Tag Archives: announcement

Succulents and synthesisers

It’s been 23 to 29 July 2017. I’ve got a week of leave booked for the week coming during a lull in the big day job project – and it looks like the weather will be nice and clear! Yay!

I made some progress on Shot 3 of AAAAAAAAAAAAAA last week – I modelled and rigged a cactus, and I got started making a bird. I’m aiming to finish off Shot 3 in the next couple of days by modelling, rigging and texturing the bird then animating and rendering it all  After that, I can start thinking about Shot 4 and maybe even do some preliminary sound mix between tossing around scene ideas.

¡HOLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

In bleepier news, my modular synthesiser (DASYRAC) is nearly out of capacity. Both of the power supplies are getting close to their limits, and the physical racks are so full of modules that I’ll be pulling older/redundant modules out to make room for more useful ones. There’s a lot of sourcing parts, waiting for postal services and soldering in my future, but it’s nice that I’m hitting a natural stopping point.

Thing is, I haven’t really talked very much about DASYRAC or the whole modular synthesiser bit in this blog aside from mentioning dead op amps and soldering burns from time to time. It’s a huge thread of my creative efforts that’s been all but invisible here, and that’s a bit weird because I’ve spent way more time creating voltages than pixels lately. There’s really no good reason not to mix it up a bit in the blog too.

That said, modular synthesisers are esoteric little beasts that take a fair bit of introducing to the layperson. It’s probably worth doing a blog entry about all by itself..

Plans meet reality, reality eats plans

Editorial note: This entry was originally way more downbeat than it is now, so I decided to rewrite it to help consider my situation in a different light. Sorry for the wordiness.

It’s been 16 to 22 July 2017 and what a week I’ve had: a 2:15am finish on Thursday night; the emergency phase of this high-visibility high-priority project that I’m technical lead on got extended for an extra week; trying to get fit enough to do an hour of exercise a day, doctor’s orders.

End result? My sleep is super out of whack and I’ve been too tired to unleash whimsical mayhem on my grey cyclorama world. I honestly thought going into AAAAAAAAAAAA that I’d have the capacity to come up with a new scene every two weeks, but for reasons both within and beyond my control I’ve lost my focus and it hasn’t worked out that way.

To elucidate further: animation demands focus and patience and confidence. If I go in tired then I can’t think straight, I’m put off by the thought of sustained mental effort, and I can’t even decide whether I like an idea because I don’t have the presence of mind to give it lucid consideration. The extra hours of screen-staring are not great for my neck or back either. So the project waits for when I’m feeling up to it, whenever that is. If at all.

Accordingly, it’s been yet another slow-going seven days for poor old Shot 3. I’ve got a shot plan and character designs which were OK last I checked, so I’m theoretically ready to wrestle a happy little bird and/or a cactus out of Blender tomorrow. I might even get far enough to animate something.

Lately though I’ve been giving much more attention to music-related stuff than animation. Maybe it’s just the novelty of getting to be creative without a computer being intimately involved, maybe it’s just a relief to follow a procedure to get a working module instead of having to make creative decisions, maybe it’s because I’m learning interesting things in a new field, maybe it’s because I’m compulsively buying these kits and haven’t begun to deal with it like the expensive addiction it is, maybe it’s because playing with a synthesiser is something I can do while I’m tired and animation really isn’t.

If I’m being super honest, music is OK but I get a lot more out of unleashing whimsical mayhem than I do from soldering together linear shift register based clap modules or patching up envelope-controlled through-zero frequency modulation. It’s not like waveforms have silly muppet eyes, though sometimes my patches make cool shapes in a phase scope.

This is the aforementioned thru-zero frequency modulation on a quadrature sine oscillator. It’s all spinny and stuff.

So even though I’m a bit stalled, I still want to keep going with AAAAAAAAAA at whatever pace I can manage because I need that kind of giddy absurd childish fun in my life and I want to build my animation-making skills up without intensive pre-production. I won’t always be able to knock out a new scene every two weeks, and that’s an annoyance because if I get stuck with an idea for too long I can’t help but tinker with it as it gets stale for me, but I’m sure I’ll suss it out if I can just switch off my soldering iron for a bit and show my animation some love again.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

It’s been to 28 May to 3 June 2017.

Gag writing AMITS over the week has given me a bit of fun material to work with, but it feels too much like I’m stalled again. I’ve given the project a month and it’s in a far better place now, but I’m getting bored with it again and I want to work on something a bit more spontaneous.

So I’m starting another interim project this weekend and giving myself until the first weekend of October to finish it off. It’s another step along from the abstract freeform happy times of RYGCBMK◯ towards the more structured story of AMITS.

Just like RYGCBMK◯ there’s a set of rules for me to follow, key among which is that I am to make all of it up as I go along, scene by scene. No planning ahead is allowed. If I try to work out an ending in advance, I’m instantly barred from actually using it.

Felix Colgrave wrote “straight ahead” and got the amazing short Double King, so I figure it’s worth a try.

This week intentionally left uninteresting

It’s been 23 to 29 April 2017.

I’ve been on some much-needed holidays for the last couple of weeks. After a stressful three months, I’ve been taking it nice and easy building analogue synthesiser modules, making noises with said analogue synthesiser modules, enjoying MST3K Series 11 and going to Perth Zoo to catch up with their quolls. It’s been very low key and relaxed and without any particular obligations. Just what I needed to relax and recharge!

I’ve been thinking a little bit about Pointy and Gronky and robots but I don’t have anything much to reveal just yet. Perhaps next week! 🙂

RYGCBMK◯ is released!

My little two-minute serve of abstract rhythmic procedural animation is available for all to see! Yay!

You can watch it above on YouTube, download it off Vimeo (CC-BY licence) or listen to the soundtrack on SoundCloud.

If you’ve got Blender 2.78 (even the current 2.78 nightly at the time of writing) with the Animation Nodes plugin, you can download this zip file full of shots to play with. There are even some shots in there which didn’t make the cut.

The final shot running order is as follows:

  • quollism ident: combination of 050, 264 and 452
  • morse code: 120
  • ball snake: 471
  • ring snake: 472
  • doughnut wave: 454
  • braille fireflies: 431
  • bouncy dot: 450
  • do-si-do spheres: 020
  • infinity looper: 470
  • purple attractor: 453
  • rainbow sine balls: 070
  • flippy pink doughnuts: 051
  • grooving amoeba: 060
  • splitting rainbow ball: 170
  • hexagonal echoed rings: 140
  • metaball pipe: 160
  • cool abstract bubbles: 181
  • weird stripy thing: 171
  • grooving bubble tank: 180
  • ring with lasers: 200
  • keke spheres: 220
  • happy bubble snake: 210
  • multicoloured ring explosions: 250
  • spinning mandala: 260
  • travelling mandala: 261
  • receding mandala: 263
  • approaching mandala: 262
  • fake oscilloscope: 264
  • alchemical symbols: 280
  • scribble ball: 270
  • rainbow ring: 290
  • rave curves: 320
  • heartbeat: 300
  • balls on wires: 330
  • random object sine: 331
  • migrating acid eggs: 371
  • jelly boomerangs: 380
  • galaxy: 350
  • ballswarm argument: 370
  • three pulsing objects: 400
  • ball and stick creature: 410
  • colour morphing sinewave: 402
  • neon cell: 473
  • folded circle: 420
  • line swoop: 401
  • travelling mandala: 451
  • reverse flashing rings: 430

I’m not sure what else to add at this point other than I hope my colourful little dancing spheres and toruses brighten your day. 🙂

Beat as in “tired”… or as in “rhythm”?

That’s been 26 February to 4 March 2017. And it is both tired and rhythm. One because the other.

On Wednesday, I made the decision to step away from “A moment in the sun” until I finish this heinously draining temporary internal transfer at Easter (mid-April). A narrative animated short film is the wrong project for me until the work stress eases off. Something little and time-boxed would be much better.

So it’s time again for a brief change of creative direction.

I took a couple of months at the beginning of last year to sculpt and do character animation and that refreshed me nicely. This time I’m going to learn Animation Nodes with the intent of making some groovy procedural animation.

The working title is RYGCBMK◯, though RYGCBMKO is fine too. You can probably guess what the letters R G B and C M Y K stand for. The circle is just a circle. The finished piece will be pleasing rhythms for the eyes and ears.

I’ll be working on it until Easter and I’m targeting an Easter Monday release. I’ve written a project brief and set particular limitations around creative methodology, but I’ll talk a bit more about those next week. 🙂

 

When fun turns to humdrum, add a robot

Roughly by the middle of 27 November to 3 December 2016, the project had reached a crisis point. After a month of rewriting, tinkering and procrastination on “Sombrero” since Blender Conference 2016, progress had ground to a halt. I’d completely lost confidence that I could deliver “Sombrero” next year – injuries, stress from the office job and family-related stuff are already pain points in my life, and I didn’t want Pointy and Gronky standing in the same queue bringing me down.

After about twelve months of development, I’ve shelved “Sombrero”.

2016-12-03-baai-hatI rethought things with the new central notion that this project is meant to be a fun and fulfilling use of my spare time. and I want a movie to show for it next year. So on Wednesday I downscoped the project to tell a shorter, funner and funnier story.

There’s a lot of fun to work with already. Gronky and his playful antics are already fun. The consequences of Pointy’s characteristic lack of forethought should also be fun. But that bloody hat just wasn’t bringing the fun.

So now there’s a robot. It’s a very helpful robot – at least, it’s trying to be helpful…

The new story is much shorter. I’m retaining the characters as is and snatching up fun ideas from previous rewrites and generally avoiding the foul Gordian Knot of character motivation and story logic that comes with sustaining a longer film, so AMITS is back to being short and sweet and weird and funny, like it should be.

So it’s a fond but possibly overdue goodbye to “A moment in the Sun: Sombrero”, and a warm hello to “A moment in the Sun: Robot”. 🙂

Krita’s animation branch just hit public beta. You should definitely check it out.

Krita is a free/open source bitmap paint program – think SAI or openCanvas, maybe even Photoshop. Recently the Krita guys did a crowdfund to add new features like the ability to animate on multiple layers. It’s already a super-capable painting program, but this new feature makes it something like the open source answer to TV Paint – not as spiffy or fully featured as TV Paint, but still.. 

The Krita devs very kindly helped me optimise
Krita’s settings for my particular setup so it runs noticeably
faster. Here are tips which apply to the beta:

  • For AMD CPUs, go to Settings > Configure Krita > Performance and make sure “Disable vector optimisations” is checked.
  • Certain
    NVidia graphics cards are slow to convert between float and int. If
    your card is affected, set your colour space to a float format (16 bit
    float or 32 bit float) and not an int format like 8-bit or 16-bit. You
    can use Image > Convert Color Space to go between colour spaces.
  • View > Instant Preview mode speeds up drawing to screen.

Hope you enjoy these two little loops of Pointy and Gronky. Gronky seems especially excited while Pointy appears to be doing the Hertzfeldt Wiggle. 🙂

This is more smoke. It took about 47 minutes to render at 1440 x 1080. It is different from the other smoke. Honest. My spare computer has been rendering volumetric smoke in Cycles for literally days now.

Meanwhile, I’ve been cutting together a tutorial about using sound-driven animation in Blender.

I’m making it to enter the CGMasters Blender 2.70 tutorial competition. I don’t expect to win, partly because I just figured out you might need a Facebook account to even enter, but I do expect to have made and released a tutorial about something nobody else has made as thorough a tutorial about. So my expectations have been met.

It’s taken me a week and a half, hence the prolonged radio silence. It is a foul and all-consuming obsession. It is forty minutes long. I have quickly disovered this is too long for a first tutorial – the folly of inexperience, quite likely. Properly reviewing something of this size recorded in so many parts sucks. The narration becomes more unhinged and irritable the further it goes. 

I want to watch Ikiru. I want to get to sleep on time for once this week. I want to do something that isn’t this tutorial. But it calls to me with its siren song, baked to f-curves and slaved to the emission strength of a material in a robot’s eyes…

…so I’m starting the upload the second it’s finished rendering. It should autopost to Twitter once it’s ready to view on YouTube. NO REGRETS.