Monday, April 30, 2007

Spidey-Sense is Tingling

Anybody else excited for Spider-Man 3? I know I am.

I've been a Spidey fan for as long as I can remember. I owned comic books, trading cards, and tons of posters. I definitely went as the costumed Peter Parker for Halloween on more than one occasion. I think between my TMNT post and that last statement I have officially convinced anybody who used to think I was even remotely cool that I am, in actuality, not. If that doesn't do it - I used to own one of these. Talk about absurd super hero paraphernalia.

Speaking of absurd super hero marketing, I was walking through the super market the other day when I saw this:

So... Spider-Man lactates from his wrists now.

Into my breakfast. Ew.

After a little further examination it appears as though Spider-Man is actually just webbing the bowl, not shooting anything into the cereal itself. So now he's just stealing my breakfast, which I suppose is a little better than webbing it. Still, it makes me wonder what other cross promotional ideas the geniuses over at Sony thought of lately.

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On a side note - whenever I make a post to my blog, I do a significant amount of internet research before dropping my many humorous insights on the avid "Why Not" readership. For today's post, I found an interesting variety of limited edition cereals created to help promote movies and TV over the years. I thought I'd share.

I fed Pac Man cereal to a turtle I found along side the road once when I was little. We eventually donated the little guy to the Great Bend, KS zoo. I guess turtles like Pac Man cereal.

Yeah I totally ate this cereal many many times. I recall it being extremely sugary.

Ok, that one probably isn't real.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Wobbly Wheezy

This post marks two events. First of all, I have just cashed in my V card with YouTube. After taking oh so much from the internets, I've given back for the first time in video form. Now I don't feel so bad about being erroneously honored by Time Magazine.

The second event which needs to be marked, and was the reason for my YouTube contribution, was that I made an animation. Up until today, I had created things in 3D, and moved things around manually in some weird gray virtual world, but I had yet to make an actual movie file. Well here ya go. Wheezy's very first 3D animation. It really gets good near the end, so be patient.

Pixar here I come! It took probably a couple of hours of fiddling to get that far, so I can only imagine how long it took to make this:

A young fella named Dony made that animation for his Master's Thesis. Great job, if you ask me. Although I dunno if it can compete with all the intricacies and subtleties of "Dude stepping on Box".

Monday, April 23, 2007

I bet His copy is pirated

We're well into this month of classes, and I've gotten to the point where I can begin making animations. Awesome. Simply Awesome. I'm shooting for something like this before next month is over.

Last week we created our characters, then "rigged" them. This essentially means we added a skeleton to the polygon mesh that we'll use to move them about. Dancing jigs, playing frumble... whatever I want them to do, I can make them do it. I'm essentially playing God at this point. My 500-ish polygon creations are at my whim.

Which I guess isn't like God. Cuz of the whole free will thing.

Anyway, here are some screen shots of my character and the rigging underneath. For this class we're just using "puppet" characters, because we haven't learned how to make the "skin" stretch with the movements yet.

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If you create the skeleton correctly, then a lot of the movements are taken care of for you. By pushing up on the foot, for example, the leg bends appropriately. If I lift the character off the ground, gravity takes his toes downward, as if I had picked up a doll cloth action figure.

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Of course with anything you're learning for the first time, there were a few bumps in the road. If I made the joints at the wrong angle or in the wrong order, I would really come out with some ... interesting results.

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I imagine that everybody who has tried learning Maya ran into this problem early on. It's just a matter of practice. The class I'm currently in is only a month long, so I'm cramming a lot of learning into a pretty quick span.

Still, it could be worse. I might have only had one day to create a fully functional person.

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Monday, April 16, 2007

April Showers bring Low Self Esteem

I saw it. TMNT. And that latest chapter of my favorite secret mutant hero team was outstanding.

Now don't get me wrong, the plot wasn't exactly amazing (no Shredder?), and there was a Super Mario Brothers Movie "Let's Make a Sequel" moment. Regardless, I loved it. Not in small part because it's CG, but also because, like my boy Mueller, I'm a die hard fan.

No joke. I had it all. Not just the action figures, but trading cards and the collector videos you could get at Pizza Hutt as well. Remember the "Coming Out of Their Shell" Tour? Double M posted a video from it Friday. I went to that concert. Seriously. I had the cassette, nay, memorized the cassette. I also know that originally Raphael played the saxophone, but eventually moved to keytar because he couldn't sing while playing a wind instrument. I owned this. And several of these. I had a Raph wrist watch for my right hand and a Leo wrist watch for my left, which I wore simultaneously so I could remember which hand was which.

Unfortunately wearing two wrist watches at the same time makes you neither a ninja, nor a turtle, and certainly not both. Mainly it just increases your beatings at recess. Such is the life of a true fan.

All praise aside, the new movie did leave me with a few small gripes. First of all, April is no longer a news reporter. She is apparently an archaeologist who finds rare antiques in dangerous places while wearing a yellow jump suit and wielding a katana blade. When did April O'Neil become a cross between Lara Croft and Beatrix Kiddo? Just to give you an idea of the change, here is her progression from first animated series to second to animated film:

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She used to be a news reporter in a banana jump suit and now she's fighting along side Leo? I don't buy it. Plus I think she's gone through as many plastic surgeries as Pamela Anderson, as evidenced by this pinball machine.

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I mean really. Look at her incredibly large ... forehead. I don't recall those kind of proportions on Miss O'Neil.

But she isn't the only one who's gone through a few changes over the years. It seems as though the Turtles themselves have dropped a shell size or two since they originally captured my heart. Here is their animated evolution:

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I dunno if it was the evils of today's media or an unrequited love for a certain passive aggressive female news reporter, but I'm worried that the Turtles may be struggling with self image issues of late.

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One last thing before I let ya go. Mueller posted a German version of the team the other day. Here's the insanely deranged Japanese version.

Monday, April 09, 2007

It's Harder than You'd Think (TWSS)

Well, I'm now making stuff in 3D. And here's my first ... thing.

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Hopefully, you can tell that it's a street lamp. If not... well... I suggest you go reexamine the nearest street lamp. That's the 'effin essence of street lamp.

For my 3D Foundations class my group and I will be making a 6 second animation with 5 characters, 10 props, and some sort of background scenery (you'll definitely be seeing it here on the blog). For our props, such as the above street lamp, we're limited to between 300 and 500 polygons. That street lamp has around 350, which helps to explain why it's a wee bit blocky.

Needless to say, I'm super excited. By the end of my Full Sail career, I'll be making a demo reel. This is essentially a couple minutes of my best work. Modeling, Texturing, Rigging, Animation, Lighting... everything. My street lamp has only been modeled. Here's an example of a Computer Animation demo reel I found on the ol' intertubes.

Pretty sweet right? Although that guy might want to spell check his credits (Grpoup Projects?). After watching a few of those things, I start dreaming of what I'll make. This early in the game, I can really can only make fairly simply objects. But even with my three dimensional possibilities limited, I tend to push the limits in my aspirations.

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I'm gonna have to put in a lot of effort and concentration to get as good as I'd like to be. Probably even more so than when I was playing the original TMNT video game (Audio NSFW).

But I think I'm up to the task.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Thinking Outside the Box

First I want to make it known that I feel that "thinking outside the box" should be permanently retired. A phrase that was originally intended to generate creative and unique thought has been killed by overuse. Taco Bell uses it for goodness sake. Somebody needs to think of a new phrase to replace it.

Yes I realize I could have used "TOTB" to summarize my desire for unique and original thought with regards to that very phrase. No need to point it out.

Anyway. A while back I saw a pretty sweet video. I'm going to embed it here so you're practically forced to watch it.

Pretty amazing. I have to imagine that the process of teaching the monkeys to use that thing was a little tiresome.

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In Full Sail related news, I completed Ethics and Psychology and am now in my second month of classes. This month I'll be taking "Object and Perspective" and "3D Foundations". Since I'll have significantly less free time this month compared to last (on account of double the classes), I'm afraid I may have to cut back on comic production.

Although I'm sure these look like I just think them into the internet, much like an elderly man would think himself into a woman's backside or a monkey would think poo into a doctor's face, they actually take about 4 hours to go from idea to blog post. Sometimes longer, depending on the subject matter.

So, I've decided to force myself to post comics only on Monday, and on every Monday (today being an obvious exception). I realize my past promises haven't always panned out... but this one is legit. Most likely. Ish.

As a bonus, because my new classes involve a higher degree of creative output, you can expect to see an influx of drawings, sketches, and inked pieces on the ol' blog. Maybe even a 3D rendering by the end of April, who knows.