A moment in the sun Blender Modular synthesisers

November 2018 recap

That was November! California was on fire and Queensland is now also on fire. Also there was a giant cow called Knickers and Blender 2.80 finally went into beta.

In summary…

  • I’ve been recovering from having my gall bladder removed
  • I released some sleep-aiding whooshy noises on Bandcamp
  • AMITS: Hello! got a first pass of storyboards on index cards
  • The robot has not kicked the soccer ball yet.
  • I helped out with a compilation error in Blender
  • I’m learning Japanese!

Please read on for specifics…


I had my gall bladder out at the end of October and I’ve been in recovery mode since. Fronting up to work in tracksuit pants is fun.

The gall bladder recovery meant roughly a week of not being able to sit up without extreme discomfort – I was either lying in bed or standing up. I watched a lot of movies, including the restoration of Abel Gance’s epic 5 1/2 hour silent film “Napoleon”. Honestly I don’t remember a lot about those two weeks aside from that they were slow and full of nourishing home-made stew. I blame the anaesthetic.

My top tips for people about to have a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (keyhole gallbladder removal):

  • Stock up on oversized t-shirts and soft pants with drawstrings.
  • Work on your upper body strength and leg strength, especially squats. It will hurt like hell to bend over for a week or two.
  • Take a book to hospital which is capable of distracting you. I took “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and it was a perfect companion for walking off the CO2 bubbles.
  • Don’t plan on sitting up at a table or desk for a while after surgery. For me it was about a week and a half before sitting at a desk for longer than a few minutes was comfortable. Even four weeks later I’m taking extra doses of painkillers to manage the discomfort.
  • It hurts to laugh for a week or so. Aim for viewing material which is fascinating enough to pass the time without being laugh-out-loud funny.

Noises to sleep to

I live near a main road so having a neutral sound playing helps me sleep. I’ve been using a white noise app for years but lately my Bluetooth has been cutting out. Even worse, when it cuts out it cheerfully announces that it’s in pairing mode. Bah.

Fortunately the speakers can take audio over cables too, but my phone’s headphone jack doesn’t really grip anymore. Double bah!

Not to be defeated, I’ve patched up my modular synth to function as a white noise machine. There’s a video on the way going through the patch for the curious. I’ll update the blog post with a link once I’ve cut it together and uploaded it.

If you find yourself needing whooshy noises yourself, you can grab a 36-minute recording of these whooshy noises for a whole fifty cents over at Bandcamp. I’d offer it free but frankly I need to pay for this modular synth somehow.

A moment in the sun

In short: it’s on again!

Back on 8 November I finished up the first pass of rough storyboards for AMITS: Hello!

There are over seventy index cards – I used actual physical index cards because I could hold them in my hand as I was drawing them without needing to sit down. Sitting down hurt a lot at the time because I was full of holes.

Gronky lays down the law
Pointy has a moan with his new cuter look

Working smarter, not harder

Today I scanned in the index cards three at a time with a different chunk of the storyboard running at the top, middle and bottom. The Blender video sequence editor lets me crop video elements, so the idea was to run the sequence of scanned images three times with a different crop for each repetition.

Start at the top, middle in the middle, end at the bottom..

You can watch the entire sequence of scans below. The index cards are even thick enough to maintain their registration – at least, it’s close enough for rough storyboarding purposes.

If you can follow this after it loads, you’re an alien.

Batching the images up this way makes digitisation super quick – after half an hour of scanning and getting the right crop values, I have individual images of my index cards. Now I can import the images back into the video sequence editor and time them out to my audio scratch to see what I’ve got. Yay!

But has the robot kicked the ball yet?

Not really. I loaded the file up one night with no intention but to mess around and got a nice twisting faceplant happening in blocking. (Note: the first part of this isn’t timed out properly yet.)

This is how I feel about this exercise now.

Time away from animating has helped me realise something hugely important about where I’m going wrong: I’ve been taking reference pretty much as gospel instead of using it as a leaping-off point for my own ideas. It’s been screwing my creative process up a lot and it’s a thinking pattern I really must fix…

Other stuff

I helped troubleshoot a Blender compilation bug. It’s not much but I’m pleased to have found a temporary workaround nonetheless. 🙂

Between following sumo and getting back into Japanese animation, I find myself with a mighty strong urge to learn Japanese again. I’m trying out the site WaniKani to boost my vocabulary. So far WK is both challenging, aggravating and rewarding enough that I’m hooked.

That’s all for this month!

A moment in the sun Journals Stuff I made

Chugging along through layout land

Welcome to the new year! Here’s a quick update for the week of 1 to 7 January 2017.

On Sunday, I finished up a whole scene full of layout images and they’re looking pretty good. It’s the last full scene of the film and it’s looking pretty fun. There’s more of a silly beat at the end now. This is nice to have because without it the movie just kind of ends.

What happen? You’ll have to wait and see!

The day job is promising to be much more intense this year than last year. It could be that I just use Sundays and public holidays to create Gronky and Pointy’s first outing and reserve weeknights for keeping myself sane. Or maybe it won’t be that bad. Or maybe it’ll be worse. Who knows! Either way, slotting in movie-making alongside a full-time day job is part of this long journey so I’ll keep you posted! 🙂

A moment in the sun Journals

Pitch and refinement

And now to recap the events of 28 August to 3 September 2016.

After another session of storyboarding, I’ve finished the storyboards for the new scene which I am calling Scene 3-A. In the old version of the story, Pointy walks away from Gronky to try to lose radio contact between Gronky’s remote and the speaker in the hat. In the new one, he tries to smash the speaker with a rock instead. (See how much quicker that is to explain, even in words?)

With the first pass of drawings done, I’m now in the pitch-and-polish phase. I run people through the story, I get their reactions, and mostly I see what doesn’t work much more clearly because I’m putting it in front of someone else. Then I fix the issues, find someone else to show the scene to and off I go again until I’m happy with it.

I pitched the scene to one of my workmates. He laughed which was very nice of him. There was one shot though where Pointy lobs the rock into the air and takes a flying headbutt to try to get the rock to hit the speaker. (He misses.) After Pointy fell down, the rock fell a long way away and it felt kind of artificial. Something so unexpected gets the audience thinking ‘how the hell did that happen?’. For a quickfire bit of physical comedy, this curiosity is utter poison. Also it’s a bit dull. Definitely room for more fun there.

Obviously the rock needed to land closer. But not on top of the hat. So I fixed it so that Pointy gets his feet mixed up trying to position himself under the rock. He trips over, falls on his face and the rock hits Pointy on the bum instead. Close, but no cigar – and Pointy gets a sore bum for his trouble. And hopefully more fun for the audience all-round.

Thanks for dropping by again and I’ll see you next week!

A moment in the sun Journals

Still storyboarding…

Presenting 21 to 27 August 2016 for your delectation…

I drew another 36 storyboard images this week. I have 11 thumbnails left to turn into storyboards before I can start narrating over the top of it and creating a pitchamatic to see how it plays out. Maybe 15 storyboard images or so.


Why more thumbnails than storyboard images? I flesh our the action in the thumbnails as I go. Pointy has a rock in this sequence which gets thrown and stomped on and used to bash something. I don’t draw an anticipation frame in thumbnails because they’re just quick rough sketches, but I do draw it in storyboards because it makes the action clearer. This is how three thumbnails might turn into seven storyboard images.

I also recheck the shot and framing decisions to make sure they still work. I’ve cut a couple of shots, re-framed others and introduced a new shot.


I’m using square-on framing to keep the cinematography simple and deadpan to complement the silliness of the characters. It feels like I’m framing the action from the desert’s point of view – observant but impassive.

I also find myself taking the characters way off model in boards because it gives me a nice expressive target to shoot for once I start working with the CG versions. I really like this one of Gronky, for instance.

Thanks for reading, see you again next week!

A moment in the sun Journals

It’s been 14 to 20 August 2016. This week I’ve been back at work trying to improve a couple of scenes.

The ending felt like it ran too long. I tried to rewrite it so that Pointy suddenly screams into the remote and it blows the hat up. I liked it initially because Pointy says “Go and get f–” but then the explosion knocks him into a sort of giddy stupor and he says “flowers!” instead and Gronky’s all “awww”. It’s a cute moment but the story is less funny and organic.

The problem did get fixed though. Before this week there have been two “bangs” in that final scene. I’ve cut out everything between them so that you expect one but get the other – now it works a lot better.

My takeaway lesson from this is to pay closer attention to what needs fixing and what works, so as not to break what works!

The other sequence getting reboarded is mid-film – Scene 3! Pointy’s trying to stop the hat from making Gronky’s stupid noises because he just wants some peace and quiet.

In the first draft of the 3Dmatic, Pointy explains aloud why he’s about to do what he’s doing – “I’m going to walk far enough away that I lose radio contact!” – and it leads to a sequence of shots of him losing his cool. A little contrived, the stompy walks are fun to watch though.

The rewrite sees Pointy attempting to smash the speaker in the hat with a rock instead. Much quicker and easier to get across, much more interesting to watch than someone stomping angrily, and now multiple sources of frustration – meaning he can lose his cool even more! 🙂

See you again next week!