All posts by quollism

About quollism

A creator of quollity stuff.

How to Blender Conference: Quollism Bumper Edition!

Hi all! I’m not going to Blender Conference this year but I attended Blender Conference in 2014, 2015 and 2016. After reading Looch’s great article, I remembered I was planning to chuck in my own two cents on how to bconf!

Well, ok, more than just two cents. Here’s what’s helpful to know..

My first Blender Conference in 2014. Banner by Andy Goralczyk.

Blender Conference

The Blender Conference is scheduled to run Friday-Saturday-Sunday. This is just the presentations: in terms of hanging out with fellow Blenderheads, it’s potentially a Thursday night to Monday night kind of a deal. If you head over to De Balie on Thursday night, it’s almost guaranteed there will be a few earlybirds already there having drinks and being sociable. 🙂

By the way – if you have a project or other work to show off, keep it on you! I was working on a movie during the conferences I attended; I had a tablet and headphones so I could show a work-in-progress version and get valuable feedback on it from my fellow attendees.

Also If you’re stuck for a way to start a conversation with someone at the conference (e.g. on Friday morning while waiting for De Balie to open), ask them “So, what do you with Blender?”. Easiest ice-breaker in the world!

If you’re on Twitter, your official conference hashtag is

Events

On registering, you’ll be given a badge and a schedule, plus some other goodies. If you signed up for the Saturday dinner, your ticket for that will be included too. Don’t lose it!

As Looch said, once you get the conference program it’s good to plan out where you want to be. I like to circle my picks on the schedule with a pen and keep it in my pocket. 🙂

Ton Roosendaal giving the 2016 keynote.

The keynote and farewell with Ton are no-brainers – get a seat early if possible.

Definitely go to the Suzanne Awards on Friday night. Some films are in contention for an award, and some of them are secret exclusives just for conference attendees. There’s an early and a late screening. I’d recommend the late screening instead because the audience is a bit drunk/stoned and that’s more fun. Don’t forget to vote afterwards!

Definitely go to the lightning talks on Saturday evening. (If you’re giving a lightning talk, try not to go over five minutes!) Do not believe anyone who says they’ll definitely finish their single-person movie project in time for next year’s Suzanne Awards because they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

Aside from that, don’t feel compelled to be at a presentation for every single moment of the conference – the bonus of actually being at the conference is the opportunity to hang around and chat outside or upstairs. (Also, free sandwiches!)

The real conference happens outside..

Definitely try to make it to a presentation that’s about something completely different from how you use Blender yourself. The lightning talks are good for that, but the more in-depth presentations are eye-opening as well. Blender gets used for all kinds of cool stuff you might not even know about!

Do be prepared to occasionally sit through a talk you’re not that interested in to make sure you’ve got a good seat for a popular talk that you _are_ interested in. Hjalti’s animation talk is often standing-room-only. 🙂

Definitely drop in for the Blender Insititute Open Day as well, even if you’re just popping in for a look. The conference is officially over by then so the Blender Institute folks are much more relaxed instead of running around making sure everything’s running smoothly.

You may even run into this guy!

Transport

Negotiating the airport

Those flying in internationally through Schiphol may benefit from the following info.

Schiphol is big. There might be a long hike between your arrival gate and customs. If this is your first international flight, I suggest legging it to immigration as quick as your feet will let you. Have your passport ready and waiting. Fortunately, the Dutch immigration people are pretty cheerful and are the nicest first impression of any country I’ve ever had.

Once you get through immigration and customs, you’ll probably have people walking up to you and offering a taxi service. Brush them off, no matter how official their gear is. The proper taxis are outside at the taxi cab rank.

Windmill break! This is the windmill at Brouwerij ‘t IJ, much favoured by Blender Institute employees.

Also right outside immigration at customs, you can pick up a local pre-paid SIM with Lebara. They can pop out your old SIM and activate your new one on the spot. This is worth doing if you’re going to be out and about with Google/Apple Maps or using social media to coordinate meet-ups. Even if you’ve got international roaming on your phone, this might work out a lot cheaper depending on your carrier. Something to keep in mind!

Leaving the airport

Keep walking and you’ll eventually come to the entry hall. There you have the choice of turning left to go to the train station or turning right to find a cab. You should be able to see an automatic kiosk which will let you purchase an OV-kaart (a rechargeable Dutch public transport pass). If you’re going to be doing any sightseeing in Amsterdam or you need to use the trams or trains to get around, you want one of these. Cash or card is fine and you can flip the machine over to English if need be.

If you want to catch the train to Amsterdam Centraal, you’ll need at least twenty euro on your OV-kaart unless you’re paying for a one-off ticket.

There’s also an airport shuttle bus for 5 euros which might go past your hotel. Check ahead of time.

This is Dubai. Dubai is about eight hours from Amsterdam, just over halfway from home for me.

If you want to taxi it up to Amsterdam, you’re looking at around a 50 euro fare or thereabouts. (The way I see it: if you’re at the tail end of twenty hours of travelling and fighting off delirium, getting someone to drive you directly to the front door of your hotel is probably a good idea.) Shuffle past yet more dodgy taxi hawkers with your luggage and veer right to head outside. Follow the directions to the taxi cab rank. I like the Tesla taxis the best because they’re zippy as heck and can even use tram tracks as required. Noice!

Local transport

An amsterdam of bikes.

Amsterdam is a fantastic walking city and an even more fantastic bike city, but it can be a lot to take in at first! If you’re on foot, make sure you’re not accidentally standing in a bike lane like a tourist. Always keep an eye out for bikes, trams and cars. And take care not to fall into the canals!

If you’re doing some sightseeing and bikes are not for you, I highly recommend availing yourself of Amsterdam’s excellent tram system by getting the aforementioned OV-kaart and installing 9292.nl on your smartphone. The trams need you to have at least 5 euros of credit left on your card to use them. Heavy rail between cities requires 20 euros of credit.

Leidseplein by night.

De Balie is just around the corner from a square called Leidseplein. The trams that run through Leidseplein are 1, 2, 5, 7 and 10. The 1, 2 and 5 all terminate north at Amsterdam Central Station, while the 7 and 10 run more east-west.

The Blender Institute building is on Entrepotdok. You can get from De Balie to the Institute a couple of ways. You can catch the number 10 tram directly from the Leidseplein stop, get off at Hoogte Kadijk, wave hello to the Windmill, backtrack the way you came past the service station, walk through the trees and head westwards up Entrepotdok until you see the Blender Institute logo.

You are here!

And since you’re in Amsterdam, you may as well know that the filming location for “Tears of Steel” is the northernmost bridge of Reguliersgracht where it intesects with Prinsengracht. Just don’t freak anyone out with your robot hand if you do go there. It might not end well. (The Oude Kerk where the movie “takes place” is up in the famous Red Light District, but that’s pretty easy to find.)

2015: Tiny Numbat is awesome in space!

Food and drink

First off: there’s coffee, tea and water at the conference. There’s also sandwiches for lunch. Yay, free stuff!

Leidseplein itself is an entertainment district with lots of restaurants, most of which are overpriced tourist traps. On any night of the conference, people peel off in packs to grab dinner. It’s good to follow the lead of people who know the area and therefore know which places are good to eat at. Expect to be constantly invited in by hawkers/spruikers, and don’t feel bad about brushing them off.

A cheap option: vlaamse frites! (Flemish chips) – and yes, that is dipping mayonnaise just like “Pulp Fiction” said.

Dinnerwise, have maybe twenty euro in bills and change to pitch in for the cost of your meal. Tipping is optional. If you’re short on cash, there’s a blue ATM/cashpoint which accepts credit cards on Leidsestraat across from the newsagent.

Said newsagent is also the closest source of cheap-ish Red Bull that I’ve found to De Balie. It also has an OV-kaart recharger in the back. The closest really good coffee I’ve found is at a place called “Sweet Cup”, down Lange Leidsedwarstraat.

I don’t drink so I have no idea where there’s a good pub. I also don’t smoke cannabis so I don’t have any recommendations for a nice gezellig coffeeshop either. 🙂

Local tasty things to eat include stroopwafels and poffertjes.

Be on the lookout for small plastic marsupials when enjoying poffertjes..

Language

English. Seriously. Everyone in Amsterdam speaks English.

Careful of those horens!

The only reason to actually learn Dutch as a tourist is to eavesdrop on people or for pronouncing placenames. “Oe” is pronounced “oo”, “oo” is pronounced like “aww”, “ij” and “ei” are pronounced something like “eye” or “ay” depending on your accent, “ui” is pronounced something like “ow”, “r” is pronounced “GHHHH” and “g” is pronounced something like “KHHHHHHH”. Don’t try to pronounce “Ruigoord” without adult supervision.

“Alstublieft” means either “please” (e.g. “spa rood, alstublieft”) or is said when handing something over. “Dank u wel” means “thank you very much” to someone you don’t know; “dank je wel” is for someone you’re more familiar with.

If you really want to learn Dutch for some reason, Duolingo has a Dutch course.

Literal non-obvious translations from top to bottom: pouch-devil, ant-hedgehog, tree-kangaroo, pouch-marten, bird-beak-animal.

That’s it

May the 2017 Blender Conference is the best one yet and hopefully I’ll be up there again myself again before too long! Tot ziens!

Jam of the day: Brainburner (excerpt)

 

This is a jam for anyone who enjoyed the harder house tracks like Rollin’ and Scratchin’ or Rock’n Roll on Daft Punk’s album Homework. It’s a spiky glitchy drone with some nice polyrhythmic percussion and that’s it – maybe not everyone’s cup of tea but I like it. 🙂

Tech notes

I used two of my new modules for this! The Music Thing Modular Pulses mk 2 is outputting a randomly generated six note rhythm tapped at two points for the clap and the hi-hat. The modulation state of the drone is being sample-and-holded in sync with a Euclidean rhythm out of the Little Nerd. The drone is feeding into the Voltage Control Lab VCF-74 Mk 1 where it’s being frequency modulated; that’s fed into a Ladik Waveform Animator then on to the Eowave Fluctuations Magnetiques filter bank through a parallel low-pass and band-pass filter.

The drone is just sitting at one steady note. So why does it sound so lively? The experiment was to see what would happen if I put a pulse wave through a low pass filter and then put that through the waveform animator. The animator only works on waves with gradual transitions which means a pulse wave goes in and out unchanged, but a low pass filter can introduce those transitions into the pulse wave by filtering the sharper frequencies away to make it transition more like a sine wave. The texture of the drone comes from crazy chaotic interactions between the filter frequency modulation, the waveform animator and the pulsewidth of the original oscillator.

Inktober, week 2!

That was 8 to 14 October 2017. Would you believe I’m still trying to shake this respiratory illness? Believe it.

Here’s week 2 of my Inktober 2017! This week was all brush pen.

#inktober #inktober2017 8. Crooked! A zigzaggy gecko.

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#inktober #inktober2017 9. SCREECH!! Could only be a cockatoo 🙂

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#inktober #inktober2017 10. Gigantic! A monstery thing gets a helping hand.

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#inktober #inktober2017 11. Run! A running chuditch copied not super well from a recent Twitter photo

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#inktober #inktober2017 12. Shattered. It's hard to carry eggs when you're a slime monster!

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#inktober #inktober2017 13. Teeming! As in "this weird frog monster's tongue is teeming with little friends"

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#inktober #inktober2017 14. Fierce! Even little creatures have a lot of front when they need it.

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Aside from Inktober, I’m back into soldering this weekend now that the weather’s fined up a bit. I’ve got two more kits to build at which point I get a voltage controllable sequencer and a clock manipulator to go with the contact mic and delay effect that arrived a week ago. DASYRAC gets better and better, yay!

I’ll see you next week for mysterious, fat, graceful, filthy, cloud, deep and furious Inktober! 🙂

Inktober, week 1!

It’s been 1 to 7 October 2017, which neatly overlaps with the first week of Inktober! It’s fun finally getting some practice in with the brush pen. 🙂

Here’s this week’s pictures, fresh from my Instagram account:

#inktober Day 1: Swift

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#inktober Day 2: Divided

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#inktober #inktober2017 4. Underwater. Back to trying the brush pen again!

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#inktober #inktober2017 5. Long!

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#inktober #inktober2017 6. Sword(fish)! More brush pen work.

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#inktober #inktober2017 7. Shy. Turned into a brush pen texturing test bed midway through 🙂

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See you with more pictures next week!

Away with you, September!

It’s been 24 to 30 September 2017. I’ve been sick all week. Again. Ugghh(cough-cough)gghhh! I’m back on antibiotics and bedrest again and hopefully that kills this stupid lurgi once and for all.

I want to apologise to all regular readers for being such a gloomy gus the last few weeks while I’ve been ill. It’s bad enough coughing constantly and feeling like hell, but not having the energy to work on stuff spirals me down into some pretty unhappy places on top of all of that. I lose the energy to work, then I don’t want to work, then I lose confidence in myself, then I get withdrawn and don’t want anything to do with anything – not even watching shorts which might pick my spirits up because I’m worried I’ll just feel bad that I haven’t worked on mine for a while.

Anyway. this week I’m less sure that abandoning all animation projects for crunching on portfolio stuffing makes a lot of sense right now. I put that decision down to the aforementioned withdrawnness. I want more characters and scenery to show off what I do, and AAAAAAAAAAAAAA will give me that, but I don’t want it to be a constraint on my creativity if I feel like doing something completely different…

…and this is all kind of moot for the next 31 days because I’m going to be trying my hand at Inktober for the first time. See you with drawing number one (Swift) tomorrow!

Giving up right

Preface: This post deserves some background. For the month leading up to this I’d been depressed, physically ill, getting switched around on projects at the day job and generally having a crappy time of things. My living routines were disrupted, the illness was making it hard to catch a whole night of sleep and things that were once possible seemed completely implausible. And through all this, I still had a journal to write…

It’s been 17 to 23 September 2017 but I’m posting this at dawn on Sunday the 24th. I can’t seem to shake this cough and I don’t think I’ve had a full night of sleep in a week. Tonight will probably be more of the same.

This would have been the weekend that AAAAAAAAAAA wrapped up, being as this is the Queens Birthday long weekend, but bouts of illness and dayjob stress all ground its precious momentum to a halt before it reached any kind of releasable state. There’s still no soundtrack and it’s still three shots long.

Truth is, I’m not inclined to pick it up and keep going with it, either. I’ve lost my taste for doing any animated film stuff, honestly. Doing the solo animated film thing isn’t viable for me right now anyway, so it makes sense to switch to something else.

Something like learning how to use all these nifty plug-ins I’ve bought (e.g. Retopoflow), or getting to grips with bits of Blender I avoid (e.g. hair system and physics), or just smashing through the model-rig-texture workflow over and over without trying to fit the result into an overall project. Something like honing skills and getting out there: entering competitions; drawing (or speedsculpting) during work breaks; identifying and filling skill gaps; generally keeping the juices flowing while banking a lot of short focussed work. I went through some of that process with music so I already know the value of it.

“I’m grinding” doesn’t sound as grandly impressive as “I’m making an animated film”, but I can live with that. My ambitions are more practical now.

Thanks for reading!

Afterword: Not much changed as a result of this resolution. I continued to cough and splutter my way through the week and feel out of sorts. Resolute blog posts change nothing.

A first time for everything

It’s been 10 to 16 September 2017. I was down with a respiratory infection all week and I still haven’t shaken it completely. I’m tired of coughing. 😐

Submissions for the Suzanne Awards 2017 opened earlier this week. (The Suzannes are the Blender Conference’s little Blender-centric film competition.) I’ve entered RYGCBMK◯ with no expectations at all of it getting anywhere. It’s my first time entering anything into any kind of animation festival. Hopefully its fluffy good times lift the spirits of all who consider it for an award. 🙂

I’ve been listening to a ton of Belgian new beat and eurodance this week like a sad old bastard. Here’s a classic from the era and the very first CD single I ever bought: L.A Style’s “James Brown Is Dead”.

An even more off week

The week just gone was 3 to 9 September 2017. I didn’t start up Blender or switch on my modular synth all week.

I appear to be having a run of creatively unproductive weeks where I’m completely out of patience, stamina and focus. This week has been the worst one so far: either I didn’t even want to make anything or I got five minutes into half-arsing something then decided it was all too hard and gave up.

So that’s where I’ve been this week. I’d like to be somewhere different next week, within reason.

Speaking of funk in an entirely different (and better) sense, I’ve been listening to a lot of James Brown lately. Here’s a long form session from 1973 called “Doing It To Death” where James is super happy to see Maceo Parker. I hope you like it!