Python, all over again. Especially now that Nuke 5 can utilize python, I think it would be a smart move. I can also use Python to generate web pages, so I will use the eeeBox as a web development machine too. The django framework looks pretty promising.
One thing that sucks so far is that the VESA mount to attach it to an LCD panel only works if your LCD stand does not block the VESA attachments! Case in point, check the image below. Check your LCD panel, and tell me if its like the image below, or if the stand mounts and covers the VESA area. Seems like slight oversight there. It would have been nice to invert the bracket so you could attach the box over the existing mount.
Looks like I'll have to rig something up in the meantime!
Siggraph is over. What a ride. The last several days were hectic, yet fun. I met a lot of VFXTalk folk, and while I can't remember some of the usernames that go with the faces (except the obvious name-based ones), I can remember the real names. :) You guys don't always make it easy! The Wednesday Mummy comp presentation went a little smoother than Tuesday, and Thursday was even smoother. I have a tendency to just rattle on quickly. Case in point, Tuesdays presentation was about 11 minutes long. Thursdays was 16, even though the content was the same! I talked to our PR, and they mentioned that it may be quite possible that we'll be going on the road to the couple of schools in the area to repeat the presentations. Makes sense, since we worked on them so hard, only to present them three times!
I also ran into my VES student from earlier this year! She's doing well, on course to graduate later in the year. I also got a chance to catch up, albeit briefly, with some Tippetteers, and ex-Tippetteers. They have moved far and wide, from Blue Sky, to ILM, to Image Movers!
I not only got a chance to catch up with friends and coworkers, I also got to know my fellow DDers! Several I have never met since I started here two and a half years ago.. Most of them were in commercials and recruiting, but some were in features. How strange! Needless to say, Siggraph is definitely a place to network and make yourself known, and thank you guys for coming up and introducing yourselves. Here are some pictures of the booth, blatantly taken off of Flickr. The white circular banner is a remnant from last year, they may change it to black next year.
Until next year!
My thoughts from the floor. A decent selection of things to view, technologies to partake in. I met a couple VFXTalkers, good to finally put names to faces, and also some former coworkers from Tippett and elsewhere! Siggraph is the place to get together with former coworkers and just have a good conversation about all sorts of things. Great stuff. Some of the companies present that I visited were Imageworks, Rhythm & Hues, Blue Sky (right behind our booth), Laika, Pixar, ILM, and Imagemovers Digital.
On the tech side, there seems to be a significant display of stereoscopic options, both anaglyph and polarized, and some 3D panels with no need for glasses. I was approached while at the booth by a vendor who had developed a stereo technology that didn't rely on glasses at all.. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to see a demo, since this was the first year they were there. I met a couple students from VFS, some from Gnomon and Expressions, so there was a good student turnout so far as well. I also got a chance to actually meet new people at DD that I had never met before! Mostly from the commercials side of things. We're a big studio, so naturally we don't get a chance to meet everyone.
I was pretty excited to have my first presentation at the DD booth yesterday at 2:30.. We had a great turnout, and if you were there, you'll remember the spill over into the aisles! Digital Domain had a great location as well, right at the entrance to the convention, so pretty much the first thing you see is Vicon and Digital Domain. One of the big drawbacks is that Vicon is so loud. Hopefully that will change as the exhibit goes on. Today, at 3:30pm, I'm doing the same presentation, but this time with more footage tacked onto the end, which contains all our sweet work on the show.
Drop by and say hi!
This week is Siggraph 2008 here at the Los Angeles Convention Center! There are a bunch of great UG meetings today, from the Autodesk one to the Foundry one, be sure to check them all out, if you can. If you have a full conference pass, there's a panel on the tech that we used on The Mummy at the Convention Center. I'll be at the exhibit hall only, I won't be attending any of the panels, sketches, or presentations this year.
I'll be periodically updating the website here with my thoughts of the stuff on the floor, so be sure to check in!
IMDB is reporting 42.5 million dollars for the three day box office take for The Mummy. Did you see it? We went to the Friday night showing at the Arclight Hollywood, and there were even a couple editors in the audience. Rob Cohen was actually at the Arclight Sherman Oaks and introduced the film there to the audience. I won't say much except the Rotten Tomatoes score is in the ballpark.
I thought it started well, at least all the stuff before the title came on. It's similar to the other ones, with a short exposition of the story, and how it would unfold. Unfortunately, that was about it.
Here are some choice quotes from RT.
Nothing special, nothing risible, nothing memorable, nothing that's going to last long at the cineplex. It just sort of evaporates on screen. And that's almost worse than being a bomb. At least you'll remember the bomb.
Parts of the movie are fun, mostly due to Fraser's and Bello's winning attitudes. But there is too much slapstick, too much infantile humor, too much messy editing and an overload of special effects.
But the script frankly sucks. It lifts from sources that were themselves tired liftings from other sources. The funniest lines don't appear to have been intended to be funny.
So on that note, on to the next film!